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.

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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.

To be successful, you need a routine set of kit – a holster that you are comfortable and familiar with, a specific placement of spare ammo, a cell phone that works reliably, etc. Make preparations for the eventualities of death or legal issues. Have a lawyer on speed dial – I’m serious! Make sure you’ve spoken with family and legal representation BEFORE the fact. Having a game plan will make your life a lot easier after the fact.

Dealing with an attorney who you are familiar with and who knows you is much easier when you’ve got all the psychological marbles rolling around than dealing with an unfamiliar attorney and no idea of the legal process to come.

Also, avail yourself of every training course you can. Don’t just attend once, either. Take as many classes as you can. New techniques and different classes have different dynamics and different perspectives on the same problem. This helps cross-train you with more skills, and at the end of the day, the more skills you have, the more tools you have in your toolbox to stay alive.

Covert Operations Really Does Apply

The open carry movement not withstanding, advertising yourself as a shooter or a gun-toter is a bad idea, especially in this day and age. Yes, it is legal to carry openly in many states, and in places where that’s the status quo, it won’t really draw attention.

However, remember that drawing attention to yourself not only makes things harder with the public who are not used to the good guys walking around in civilian clothes with a gun hanging out, but also the kind of elements who would see you as a target, like a school yard bully who wants to prove he’s bigger and badder than you are. Plus, if they don’t know your true capabilities, then you have a significant tactical advantage.

Urban Camouflage

Covert in this case, though, doesn’t just cover how you carry your gun. It’s also about how you carry yourself.

Many of the people who carry a gun for the first time and aren’t used to it are very self conscious. They either act in a way that draws attention to themselves, hinting that you’re somehow special or otherwise other than the normal public, or they do things that give themselves away. Behaving oddly is a huge tell, and again draws attention. Our goal is to treat our life like a serious undercover mission, and be a ghost to anyone that is looking for a mark to rob, beat, rape, or kill.

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Also, urban camouflage is as important to us as anything else. Dress right for the culture, and no one pays you a second glance.

Bottom Line

It’s okay to be a regular guy. Not everyone has to rock the operator watch, shirt, shoes, and pants. Keeping low key is ideal, and when you do your job right, you achieve your objective without people remembering you were there.

Our goal, as Civilians, is to get out of the game intact, and to keep our loved ones safe. We’re the home guard, and that’s our job.

We can learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in arms, because they are the external to our internal security. We don’t need to be the police to be proactive, but we do have to be willing to step up because there won’t always be a cop handy.

Stay Safe and Shoot Straight

This article is courtesy of The Loadout Room and written by