Mindset: As Explained by Jared Reston

When discussions of self defense come up on various forums, invariably the word “mindset” is worked in the conversation. People make a lot of noise about the word but often few having the discussion really grasp the significance. In some of the more absurd conversations the term is used almost like some sort of new-age positive thinking or neuro-linguistic programming magic that will sprinkle fairy dust on a bad situation and cause the individual faced with it to suddenly become awesome. This notion is, frankly, fertilizer. Manure. Ridiculous.

I noticed you’re WARRIOR! I’m pretty WARRIOR! myself!

Some time ago I saw a t-shirt of a Ward Cleaver lookalike’s face flashing gang-signs. Being the obsessive gun nerd that I am, my brain immediately substituted the word “gangster” for “WARRIOR!!!” (or, if you prefer, “SHEEPDOG!!!”) due to some nonsense I saw in a thread about mindset and laughed myself fuzzy because it captured the sentiment of the absurd “mindset” theorists exactly. Mindset has nothing to do with what names you call your appendages, how many morale patches you’ve got crammed onto your chest rig, or how many times you’ve watched those carbine DVD’s. The fact that you butter your toast in the morning with a bayonet won’t help you deal with an actual problem.

So what is mindset? Well I could spend a few thousand words yakking about it, or I could just show you ten minutes of video that pretty well sums it up. Show of hands…who wants to read a War & Peace length treatise on mindset? Anyone? Beuller?

A word or two about Det. Reston. Many moons ago I met then SWAT Officer Reston in a carbine class at what used to be known as Blackwater Training Center. He and another member of his team ended up at the same end of the line as me and we struck up a conversation while waiting on some of the less skilled members of the class to get their zero dialed in. (Zeroing in a carbine class is necessary, but if you already know how to zero it’s four hours of sunburned monotony.) As is my wont, I spent the next five days picking their brains for every bit of useful information about gear, tactics, experience, and judgment in critical situations that I could wrench out of them. I even used beer and seafood to help loosen their tongues. On the last day of the class somehow we ended up in a photo together. That photo is still hanging on the wall in my office.

Some years later I ran into Jared in another carbine class and we ended up on about the same spot on the line again. Sometime during one of the breaks in class when we all huddled in the shade to escape the oppressive rays of the sun (which felt like it was about 6″ from our heads the whole week) I remember noticing that he was wearing braces and had a faint scar on his chin. Demonstrating a colossal lack of tact I made some lame attempt at a joke. I don’t remember the exact wording, but my overriding memory is jokingly asking if he’d managed to get himself shot in the face or something.

Oops. Jared being Jared, he took it all in stride and talked about what happened plainly and even managed to work some humor into the story of how he was almost murdered by some scumbag. The class was primarily LE and military folks. When I was actually cognizant of my surroundings I noticed that the whole class had gathered around and was listening. Including the instructors.

The account was distilled essence of mindset. Not the magic fairy dust nonsense you get from people who don’t understand what they’re talking about…the real deal. The stuff that actually makes a difference in a fight. From a position that was about as disadvantaged as it could be, severely wounded, Jared decided that whatever else happened, he was not about to let that dude win.

That’s not all of it, though. Prior to ever facing that problem he’d made some pretty important decisions about how he was going to respond to some hammerhead that wanted to take his life. He trained himself to a high level of skill with his issued weapons. His intense desire to win drove him to hone his skills to the point where when faced with the worst case scenario he was able to deliver hits into the vitals of a very bad man despite being anchored to the ground by multiple gunshot wounds. All the winning resolve in the world is useless if you don’t have the skill to execute when the time comes. That skill doesn’t magically appear in the moment. It’s something you build long before the moment comes.

Some argue that you can’t tell how someone is going to perform in a fight until they’re in one, and that’s true to an extent…but I watched Jared on the range prior to that horrible moment when someone tried to kill him. I talked with him about mindset and being the sort of guy who runs to the sound of the guns. When I heard his account firsthand, nothing surprised me. I knew that whoever was foolish enough to try and kill him would probably live just long enough to understand the magnitude of their mistake.

People often ask me about various courses and instructors as they try to find good quality training because ultimately they want to win, too. The Reston Group would be an excellent option for just about anyone. I haven’t trained under Jared directly, but I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the range with him (and a bit of time off the range) and I’m absolutely certain he won’t steer you wrong. He gets it.

Everybody who was on that oppressively hot range listening to his account a couple of years ago learned something from him, from folks who hadn’t really used a carbine before all the way up to the guys teaching the class. I’m sure he’s got something useful for you, too.