You Can Shoot, But Can You Fight?

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Fortunately, 99.9% of the shooting in the USA takes place at ranges and the occasional competition. I’ve lived in a world where explosions and firefights were an everyday possibility, and in my experience, most fighters are good shooters, but not all people who can shoot well are good fighters. You must be both to have the best chance of surviving an armed encounter, especially if faced with multiple attackers, something that is becoming more likely with the influx of illegals, including armed gangs.

Realism vs Delusion

Unfortunately, many people think they are better prepared to face a violent attack than they actually are. They feel that since they can shoot a good group with their handgun at 7, 10, or even 25 yards, they are ready to take on a live opponent who might be shooting back and who may not be alone. After all, doesn’t the ‘Rule of Three’ say that “the average gunfight involves three rounds fired at three yards in three seconds or less”? 

But what people who quote the ‘rule of three’ often do not understand is that it is based on FBI data regarding LEOs who are shot in the line of duty, not civilian defensive shootings. FBI LEOKA data does indeed indicate that 65% of LEOs killed on duty are shot at a range of around three yards or less. But shootings involving police are not the same as civilian defensive shootings. There is no body of data on civilian shootings to work with, so no one can present an accurate picture regarding distances or number of shots fired. Consequently, anyone who bases their competency on their ability on the range is falling prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of self-delusion in which people with a limited degree of competence in a particular activity overestimate their abilities. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know because they think they already know everything. That lack of insight prevents them from learning and improving their abilities, and in the case of self-defense, that can be deadly. If you doubt the existence of this problem, jump on any gun forum and look for a thread on self-defense. You will soon find an entire cadre of ‘experts’ who swear they can take on anyone and will only need one shot to end the fight. The first step in learning anything is admitting you don’t already know it.

What is a Warrior?

In the realm of self-defense, we often hear the word warrior being thrown around. A warrior is generally seen as someone who fights to defend their nation, community, and the innocent. They constantly train and practice to improve and maintain their abilities and never pass up an opportunity to learn a new technique or skill. Something we should all emulate.

The other aspect of a warrior is psychological. They will endure great pain and suffering because they fight for a higher cause. Like any of us who may find ourselves defending our loved ones, they fight for something greater than themselves. If you read the news, which most armed citizens do, you have probably seen the story of an 85-year-old woman named Christine Jenneiahn. 

85-Year-Old Woman Fatally Shoots Home Intruder with .357 While Handcuffed to a Chair

On March 13, 2024, an armed man broke into her home, beat her, and handcuffed her to a chair while he searched the house for valuables. While searching, he found her disabled son and threatened to kill him if she didn’t cooperate. As he continued to search her home, Christine managed to drag herself into her bedroom, where she retrieved a .357 Magnum revolver. When she got the opportunity, she shot the invader twice. He lived long enough to return fire with a 9mm, striking her several times before dying. She lay on the floor for 10 hours before the police found her, but she survived. She won the fight and saved herself and her son because she never gave up. She never surrendered to her fate. That, my friends, is a warrior attitude.

Fight as Well as You Shoot

So, what must we do to learn how to fight as well as shoot? Like so many things, it is an ongoing process that involves more than one skill or ability. It’s also a process that should never end until you do, no matter how old you become.

Mentally Prepare Yourself for The Worst

am a firm believer in the saying, ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst.’ I don’t run around afraid of every shadow, but I do not relax lower than Jeff Cooper’s Condition Yellow when I leave the house, what the military calls keeping your head on a swivel. Be alert, be prepared, and recognize that bad things may happen, but you need to keep going.

Train Tactically

By all means, have plenty of fun at the range or out plinking. Dump a few magazines. Shoot targets and cans. But also take the time and effort to get real tactical training. The kind that teaches you to move when you shoot, to shoot with both eyes open, to shoot one-handed and with your off-hand, to draw from awkward positions, to fight from a vehicle, to clear a malfunction in the heat of the moment, and to administer immediate life-saving aid to yourself or someone else. And once you’ve learned all those things, do them all again. Stay sharp, stay alive.

Learn Combatives

Combatives is a blanket term that describes training in basic, down-to-earth fighting techniques without the fancy martial arts fluff you see in movies. Techniques include empty-hand attacks and fighting with various edged and blunt weapons, and even firearms. Knowing how to defend against a knife or tire iron or how to react if someone tries to wrest your gun from you can be a lifesaver. Combative courses are not difficult to find and can be a lot of fun as well as practical. Most street fights quickly go to the ground, so some of the best combatives instructors are certified in martial arts like MMA, Krav Maga, and Jiu-Jitsu. 

Have a Plan

Think ahead and consider the “what ifs”. Don’t let yourself be taken by surprise, and I don’t just mean situational awarenessI mean expecting the unexpected from an assailant. Be flexible and think on your feet. Christine Jenneiahn survived the invasion of her home because she stayed calm and acted when she had the opportunity.

Be As Physically Fit as Possible for Your Situation

If you are not physically fit, get that way. Unless you have a physical challenge or health condition that affects your ability to exercise and the level of fitness you can attain, there is no excuse for being out of shape. I’m no youngster, but I do three heavy workouts of weight training, calisthenics, and aerobics a week and stay active in general. Just moving around the house and doing yard work is good for you. Being fit not only makes you faster and stronger in a crisis, but it also makes you a less attractive target to criminals.


If you are the kind of person who reads articles on USACarry, you are already ahead of the game compared to the general population. You either already own a gun for personal and family defense, or you are considering it. That’s a good thing, but it is critical to take it to the next level and become the fighter you need to be to survive a life-or-death episode and be the best protector for your loved ones that you can be. You will find that it is worth the effort. Beyond that, making that effort will improve your physical capability, build your confidence, and enrich your life in general

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