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Ataraxia

Others here in very dangerous lifestyles needing to survive (especially women)?

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As you may have read in my other posts, I'm working to become an environmental anthropologist with the last hunter-gatherers of the Amazon.  The particular tribe I chose was dubbed by Survival Intl. as the world's most threatened tribe.  Recently one of their children were burned alive and, since colonialism is continuing in its usual violent fashion, Brazil's indigenous people are being slaughtered.  Let's set aside the malaria, dengue fever, toxic biology, and countless gnarly parasites for now.  Where I'm going there is a very real chance that I will encounter violent illegal loggers, drug smugglers, and land grabbers.  Environmental and social workers in this area are being murdered every year [link with an old but good graph].  The cities, as well, are some of the most violent in the world.

 

But let's face it, I'm dumb enough to do it anyway.  I've trained in Israeli Krav Maga as well as some other martial arts I now like significantly less.  Now I have a very serious reason to be fit, and I'm finally getting real about the need for a training program.

 

Now this is about survival.  Who else here is working to survive a very dangerous lifestyle?  Please give me whatever advice you feel most helpful.

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Interesting career path you've chosen.  I'd be interested to hear more about why you're on board to going to such a dangerous place.

 

I do not live in a "dangerous lifestyle," but I have trained in martial arts for a long time and train others who are in those situations (bouncers, security guards, and border police).

 

If you're looking for practical experience in dealing with dangerous situations (which is probably the best training you can get), you can work in one of those fields.  Bouncer or security guard would be ideal as it doesn't take much to get hired, or at least here in Canada you only need your security guard license which is a 40-hour course plus an exam.

 

Best advice I can give (and I'm a bit ignorant to what is going on in the area you are travelling to) is find a way to solve problems without violence.  Use your education to provide solutions to what is happening, and stay away from places/people you know are trouble.  Violence should always be avoided, but being prepared is a smart move.

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I have not been to such dangerous places, but as far as I realize, even though you have learnt any kind of self defense you will need practical experience as James said above.  I too would suggest that before you leave for this place get practical experience to keep your senses sharp and alert (which I am sure due to the whole danger element your adrenaline will take care of), but what I mean is improving your reflexes is very important.  You have to be able to use your opponents strength against them and be very quick about it.  Also it never hurts to learn archery, firearms (cause it is not as easy as pointing and shooting), also learning to fight with just a knife or anything sharp.  I am just saying all this cause when I put myself in your place I thought that these would be the most practical things to learn before going there. Isn't it better to be prepared for that environment in any means possible?  

 

I just cannot stress on the importance of having quick reflexes, because even if you think that you are quick when the actual situation presents itself you will realize whether u are or not, but I am sure you don't want to realize it at that time.  So get some first hand experience as James mentioned above or any other things that you can find to improve it.  Sometimes it is important to know when to run and when to take a stand.  Remember even a seconds slowness on ur part can change the situation.  Being a woman you can use your strength only to so much extent, so you have to learn other ways to beat them and I am sure if you put your whole focus on it you can do it and come back home safe and in one piece.  Good luck!!  

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Dear Loveless

 

I don't think that anything you can learn in your homecountry prepares you to the situations and the people you possibly encounter there.

Although it might help to know about self defense - Krav Maga is in your case IMHO one of the best you can get - you will have to deal with a grade of violence you never knew.

I have severe doubts about nonviolent approaches helping with fellows like illegal loggers, drug smugglers and land grabbers, as you wrote.

It's more than unlikely that they sit down with you and discuss their problems with a cup of tea.

 

Without much doubt, encountered with those guys you will either have to run or fight. And as they will have serious weapons, I don't mean fighting with bare hands, sticks, knifes or even handguns.

 

Concerning survival I think the best teachers for the environment you will be in are your clients, the indigene people. No one can beat them in survival there. So if you have to run and hide in the Amazon jungle, be sure to take one of them with you.

 

Good luck

 

M.

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Recommendations:

 

1. Practice thinking ahead, like defensive driving. Make it automatic to be continually observing your surroundings and to notice even the smallest of changes. If you live with other people now (family, flat mates, etc.) you can practice this by stopping every time you enter another room and trying to see what things have been moved, newly placed, or removed. Is that where you left the toothpaste on the sink? Whose cup is that on the table? Is the volume still at the level it was the last time you watched TV? Also practice listening for the presence of other people, and try to determine their current activity while they are still out of eyesight. What movie is your roommate watching? Is your SO actually in the shower yet, or are they letting it run while they brush their teeth? If you don't have people to practice on at home, you can still practice this kind of awareness at work, out on the town, or when at a friend's house. But keep in mind: the point isn't to become paranoid - the point is to train yourself to be aware of changes in your immediate environment, without the stimuli of obvious interruption to draw your attention to it. The point is to be cognizant so that if something changes that could potentially signify danger, you've noticed it prior to the danger happening. And that makes your reaction much more likely to be appropriate to the situation and in line with survival - deer aren't the only species who succumb to headlights on a regular basis.

 

2. Be aware that the violence of people you are looking at working in proximity to is likely to the kind you can anticipate, but not react to effectively. Ie, they're most likely going to have guns and they are more likely to shoot if they don't get their way than to verbally concede a point in debate. So your best bet is to stay the fuck out of range. That means moving out entirely or getting to a safer location when you figure out they're in your AO and have plans to visit. Assuming you either had no prior warning, or chose to ignore it, in the event of a confrontation there are very few things you can do, but they are vital:

 

     - Dodge. Basically, this means get out of the gun barrel's direct line of fire. Your best bet is NOT to dive forward or try to throw yourself backwards, but to go to the side. Going forwards or backwards means you're putting your brain in the way: sideways, you're probably going to take it through the shoulder (since most people tend to aim for the chest area, as that is the larger target area of the human body). 

 

     - If the trigger man is spraying randomly, get down on the ground and get out of sight. That means worm your way behind an object larger than yourself - and no, at that particular moment in time the kind of object isn't going to matter much. The guy is shooting what he sees, so for the time being he is far less likely to shoot you if he can't see you than if you lie there in plain sight. Don't waste time trying to crawl under the jeep 25 ft away when there's a perfectly good wooden crate within arms' reach. You can worry about stray bullets in a moment, right now you should only be worrying about deliberate ones. 

 

     - Stay out of sight. If you've been lucky and haven't made intimate friends with any lead, you might consider your options. Your decisions from this point forward could get you killed, sure, but you're the only one who can make the call for yourself. If you assess that you can move to a safer location without drawing the gunman's attention, by all means, have at it. Just be relatively confident that they're no longer focused in your direction if you have to come back within eyesight to make your move, because the number one move of pray-n-sprayer's is to shoot anything that looks like it's trying to run away. 

 

     - Lastly, be prepared to deal with the aftermath. My assumption is that if you were to be party to a firefight, and you were to survive said encounter, you'd have the presence of mind to attend to the wounds resultant from it. So do your homework, practice on a couple of carcasses (get your neighbor's kid to shoot an uncooked cornish hen with his BB gun, if you don't know anyone who hunts) and be familiar with the symptoms accompanying bullet wounds. If you get shot, take care of yourself: don't wait for the emergency team that your radio contact promised would be there in half an hour to help you. If there was a group of you and you're not the only one bleeding, figure out who's worse off and take care of them first; then move to the next guy down the list, and so on. Basic emergency triage stuff is helpful, although you should start telling yourself NOW that you're probably not going to get everyone in the right order, and someone is probably going to die because of it. Don't make a fuss if it happens, you can do that later in a therapist's office. The key thing to remember while you're dealing with that kind of a mess is to focus on the people who are still alive, and to keep them calm and as comfortable as possible until you can get them further help.

 

3. If you are allowed to possess and wield a firearm while on assignment, you'd better be practiced on it. Don't train on a shotgun and then carry a pistol. If your weapon is going to be assigned to you, find out what kind it will be and get in touch with your local NRA about classes, and whether or not they have rentals. You've already taken Krav Maga (which is excellent), but if you haven't had a class where you've disarmed someone or have been disarmed, you need to get on it.

 

4. That being said, don't bother with any of the above advice if you can't imagine a scenario where you would not only willingly pull the trigger in someone's face, but would do it gladly. Whether it's rape, torture, or just plain excitement, you need to find a reason to be happy about firing a bullet at someone, because if you can't think of it as the perfect solution in your worst case scenario, then the odds are 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999% that you're not going to shoot when you actually need to in real life. And if that comes about, then all you've probably done is given a perfectly good weapon to the guy who will use it. And that's just salt in the wound, y'know?

 

I don't know the timeline for when you'd find yourself in Brazil, but I highly recommend that you take advantage of every opportunity to prepare for it. Continue taking Krav Maga; continue working out to get stronger and faster; keep current on your research of the flora and fauna, as well as basic medical procedures and methodology.  Get feral, if you're not familiar with living without basic creature comforts already. Go spend a night outside in your backyard with just a sleeping bag, not even a flashlight or tent. Then try it in a friend's backyard; then a national park. Take a buddy, sure - but get used to the idea of being completely vulnerable and living with that uneasy feeling for more than half an hour. Although I'm sure you'll be afforded some kind of accommodation, even in the jungle, I promise: you're still not going feel comfortable with it. You'll find the transition a helluva lot easier if you do the "silly" thing and start deliberately putting yourself in similar situations while you're still within reasonable radius of your home. 

 

And finally, be practical, not paranoid: don't spend buttloads of money on anything that either A. Only applies in extremely specific circumstances, or B. Only works in specific conditions. You'll save money and a lot of befuddlement/disappointment later on down the road.

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Evicious,

 

Thank you very much for your detailed reply.  I will take all of that to heart.  Luckily, when I had money I went to many extra IKM classes on gun disarms, knives, etcetera.  I would really like to keep taking classes, but for now I'm living hand to mouth.  I'll review your words several times.  In general this all fits together with how I was trained and feels right.  Even though my classes had a large conditioning (including pain conditioning) component, I feel I need more experience, especially since it's been a while.

 

Can you give me advice about how I can keep training for IKM-style survival situations even though I can no longer afford my real former Marines teacher?  I will do the awareness exercises.  But I want more...  I've had a good amount of outdoors experience, but of course I always need more.

 

I am ever so grateful for your help.

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I don't think that anything you can learn in your homecountry prepares you to the situations and the people you possibly encounter there.

Although it might help to know about self defense - Krav Maga is in your case IMHO one of the best you can get - you will have to deal with a grade of violence you never knew.

I have severe doubts about nonviolent approaches helping with fellows like illegal loggers, drug smugglers and land grabbers, as you wrote.

It's more than unlikely that they sit down with you and discuss their problems with a cup of tea.

 

Miyamoto,

 

Thanks for your comment.  You are right, this is a different level of violence than anything I've really been immersed in before.  My basic expectations may be flawed.  I need to put much more thought into that aspect...

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Just reading along here because I am interested (and worried about loveless!)

 

Good stuff Evicious! Thanks for the detailed response.

 

I luckily have no need for that kind of training but I always wanted to train like that. I am going to look into Krav Maga soon. I just need more basic fitness to really get the maximum benefit from training like that.

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Evicious has it down, Situational Awareness will be key to survival. in addition to NRA stuff if possible look into IDPA, IPSC or any other shooting sport that focuses on self defense scenarios. Even if you never plan to carry a weapon, it would behoove you to practice so when the SHTF you can acquire and use whatever weapons present themselves to you by way of your enemies. Practice with tactical rifles, shotguns shooting slugs and 00 Buck and as may types of handguns as you can. Personally I think I'd do some research on what are the popular weapons among the folks killing and attacking people in your job and be sure I knew everything I could about those weapons specifically. But you must have the mindset that you WILL use it if necessary to defend yourself or don't bother.

 

There are numerous places to get basic battlefield triage and first aid training. Create your own BOB and also do some practical surtvival training. Mindset is 85% or more of the battle to see whether you will survive. 

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Evicious,

 

Thank you very much for your detailed reply.  I will take all of that to heart.  Luckily, when I had money I went to many extra IKM classes on gun disarms, knives, etcetera.  I would really like to keep taking classes, but for now I'm living hand to mouth.  I'll review your words several times.  In general this all fits together with how I was trained and feels right.  Even though my classes had a large conditioning (including pain conditioning) component, I feel I need more experience, especially since it's been a while.

 

Can you give me advice about how I can keep training for IKM-style survival situations even though I can no longer afford my real former Marines teacher?  I will do the awareness exercises.  But I want more...  I've had a good amount of outdoors experience, but of course I always need more.

 

I am ever so grateful for your help.

 

I don't know what your options are as far as continuing IKM training goes, but you could try bartering with an instructor in exchange for classes (perhaps prepping the classroom prior to and then cleaning up, including equipment used, afterwards), or approaching a former fellow student and volunteering as an informal practice buddy outside of class. Less appealing and less useful options might be to teach an interested friend the moves you have learned (although this usually results in someone getting injured, eventually; however, if you don't remember exactly how to perform the maneuvers, then you may be reinforcing bad - or worse, ineffective - technique for yourself) or to simply practice on your own, like shadow boxing.

 

Speaking of which, boxing may be something you can supplement your training with. A common misconception, especially among people who have never fought outside of one or two grade school scuffles, is that punching is simple. And that is because it is - but it is not easy. A good punch can disorient an attacker; an excellent + lucky punch can knock them out entirely. Throwing either of those, however, requires a combination of things to all be happening in the right order at the right time, and the odds of an untrained person making that happen are slim to none. Pick up a pair of wraps (which are cheap) and go hang around the heavy bag at the gym; you can either watch and learn, and practice what you see, or you can ask for advice. Even if they aren't experts at what they're doing, having a second set of eyes initially will at least help you differentiate between a jab and a cross, a hook and an uppercut. You don't have to be perfect when you punch, you just have to be able to hit where you aim - and hit it hard.

 

Other options for continued training may be basic self defense courses in your (or a nearby) community, which are often offered for very small fees, if they aren't free altogether. Are you probably going to go in knowing more moves than all the other students? Yes. But given that your entire reason for being there is simply to continue practicing defending yourself (which is most effective when done with a partner or in a group setting), then it doesn't matter if you already know what they're teaching. Just don't be a know-it-all while you're there, don't try out obviously advanced techniques on total noobies, and simply focus on establishing muscle memory. If you're lucky, you may get the opportunity to talk with the instructor and see if perhaps they're open to student barters for additional training...

 

For more outdoor challenges, first go visit your local library. Find books about outdoor survival training and then go practice what you read. Never tried starting a fire with two sticks or in the wet? Hop to it. Never tried getting water from a dew trap? Get on it. Never erected a stick 'n' leaf shelter, much less slept in one? Find the nearest woody area, leave a note with your approximate location on a Google Map print out (y'know, in case the monsters get you while you sleep) and head out. Whatever you read that you haven't tried yet, now is the time to try it. Hell, if you want some real fun, try living in the woods for 3 whole days - and tell your friends to try and ambush you while you're out there. And NO, that doesn't mean you get to set up human-sized deadfalls or snares, although a perimeter tripwire alarm is acceptable. And for gods' sake, don't use your weapon(s)! The whole point is for you to be tested on your ability to continue surviving without spiraling into paranoia, or killing the people you like. Promise them pizza and all the Instagram pics they can take of your insane idea, and I doubt you'll lack for volunteers. 

 

One last thing, if you haven't started it already: write everything you need to know down as you learn it. Get a big ass journal and start taking notes. Take notes of what works, what doesn't, and why. Write down everything you ever found useful; illustrate (that means actually sketch) what takes too many words to explain. Write down your failed attempts at shit, then write down how you worked it out when you do. DO NOT MAKE THIS AN ELECTRONIC PROJECT. There are two reasons I say that:

 

1. Physically writing shit down embeds it in your memory better than just typing words on a screen. Drawing shit helps cement it in your brain better than copying & pasting a picture into the .doc. That's because using a pen forces you to think about what you're trying to say when you write - you can't just backspace/delete if what you wrote doesn't make sense. You have to cross it out and write it all over again. And the more important the information is to you, the more time you're going to spend thinking about how to say it right, which means your brain tends to store it in the long term memory instead of the short term.

 

2. When the power is out, the power is OUT. That means all the information you need is now inaccessible. It also means you can't add information either. Paper does not go blank when the generator dies or when the batteries run out. All you need to get information off of paper is enough light for you to make out the words. 

 

If your handwriting sucks, you've got the best reason in the world to make it neater now: the last thing you want is to get to Brazil and not be able to decipher the note on X that would really come in handy right about now. So yeah, start a survival journal. Your future self will thank you.

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Just saw this.

 

I have participated in 30 organized combat sport bouts, but I have never been in a street fight in my life (as of now, a perfect self-defense situation). I keep out of sight, try not to particularly piss anybody off, but also not appear to be a victim. What I have learned from all my years of martial arts is that fighting is largely unpredictable. I'm not much of a gambler and the probability of that one lucky drunken shot that I may receive in a bar fight over a girl is not worth putting my well-being against. Besides, I'm 130 lbs, the size of a high school girl; I can't really afford to pick fights with people twice my size. Even if I do win, I will probably end up hurt and really tired.

 

Nevertheless, self-defense (I like to call it self-preservation) is an everyday necessity, because this is a cruel and unjust existence. One's most effective tool I believe is situational awareness. When you are aware of your surroundings, when you always have an exit strategy and know the quickest way to get out, and when you have a plan every time you leave your base camp, it increases your chances of getting out of a potential situation. Backup would also be a valuable asset. Keep your friends close, because two pairs of eyes and ears are better than one. (The person could also cover you while you move.) Never go out alone. Another would be physical fitness. As Rippetoe said, "strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general", and I believe that to be true. One of the Krav Maga places I went to put particular emphasis on conditioning in their training. Really, if you're strong, fast, and agile you probably have more of a chance of surviving anything than someone who has done nothing but play video games for the past 10 years. (The maximum effective range of a normal handgun is around 50 meters. It takes 3-5 seconds for someone proficient to line up the sights and acquire a target. If you're fast and lean the chances of you getting shot as you run away are smaller. That is why I think only 1 in 4 people who run away from a handgun get shot.) Finally, diplomacy. Some people are just blessed with the ability to talk themselves out of any situation, some people learned how to do it. I believe this to be a very useful skill, survival situation or not.

 

P.S. I recommend reading "Meditations on Violence" by Rory Miller, and "Sharpening the Warrior's Edge" by Bruce K. Siddle. Good luck, and stay safe.

 

P.P.S. Just read a good point: firearm knowledge would also be useful. I watched this documentary about a group of mountaineers who were kidnapped by terrorists in one of the 'stan countries. They were able to intercept one of their firearms, but I didn't think they knew how to use it (because no, it's not point-shoot). Personally the first time I got my hands on a Kalashnikov rifle I had no idea what the hell it was. Didn't know where the safety was, or how to load and charge the damn thing, so it was pretty much useless in my hands.

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Coming back from a NF hiatus... Evicious is DEAD-ON-TARGET and broke everything out & down awesomely. If she's not teaching some sorta Street Survival class, she should be

 

There's really not much to add to her comments excepting perhaps to expound on learning basic anatomy/physiology -- not only for patching yourself/others up later, but that same knowledge works the opposite way, too. :playful: 

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Numbers, based on what you said, you may not or do not have them, but that is your single best chance of staying safe. Without numbers, whatever self defense or martial art you study won't mean squat when it is ten to one. 

 

Rather than self defense, especially if you will be unarmed and there is a high chance the opponent will be armed, your best defense is to learn how to avoid problems and problem areas. You need to learn how to conceal yourself and move like a sniper. Study the politics, stay neutral, don't blindly trust others, figure out what types of bribes or offerings work. 

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First off, I admire what you do and to prepare yourself as much as possible is not a bad thing...

Just be mindful that no training whatsoever could prepare you enough for these places. Some of these people are born out of violence and death which no training can compare with..

I do not agree with violence in any form but been unfortunate enough to be in a few fights and just want to point out that it's so very different from any training you could possibly receive and I've trained in the army learning 'things that work' along with many years of kickboxing, muay thai etc.. Sorry, sounds like I'm 'bigging' myself up which is not my intention. I'm just trying to qualify my response.

 

J-squared got is sussed I think - staying in large numbers etc and putting efforts in to avoidance is your best bet.

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everyone here has given outstanding advice. i have spent the last decade of my life working for the federal gov't. the last position i held straddles the fence between law enforcement and national security. my job has taken me into some pretty nefarious places and has required me to put myself into some really shall we say sketchy situations. i will attempt to impart some things i have learned from my personal experiences.

 

martial skills may or may not help you depending on the situation you find yourself in, depending on your level of proficiency, and many, many other variables. but really in my experience survivability is much more a matter of your mentality.  your mental state will play a huge role in surviving ANY situation you find yourself in so lets focus on that.

 

keeping that in mind, when i first began working in the security field, the CEO of a company called Pacific Risk Management gave me a book called the gift of fear by gavin de becker. i can honestly say without a doubt that it probably one of the most important books i have ever read. the subtitle is "this book can save your life" and they're not kidding. i consider it so important that i always pick up extra copies around the holidays to give to the people i care about. i will not let my teenage daughter date before reading this book. the book comes off a little anti gun, but the lessons are good. a common remark i hear is that it changes people's perspective, the way they think about and look at the world around them.

 

i don't know what your timetable is, but i would seriously urge you to get yourself a copy of this book. there are many lessons there that you will find valuable. much of it is going to serve you well in the adventure you are about to embark.

 

another good book to read if you have the time is meditations on violence by rory miller. but if you only have time for one book, i would focus on the gift of fear.

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It's been said before, but if you're worried about facing firearms, this is one situation where fighting fire with fire (no pun intended) is the best approach. Gun disarms are all well and good, if your opponent is within reach and doesn't have an armed friend.

 

Be competent and comfortable with firearms, whatever type you'd be using (they are not created equal, knowledge of one system does not necessarily allow you to employ a different system in mere seconds under pressure).

 

There is also, of course, safety in numbers. Two people with guns are far more effective, both as a deterrent and in terms of lethal application of force, than one.

 

Train on human-shaped targets. Psychologically, this will make it easier to pull the trigger with a human in your sights.

 

Get some training in combat medicine. Know how to apply a tourniquet and handle a sucking chest wound.

 

Also carry a knife. Inside of around 10ft, a knife is more deadly than a gun (in the hands of someone who knows how to use it).

 

Bottom line, if you're going somewhere that you think people may want to kill you, be prepared (mentally, physically, and emotionally) to kill them first.

 

The Army perspective.

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One of the things we used to have to learn and it was repeated to us several times was that in any physical confrontation, in any fight we found ourselves in we had to be mentally prepared to hurt the other person harder and faster than him

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Awesome advices!

A bit from me:

-be paranoid

-look for an exit/ way out in every location

-"hit and run"- when $h!t hits the fan, solve it as fast as you can and get away and safe as quickly as you can.

 

Good luck and stay safe!

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Solid advice all around. I second the USPSA and IDPA shoots. They will train you not only to shoot accurately and fast but will also require you to draw from the holster with your hands in many different configurations and perform reloads on the move. Movement is critical for the shooting sports but it is essential in a defensive situation. Also at the end of the day, the more you shoot the more you will be exposed to and learn how to manage weapon failures in addition to your comfort level and increased skill. But as others have said, this is a mute point if you do not possess the determination to use deadly force. None of us know that until it actually happens. Good luck, stay safe, and congrats on putting yourself out there to improve the planet!

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