Photo courtesy Oleg Volk. Used with permission.

American Handgunner magazine has a great article “When Citizens Fight Back” by trainer Tom Givens from Memphis, Tennessee, detailing his thoughts about how an armed citizen needs to be trained differently than a cop or a soldier.  Cops, soldiers and civilian carriers face different threats, obviously, and if citizens are taught what is germane to civilian self-defense, they will do well.  He brings some interesting data from how dozens of his students fared in their critical incidents.

Several things stuck out to me in what I believe to be an excellent article.

Point #1:  Givens cites Memphis as a very dangerous city – twice as dangerous, per capita as Los Angeles.  Hey Tom, my sense is that Memphis is fairly tame compared to Chicago.

Point #2:  The author brings in 64 cases where his students were victimized by bad guys.  That’s quite a few, folks and is impressive.  I’ve got a half-dozen-ish incidents where students let me know how they used their guns to save their bacon, almost all without shots fired, but then again, I’ve only been doing training for 16ish years, not 35 like Tom Givens.  I’ve only trained two or three thousand over the years, not tens of thousands like our Memphis guy.

Point #3:  In 62 of 64 incidents where his students were robbed, his students lived, thanks in part to their training and the fact they were armed.  Only three were injured.

In the two incidents where his former students were killed, it was because they weren’t carrying their gun that day.

Moral of the story:  Carry your damned gun!  And carry enough gun while you’re at it.

Point #4:  Givens also believes in training to the threat.  Drawing and presenting a gun and making good hits at up close and personal distances is critically important, he writes, because most of the time, a concealed carry licensee is going to be using deadly force to thwart a robbery.  Obviously, for robberies, the bad guy must be within conversation distances to announce the robbery.  Hence, practicing making good hits at 3-5 yards is paramount.


Here’s some of the best part of the story:

Only two of my students’ shootings occurred at contact distance. In one of those cases the physical contact was purely accidental. In the other case physical contact was intentional, but the victim missed a large number of cues before he was struck with a club.

At the other end of the spectrum we have had three students who have had to engage at 15, 17 and 22 yards. The other 92 percent of our student-involved incidents took place at a distance of 3 to 7 yards, with the majority occurring between 3 and 5 yards. The rule of thumb then is most civilian shootings occur within the length of a car.

Only about 10 percent of our student-involved incidents occurred in or around the home, while 90 percent occurred in places like convenience stores, parking lots and shopping malls. The majority of the incidents began as armed robberies or carjackings, with a few violent break-ins involved.

The success/failure tally among the incidents involving my students is 62 wins, zero losses and two forfeits. Every one of our students who were armed won their confrontation. Only three of those were injured, and those three recovered. To the best of my knowledge, two people have gone through training with us and subsequently were murdered in separate street robberies — but neither was armed. This is why we put a great deal of emphasis in our training on the necessity of routinely carrying your gun.


3 thoughts on “ARE WE TRAINING WRONG? When citizens fight back (aka: Carry your damned gun!)”
  1. My daughter asked me why I carry, I told her it was because I never wanted her to say “I wish Dad hadn’t left his gun at home that day” Where I live I stand a better chance of getting corn blight than lead poisoning, but I’m not taking chances.

  2. My workplace is one of the prohibited carry locations listed in the IL statute. The best I can do is carry to/from work and leave my firearm locked in a safe in my car. That’s 10-12 hours each work day where I sit in a “guaranteed no resistance zone” with the government making it imposible for me to defend myself or the people around me.

    If my workplace were located in Indiana, Iowa or Wisconsin, I could be able to carry at work.

    I know it will take time, but we need to start working on the IL prohibited locations list. This list is frighteningly complex and very restrictive.

  3. “Carry your damned gun!”

    I like that.

    I practice that.

    I agree with that (and Old Number 3).


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