Guns are the personal defense tool of choice for many. They tend to be the first means of protection when the topic of defense comes up in conversation. Handguns, shotguns, rifles, semi-automatic, double barreled pump, military-style, magnum, black powder blunderbuss, the types and styles range far and wide providing a wealth of choices to meet individual and situational needs.
We could easily delve into each style of gun, examine in detail every specification leading to an in-depth, situational analysis for which each is uniquely suited. But for the purposes of this guide we will focus exclusively on the individual, personal defense. Now, what style of gun is an effective choice should you find yourself isolated on a deserted street confronting an immediate threat from another intent on violence? It’s doubtful a shotgun or fully loaded AR-15 will be readily at hand. What style of gun is easily carried, is somewhat inconspicuous and can be brought to bear quickly? The simple, concise answer is a handgun. Beyond that the choice of handgun depends on a few considerations;
- Reliability: There are differences between manufacturers and gun types (revolvers v semi-automatics). Revolvers have fewer moving parts than semi-automatics leaving fewer things to malfunction.
- Fit/Comfort: Is the gun comfortable to hold and shoot? Weight is a factor. Accuracy will suffer if the gun is too unwieldy.
- Caliber: Larger calibers pack a bigger punch, cause more damage but have a strong recoil. Smaller calibers have less stopping power but their weaker recoil can increase accuracy after the first shot.
- Carryability: Do you want a concealable gun or will it be displayed holstered to your hip for all to see? A smaller gun is easier to conceal. Semi-automatics are slimmer (compared to revolvers) and conceal more effectively.
- Capacity: How many bullets will it hold? A revolver, typically, carries only 6 bullets while semi-automatics can carry 10+ rounds. And semi-automatics reload faster with preloaded magazines.
- Cost: Balance cost and quality to find the best-suited weapon for you. Revolvers, on average, are less expensive than their semi-automatic counterparts.
In the end, the gun chosen will depend on how it works for you personally and the situation you envision using it.
Martial arts tend to take a back seat in today when we talk personal defense. It makes a more prominent showing when it comes to self defense for women. Spurred by a strong movement to reduce violence against women, learning to defend oneself is a source of empowerment that can save your life. But both men and women benefit from such training when the need to protect yourself or a loved one arises.
Martial art styles reach far and wide ranging from the traditional variants of Kung Fu, Karate and Taekwondo to perhaps the lesser known styles of aikido, Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and Hapkido. Others like, kickboxing, the Brazilian Capoeira and mixed martial arts (MMA) have gained popularity as fitness training programs. These are but a few being taught across the country. When deciding on a style and instructor think about;
Your comfort level with the art, the instructor and the overall mentaility of the school.
- Commitment level: Some styles are more difficult than others requiring more time and commitment to progress though the training.
- Physical limitations: Body size, weight and age are factors when considering particular styles.
- Effectiveness: Research styles you’re interested in and gauge their effectiveness as they relate to your goals. If you want to learn how to defend yourself on the street then focus on styles that incorporate that aspect.
Check the instructor’s and school credentials.
Many schools offer free first lessons to allow a glimpse at what the style is about, the instructor’s teaching style and how students interact with each other and the teacher.
Keeping with the spirit of martial arts think about all those everyday objects you stuff into pockets, toss into the car or come into contact with daily. Many of those can be used as weapons;
- Keys: A fist with 2-3 keys protruding out between clenched fingers make for a great raking weapon or add punch to a punch.
- Magazine: A tightly rolled magazine is usable as a baton, punch vulnerable points with the end and parry blows with the broad side.
- Ballpoint Pen: Held firm wrapped in a fist, the pointed end is an effective stabbing weapon.
- Refillable Coffee Mug: Today’s on-the-go, coffee mugs are solid pieces of metal, plastic or ceramic. Hold the handle firm and use it like a pair of brass-knuckles.
Whether your personal defense incorporates a gun, a knife or any other type of weapon, learning how to use it is often the deciding factor in a fight. A better-armed person with little training is at a disadvantage against a better trained and lesser armed opponent. This holds true with martial arts. Your body is your weapon and the better trained you the better your chances are for survival.
As you train, don’t forget about your most important weapon…your brain. Concentrate on improving your observation and awareness skills. Walk down the street and identify ambush areas, places to make a stand and ways to escape. Whether we want to believe it or not, there are times when beating a quick retreat is the smartest strategy and it’s the wise person who is able to recognize such a situation. In the end, the well trained, rational mind will survive.