Effective Range of Armed Self-Defense

Your ability to defend yourself against a threat can depend on how close that threat is to you.  The closer someone is to you, the less time you will have to draw your firearm and defend yourself.  With all the training we do, it is important for us to consider our effective range of armed self-defense.

It is common to hear the expression “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.”  Someone with a knife can easily defeat someone with a firearm if they are close enough to them.

There are several factors that influence your ability to defend yourself against an attacker.  The first is your knowledge of your surroundings.  The more self-aware you are of your surroundings, the faster you will be able to act.  Someone who is distracted from the things going on around them will react much slower than someone who is alert.

Your ability to draw your firearm and fire an accurate shot can mean the difference between being injured by an attacker and stopping the threat before they get to you.  The way you carry your firearm, inside the waistband, outside the waistband, the type of holster, and the presence of a manual safety are all critical elements that influence your response time.

Another critical point to consider is whether you carry a round in the chamber or not.  Drawing and then loading your firearm takes longer than drawing and pulling the trigger.  Your first shot can be delayed further if you must use one hand to protect yourself from the threat while you draw your firearm.  How would you chamber a round in your gun with only one hand?

In the video above, I demonstrate an exercise that helps you to better understand your effective range of armed self-defense.  By having someone standing beside you, simulating an attack and running in the opposite direction from you until you fire a shot, you get a better understanding of how close an attacker can be to you before you could stop them.

The failure in this exercise is that I clearly knew the attack was coming and was prepared to deal with it.  In the real world, we do not always know when an attack happens.  Also, the threat will probably come from behind or from the side.

This drill demonstrates the importance of regular and effective training to help make us effective in an armed self-defense shooting.