Is your mind up for the task?

I have written many blogs on self-defense and the defense of another, in addition I’ve spoken in depth about situational awareness. What I would like to focus on today is broadening your awareness when it comes to threats, specifically the details of each scenario.

I’ve touched on the difference between shooting and defensive shooting and I have written in depth about the mindset needed to win the fight. There are so many aspects to personal protection and even more when you include the protection of others.

I train and teach all my firearms instruction classes with self-defense being the main reason for the instruction, everything taught and every technique shown is geared around self-defense. The most difficult part of this type of training is when I attempt to understand the mindset of the individual taking the training.

I feel as a firearms instructor who offers various levels of instruction, it is important that I gauge a student’s mental capacity, at least in the area of firearms handling and decision making. This allows me to take the student to the most advanced level that they are capable to go. Without this type of assessment, I could be creating an unsafe environment not only for the student, but for myself and other students participating in that particular course.

This assessment can be a difficult one, however I suggest to all my students that they self-assess their mental capacity in their firearms training at all times. I’ve always said that my mind and the way I think is always my greatest tool. This tool should be tested at all times during your firearms training and it can only be done by implementing scenarios and specific instructions during each training event. For example: If I’m conducting a Rifle/Handgun transition course I might create a scenario like this: You are at 50 yards in a standing position and your rifle is your primary weapon system with your handgun as your secondary, after one shot your rifle has a double feed…. the threat is still present…..

What are you thinking about during that specific scenario? My rifle just malfunctioned, I have a handgun, I’m 50 yards away from my threat. Now, what if I were to throw in some barrier structures on the range maybe 10 to 15 yards from your current position? Or, what if the drill consisted of another shooter who was your partner during the drill?
If you use your tactical situational awareness during this drill, you might find that there are many options to consider. What is your first reaction to this scenario?

Mine involves my mind… my greatest tool. It only takes a fraction of a second but I have to control my thinking and not panic. I have to take that split second to take in the entire picture before making my next move. There are many aspects to this scenario and many different decisions can be made, the wrong one could cost me or my partners life.
This is a simple scenario that I implement into many of my courses. There are physical objects that need to be considered during the drill and I’ll often throw in details prior to the drill that the student needs to consider during the drill. For example, prior to the drill I might tell the student that behind his target there are several innocent bystanders. This statement alone changes your reaction to the threat.

The cognitive thinking process needs to be implemented at all times. OODA Loop. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act, on a constant loop. This type of training really prepares you for taking up the task of self-defense and the defense of others. Being a good shot or a fast empty gun re-loader is part of the training but if your mind can not process what is happening around you then you are setting yourself up to fail.

No matter what type of firearm I carry, a $600 Glock or a $3500 Staccato, means nothing if my most valuable and important tool isn’t up for the task. Gear is important, ballistic protection is important, type of firearm is important, but none of those things can function properly and to my advantage if my mind is not up for the task.

Never Stop Training.

For any questions regarding my article, please email me at
[email protected]
Oz Johnson/Lead Instructor, NRA Certified