Many concealed carry permit holders spend untold hours at the range, honing their handgun skills at drawing, aiming, movement, and of course, shooting. But no matter how adept they become with a firearm, those skills may not necessarily be useful if an attacker decides to opt for a different type of assault; a close encounter of the knife kind.
Knife attacks are on the rise in the U.S. for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is ease of access. Anyone, regardless of criminal background, can walk into their neighborhood Walmart, Bass Pro Shop, or swap meet and pick out their blade of choice, from pen knife to machete.
Unfortunately, there is a far more sinister reason behind the upswing in edged weapon attacks. The terrorist organization ISIS has a predilection for knife attacks, believing it is the preferred murder weapon of Allah, as documented in the Fox News article “Blade of Jihad: Extremists Embrace the Knife as Tool of Terror.”
Radicalized Muslims worldwide are using easily obtained knives to administer “Allah’s will” as witnessed by the September 2014 incident in Oklahoma where a recently fired employee entered the company building, stabbed two females, and then proceeded to behead one in the same style as the sensationalized ISIS internet videos. And in September 2016, an attacker stabbed 8 victims in a bloody Minnesota mall rampage and apparently asked at least one victim if they were Muslim.
So how does one avoid becoming a knife attack victim? Well, according to author Scott W. Wagner in his article “Knife Attack: How Do You Respond?” at USConcealedCarry.com, the key is distance:
“In order for a potential victim to avoid becoming an actual victim, he or she must maintain distance and use it to his or her advantage.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
In order for a knife attack to be successful, the attacker must be in close proximity to the victim. The attack-free zone is generally considered to be 21 feet. This distance was determined by law enforcement professionals to be the minimum distance required in order to have time to draw a weapon, aim, and fire. The distance would likely be 75 feet or more for someone carrying a firearm under a shirt, tucked in a belt, or stashed in a purse.
There are a few tips that will help increase the odds of surviving a random knife attack for those carrying concealed weapons.
First, maintain a high level of situational awareness when out in public and ask for ID from anyone purporting to be law enforcement or security. At the same time, try to keep your firearm as accessible as possible without making it obvious.
Use some range time to practice weak hand shooting; a random attack may slash your strong hand. Practice drawing from concealed carry positions. Since time is paramount, mount a laser sight to your gun. It will save precious seconds while trying to aim. Finally, watch the YouTube video Surviving Edged Weapons, a law enforcement training classic that describes how to survive a knife attack.
Following these guidelines, along with common sense and a little preparation will go a long way toward helping you survive a random attack, or better yet, avoid it altogether.
“Concealed carry” is a term that is tossed about rather loosely when discussing firearms, self-defense, or other Second Amendment issues in public forums. Yet even with the rapid growth of concealed carry permit applications in the United States, little thought is given to the intended meaning of the word “concealed” once training is completed.
In his article “Depths of Concealment: How Deep is Too Deep?” at USConcealedCarry.com, author George Harris provides the definition used in reference to firearms:
“Concealment relevant to firearms or other weapons simply means carrying a weapon in a manner in which only the person carrying knows what, where, and even if he or she is carrying.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Basically, concealment is a series of compromises. It begins with your choice of weapon. Options such as weight, size, and print must be taken into consideration as does practicality. A deeply concealed weapon that is inaccessible when you need it defeats the purpose.
Accessibility should be the primary consideration regarding levels of concealment. Unfortunately, everyday attire can often cause retrieval issues when trying to draw the weapon. In an ideal scenario, the weapon should be accessible with either hand, but in most of the common concealment locations such as the inside-the-waistband holsters, ambidextrous drawing is next to impossible.
For women, the problem is very much the same, if not worse. Designers have managed to incorporate holsters into the fabric of bras, corsets, and other undergarments that, while definitely achieve deep concealment, are problematic for practical use once a woman is fully dressed. There are some women’s apparel options that have magnetic or Velcro fasteners that cut back on the time it takes to draw the weapon.
The button overlap is also more of an issue with female clothing. Menswear generally buttons with a left over right overlap, which favors right-handed access and draw. Female blouses and dresses are the opposite, which favors a left-handed draw. Given that only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, this puts women at a disadvantage for these types of concealment options.
For waistband and apron holsters, the problem is more one of printing and comfort. Generally, clothing worn with these items should be 2 sizes larger. This would help reduce any chafing and the larger sizes allow the material to fall away from your body and your gun.
Normal men’s trousers make it almost impossible to carry a gun in the pocket without a noticeable print, although there are some brands that have looser pockets and there are some really tiny guns on the market now. But the best solution is to purchase pants with extra material in the pockets, specifically tailored for concealed carry. For women wearing skirts or dresses, thigh holsters are a reasonable option with fairly easy access.
Ankle holsters provide reasonable concealment and access options since most people aren’t looking there, but they aren’t particularly comfortable. Boot holsters where the gun is tucked inside the boot gives two layers of concealment and a little more comfort to the wearer.
In the end, concealment options vary widely and are dependent on many variables including clothing, climate, and potential threat. These factors aren’t always the same, so it’s important to have a flexible mindset and make the best decision each day to protect yourself and your loved ones.
One of the basic tenets of Concealed Carry Weapons training is that the first objective should be to avoid a confrontation whenever possible. Firearms training centers on the idea that drawing and firing your handgun should always be done as a last resort and when you’re in fear for your life or that of a loved one.
Although the odds are very small that you’ll ever become involved in a gunfight, being prepared for the unexpected is the best way to increase the odds of survival.
There are many classes taught throughout the country that train students in a variety of close combat techniques involving handguns, knives, batons, and martial arts.
But in reality, the first thing you should do if you find yourself staring down the barrel of a handgun is to start moving. A moving target has several advantages as author and U.S. Concealed Carry editor Kevin Michalowski points out in his article “Are You Learning to Move?” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Movement takes you out of the line of attack. Movement forces the attacker to react to your movement. The more you move, the more you put yourself in control of the situation by forcing the attacker to react.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Not only will moving make you a harder target to hit, but it may surprise your attacker enough to give you a tactical advantage. The perpetrator most likely didn’t expect you to be armed or expect to have to bring down a moving target that’s shooting back. If you’re lucky, the attacker will panic and leave. But if not, at least your actions have forced your adversary to go on the defensive and take the time to reformulate his plan of action.
Try to find a range that incorporates movement drills into their instructional programs. If none are available, then it’s a simple matter to practice movement as a part of dry fire training at home. Even a few minutes a day can build muscle memory that will significantly increase your reaction time in a confrontation.
A keen sense of situational awareness will help you identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations. But if you do find yourself in a gunfight, remember to keep moving and keep fighting.
Depending on where you live, getting your concealed carry permit often can be an arduous and cumbersome task. There may be mountains of paperwork, ornery officials who don’t want to issue permits, and tedious videos. But believe it or not, the class is the easy part.
The hard part starts when you walk out of your home with a gun neatly tucked in its holster; out of sight and under your shirt, pants leg, or in your pocket. Besides the immense responsibility that comes with owning a firearm, carrying a gun all the time raises many day-to-day practical issues that you most likely won’t hear about during CCW permit training.
If you’re truly serious about the CCW lifestyle, then you’re carrying pretty much 24/7, which would include the times you and your gun have to visit the dreaded public restroom.
Going into a stall presents a host of issues ranging from awkward to downright scary. In his article “We All Do It! What Do You Do With Your Gun When Nature Calls?” at USConcealedCarry, author Kevin Michalowski relates how he solved the potential problem of someone from an adjacent stall stealing his gun always choosing the stall at his extreme left:
“With no other stalls to my right, I can keep the gun in the holster, let it pretty much hang naturally in the pile of my pants, and be protected from anyone seeing or grabbing for the gun.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Naturally, the opposite would apply for lefties; they would choose the stall at their extreme right. Both of these scenarios assume the last stall butts against a wall. While everyone will undoubtedly figure out what works best for them in this and other socially awkward firearm scenarios, this particular solution has the advantage of keeping your weapon secure in its holster.
The less a gun has to be handled, the safer it is for everyone. Accidental discharges occur during non-range “routine” handling. Putting the gun in other places while in the stall is a recipe for an accident. Anything hanging on the door hook is an invitation for Bathroom Raiders to reach over and relieve you of your possessions while you are helplessly indisposed.
Concealed Carry is a 24-hour job and in this case, sitting down on the job is part of the description. Sometimes situational awareness means more than observing your surroundings. It means having a solid game plan before you walk out the door.
Recoil is one of those necessary evils that every new shooter has to overcome in order to be sufficiently accurate and react appropriately in the event of a confrontation. One of the great debates in the gun community is whether dry-fire and laser training systems prepare the shooter for the reality of firing their weapon with live ammo.
While many shooters tout the mantra of “shooting through it” to get accustomed to recoil, author and US Concealed Carry Magazine Executive Editor Kevin Michalowski claims in his article “Will Recoil Make You a Better Shot?” at USConcealedCarry.com, that continuously shooting will not make you immune to recoil:
“As a shooter, you can’t overcome a flinch by pounding your shooting hand with recoil. You can, however, ingrain the basic shooting mechanics so thoroughly into your muscle memory through dry-fire training that you will keep all your rounds on target.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Part of becoming a more accurate shooter is to follow the basics and remember that recoil does not affect accuracy, since it comes after the actual shot.
The Wall Drill is one of the first exercises to master. The first step is having a strong grip on your weapon. Then raise your gun to eye level with the end of the barrel about one inch from the wall. Pull the trigger slowly so that the release is a surprise. The objective is to hold the muzzle in place. Repeat at least five times daily if possible.
The goal of dry-fire training is to reinforce proper technique until it is embedded in memory. The key to accuracy is the elimination of muzzle movement, which is an easy skill to practice with dry-fire. This exercise should significantly reduce the tendency to anticipate the recoil and pull the trigger in an erratic manner.
Naturally, the more this drill is repeated, the more it will transition to live ammo at the range and will be a natural reaction should you ever be in a confrontation where you are forced to draw and fire your handgun.
If you find that recoil anticipation is still an issue even after practicing the Wall Drill for a while, then it would be a good idea to shoot with a smaller caliber gun at the range and focus on a smoother trigger pull. Remember that recoil happens after the shot and isn’t an influence on accuracy.
Although dry-fire training does not involve live ammo, there are important safety rules to follow. Remove and empty the magazine. Pull the slide to the rear and lock it. Verify that the chamber is empty. Make sure there are no loose rounds anywhere in the room.
While some critics disagree, most experts will tell you that practicing with dry-fire is an important training element. By combining trigger control and the knowledge that recoil occurs after the shot, accuracy will improve and recoil trepidation will decrease.
Concealed Carry permit applications are turned in by the millions each year and show no signs of slowing down, but getting the permit to carry a concealed weapon should only be the first step in an ongoing process that should last as long as you own a firearm. Training is the key to being able to react effectively when confronted with a potentially violent situation.
Most shooters associate training with spending time at the range to improve accuracy, doing dry-fire practice at home, or learning self-defense techniques.
While all of these activities are necessary, one critical training area is often overlooked: the ability to draw quickly and effectively from concealment. Concealed Carry Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski explains the importance of the draw in his article “Tips for Clearing Cover Garments” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“It may sound easy enough, but when time is of the essence and your nerves are trying to take control, you could find yourself fumbling about and getting tangled up in your shirt, coat, or other cover garment.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
There are several tips that make drawing from concealment more effective. One of the simplest yet most important is to wear your typical concealed carry attire while practicing at the range. If your usual garb is loose-fitting, untucked shirts with an IWB holster, the process is fairly straightforward. Use your non-firing hand to reach across and lift the hem of your shirt while drawing and aiming at the attacker with your shooting hand at the same time.
The situation becomes more complicated if your daily carry apparel includes clothing with buttons, zippers, snaps, or other accoutrements. Button-down sweaters and similar items are best left unbuttoned, allowing for quick access to the concealed firearm.
For zippers, add a split-ring key holder to the zipper, giving you a firm finger handle to pull. Lift the jacket with the non-firing hand while unzipping and then drawing with the opposite hand. Snaps require a decisive motion where the left hand lifts the jacket near the snaps and the right hand pulls the jacket open, making sure the hands are positioned so that the bottom snaps open.
These techniques can be practiced anywhere and are fairly easy to master. Naturally, practicing at the range with live fire and targets is better than standing in front of a mirror. If you have access to a range with pop-up targets, it will provide the most realistic scenario to practice your concealed carry drawing techniques.
The right to carry a firearm is constitutionally protected, but it should not be one that is taken lightly. A concealed carry permit gives the holder a tremendous responsibility and training programs reiterate that guns are a weapon of last resort rather than devices to be used to make threats with. A personal defense plan should allow for the use of defensive alternatives in potentially threatening situations before deadly force becomes a consideration.
In his article “Six Defensive, Emergency Rescue Tools That Could Save Your Life” at USConcealedCarry.com, author Bruce N. Eimer explains the importance of having more than one option:
“Similarly, only a crazy person would use a firearm to repel a low level threat when less-than-lethal force (e.g., a verbal warning, pepper spray, a hand strike, a knee to the groin, a big stick) is all that may be necessary to take care of it.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Although there are a host of possible tools and weapons to choose from, there are essentially six basic pieces of equipment that should be part of everyone’s home and/or personal defense plan.
One that is often underestimated is a dependable, sturdy flashlight. Criminals avoid well-lit areas, so carrying your personal lighting system makes you less vulnerable. In addition to locating and identifying any potential threats, a flashlight can also disorient an attacker and allow you to escape. In a worst case scenario, a flashlight can even be used as an impact weapon.
A second necessity is at least one backup magazine for your everyday carry piece. Magazine failures are a major cause of misfires and during an actual confrontation, it is much easier to switch out the mag than it is to take precious seconds to try and solve the problem. As a general rule, it is always better to have more ammo than less.
Pepper spray is another weapon alternative that should be in every carry kit. Pepper spray is the first line of defense when a situation escalates beyond words. In most cases, it will temporarily disable the attacker and give you time to escape. Most importantly, it won’t kill anyone.
A knife is another defensive option that can be employed before opting for deadly force, especially in close encounters. A blade wound in most cases will not be fatal, but will certainly give cause for an attacker to hesitate, and in many cases, cause them to flee the scene completely.
Cell phones aren’t generally considered weapons, but they are an important part of any personal defense plan without a doubt. If you feel like trouble is afoot, a pre-emptive 911 call will alert authorities to your location even if you are unable to talk at the time. The boys in blue will be en route to potentially save your life, or at least arrest the bad guys.
The Ayoob D-Jammer is the sixth tool that should be in any personal defense kit. It is a small, pencil-shaped device made of sturdy metal. Its main purpose is to remove barrel obstructions or jammed casings from a revolver. However it is also useful as a baton weapon, similar to the Kubotan or Persuader. Another advantage is that its unobtrusive appearance on your keyring may not cause any issues at airport security.
Although some of these items may seem awkward or out-of-place at first, it won’t be long before you feel naked leaving home without any of these emergency tools.