I teach the defensive use of firearms for a living. They are the great equalizer. Being able to own and use a firearm is what separates a citizen from a subject, but depending on that firearm alone leaves the Defender in great peril.
True and total defense is like a castle's defensive fortifications - integrated and complete. Let me explain. And if you don't remember the details of Situational Awareness or any of the other details listed below, check out our DVD series Avoid-Deter-Defend for a complete explanation and training course.
Castles weren't hidden structures - they sat upon commanding heights. Their fortifications could be seen for miles around. Castles flaunted these defenses, much like a porcupine flaunts its quills. The modern Citizen Defender displays this presence through confidence in his or her awareness and capabilities. So stand up straight. Scan the environment and present with your Situational Awareness in Dangerous or Neutral environments. Be fit and strong. Don't be an easy target, and threats will not treat you as one.
There is a reason why our Special Operations forces are so powerful on the battlefield. They carried themselves with absolute confidence. Confidence that comes from learning their craft inside and out, practicing their skills until failure was unlikely, and then having real world experience to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were going to succeed. Train this way, and you won't need to "demonstrate" confidence, you will simply be confident.
Castles were often set upon a hill, forcing the enemy to have to climb and become tired even before they even began to fight at the walls. The angle of the hill at the bottom of the wall made staying near the castle difficult and exhausting. The attackers had to batter the walls of the castle for days or months. This is exactly what we want our threats to feel like if they engage with us.
If you're suspect you'll get gassed out, gasping for breath, after just 10 seconds of a fight for your life, you need to add more fitness into your defensive plan. If you hit like a kitten, you need more strength and better combatives training. If you are ever really attacked, you will suffer the effects of the Physiological Effects of Stress. Your heart rate will jump to its maximum. The blood in your extremities will be drawn back to the core. Your coordination will drop drastically. These effects can be minimized if you are training your fitness effectively.
3. Layered Defenses
The castle didn't rely upon one defense but had rings of walls, porticos, moats, and traps. Likewise, you should prepare for your attackers using Situational Awareness, the Plan of Action, knives, firearms, flashlights, combatives, and a mind for using improvised weapons.
As the novelist Robert Jordan so aptly put it: “Anything can be a weapon, if the man or woman who holds it has the nerve and will to make it so.” We talk about this in the concept of Never Unarmed - what is most important is the mind. Keep in mind that you will never quit, and even if all you have left are your fists and your teeth, you are an armed and dangerous defender. But remember that you live in a place where you have tons of opportunities to grow all of your defensive skills. Take some ground fighting training, work with some of the amazing Kali knife fighting groups, go learn Muay Thai or other combatives systems. Don't have a tool just to have it - know how to use it.
That leads me to the next defense system...
4. Well Trained Troops
Back when defending castles, archers had to routinely practice their upper body strength to use long bows effectively. Each draw of the bow would require between 100 and 200 pounds of force! (The average hunting bow today is less than 80.) Excavated remains of medieval archers have shown that the archer possessed enormous and unbalanced upper body strength, all designed to effectively wield the squad automatic weapon of the day, the Longbow. Archers could rain arrows down upon attacking armies, shooting thousands of arrows per volley. War arrows were known to pierce armor, bone, and the horse the knight was riding upon with a single hit, killing both horse and rider.
This is where your Shadow Gunning, Homework, and regularly attending training comes into play. If the archers weren't strong enough or skilled enough to use the bow, they were useless. Similarly, if your skills aren't up to snuff when it counts, your tools are potentially useless, too. A draw is only as fast as the neural pathway around which that draw has been developed. Shot groups are only as fast and as tight as your Shooting Fundamentals will allow. Don't neglect this aspect of your growth. Spend the time and effort to be well trained, since it may be the difference between success and failure in a violent encounter.
5. The Courage to Take the Fight to the Enemy
In the castle defense, it was necessary for the forces within the castle to eventually make a counter attack. Napoleon once noted that: "The side that remains within its fortifications is beaten." Defenders inside the castle could only remain that way for so long until disease or starvation would inevitably cause their defeat, so they had to undertake a breakout.
Similarly, it is not possible for us to always remain in defense mode. Using that Situational Awareness to identify threats at a distance and avoid conflict allows us to take positive defensive actions as early and effectively as possible, but once that threat becomes lethal to us or our loved ones, we must act. Setting this mindset most succinctly was the Godfather of the modern combat knife, Ernest Emerson. "When attacked, for the next 30 seconds to a minute, you must become a justified sociopath. For 30 seconds to a minute, you don't give a damn what happens to that bad guy."
For those of us who are not sociopaths, it's hard to think about stabbing someone to death, or gouging out an eyeball, or shooting 9mm rounds center mass until that threat stops. But if we seek to defend ourselves or our loved ones from a sociopath bent on killing or maiming us, we must allow our minds to go into that dark place. Turning on this switch in a violent encounter is critical. Think about the nice cat that either you or someone else owns. When that animal's life is threatened, it's no longer "nice kitty," but a swirling storm of teeth and claws. It can flip that animalistic switch when threatened, and so can you.