Self Defense Tips, Lifesaving Tips, Pat McNamara
(Photo by Big Stock)

In an era of persistent conflict both at home and abroad, life’s uncertainty can test whether or not we are prepared for challenges not forecasted. We do not plan to fail, but we fail to plan, and when we do, we get experience. Experience is often something we get shortly after we need it.

Whether you are the head of a household with a family or on your own, you need to be your own first responder. It is your duty and responsibility to protect and serve as well. Protect yourselves and your loved ones and serve your communities as a responsible member of that community. You need to be equipped to be your family’s own security detail. You need to be your own “sentinel.” So, let’s cover some things to consider when you perform your sentinel duties.

Self Defense Tips No. 1 — Stay Aware

Don’t get caught “in the White,” using Jeff Cooper’s color code, when you’re out and about. You do not need to be on full alert—this would be too exhausting—but you should maintain Condition Yellow.

If I’m out at, say, a restaurant, I want to plan ahead in case trouble comes in, so I ask myself, “If I were a sociopath, which direction would I move after entering? Where would I aim my shotgun? What are the natural lines of drift in this particular establishment?”

I visualize potential chaos. I picture complete bedlam with everyone simultaneously running for the exit. This is a necessary component in preparation for when all hell breaks loose. You must mentally prepare yourself to exit with those you are protecting—if exiting is the best and safest recourse—without hesitation, even if this means throwing a chair through the window. When pandemonium strikes, there is no time for analysis. Analysis brings paralysis.

Self Defense Tips No. 2 — Think for Yourself

If shit does hit the fan, running with the “sheeple” may not be the best course of action. Don’t be victimized by an ocean of people who have their heads up their asses. Lines of drift and likely avenues of approach may be part of a plan with a well-organized adversary who may use a rouse or diversion to send the herd in a desired direction. Exercise your “OODA loop” and come up with a quick plan of egress. Sometimes flanking or egressing at an oblique is more conducive to longevity. Run until you have made it past the danger or have some good cover. Then take a second to assess the situation and readjust your plan.

By the way, if you see me out with my family in a public place and I’m wearing shower shoes, please walk up to me and jam a pencil in my eye. I deserve it. Mobility equals survivability, and flip flops are not conducive to moving.

Self Defense Tips No. 3 — Go With Your Gut

Intuition is a gift that we humans are born with. We can exercise this function and make it stronger—just like we do with our muscles. Intuition works best when we register what we’ve sensed and then put our five other senses aside. Intuition is our sixth sense, but it’s often stifled by our overdependence on sensations available from the material world. When we tap into our intuition, decisions that seemed difficult to make suddenly gain more clarity.

Basically, every step we take toward having complete power over our lives is one step away from being a victim, where we have none. Nowadays, we are so connected, plugged in, that we are disconnected. Our situational awareness is nearly nonexistent. We are fat, dumb and happy button-pushers. Comfortable, flaccid and complacent.

Self Defense Tips No. 4 — Train to Carry

In order to be effective on your security detail, you should be carrying a sidearm. It is a necessary battlefield multiplier. It’s a game-changer if you know how to use it, so get some quality instruction. If you are carrying a sidearm, you should be doing it legally. In order to carry it legally, you will need to get a CCW permit.

You should learn how to use a firearm safely and effectively prior to buying one. Because firing a pistol effectively is not easy. It requires instruction and practice. In addition, firing a pistol at someone who is threatening you or your loved ones requires compartmentalization and the proper mindset.

In your training, work primarily on the two most important fundaments of marksmanship: sight alignment and trigger control. All of the other fundaments are support mechanisms for these two basics. In a gunfight, you can’t miss fast enough. The fundamentals need to be rehearsed so that they can be quickly and effectively executed.

Self Defense Tips No. 5 — Move or Fight

Having a firearm doesn’t mean that you are armed. You need to must consider escalation of force, for example. A confrontation will more than likely be physical way before it goes lethal. In other words, you need to be prepared to get off the “X” or be ready to punch someone’s mouth loose depending on the situation.

Self Defense Tips No. 6 — Own the Road

As the driver of your security detail, your primary responsibility is to drive. If you are on your phone, you are not driving. This also means it’s your job to ensure that the vehicle is clean inside and out and functioning well. Make sure the engine passes inspection, test all of the doors and locks, and ask for assistance if you’re unfamiliar with an item or its use. You must account for all emergency equipment and verify that it functions. And you must drive to save your life or the lives of your passengers if necessary.

Self Defense Tips No. 7 — Spot Tails

You should follow some basic rules when you’re traveling with your family. Follow your instincts. If a person, situation or location feels wrong, or if it makes you nervous, get away as quickly as possible. It is better to walk away, even if it seems overly cautious, than to stay in a situation that might become dangerous.

If you feel as if you are being followed, conduct a surveillance-detection route. Use reflections in vending machines and bus stop shelters to see behind you. Stop to read a restaurant menu to dissuade a would-be tail. Do not get caught rubbernecking if you want to confirm a tail. Turn to look but do not be aggressive of presumptuous.

Self Defense Tips No. 8 — Protect Your Castle

In your fortress, you are not just protecting yourself and your principals from burglars, but also natural disasters, power outages and fires. According to FBI statistics, a house, apartment or condominium is burglarized once every 15 seconds. Fortunately, burglary is probably the most preventable of crimes. By taking a few simple precautions, you can dramatically reduce the risks.

First, make your home less attractive to rob than your neighbor’s. My home is lit up at night. Every bit of dead space is decoratively and defensively illuminated. Second, don’t make it easy for others to case your home. If you have stuff worth stealing, limit the amount of people you tell. It may be unintentional, but people talk and word travels.

Then consider getting a dog. A dog is one of the best deterrents. Not because it’s vicious—it doesn’t even need to be seen, but it must be heard. Take a walk around and through your property often. Start outside and ask yourself, “How would I best break in?” Do this at night as well.

Self Defense Tips No. 9 — Bunker or Flee

Be prepared to either hold down the fort or get the hell out of Dodge. During power outages, etc., you should have the proper provisions stocked and ready to go in the event that you can’t get any for several days. At a minimum, things like water, food, medical gear, sanitation supplies, fuel and generator are a few things everyone should have. Have a bag or box packed and ready to go with the same gear in the event you must leave to comfort of your sanctuary in a hurry.

This article is from the winter 2019 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Grab your physical copy at For digital version, head over to Amazon.

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