Do not expect a self-defense incident to be something akin to the gunfight at the OK Corral. Criminals are predators and predators are good at getting close to you before they strike. A self-defense incident will often begin with a verbal challenge and then escalate from there.

You will likely be required to use your hands to impede your attacker while you create distance and get to your gun. Don’t expect the bad guy to be standing still. Fighting is a dynamic activity, and you should get training and practice strikes and movement prior to drawing your weapon.

I prefer palm strikes to punches because I feel like I can generate more power and have less chance of injuring my hand or wrist during the fight. If you were trained differently, use what works for you. But remember, a single strike won’t usually immediately stop an attacker. One strike might give you a chance to line up a second strike and that can allow you to start creating some distance. Distance gives you time and time is your friend. With your first blow to the face, immediately follow up with a strike to the body and then start moving. Get your gun into play and assess the need to fire. Don’t shoot if you don’t have to.

Is It Justified?

Remember, in most cases you can use appropriate force to stop what is termed unlawful interference, but you can only use deadly force to stop an imminent deadly threat. If you reasonably believe you face an imminent threat, you may use force. But you must be able to articulate that to an investigator. If the threat can reasonably be believed to cause death or great bodily harm, you may be allowed to use deadly force, but it is your responsibility to know your state and local laws.

If you pull your gun, call 911.