After the smoke clears

I hope to not have to use my weapon, but I am prepared in case my life is at risk. So I’ve been a CCW carrier for over 2 years and I train with my carry weapon often , but what I have no experience in, is after the smoke clears and the PTSD that will follow. I have not served in the military, so, really I don’t have any Idea what I might expect. I have read articles of other people’s experiences and how they suffer from sleep deprivation, remorse, and even retaliatory experiences from the perpetrator’s family or friends. My question to you guys: is there somewhere that I would be able to go, maybe to gather more information ? or is this something that everyone handles different when the time comes ?


Tthanks , just want to be prepared is all


It’s an excellent question - firearms training isn’t all there is to it, there’s also training your mind and understanding the impact, emotions, and cost.

I’d start here with David Grossman… buy and read both of these, or get them on audio book. “On Killing”:

and “On Combat”:

this is absolutely the best information I’ve seen on both the physiological and psychological effects of killing, and also what actually equips you to function well enough in that kind of situation to be able to be clear decisions about shoot/don’t shoot, and capable of doing what is needed should you need to shoot.
His books are clear, easy to read, and provide insight as well as actionable information you can do something with. The audiobooks are really well presented, too.


Thank You for the information, I will definitely look into this. I appreciate it.

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Odds are, I’m more likely to hit a pedestrian than ever need to draw my firearm. Pedestrians here have the right of way however most just step in front of traffic without looking. Really hate when they die that at night wearing all black…

I’ve prepared myself should it ever happen… that… in the moment. With no hindsight play, I would make the same decisions as I would have already made and performed my best.

Somethings are just out of my control. You can dwell on what happened or move on with a reminder in the background that still says what if. It will always stay with you and the only way you may be able to change things is if you could travel back in time…

Those are definitely great books to read and will help give you insight.

Another tool is to find a force on force training class that uses simulation rounds. Or even one of those electronic simulations classes. Anything you can do to bridge the gap and get as life like experience as possible will help. It’s ok to be bad at it or nervous about the class. When you complete the class you’ll know much more about how you handle stress and what areas to improve on.

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@Sheepdog556 I’d love to do an electronic simulations class - haven’t found one yet.
The force-on-force ones intimidate the *** out of me. :grimacing: I’m just sure I’ll end up with a group of 20- and 30-something gym-rats in full tacticool gear and get my “somebody’s great-grandmother with the bad knees and reading glasses” butt so kicked that I’ll regret ever going :grimacing:

The more scared the more realistic. I understand being apprehensive about it. Theres always gonna be those guys. But most would respect you for showing up and try to make it as pleasant as possible. Yes it hurts but it’s only temporary. Pain is an incredible motivator to learn.

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I can sit here and say that if it were a bad guy determined to harm or kill me, I wouldn’t give a second thought about defending myself even to the point of the bad guy dying. But if it were to actually happen I may react completely different. Unless you’ve been in the military or law enforcement and have experienced it, I don’t know that anyone can say with any certainty how they would react until it actually happens. Only thing you can do is mentally prepare yourself every time you put on that EDC, that you do so knowing you’ll have to live with the repercussions of your actions should you be required to defend yourself that day.


The books previously mentioned address how the military trains people to be able to pull the trigger. It’s discusses what didn’t work, what they’ve changed and why it works now, it will give you tools to incorporate into your range time. Yes obviously until faced with a real life real time situation you’ll never know. But again doing everything possible to bridge that gap between training and real life will only benefit you.

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I’d agree with everyone here, you can prepare for it, but until you’ve been through it you won’t know how you’ll react.

Mental health professionals are definitely worth consulting if you’re ever in a self-defense incident. It’s a huge responsibility, and one you’re not taking lightly. Thank you for being a responsibly armed American! I’m so glad you brought this topic up.

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I think if its my family or even service dog and myself I am defending its like when I use to be on a fireworks team. When your firing there is no time to think about or worry about anything else than doing it correctly and your safety. That is the way I plan on handling it. Not survivors remorse or I would never have pulled out my piece to defend myself. If I have gotten that far it was life and death him or me decision. Nuf said. Dont screw yourself up prepare yourself and know anytime that happens it will usually be fast if you had so much time to think about it most likely you had time to get out or away which is how the police may look at it too


I have a sign for my back door that is in my backyard. It has a hand holding a gun strait forward and simply States WE DONT DIAL 911. … I dont fire a warning shot if they are in my house that was my warning. I do not shoot once with a chance of that missing or them getting madder and hurting me. If I have to shoot I will just pull the trigger if its empty when I’m done then I guess he got too close. STOP MEANS STOP. My life not theirs is important to Me at that moment. Regrets No. Dont damage yourself. They wouldn’t care if they raped or killed you or your family. Its survival that’s all

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Welcome to the Community, @Alice

You make a great point about dealing with the situation as it happens and not focused on possible survivors remorse.

I would suggest checking out this thread as well: Aside from USCCA, what other legal defenses do you use for an in-home incident It may give you a different opinion about your sign :wink:

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I think I am more concerned about dealing with police and the DA because those guys can try and make your life hell on earth. When it comes to after the smoke clears, being a veteran, I have come to understand that what is done in war time leaves you no choice. You are reacting to the enemy that leaves you no choice but to protect yourself and your squad members. It’s no different at home or the street, you are reacting to an enemy that leaves you no choice but to protect yourself and your family members. Remember, they forced you in that situation. Don’t feel sorry for them, be angry at them for probably turning your life upside down and taking your peace away.


@Gerald my hubby, also s veteran, says exactly the same thing.


Fernando let me give you some advice from a guy who’s dealt with a lot of situations that can cause PTSD and has dealt with many people who have varying degrees with it.

Unless you have the right mentality before the incident your’e going to have some degree of PTSD to deal with later.

Some things are so offensive to our core beliefs as people that when we have to engage in them or are forced into a violent chaotic situation where we risk death or see others horribly harmed it literally shocks the system.

Your best weapon is to have the right mindset ahead of time. Know that if you have a firearm, much less carry it, there’s a likelihood that at some point in time you’ll have to decide whether or not to use it.

Spend a good bit of time now preparing yourself mentally training yourself to truly believe that the only way you’d use your firearm is if you had no other choice and that the situation was worth risking your life or taking another and that if it happens, you are committed to doing so.

If you go into such a situation without a clear understanding of where you are in your own mind the likelihood that it will be difficult for you to live with later is very high.

You don’t want to be a sociopath thinking, “well those SOB’s deserve to die”, and you certainoy would not want to say such a thing where it can come back to haunt you but you do have to be able to say to yourself with confidence, “If I have to shoot someone I know I did the right thing, that I am legally , morally, and spiritually ok with taking that power and that weapon into my hands to do what is necessary to save lives or prevent grave harm”.

Approach it from that perspective and you should be ok. If you ever find yourself standing there after the smoke clears whether you feel ok about it or not get some counseling to help you avoid any of the psychological traps that may be waiting to spring on you hours, days, or weeks later.

If you know you did the right thing do not allow anyone to convince you otherwise or the guilt can eat you alive.


It took me a long time to get to the point that I will be able to shoot another person if my life is in jeopardy. I had a very hard time with that thought.

The one thing I didn’t question was that I would be OK with having to shoot to defend my children. That decision wasn’t hard for me.

I know that there will be some hard things to reconcile after a self-defense incident, but I’ll be around to get counseling and to watch my children grow and experience all that life has to offer.


For whatever it’s worth… I’ve given some thought to this subject and decided to practice shooting with verbal commands. I yell “get back” before deciding to shoot … or not. My thought is that by yelling at my target, I create a potential witness pool that will tell a responding officer they heard me tell the dude to get back… and I can tell the responding officer that I told the intruder to “get back” but he didn’t. :woman_shrugging:t2:


Welcome to the Community, @Melissa! Training to issue verbal commands is a great idea!

You could even add different commands depending on the situation: “Get away from me!” “Drop your weapon!”

Great training!