Self-Defense Training – The 4 Pillars of Defensive Handgun Training

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One of the most frequently asked questions in the realm of self-defense training involves the use of weapons, like guns and knives, for protection. This article outlines the four areas that make up a complete defensive handgun training program.

While most people, and subsequently most programs, focus on the shooting facet of gun training, there is actually much more to the subject. Just as any solid, well-structured, and complete self-defense program should include lessons on the care, selection, and safe-use of firearms if it is really to be of service to students in today’s often violent world.

As I said, unfortunately, most so-called defensive handgun training courses only focus on shooting skills. I say “unfortunately,” because shooting skills make up only one-quarter of the overall training that you should be learning if you’re really going to be able to defend yourself in a dangerous self-defense situation involving firearms.

Before we look at what I call, the 4 Pillars of Defensive Handgun Mastery, you need to understand that, to truly be prepared – to truly be effective – when it comes to self-defense situations involving guns, there are three possible scenarios.

You could find yourself in a situation where:

  • You are armed but your assailant is not
  • Your assailant is armed and you are not, and…
  • Both you and your assailant are armed

And, of course, each of these situations includes variables such as when the weapon comes into play, distance between attacker and defender, and many more. All of these elements should be included in your training if you’re serious about self-protection.

Keeping these three scenario-types in-mind, we can see that shooting skills, while vitally important, are not the only skills we will need if we want to survive a hostile attack. In fact, in 2-out-of-3 of the scenarios, shooting is either not an option or may not be a legally viable option.

So, what are the 4 pillars of defensive handgun training mastery that you should be focused on?

Here they are:

1. Basic skills – Weapon Familiarization

This includes skills like proper grip, sighting, loading and reloading, stances, selecting a weapon, and more. It also includes overlooked skills like drawing the weapon, dropping the safety, moving (walking, rolling, etc.) while drawing, aiming, and avoiding incoming fire.

2. Target-Hitting Skills – Shooting

This should seem fairly self-explanatory but, to be sure that I’ve covered my bases, this area also includes not only target shooting, but also skills like:

  • Shooting under pressure
  • Drawing and shooting
  • Off-hand shooting, and…
  • Firing from positions other than standard standing stances.

3. Disarming Skills – Taking the Attacker’s Weapon

One of my teachers once told me that, you don’t truly understand how to use a weapon until you know how to defend against it. This is true whether we’re talking about a knife, martial arts long staff, club, or as in this case…a handgun.

Regardless of whether you’re carrying a weapon of your own or not, it’s quite possible that you could find yourself looking down the open-end of a barrel. Knowing how to avoid being shot while negotiating with your assailant or effectively taking his weapon away from him, is a critical skill to know.

And, contrary to popular belief, disarming an attacker is 95% psychology and only about 5% physical technique. Know “when” to make your move is often more important than “how” you do it.

And finally, the last pillar of mastery is…

4. Retention Skills – Holding On To Your Own Weapon

Most people, many experts included, are under the impression that, once you pull your weapon, the attacker is going to do whatever you say. And, while this seems logical, whoever said that people under pressure acted logically?

The truth of the matter is, you have no idea what he’s thinking or what he might do when faced with the prospect of:

  • Being shot
  • Going (or going “back”) to jail, or…
  • Loosing

So, having the ability to hold onto your weapon should he (or anyone else who might try to help him) try to take your weapon from you is very important.

As you can see, when we’re talking about weapons training for self-defense, we really have our work cut our for us. So, you have the choice of resting on theory and so-called “common-sense” or you can see that there is more to defending yourself with a firearm than simply being able to make a loud noise and have a hole appear in something.

To truly be able to handle a dangerous, life-threatening situation where a handgun is involved, you need to understand and develop the skills from the 4 pillars of mastery. That way, you wont have placed all your eggs in one basket. You will have insured that you can handle any type of situation that might arise.