When do you pull the trigger?


At one of the training classes I took this year I heard a phrase that has stuck with me, you may have already seen it from me:

Your body cannot go where your mind has not been.

Beth gets asked how do I know when to shoot? a lot. She recently heard a great response: what would happen if you didn’t?

How do you prepare your mind and body for self-defense? Are you prepared to answer the question: what would happen if you didn’t shoot?


Keep mind clear, control breathing, and prepare to control recoil and realign front sights. Not really set my big feet in one habit stance, ready to move at least a little.

You must do the mental prep work before hand. If you wait to be faced with the decision it’ll take time and mental capacity. obviously you can’t run every scenario life can throw at you BUT you can have a general understanding of the most common. In my opinion by doing this you’re saving conscious thought for the variables. Drawing and sight picture should be automatic if not train until it is.

@Dawn Would an answer to your post title question (When do you pull the trigger) be “when do you NOT pull the trigger?” (in keeping in line with Beth’s column)

There was enough of a threat for me to initiate the sequence and draw my weapon…what has changed to not complete the sequence by firing the weapon until the threat stops (e.g. why shouldn’t I shoot)?

Now there could be a bunch of different (and all correct) answers to that question…did the threat stop upon seeing me draw?..is the threat not “deadly” yet but I’m getting ready?..did an unintended target suddenly get in the way?.. have I been shot and getting off the “X” and to cover become a higher priority?..etc…

There are a number of things that would stop the sequence, but would staring off with that mindset (looking for reasons NOT to shoot) potentially help with that defensive mindset mentioned in Beth’s article?

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I’ll go with @JamesR and go a bit further down the road

There is never enough time to get a gun into your hand.
You have the rest of A life to decide to shoot or not.

What if scenario’s can really draw out your mind which is one of the things that impressed me with some of the USCCA scenario based training video’s. They make you think and then if you are like me you expand the possibilities and consider those. Always remember the odds that things will go down like you imagined them are ZERO, but the more things you think about the the better odds you have of an actionable response.

To use a military jingle “No good plan survives first contact.” along with the follow on statement “Be polite, be professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”




Roger that sir…….(one of my favorite quotes for the military)

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Six of one, half dozen of the other. :woman_shrugging:

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To save yourself and your families life

Practicing situational awareness whenever out and about will help with fight or flight response. If you walk into a situation thinking about a ballgame or the days tasks you are not aware of your so rounding. If something goes down your mind goes into a shutdown. However, if you walk into a store let’s say and look for possible threats, areas of cover, additional exits, etc. you can run a quick scenario in your mind and be ready. You’ll have a plan and the incident won’t be a shock to your system. It doesn’t take but a few seconds to assess possible threats and scenarios and the more you do it the better you become at it. Always carry one in the chamber and always have situational awareness. Watch out for possible sleepers and be aware that if you do intervene there may be other CCW Carriers unaware of what’s going on and may think you are the threat. If I ever have to draw down on someone I may yell out “Security”. That way others may know I’m not the threat.

I read an article by Mas Ayoob a couple of years ago that I wish I had kept. The gist of the article was, “it’s not when I can draw my weapon, but when do I have to draw?”

I have given concealed carry a lot of thought before and since getting my license.

I approach the question at the top of this thread much as Mas Ayoob did in that article - it’s a matter of when do I have to pull the trigger?

Can’t stress enough the importance of training, training, training. Trading at the range. Trying through videos. Scenario trading and drills. If you are carrying always keep one in the chamber and carry in a quality holster. When ever out and about practice “What If” drills/scenarios. Eating at a restaurant? Where are the exits and entrances? Look for possible hard cover spots. Be aware of background if you have to fire. All of these take just a few seconds. Planting them in your head wherever you are or go will help with Cognitive Shutdown. It happens to even the most well trained people. Even former veterans of war. Always be aware of your surroundings and practice situational awareness. The moment you walk around in a daze is the time tragedy may strike. Be ready. Be prepared and above all BE RESPONSIBLE. Practice, Practice, Practice!!!

Happy Holidays. Beware of parking lot robberies. Tis the season and most people are preoccupied with shopping and not their surroundings. Be alert and lock your doors as soon as you get in your vehicle.

Breath and breath again. Only oxygenated blood to the brain will open up the tunnel vision, and get your mind to function with your body like a finely tuned machine. Train often and introduce stress into your training sessions. You should always include failure drills or dummy rounds in your training. Train with your peers to raise the level of stress as well.

Play “what if” scenarios in your head daily when you are carrying your firearm. Look for cover and concealment, identify where your retreat and danger zones are and what the point of no return might be. Imagine your shooting occurs with various backdrops. Research your firearm and ammo and understand the true capabilities of your rig.

Your training and experiences will become your guide when confronted with the decision to pull the trigger.

Shoot or be shot/raped/beat up. I’m no spring chicken. I’ll do what I have to, to survive & to make sure my family is safe.
Hopefully I’ll never have to use my gun on a person.

I’ll take General Mattis for $200.

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