Gunfight is a compound word, but the root word is “fight.” It just so happens that you are using a gun to assist you in this fight. This is something anyone who plans to engage in self-defense of any type MUST understand.

Contrary to popular belief, fighting is a thinking-person’s activity. Yes, there is a physical aspect to the act of fighting. Yes, sometimes it can be brutish and gory. But the first step is making the decision to fight. You have to think about it. Your body cannot go where your mind has not been.

No piece of equipment will help you in a fight if you have not accepted the idea that there are times when you must fight. Only you can make the decision as to when you will fight. For legal reasons, you have to be correct when you make that choice, so some will tell you to err on the side of caution. I have said many times: the best fight is the one you are not in. But the other side of that coin is this: you must win every fight you cannot avoid.

Must win. Let that sink in. Must win.

The reason I say “must win” is because when good people like you or me get involved in a fight, it is because we have already exhausted all other means of safe escape. Doing things like active conflict avoidance is what makes us good people. We don’t go looking for fights. So, when fights come to us, we can be reasonably assured that things are deadly serious. That means losing the fight will result in death or great bodily harm. I don’t know about you, but those are two things I really want to avoid. I will try to avoid a fight, but I will fight to avoid death or great bodily harm.

If you are not thinking about the consequences of your actions, you’re doing your self-defense plan a disservice. Or, as the kids would say, “You’re doing it wrong.”

First up, know the laws in your jurisdiction. Understand what you can and can’t legally do. Be sure of what you know. Don’t ask buddies at the bar. Talk to a lawyer. Invest the time and money.

Next up, engage in some serious soul searching. Don’t ask yourself the general question, “Would I fight back?” Instead, be specific. Ask yourself, “What would make me fight back?”

Then, drill down even deeper. Would you fight back if…(fill in many, many alternatives here). Sadly, there is no way you can even begin to imagine all the scenarios available. Scumbags are nothing if not creative in their efforts to take what does not belong to them. You need to think about your possible reaction if…(once again, fill in the blank with lots of alternatives).

None of us want to fight. None of us are looking for a fight. But if you don’t think about what it means to fight, then train to fight effectively, you will be caught off guard and your chances of survival will be reduced.

It all starts in your head. Your body cannot go where your mind has not been.