The 3 Components of Surviving a Gunfight – Proficiency, Tactics, & Luck



A gun is not a magical self defense tool - it does not guarantee that we’ll survive a gunfight. We have to have certain skills in order to properly utilize our self defense tool, and here’s what all self defenders need to know.

Understanding gunfights are critical to determining how we train and apply these skills.

Tactical vs practical shooting and why you need both

I do not have combat experience but I have had some training relevent to the topic, ranging from classes on basic carbine use , CQC/force-on-force , low light/night fighting and fighting around cars and buildings. Its a whole other ball game then competitive shooting or plinking or even basic carbine courses but its worth it, imo.


Agreed. The tactics side of things is very important. But the tactics matter little if you can’t handle your gun well. And your gun handling doesn’t matter if you don’t have the empty handed skills to get to your gun.

All of it is very interconnected, but we deal with three separate tribes that don’t cross train as much as they should.


Hand to hand is kind of overrated, ive trained in martial arts (MMA, Boxing and Eskrima) a bit(10 years or so and have had a few broken bones) and hand to hand is not as useful as some think. Just learn the basics and call it good, put more effort into using more practical tools.

As far as tactical training goes, any good tactical instructor knows how to shoot and they either teach it or have requirements that you know how to shoot before taking the classes. Marksmanship is a very big thing to instructors in those circles, so is gun handling, clearing malfunctions etc etc.


I like this guys stuff.

Competitive shooting is a great way to refine and build upon basic gun handling and marksmanship skills but there are little things that are different. I am not saying anything bad about competitive shooting just that what it helps build ,skill wise, is not everything a person should know if they might someday engage in armed conflict with another human being, IMO ( based on what ive been taught or told , not from actual experience)

I like the looks of run and gun and IDPA 3 gun and would (or try to) compete if i I could.


Competitive shooting teaches you a lot more than the basics, I guarantee you.

And this is exactly what I’m talking about with the three communities downplaying the importance of the others. The “tactical” mindset people LOVE to talk down on competitive shooters, the competitive shooters love to talk down on the tactical people, and the martial artists commonly have elitist mindsets.

Check out this video from an instructor about “Competitors vs Tactical” - it sums up my thoughts very well and is echoed by MANY instructors I know:

You thinking competition shooting is only to refine the basic gun handling and marksmanship kinda further makes my point. If you only know the basics of gun handling, you will not be the best of the best when it comes to gun handling. Competitors are constantly striving to edge out every little bit of performance they can get with their handgun, and they are damn good with it.

And the handgun is the lynchpin of a self defense strategy.

You can have the best tactics in the world, but if you can’t handle your gun well, shoot quickly, or even shoot accurately - the benefits of those tactics will be very minimal.

“The more efficient you are with your tools, the better the outcome of the environments you are in.” (From the video)

You are right, competition doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to survive a gunfight. But competition does force you to hone the most important skills of surviving a gunfight - handling your gun effectively under stress.


You are taking it out of context, I am pro competitive shooting ,FTR.
Gun handling is all pretty basic both in the tactical circles and competition. So is marksmanship, its mastery of the basics that makes you good(same with most things), there is no secret squirrel stuff to it. I was not implying that there were advanced techniques or anything like that, just that there are differences.

The tactics are different, the core skills are the same, a good competitve shooter will know how to shoot in either environment.

This is pretty close to what I am trying to say.


This is part of what I was trying to say and I agree 100%


I agree here too, I was just saying the good tactical instructors emphasize marksmanship as much as anyone else.


There’s a huge choice in well respected firearms trainers just about everywhere you might live.
A lot of gun owners assume if they practice enough on a square range with static targets they’re good to go.
There is no substitute for learning from someone who knows how to teach.
Otherwise, how would we know what to practice?


I dunno…show a modern handgun to pretty much any human from the dawn of man on and 99% of them are gonna worship you as a god.

1st law! “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”


Seems like we’re on the same page then @jf89.

It just didn’t seem like we were on the same page based on your comment that competition shooting only teaches the basics of shooting. I argue the opposite. Competition drives us to edge out every last little bit of performance.

Thanks for the clarifications though.

Sometimes lady luck is on your side.

Sometimes lady luck is not on your side and the criminal doesn’t give two shits about you having a gun in your hand.


I always bring up my basketball comparison. If you only shoot free throws, do you think you’re ready to win a game of one on one? Or perhaps do you need to practice other skills?


I meant basic things like shooting and firearm manipulations.

About 90% of tactical instructors think positively of competitive shooting. Most people who write off competitive shooting have never tried it.


Maximizing shooting performance is far from basic, which is part of my point.

Yeah. That lines up with my experience, if not higher. The very few instructors I’ve seen talk down on competitive shooting aren’t worth taking classes from.


So I sliced a finger on my support hand wide open working on mom’s down spout Sunday. Now I get to find out tonight if I’m a sissy or I can shoot through the pain. I’ll let you know :smiley:


Fair enough, I get what you are saying.


That does count as shooting while injured.


Ok. That was quite the roundabout discussion and I see where we crossed wires, even though we’re on the same page. Good stuff - thanks! :smiley:


Your injury sounds like a good reason to run your gun one handed, especially for handguns.
One handed and off handed shooting is something we should all practice more.


Well, if luck is a component then I’m screwed…:wink: