“Smell the roses and fight for something” – Chuck Ragan
There’s a story behind this photo. A group of us were shooting into several steal targets laid out in an open field on a farm. A herd of dairy cows hung about 100 yards away, wanting nothing to do with the ruckus we were creating. Near the end of our shooting session a cow began to slowly stroll toward our targets with no regards to the load reports, as we slung a barrage of lead at the steel targets. The sound of a projectile hitting steal is actually pretty soothing, as a shooter; but, as a cow? The sounds didn’t convince her to keep the distance, the shots continued to ring out, but she chose to ignore them. The curiosity was too much, she couldn’t resist. Of course, we ceased fire as she closed in. She got in line with the targets and stared back at us (This is when I snapped the photo). As she stood next to the targets, she leaned her head over and took a good lick of the nearest steel plate, while maintaining eye contact with us. What a sight. This cow had no sense of self preservation, none. Apparently cows don’t have self preservation. But, that’s cows. As I thought about it, I realized cows aren’t alone in the lack of self preservation. Sometimes people line up with the targets, oblivious to the danger that lays ahead. But, the curiosity is to strong.
Many things change the moment you become a father. One of the most critical changes comes with the new found fear of what can be dangerous in this world. You fear many things as a father, from small objects, poisons your toddler is on a mission to find, and big falls. You also fear evil. People hell bent on hurting others. Whether it’s an active shooter, kidnapping, or even a bully. The level of fear is a stark difference from your single days and what comes to light is an understanding of why your mother still calls to check on you. Paranoia is not the answer here. A constant fear and anxiety of impending doom will never manifest itself into anything that is useful and it can be damaging to you and your kids. However, a sense of awareness and preparedness is crucial to posses. The ability to understand your surroundings and interpret human action is key.
Every father has the deep desire to be the protector of their family, as they should. No matter how small, fast, big, strong, or smart a father is, they seek to protect their own. And, the moment you lay eyes on your kids and your wife, you immediately understand the meaning of doing anything, including giving your life for them.
I am a police officer and I am often asked several different questions from friends and family about safety. One of the most common questions is “I want to buy a gun, what do you recommend ?” The question is usually followed up with a reason for the purchase. This usually revolves around protection and responding to the unknown, self preservation. I, of course, recommend a make and model. Something easy and reliable.
The answer also goes into what they will do to prepare and train. Will they buy a gun and chuck it in a drawer, only to pull it out once a year to clean it? You see, a gun in of itself will not keep you safer, it will not jump out of your night stand or holster to save the day. No, a firearm is just like any tool. In the right hands it can be used responsibly and in the wrong hands it can be a disaster. I am a big supporter of firearms in the right hands. Hands that have trained and prepared, controlled by minds that can asses a situation and make the right decision. Even the most skilled gunfighter is nothing without his skill of observation.
The best altercation is the one that is observed, avoided, or dealt with before it becomes a problem. The ability to see and interpret your environment and the people in it is important now more than ever. It’s about keeping your head on a “swivel”. Seeing things most miss. A persons demeanor can be assessed by many non verbal cues. The way they carry themselves, the position of their feet, hands and body. Often times your gut feeling about somebody is spot on. We’ve evolved to have this sense, it’s what kept us alive before civilization was civilization. This also applies to you, people can read your body language. I recommend one rule to anyone who is looking at finding a way to protect themselves and their families, it’s this: be polite and curteous, give firm handshakes and look people in the eye, laugh at jokes, make peaceful the mind, but be prepared to become a complete savage. Sounds brutal but that is what you need to become when it comes to it. When you have to use your tools to protect those you love. Hopefully, with the right amount of awareness you can avoid these situations. Spotting warning cues are vital, and after you spotted them deciding your course of action is critical.
Paying attention to people is important; however, understanding your environment is critical to the course of action you take. This comes with understanding where you are in relation to where you need to go. A good example of this is being aware of emergency exits at a theater or knowing where you are at, such as address, orientation etc. Its also about knowing where the entrances are, where people are most likely to move through, hallways, foyers, etc. How many times do we rely heavily on where the GPS tells us to go? We than have no idea how to change our course when the GPS fails and we don’t know where we are. Don’t get lost. Know more than one route home. Use a map, like it was 2006. Always know where you are going, and where you need to go when things go south.
When Looking at different tools to keep your family safe, such as firearms, it’s always good to become familiar with how and when you’ll apply that tool. Being able to identify possible threats and understanding your environment is often times more important than simply possessing a firearm. Educate yourself and learn as much as you can. We can go into pages upon pages regarding different cues to be on the look out for. I recommend anyone who is looking to carry a firearm to train and educate themselves. Read books such as “Left Of Bang” by Patrick Vanhorne. The book covers the cues to be on the look out for before a violent event occurs. It makes it easy to establish a baseline and spot anamolies that are above or below that baseline. For example: on a hot summer day at the beach you see several people in bathing suits, which fits the baseline. You than notice someone wearing a winter coat. This is not normal, it’s an anomaly above the baseline. Odds are if something looks strange it is. Many gun owners will invest thousands into equipment, lights, scopes, lasers and blades and put nothing toward their own training/education.
It’s easy in our modern society to become oblivious. We have several services that take the work out of self preservation. If your sick, you call an ambulance. If someone is trying to break into your house, you call the police. If your lost, use your GPS. If your house is on fire, call the fire department. It’s a level of comfort and sometimes we get too comfortable. Just be aware, don’t burry your head in the sand.
I can recall several times in my career where I’ve seen the “cow” in our communities. I remember rolling into a scene in a bearcat, a large armored vehicle capable if stoping a 50 caliber round, responding to a shots fired, man with a gun call. Every team member is behind a piece of armor, shields, barricades, Kevlar helmets and level IV ceramic plates strapped to their chest. Out of the corner of my eye I see him, a guy wearing nothing but flip flops, khaki shorts, and a tang top. Smart phone in hand. He brings the phone up to eye level as he steps into an open area, exposing himself to a crazed armed maniac. For this guy the curiosity was too much, he had to see. He had to get his video, his 15 minutes of YouTube fame. His self preservation took a rear seat as he ignored the obvious signs of something astray. He had to lick that steel plate. My teammate yelled out “get back inside !!. The khaki wearing wanna be YouTube star gives a nasty look, as if to say “how rude of that officer to yell at me”. He slowly complies and slithers back into his house. Never truly understanding the danger he was in. He, like many people, was oblivious to what was going on, he just needed to check it out. The curiosity to great. We owe it to our families to be aware and prepared. Not put them in harms way based on being oblivious. Don’t make yourself and your family an easy target.