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by Paul W Abel
Shoot-N-Iron Practical Shooting & Training Academy

It was spring and the grass was beginning to turn green. The sun felt good on the backs of the young man and woman, Bill and Jan, not their real names, doing some early spring plinking in the field behind his residence. He had built a small, safe, range located a short distance from the house. He was teaching his lady friend how to shoot a new five shot Lady Smith, 38 special revolver that he had given her just last Christmas. After some coaxing she had acquired a concealed carry permit. She was doing real well, hitting just about everything she shot at. In fact she was having a lot of fun at his expense as she was nearly out shooting him. Her confidence was at a high point, feeling that she was now ready to defend herself and even defend Bill if it became necessary.

A few weeks later they were suddenly startled by the front door crashing open and seeing two masked intruders coming into the living-room, one of which was brandishing a double barreled shotgun. She was in the kitchen and saw through the doorway, the man with the shotgun, without cause, shoot Bill at point blank range. She grabbed her little 38 special and fired five shots at the assailant, all five slugs finding their mark in the bad guy's upper torso. As he went down, he swung and fired the other barrel of the shotgun at Jan who was totally exposed in the kitchen doorway holding an empty gun. It is doubtful that she ever knew what hit her. The gunman died a few moments later. Bill lost his lady and the use of his arm. The second bandit was caught by the Sheriff's department a little later and is now doing a long stretch in the Penitentiary. This didn't give Bill back the use of his arm or bring Jan back to life.

This story or one like it occurs all too often these days. Jan knew how to shoot but she didn't know how to defend herself. A lot of people in Oklahoma have acquired concealed weapons carry permits, bought a pistol, just like Bill and Jan. They've fired it enough to become familiar with how it works and are now confident that they can take care of themselves if and when trouble comes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jan might be alive today if she had known a few defensive tactics. What is concealment? What is cover? Concealment is something you can get behind, such as a wall, a doorway, a stuffed chair, or other object that does not stop in coming bullets. Sheet-rock walls and hollow core doors do not stop shots fired at you. I remember seeing an old John Wayne movie depicting a wooden lightweight door stopping a load of #00 buck shot. Not hardly. Cover is something that you can get behind like a refrigerator, maybe a washer and dryer, a heavy cabinet full of utensils or even a large metal safe that will either stop or deflect bullets away from your person. A heavy mattress and especially a waterbed may provide fair cover. Outside, trees, cars, brick walls all afford some protection. Forget what you see in the movies, like the cowboy hiding behind a poker table during a shootout. That doesn't work. Always try to place something thick and hard between you and your attacker.

As in Bill and Jan's case, we never know when an attack may occur. I remember when I was a kid we never had our doors locked. I don't think we even locked them when we were away. In those days most of the locks used what we called a skeleton key and the keys were universal. They would open any of the doors on most of the houses. We don't enjoy the same sense of safety that we had back in those days. Now it is smart to keep a defense gun real handy. If an intruder makes entry into your home, you have almost no time to get your weapon and defend yourself. If the gun is in the bedroom or some other location in your house, you will not have time to get it. It is a shame that we cannot feel safe in our own homes, but we dare not. If you have the gun on your person or immediately at hand, you have a chance. Practice an in home intruder drill, with the firearm empty for safety reasons, depicting every conceivable possibility that might happen in your home. I hope you practice fire drills. If you don't, start. Do the same for intrusions.

Most of the folks that I talk too tell me that they shoot at tin cans and paper targets for practice. This is good as far as it goes. It just doesn't go nearly far enough. These targets are stationary. I have precipitated in a number of shooting situations and I have never been in one of these confrontations when the target was not moving. In fact I can't remember even one such occurrence in which I was not moving also. Practice with that in mind. Use a little ingenuity. A quick step or two in different directions or to the side as you fire, will make you a moving and much harder target to hit.

I see a lot of people doing their practice at fifteen to twenty yards away from the target. This is good practice. Over the years I have found that almost all of the lethal confrontations actually occur at twenty feet or less. The distance across a room will likely be the furthermost distance you will encounter. A large majority of incidents will occur at three to four feet or even less. During such an encounter you may be in the grasp of someone. I suggest that you do more practice from an "up close and personal" position. I am not saying to abandon the practice at greater distances. If you can hit from back there it will make it easier when you are up close. There is a flaw in that theory. When you are up close, you do not have as much time as you have at the greater distance.

More than likely if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a defensive shooting situation you will have to come from behind. It is not politically correct or even lawful to walk around with a pistol in your hand and at the ready. If your attacker already has a weapon in hand, then you are starting from behind. You must be able to draw your firearm from concealment, fire and hit the bad guy before he gets you. In other words "Do, before being done unto". Most folks that I know can not accomplish this task. Sadly, a large percentage of the people carrying guns for defense are as slow as the seven year itch. It is not that they can't learn to draw and shoot accurately with speed. They have never been taught.

You may just have to fend off an attacker by hand, until you can draw your weapon. Ladies placing an armload of packages into the back seat of their car are particularly susceptible to this type of attack. We offer a one of a kind A.R.T., Assault Response Training, class that you will find in our class catalog under SI-600. This class has, up close and personal firearms, hand to hand, edged and alternative weapons training all rolled up into one two day, sixteen hour session. Young and old folks alike learn what it takes to stay alive. Check it out.

It is important to know what to do and what not to do if you ever find yourself in the position of having shot someone. If the incident occurs at your home and the assailant runs or staggers back outside before dying, DO NOT DRAG THE BODY BACK INTO THE HOUSE. Even if you are right and legal as far as the shooting goes, you will be in deep stuff if you make this mistake. I know, you've been told to do this by a lot of people almost all of your life. THEY TOLD YOU WRONG. DON'T DO IT. Leave everything just as it was when the incident happened. Do not rearrange anything. It will work out ok. Talk to an attorney before making any statements other than stating who you are and that type information. Ask to speak to an attorney before answering questions.

Acquire a cell phone. Keep it handy. Recharge it at night in your bedroom. Someone intending to break into your residence will in all likelihood cut your phone lines before committing the act. He does not want you to be able to call authorities. He also wishes to prevent your alarm system from calling law enforcement automatically. He cannot disable your cell phone.

We simply can not cover all of the pertinent points of surviving a lethal encounter here. We suggest you get yourself and your loved ones some proper training. You would not trust the friendly neighborhood preacher with your financial well being or the banker with your religious matters. Do not trust the guy on the corner when your life is at stake. Find professionals for your training.

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