This is a guest post by SSG Daniel Shiffler
In the self-defense world, we scrutinize everything we feel is important. From what firearm to own to the locks on the doors and windows, we research everything. The one aspect that is often overlooked however is physical fitness or defensive fitness.
As a whole, we here in the United States are a soft society. We drive to work. Take the elevator to the second floor. Stop at Star Bucks for our Venti Frappe-something and muffin. The point is, we are not in the best physical shape. While this does not seem like much to worry about on the grand scale, it can lead to failure at a critical moment in a defensive situation.
We are all taught that most self-defense firearms engagements happen in less than 15 feet and take less 30 seconds. For the most part, this is a true statement. However, what about the variables? We don’t see them too often, but they are out there.
Stressful situations are exhausting to say the least. Blood pressure spikes, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Our bodies shut down if exposed to these stressors long enough. Physical fitness is our defense for this. The more active you are, the longer you will be able to deal with these stressors.
Now, when you think of exercise, most of us think running, weights, and gym. For me, the very thought of running makes my knees swell and my back hurt. I am sure that there are plenty of people out there just like me too. What we need to learn, is that exercise does not need to hurt to be effective. We can get in shape through any number of ways. Walking with the family a few times a week is a great way to introduce cardio into the routine. Take the stairs to the second floor, several times a day though. Skip your morning coffee and muffin routine. Replace it with healthy choices.
Physical fitness is more than just exercise. Eating right and getting into good sleep habits combined with exercise provides a complete package. You might think that this is a grand change in lifestyle. However, with surprisingly simple adjustments, it is quite easy to fold these necessary steps into our lives. Looking around on the internet and on the shelves at the store will reveal healthier alternatives for eating and exercise routines that fit into the lifestyle you are already living.
Web pages like Daily Burn provide a full service resource that covers home based workouts as well as healthy eating choices. It also addresses the issue of growing older and staying fit. For people like me with replacement parts (2 new hips), the writers also have workout plans to keep you fit and your new parts running smooth. Most of these sites have an associated app for your smart phone or tablet device to help keep you on track. With this, you can track progress, plan shopping trips, and get recipes to help in the food preparation.
However, all the healthy eating habits and exercise in the world will be for nothing if you neglect to train with your firearm. For this, I recommend not just range time and dry fire training, but to also look into the training that competitors involved with the sport of Three Gun competition go through. Most of the stages require fast movement from area to area for rapid, safe target engagement. Meaning that the competitor runs from place to place stopping only long enough to engage several targets. Some targets are exposed and some are concealed behind hostage or “no shoot” targets. This type of training provides a stable base of reflex shooting and establishes muscle memory. All of which are critical in dealing with stressful situations.
I am by no means saying that in order to survive a stressful situation you must be a Three Gun competitor. If you use the training routines that these fine individuals already have created, you can combine an unpleasant part of getting healthy with something a little more interesting and still get the benefits of exercise. Running these courses will also point out the areas for not only shooting, but also physical fitness that need attention.
Most of the big competitors in Three Gun have their own video outlet sources on You Tube. A simple search for gentlemen such as Max Michel or Jerry Miculek will provide a good resource for set up and how to run the courses. As always though, please seek the advice and instruction of a trained professional prior to starting any type of training. Most instructors will be able to guide you through the required steps that this type of training needs in order to be performed in a safe manor.
All of this training combines to produce a safer, healthier you that is better able to keep you loved ones and home secure.
Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor prior to starting any new diet or exercise routine. Also, please consult a professional firearms instructor prior to starting any type of training with a firearm. After all, the purpose of this article is to create a healthier, better prepared shooter.
SSG SSG Daniel Shiffler is a 17 year veteran currently serving on active duty in the Army. He has been training proper use of firearms for over 10 years. He not only trains soldiers, but also civilians in the safe and proper use of firearms for home and self defense.