Want a quick and easy read that doesn’t tax your brainpower with monotonous things like storyline, plot development, and resolution? Here’s our quick-n-dirty guide to ten major tactical mistakes that too many people make … yes, maybe even you.

1. They don’t carry a gun. This is actually a bit of a misnomer: I’m not worried about people who won’t carry a defensive firearm, but rather those who regularly carry defensive firearms but too often decide it’s not worth the trouble, anxiety, or discomfort to carry in certain situations. Yeah, you probably won’t get into a lethal-force confrontation at church or while having a romantic dinner with Sweetie at a small, out-of-the-way restaurant, but are you willing to bet your life on it? It’s simply a matter of odds: Out of an entire lifetime, you don’t get to choose the exact moment when “It” happens, even though I acknowledge that the risk is higher in certain circumstances than others. Regardless, if you’re going to carry, carry all the time.

2. Their guns aren’t really for shooting people. I would argue this could be the largest percentage of concealed-carry permit holders! In my contemptuous opinion, backed up by a couple decades of street and training experience, I believe the majority of “gun” people aren’t mentally prepared to shoot (and likely kill) a bad guy. If you drill down into their motivation, these folks are deluding themselves into thinking they can stop bad guys just by waving around that magical blaster. If I had a dime for every time someone has told me in confidence, “I couldn’t really shoot anybody, I just want to scare them,” I could buy a couple of nice handguns myself. If you’re going to carry, get your mind right!

3. Think pocket-clip knives are a good last-ditch weapon: I admit that in a pinch, a pocket knife can work to fend off an assailant, but then so will a large rock. I’ve had professional training with clip knives from some of the best instructors in the world, and the bottom line is this: You don’t ever want to depend on your pocket knife for protection. If you do end up in such a situation, the odds of a successful outcome are poor. That’s why we should carry guns.

4. They “know it all.” This problem is rampant in shooting circles, especially among less-experienced people, and especially among those who happen to be younger males. If you truly think you’ve got everything all figured out in the shooting world, you’re setting yourself up for a painful, possibly lethal, lesson. That, or you’re just a jackass.

5. Practice “advanced gunfight” techniques. It’s sometimes humorous to watch YouTube shooting videos because you’ll see some of the most convoluted, bizarre, and dangerous drills being performed in the name of “advanced shooting technique.” You’ll occasionally see the same at your local range or even training school, at least until good sense takes over and you immediately de-ass the area. While there is nothing wrong with spicing up training, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and preparing for new challenges, at what point does the whole thing turn into a circus sideshow? In the everlasting (paraphrased) words of the immortal Louis Awerback, “There is no such thing as an advanced gunfight. There is just the basics applied under higher stress.” Amen.

6. Don’t carry a flashlight. This is a personal pet peeve and a quick way to distinguish yourself from all the wannabe “EDC” gurus. Shooting situations aside, there are many potential crises where supplemental lighting could literally mean the difference between life and death. It doesn’t have to be a 4000-lumen tactical light. Just carry something in your pocket to light up dark places. And carry a small back-up.

7. Flaunt their “Tacticool.” Now that I’ve got holsters older than a percentage of readers, this whole concept has become even more humorous. Here’s the bottom line: I don’t believe you are a former SEAL or Special Forces A-Team operator, so you can get rid of the patch-covered backpack, faux “service dog,” tactical beard, and tourniquet noticeably hanging off your belt. Real A-Team guys look like a bored skateboarder or the janitor. Quit worrying about looking the part and focus on being the part.

8. Forget that shooting skills are perishable. “I’ve been to Gunthundervalley Academy and I’m ready to rock!” Yeah, but with each passing day, the skill set diminishes just a bit. If you aren’t doing regular meaningful firearms practice, along with getting occasional professional instruction, you are slowly rusting away.

9. Don’t learn outside their comfort zone. Once you’ve been to Gunthundervalley Academy, don’t stop there. Book a trip to Valleythunder Gun Ranch and then Frontvalley Thundergun School so you learn other ways of doing things. You might only learn that you never want to use the skills you were just taught, but it will make you a better-rounded person.

10. Focus too much on guns and not enough on avoidance. Guns are cool and shooting is fun, but you really don’t want to be in a gunfight if you can avoid it. Looking back at a lifetime of walking into sketchy circumstances, it has become apparent to me that, with a little forethought and some situational awareness, you can avoid the vast majority of dangerous situations.

You (should) never regret avoiding trouble.

Brent T. Wheat is a former SWAT officer, canine handler, detective, and patrol supervisor who retired after a 30-year law enforcement career. Brent is the publisher of WildIndiana Magazine, a regionally focused outdoor magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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