If you’re deep behind enemy lines, tasked with taking down a specific target, you don’t want attention. Standing out among the crowd will only make you a target and possibly compromise your mission. You’ve got to achieve your objectives, be aware of your surroundings, and exercise the utmost of discretion in terms of use of force, verifying that your target is a threat, not simply a civilian.

Sound like the objectives of a SEAL or other SpecFor operator? Try armed civilian.

A New Battlefield

No matter what the evening news tells you, many of this country’s largest cities suffer from a plague of violent crimes. Police forces do what they can, but as anyone smart has figured out, their job starts when yours ends. Much of the violence is localized and kept between armed combatants. Gangs against gangs, gangs against police, and so on.

However, there are just as many unscrupulous criminals out there who look for easy marks to make a few quick bucks. Many robberies don’t involve violence. More and more, the use of force is employed to overwhelm the subject.

Another new trend is for mobs of teenagers to simply gang up on, attack, and beat a victim for no reason, as has happened in Greensboro, Minneapolis, and Wisconsin, among many others.

It’s not surprising, then, that the average person is taking advantage in record numbers of concealed carry laws and learning the arts of self defense. In fact, the exact demographics of people who recognize the need to protect themselves is surprising in its variety, no longer limited to the narrow category pundits would term “gun nuts.”  Completely contrary to the portrayal as urban terrorists, these people are law abiding citizens who take this responsibility very seriously.

Training and Tactics

The best trainers of handgun shooting and self defense will tell you that training is paramount to survival. As silly as some may find it, seeking out and training in classes that blur the boundaries between law enforcement and civilian tactics is not a bad thing. The key tactics learned in these, and the myriad civilian self defense courses that are worth the money, start with the most basic and often overlooked:

  • Maintain a heightened state of awareness and look for details. When it comes to self defense, this is even more critical. Most bad situations can be avoided by simply observing your surroundings, and taking note of anything that’s out of place or simply suspicious.
  • Practice de-escalation and avoidance. Avoiding a confrontation is always preferable to engaging a threat. As a civilian, because of our tight rules of engagement, we can’t act simply on a hunch, and by the time things escalate to the point of calling for action, the danger is much higher.  By being aware of your situation, and actively seeking to avoid confrontation or de-escalating the confrontation if you can’t avoid it, chances are things will resolve themselves.
  • Maintain a warrior mindset. If you can’t avoid a bad location, and you can’t talk your way out of the fight, you’re going to have to act. Mentally preparing yourself for the eventuality, and deciding mentally on your tactics and training with those will ultimately help you decide the outcome of the fight. Remember, in most cases, an aggressor who is actively seeking to do you harm has already decided on his course of action and his limits. By predetermining your own limits and course of action, you are free to simply act on your battle plan, paying attention to cover, concealment, accuracy, and other things that matter. Worrying about the consequences and outcome is best left until after doing what you need to do to save your life.

Relentless training isn’t just for the military or the police, and it’s not just about going to the range and putting a few rounds in paper. Everything from your own mindset to load out to logistical support needs to be checked and rechecked, because indeed if the time comes that you as a civilian must engage a threat, the critical nature of your kit and support system is every bit as serious as for a soldier, marine, or police officer who goes into battle.