How To Mentally Prepare Yourself for High-Stress Survival Situations

training with gun

Preparing mentally is often times more important than any physical training you could ever do, should you ever find yourself in a do or die, pull your gun from the holster survival scenario. This isn't meant to discount the actual importance of physical training or going to the range and practicing with your chosen guns—because that is important too. It's just that, if you don't have the confidence that training your brain provides, you could get into some serious trouble.
Recently, Eve spoke about the importance of being mentally ready and to know what you're going to do in a critical incident before it even happens. I figured that now would be a good time to break that down M.C. Hammer style, and give you some insight about what you can do to prepare your mind for a critical incident.

Head rehearsal:
You've likely heard of the dress rehearsal. It's what my daughter has to do for her dance recital each year. They practice all of the moves, to make sure each dancer knows what to do. It's a good idea to begin going through some scenarios in your head to prepare, should you ever need to withdraw your gun and defend yourself.
You need to actually see yourself, defending yourself, with your gun. What does it look like? Is your family there? Are you protecting an innocent mother? How about an 85 year old war veteran? Just you? Again, what does it look like? Go over it in your head, and prepare yourself for the chance that you could one day have to use your gun in self-defense. Draw a mental image of you drawing your weapon and shooting a bad guy about to take someone else's life. You need to see it, to be ready for it.
This is one of the reasons why I was writing those self-defense scenario first-person narrative stories about a year ago. They were intended to put you into the shoes of the victim. They were intended to get you to think about the outcome, and how to react. They were also intended to get you thinking about what NOT to do in a defensive gun use. I have a strong desire to begin writing them again, in the near future.

A simple decision:
Right now, make a decision. Are you willing to take another person's life in defense of your own, or your spouse, or your child? It's never a matter of do you value one person's life over another (even though you would value those lives more than someone you don't know). It's always about innocent versus guilty. The person doing the attacking needs to be stopped to protect the innocent. Are you willing to be the one to stop an attacker?
Going a step further, are you willing to help an innocent third party? This is something you need to know. Chances are good that, if you do nothing to help someone you don't know, you'll walk away from it unscathed. That's important if you've got a family to take care of. You need to think about who will take care of your loved ones in your absence. Does this sound selfish? It shouldn't, because each one of us has responsibilities.
Make the decision, now. And then, do some head rehearsals where you're forced to take the life of someone who is obviously intent on harming an innocent person. Does this sound harsh? Taking life always is. But, you need to know right NOW what you're willing to do. The decision is yours alone to make.

Confidence is key:
I'm going to say it right here, right now … One thing I don't do enough of, is train with people who know more than me. I know I should, but I don't have the time or the money to take a defensive training class. I want too, but I'm not set up for that right now.
Thankfully, I have some classes already behind me, and I'm a confident shooter. Are you? If you've never taken a defensive pistol class, or close quarters combat, or heck, even a beginners class, you need to before you do anything else.
If you or your child were attacked, would you possess the confidence to let your ability shine through? No? I can all but guarantee that if you took a class you'd have more confidence. Those classes are designed to teach you what to do in different scenarios. Take a class.
Learn how to recognize threats:
This sounds elementary, dear Watson, but it isn't. If you're ever in a fight for your life you're going to get tunnel vision, a thumping heart, erratic breathing, etc. When this happens, your brain isn't supplied with the right amount of oxygen and is unable to focus. Will you be able to decipher who is a threat, versus who is friendly?

Chances are good that many of you reading this right now might not be able to, and that's a problem. To fix it, you can't just go to the range and throw lead at a paper bulls-eye style target. There are different ways to train, but one thing I like to do is bring someone to the range and have them hang targets, each one depicting different scenes.
One may be a bad guy coming through a bedroom window, another may be a mom and a kid walking. One may be someone pointing a gun at you, the other may be an elderly lady. You get the point. Have your friend post the targets at differing yardages and in differing patterns while you're off to the side, facing the other direction. Or, better yet, do some jumping-jacks while they're posting the targets to get your heart rate up.
When your friend is safely behind the firing line, and it's safe to shoot, turn around, pick up your gun, and figure out who the targets are by placing a few well placed shots on the bad-guy targets. As a bonus, have your friend load some snap caps into your magazine at varying intervals to help you gain confidence in clearing malfunctions under stress.

All tied in:
It all ties in together. If you're not mentally prepared, you're going to meet your opposition with failure. Personally, I've made the decisions and have mentally trained about all I can. I know what I'm going to do already and have enough confidence to get the job done. I train regularly, and know how to handle my gun. I strongly suggest you do the same.
How do you mentally prepare for a critical incident where you are forced to use your gun in defense of yourself or another? Please let us know in the comments below. Also, please like our Facebook page, and share this article for all of your friends to see. This stuff is important.

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