combating fear

Combating Fear

January 26, 2015 0 Comments

Fear is a crippling thing. It’s downright physically and mentally debilitating. I used to be afraid; so very afraid.

I wasn’t ever afraid of guns or shooting them. I was born and raised in Alaska where guns are a normal way of life. We hunt for our food for the winter. My daddy laid a great foundation for accuracy and safety. My husband also has taught me so much more than I ever thought possible! However, as anyone instructor will tell you it’s hard to learn from family, especially spouses.

What I was most afraid of was my own safety and the safety of my son. I was a single parent for almost 3 years before my amazing tactical husband came along. I lived in a lovely apartment on a horrendous part of town. So I decided to pursue getting my concealed carry license. The course I went to was cheap (remember, single mom here) and I got what I paid for but I got my license and started carrying. I knew nothing of proper dress or proper holsters!

I was carrying a pistol of my dad’s; a Smith & Wesson 538 for a while. A 9mm single action pistol. It was an all metal double stack. This thing was insanely heavy! Thankfully I grew up shooting this particular pistol. My daddy loaned it to me while he traveled so I could save up to buy my own. I normally had it in a chintzy neoprene holster with absolutely no retention. “Retention”, in gear terms, is how well the gear holds what it’s designed to hold. Basically, if I bent over too far the pistol could have easily slipped out the top of the holster, slid up my spine, and onto the floor! Not a good deal! I had this chintzy holster attached to a fashion belt, which is basically any kind of belt that’s made to look cute, not sturdy to hold a firearm. It was just a bad deal all the way around. It worked, but barely.

Let me make mention here Ladies. Holsters were not designed for us; not even a little bit. With all the fancy gadgets that are out on the market these days, there doesn’t seem to be too many manufacturers that understand that women pee sitting down.  They were designed for dudes who stand up. When you buy a holster you need to try it out in a bathroom first! I did that with my last holster purchase and was very impressed with how well the holster gripped the handgun. I normally carry at my 430, also known as the kidney carry, and the holster didn’t flop too much on my waistband. Holsters are something that you’ll need to spend money on. Trust me! I’ve had my handgun fall onto the bathroom floor more times than I can count. It’s embarrassing but also dangerous! Someone in the next stall could see it skid across the floor and freak out and call the police and you’d have to explain to them that you were too cheap to get a decent holster so yours happen to skid across the bathroom floor in a Wal-Mart. Good luck. Since buying my Longshadow Antero Holster I haven’t had that problem however, I highly recommend them!

The only training I’d had at this point was what my daddy gave me growing up, my hunter safety class in high-school and my CCW class, which consisted of plinking the target at 10 feet. Looking back now it’s scary to think of how un-training I was and I was LEGAL to carry a firearm!  Even though I was carrying to work and daily I still did not feel confident. Looking back at my lack of training I now know why I felt that way. I was still scared of a situation, out in public, when I had my son. What do I do with him if I’m at the gas station paying for gas and someone comes in to rob the place?! I can’t hide him behind the slushie machine and hope for the best. Yeah…. No that’s not going to happen. If anything happens the last thing I want to do is have my child NOT be right next to me.

Fear was my motivator.

Thankfully I had very powerful insight from my then boyfriend (now husband). We talked for hours on the phone, skype, emails, facebook, texting etc about the type of firearm I should carry and how I should carry it and what type of holster to use and what type of clothes to what to do in a critical situation. It was so enlightening and mildly terrifying once I realized how much I didn’t know. I realized how important training was and how little training I had.

My hubby and I were able to get to the range a few times before we got married, but the majority of my training and mindset changes have happened in the last year. When we moved to Colorado I was able to be a stay at home mom. To most that sound awesome, and it was is! But I don’t have near the free time that I thought I would in coming from working a 40+ hour a week schedule. However, being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) allowed me to take training classes as our budget permit. Classes aren’t cheap, but they’re a necessary category in your budget in my opinion.

We moved to a quiet little town with virtually no crime, but I still spent a lot of time alone as my husband was deployed for 3-4 months at a time. There are measures that we take around our property to ensure more safety, but when a bad guy is deadset on doing evil things, they will go to almost any lengths to make that happen. I didn’t want to just practice these lifesaving things. Practice makes habits, it doesn’t make perfect. Training makes perfect.

I started off by taking some rifle classes. No, I don’t mean a .22 hunting rifle, but an AR. Many people think that “assault rifles” (technically the AR15 is NOT an assault rifle- that term comes from media misinformation and ignorance) are big and scary and evil, but I’ll tell you now that I enjoy shooting an AR much better than my handgun. It’s just easier! Once I took a few rifle courses I had to get my CCW permit here in Colorado which included a basic pistol course also. From there I took a tactical pistol course. Now when I say tactical I’m not talking about what you see on TV with SWAT teams, or the show “Flash Point”. This is what I like to call Practical Tactical. These are tactics that you can use if you’re at Wal-mart and something goes wrong, or at 7-11 and someone tries to rob the place. Practical tactical tips you can use to save your life in a critical situation in normal everyday life. Training combats fear by giving you the skills you need to handle many situations!

I asked questions! Lots and lots of questions! I bombarded my poor husband at all hours of the day and night with emails and text messages playing the “what-if” game. In situations like this, that’s the best way to brainstorm scenarios and run through things verbally to see what one would do in that situation. Some of my questions were embarrassing, but I was done playing games. I was done trying to figure it out on my own. I literally have roughly 10 prior (and current) military & Law Enforcement guys who have served as Paratroopers, SEALs, SWAT team leaders, Police Officers etc at my disposal. To NOT ask them questions would be such a waste. So I asked questions. I felt stupid sometimes, but I tried not to care. If I’m going to pick up a firearm and use it to defend and protect my family, I was going to make sure that my family survives. I couldn’t justify NOT asking questions. The guys were and are gracious when I come to them with questions that seem so obvious or are a little ridiculous. To date, the only question that I’ve ever gotten a chuckle out of was “will the seat warmers in my Jeep create a cook-off situation in my handgun that I’m wearing?” A cook-off is where the firearm gets incredibly hot and “fires” by itself. It sounded like a legit question, I don’t want to be driving to the grocery store and have my pistol shoot myself in the rear because I had the seat warmers on! Yes, I felt stupid, but now I know!

Asking questions is the first step to combating fear! Once you know then you can train.

Another class I took was a Compact Flashlight Defense Course. If you read my blogs on a regular basis you’ve heard me talk about them before. This class definitely changed the way I looked at something as basic as a flashlight (I use this kind: TerraLUX TT5-EX Tactical Flashlight). Now, this isn’t an ordinary dollar general flashlight. This is a self-defense flashlight that can be used to temporarily blind someone. If you get into a physical altercation with them, you can use the bezel on the end of it to strike the bad guy and it will hurt. It’s metal, sharp and with the force that you will use it to strike, you might knock them unconscious. This gives you time to get away without taking a life. Also as I said in the last blog there is a strobe light so if someone is rushing you in a dark parking lot, you can strobe them, and it will reset their senses (I will explain this more in detail at another time). During their “reset” of trying to see and find which way is up, you can run away to your car, back into the store, into your house or where ever you are with the most people and/or security.

Another training I do (not as often as I should) is dry scenarios with my husband at our home. Our little guy has AWANA during the week and we have 2 hours of “free time”. Yes, it’s glorious to have two hours where I can shower with the door closed, but it’s quiet in my house for those two hours. My husband will unload our firearms and put the ammo far away and we will run scenarios. Honestly, I hate doing this because it’s scary, but as much as it makes me uncomfortable, I know how important that is to my mindset. The thought of someone coming into my home unwanted to potentially hurt me and my family is numbing. We run scenarios and pretend it’s 2 AM and I hear the house alarm go off. Do I call 911 first? Do I get my firearm? Do I go get our son first? Then what? What if the bad guy is coming down the hall and I’m carrying our son into my bedroom and my gun is still locked up? The what-if game again! We practice “shooting” down the hall and barricading the door and getting my son, with a firearm arm in my hand so I can shoot down the hall if need be. Hence why this is scary to a mom, your kids might be caught in the crossfire. You never know! That’s why it’s important to have a plan! My husband and I have different plans for when he’s home than we do when he’s deployed for obvious reasons. Again, training combats fear!

So this blog is a brief overview of my physical training on firearms and self-defense. It’s not much, but it’s changed my life and my viewpoint. 90% of training and self-safety is the mindset. Firing a pistol is not that complicated. Understanding that there might be a threat or situations in which are just best to leave is such a large part of the picture. Your mindset is everything. How you see other around you will save your or kill you. If you watch the news you know that today’s American isn’t the safe place it was back in the 40’s and 50’s. It’s dangerous and we need to be mindful that at any moment a bad guy could attempt something evil.

What I want to challenge you with is to get uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable with what you don’t know, get out of your comfort zone and LEARN! Take classes when you can and LEARN! Thrive on making choices in your day to day life that will protect your family. I realize that not all you folks like guns or like to shoot guns, but eventually it’ll be a needed skill in your life, with the way this country is going. In my opinion, it’s a needed skill in everyone’s life. It’s tedious at times; it’s frustrating trying to refine a skill at the range or at home and have a hard time with it. Nevertheless, this training is vital even if you never have to pull the trigger. Just knowing what situations to quietly exit can be just as lifesaving as the trigger pull.



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February 2, 2015

Nila Rhoades