For all this technological advancement, however, my body’s aging processes have not stopped — nor can they be stopped as long as I am alive. Every day I get a little older; my vision deteriorates, my muscles lose some mass, and my mental processes dull. Not a lot, thankfully, but at any minute I could have an accident or a medical issue that could substantially accelerate that process and dramatically alter my life.
If you’re in your twenties, you may not believe (let alone accept) that this could happen to you. Admittedly some of the probabilities are less at your age than at mine, but things still happen. Accidents occur in cars, on the ski slope, and at work; medical emergencies, some with life-long consequences, aren’t exactly uncommon and can strike at any age. Any of these could affect your ability to defend yourself, and that’s not counting the fact that even if your health is perfect all of your life you’re still going to get older!
This was illustrated very clearly by a student in this very class who really wasn’t all that old, but has faced significant health challenges in his recent life. He was a tall fellow, obviously husky and very active when he was younger, but was now having trouble even walking around. He understood that his physical condition had dramatically altered his defensive options and, for the first time in his life, realized that he needed more efficient tools with which to protect himself. As I’ve often said, the personal firearm is a very efficient tool with which to address a lethal threat — which is the same conclusion he came to, which is why he was in my class!
He did get me to thinking about my life and my future, however. Have you given any thought as to how you’d defend yourself if your physical condition suddenly and radically changed, or even if it just changes naturally over time? If you consider yourself a prepared individual, but haven’t at least considered what you’d do if your circumstances were to be altered by either man or nature, you’re probably not as prepared as you think you are.
Let’s say you had an innocuous little accident and broke your strong hand or arm in a couple of places. Do you occasionally do some weak-hand-only practice so that you have at least a semblance of understanding of how that affects your balance of speed and precision? I’m on record as saying that weak-hand shooting isn’t something to which you need to devote a lot of practice — 5% or so is being quite generous, I think — but you need to do some, if for no other reason than simple familiarity. You’d be surprised how many people I’ve met who’ve done almost none!
Not every defensive incident requires (or allows) the use of lethal force, of course. I’ve long advocated knowledge and practice in some form of less-than-lethal defense, and many people have taken courses in various forms of martial arts. What if your strength, stamina, and balance are reduced to the point that aggressive physical action is no longer an option? Might that not be a good reason to consider less-than-lethal tools such as Tasers and chemical sprays?
Understand that I’m not saying you should forego training with those tools and in those techniques which are appropriate today, just because they may not be appropriate for your future defense. Your first priority needs to be preparation for the most proximate — the most probable — threats and the optimal defenses for them, which are based on your condition as it is right now. That’s a solid plan.
I am saying, however, that rounding out your defensive training and preparation with an eye cast toward your future might be a good use of a small portion of your limited training resources. That might include some of the weak-hand-only shooting I mentioned, but it might also include at least being familiar with an improvised weapon such as a cane. You probably don’t need to become Grand Master-level proficient in its use right now, but knowing the principles behind its application gives you a knowledge base from which you can draw when the time you need it finally comes. There is also technique to sing a Taser or a chemical spray such as OC properly, and learning that as part of your overall protection planning means that you only need a refresher when those become more important options to you.
Preparation, at its core, is about planning for the future. Most of the time people plan based on expectation of use: things you’re more likely to use, you train and practice more often while those of less likely use get addressed less often — but they do get addressed. Since this is all about the future, maybe you should also work in a time factor: those things you’re likely to need/be able to do now get more preparation resources than things which are likely to happen at a later date, but the future isn’t ignored. It’s just put into its proper perspective.
Everyone ages. Lots of people face medical emergencies. The only question is: will you still be able to defend yourself?