Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

How To Prepare For The Situation You Don’t Anticipate

How To Prepare For The Situation You Don’t Anticipate

Debbie Crews' experience with firearms dates back to her youth. Now as the Assistant Manager at the NRA Range, a NRA Certified Instructor, and Owner/Chief Trainer at Apprentice Arms Training, LLC, she is an expert of her field.

There are over 14.5 million concealed carry holders in the United States. People of different genders, ethnicities, races and upbringing are carrying all around you. But how many of those individuals are truly prepared for an emergency situation? How many individuals would be able to keep calm and have a clear enough head to  prevail? 

You may never know when you are going to need to use your firearm for a defensive situation. You won’t even know what the situation is going to be like. However, if the unimaginable happens it’s critical that you are prepared and confident with yourself, and your skill set. 

When in an extremely stressful situation, everything you’ve learned has the potential to be quickly forgotten. Because of this, it’s important to create good habits with your firearm training to help avoid that from happening. 

Training with a firearm should always be taken seriously and each step is just as important as the other. Here are some tips to help you asses your skills and help you to determine what additional training you may want to consider with a certified instructor.

Accept that it can happen

Most people cannot accept in time that an emergency is actually happening. This loses them valuable time and  sets them back. You are already at a disadvantage because you are reacting to the situation at hand. Don’t make it worse by convincing yourself it isn't happening.

Make a plan

Have a plan in place, a backup plan and a backup to your backup. Remember, you never know what exactly you're planning for. 

Plan for a home intruder, an attempted carjacking, someone trying to steal your purse or robbing you at gun point, and know what you would have to do differently in every situation. Understand all of these things can happen, and may be preventable with the right tools and a flexible plan.

When making your plan it’s imperative to know your legal threshold, know when your attacker has crossed the line, leaving you no choice but to react. Understanding where the line is drawn can be your only determining factor in deciding to use your firearm or to choose another route, so be certain. 

Tip: Use the NRA online resource to help build your safety plan.


The best way to win a confrontation is to avoid a confrontation. 

ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings, whether you are at home or out in public. This way you not only are paying attention to the people around you but it also gives you the ability to take alternative actions so you're not being caught off guard. 

For example, if you are being vigilant and can see your attacker approaching you can assess whether or not you have time to cross the street to safety, get inside that public store you saw five minutes ago or get into your car and drive away.

If you are distracted when suddenly you feel threatened, you will likely not be prepared to make your next move.

Tip: Do not use headphones with your face buried in you cell phone while walking around in public. This can inhibit you from taking in your surroundings. It is important to pay attention to all of your senses while traveling around, even in familiar areas.


Practice for whatever your plan is, then practice for that to change. 

Just to reiterate, you never know how a high pressure encounter will unfold; someone could attack you, break into your house or could be trying to cause your family harm. Whatever the case, familiarize yourself with the plan and then practice for when that plan goes out the window.

Preparing for adrenaline can save your life one day. It is important to be able to process change effectively and calmly, all while knowing your limitations.

When in a life threatening situation, the human heart speeds up. This is because it is trying to keep up with the massive adrenaline dump taking place. This can cause hand tremors, increased heart rate, rapid breathing and tunnel vision, or loss of peripheral vision. 

If you do not prepare for high adrenaline situations, the chances of you being successful in using your firearm are slim.

There are a few ways to help you break those side effects, and they can be done in the comfort of your own home. 

Here is one example of an exercise you can do:
When participating in this exercise make sure you are practicing in front of a mirror, with an unloaded firearm, in a room you never take ammunition into.

1. With your firearm on the table in front of you do 20+ jumping jacks, burpees or pushups.
2. Once activity is complete, draw your firearm from its holster.
3. Immediately try to work a dry fire with good sight alignment and good grip.
4. Analyze your trigger pull, sight alignment, stance, stability and grip.
5. Repeat.

If you only see a fraction of the front and rear sight, don't worry, it’s supposed to look that way. This exercise is intended to reveal your flash sight picture giving you a baseline to work off so that you eventually are only looking at the front sight. This prepares you for a five to seven yard defensive situation. 

Tip: Try these workouts made for the gun range after you have assessed your ability with the dry fire exercise.
Tip II: Really test your skills and take your training to the next level with 3-Gun practice.


Can you force the unimaginable to become imaginable?

It is nearly impossible to defensively train with your firearm unless you're visualizing. 

Practice with a particular place in mind, picture your high pressure or emergency encounter and draw it all out in your head. Just hitting the paper target does not suffice when preparing for emergency situations.

In emergency situations you are often forced to choose between fight or flight. By really visualizing while you're training you can save yourself from going into “flight mode” if you actually need to get into a combative situation in order to save your life.

Your body may not go where your mind has never been. If you don't practice for using your gun defensively by training your mind to figure out what you're going to do when everything goes wrong, what your other options are when all of your initial options go out of the window and how you're going to react, you will get flustered. 

Tip: While at the range set the scene by asking yourselves questions similar to these:

1. Where are you?
2. Are you walking down the street?
3. Are you in your back yard?
4. Are you answering your door?
5. Did you get startled at 3 a.m.?
6. Where is your attacker coming from?
7. Is the intruder coming up your stairs in the dark?
8. Is someone running across the street at you with a baseball bat in their hand?
9. Is it raining? Is there bad visibility?
10. Is your attacker armed? ARE YOU SURE?

Keep up on skills and contenue to build on them

Perfect practice makes perfect. Not only will this make you well practiced, but skilled in your practice.

In order to continue growing your confidence in your personal defense tactics, practice drawing from various different holsters or concealed carry wear. 

This is a critical step. Let’s say you're wearing a dress, your holster draw will be completely different from someone who is wearing a jacket and pants. Same thing goes for individuals who concealed carry in a purse or briefcase, practice your draw at the range. It may be more difficult than you think so practice with an unloaded firearm and ask for guidance from an NRA Certified Instructor first. 

Make sure you are consistent in training with proper shooting skills and defensive accuracy. In doing so, practice shooting at center mass targets instead of trying to drill the bullseye targets. This gives a more realistic target size.

Tip I: Get with an NRA Certified Instructor to improve your skills and get advice on how to improve.
Tip II: Practice techniques you hope you never have to use regularly at the gun range. For those with limited time, a MINIMUM of one time a month will do the trick.

If you’re interested in more training tips, sign up for our newsletter below.



More Like This From Around The NRA