By Dan Meadows, Co-Host of The Shooting Channel.
Depending on what a dictionary, search engine, or person has to say, the term “Locked and Loaded” can, and many times does, mean something different to each one of us. Our most commonly known example for Locked and Loaded is: Short, for locking the magazine or cartridge into the gun and loading the ammunition into the gun’s chamber”. And yet some of the other examples are; “Ready for action”, “Ready for whatever comes next”, or “Prepare for battle”, to name just a few.
For our article today, let us look at another approach to “preparing ourselves for whatever may come next.”
“Locked and Loaded, Are We Ready To Engage”
Unless you are John Wayne giving an order to his men to “Lock and Load” in the movie “Sands of Iwo Jima,” or if you are actress Milla Jovovich starring in “Resident Evil Retribution” by having herself “Locked and Loaded” throughout the movie, the term may or may not hold meaning to you at all. However as an armed citizen or as an armed professional, it should mean a whole lot more to you!
As a former law enforcement professional, military service member, and as a firearms instructor, I have often watched the good, the bad, and the ugly [in people] as they either prepared or not prepared themselves for the potentials of an armed or violent encounter. Many times, police administrators or senior police department managers will enact the standards or policies for carrying a firearm for law enforcement professionals, both on and off duty. Most times, those guidelines are designed to accommodate the training that was received by those officers without hindering their abilities to get the gun on target (GOT).
Other times, civilians will have “safe’d” their respective firearms “so-much-so” that in a self-defense or lethal force encounter with a bad guy, they simply forget to remove the firearms safety mechanism (if applicable) to the fire position, thus costing them either a serious injury, their lives, or even the lives of others.
So let us start before the beginning. Before we find ourselves walking out that door with our holstered firearms, either as an armed law enforcement or security professional, or as a legally armed citizen!
As an article side note, let me announce to everyone right now that; “Criminals, if you are reading this article, it doesn’t concern you, so you can turn the page, move along, or get the heck out of the way here, OK!”
Now back to our article.
Proper Firearm, Proper Ammo, Proper Holster or Carry Bag
So, you were either given, inherited or purchased yourself a firearm. Wow, that looks pretty nice! Hopefully it is one that will both suit your needs and will perform for you as needed for your protection and for self-defense. But how do you know that your selected firearms will do what it is suppose to do for you? Have you taken your new or old addition (firearm) out to a gun range? Have you put countless shots downrange and formulated a pattern of consistent shooting practices? Have you attended your gun range more than once, or at least more than once a year? Have you researched, chosen and loaded the proper street-carry or home defense ammunition into your firearm before heading out or locking the doors to your home? Will your ammo do the job for you with enough stopping power by eliminating or stopping the threat as it happens? Have you selected the proper holster or carry bag for your firearm? Does it fit you? Is it functional and dependable? Does it hinder your access and draw from a concealed position? Will it limit your response time and the time to put it on, or to engage your target?
Yes, there are a lot of questions here, but all are valid and in my honest opinion, straight to the point. If the firearm fails your needs, if the ammo fails your needs, if the holster or carry bag fails your needs, then ask yourself, “Are We Ready To Engage?” I think not!
In order to understand the Locked and Loaded principle while being properly trained, a person must put in the time and efforts with a qualified certified firearms instructor. They should also train with their primary firearm, as well as a secondary firearm, in the event of damage, loss or availability of their primary firearm or weapon. They should consider training at a variety of firearms schools, advanced firearms classes, or even with different firearms instructors, in order to expand their own learning options and firearms skills development practices. It is suggested that one should never limit their respective training to only one course, or one instructor [who may be limited in their own capabilities, skills or firearms teaching programs]. Being properly trained requires gun handling skills, marksmanship development, and a survival mindset to win. Being properly trained requires learning how to shoot, how to move, how to communicate and how to survive the threat.
In order to understand the Locked and Loaded principle while being properly armed, a person needs to select the right firearm for their size, the right caliber for maximum effectiveness, the right grip to fit their hand sizes, the right firearm for their shooting abilities, and the right method of carry or firearm for their home defense needs.
You will also find that even a shotgun or modern sporting rifle, although not considered as a personal carry firearm or weapon, can be considered as being properly armed while you are in a home defense environment. No arguments there! Being properly armed also means being armed always [or as often as possible], while you are in public, while you are in your home, and wherever it is legal to carry that firearm with you. But remember, safety first and safety always with your firearms.
In order to understand the Locked and Loaded principle while being properly prepared, a person needs to know more than just training, more than just being armed, and more than just thinking that they are ready to engage in a violent encounter. As survivalists, you will find out that everyone needs to condition themselves, that is, both mentally and physically to be prepared for “whatever may come next.” So how do you do this, you ask? Well, in many cases you will find that “action will beat reaction,” or that an “attack will defeat a counter attack,” although this is not always the case. Therefore sometimes, when you fear that you or the lives of others are being threatened with serious bodily injury or even death, you will have to make a quick decision by making the first move, and ever before your attacker has had a chance to attack you or others. You will need to fight aggressively, and you will need to fight to win. Fight to survive! Anything less is not acceptable. You will also need to be prepared to articulate your actions to law enforcement officers or to your attorney, as required.
A way for us to avoid, or to even survive a violent encounter with others, a person will need to understand and exercise the following practices; a basic knowledge of self-defense laws, how to remain ever vigilant, they should practice alertness, learn how to threat assess others, create strategic positioning with an opponent, develop reactionary gaps with others, understand the rules of engagement, learn and practice what threat levels are, learn how to engage or disengage from your attacker, and most importantly, learn how to survive the threat, whenever and wherever necessary.
Another consideration for being properly prepared for a violent encounter with others is our basic understanding that most violent encounters are usually held between 7-10 yards or even less from their opponents. In most cases these encounters are even closer, within 7 feet from their attackers, when a violent attack begins. To survive a violent encounter, a person needs to be; decisive, aggressive, surprising, confident, unpredictable, and determined to survive.
Properly Locked and Loaded
In order for us to be properly Locked and Loaded, a person needs to be trained. They need to be armed. And they need to be prepared. Anything less is not acceptable and in some cases, not survivable. A person must understand and practice with their selected firearm, their choice of ammunition, and their method of carry. Again, anything less is not acceptable and in most cases, not survivable. And finally, a person must prepare themselves for whatever may come next. Burn this into you brain: Anything less is not acceptable and in most cases, not survivable.
So, Are We Ready To Engage?
And there you have it folks. But do we really? With all that has been said, with all that’s been communicated, and with all that’s been shared with you here in this article, you have to ask yourself this question; “Locked and Loaded – Are We Ready to Engage, Am I Ready To Engage?” Only you know that answer!
Well ladies and gentlemen, I know the answer for myself, and I must say that I know that I am ready to survive the threat! I can only hope and pray that you will be ready to survive as well…
So Stay Trained, Stay Armed, Stay Prepared, and Stay Safe Everyone!
My friends, I leave you here today with a quote that I wrote several years ago. I always teach this saying to others in my classes and well, it pretty much sums up our article for us all here today.
“It is the uncertainty of the next moments in our lives that we must be trained and ready for!”