How Would YOU React?
I must have been 16 or 17, I remember I was still in high school. My dad and I were shot at seven times by the same guy with a hunting rifle. Neither one of us had ever had any firearms training like my Shooting Tactics: Defensive Handgun, Level 1 class. We’d certainly never been instructed on mindset.
Our family used to own property north of Craig, Colorado in the area of a place called Bakers Peak. My parents initially intended to retire there so we spent many weekends up there during the summer. We placed a homemade geodesic dome we affectionately called a “cabin” but it was really nothing more than a shelter from some of the elements.
This particular year we decided to hunt the property although we had not really scouted it for game before and had really only seen minimal game in all our visits.
The night before the season opening my dad, me and Mom were, for some reason, talking about what we would do if someone ever shot at us while hunting. We came to the conclusion that if more than one shot goes in your direction the party shooting has intent and we would start shooting back. We talked about how we would be justified in doing so. Our mindset, and this is where this story will focus, when we went to bed was: you shoot at us, we shoot back… period.
Well, about midday we were approaching a hill that bordered Bureau of Land Management territory and we noticed four orange hats on a ridge several hundred yards away. I assumed if we saw them, they saw us as we were all in view for some time.
We continued to work our way up to an area we wanted to hunt and our path eventually put us on the opposite ridge from where we had seen the four hunters. We stopped and looked around to notice that three of the four hunters were now at the bottom of the ridge, on a road, gathered around their vehicle. We had an occasional glimpse of the fourth hunter on the same ridge they had all been on previously.
Suddenly we started hearing shots, which is pretty normal when you’re hunting, right? Well we didn’t just hear the sound of a rifle shot, we heard the crack of the bullets whip right over our heads. I’ve heard it said you know when they’re close because you hear that crack.
We instinctively dropped to the ground and rolled down the opposite side of the ridge, away from where we knew the hunter was. There were two shots fired… hmmm. We chose to believe this was just a coincidence, that the hunter was simply shooting at an animal in the same direction. Careless and negligent on his part, but unintentional.
We waited several minutes, decided we could proceed because the route we were taking was the easiest way to get where we wanted to go. No sooner had we crested that same hill again, a little farther up on the ridge when we heard two more shots, two more cracks. Same thing, drop and roll away from the direction of fire.
Once safely on the opposite side of the ridge we start discussing these events in disbelief. We are unwilling to believe the shooter has any ill intent. This is merely a series of coincidences.
Now neither my dad or I are rocket scientists. Really, we’re not. But we do believe we have some pretty good common sense. You’ll probably argue that point after I tell you what happened next.
Disbelieving the hunter had any intent, we decided to wait, move a little farther up, then crest the hill again. Guess what? Yep, this time three more rounds, three more cracks.
Right about now that common sense kicks in. I sure am glad I got the common sense and not the brains for rocket science. 🙂
We’re now rehashing our discussion the night before and believe we would be justified in shooting back. We know roughly where this hunter is and if nothing else, we could send him a signal we’re willing to shoot back.
But what if we hit him? Were we willing to live with the consequences of wounding or killing another human being. Was it possible all three incidents were merely a series of coincidences, and by shooting him we kill an innocent man?
These are the things we thought about and discussed as we smartly picked a new path to our desired location. A path more difficult, but not visible to the unknown hunter one ridge away.
That was 30+ years ago. Through my firearms training and training others I have reflected on some of the life long lessons learned from that incident. Here are a few I’ve thought of and hope you find them insightful if not entertaining.
Point Number 1: Mindset
As I stated, our mindset the night before was “shoot back if you’re shot at more than once”. When faced with a real scenario, we were unwilling to follow through with our pre-determined actions.
At the very least that guy deserved to be tracked down and have the crap kicked out of him for putting our lives in danger.
We made the right decision in that instance, no doubt in my mind. But the point I want to make is this:
When it comes to defending yourself in a lethal encounter You must decide BEFORE an incident what you are willing and determined to do, and you must stick to it, you must follow through if the situation warrants your predetermined response. The right firearms training would teach you that.
SHE HAS A KNOWN STALKER
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who didn’t understand the scope of what I do with my firearms training courses, she asked if she would benefit from one my courses, I was in the process of typing my response (we were on Facebook) when she started telling me her story.
She has been (and still is at the time of the writing of this story) stalked by a man who has burglarized her house, followed her 17 y/o daughter while she was driving and made verbal threats. The police know who he is but he lives in another town and they would rather catch him in their town than deal with extraditing him from his home town. None of this makes sense but I’m telling you the story as she told it.
When she filed a report she asked the police officer if she should get a gun to protect herself. The police officer advised against it telling her that most people in that situation get shot with their own gun. This is absolute CRAP. I was flippin’ furious.
Here she is a single mom, with two teenage daughters, experiencing a known threat that police are reluctant to pursue, and their best advice is simply to call 911 if he comes around. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. The only tool they offer her is her own telephone. It never ceases to amaze me the ignorance and down-right stupidity.
You know the saying… “when seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.”
I’m not anti-cop, I just think it’s arrogant for police officers to spout inaccurate information and portray an attitude that guns are best used by only them.
What he should have said is something along the lines of:
“I can’t tell you whether you should purchase a gun or not, but if you decide to, make sure you and your daughters get some firearms training on how and when to use it.”
Anyhow, my point is, the information I’ve been able to gather indicates the people who’s guns are used against them were simply unwilling to accept their situation and see the use of violence as the only way they get out alive. They gave up their lifeline in hopes they will receive mercy (Read why this approach is futile). This is not unlike what occurred to my dad and I that fall day so many years ago. Though we made the correct decision, under different circumstances that wavering could cost lives.
If you’re going to own a gun for the purpose of self-defense, make sure you continually process what you would do “if”. Make your decision before hand. Seek out relevant Firearms Training. Talk with people who are like-minded and discuss their views. Constantly gather information on how to solidify your decisions.
We Made the Right Decision That Day!
If the circumstances were life threatening with limited options, our disbelief that someone actually intended harm on us, and our subsequent lack of immediate action, could have cost us our lives.
Back to the story, and…
Point Number 2: Options
Bottom line, in a court of law, any jury would see we had options. If we had chosen to shoot back and injured or killed someone, my life would look a little different right now. After the training I’ve received I would find it hard to buy in to the argument that disengaging and reporting the incident isn’t better than slugging it out with rifles at over one hundred yards.