On your way home from work one evening, your vehicle makes that familiar *ding* sound that tells you you’re running low on gas.
You swing into the local 7-11, and while your vehicle is filling up, you run into the store to grab a sweet tea for the road.
As you’re pulling your selection out of the drink cooler at the back of the store, a hooded thug suddenly rushes through the front door… gun drawn… shoves it into the face of the clerk and demands she hand over all the money in the register.
Your heart jumps up into your throat but your blood is tingling with “hero juice” as you realize you’re in the scumbag’s blindspot and have the time and distance to get to your gun nestled in its holster on your back hip.
You draw your firearm… have good line of sight… and order the thug to drop his weapon.
He turns… aims his gun at you… you fire – pulling the trigger over and over until you see him go down!
The gun falls out of his hand as he drops, and he lays there motionless on the ground.
Here Are 3 Actions You MUST Take Immediately After A Self-Defense Shooting…
A lot of gun-owners train only for the INITIAL engagement of an attacker.
You know, things like draw-stroke… stance… sight alignment… trigger pull…
… all the things to be “fast and accurate” with their pistol down at the range.
But few people ever think about what happens AFTER you’ve pulled the trigger.
That’s a BIG problem.
Police, soldiers, and anyone with any tactical experience can tell you that the fight isn’t necessarily over after you’ve shot your attacker and he goes down.
In fact, this could actually be the MOST dangerous period of a self-defense shooting under certain conditions because a false sense of “the fight is over” could open you up to a follow-up attack that you never even see coming.
That’s why a lot of tactical instructors have their own “mantras” to get students to program in life-saving actions after they’ve engaged an attacker.
For example, it’s been stated that the famous firearms trainer, Chuck Taylor, used…
…”Did I hit him? Is he down? Is he out of the fight? Where are his friends?”
I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.
Now, someone will certainly want to kick me in the nuts for even DARING to challenge such a legendary tactical operator as Chuck Taylor – but in my own training, I’ve seen a lot of problems with these “mental gymnastics” exercises trainers are using.
The Problem With Most Tactical “Immediate Action Mantras” After A Self-Defense Shooting…
The first problem I see with most of these mantras is that they’re just too complicated.
When you’re locked in a real gunfight, that adrenaline cocktail surging through your veins is going to challenge your ability to think and process detailed information.
“Simple” is always best, right?
The second issue I see is the use of acronyms as a mental anchor for a series of actions.
If you need a series of letters to remember what you should do next, you’ve already violated the previous issue by overcomplicating things.
When your attacker is bleeding all over the floor… writhing in pain… bystanders screaming and crying… are you really going to remember what the “S” stands for in that instructor’s “F.A.S.T.” acronym he taught you at that tactical shooting class last year?
While acronyms can be helpful in the initial learning stages, they’re not “the” mechanism for taking the proper post-gunfight action.
The final issue I see with these mantras is that trainers use “statements” rather than “questions”.
This is important…
Statements – even if “actions words” – don’t engage the brain very effectively.
Questions however, demand answers.
Your brain can’t help it – it HAS to “close the open loop” that a question creates.
This helps you in a couple of ways…
For one, it creates a psychological “break state” that forces your brain to reengage with your surroundings in order to find the answer to the question.
This counteracts the natural “tunnel vision” mode that makes you blind to your environment due to the shotgun blast of adrenaline that was just dumped into your bloodstream.
In addition, the answer itself – when done correctly – naturally triggers the right action.
But there’s a certain way you need to ask these “tactical questions” for them to work correctly…
You see, mixed questions that require a “yes” response for some, and a “no” for others only confuse the brain, and will cause unnecessary delay in your follow-up actions.
So, let’s go back to Taylor’s mantra, “Did I hit him? Is he down? Is he out of the fight? Where are his friends?”
If your attacker is down on the ground but still fighting back – your answers to the first 3 questions would be “yes, yes, no” and the proper response would be to continue your engagement of the target, right?
Can you see why that would be a problem?
In the adrenaline-fueled fury of a real gunfight, you’re likely NOT going to have the mental capacity to decode answers that mix up the “yes’s” and “no’s”.
Besides, the word “no” subconsciously means “stop” and when it comes to the need to continue firing to engage the threat, you want to be triggered ONLY by a “yes” answer.
Ok, so now that I’ve shown you the problems with most of these tactical mantra responses…
Here’s A Better Way To Protect Yourself AFTER You Shoot In Self-Defense…
For me, and when I’m training students, I tell them to use just 3 simple questions that follow the format I was telling you about.
Basically, if the answer to ANY of these questions is “Yes!”, you must take IMMEDIATE action…
1. “Can he kill me?”
I know, that seems obvious, right?
But it’s different than asking, “Is he down?” because, well… he could be down… and STILL be a threat.
Likewise, he could be standing or leaning against something, but injured to the point of no longer being a lethal threat to you – and adding to the inventory of bullets into his chest could be seen as excessive force, putting you at risk of a legal “use of force” violation.
However, asking the question, “Can he kill me?” forces you to continue to scan your attacker for his ability to carry out any lethal threat – one of the “legal tests” you MUST pass to justify your actions.
In addition, whether he’s on the ground or still standing, this triggers you to order him to “show me your hands!” to answer the question.
If the answer to “Can he kill me?” is “Yes!”, then you continue to pull the trigger.
Most tactical trainers will try to program students into looking over their left and right shoulders immediately after neutralizing their attacker, in order to see if there are any additional threats that should be engaged.
However, because this is usually taught as a “technique” (that isn’t anchored with a question), it ends up becoming a very robotic response that fails to achieve the desired effect.
In other words, “looking left and right” – while it has a purpose – doesn’t require the brain to seek out an answer because it’s a “statement”.
By asking “Others?” – while keeping your weapon “at the ready” and pointed at your original threat – your brain naturally looks around to see if there really ARE any other attackers.
It seeks an answer to the question.
And if that answer is “Yes!”, you engage that threat.
One of the things I learned in our stopping power analysis of over 6,000 real-world gunfights is that the #1 survivability factor is getting behind effective cover to stop any bullets headed your way.
Being a combat-veteran, I can tell you that this is something you learn naturally the moment you hear bullets zinging by your head – but for the civilian who has never had a gun pointed at them, it’s not a natural response.
But let’s face it, you never know when an attacker is going to pull a back-up gun or if his homies (the ones you may not have seen) are going to suddenly start shooting, right?
It’s better to assess your next steps – as well as reload – from a safe position behind a vehicle, cement/brick wall, or other barrier.
If the answer to “Cover?” is “Yes!”… get to it!
So start saying these three questions after each magazine you unload at the range, and I’m confident you’ll instantly notice the difference in the level of post-shooting mental engagement.
It’s super simple… effective… and could one day save your life!