Moving from the door propped on stilts was harrowing and frustrating as my feet plummeted through 18 inches of packed snow with each step. My breathing was rapid as I ran to take advantage of concealment again, crouching low behind a barrel to avoid detection. I worked to keep a visual of my threat at about 21 yards while still being undetected as I released my magazine and reinserted a fully loaded one. Moving to yet another barricade, I dropped to my belly in spread eagle fashion, brought the gun to my shoulder and cheek, stared down and evaluated my threat, and pressed the trigger. Bang bang. Bang.
The exercises were exhausting and exhilarating. The possibility of ever being in the situation of having shots returned and being ill-prepared ~ potentially deadly.
It was a day well spent… I again had the great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone this weekend in a Tactical Defensive Close-Quarters Carbine course taught by Shepard Humphries and Andy Ward of the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience.
Armed with my LWRC AR-15 with Aimpoint Optics, I spent hours in snow and high altitude sun with a unique variety of other shooters interested in practicing tactical defensive concepts, tactical mindset and practical maneuvers.
With a crunchy top layer of snow, should you post-hole through and risk the threat hearing every step? Or might you creep your way slowly on your belly… How many times do you need to practice your tactical reloads, malfunction clearing and stoppage drills before you’re comfortable doing it while on the run with live ammo and your muscle memory kicks in? How is your performance affected as you are being slapped on your calves by sneaky trainers while trying to retain an accurate sight picture under a timer, reflective glare and sweat dripping into your eyeballs?
I’ll venture to say it’s different for every defensive shooter, and since we tend to “sink to the level of our training instead of rising to the occasion* ” we each must practice differently – and frequently! I must train often and in a great variety of scenarios to even be able to default to my muscle memory, adaptation to environment, etc…
Visualizing the real fight: Any defensive combat in real life will also be different ~ can I count on a 4 x 2 barrel being just off to my left as I move toward my threat? Will I be on a beach in Florida when the battle happens, rather than having to think about post-holing in the snow as I move toward my attacker? How might drugs or alcohol play a role as I read the body language of my threat? Do I practice verbal de-escalation techniques before I even draw from holster? In what scenarios is this vital or futile? Where is my comfort zone and how do I stay alert, prepared and not paranoid?
I love this article http://www.womensoutdoornews.com/2014/02/shooting-starr-tactical-state-mind/ by Britney Starr of WomensOutdoorNews.com, in which she discusses “Tactical” as not being about the high tech gear but about a state of mind ~ “A state of preparedness and calculated planning that can be used in everyday life.”
Visualizing potential scenarios and placing ourselves in training situations which may be just ‘too close for comfort’ helps inoculate us to stress and prepares our mind and body to default to our level of training. Was I out of my comfort zone as the paper faces I named glared at me as I moved from target to target, as I discerned my threats, shooting when necessary, controlling my breath and emotions, training my mind and body to attack in defense for my life? Absolutely. …And I may just default to the level of my training someday. I’m grateful.
Train yourselves up, High Caliber Women. It’s a comprehensive “Mind, Body and Attitude” development and you may just some day be glad you invested the time and effort.
Lynn Sherwood, CEO High Caliber Women
*(“You don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”: Credit (as close as I can discern in this internet web of historical ‘facts’) goes to a Barrett Tillman (and a motivational poster he saw at a So. Cal. Naval Base) and Dave Grossman in “Killology”, “On Combat”, as delivered by a trainee.)
Lynn Sherwood is an NRA certified instructor for Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun and Refuse to be a victim. She and her husband Shepard Humphries (yes, the principal instructor in this course – there ya go! 🙂 ) own and operate the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience and High Caliber Women ™. Lynn had a 22+ year fear of guns and discerned several years ago that it wasn’t the gun she was afraid of, it was the bad guy behind the gun. Since then, her mission has been to prepare herself and others to live not in fear but in preparedness. Her passion is teaching women, youth, families and corporate groups and thus High Caliber Women was born to educate and empower women in life and personal defense with a comprehensive approach in Mind, Body and Attitude. (High Caliber Women Facebook Page.)