By Jace Bauserman
The stock market is a pinball machine and COVID-19 has all but halted the world’s progress. Unrest and violence seem to be the new norm, and don’t even get into politics. Such uncertainty underscores the importance of being prepared to defend your life and property. But simply buying a firearm doesn’t increase your safety—you need to learn the ins and outs of that firearm and train to use it for self-defense.
In March of 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted 3.7 million background checks. That’s the highest total ever reported since the background check program was initiated in 1998. On March 21, 2020, 210,000 background checks were reported, making this date the single largest in background check history. Only problem is, COVID-19 has been crippling concealed-carry class attendance in many areas. It has also taken its toll on the ability of certified instructors to offer hands-on firearm and self-defense training.
George Walker is a former Marine, veteran police officer and current SWAT Team Leader. He’s seen it all and has great tips for new firearm owners and those looking to up their self-defense awareness, especially without more formal training options available.
“Range time, especially indoor range time is hard to come by,” Walker says. “Ammo is another issue. It’s just so hard to find. Get ammo when you can buy it, and if you can schedule some indoor range time, take advantage of it.”
In addition to the above, Walker preaches that owning a firearm doesn’t make you bulletproof. Proper training is paramount.
“One of the best things you can do is go the YouTube route,” he continues. “Most every reputable firearm and defense trainer out there has a YouTube channel. One of the best ways to learn is by watching. Dissect what these pros are doing and then replicate it. The key is not trying to go to fast or do too much too soon. Take your time. You may have to watch a single video 100 times.”
As you watch videos and begin your training, Walker recommends working with a good buddy. Use your phones to film each other drawing, pressing out and the like. Then go back and watch your video in concert with what you’re watching on YouTube. This will allow you to track your progress and note areas where you’re still struggling or could use more work.
“You also need a training plan,” Walker says. “If you can get some indoor range time or are able to get to an outdoor range, develop a training plan for that particular day. Don’t just go out and burn ammo and shoot. Chances are, due to ammo availability, you might only be able to fire 25 rounds. Make those 25 rounds count.”
Another great option as ammo demand becomes more manageable is purchasing a 22 LR caliber handgun. Walker likes the Glock 44. He notes the handgun is a great trainer and works really well for gun owners looking to get more proficient. And for those who might not feel comfortable carrying a firearm at all, he recommends toting a can of Mace and always having a knife on hand.
Beyond training, being aware of your surroundings and what’s going on around you should be at the top of your priority list. This is especially true for those with family members who are relying on them for their personal safety.
“Pay attention,” Walker says. “Carjackings are at an all-time high, and other violent crimes are on the rise as well. Always pay attention while approaching your vehicle, and never let the kiddos take off racing to see who can get to the car first. Scan the area around your vehicle and even take a perimeter walk around it before approaching.”
Other awareness tips from Walker include facing a door when in restaurants and other public places and paying attention to the body language of others.
“If someone you don’t know is getting in your personal space, especially in these times, that’s a red flag,” he said. “Pay attention to what people are doing with their hands. You can’t be overly paranoid, but you can’t be too happy-go-lucky either. Be a tactical thinker. Always have a plan. Be a leader for yourself and your family.”
Because ultimately—even during less extraordinary times—nobody knows what the future will bring. All you can do is prepare accordingly to take care of yourself, your family and your property. Get started today.