Why I Died

As I lay there mortally wounded, with my life slipping away, I could not help remembering the words of the instructor who had taught my concealed carry class. He said, “This training is not the end, and really not even a good beginning for your self-defense training. Get some more training!” His point, as he often repeated during the one-day class, was that I was not even close to being prepared for the real deal if it happened to me or any of the other 15 students in the class.

Now I am not sure about them, but I knew he spoke the truth about me. Fitness has never been part of my life, that firearm class was my first (just to get my carry permit), and I honestly preferred to spend my money on the skiing trip I had planned with my buddies rather than paying for more training or practice ammunition. The class got me the certificate I needed to legally carry a gun, and with a gun I had the great equalizer, right?

Wrong. During that day of training, my instructor listed all the things he wished each of us would do to ensure our survivability. I could not help thinking of those things, all of which had affected the outcome on this fateful day for me.

Non-standard exercises like this, or the ones found in workouts such as CrossFit, prepare the body for a fight.

Non-standard exercises like this, or the ones found in workouts such as CrossFit, prepare the body for a fight.


My instructor was really serious about this one. He said that during a fight, no one was immune to the catastrophic responses of the human body under stress. He made it very clear that just owning and even carrying a gun are not the answers unless a high level of fitness and plenty of ingrained skill accompany them. He told us that most encounters would be very close, and might actually be a physical fight first. He was right.

My encounter started with a punch to the side of my head from an unobserved attacker. Even though I was armed with my trusty gun, my mind went blank after that first punch and I could not believe the terror I felt. I was frozen and didn’t know what to do as more punches impacted my face and neck. Once I finally got the mental signal to do something, I could feel my pulse in my ear and would have sworn that my eardrums were about to be blown out with the pressure I felt with every beat of my heart.

Fight back? I tried, but found that the few punches I threw back had no effect on my attacker. After hitting him several times with no effect, my arms got so heavy that I could not raise them to protect my head. I felt weak, and my heart rate had gone up so high that I began to have problems thinking and seeing clearly.

I wish I had worked through this feeling in the gym a few times to get prepared before it happened to me. Could this really be happening to me?

This shooter is training for competition. Even so, his level of dedication is obvious. If you are training for a fight, it is not optional.

This shooter is training for competition. Even so, his level of dedication is obvious. If you are training for a fight, it is not optional.


Getting more training was not “optional,” my instructor said. In fact, he told us this so many times throughout the day, I found myself getting sick of hearing it. But he was right. He mentioned that with the proper training, a person would learn all the critical pieces of the self-defense puzzle. He said that learning how to defend against an attack might include using punches and kicks initially, and maybe even knowing how to wrestle someone on the ground before I had a chance to draw my handgun.

I really needed that information when, after my attacker had punched me a dozen times, he knocked me to the ground and began to stab me with a knife he had in his waistband. If I had known just a few techniques to protect myself and maybe launch a counterattack, maybe I would not be lying here bleeding out on this cold pavement. No one knows I am here. I feel so alone.

Sweeping a garment out of the way during a draw might have dire consequences if done incorrectly. Train until you get it right.

Sweeping a garment out of the way during a draw might have dire consequences if done incorrectly. Train until you get it right.


My instructor told me that I did not even need ammunition to practice! He told me that I could practice my drawing techniques in a safe area without spending a dime on ammunition. He called it “dry fire,” and said that the most important thing I could do was learn how to get my gun out quickly. He did say that the concealed carry course we were taking would not teach me the draw process, so a few of us stayed after class and got to practice some draws under our instructor’s watchful eye.

It was great information, but after the class I did not make even the slightest effort to practice it. I wish I had, since after being stabbed a few times, I got one lucky punch in to my attacker’s nose. It actually knocked him back into a car, and I had a couple of seconds to grab my gun and save my own life. . . . Too bad I didn’t know how to get my shirt out of the way.

Getting my hand on my gun was not even possible, since I fumbled with my shirt and my attacker immediately recognized what I was doing. He was street smart and came after me with the knife again. Those next few stabs to my neck and head area really did some serious damage. I had the chance to defend myself for those few seconds and I missed it! Now I lay, nearly lifeless, wishing I had listened to those wise words: “Practice drawing your firearm every day.”


In class we discussed the laws surrounding carrying a firearm and how we were responsible to follow them, but my instructor was not afraid to point out another responsibility: the responsibility to prepare. To his students, the instructor said, “Take responsibility for your own survival.” No one would be there for us when the ultimate test occurred. He said that all our excuses for failing to heed what he told us would be worthless. He was right.

All the reasons I found to ignore his advice reverberated in my mind now, and I felt myself screaming inside my own head at how stupid I had been. But it was too late. I felt my life slipping away. As I lay there within minutes of death, I prayed for a second chance. I prayed for the opportunity to prepare like my instructor had begged me to. If only I had listened! If given a second chance, I would prepare like my life depended on it—because it did.

My instructor attended my funeral and prayed for me.

This is your chance. Prepare like your life depends on it. Take responsibility for your own survival.

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26 Responses to “Why I Died”

  1. Scott S

    Very effective way to impart that "readiness", and the individual's responsibility for attaining and maintaining it, is vital.

  2. Roy Blinn

    How amazingly right you are. I was held up, at knife point, many years ago at a bus stop in Kensington, MD. I froze and couldn't comprehend what was happening to me. The punches and being pushed around wasn't the worst of it. It was the knife one of the attackers was pressing into my belly. But I was very lucky. Other than my wallet, which oddly enough they threw to the ground after taking thirty some odd dollars, and my groceries being slammed to the ground, I got to go home that night. The Montgomery County Police were of no use at all. I was asked if I provoked the attack. I hated living in the Communist Republic Of Maryland and my wife and I couldn't retire fast enough to move out of state. We both now carry firearms and carry liability insurance. Even so, we hope the day never comes when lethal force is absolutely the last resort. We're both 74 and our health and physical abilities are compromised. We've both had several firearms training classes but it's never enough to keep skill sets sharp. Great article, we thank you.

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  6. charlotte

    I esp like the words "I was not actually dead" that made me laugh that anyone could assume this. Youre so right about the correct training and bad habits so easy to pick up. Get your point about the gear & agree the important part is the continous training..I remember a terrorist looking straight up into my face and saying "You have to be lucky everytime you go out, I just have have to be lucky once" unfortunately for him this day he wasnt! Thats says it all...the real reason why we should be prepared prepared for any eventuality. Good article Mike

  7. cshoff

    Mike nails it again! What a great piece of writing, Mike. This will definitely be shared with my students!

  8. rsharrer

    Mike, Really Powerful Article! You did a great job here! I have shared this article with several CCW Instructor that I know.

  9. Mike

    Great article. As one who just applied for CCW permit, it was sort of uneventful, as I'm leaving our Court House thinking, "I'm simply not ready to conceal carry yet, this was just too easy".. This article speaks volumes to me and hopefully others. Thanks for the insight!

  10. mikeb302000

    You should prepare for a meteorite strike. At least that way you won't spend your entire life fantasizing about the "kill or be killed" scenario.