Do You Train Properly for Self-Defense?

TFB Staffer
by TFB Staffer

A vast number of firearms owners carry a gun for self-defense. Even so, all too many shooters continue to spend their range time firing their gun with both hands when it’s a necessity to work on your weak hand shooting as well. There are countless articles, blog posts, and flat-out rants on this very topic, and for good reason: if you’re attacked your strong hand could be injured, and your weak hand may be the only thing standing between you and imminent death. There are other scenarios where you’re down to one hand or the other, making it important to practice one-handed shooting in general, too. But with all the focus on weak-hand and single-handed shooting – and, yes, the need for such training is absolutely legitimate – it seems people forget there are other equally important skills to master.

There’s no way to predict how an attack will progress, unless you want to predict the rampant unpredictability of it. One thing’s for sure: you’re highly unlikely to get through a fight for your life standing in an isosceles position holding your gun in a classic teacup grip. The odds are high you’ll end up firing from a concealed position (sometime we’ll discuss the difference between shooting from concealment and shooting from behind cover) or firing from a prone, sitting, or kneeling position. And when I say kneeling, I mean kneeling down on both knees or with one or the other knee raised; when I say prone, you should imagine the various positions you could be forced into on the ground. You could end up on your back, on your stomach, on either side, or on your back with your attacker on top of you. There are myriad possibilities, and that means more training time.

Obviously it’s impossible to master everything at once, and it will take a serious investment of time and money – because ammunition isn’t free – to reach a point where you’re at least able to manage at a basic level. The point here is simply that it’s a mistake to focus only on one-handed shooting when you consider ways to train for self-defense. In fact, there are other issues to consider: if you’re unable to chamber a round using the standard two-handed method, can you get the job done fast without stopping to figure out how you’re going to do it? Don’t assume you can rack your slide one-handed; practice.

It’s all too easy to focus on either what’s most commonly discussed or on what looks cool, but if you really want to survive an attack, you need to get down and dirty. Literally. Spend time on the ground, find a range with a ballistic furniture room and learn to effectively fire from cover that isn’t a free-standing wall, and be ready to do whatever it takes to become a proficient self-defense shooter. There’s more, of course, but these suggestions are certainly enough to keep you going for awhile. Practice as though your life depends on it, because someday it just might.

How do you train for self-defense purposes?

TFB Staffer
TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.

More by TFB Staffer

Join the conversation
2 of 37 comments
  • Archie Montgomery Archie Montgomery on Dec 09, 2014

    Another rather important aspect of personal defense handgun practice and training is to use the actual handgun carried. The initial picture in this article shows what appears as a variant of the CZ 75 handgun. Altogether a decent firearm, but designed as a open holster carry pistol. Does the author suggest this pistol is actually carried as a defensive arm?

    The great bulk of defensive weapons in the United States are carried concealed. This for legal, social and tactical reasons. Take a look at the third photograph. The reader may feast the eyes on a well-kitted 'operator' with a hydration back pack, sheath knife and tie-down holster. How is he - in current configuration - anything like the typical citizen armed for self-defense?

    Serious self-defense practice SHOULD involve one-handed shooting. Typically the 'off' hand is busy carrying a package, directing or controlling a child, opening a door or even fending off one's attacker. Having the strong hand disabled is not nearly as common, but cannot be totally discounted.

    As noted in Austin, Texas recently (God Bless Sgt Adam Johnson!), a carefully armed and delivered shot is - occasionally - needed.

    In my life, needing a well delivered shot at the grocery store, the mall or downtown will probably lean more to accuracy and confidence than an impromptu 'on the ground' position.

  • Lt Donn Lt Donn on Dec 10, 2014

    The first photo shows what appears to be a female hand holding a CZ pattern pistol. Just FYI, I believe this pistol is too large for the hand of the person holding it. If it is just a "demo" type photo, then OK, but if that is the author's hand, [she] may want to explore a somewhat smaller platform...just my opinion
    As to the content of the article...the info is spot-on...I am incorporating non-dominant and single-hand challenges with all my students...for all the reasons stated in the article. Just a note for the instructors reading this careful with those shooters who are attempting these challenges for the first time...there is an enhanced safety component when introducing such a "new" skill to novice shooters---I recommend a one-to-one shooter/instructor ratio when teaching these new skills.