This is a guest post by Cory Monroe
I frequently find myself being asked by students in my pistol courses questions about equipment. What type of gun should I get? Is a revolver OK? Ammunition types etc. While these are all very good base questions that I’m glad to see any of my students asking, the topic I rarely see brought up for discussion is the everyday combative mind.
What is the everyday combative mind? Simply put its forcing yourself to be constantly aware of your surroundings. This may seem like a simple task, but let me assure you, it’s not. To be as aware of your surroundings as you possibly can be requires diligence and a lifestyle commitment to the process. I learned an old saying back in my Marine Corps days “A commander can be forgiven for being defeated, but never for being surprised”. You have the ability to make choices that affect you and your family every day. If you choose not to make those choices, the fault is yours.
“OK, I’ll bite, how do I do it?”- I’m glad you asked!
As I just mentioned, developing a combative mindset requires a conscious effort on your part. In truth, it’s really more of a combative lifestyle. You need to force yourself to make conscious choices every day. If you dedicate to this lifestyle, eventually those choices will be made subconsciously and as a matter of routine for you. A simple example. When I go to a restaurant with my wife at this point, one, if not both of us has a gun. Whoever it is automatically gets the seat with the view of the door. We don’t even discuss it now, it just happens subconsciously. Think of it this way, remember the first time you rode a bike? More than likely, not so pretty…. But, after some practice, and some more practice, it has become second nature to you. You need to apply this type of dedication to YOUR every day combative mind.
Out lined below are some simple every day things you can do to get started on the road to a successful combative mind.
- TRAIN. TRAIN. Most people from my experience get a permit, buy a handgun and put it in a drawer after they shoot it 6 times. Training complete. This is unacceptable and will most likely result in you getting killed with your own gun. The mistake I see people making time and time again is they train themselves to fail by not training correctly. If you don’t know what you are doing pay someone who does*. At my company, Honor Ridge Tactical, we charge between 150 and 300 for 3 hours courses. Is your life worth 150$? If you are like most people you spend that eating out every month.
*Choosing an instructor: Be careful here. It’s my humble opinion, but most people tend to orient on NRA certified instructors, the NRA has undoubtedly certified some of the finest instructors in the world, they do however have their fair share of not so savvy certified instructors as well. What I tell my students is, don’t be afraid to ask questions before you hire this person! The main one being, “what type of experience do you have with someone who has my experience?”
- Situational Awareness: force yourself to be aware of as much as you can. You will know if you are doing it right because you will actually start to mentally fatigue from forcing yourself to do it. Set yourself up for success, when you go to a restaurant sit in a booth that you can see the entrance from, make note of where the emergency exits are, both of these things literally take 10 seconds at most to complete. When you are driving in your car somewhere do you know where you are all the time? If something bad happens and you have time to call 911, where are you? What’s the closest cross street? Pay attention to these things, by force if necessary, they may save your life.
- Pre Planning: This is a great tool you can use every day. Simply put, mentally imagine yourself in a critical stress situation and play out in your head how you would react. At first keep it simple, use it at places you frequent often, work and home for example. Walk up to your front door and when you open it… you see an armed intruder. How do you react? Are you even armed on this particular night? Now this may seem a bit silly to some people but believe me when I tell you it’s not. Really what you are doing here is practice. It’s a free repetition for you. And practice makes permanent. Nothing is perfect. As I mentioned above, the more times you practice riding your bike, the smoother and easier it gets.
- Tactics: SIG. Simple Is Good. You don’t need to watch navy seal videos and circuit train here, but a base understanding of tactics and tactical concepts will make a huge difference in your survivability. Understanding the difference between cover and concealment for example. Have you ever cleared your own home with a handgun or long gun? Try it in the daylight when you CAN see, then try it at 2am when you have been awake for a whole 25 seconds. Do you have a flashlight near your bed? You would be surprised how many people keep guns near their beds and no flashlight. The bottom line is this…. A mediocre shooter that uses good tactics will usually defeat a great shooter who uses none.
- I realize this sounds morbid, but I’ve never seen it written in a better way……. Be polite, be courteous and have a plan to kill every person you meet.
Stay safe, train hard, practice makes permanent.
Cory Monroe is a 15 year veteran NYS certified police officer and the Training Director of Honor Ridge Tactical. He has been a Police firearms instructor since 2003 and is certified in tactical rifle instruction as well. He also served in a Marine Corps forward combat infantry deployment during the second gulf war.