Self-Defense for the Aging Shooter

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posted on January 13, 2020
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A smart man once wrote, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” As the years go by, we go through a lot of physical changes that affect just about everything that we are capable of doing. It can affect our ability to defend ourselves and, more importantly, aging often makes us look like we can’t defend ourselves. As we age, regardless of our ability, we begin to look like easy victims to criminals.

An older person may have trouble with vision, agility, manual dexterity or even more serious problems. We can whine and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can get real and refuse to be a victim. The secret is to take a “Don’t Give Up” attitude and find ways to adapt our personal defense plan to coincide with our ability.

I recently reviewed an actual shooting case in which a wheelchair-bound citizen answered a knock at his door only to find it burst open in his face. The attacker rushed him so hard that his wheelchair was knocked over. This citizen, however, had done some prior planning and worked out a way to keep a handgun fastened to his wheelchair. As the chair keeled over, the citizen got off one shot from his .410 revolver. That action brought the attack to an immediate, fatal ending for his attacker.

A person confined to a wheelchair may find that carrying his or her defensive handgun on their hip is no longer a good idea. Just like the citizen above, one may find ways to fasten one’s handgun on the chair in such a location that it is quickly available. You might also switch to a cross-draw holster or a shoulder holster, both of which are much more accessible to a seated person.

Many folks deal with loss of strength in their hands – from arthritis or other ailments. In some cases, it may be advisable for them to switch to a less powerful handgun, one in which the recoil is more manageable. It might be that racking the slide on their favorite auto pistol is becoming more and more difficult; in this case, they might give some thought to using a revolver or a semi-auto designed to be easier to manipulate for personal defense.

The key is to accept the things that we can’t change while still finding ways to work around them. Often times, the help of a good defensive trainer will be of value. The NRA’s Adaptive Shooting Program is a great first stop for shooters who have disabilities or age-related challenges (click here to learn more). ..., the world-famous defensive academy, also offers classes designed especially for older shooters..

The key is to realize that you may look like an easy victim to criminals...and then take steps to make sure reality doesn't match appearances. We don’t give up; instead we keep training and finding ways to modify our personal defense plan just as we modify the rest of our lives.

Don’t give up – get real. Refuse to be a victim.

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