Thursday, March 6, 2014

After Thoughts On Defending Against An Assault And Being Prepared

By Dave Dargo

The two previous entries: "It Happened To Me Today - Defensive Use Of A Handgun" and "Defensive Use Of A Handgun - The Wife's Perspective" discussed what happened when we were confronted by someone completely enveloped in rage.

I feel very fortunate that it was not necessary to fire a shot to escape that situation. I feel very fortunate that I had my pistol with me and had received appropriate training in its use as well as practice in these types of situations.

In the days that have followed that incident, my wife and I have had a chance to reflect on what happened and explore some of the other thoughts that went through our heads.

I've received most of my training at Gunsite Academy. I've been up there 10 times now for almost 300 hours of defensive pistol training and another 40 hours of carbine training. That training consisted of square range work, static simulators as well as force-on-force exercises using Simunition.

Some thoughts have bubbled to the top of my mind after this incident. I realized that some of these things I thought while I was fully engaged in dealing with the assaulter and some came about after a couple of days reflection.

  • The first words out of the mouth of this rage-filled idiot were, "Stop looking at me!" Almost simultaneously, I had two thoughts: O.K., he may really represent a danger to me and my family and, did he really just demand I stop looking at him. I wondered, is this guy 4 years old? This guy was approximately 5' 8" to 5' 10" tall, about 180 pounds and very muscular. He was posturing and, as a result, was quite puffed up. His words seemed laughable to me. His actions weren't, but his words were very funny and out of place to me. The phrase has now become a family meme, "Stop looking at me!"
  • As he continued threatening to "straighten me out", commanding that I "sit back down" and to "stop looking at" him, he simultaneously danced in circles and charged. I've faced a lot of foes in Gunsite's force-on-force training and there were so many things I was expecting him to do I actually thought, "This guy really sucks at this."

    I didn't realize until later that I was comparing his actions to those I had witnessed from professional force-on-force trainers. I had been through so many exercises from so many difficult opponents that this guy was like a junior trainer. I was lucky in that regard. He didn't have partners coming out from hidden corners. He didn't have a weapon. He didn't reach behind his back making me wonder if he was grabbing a gun or a cell phone. He raised his fists, postured, danced and threatened to straighten me out.
  • I thought, "This guy has no idea what he's about to walk into." Of course, I had information that he did not yet have. Although I was backing up and commanding him, "Back off," I was the one who knew I was armed and trained. I didn't want to expose my firearm. I didn't want to have to draw it and I didn't want to have to shoot him. He, however, was the one making those decisions. As I backed away from him and demanded he back off, I knew that I would be able to defend myself if he chose that path by continuing his assault.

    Louisiana is an open-carry state. I've wondered if he would have come after me had I been carrying openly. Would he have noticed right away that I had a pistol on my hip and not even initiated the action against me?
  • At some point he got very serious and started charging directly at me. I had already established my plan of action and started executing it. I expected him to back off the moment I lifted my shirt and exposed my concealed pistol. He continued. I figured, O.K., when I grab the pistol he will back off. He continued one more step. My thought was, "It's taking forever for this guy to take a hint, I might actually have to shoot him to stop him." His actions were already irrational and violent and his rage was blinding him to any reason.
  • As he started charging I noticed his T-shirt. It had circular patterns on it. I picked a circle on the shirt as my target and my focus moved there. I realize that I only have a vague sense of what was actually on the shirt but I remember the circle very well.
  • After he left but before the police arrived we remained quite vigilant in case he decided to circle the block.
  • In speaking to some of the witnesses who saw this unfold they were convinced I was going to have to shoot him to stop him. I didn't feel that pressure. I knew this guy sucked at being a bully. I had faced much tougher opponents at Gunsite and I knew that I had time. He was getting very close to the point of no-return but I've actually felt a lot more nervous in Gunsite training exercises than I did facing this guy. I guess that's what intense training is all about. The harder the training the easier real-life can seem.

    It goes back to something I've always heard and believed, the more practice is like real-life, the more real-life is like practice. At some point, the situation simply felt like another training exercise.
  • After each force-on-force training exercise at Gunsite, the bad-guys and instructors all gather around the student and do a de-briefing on what the student did right and wrong. I'm so used to the de-briefs that there's a part of me that wishes the incident had been caught on video so I could do my own analysis.
  • In the training classes we provide, we talk about awareness and readiness. I've previously written about preventing victimization by maintaining a proper level of awareness. I've commented that one who is aware is much less likely to be a victim. What is more likely, I've posited, is that the aware person will be in a public place and something will happen to someone else. I've said that you might be in a restaurant or store and a domestic violence incident will occur in front of you. That's exactly what happened to us. We were eating lunch at a picnic table at a BBQ joint and someone picked that parking lot to crash into in order to stop and beat his wife or girlfriend.
  • I was surprised by something the police officer told me. No matter how many witnesses, they can't take a report of battery from third-party witnesses. The woman has to come forward and file a complaint. The complaint I filed against the bully was one of simple assault. In Louisiana, that's a misdemeanor. Although I'm willing to follow-up and testify I think it is unlikely that anything will come of it. Just one more violent bully free to roam the streets among us.
This guy moved his focus from the woman to me when he noticed me witnessing his battery. He intended to do me harm or, at the very least, he intended to make me think that.

I remember a video I saw of Colonel Cooper lecturing a class at Gunsite where he told the students that they needed to have the proper mindset in addition to the technical pistol training. The student's mindset had to be one where they realized that it might happen today. It might happen right now. The person who is armed may need to draw their pistol and stop an attack. Without that mindset someone who is armed is not ready.

I'm sorry I had to get to the point of executing a self-defense plan and started to draw my pistol. I'm thankful that I was trained and armed and I'm thankful that the situation wasn't foisted upon someone who was unprepared. The fact that I simply stood up to see what was happening stopped him from attacking the woman with him. The fact that I was prepared and willing to defend myself stopped his attack on me.

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