Are you a Defender or a Hunter?

What is a Defender?
What is a Hunter?

I’ve taught quite a few firearms classes, tactical training and survival courses in my thirty plus years in military and law enforcement. My students have varied from military and law enforcement personnel whose job is to “Hunt” the bad guy; to civilians who have different expectations of what they are going to do with their training and knowledge, mostly defending themselves and loved ones, hence the “Defender”.

I believe that an instructor should not force a Hunter Mentality on their students when it comes to self-defense. There is a fine line to what an instructor should impose on a student when it comes to self-defense or when seeking out bad guy to stop the threat.
When teaching a class, I have had students at beginner/intermediate skill levels display the “Hunter” attitude when discussing potential deadly threat scenarios and in my opinion is this can be dangerous in many ways.

Before I explain why, let’s talk about the mentality that it takes to “defend” yourself with a firearm. This takes knowledge and training with your firearm and knowledge of your local laws. The main thought process during a self-defense encounter is one of survival, which most people have. Your tool is the firearm, and your knowledge on how to use it properly and effectively can give you an edge during that deadly encounter. Your survival instinct will kick in and you will fight for your life.

The “Hunter” however, is by no means is a dangerous mentality; if we did not have Hunters, all criminal activity would just go unchecked. Having a Hunter Mentality requires more than just owning a firearm and knowing how to use it. I’ve spent over three decades as the Hunter. I had to; it was the job I chose. From day one I did not have all the tools and knowledge, and to be honest, the maturity, to be the most effective Hunter I could be. It took years of repetitious firearms training, years of enhancing my situational awareness skills, and years of mentally preparing myself for the greater risk needed as a “Hunter” vs a “Defender.” The ability to make split second decisions was key to my success in eliminating threats and in returning home safe every night.

So, my purpose to this article is to shed some light on those that have already made the decision to be the Hunter. You better be prepared. Trust me, I know that if an active shooter event happened in a mall setting or a school, every person in the immediate area wants that event to end quickly. It would take a Hunter minded armed citizen or a very quick responding police officer to make this happen.

Do not by any means think that because you have a firearm on your body in your newly purchased concealed holster, that you are the Hunter for this specific incident. Leading up to every critical incident there are many variables to consider. By no means am I telling anyone not to respond to the threat, but if you are going to carry your firearm in that environment then you better train to respond to whatever you might face. Do not brain wash yourself into thinking that because you have a firearm that you are in a better place, it’s a tool. Your knowledge of that tool and how to use it or not use it is what puts you in that better place.

In my advanced training courses, I speak a lot about “Tactical Mindset” also known as “Combat Mindset.” This mindset is also a tool, one that is learned, sometimes it is the tool that gets the incident resolved more than the firearm. Don’t force the Hunter mentality on yourself.


For any questions, please email me at
Oz Johnson/Lead Instructor, NRA Certified