While everyone hopes the only gunfight they’ll be in is on the Xbox, if you carry for self-defense, you have to be prepared for the real thing.
Defeating a dangerous threat through fighting is problem solving at high speed. You’re presented a problem. Normally, you have a short amount of time to come up with a solution and apply the actions necessary to defeat the threat(s). The exact details are unpredictable; each encounter is unique. But, we do know these fundamental skills will determine the outcome of the fight: movement, communication, the use of cover, shooting (if necessary) and the ability to think.
In almost all violent confrontations your number one priority is movement. If possible you move before the actual confrontation begins. You move to create distance from the threat or escape to a safer location. Moving to cover provides you with protection.
It may be necessary to move in order to obtain a clear angle of fire on the threat without endangering bystanders. Another advantage of moving is that it puts your opponent(s) in a reactive mode. A threat armed with a knife charges you.
You start stepping to the right. Now he must evaluate, make decision and react. Forcing the threat to react to you is always a good principle to apply. Moving is an important, fundamental skill.
Programming movement into our threat response is difficult. Once we decide to fight, our natural instinct—which is programmed for fighting with our hands, feet, teeth, clubs and impact weapons or knives we use as claws—is to root to the ground. The beauty of firearms is that we can be moving and still respond to the threat.
Yes, communication is an essential fighting skill. You communicate with the threat, issuing verbal commands, telling them what to do. There are literally millions of documented examples when the presence of a firearm and strong verbal commands diffused a situation.
You’re with family or friends. Through communication you check on their status, tell them what to do or where to go. There are bystanders without a clue. You have to step up, directing them toward an exit or safe area.
Communication is mandatory to coordinate your actions with armed partners or teammates. I use the acronym I.C.E. for communication—Inform, Confirm, and Execute. I inform my partner I want to move left.
“Moving left!” I’m asking for permission to move. My partner confirms my intent by repeating the command, “Move left!” This is communication, an exchange of information back and forth between the two of us.
Once I get confirmation I execute my action, announcing, “Moving!” There is also nonverbal communication, for example body language, paying attention to cues the threat may be exhibiting, or using hand signals to communicate with a partner.
Communication is an essential element to fighting and requires practice. If you don’t work on it you’ll get lockjaw under stress. You can always choose not to communicate, some situations may not demand it, but without practice it’s really difficult to remember to communicate.