“When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.”

I think most of us have heard the phrase, and the meaning is pretty clear. For gun folks especially, it’s a clear warning. The last thing you want to do is think your pistol is the only way to solve a dispute.

The problem, unfortunately, is that while many people seem to agree with the sentiment, their own actions don’t seem to show it.

While most gun owners probably don’t spend enough time at the range (and I’m looking in the mirror on this one as well), they spend even less time working on anything else.

They read blogs and watch videos on how to shoot. They might read up on how to avoid a conflict, as well, and that’s good.

However, they do nothing about the possibilities in between. After all, not every conflict requires shooting someone. Not by a long shot. Why are so few of us willing to look at adding more tools to our toolbox so we don’t automatically reach for our hammer?

So what should we be spending time working on, other than the standard de-escalation techniques so many of us consider already?

Physical Fitness

While many of us spend a fair bit of time thinking about various threats to our personal safety, too few of us actually consider the role physical fitness plays in that. Further, getting in shape will also help fend off even bigger threats than the big, bad criminal after our wallets, threats like heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.

Further, it helps set the stage for physically demanding training and, God forbid, gunfights…as well as all other points in between the norm and all hell breaking loose.

Training for both strength and cardiovascular fitness is something not nearly enough of us do.

Hand-to-Hand Training

There’s a long way to go between someone taking a swing at you and a justifiable use of deadly force. However, that gap can be closed very quickly if you’re not prepared.

Remember George Zimmerman?

How would that whole situation have developed if a then 29-year-old Zimmerman had been able to fend off the attack of a 17-year-old Trayvon Martin? In fact, a case can be made that the case primed our nation for the racial unrest we’re currently experiencing, yet if Zimmerman had possessed the tools to subdue the younger man, history would have unfolded differently.

While most of us like to believe we’re the bigger man or woman–usually because we are–it’s not always up to us.

Some people just want to fight for whatever reason. While it takes two to battle, most people lack the skills to protect themselves, regardless of whether they fight back or not. Protecting yourself from a physical assault is a skill that requires training to develop.

“Don’t worry about me. I know how to throw down!”

No, you probably don’t.

Look, I’ve been in my share of fights in my day, and I’ve won some and lost some more. Most of us who have gotten in the odd schoolyard scrap may think we’re capable enough in a fist fight, but are we?

Honestly, I’d say we’re not. Not really.

First, if you’re trying not to cause any physical harm, then you’re likely going to be doing something you’ve never tried to do before. It’s one thing to throw a sucker punch on some schoolyard jerk mouthing off, but it’s another to slip shots directed at your brain housing unit. Most of us don’t really have the background for that.

That means we need to learn some stuff.

Second, if you’re in a fight for your life, then do you really want to trust that the fight you got into 20 years ago gave you all the experience you need to survive?

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust that, that’s for sure.

 

In conclusion, if you want to make sure you don’t look at every problem like it warrants your gun, then you need to make sure you have sufficient skills otherwise. These, coupled with your firearm training and studying ways to de-escalation altercations before they can get out of hand, should give each and every one of us more of the tools we need to get by no matter what rears its ugly head our way.