Know Your Limits, by Molon Labe

In these times, there are many activities that we must train to be able to do, many skills we must know, and many tasks we are forced to accomplish to sustain our lives and those who we care about. In the days ahead, there will be even greater and more difficult things that we will have to do should a collapse or failure of civility occur to any degree in our area. Many things that are abhorrent to us may become required in order to righteously protect what is ours.

Taking lives in the defense of our lives, our property, and more importantly in defense of our friends and family, may well be absolutely necessary. This is a topic which is often neglected today but clearly shown in Holy Scripture. However this is one of the only skills that you cannot afford to do without or make a mistake. Realistically, you may not have to utilize the skills of a warrior more than 1% of the time, and probably less than that. But if a mistake happens during that 1%, you, and those you care about and are standing in front of, won’t live to enjoy the other 99%.

You must realize that I am not talking about going to the rifle range on a nice sunny day and excelling at punching holes on a non-moving paper target with all the time in the world. Certainly there is a place for that, but the best shooter in the world will not survive a violent conflict or be able to protect his family when the time comes if that person has not made the conscience decision beforehand that he or she will drop the hammer on that other living, breathing human being. That they will plunge that knife into the enemy’s neck, or bring that chair over their head, and repeat with savage fury until finished. If it isn’t in you to go up to that edge and know that you will, for a certainty step off and take that reprobate’s life from him, even as he comes at the unexpected moment to take yours, then you will not survive.

This cannot be overstated: Hesitation kills. Remember that! Most gunfights are over in less than four seconds. It has been stated many times over that a failure to plan is a plan to fail, and that is true. So the question is; what have you determined to do when the time comes that those you love are in danger? Even if you never have to endure a failure of society or go through a war zone, make no mistake, this is a cruel world and scumbags are everywhere. I’ve had a friend killed by a Muslim with a pistol at point blank range. A few of my friends have encountered men with lethal intent and had to defend their lives or die trying; they have survived and their enemies are either in the ground or in prison. None of these men had gone looking for a fight or had done anything stupid which should have been avoided. I’ve survived a potential violent conflict the best way, by keeping my eyes open and with the help of the Lord, escaping the narrow confined room where I should have been killed. In that case I didn’t have to snap the enemy’s spine or use my knife, but if I had, would I have been ready? If it quickly came to a “him or me” situation, could I have fought intelligently and fiercely? I hope so. I was young at the time, but I had already crossed that line in my head a hundred times before.

On a side note, you don’t have to be in a bad spot to be targeted by bad people. Sometimes they follow you. Or like in the case of my friend, they come to your door out of nowhere with a gun and a bag full of cutting tools and implements associated with torture. Had my friend not been the man that he is, he and his wife and two children would have been a sad memory instead of a shining example in our community. The point here is that you will not be able to decide when the moment of truth is: It’s going to choose you. And statistically, that means it will be up close and personal (and probably very dark, to boot).

Know Your Limits
In your mind, you have to know your limits. You have to know how far you are willing to take it and how much you are willing to risk to protect those you love. Ask yourself, are you willing to take a bullet, stop that bat swing with your arm, or get hit by that vehicle for someone you love? For principle? For right? No matter what the cost? Run through scenarios in your head, and know personally how far you will take it, for what, and why. For me, the idea of living the rest of my life knowing that I could’ve bit the bullet and saved someone I love dearly, but didn’t, is more horrible than death itself, regardless of how frightening the circumstances may be. What if it’s a little girl, or even perhaps one day, my own little girl? My mom, dad or sister? No, the preservation of their lives and the lives of my friends is more important to me than my own. And on the day, when that dirtbag has captured them and seeks to extinguish their life by the most barbaric means possible, or when those Religion of Peace types begin gutting, crucifying, beheading, raping, (fill in the blank), to someone I care about, in that situation time-is-life. Remember this, as Douglas MacArthur stated, “In war, you win or lose. Live or die. And the difference is just an eyelash.”

So let me now ask you. How fast can you get your shot off reliably from the method you carry? If it isn’t carried on your person, are you sure you can get to it, get it out and running before the gunfight is over? Remember from the first to last shot in a gunfight on the street, it’s going to be over in 2.5 to 4 seconds. When you’re slipping backwards in the dark and rain, that isn’t very  long. If you intend on using an edged weapon or blunt instrument, how fast can you cover distance and disable your opponent, and how sure are you that you will be able to take down that threat? What if you are caught without a weapon? Do you have to resort to picking something up or can you kill with your bare hands? At what point in the fight will you draw your knife or gun, and why? If you take a single hit from a pistol caliber, you have perhaps as much as 95% chance of walking out of there alive; not so if you are stabbed in the neck. And never discount the method of making distance via your feet, sometimes referred to as the Nike Jitsu technique, if it is an option to you. If you are fired at while running away from an urban gang member with a pistol, statistics show you have a very good chance of not getting hit. Obviously, that isn’t always an option, from either a moral or strategic standpoint.

This is what you must know: You will probably not die from a single gunshot wound or knife slash. People survive them every day. If you are dealing with an opponent with a gun, the gun is probably going to go off; you may get hit. Knife, yes, you’re going to get cut, it’s not the end of the world. Pipe-bat-chain, yes, you’re going to get smacked and yes, it’s going to hurt, but that’s why we have casts and splints. The point is to keep fighting. It’s not over until you are dead, have given up, or have won. If you die, your worries are over. If you give up, you’re as good as dead, or you may have to endure a fate worse than death. But if you resign to fight until you can’t fight any more, or until you’ve no one left to fight, you’ve already won. Because if you do all you can and fail, it’s not truly failure. Failure is refusing to try.

Now if you know you’re going to fight and fight until you can’t fight any more, then what are some things that can help prepare you for that day and stack the odds in your favor? You must know your limits. That is, your current limits. Let us remember what Bruce Lee said once, “There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

I know that I can draw my pistol and get a center mass hit reliably in under one second with movement in my open carry rig. Add 2/10ths of a second from concealment. I know that my carbine speed reload is on average 2/10ths of a second slower than drawing my pistol, but that if I have more ammo in my Redi-Mag, then I’ll take that extra time to get 30 rounds of .223 in the fight, versus 11 rounds of .45 ACP. I know that I can speed reload in pitch dark as fast as I can in the light, maybe faster. Sound impossible? The truth is that if you can perform an action without using conscious thought, if it can be controlled, regulated and maneuvered by using subconscious thought, it will be faster, smoother and more efficient. And this brings us to the next point.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Whatever action you may be called on to do when time is life, you’ll want to practice it until it can be done without conscious thought. The simple truth is that the better you become at subconsciously running your gun, then the better you’ll be able to use your conscious thought for solving problems. In conflicts there will always be problems that must be solved, obstacles to be overcome. One thing about guns is that sooner or later, (and probably sooner rather than later in battlefield conditions,) your gun will have a malfunction. So, can you clear your weapon’s malfunction quickly, no matter what kind it may be? How quickly? Can you do it without thinking about it, and keep your head in the game, thinking about the next move while you’re doing it? Make no mistake, this will take time and practice. A few inert rounds and some time spent with your weapons systems, off and on the range, dealing with malfunctions could very well save your life when it fails to go bang on the day. If you are carrying more than one weapon into the field or on the street, you need to know how quickly you can solve the problem, and at which point you swap to your alternate weapon or method. There will be no time on the day to stop and think, “Oh, yeah, NOW would be a good time to go to my back up!” It must be done via muscle memory or you’ll skip a beat, miss a step and be even further behind the power curve.

Don’t forget that your mind is your greatest and first weapon. It is the thing that drives all else and we want to keep it clear and have as few problems as possible to solve. So work with your gear and decide what your standard operating procedure is before it comes to it, and then practice it until it becomes instinct. When deciding your method in handling different situations or weapon systems, try to never go with a particular technique just because someone else said to, no matter how good or knowledgeable that person is, because people don’t always have the same body mechanics or application for any given situation. No, you’ll want to develop your own method based on good reasoning. If there’s a good reason behind why you’re doing what you’re doing, then at least you’re doing something right. But don’t stop there; look to see if you can find a better reason to do it any other way. Follow the 80% rule. You want to practice what is going to work for you 80% of the time or better. Ask yourself when you are doing your next dry fire practice or shooting at the range, or anything that may need to be accomplished during critical moments, “Is this going to work for me when it’s wet, when I’m tired, when I can’t think, when my lungs are working overtime to suck in some vital air, when I’m scared out of my wits?” And train to reality. Reality isn’t sunny and 75 on level ground with no pressure. Reality is dark-cold-scared with everything on the line and no do-overs.

How well do you perform when your heart is pounding at 145+ beats per minute, your legs and arms are smoked and your mind is struggling to find the answer to the current problem? Test yourself and know that at that point, the head shot at 25 yards is stupid with that pocket pistol, or manageable with that shotgun. Know that your speed reload falls to pieces if you go too fast, so you can slow it down, take a breath and think through the problem. If you train through enough stressful situations, running as fast as you can, then  you’ll find where you melt down and where you need to be to keep things running quickly but smoothly. One important point to remember is that “You can’t hit by missing.” This means that if you’re going to miss, slow it down, correct it, move up, slow your heart and breathing or just man up and dig deep and do whatever needs to happen to get the job done right.

But don’t go faster than you can. I learned this lesson crystal clear when I was about 15 years old. I remember expending an entire 20 round magazine at a full-size steel through my rifle at 200 yards and never once hitting it because I was frustrated and was shooting way too fast; a shot that I should have hit the first time if I had slowed myself down a couple seconds. This was a stupid mistake that could have meant taking an innocent life through negligence down range on the day, because every missed round is a liability. But the point here is that if you shoot, move or operate too fast for your level, you’re doing no one any good. So if you find yourself missing, slow it down and get your hits. Again, this comes back to knowing your limits. Don’t go faster than you can on the street, means that you hit that failure point on the range, in training, so you won’t make that mistake on The Day. So where are your limits? Do you know them? Do you know if you can hit that half a head hiding behind your best friend when he/she becomes a hostage? It’s all on you.

Train hard. Fight harder. Live for God and do your best; leave the results to Him because they are His anyway. Love those you should and be ready to kill those who need to die. And always know your limits.