Why your mindset is WRONG and how to fix it (step-by-step)


By the time you read this, I will be in flight to KR Training outside of the Austin/Bastrop area in the great state of Texas.

Truth is … I don’t feel like flying again.

I just got back from Cedar City Utah (from our sold-out Underground AR-15 Experience Workshop) and I hate being molested by TSA and traveling itself is tiring (not to mention extremely interrupting to my busy schedule).


That said, I’m boarding a plane again and flying to Texas because I want to continue improving both 1.) my pistol skills and 2.) how to teach those skills to other people (lucky you!).

I’m taking another Tom Givens course. This time it’s his Rangemaster Three-Day Firearms Instructor Development Course and, to be honest, I can’t wait to train with Tom again.

As a fellow attendee to Tom Given’s last class here in Virginia said, “In a class like this you are getting a distillation of all the stuff that’s been proven to work from [Jeff] Cooper until now. It is pure essence of superior defensive pistolcraft… and it’s impossible to be exposed to it without walking away a much more dangerous foe for any criminal inclined to attack you.” (Tim from GunNuts.net)

Because I have such a huge man crush on Tom Givens, I’ve been reading more of his stuff lately, and wanted to re-publish this excellent piece of his below on how to get your mind right.

Mental Preparation for Self Defense
By Tom Givens

Many people, including many who have a carry permit, are not sufficiently prepared to mentally deal with the reality of a criminal attack. Simply owning a gun is not enough. One needs to accept the actual threat level that exists, and be mentally prepared to act in defense of self or family.

For many years I worked as an investigator, and I had a lot of opportunity to speak with crime victims. In addition to asking the relevant questions about the crime, I used these opportunities to inquire about the mental state of the victim at the time of the attack. I found that a very large percentage of these victims had one of two thoughts going on in their minds when they were attacked. These thoughts were “I can’t believe this is happening” or “Why would someone want to hurt me?”. These questions leave the victim in a mental denial loop that freezes them into inaction, and wastes the precious seconds in which they could have defended themselves. Let’s look at the thoughts separately.

“I can’t believe this is happening!” 

This is the result of not knowing the actual threat level, and of continually
convincing themselves that violent crime only happens to other people. Well, guess what? To everyone else on the planet, YOU are “other people”!

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a research unit within the U.S. Department of Justice. For the year 2006, the BJS says that in the United States there were 5,685,620 violent crimes (Murder, Aggravated Assault, Robbery and Forcible Rape).

That’s right, over 5.6 million, of just these crimes. That is one serious violent crime for every 54 people in the country. I often hear permit holders say, “The odds of me needing my gun are 1 in a million.”.

Wrong! The odds are 1 in 54, just for the four violent crimes listed here.

The BJS recently released the figures for 2011, showing an increase in these violent crimes nationwide. In 2011, there were 5.8 million violent crimes, a 17% increase over 2010. Urban areas experienced 1 violent crime per 37 persons. Suburban areas had 1 violent crime per 50 residents.

That is a national statistic, however, so let’s look at Tennessee, specifically…

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), in 2011 there were 582,893 crimes reported in Tennessee, with a population of 6,403,353. That is roughly one crime for every eleven Tennesseans.

That includes all crime, however. The crimes you would use a firearm to defend against involve violence and the possibility of death or serious injury to the victim. Here are some of those crime totals for Tennessee in 2011, with the clearance rate in parentheses.

Murder 390 (264)
Aggravated Assault 28,802 (16,811)
Kidnap/Abduction 1,175 (598)
Robbery 8,168 (2,246)
Forcible Rape 2,131 (839)
Forcible Sodomy 532 (243)
Sexual Assault with Object 273 (85)

TOTAL= 41,471 in Tennessee, in 2011 alone.

That is an average of 114 of these serious violent crimes EVERY DAY, just in the state of Tennessee. So, as you can see, the odds of needing your handgun are not that remote. Instead of “I can’t believe this is happening!”, your mental response must be “I knew this might happen, now I must deal with it!”.

If we truly accept the fact that violent crime can occur anywhere, at any time, we can avoid that denial loop and instead, immediately act to defend ourselves.

“Why would anybody want to hurt me?” 

This is the other thoroughly irrelevant question. Actually, whether the attacker is a gang member seeking higher status, or a career criminal who thinks working is for suckers, or a mentally deranged person, or someone with a real or imagined grievance against you—it doesn’t matter!

The only relevant issue is that he is trying to hurt or kill you and you must make him stop. Later, in safety, his motivations can be dissected, but right now he must be stopped. Now, let’s look at some other mental issues.

“I only carry my gun when I might need it.” 

So, you truly believe that you can foretell the future? You and I need to go to Las Vegas! I’ll make certain that nothing bad happens to you, and we’ll split your winnings.

As of May, 2014, we had our 64th Rangemaster student involved in an incident in which he/she had to use a handgun in self defense. Not one of those students got out of bed on the fateful day thinking they would need a gun that day, but they all did need one. In 61 of those incidents, the student won the fight, and only 3 were injured.

To the best of my knowledge, however, three Rangemaster students have been murdered, after taking some training with us. All three were killed in separate street robberies. Essentially, they were executed for the contents of their pockets. What else did these three have in common?

They were not armed on that day. They decided that they would not need a gun that day, they were wrong, and they are dead. Let’s see, 61 out of 61 who were armed won, and 3 out of 3 who were unarmed lost and died. I don’t know about you, but I see a clue imbedded there.

“I only carry my gun when I go to _______” 

This is a variation of the previous mistake. That means that when you carry a gun, you are actually going somewhere where you think you might need a gun. Why go

“I have a gun with me, that takes care of everything.” 

It would be great if things were that simple, but they are not. Your gun will not observe or identify a potential threat. Your gun will not jump out of the holster and defend you. In fact, your gun will not do anything. YOU must do things for yourself. The gun is only a tool.

When in public, always pay attention to the people around you. Look for persons, behavior, or circumstances that appear to be out of place, unusual, unexplained, and therefore, suspicious. Any time you see something or someone who looks out of place, ask yourself, “Why?”.

Why is that guy leaned against the wall in the parking garage? Why have I seen that same man in the last three shops in the mall? Why are those two men in “thug wear” sitting in that parked car on the lot? Why is that man just standing there 10 feet from an ATM? Criminals are not invisible and they do not beam down out of the Mother Ship to attack.

Get your head up, open your eyes, see what is around you.

When out in public, you should be able to answer two questions at any given moment: “Who is around me?” “What are they doing?”.

If you plan to carry a handgun for self defense, I strongly urge you to obtain a copy of “Principles of Personal Defense” by Jeff Cooper, available on Amazon quite cheaply. This short book is actually an essay Jeff wrote in the 1960’s, but it is 100% relevant today. Read it about once a year to keep your mental attitude focused and sharp.

Accept that violence happens to good people. Accept that violence can occur anywhere there are people.

Accept that when violence comes to you, only you can protect yourself. You are actually the first responder.

[ Tom Givens is the owner of Rangemaster in Memphis, TN. For over 30 years Tom’s duties have included firearms instruction. He is certified as an expert witness on firearms and firearms training, giving testimony in both state and federal courts. He serves as an adjunct instructor at the Memphis Police Department Training Academy, the largest in the state. Tom’s training resume includes certification from the FBI Police Firearms Instructor School, NRA Law Enforcement Instructor Development School, NRA Law Enforcement Tactical Shooting Instructor School, Gunsite 499 under Jeff Cooper, and more. Visithttp://www.rangemaster.com/ for more from Tom. ]



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