1- Always be armed
Always, without exception. Trouble doesnít schedule an appointment before stopping by, and you should always be prepared for it. We donít expect our house to burn down, but we keep fire extinguishers anyway. We donít expect to wreck our car, but we click our seatbelts anyway. On that quick trip to the store we donít expect to be assaulted, but we had better prepare for it anyway else we place ourselves at the mercy of others.

Example #1- While living in North Carolina I was walking to my kitchen at 1 am. As I rounded the corner wearing only a towel I found myself 5 feet away from a crack-head who was trying to force his way into my glass back door. I had to then make a mad dash back to my bedroom to retrieve a firearm, temporary leaving my kidsí bedrooms between myself and the crack-head. Had I been properly armed I would not have subjected myself and my children to this vulnerability. Having learned this lesson, I now take a Fobus paddle holster and a Glock to the bathroom with me. A Fobus paddle works great in a tightly wrapped towel for that walk from the shower to your bedroom.

Example #2- In another incident I was loading my 2 year old daughter into her car seat in the back of my Jeep Wrangler when I noticed a look of fear on her face. She was terrified and pointing behind me. Instinctually I drew my handgun as I turned to find 4 men who had formed a semi-circle around me. Had I not been armed Iím quite certain that I would have lost my money, my vehicle, possibly my life, and worst of all most likely my daughter who was buckled into the back seat.

With a firearm you at least have a chance. If you donít have a firearm youíre at the will of those who do. Choose the largest caliber that you can shoot effectively and dress around it. Always, without exception.

2- Remain alert and aware
No matter the situation, your first and best option is always to avoid trouble. This is possible only if you are aware of your surroundings. No weapon can protect you if you didnít see the first strike coming. Continually scan your surroundings and observe anything that appears threatening or out of place. Whenever possible, identify and assess a potential threat before it becomes a full blown threat. In the event that you cannot avoid trouble, at least you can prepare for it.

Remain aware while focused on other tasks. When you must pay attention to some other task (such as entering/exiting your vehicle) continue to scan and observe your surroundings. Itís easy to get distracted while loading bags of groceries or buckling your child into your car seat. In all reality these are the times when you should be paying special attention to your surroundings, as predators tend to prey on you when they know youíre distracted (see Rule #1, Example #2). I recently witnessed a lady loading Christmas packages into her SUV. She first buckled her child into her car seat, cranked her SUV to get the heater going, and then proceeded to load the packages in the back. When she finished she then took her cart 100 feet or so to the cart return, totally oblivious to anything that was going on with her child or vehicle. Although nothing bad happened, the gross vulnerabilities to both her child, her vehicle, and even to herself were inexcusable.

3- Practice
Proficiency is critical to survival. Emergency situations rarely afford adequate time to think a situation through completely. Should you find yourself justified in using deadly force to stop an illegal attack you must be able to draw and fire your weapon instinctually and effectively without pause or delay from your own limitations or ineptness. Tactical maneuvers are just as important as marksmanship, and both should be practiced together. Practice marksmanship first. Once youíve mastered your ability to hit your target effectively, practice drawing your weapon. Practice stealth draws as well as speed draws. Once youíve mastered drawing your weapon, practice tactical maneuvers. Draw your weapon and fire two shots into your target. Reassess the remaining threat level, and then re-holster your weapon. Repeat this as many times as it takes to master this sequence with both good speed and good accuracy. Once proficient, set up multiple targets with varying ranges. Practice drawing your weapon, fire 1-2 shots center mass into each target, and reassess the remaining threat before re-holstering your weapon. Repeat this proceeedure as many times as you can. Donít try to rush speed. Speed will come naturally with practice. Purchase an air-soft gun similar to your carry weapon. Practice holding your air-soft weapon on target while you travel forward, backwards, laterally, and while you walk up and down steps. Once you master it with air-soft, repeat your training with your carry weapon. Once you have truly mastered tactical maneuvers with your weapon, continue to train. If you donít continue to practice you will lose the skills you worked so hard to gain.

4- Remain sober
Not only do drugs (prescription, illegal, alcohol, etc.) slow your reaction times, they also hinder your judgment as well as your awareness (which violates rule #2). Anyone taking any type of mood altering drug that affects your judgement, vision, coordination, etc. should not be carrying a firearm anyway (which violates rule #1).

5- Secure your perimeter
No matter where you are, secure your immediate perimeter. Whether traveling in your vehicle or sitting on your couch watching the game make certain that your doors are locked. Get a security system and arm it. Although youíll need to bypass motion sensors while youíre inside your home, at least youíll have door and window sensors armed. Small dogs donít offer much protection, but they tend to be the most aware and will let you know that trouble is coming before larger dogs sense it. The most ideal recommendation I could give would be two German Shepherds outside with a Pomeranian, electronic burglar alarm, and firearms inside.

Few parts of our routine make us as vulnerable as showering. While necessary, it focuses our attention as well as blocks our senses. Itís difficult to hear over the water, and difficult to see through the steam and curtain. This is why shower scenes are included in so many horror movies. When I shower I take a firearm and a dog into the bathroom with me (although the dog comes along on her own). I lock my bathroom door, keep a Glock on the toilet tank, and use a clear shower curtain.

6- Avoid crowds
Sometimes this is obviously impossible, but when possible itís advisable. Bad things happen in large crowds, and most organized events have strict policies against carrying firearms anyway (in violation of Rule #1).

7- Face the threat
Sit with your back against the wall so that you can see anyone who walks into the room.

Avoid urinals. While standing at a urinal not only is your back to the room but you're typically so focused on whatís directly in front of you that youíre completely oblivious to what anyone is doing directly behind you. Use a stall instead, and close/lock the door behind you. While this may seem like trapping yourself in, at least you'll be facing forward when you open the door to exit the stall, thus paying attention to anyone else in the room.

8- Blend in
If you find trouble in a crowded place, try to blend in as much as possible with others without drawing any undue attention as attention draws fire and makes a stealth draw more difficult.

9- Avoid walking while talking on a cell phone
Cell phones tend to make us oblivious to our surroundings, thus violating rule #2. We have laws against driving and cell phone usage for the same reason.

10- Keep strong arm free
While carrying bags to your vehicle try to keep your strong arm free. In the event of a stealth draw itís much more conspicuous to sit your bags down to draw a weapon than it is to simply draw your weapon.