Planning for Failure

By Keith Coniglio

There’s a tendency in the human psyche to seek safety in the perfect answer, the magic talisman, and the “right thing” that will be foolproof and fail proof. In the world of concealed carry, that usually leads to a great deal of research to identify the most reliable gun, the best-performing ammunition, and the most widely accepted training practices for our defensive shooting skills.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that – in fact, it’s commendable – but many of us allow our thought process to end there. We convince ourselves that we’ve found that perfect answer and we superstitiously, if subconsciously, dismiss the possibility of things falling apart. It’s a natural tendency but it can be a fatal one if Murphy visits during a violent encounter, slowing your reaction time as your brain processes this new and shocking development.

In September of 2016, a man went on a stabbing spree in Crossroads Center Mall in Minnesota. He was confronted by a textbook example of a competent, armed citizen – a competitive shooter, defense instructor, and off-duty police officer. The concealed carrier’s firearm ran perfectly, without a single failure to feed, fire, or eject. He was using Winchester SXT ammunition – an excellent choice for reliability and performance. He shot the attacker a total of half a dozen times.

And it didn’t stop him. compiled this video, breaking down the events during the confrontation.

The attacker complies with an initial order to get down then launches himself at the defender. Note the amount of distance that is covered in less than two seconds. At the 2:02 mark, he’s shot the first time and immediately goes down, as does the defender, who appears to trip.

The attacker then he gets up and advances, despite his wound. He’s repeatedly shot again, hitting the ground again at 3:28. And he then crawls after the defender, knife still in hand, like something out of a horror movie.

A well-trained, well-armed shooter “doing everything right” still did not stop a determined attacker, who remained a viable threat (imagine if he had been armed with a gun rather than a knife). While doing everything right increases your odds of survival, it does not guarantee it.

Faith in our equipment and confidence in our skills are enhanced, not diminished, by frequent analysis of what could go wrong. Part of your due diligence should be seeking out real-world accounts of things going sideways and then incorporating those scenarios into your training.

What if my round misfires or my gun malfunctions?

What if I empty my magazine and he keeps on coming?

What if he’s wearing body armor?

What if he closes the gap while I’m firing at him?

What if I trip and fall?

Can I accurately shoot while moving?

How will I keep myself from getting backed into a corner or wall?

What if my child is with me?

Failure is always an option, whether or not we want it to be. Accept it, learn from it, and make it work for you.

Keith Coniglio is a father, software tester, NRA-certified pistol instructor, and devoted Second Amendment advocate.
He is also the editor-in-chief of Descendants of Liberty Press, a site dedicated to rekindling Americans’ passion for – and defense of – their Constitutional rights and personal liberty.