Confronting the Harsh Realities of Self Defense

This has been an article idea I’ve had bouncing around in my head for long while. Its inspiration comes from countless comments I’ve seen on Facebook gun pages, and internet forums. These comments are rich in ego, and pleasant delusion, but lack a level of critical thinking that anyone who carries a firearm for self defense should possess. To give you an idea of what I’m referring to, take this comment posted yesterday on a video about self defense:

“You don’t need more than five shots, and you don’t need a medical kit. There’s no reason to try to help the guy you just shot.”

Where to begin….. In his comment, we can ascertain that the poster believes that there is no possible outcome other than the “bad guy” getting shot and requiring medical aid. Oblivious to the fact that medical supplies could very well end up being used to treat his own injuries, injuries of innocents around him, or very possibly, the “bad guy,” he posits that one doesn’t need a “medical kit.” His stance regarding magazine or cylinder capacity is largely supported by statistics, depending on how you view the numbers. Most self defense shootings are over in less than 3 seconds, with less than 3 shots fired. So, by those numbers, sure, 5 sounds like plenty. However, none of us have a little crystal ball to tell us what the parameters and particulars of a self defense engagement are going to be. You might need 1 round, you may need 15. The last part of his comment is going to be a sticking point for some and there’s a wide range of possible reasons, both for and against, helping someone you just used deadly force on. I will always advise against it, because they obviously just did something leading you to believe that you were in imminent danger of either death, or grievous bodily injury, hence the employment of deadly force. There is no reason to get yourself within reach of someone who may or may not still possess the capability, opportunity, and intent to harm you.


I could easily provide enough examples to go on for days, but this comment really denotes a common trend. We, as human beings, and as individuals who have taken steps to defend ourselves, hate to dwell on potential negatives. There will always be that small voice in our ear trying desperately to get us to avoid thinking about the possibility that things might not go according to plan. That’s life. However, when we allow ourselves to embrace that kind of one sided thinking, we set the stage to make some bad decisions in regards to risk mitigation and threat response. Put more simply: You may not win the fight. I know it’s easy to slide your “EDC” items in place and believe that you are prepared for whatever the day has in store. But are we, really? Are we prepared for the possibility that we may NOT make it back home? Are we prepared for the potential legal battles that may ensue, both criminally and civilly, in the wake of a self defense shooting? I would say, no, we aren’t, generally speaking. Those things aren’t pleasant to think about. They don’t match the internet “gun guy” persona so many of us (myself included) like to portray.

A lot of us spend a small fortune on training, ammunition, and devote a great deal of time to becoming proficient with our weapons. It is not a pleasant feeling to realize and admit that all of that can be negated in an instant. See, the violent attacker you end up trying to defend yourself against already has the upper hand. He or she has made the first move, and everything you do from that point on is reactionary. You are fighting where and when they want. They chose that battle ground. They likely knew what they were going to do and obviously feel comfortable where they are. You have to adapt to their environment and their terms, and fight like hell to change those terms. And to top it all off, they don’t have to be good, only lucky. That’s right. All of our 5 shot groups, shot timer drills, dry fire practice, draw practice, everything, can be reduced to nothing with one lucky shot, stab, or strike. It doesn’t matter that you were the better marksman, you’re dead. It doesn’t matter that you practiced 3 times a week for the last 10 years. They didn’t, and you’re still dead.

But say you don’t wind up dead. Say you “win” the encounter with minimal injuries. Are you really and truly prepared for the mental cost of having taken someone’s life? Have you given any thought to how that might actually feel, even if completely justified? If not, you should. Legally, are you prepared to be painted as the bad guy by a state prosecutor, or by the deceased’s family in a civil suit? What about the financial burden of defending yourself in court?

Right about now, some of you are likely saying to yourselves “Well, what the hell are we supposed to do??” That’s easy. Keep training. Keep staying physically prepared. But add some mental preparedness to the mix as well. Ask yourself the hard questions I brought up in this article, and just be cognizant of the fact that we are NOT guaranteed another day, hour, or minute on this planet. There is a level of emotional preparedness for death we should all strive to maintain, and it doesn’t just apply to self defense, but daily life in general. Anything could happen at any time, so let that stupid fight with your spouse go, tell your kids you love them, and try to be a decent person.

Obviously, you will win every fight you don’t get in, so here’s my top 5 risk mitigation questions to ask yourself:

  1. If you were NOT armed, would you still go to this particular place? ( not locations that you MUST go to)
  2. Can you go with others? If you must go alone, can you go in the day time hours?
  3. Where are your exits, in any environment? Do you have a backup? A backup to your backup?
  4. Are you clearly and actively focused on your environment and those sharing it with you?
  5. Are you making yourself a target, through things you are saying, what you are wearing, or how you are acting?


I hope this article helped bring some levity to a serious topic, and that it helped you in some way. Thank you so much for reading, and for the support. If you haven’t yet, check out my YouTube channel where I offer gun and gear reviews as well as personal protection tips, at

Also, check out our online store for apparel at

Published by Nick

Nick is an avid shooter and 2nd Amendment content creator with 20 years shooting experience. You can usually find him testing guns and equipment at his range on his property, or creating video content to help others enjoy the shooting sports as much as he has over the years.

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