Staying safe while traveling, Part 4: which defensive tools can you take with you?

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How do you arm yourself when you can’t be armed?

The inspiration behind this series was traveling to places where I couldn’t have a handgun on my person. Even if I were to go someplace that recognized one of the concealed handgun licenses I possess, I can’t carry a firearm in the airports at either end, or on the plane. For a cross-country flight that means a large amount of time that I ...

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Staying safe while traveling, Part 2: your concept of safety is important!

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This isn’t rocket science: it doesn’t do you much good to plan for your safety on the road if you don’t really know what safety is! In this article I share a concept of safety that, I think, will put this whole series into better perspective for you.

I’ve just returned (quite literally) from a teaching trip to the Bay Area of California. I was invited down for a return engagement at ...

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How do you stay safe when traveling? Part 1 of a series

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As I’ve mentioned before, the legally possessed firearm is a reactive tool that gives you the means to repel a lethal attack. It doesn’t, in and of itself, keep you safe — but what does, and how can you really stay safe when you’re away from home?

You may remember that last week I traveled to Indianapolis to attend the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits. I didn’t actually attend the Meetings, but rather I went to attend the Exhibits: the ...

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How can YOU enhance your physical security?

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As I’ve said countless times, both in print and in classes, your personal safety isn’t just about buying a gun. Here’s some discussion on how to look at security in a more holistic manner.

I’m a “gun guy”. I don’t think I really started out to be one, but over the years it’s worked out that way. Why not? Guns are fun, they have intricate mechanisms and endless opportunities for accessorizing (which we all refer to as ‘customization’, lest we be ...

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Do you know how to respond to a mass murder attempt?

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The recent attacks at Fort Hood and on the Jewish community in Kansas remind us that irrational attacks happen. How can you respond if you find yourself in one of these situations?

Attacks on large targets, meaning areas where many people congregate, are meant (or hoped) to result in mass casualties. The attacker(s) most often choose soft targets — places which are weapons-free zones by either edict or custom. Schools, for instance, make tempting targets because not only are they often ...

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How do you find self-defense blogs that are worth reading?

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There is no end of information on the ‘net regarding self defense, personal security, prepping, and other self-reliance topics. How do you find the usable needles in all those stacks of hay?

It’s no secret that the internet is chock full of information: good, bad, and ugly. It’s served to get rid of some of the most egregiously outlandish stuff that was common before the world wide web came into being (for instance, ...

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How can you really use situational awareness to be safer?

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Most people who talk about situational awareness don’t really understand what it’s about or how to use it to their advantage. Here are some reasons why that’s the case, and a resource for learning the proper role of situational awareness in your total self defense plan.

A few years back I wrote a very controversial article for the Personal Defense Network titled “The Myth of Situational Awareness”, wherein I pointed out ...

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What is the best defensive flashlight? Here are my favorites!

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Last time we considered the value of the flashlight as a defensive tool. Today, let’s look at the choices in the marketplace and how to make sense of them.

After much experimentation I’ve come to some definite conclusions as to what constitutes my “ideal” defensive flashlight.

* It has to be reliable above all else. It has to be able to withstand abuse, dirt, dust, perspiration, rain, and occasionally being dropped into a mud puddle ...

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What is the most useful self defense tool you can carry? How about…the humble flashlight!

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Is there something you can carry which can actually help keep you safe, to help identify and prevent trouble before it happens? The flashlight can, which is why I believe everyone who is interested in personal safety and preparedness should carry one.

While I spend a lot of time talking about firearms and shooting, I’ve also said (many times) that self defense isn’t all about the gun. The firearm is a specialized tool, ...

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The most under-used word in the field of defensive shooting: ‘context’.

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If you’re not training in context, then you don’t really know what you’re training for. How is that a wise use of your time, effort, and money?

One of the subjects I cover in my defensive shooting classes is the idea of training in context — that is, training in relation to your expected use. This seems like it should be self-evident, but surprisingly it isn’t.

This idea of context actually burst into my ...

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Linking up with your family after an incident: an important part of your safety and defensive planning!

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The link-up or meeting plan is a staple of disaster preparedness. Did you know it’s a great tool for defensive situations, like a mass attack in a mall, as well?

There’s been an incident, and you’ve survived. How are you going to determine whether the rest of your family did, and how are you going to get everyone out of what may still be a danger zone? The link-up plan, that’s ...

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What is the first, most important thing you need to have for self-defense?

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Whether we’re talking self defense or the larger concept of self preservation, there is one thing that stands above all others in its importance. You can’t buy it, though there are people who will try to sell it to you!

I came to the self defense arena through the firearms world. That wasn’t intentional, it just worked out that way! People in the shooting community, some of them very sincere and accomplished, ...

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Preparing for violence means learning about how it happens and how we look at it.

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What is your schema, your way of looking at violence? Your point of view determines how you prepare, so working on your point of view may be as important as anything in your defensive preparations.

William Aprill is a mental health professional who has made it his business to study how and why violence happens and how we react to violence. He combines that with his background in shooting ...

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How to deal with unwanted contact: the “fishing expedition”

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I’ve said many times that self defense and personal security aren’t always about the gun. The concealed carry firearm is an efficient (and important) part of an overall self defense plan, but it is applicable to a very small number of situations. Far more numerous are those everyday interactions which seem innocuous, but hold the potential for violent escalation.

Knowing how to deal with unwanted contact is a skill ...

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How should you protect yourself from the knockout game attack?

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Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday! (Be honest, now: how many of you are taking advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals to get yourself something at a gun or outdoor store? Thought so!)

Over the last week or so quite a number of people have written to ask me about the “knockout game” which the media is making such a fuss over. The common query is about how to defend against this kind of attack, and could I give some ...

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Book Review: Concealed Carry For Women by Gila Hayes

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I recently received (courtesy of the author) a copy of the new book “Concealed Carry For Women” by Gila Hayes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I assisted Gila with some pictures for this book and there is at least one picture of me inside. I’ve also known her for many years and consider her a friend, which is not a word I use frivolously. Even if I didn’t know her, however, I believe my review would ...

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How’s your situational awareness right now? It may not matter.

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I have a quick homework assignment for you. Watch the first minute-and-a-half or so of this video (you can watch the rest later, but now we have work to do!)

You see what your knowledge tells you you’re seeing. You apply whatever base comprehension you have to explain or make sense of whatever it is you’re observing. That’s what the truth is, really; an explanation or a point of view that fits what you observe. Whether ...

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Regarding the Boston Marathon bomb attack: ramifications and defenses.

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I’m still mentally processing the information coming out of Boston about the attack at the Marathon. There’s so much to say, and so much that could happen as a result of this horrendous act, that I can’t possibly do it all justice. So, if you’ll forgive me this rather informal bullet-point treatment of the subject:

– Once again, the news reports during and in the 24 hours after the attack were wildly inaccurate. The problem is that raw intelligence is by ...

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On not being armed: the discussion continues.

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Monday’s post precipitated a number of comments; here, on Facebook, and in my email box. Some of them were complimentary, some weren’t, while others were in the middle somewhere.

Many, I think, missed the point of the discussion. Allow me to illustrate with a question.

If there is a place where you cannot have your gun (because the law says you can’t), do you avoid that place altogether? I’m not talking out of principle – that’s another discussion entirely – but simply ...

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Do you carry a gun all of the time? I don’t, and you can’t if you want to have a life. Get used to it.

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Every so often I’ll get together with other people who are in the business of defensive shooting training. Invariably they are shocked – sometimes to incredulity – when I tell them that no, I’m not carrying a gun (whether I am or not – I just like to see the look on their faces) and no, I don’t carry 24/7 (nobody can, unless the never go anywhere.)

From their reactions you’d think I’d violated some sacred oath, or was insanely irresponsible, for ...

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The myth of situational awareness, illustrated.

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This story has been making the rounds over the last few days, and some people in the training business have been using it as an example of why situational awareness is So Very, Very Important: “if this guy hadn’t been texting and been aware of his surroundings, he’d be alive today!”

Bull twaddle.

Frankly, I think it’s a perfect illustration of a controversial piece I wrote for the Personal Defense Network nearly two years ago. In ...

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Task fixation in critical incidents.

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One of the concepts that we talk about in most of my classes is that of task fixation: the diversion of attention to a particular sub-activity during an attack. We discuss this specifically relating to looking at the gun while reloading.

The concept is clearly illustrated in this video of a very dynamic simulation during a Craig Douglas ECQC class (one of the few on my “short list” of classes to attend.) Note that the gun fails to fire and suddenly ...

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You’ll never look at a shopping bag the same way again: a look at a common trick.

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I’m not creative enough to be a criminal. Whenever I study their behavior, the ways that they invent to bilk or attack the innocent, I’m often impressed with their originality – and occasionally just a tad frightened that I didn’t anticipate the tactic.

This is one of those instances. On Greg Ellifritz’s blog this week he has a primer on the ways that criminals can use shopping bags to conceal weapons, and the ways to spot them. It’s ...

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The Wrong Woman now has a blog!

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Kelly Muir at Wrong Woman has put up a blog to discuss the unique aspects of this new self defense program. I can already tell that it isn’t going to be your average self defense blog: her third post talks about serial manipulators and the language they use.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. This is something men don’t normally deal with, and thus I’d never really thought about such nuances of ...

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Attitude Change, 2010 Edition: what have I changed my mind about?

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I’ve been actively interested in the topic of self defense training since the early 90s. Over the last decade, particularly in the last five years, a lot of my original opinions regarding self defense have changed. This isn’t because I’m wishy-washy and unable to hold on to an opinion (just ask my wife!) Rather, such change is brought about by being exposed to new information, or because new research alters original assumptions.

As this year winds down, I thought it might ...

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An exciting new personal security resource: announcing the Personal Defense Network!

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This week is dominated by SHOT Show news, and in the midst of all the shiny new goodies it’s hard to remember that self defense isn’t just about hardware. Guns and ammo are easy to write about, so that’s what most people concentrate on. As a result, you find lots of sites that deal with hardware, but precious few with the software so necessary for survival.

That situation is about to change: the Personal Defense Network has gone ...

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Book Review: “Personal Defense for Women” by Gila Hayes.

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Personal Defense for Women: Practical Advice for Self Protection by Gila Hayes

It is only now that society is beginning to recognize what those of us who’ve been married for decades know all too well: men and women are different. ‘Equal’, as it happens, does not mean ‘the same’, and we are slowly coming to realize this. (Back to the future!)

Because we’re different, it’s difficult – if not impossible – for a man to ...

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A book you need: Meditations On Violence by Rory Miller.

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Gila Hayes over at the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network recently reviewed a book that I had to buy: “Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence” by Rory Miller. Miller’s treatise is about violent criminal behavior – how it happens, why it happens, and what does and doesn’t work to counter it. It’s written from the perspective of empty hand martial arts (as opposed to the martial art ...

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