There is little doubt in the professional firearm or self-defense community that mindset is the most important aspect of preparing for and surviving a defensive encounter.
Over gear, tactics, or skills, one's mindset has the greatest bearing on a positive outcome.
The Big Challenge? A defensive mindset or concealed carry mindset can't be purchased. And it is hard to practice, and or measure.
In thinking about my own level of preparedness as an armed citizen I began to ask myself what makes up a good mindset and how do I develop one?
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The Importance of a Proper Mindset
In trying to answer that question I embarked on some research. I searched through a few websites and blogs written by professionals who I respect.
I found that the most valuable thing I did to better understand mindset was to go back and review our collection of Defensive Gun Use (DGU) stories. Documented incidents where the gun owner failed either the physical or legal fight.
Identifying where a fellow gun owner may have failed due to a less than adequate mindset led me to better understand what makes up a good mindset.
Through this research and with the help of some experts in the field I've identified the following 6 components of a strong mindset:
The Six Components of A Concealed Carry Mindset:
An Armed Citizen is Defensive Only
A defensive mindset means being focused on the survival, victory, and ultimate outcome of yourself or the innocent people you are defending.
When we focus on our own outcome we act in ways that meet our objective of survival, rather than bringing someone to justice.
Behaviors of a Defensive Mindset
- Letting a threat escape when they are clearly no longer an imminent threat to yourself or others
- Not shooting warning shots
- not aiming to injure a threat but instead acting in a way most congruent with stopping the threat, thus maximizing the odds of your own survival or the survival of a loved one
A defensive-minded person prioritizes their actions to put the positive outcome of the innocent party first above all else.
An Armed Citizen Avoids Potential Conflict
A mindset of avoidance means one lives their life consistent with minimizing the odds of a life-threatening encounter.
Behaviors of a Mindset of Avoidance
- Apologizing when a stranger thinks you have said or done something offensive
- Not picking fights and being in control of your emotions
- Avoiding high crime areas, darkness, and isolation
- Proactively following best practices of physical security and generally not appearing as an easy victim
An avoidance mindset is about making proactive decisions that minimize risk.
An Armed Citizen Is Aware Of Their Surroundings
A mindset of awareness means one is paying attention and isn't distracted. They are also always aware of simple things that help them better respond to emergencies.
Behaviors of a Mindset of Awareness
- Not engrossed in one's phone when in public
- Positions oneself so as to maintain visibility on points of vulnerability
- Moves through transitionary spaces quickly and with increased vigilance
- Works to be familiar with entry and exit points, streets and neighborhoods, and emergency procedures and systems wherever one goes
An aware armed citizen knows where the fire extinguishers are at their office building, where the first aid kit is at their church, and where all the exits are at the grocery store.
An Armed Citizen Is Determined To Win
A determined mindset means one is committed to doing whatever is necessary to guarantee the desired outcome.
This means there is no hesitation the moment it becomes clear that action needs to be taken.
Behaviors of a Determined Mindset
- Takes place in force-on-force training to study how defensive skills are applied in a self-defense context
- Participates in competitive endeavors including competitive shooting which helps to inoculate against stress and tests your performance automaticity levels
- Studies and reviews real-life news stories and videos to better understand the criminal mindset along with the nature and violence of a real-life attack
- Cultivates an attitude in other areas of one's life consistent with not giving up, always pressing forward, unwavering in your dedication to your craft
A determined gun owner has a deeply held willingness to do whatever is necessary to prevail. They seek to better understand what might be required to survive a life-threatening encounter.
An Armed Citizen is Disciplined In Their Approach to Improvement
A disciplined mindset means one is committed to continuing forward in their journey of gaining better knowledge, skills, and tactics.
Behaviors of a Disciplined Mindset
- Subscribes to quality podcasts, YouTube channels, magazines, or whatever one prefers
- Engages in both training and practice as often as possible
- Measures one's skills against recognized performance standards
- Is well-rounded in not only studying shooting and firearms but also other skill areas such as strength conditioning and health, martial arts, hand-to-hand combatives, medical and trauma care, survival, and emergency preparedness
- Makes a serious study of self-defense law
A disciplined gun owner can tell you about 3-5 courses they want to take or trainers they want to train with and why. A disciplined gun owner has a list of books they want to read and can tell you what defensive skills they need to work on the most.
Most importantly a disciplined gun owner is not just aware but is also proactive in their development. They are enrolled in a future class, they are in the middle of a book, and they are conducting practice to address their weakest skills.
An Armed Citizen is Diligent In Daily Preparedness
A diligent mindset means one never relaxes or chooses to not engage in a prepared defense.
Behaviors of a Diligent Mindset
- Carries defensive tools including one's firearm as often as possible–even daily–and wherever legally able
- Doesn't take a day off from learning and practicing
A diligent gun owner doesn't wear clothing or participate in activities that exclude the gun or whatever defensive EDC tools and actions they feel are important. A diligent gun owner doesn't fall out of the habit of learning, practicing, or training.
How to Strengthen Our Mindset
Like shooting skills or any skill or attribute it is often helpful to identify just one area of focus to work on in your journey to improve.
From the 6 mindset attributes above, identify the one in which you feel you are the weakest. Then set simple goals to work toward in improving that aspect of your mindset.
For example, of the 6 attributes, my weakest is Diligence. I often become complacent in my learning and my general preparedness. I have set goals to work on specific routines and habits so I can be more consistently diligent.
What will you work on next?
Ever wonder what the common errors concealed carriers make?
Or what about the challenges facing anyone who responds to a mass shooter threat? Consider these 5 points.
If you are interested in working on your shooting skills, check out this new course called Shooting Fundamentals. It is a fantastic resource that challenges what you may have learned in other handgun training classes.