R. Ann Parris on Normal Reactions


When it comes to our defensive carry choice, we want to remember that most of the time “go bang” is not actually our first instinct.
*Please note: “Go bang” really shouldn’t be our very first instinct for any and all situations, even if/when conflict or potential conflict is arising. One, there’s a lot that happens that’s not a “go bang” situation at all. Two, the best way to survive a fight is to not get INTO a fight in the first place, and there’s a reason disengagement and de-escalation get trained for the conflict specialists in the shooting world. Readiness and ability are not synonymous with use of force.
The first instinct when something occurs is usually “pop up like a meerkat to see what’s going on”. (Exceptions exist, but those typically manifest as one of the “seek cover” mindsets — not actually a bad thing.)

A lot of us also have a kneejerk to not drop our stuff.
Sometimes that’s a hindrance that needs to be trained out. It’s situationally dependent, though.
Immediately dropping everything to snag a gun is not always appropriate — especially if we work or live with, say, infants and toddlers, valuable produce, pointy stuff, power tools, the joysticks to a claw or backhoe with people on the ground nearby, or, like, our houses and fences and water lines, stuff like that.
Just as creak-in-the-night reactions tend to take us away from our bedside before we go “dude, that might not be teen/dog-v-deer, that might be Bigtime Badness,” a defensive carry needs to match our reasonable expectations and habits, and be adaptable to them.
In some cases, that’s, say… using and training for something appropriate for one-handed deployment instead of requiring both ‘cause we don’t want to explain to mom/sibling how we dropped firstborn grandbaby. Or, as we unhook from a safety harness with the other hand, or use our other hand to get out from under a vehicle or up off a crouch, retain our dogs’ leashes, gain positive control of the people we love of any age, get a hand on the attacker to hold them off so we can get that defensive carry in play, or all kinds of other situations.

Personally, I promote “simple” when it comes to drilled-in muscle-memory emergency responses.
See, humanity on the whole tends to go a little back-and-forth-bunny spaz the first time something with a speed element comes together in practical application.
It’s not universal, and muscle memory does help, but from the first time a new computer system goes live and there’s a time crunch, a college star discovers just how fast a pro game moves, all the way out to, say, the infantry grunts way back when who had trained in pretty excellent exercises for years before we went into Afghanistan and who then forgot to change mags (or how) or to seek cover, or couldn’t take in all the information coming in and overloaded and just froze… It happens.
Rather than have a carry that requires just the right pressure at the right angle, or some added multitude of steps, try to keep it streamlined.
That also especially goes for people like me whose daily habits change, seasons vary widely, and for comfort, convenience and access, employ not only multiple guns and holster types, but hugely differing carry locations based on what I’m doing any given day.
*Mine typically revolve around getting a gun off my typical waist carry location(s) because they’re going to be blocked and thus require those multiple steps to access, but there are some other times what, where, and how I carry change due to what else I’m carrying and why.
Consistency in carry is a whole topic, too, but either way, simplifying the draw itself is huge in making sure we do actually have something to present, and can present it in a timely fashion.
Maybe we’re exceptional. Probably we’re somewhere in the average.
That means not only are we not immune from meerkat’ing, momentary freeze-ups, and fumbles, the vast majority of people — even those blessed souls who have made it this far into the defensive carry series — are not actually going to work the dry fire or pay for really good training that lasts long enough to develop super-duper-solid muscle memory for reactions, no matter how often or how habitually they carry.
So, just in case that defensive tool does become a lifesaver some day, make it easy to get to — but also secure enough not to deploy itself.
And that serves as a lovely segue straight into the next post: Considerations about developing muscle memory by having a consistent carry habit.