As I sit to write the second part of my All Things Vehicle Defense course, “Lessons Learned,” I am saddened upon hearing news of the unexpected passing of Tobin Babcock, who taught this class. My interactions with Tobin usually happened when shooting 3-gun. Sometimes we competed on the same squad; other times he was ROing (being a range officer on) a stage I was shooting. Always a cheerleader for the other shooters, Tobin volunteered to work at A Girl & A Gun events. When I saw him last, Tobin told me was finally living his best life. I am glad he found what made him happy. So, as others have said on Facebook, “Until Valhalla, my friend.”
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The amount of lessons learned from this hands-on vehicle defense course are evident in my eight pages of notes. So again, as in the previous article, “All Things Vehicle Defense Course: Mindset,” I am narrowing it down to six points.
1. Know Your Vehicle
Have you ever struggled in a rental car trying to figure out how to put the windows down or lock the doors? I drive two different vehicles regularly and sometimes I find myself forgetting how to work the one I’m in. Imagine being in a stressful, possibly even a life-or-death situation and not knowing how to set the locks or close the windows.
Learn how your windows and door locks work and practice engaging them quickly, until it becomes second nature. When renting a vehicle, add that into your start-up procedure, right along with adjusting the seat, side and rearview mirrors.
2. Leave Room
Always leave room between yourself and the car in front of you at intersections and stop signs. This will keep another car from coming up behind you and blocking you into a dangerous situation. Leave yourself room to get out.
3. Have a Plan for Your Gun
Know how you will access your handgun should the need arise. Have a plan and practice retrieving it (unloaded). Can you access it with your seatbelt on? Can you maintain control of the firearm for safety and the possibility of having to reengage the threat? Where are you going to place it after the event?
Practice numerous times and often. Make it a habit, part of your muscle memory.
4. Getting Away
You may find yourself in a situation where you have to leave your vehicle. Practice removing your seatbelt quickly. Recognize if there are any places it catches on, or may get in the way. If you have a passenger in the car, make sure you communicate your plans and what you expect her to do. When you open the door, have your gun in the other hand. Whether you’re left-handed or right-handed, you’ll need to practice in a way that makes the most sense to you.
5. Shooting from Outside a Vehicle
Cars are not cover, they are concealment. However, if that is your only choice, stay low and behind structural steel. When the need to shoot arises, yes, you can shoot through the windows. Think, “Sights on glass, then glass to glass.” If there is an area where you can practice this sight picture, with a SIRT pistol or your empty handgun, do so. Don’t let the first time your mind sees this scenario occur when you are in a dangerous encounter.
6. When It’s Behind You
Protests are somewhat common in the news lately, and most likely, something you try to avoid. However, what if you find yourself inside your vehicle trapped in one and you believe there is a possibly of severe bodily harm? Your only way out may possibly be in reverse.
Avoid using your backup camera or mirrors. Instead, turn around when possible and look out your back window, while steering with your left hand. If the event becomes a deadly force encounter, shoot through the back window while holding the gun in your right hand. You may also want to lock out your left foot against the floor and your left arm on the steering wheel to steady yourself. Again, you should try getting into this position in your car with a SIRT pistol or empty handgun. Also, determine if you need to remove your seatbelt and how far you can turn.
The six points above are just things to consider should you ever encounter a situation where you fear for your life in your vehicle. If anything, it made you think and consider some of the possibilities. Remember this adage: “The body won’t go where the mind’s never been.” Always keep your mind open to different training tips and suggestions. Then, make an educated plan for what you would do in these type of situations.
Read part one, “All Things Vehicle Defense: Mindset” here.
Find all Springfield Armory’s line of concealed carry pistols here.