A few weeks ago, my husband and I were demonstrating the “Tueller Drill” in the Women’s Introduction to Pistol class we were teaching. In this aptly named “21-Foot Drill,” we can show that an assailant can cover about 21 feet in fewer than two seconds (1.5 seconds, on average). This validates why the responsibly armed need to be well-trained, aware and ready to safely and effectively get their firearms out and on target very quickly.

I guess I was being the bad guy at one point. On the word “Go,” I started dashing toward Sean, who was on the opposite end of the classroom from me. But after just a few steps in, I actually stepped right out of my right shoe! Oops!

That was not part of the drill. That definitely shouldn’t happen. And that could be a big problem if I were in a dynamic critical incident and truly needed to move, run or escape.

If the Shoe Fits…

This incident got me thinking about shoes and what we typically wear for training … and what we typically wear every day. Granted, I’m not saying that everyone needs to immediately replace all shoes in their closets with some ultra-tactical boots designed for moving and shooting (and averting bad guys). But shoes are definitely something to consider. They can play an important role in our ability to escape or defend ourselves.

So the question is: Are we doing ourselves a disservice by possibly choosing ineffective shoes — by holding on to the flip flops or the fancy heels?

This topic is certainly important to Steve Fischer, USCCA training operations manager.

He mentioned to me, “Nobody ever talks about shoes in the personal-defense community. But think about it: Bad soles could cause slipping and sliding, bad support could equal bad balance, and heavy shoes could mean you’re too slow to get away.”

If the Shoe Fails…

Steve went on to admit to me that he has watched, encountered and also been in many fights in his lifetime. “I can tell you this for a fact,” he said, “bad shoes have caused the better fighter to lose a fight. It actually happened to me … once. Good fighters don’t make the same mistake twice!”

The topic of shoes may be even more relevant for ladies. “I used to tell my soldiers they could only complain about their boots after they spent time wearing high heels,” Steve claimed, “because of the tortuous, ‘fashionable’ shoes that society makes women feel like they have to wear!

With the average woman owning 469 pairs of shoes in her lifetime, ladies definitely have more to think about when it comes to footwear. The numbers of different styles, materials and textures are staggering! A few years ago, Anna Taylor, founder and CEO of Dene Adams, posted on social media that she was going through all of her shoes and actually getting rid of some really cute pumps and fun feminine slingbacks.

“The idea was making sure that your shoes allowed you to move quickly and have stability,” Anna told me. “If you wear heels that don’t come off easily, and you can’t run in them, you may be forced to use deadly force when you could have escaped […] had you chosen better shoes. Another thought is that you need stability. In the midst of a definitive situation, you don’t want to experience an ankle roll because you chose the 4-inch stilettos!”

If the Shoe Prevails…

As we plan, prepare and train to be responsibly armed citizens, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to go through our closets and consider which shoes might need to be retired. Take a few minutes to inventory the footwear that may actually help you instead of potentially harm you.

I know, personally, I have purchased some more reliable running shoes so I can feel more confident in my abilities and choices … and so I don’t experience another “walk out” incident in my class!

About Beth Alcazar

Beth Alcazar, author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog, has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.