Outnumbered, outgunned…and completely victorious.

This week Tom Givens, one of the most admired firearms trainers in the business, highlighted a video of a self defense shooting over at Pistol-Forum.com that teaches a lot of key lessons about successful self defense.

How many times have you heard the phrase “You can’t beat a drawn gun” before in discussions of self defense? Well, this gentleman did. The bad guys busted through the door with guns in hand and he decisively beat them back, leaving one with only gunshot wounds to show for his robbery attempt. So how did he do this?

1. Paying attention

The first key to success here was situational awareness. The term “situational awareness” gets used quite a bit but often the conversation is pretty silly. Some folks talk like situational awareness is some sort of superpower that repels bad guys. In some cases it’s certainly true that paying attention to what’s going on will allow you to avoid a dangerous situation, but sometimes paying attention just means that you get an extra couple of seconds notice that trouble is coming.

Note how quickly this all went down. The bad guys stormed in the front door and covered most of the empty space to the guard station in just a couple of seconds. Had the good guy been unaware of their approach until they’d covered all that space he would have had a much bigger problem on his hands. A couple of seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time but in life or death situations increments of time we ordinarily dismiss as insignificant make the difference between life and death.

Paying attention buys you time, and time is opportunity. In this case paying attention bought him the opportunity to keep the bad guys from establishing control and determining his fate. They came in like a wrecking ball…they left as quick as they came in, scared out of their wits and bleeding. 

2. No hesitation

When he saw those guys coming through the door he knew instantly what was up and reacted immediately with the judicious application of lethal force. Once again I encourage you to listen to this interview with William Aprill and pay particular attention to what he says about “schemas.” The security guard in this video clearly recognized that someone may well try to kill him and made some important decisions about that well before the moment when he had to pull a gun. Creating that “mental parking spot for violence” made all the difference.

Accepting that it may be necessary for you to use violence in self defense is an important part of the defensive process. Criminal violence happens fast and usually by complete surprise. The three thugs here perpetrated a full-on ambush on the security guard…but he had apparently already recognized that as a possibility he faced in life.

In the aftermath of dangerous events you often hear people mention something like “and then my training took over.” What they mean by that is precisely what you see in that video. The instant their mind recognized a situation they had deliberately prepared for, their body produced the actions they had rehearsed without hesitation.

When you accept that it may happen, learn the signs that it is happening, and make reasonable preparations on how to respond…the chances of a happy outcome increase dramatically.

Note that when the bad guys saw him move and draw that pistol it completely destroyed their plan of action. They were thrown into absolute panic by the sight of somebody who reacted to their initial assault with immediate violence. Someone with a gun and the apparent resolve and skill to use said gun will scare the living excrement out of most bad guys. Those who are too stupid or mean to be scared and run away will usually end up being shot.

3. Aiming

Note how the security guard drew to a two-hand hold with the pistol in his line of sight. This tends to work pretty well for getting hits…as is shown in the video. Ignore anyone who tells you it isn’t possible to intelligently direct bullets under gunfight conditions. Those people are idiots.

4. Movement

Note how the security guard moves off the line of attack. It’s not a vast distance, but a moving target that is shooting back with reasonable accuracy is a pretty tough problem to deal with.

5. Intelligence

Note how, once the shooting has stopped, he places himself in a corridor where he can monitor the entrance while exposing almost none of himself in the process. It was over, but he didn’t know that. You usually don’t know when it’s over in the moment. This guy was giving himself every advantage he could even after the shooting stopped.

Outnumbered, outgunned, and yet he inflicted his will on the would-be aggressors so effectively the one who was shot crawled out of there without his gun or even his own damn shoes. Ponder that for a moment…one older guy with a gun and the mindset and skill to use it effectively put three violent felons into a state of absolute terror.

Seems like a pretty good template for self defense to me.





  1. That is some serious “if/then, when/then thinking.” Good on him, I want what he had for breakfast.

  2. It would be interesting if someone did a follow-up interview with this guard and found out what training and experience he had. From the video, it appears like classic Givens training with the sidestep two-handed response. Is that the standard training you would recieve as a police officer also?

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