A great many people receive training on firearms. Of course, it should be more, but that’s a topic for another day. I often wonder how many of the people who take regular firearms training classes have stepped out of the normal pistol/carbine class to broaden their horizons in regard to self defense skills. I would wager not many, and I believe self-defense utilizes plethora of skills that are outside the scope of learning to fire a failure drill at 5 yards and executing a reload. Blah blah blah mindset…blah blah blah real-world training for the streets…blah blah blah gamer stuff gets you killed…blah blah blah target focus you can’t use your sights in a fight, whatever. When all that stuff goes horribly awry and you don’t end a fight with accurate, lethal results, emerging unscathed, press checking your back-up back-up gun and stuffing it back under your Photographers vest, what happens then? Can you provide self-aid? Can you give an accurate location to the 911 operator? Can you defend yourself without a firearm? Do you possess the ability to run away? The ability to draw and fire a handgun without stress is not the great equalizer if you have to get in a fight, or compete, or do anything other than draw and fire a handgun on the range.
Number one on my list of necessary skills is medical training. Can you provide treatment for a gunshot wound? Can you stop bleeding? Can you apply a tourniquet? While I have no stats to back this up, I would say the majority of self-defense situations are defensive in nature. This meaning you are not on the offense initially. This meaning you were attacked, and have potentially sustained some form of injury. It might be a gunshot, stab wound, broken bone. Let’s assume you have neutralized the threat and now nobody is there to stabilize you except for you. Do you possess the skills to save your own life? These skills aren’t even tactical in nature. The same type of traumatic injury could happen to you, a family member, friend, or passerby in a car crash, bike wreck, freak redneck snow-sledding accident, or a slip down a flight of stairs. If nothing else, take a Red Cross Basic First Aid class, this is useful and necessary information, and I’d say you’re more likely to encounter an injury in your day-to-day life than that crazed gunman you’ve been practicing for. If you have the means to take a structured class that focuses on the injuries sustained (or dished out) in a fight, I recommend Dark Angel Medical. Kerry Davis at Dark Angel is my go-to when I need someone to teach med classes, and before forming Dark Angel Kerry ran Magpul Dynamics Medical Division. He’s also a former Air Force flight medic and has worked as a paramedic and RN after leaving active duty, so both trauma and routine medical care is no stranger to him. They can also provide medical supplies tailored to your needs including individual kits for low-vis applications or larger packages.
You should probably know how to throw a punch, block a punch, and take a punch as well. Most people are woefully underprepared for a physical altercation, which I would again consider more likely than having to shoot (at) someone. Joining a local boxing gym is a good start, and at a decent one is a lot of bang for your buck. In addition to the pugilistic skills, the added benefits of getting a good workout aren’t to be overlooked. The most applicable classes in a standard 2-5 day format that I am familiar are those from Southnarc. He teaches a number of classes that are geared toward skills for specific scenarios such as movement inside structures, weapons retention, and fighting in confined spaces. Many people shy away from classes such as these because they’re afraid to get beat up. Guess what, the big dude in the Wal Mart parking lot waiting to beat the shit out of you is going to enroll you in his class whether you sign up or not, so you may want to know what to do about it when he does.
Branch out. Fighting and stopping bleeding isn’t a commando skill, it’s a life skill. Defensive driving, dismounted navigation, cold weather survival. Hell, just go off the list of stuff Boy Scouts learn. A lot of that could save your life just as soon as clearing leather with your blaster or making a 250M carbine shot, particularly for the average concerned citizen. The ninja rifle/pistol combat skills are important too, but it’s certainly not the 99% of skills required for your personal safety and survival. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know and find a good place to learn it, those up drills will still be there when you get back to the range.