The Defensive Mindset

evade barricade arm

Being truly armed means thinking beyond the gun! Photo: author

In the spring of 2008, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. with a couple members of the F.B.I. Cyber Division based in Indianapolis. I recall walking with them down the streets of D.C. and realizing I was the only one in the group without a firearm. I made an offhand remark about being the only one of us who was unarmed. One of the Special Agents stopped walking, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Being armed is a mindset. You don’t need a gun to be armed.” The discussion we had after that led me to see the need for training to fill in some gaps in my defensive skills. It was a lesson I needed to learn and I am thankful he corrected me.
indoor range

Just because you own a firearm and go here doesn’t mean you are prepared to use your firearm in a fight! Photo: author

Pulse Nightclub Shootings

Fast forward to the morning of June 12, 2016. I was up late working when I heard the news about the terrorist attack in Orlando. Even before the situation was over and the details of what happened were out, I predicted what I would see on TV and social media. I knew we would hear people talking about gun-free zones and how if one armed person had been there, it could have been stopped (although we did later learn an armed off-duty officer was there). I don’t disagree that several armed people could have made a difference and I don’t disagree that one should carry a firearm at all times. However, I do say this to make a point: just because you have a firearm doesn’t mean you are armed.

I looked up several definitions of the word “armed” and found that many included the word “weapon.” Our ability to think and reason is what puts us at the top of the food chain. One of the better definitions I found was, “furnished with something that provides security, strength, or efficacy.” Our best weapon is the mindset of strength, security, and efficacy! What is efficacy? “The capacity for producing a desired result or effect.” So to paraphrase, being armed is being furnished with something that provides strength, security, and the capacity for producing a desired result. What is that something? Allow me to propose to you that it’s knowledge.

firearms training
Proper training helps develop the correct mindset. Photo: author

Through my interactions at a local gun store and affiliation with a range, every day I observe people who carry firearms. Their comments and actions reveal that many of them are not mentally prepared to use their firearm. Many more haven’t taken a single training class to learn how to use their firearm properly for self-defense. How many people do you know who have a firearm in their purse or in a glove box because someone else bought it for them and said they needed to have it? How many of those people would remember they had the gun if they were ambushed? Giving a gun to an unskilled and unwilling person doesn’t make them armed, just as giving a guitar to an unskilled and unwilling person does not make them a musician.

scenario training

Instructor Chad Christy is tackled by female student. Photo: author

Active Shooter Training

When I attended an Active Shooter Training course at Endeavor Defense and Fitness in Columbus, Ohio, with Aaron Jannetti and Chad Christy a couple months ago, that message rang loud and clear. I watched as instructors with Simunitions guns were taken to the ground by tiny young ladies and out-of-shape middle-aged men. I saw students fighting back with every weapon they had, including improvised weapons, against someone with a gun. It was fascinating to watch the light bulb come on in the students when they started discovering they are a weapon. Aaron and Chad did a great job explaining Recognize, Evade, Barricade, Arm, and Fight principles to the class. The students who left that class felt much more capable of stopping an active shooter regardless if they had a firearm or not. Although some didn’t have a firearm on them, no one left the class unarmed.

active shooter response

Students hold down instructor who had been the active shooter for the scenario. Photo: author

Tools + Mindset

Having the tools to fight evil – firearms, knives, improvised weapons – is just one part of the equation. Being prepared to fight evil wherever it may appear is the other part. Ask yourself a question and be honest, as your life may depend on it. “Are you as ready as you should be if you need to confront evil?” Sadly, many in the Pulse nightclub on June 12 chose to hide, and that decision cost them their lives. We all need to be armed regardless of the tools we have to protect ourselves. Are you going to be the person who is armed and ready to fight, or are you going to be the person hiding in the bathroom? What you do today will influence that decision. Being armed is a mindset.

For a list of qualified instructors who are capable of training you to be truly armed, go to the training resources page here on the Personal Defense Network. It’s a directory of instructors all over the country who can help you prepare to defend yourself and your loved ones.

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26 Responses to “The Defensive Mindset”

  1. Joe

    Given that the FBI, CIA, and military intelligence organizations are routinely staging these "active shooter" events, don't sweat them too much. After all, that's the whole point of them; to make you a scared, easily led person who will buy lots of guns and consumer products to compensate for your lonely, fearful life. These events also keep you from questioning defense and police budgets, and that's the REAL bottom line.

  2. Philio=p

    I looked through the list but did not see anyone from NC or SC listed. Anyone have any info for these two states? Thanks

  3. Crystal

    I am a beginner, beginner and require training on the defensive mindset. I know of one or two local venues, but am interested to see if there are any you would recommend. Also, being in AZ, I am not required to have a concealed carry permit, but believe it is best to have one so I am looking for a class or instructor. Thanks, Crystal

  4. mark anthony c yap

    i was once invited to asses the training of a personal protection group. in one of the sessions the instructor asked a a question regarding a drowning swimmer in a public swimming pool. he asked who would most likely jump in the pool and save the drowning victim, he continue to say that it would most likely be some one who had previous training in saving a life in that situation. an off duty police man or some one with life saving skills acquire in a work setting. so i guess being armed is about being equipped to handle a certain situation or a situation that you might encounter as a law enforcement officer. so this article just made me look at the word armed in a whole different perspective.

  5. Ron

    Hello any recommended training facility’s near Buffalo NY ?

  6. Paul

    Presently looking for a training facility near Watertown,NY

  7. William

    As an NRA and State Certified Instr in several disciplines, including Defensive shooting, I assume I am on the list? What concerns me is the great number of CCW Holders out there now who have been to the Range a few times and now think they are "Good to Go" in a real fight. Uhh NO. They mostly actually don't have a clue about what it will take to actually shoot in a real Defensive encounter - either Home or Out. How do we convince them they "Really Do" need further training for a Real Encounter ?

  8. Steven Singleton

    They said being armed is a mindset, yet each of them had a gun...interesting.

  9. Alan

    I am completely puzzled why instructors in self defense have students stand face on in either the Weaver or Isosceles stances. Also two hands on gun. I do not think any intruder will wait until one gets up, gets gun out, gets into their preferred stance, then says "I'm ready". Such weird training. I practice one hand both left and right, from various positions and being partially handicapped can get on sight much faster and much safer than what is being taught. Can someone tell me where I am wrong, please?Alan Carnell


    Truly one of the best episodes of the series.