WON Landing Page OCT 2022

All Things Vehicle Defense Course: Mindset

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the All Things Vehicle Defense course with Tobin Babcock, lead instructor of Comprehensive Tactical Solutions. I, along with a group of 17 other women, began our journey into a wide number of topics that involved defending ourselves in and around vehicles. 

Springfield Armory Hellcat banner for WON

Sponsored by Springfield Armory

An email that arrived before this non-live fire vehicle defense class suggested participants dress in a typical day-to-day outfit and carry method. I did exactly that, wearing shorts, flip-flops and carrying my Springfield Hellcat off-body in a GTM concealed-carry purse. Class began with a safety check confirming that everyone carried unloaded firearms, and all ammunition had been removed from the classroom. 

springfield hellcat and GTM purse


Like other firearm classes I’ve taken (and taught), mindset plays a huge part. Tobin brought up numerous points for dealing with a deadly force encounter. I consider the following six points extremely important and took them directly from my notes. (Yes, you should ALWAYS have a pen and notebook when you attend any course.)

1. We are out to win, not just survive.

You should not just believe you will get out of a deadly encounter alive. You need to believe you will successfully end the confrontation. 

2. The best (and easiest) way to win is avoidance.

This is so simple, yet not always practiced. Do not put yourself in an area or situation where you may be in danger. Unfortunately, we cannot predict the future and, at this point in time, it seems like there is no place that is truly safe. However, avoiding events and areas that are prone to violence is a great start. If you’re not there when things go south, you’ve already won.  

Gift of Fear and The Unthinkable

3. Trust your gut.

Trusting your gut is sometimes easier said than done. We don’t want to appear paranoid, racist or just flat out wrong. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry and that’s where your gut instinct (or intuition) comes in to play. I suggest reading the following two books to better understand the importance of trusting your gut:

4. Fight or Flight

A fight-or-flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. Your perception of a threat activates your sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares your body to fight or flee. Understanding this response, and knowing how your body may react will better prepare you when a situation puts you in this mode. Your heartbeat and respiration rate increase to provide your body with the oxygen and energy it needs to respond to the danger. You may begin trembling while your muscles tense as they become primed for action.

5. “We don’t rise to level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 

This quote, from the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, is often mentioned in firearms training courses. But what does it really mean? In reality, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you haven’t been properly trained, how will your body know how to react? In a stressful situation, your body will react (or sink) to the level of your training, not rise to the occasion. By putting yourself (or your mind) in stressful situations through training, you are preparing yourself for a time when a similar circumstance may arise. This goes along with the saying, “Your body won’t go where the mind hasn’t been.” When your mind experiences an event first, your body is better able to react in a successful way. 

6. Violence of Action

Violence of action is the unrestricted use of speed, surprise and aggression to do whatever is necessary to end a confrontation. 

Hellcat GTM cerino

It’s important to accept that you cannot control a bad element or situation that may arise. You do not know who, when, where or how it will happen. What you can control is yourself, your knowledge and your preparedness. 

In the next part of this series, I will share the hands-on lessons I learned from the “All Things Vehicle Defense Course.”

Find out more about Springfield Armory’s Hellcat series here.

  • About Michelle Cerino

    Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, entered the firearms industry in 2011 when Cerino Training Group was established. She immediately began competing in both 3-Gun and NRA Action Pistol, becoming a sponsored shooter. Michelle is currently a columnist and Managing Editor of Women’s Outdoor News, as well as owner of Pervenio LLC. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and GTM Original. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.


The Conversation

  • Michelle Cerino says: August 6, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you Dave. Head on a swivel, confident and no obvious … all great point!

  • Michelle Cerino says: August 6, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you Lori. I am so happy you thought to invite me. Wait until part 2 comes out!

  • Lori Blackwell says: August 6, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    So glad that you are doing articles about this class!

  • Dave LaPorte says: August 4, 2022 at 7:48 am

    Good Morning Michelle,
    Another great article on WON, and sound advice for everyone. As a FF/EMT and Fire Instructor, I am well versed in the ways of “situational awareness” and use my own example of a tunnel vision incident from my younger days to train others. It turned out OK, but could have been deadly. As someone that carries all the time, my head is on a swivel (though I try not to be too obvious) and I carry myself in a confident manner. I am sure over the years, I have been passed over by criminals that thought to themselves “Nope, not that guy”

    Email me if you want to hear my tunnel vision story.