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Should I Carry a Round in the Chamber? - Self Defense



What an interesting topic this is. Take a moment and view the video first.

We know that, to best defend ourselves and our loved ones, we must be ready, equipped and know what to do if necessary. Winning and surviving is about having the edge in the fight, whether that is in time, equipment, skill, and perhaps even in luck. We need to give ourselves the edge to win. As discussed in the video, there is no doubt that not having a round in the chamber can put us at a great disadvantage and at risk. So why, then, is having a round in the chamber something we hesitate to do? After all, we carry a gun to be able to defend ourselves so naturally we don't want to put ourselves at greater risk, so why do so many choose to do exactly that?

But fear can also cause us to make decisions and choices without fully understanding the issue and the ramifications. We then make emotional decisions and not ones based on complete, accurate information and perhaps ones that are not in our best interest. We do so because of fear. We fear having a negligent discharge and someone getting hurt. This is a good thing to not have happen, so being concerned is natural and healthy. It is only responsible for us to do everything we can to prevent it from happening.

Beretta Pico

I believe that the KEY factor in this decision is CONFIDENCE. This is where both the question and the answer lies. Your level of confidence in knowing your gun, having it secured and under your control at all times and handling your gun is directly related to your confidence and willingness to carry your defensive handgun with a round in the chamber.

You are the keeper of your confidence and you are the only one that can raise it. Committed practice and experience is what can and will raise your confidence. Do your homework and due diligence in selecting the proper holster and equipment to minimize negligent discharges. Practice holstering and unholstering your unloaded gun to gain confidence and skill. Practice shooting as much as you can so you know everything your gun can do and everything it can't do.

Carrying a gun is serious business, with serious consequences. If you are going to carry a gun, you need to be READY to carry one and ready to use it. If you are not, then perhaps you should wait until you are. Ready means being mentally prepared; it means you are trained, comfortable and competent to to carry and use your gun. Anything less, leaves you and others at risk.

Of course, each one of us makes our own decisions and we each have unique factors in our lives that influence them.

Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and quest contributor for the Beretta Blog. Join the dynamic group of women shooters on Facebook orTwitter and visit

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Impossible Expectations in Firearms Use – Part 1


Impossible Expectations for Law Enforcement and Armed Citizens – Part 1

Use of firearms for defense

Whenever a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in self-defense or defense of others, there is a segment of the population that criticizes that force. This is based on a lack of understanding of law enforcement officers’ training and skills under stress. These unrealistic expectations are not consistent with legal decisions and only serve to further separate the police from the citizens they serve. As concealed carry continues to gain popularity, armed citizens should be concerned over these impossible expectations that misled individuals would like applied to law enforcement officers… because someday it may be applied to them.

Officers do not start their tour of duty hoping to be involved in any life or death situation. The physical, legal and mental ramifications are too great. The truth is police officers react to situations to which they are sent to or come across during their shift. They do not control the time or location of the encounter, nor the words or actions of the people they encounter. Officers have a legal responsibility to protect others from violence, regardless of the personal danger involved. Many times they neither have the luxury, nor the obligation, of non-performance of their duties.

Some of the most ridiculous expectations suggested for law enforcement response to deadly force encounters include:

  • Recognizing a real gun from a fake

  • Prohibiting the shooting of an unarmed subject

  • Knowing if there is a bullet in the suspect’s chamber

  • Shooting threats in their extremities

  • Deadly force should only be used when law enforcement officers are threatened with a firearm

  • Deadly force should not be used against pregnant women or children

Understanding police training and court decisions help explain why these expectations are impractical, impossible, and dangerous to implement… for anyone.

Graham v. Connor recognizes that officers react in situations that are, ‘tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.’ Additionally, they recognize that the nature of law enforcement, requires officers to make, ‘split-second decisions… without the benefit of hindsight 20/20.’ This means that any information discovered after the fact cannot be applied retroactively to any situation.

Expectation #1 – Recognizing a Real Gun From a Fake One

It is impossible to identify a real gun from a fake one under stress.  Citizens constantly call inHow do you recognize a fake gun? complaints of armed subjects. There are air soft and pellet guns available for almost every make and model firearm. They are very realistic and although air soft is supposed to be recognizable by the orange safety tip on the muzzle, its common for individuals to color the tips with a black marker, to wrap it with electrical tape, or to break the tips off completely. It’s tragic when someone is shot when armed with a toy but it’s unreasonable to place that burden on the officer or armed citizen.



Expectation #2 – Prohibiting the Shooting of an Unarmed Subject

Unarmed people are killed more than is publicized. It is a hard pill for people to swallow when they have never experienced such a situation. It is easy to ‘Monday morning quarterback” others who use deadly force. It is astonishing when outsiders criticize others’ actions by employing 20/20 hindsight and without a threat to their personal safety. Unarmed subjects can quickly become ‘armed’ through the use of atypical and environmental weapons. Many deaths occur every year from blunt force trauma and strangulation. Objects like, sticks, rocks, walls, cement, automobiles, and fists can cause blunt force trauma, which leads to death or serious injury. The fact is that no one is ever truly ‘unarmed.’

When an officer faces a threat there are circumstances when it is appropriate for them to discharge their firearms. One such situation may be a furtive movement that would lead a ‘reasonable officer or person’ to believe their life is endangered. Subjects who pretend to be armed sometimes threaten officers. An officer is not expected to wait and see if a subject is bluffing. If they do, it may be too late.

A firearm is not the only weapon that constitutes a deadly weapon. Any object that could be used to cause death or great bodily harm can rise to the level of deadly force (eg: a knife, a hammer, or a nail gun) The criteria for meeting this standard is that the victim must be in fear of losing their life and that other similarly-situated individuals would also reasonably believe that the victim's conclusion and analysis were correct. An average person's stamina in a physical encounter is between 45 seconds to a minute. After that, stamina runs short and a variety of physiological changes begin to occur. These changes include loss of dexterity, tunnel vision, and ultimately, loss of conciousness. A person is close to losing conciousness when their peripheral vision deteriorates to the point that there is a sensation of "walls closing in." It is important to recognize that deadly force isn't simply the result of someone brandishing a firearm: many other objects within the enviroment rise to the level of deadly force. These objects can, and have, caused death or great bodily harm.


(This is part 1 of a series that will continue. Join our blog, to know when the next installment is published.)

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Shooting: One-Eyed or Two? - Firearms Practice


When responding to a stimulus, 80% of sensory input derives from the visual sense. This process requires the use of both sides of the brain in order function. Both the left and right hemispheres of the brain share the information acquired through visual input. When shooting one-eyed, shooters don’t get the full picture. As a matter of fact, without the use of both eyes, many visual functions are limited. Many shooters initially learn to shoot with one eye and it is a habit that is hard to break. The benefits of shooting two-eyed, however, make learning this skill worthwhile.

Drawbacks of Shooting One-Eyed

Should I shoot with one eye or two eyes?

There are many disadvantages to shooting with one eye. For those who carry concealed, they do so for self-defense or defense of others. Closing one eye negatively impacts the visual system. Visual acuity decreases, as does depth perception, balance, and spatial orientation. These are important tasks that must not be sacrificed during serious situations.

Shooting with one eye will decrease the speed and efficiency of information processing. This means that it takes longer for the brain to process the information needed to react. In critical situations, our brain cycles through a process known as the OODA loop(Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).

Shooting with two eyes is a hard habit to break.
Photo by: Sara Ahrens

This is important for threat assessment and reaction time. In addition, after addressing a target, the shooter needs to determine the effectiveness of their actions, and identify the existence of other threats.

Benefits of Shooting Two-Eyed

Shooting with both eyes openShooting with both eyes aids survival. Research has found that both eyes will remain open during a shooting. This is instinctive and cannot be controlled. Therefore, it would be advantageous to learn to shoot with both eyes before being faced with a deadly force situation.



Shooting with both eyes open has many benefits.
Photo by: Michael Ahrens

Even though it’s instinctive, practicing the skill increases success rates. The eyes are complicated organs. They are offset, each interpreting visual stimuli from a slightly different perspective. Each eye takes in visual stimulus, and the information from each eye is transmitted from separate sides of the brain to the other. Field of vision occurs when both eyes converge. This convergence allows us to see in three dimensions, determine distances and speed, allow for spatial orientation, and assists with balance.

Our visual sensitivity and hand-eye coordination increases when binocular vision is employed. Visual sensitivity is the ability to respond to physiological changes. This sensitivity provides the shooter with the ability to respond to changes in the environment. It is more than twice as great using both eyes (duh, right?). The shooter will experience an increase in efficiency in hand-eye coordination, also known as visual-motor task.

When addressing a target less than three feet it is virtually impossible to determine distance. So determining distances up to 25 during a shooting situation can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Distances beyond three feet can be judged only by visual cues, which require moving the head back and forth. Individuals with monocular vision are often unable to drive because of being unable to determine distances, they are seven times as likely to be involved in accidents than other motorists.

The use of two eyes in low light situations can increase one’s success when addressing a target. Many shooting situations occur in low light situations. The eye contains cones and rods. The rods are dominant in bright lighting conditions, where as rods are dominant in low light conditions. The rods are what allow the eye to see detail. The more lighting decreases, the more prominent the cones are in the eyes. This diminishes details that may be necessary for determining whether or not an object presents a threat. Using two eyes while shooting or even assessing a threat, allows for more light to enter the eye. This additional lighting increases our ability to see more details, thus decreasing the OODA loop.

One Eye Or Two? Survey Says...TWO!

Learning to shoot with two eyes has many benefits

Shooting with both eyes open is a skill worthy of learning
Photo by: Michael Ahrens

Clearly the research indicates that the benefits of learning to shoot with two eyes have a significant positive impact during shooting situations. Shooting with two eyes will improve hand-eye coordination; allow shooters to determine speed and distance of a threat. It allows for spatial orientation and allows us to maintain balance. In addition, it increases our field of vision and shortens our OODA loop in low light situations. Since it has been proven that shooters will leave their eyes open in a shooting situation it is best to practice the skill before it is needed. And although this was probably not the intent of an old adage - it certainly applies; two eyes are better than one.


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Hunting the Honey Hole Tree



Thompson Center RenegadeMy dad bought me my black powder rifle when I was 12 years old, which was my first deer rifle (before this I had been using a 20 gauge shotgun). We were in the sporting goods section at the store, when I noticed it on sale. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was too good a price to pass up. I ended up with a .54 caliber Thompson Center Renegade.

I got the rifle after deer season was over, and I spent the months leading up to the next muzzleloader season practicing with it. I was extremely excited about hunting that year because it was going to be my first time getting to deer hunt in a stand alone. By the time muzzleloader season arrived, I was a crack-shot with my new rifle.

We loaded up the Jeep and headed to the woods the Friday before opening morning (Dad took me out of school early to go hunting). When we got to deer camp we were greeted with my uncle, Paul, telling us about a bear that came under his tree while he had been bow hunting that morning. He said the bear caught his scent and came right up to the tree he was in then stood up and leaned on the tree on its hind legs and watched him for about five minutes before moving on. After giving the bear time to move on, Paul climbed down and hightailed it back to camp.

There were a lot of hunters in camp that weekend so I ended up hunting with Dad opening morning because all the stands were taken. We didn’t see anything. Paul killed a buck about daylight. He field-dressed the buck, dragged it back to camp then went back to his stand and killed another buck about an hour later. Since he was tagged out, Paul suggested that I hunt his stand that evening. My chance had come.

I got in Paul’s stand about 2 o’clock that afternoon and settled in to wait. I didn’t see anything all afternoon, and I had watched like a hawk due to that bear being around. The sun started to dip down behind the top of the mountain behind me, so I decided to call it a day. I removed the cap, tied my string to my rifle and started lowering it out of the tree. My rifle was about halfway down when I heard a noise. I looked up and saw a spike coming down the trail towards me.

shooting tce muzzleloaderI have no idea how that deer didn’t see or hear me trying to get that rifle back up the tree. However I did it, that spike kept coming at me. I jammed a new cap on the nipple with trembling fingers, drew down on Spike and dropped the hammer. Smoke and fire blew out the end of the barrel as the rifle boomed, and I couldn’t see a freaking thing because of all the smoke. I heard the deer running then a crash.

I reloaded with shaking hands and probably spilled half the powder then hustled out of the tree. After a little bit of looking I found him. He had run about 30 yards down the bench and keeled over. I had killed my first deer with a perfect heart shot.

About 5 minutes later, my dad came walking down the bench from the direction the spike had come. Dad had pushed Spike along the bench ahead of him on his way to get me. I am not sure who was more proud, Dad or me.

Three bucks were taken from that tree in one day that year and that was how the legend of the Honey Hole Tree started. That may not sound impressive compared to where you hunt but that never happens hunting in the Ozark Mountains, where a deer camp of 10 men might tag 2-4 deer on a good Opening Morning or sometimes all season depending on the year.

We killed more deer out of that tree over the next several years, but never again so many in one day. We don’t hunt in that area anymore, but one of these days I plan on going back. Those memories are some of my most treasured.

How old were you when you first went hunting?


You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparks and Instagram @jason_parks_brothers_farm.

Second image via


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Conceal Carry Handguns - Rehearsal and Responsibility


Mia Anstine shares a story about the possible use of conceal carry resized 600

I thought I was going to actually have to use my Conceal Carry (CC) gun a while back. My daughter and I had just returned from hunting. We were parked more than twenty miles from town on a highway in the high country. We had just loaded the horses in the trailer and gotten into our truck. 

We sat in the truck at the trailhead parking lot eating a sandwich and warming up. A white mini-van with no license plates drove up. As it parked in front of us we noted two men were in the front seats. They sat in their vehicle for several minutes as a trooper ticketed someone else on the other side of the highway. After the trooper pulled away the men got out of the van and approached our truck.

I thought the situation was very strange so I mentally prepared. In my mind I rehearsed lifting my jacket, unbuckling my holster and pulling my pistol. This is a situation I have practiced at the range a number of times. Although I had prepared for it, this is a situation I had hoped to never be in.

Without saying a thing my daughter immediately locked her door. I took out my cell phone and as the men headed our direction. I snapped a picture of them and their vehicle. I pressed send and texted just the picture to a police officer who is a family friend. My daughter asked me why I was doing that. I explained it probably wasn’t the best picture, but at least if something happened, someone would know who to look for.

We were in a one-ton truck with a trailer load of horses. A quick get-away would not be an option if things turned bad. My heart rate increased as I feared the worst.

The two made their way to my side of the truck. One man was on a cell phone and the other waved hello. I cracked my window about a half-inch. The man said they had broken down and asked if I would drive them to town to get transmission fluid. I declined, lying to them that we were waiting for my husband and friend who were hunting, but told them I would call for help. I immediately pressed a speed dial button phoning my officer friend whom I had just sent the picture.

I gave the officer a description of the events and our location. He immediately called dispatch to send an officer our way.

I told the strangers help was on the way.

My daughter and I waited as the men walked back to their vehicle. Once they were in I put the big diesel in gear and we drove away as quickly as we could.

In the end there was no immediate threat - so the CC remained on my belt. 


The moral of the story

There are many people in our country who are embracing their Second Amendment right and purchasing a gun for protection, including Conceal Carry guns. I hope these individuals are taking a certified Conceal Carry firearms course in conjunction with their purchase.

Carrying concealed is a huge responsibility. I hear a lot of questions about what model, what caliber, revolver or semi-auto. The answer to these questions is “It is a matter of personal preference.” I mentioned in the story above that the situation is one I hoped to never be in. As you are strapping your new pistol to your belt, chest, ankle or other location stop for a moment. Think about it. What would you do if you had to use this weapon to take the life of another?

Yes. I said “take the life”. That is what the firearm is for. It is for protection when you feel your life is in eminent danger. As you stop and ask yourself the question, what feelings or emotions arise? Do you feel confident in what you are undertaking by strapping the firearm to your body?


Refuse to be a victim

There are the more important questions everyone should be asking themselves. During firearms courses, you are taught to never point a gun at anything you do not intend to destroy. This means that if you pull your conceal carry gun, you better intend to use it. If you have assessed this notion and believe you are capable of using your conceal carry, there will be work ahead.

  1. Always be prepared to use your conceal carry. 

  2. Practice loading, reloading and shooting your gun on a regular basis.

  3. Rehearse pulling your firearm from your purse or holster so you are not caught up or have an accident while trying to manipulate it. 

  4. Run through scenarios while you are at the range including what you would do in a life threatening situation.

Lastly, think about consequences. Research your state laws to learn what will happen if you brandish your weapon. Think about how actually using your gun is going to affect not only you but your family. Think about how you will be treated after your life has been threatened and then you have taken the life of another. First guess? Regardless of the situation, you will not initially be treated as a hero. Take the time and be prepared. Carrying concealed is a serious matter.


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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Five Ways to Prepare Against Stress in Firearms Use - Gun Tips


Introducing stress to a firearms training program can help inoculate shooters against stress and preventing panic. Those who consistently train outside their comfort zones will be better able to handle the stress brought about by competition, and even deadly force encounters. There are several methods that shooters can use to artificially replicate or heighten stress during training. Which training method to use is many times dictated by the location of the practice. Some training methods are not conducive to certain locations. Some more common methods law enforcement officers use in training to increase stress levels include: physical exertion / cardio and strength training exercises, use of a shot timer, competition between officers, the Dieter Drill (or Hood Drill), and reality-based training employing the use of airsoft, paintballs, or Simunitions® weapons, all the way to more complex simulators, like the Virtra System. Whatever method is used, it is critical that proper safeguards are identified and followed.


                   Virtra® Increases Stress As Pain is a Deterrent

Method #1 - Physical Extertion

Increasing physical exertion, using a shot timer, and creating competition are some basic methods for increasing a shooter’s stress level. By physically exerting oneself, the end result is an increase in heart rate. This increase mimics the physiological symptoms of stress. The shooter must learn to control their breathing and discharge their firearm during naturally occurring pauses. If they don’t, their shot placement will suffer. Physical exertion is the least effective method. Even though it replicates an increased heart rate, it fails to affect the mindset to the degree of truly stressful events.

Method #2 - Shot Timers

Shot timers cause stress for the shooter because of personal expectations to succeed. The stress of being timed caused shooters to rush their shots leading them to shoot faster than their capabilities. Keeping a written record of speed and accuracy will document long-term improvement. Shot timers are only effective if the users are willing to push themselves.


               Shot Timers Are a Simple Method of Increasing Stress

                                 Video By Sara Ahrens

Method #3 - Competition

If you are a competitive person, you will most likely feel stress when set against another shooter. If you are significantly better than the other shooter, the stress may arise from fear of losing to that person. If both of you are equally skilled, you want to prove you are better. Even if you are a novice shooter, competition increases stress because of your desire to beat someone you know is more experienced than you. Each of these scenarios impact a shooter’s mindset to one degree or another. When shooters cannot control their physical reactions to stress, they are likely to face a mental breakdown and ‘choke.’ Competitions need not be informal, the formal competitions area just as stressful. Formal competitions may be more stressful if onlookers create stress for the shooter.

Besides the aforementioned training methods, there are two training methods, which are particularly suited to induce stress. They are trends that most law enforcement trainers are implementing in any lethal, less lethal or physical encounters courses because they are proven to be effective. It should be noted that these methods require guidelines and instructors to assist in ensuring the safety of all participants. These drills are commonly referred to as the Dieter Drill (or Hood Drill), and reality-based (or scenario-based) training.

Method #4 - Dieter/Hood Drill

The Dieter Drill, named after it’s, Duane Dieter, is a high stress training method. This drill requires the shooter to be blindfolded or hooded. The shooter’s stress increases due to the loss of visual feedback. The longer an individual is hooded, the greater the stress they feel. Uncertainty and apprehension increase the shooter’s stress. They do not know what they will face once the hood is removed. This reaction can be intensified if peers are allowed to observe.  When a shooter is blindfolded, a series of targets can be hung down range at varying distances and heights. Targets can be representative of shoot and no-shoot situations. In addition, the range officer can load dummy rounds or varying numbers of rounds in the shooter’s gun to add additional stress and incorporate failure drills.  It is important to orient the shooter before removing the hood, and to make sure they understand that in no way are they to violate the 180 rule based on their starting position. Initially, this drill can be accomplished with airsoft so that range officers can confidently gauge a shooter’s gun handling skills before giving them a loaded gun.

Method #5 - Scenario-Based Training 

Scenario-based training is another highly effective training method for inducing a stress reaction. The use of Simuntions®, Virtra simulators, airsoft, or paintballs are tools that increase stress on the shooter because if hit, they will experience varying levels of pain. Pain modifies behavior. Simunitions®, Virtra and paintballs offer an advantage over airsoft because the projectile leaves visible marks at the point of impact. Marksmanship skills are typically acquired through the use of stationary targets but it is quite a different experience to have the target (role players) shoot back. The main goal of scenario-based training is to make use of force decisions under stress but other goals include shot placement and tactics.

 Scenario Based Training

Scenario-Based Training Not Only Increases Stress But Activates the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). Stress Inoculation With Scenarios Reduces Reaction Time During Real Life Situations.

Photo Courtesy of Aurelio DelaRosa

There are several methods of incorporating stress into firearms training. Some of these methods are more effective than others but each one offers a positive benefit for shooters. Whether training to compete, or for self-defense, shooters who train under stress will reap the benefits, thus enabling them to cope with any situation.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

The Importance of Introducing Stress During Firearms Practice


Determining When to Incorporate Stress

The majority of shooters will benefit by introducing stress into their firearms training sessions.  Incorporating stress is not appropriate or recommended for new shooters or those familiarizing with, or sighting in, a new firearm. These conditions require slow and methodical shooting to ensure safety, acquiring a proper sight picture, and development of shooting fundamentals. 

Beretta Neos shooter

New shooters should first focus on safety and fundamentals before adding stress.

Photo courtesy of Sara Ahrens

However, once a shooter determines his zero, becomes proficient with the functions and features of the firearm, develops muscle memory, and consistently demonstrates solid marksmanship skills, they should begin to incorporate stress in their training regiment. This is especially true when the shooter's goal is to carry the firearm concealed, to use it for home protection or in competition. 

A Waste of Ammunition 

Gun clubs have no shortage of shooters that seem perfectly content with standing in front of a target and shooting at a comfortable speed and distance. To watch shooters waste precious ammunition shooting under low stress conditions is painful. The fact is that this training method will not yield any significant improvements in performance. It amounts to a poor return on investment when the cost of ammunition, club memberships, gas, gear and time is calculated. Plus, shooters that leave the range with a ‘perfect’ target leave with a false sense of accomplishment and of their abilities, which is dangerous. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of safe and comfortable shooting doesn’t just occur on civilian ranges. From personal experience there is a whole lot of wasted ammunition and time on law enforcement ranges as well.

The Effects of Stress on Shooters

Watching police officers struggle during qualifications has provided some useful insights as to their source. Based on years of analyzing these shooters during both training and qualifications, it is safe to say that almost all failures are the result of one or more of the following deficits:

  • A lack of familiarity with the use of their duty belt, firearm, and magazines,

  • The stress of timed shooting,

  • Lack of confidence in shot placement, (leading shooters to check their targets and look over their sights),

  • Inability to perform reloads under stress,

  • Inability to clear malfunctions under stress, and

  • Lack of awareness that the gun is empty

    The following video demonstrates the negative effects stress can have on shooters.

    (Video courtesy of Sara Ahrens)


All of the aforementioned issues are negatively impacted by stress. If under normal conditions a shooter struggles with these areas, one can only imagine the results in a deadly force situation. When faced with any of the 'hiccups' listed, the response is typically that of shock and disbelief. Once they acknowledge what happened, shooters begin to address the obstacle. In stressful shooting situations their response is almost always the same, they begin to shoot faster than their capabilities allow. 


Correcting shooters is awkward but necessaryCorrecting shooters is never easy, but it's always necessary

(Photo courtesy of Sara Ahrens)

In all honesty, watching shooters crumble on the line is like watching a scary movie – you cover your eyes because you don't have to watch... but you end up peeking anyway. 

Stress Inoculation

Stress can be positive. It can result in physiological changes that bring out our best and it can actually save lives, if the individual has prepared. If they haven’t, they will likely experience distress and panic. This leads the individual to ‘freeze,' or in other words, become paralyzed with fear. Not reacting to a threat can endanger the victim. During critical incidents, mental focus hinges on the ability to overcome stress and respond to the situation as it unfolds.

Physiological effects of stress can be positive. Photo by the Outdoor Channel


 In tense, uncertain, and rapidly  evolving events, a gun owner, like  the law enforcement officer, must be  able to function under stress.

 (Photo courtesy of the Outdoor  Channel/Shooting Gallery)



Most law enforcement trainers and firearms instructors know that not reacting to a threat can translate to death or great bodily harm for the officers, or others. For this reason, many law enforcement firearms training programs are incorporating techniques that induce many of the same physiological symptoms that officers experience in such situations. 

It is a gun owners responsibility to train. Photo by Michael Ahrens


In order to achieve proficiency with any firearm, gun owners need to invest their own time and money above and beyond what is required by law - or department policy. 

(Photo courtesy of Michael Ahrens)


Training is Your Responsibility

Many police agencies offer minimal firearms training - many times less than 40 hours a year. Contrary to popular belief, this results in neither competence nor confidence. That can only be accomplished with a personal commitment to train consistently and effectively. The best-case scenario for failing to inoculate against stress could be as minor as losing a competition (and subsequently losing your pride) but more important is the worst-case scenario, which can be far more ominous.

Stay tuned for the next column as it will provide techniques for incorporating stress into your firearms training.

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What does it mean to be well armed?


describe the imageYes, another Jeff Foxworthy take off, but I just could’t resist. The responses to this “fill in the blank” astonished me. Most made me laugh out loud while others made me realize just how significant it is to be A Well Armed Woman. There were hundreds and hundreds and the task of selecting a few to share with you was daunting and frustrating as I would have loved to share them all with you, but here we go...

You know you’re a Well Armed Woman When...

Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction has nothing to do with your German short haired pointer!

Your husband is using the 409 cleaner and you tell him to keep his finger off the trigger unless he is ready to fire.

You know what frog lube is!!!

When digging in the bottom of your purse for change, you pull out a handful of stray spent casings from the range

You have more guns then shoes!

describe the image

22-9-45-38 are not your lottery picks!!!

You walk into the gun store and everyone knows your name. 

Wearing purple makes you feel like you should be at the range.

The guns you got in the divorce were yours to begin with.

If you’re now on YouTube more than your teenager

Your kitchen is a mess but your Ammo is stacked neatly & arranged by caliber & load 

When remembering your “First Time” has a whole other meaning...

You turn on the blow dryer and wonder if you need hearing protection on.

Your idea of feminine protection isnt tampaxWhen you have a holster to match each outfit

Your husband's friends call  to ask YOUR advice on gun purchases and shooting drillsdescribe the image

When your husband leaves for deployment and tells you to defend this house and family if needed.

You are not afraid to enter a gun shop and buy ammo BY YOURSELF...

You prefer Hoppes #9 to Chanel #5You shop & dine where it's legal to carry

When you don't have any more room in your gun safe!

You'd rather go to the range than the mall

Your husband thanks you for protecting him all day.

When you prevent yourself from being the victim.Your carjacker runs!I read all of these wonderful answers and celebrate the fact to SO MANY WOMEN are gun-savvy and carrying nowdays.describe the image

Yes, this is fun stuff but the thought of so many women, living their lives with the knowledge and skill to protect themselves is really profound.

Just think about it - if  women could be armed in every sense of the word to defend themselves, just how different things would be.  

So, how would you finish this statement? 

Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. Join the dynamic group of women shooters on Facebook or Twitter and visit

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

The Consequences of Using your Firearm for Self Protection


I want to talk about ending a life. Can you do it? Are you ready to make that decision? Are you ready to pull the trigger?

Every time I check my hadngun before I carry it, the thought goes through my head that I might have to use the weapon in self defense and potentially end a life.

I have two guidelines I rely on when it comes to self defense. I don’t remember where my guidelines came from. I have heard them repeated often in one form or another for a long time now, but ever since I owned my first gun these two points have been my guidelines when it comes to self defense. They are:

  • Never draw a gun unless you intend to shoot.

  • Never shoot unless you intend to kill.

I am not an expert, but I think these are two very important guidelines for anyone with a conceal carry permit.

If you have to draw your weapon then it should only be in a situation where you are ready and willing to shoot and shoot to kill. If you are not to the point in an altercation where you are so scared for your life that you are willing to use a lethal response then you weapon should stay in your holster.

This is something that I believe a lot of people who have their conceal carry permits do not realize or understand. I am afraid that a lot of people, especially those who are new to the gun culture, do not have a complete understanding of this concept.

The simple fact is that, if you draw your weapon to scare or wound, then you don’t need to be drawing your weapon; or, if you draw your weapon, it should only be to pull the trigger and put three rounds into the bad guy. End of story. If you carry a weapon and think that you can use it to scare a bad guy away or wound them but not kill them, you are, in my opinion, fooling yourself and it will most likely get you or someone you care about hurt or killed.

I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid that there is a segment of the conceal carry culture that has not really considered the implications of just carrying a weapon or the implications of using their weapon in self defense and the full repercussions of a lethal or even a non-lethal outcome.

If you shoot someone, there will be legal, psychological and possibly physical consequences.


We can practice at the range weekly, but we need to also be just as mentally ready to respond to a threat as we are physically ready. If we are not ready to pull the trigger, put two to the chest and one to the head and accept the consequences of that action then we are not ready to carry a concealed weapon.

Everyone who is part of what they call the “Gun Culture” needs to do more to mentally prepare people to carry a concealed weapon and to educate permit holders of the implications and consequences involved. I think we all would benefit from more information, education and dialog about this topic.

There are quite a few ranges and companies that offer real-life scenario classes that run conceal carry permit holders through the wringer with scenarios that show them how you will really respond to a threat versus how you are supposed to respond.

I have not been through any of these classes. I hope I get a chance to some day. I think that they would be very beneficial.

So... are you ready to draw you weapon and kill the mugger who just shoved a pistol in your spouse’s face demanded that you give him your wallet? Is that life worth the $48 you are carrying? What are the chances of them shooting your spouse if you draw your pistol? Will the mugger shoot you anyway if you hand over your wallet instead of drawing your gun?

Can you live with the fact that you killed someone?

Have you even thought about it?

Are you ready?


You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparks

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Concealed Carry Handguns for Women in the Summer


In Arizona, our temperatures have already hit 100!  The hot weather of summer can make concealed carry quite a challenge. For many of you, you also have humidity to deal with! Unfortunately, for many women this results in leaving the gun at home. Our need to protect ourselves does not go down in the summer, we must find ways to carry in every season.

I wish I had the one true simple fix for you, but I don't. Here however are some things that can help you better and more comfortably conceal as the temperatures increase and your clothing decreases!!

Remember though, there are times, as an armed woman, you will have to make some adjustments and sacrifices to accomplish carrying effectively and safely all of the time. There is no perfect solution and the bottom line may be you must make some changes. The only other option is to not carry, likely not what you want.  

Go Looser and Longer

Thankfully, light, loose and whispy doesn't ever go out of style. Looser, lighter clothing is not only more comfortable, it is cooler too as it allows the air to circulate and keep things cool! Wear a long cotton shirt with your summer shorts/skirts to easily conceal your in the waist or on the belt holstered gun. Wear patterned shirts and dresses, the pattern helps to helps to minimize any "bulge".  The Betty is a great in the pants holster in any season. Its minimal design means less stuff in your pants. The Magnetic is a very popular holster for the simple reason it requires no belt or heavy waist band to secure itself to the waistband. If wearing summer dresses, the bra holsters (mentioned above) are a good bet along with  the Pistol Wear Under arm and the Ultra Under arm, both made with great breathable fabrics and are another great choice.

Betty Holster shown   betty karh in use 3cropped resized 600

Betty holster shown above


Go Deeper

Summer weight pants, shorts and skirts means lighter and weaker waistbands which can make on the waist or in the pants carry very difficult. Try a holster that isn't dependent on the waistband such as the Pistol Pouch which "buries" the firearm down on the pelvic area. This is a cotton holster with a thin band that is worn around your hips.  Your belly band worn low and on your hips can also be a solution, but tend to be a bit warmer because of the elastic. Both bra holsters, the Flashbang and the Marilyn are also good choices. The Pistol Wear Under Arm  and Ultra Under Arm holsters also are great "deep" choices. Keep in mind however that going deeper brings with it some challenges, mainly accessing your gun quickly and safely. Practice these draws regularly with your unloaded gun. Carrying your firearm off body should be your last choice. Carrying in a concealed carry purse introduces much greater levels of risk and provides access to your gun that no one should have. The utmost care MUST be taken when doing so.


pwunder arm front 3photo  pw in use 2 web

Pistol Wear Under Arm Holster shown above

Go Smaller

Although not the ideal solution, as we don't want to give up firepower if we don't have to. Carrying a smaller gun in the summer months is an option and is better than not carrying any gun at all. if you can afford a second gun, the very small and compact semi-automatics and lightweight revolvers are very easy to hide. Some are now so slim that they don't create a bulge, and who needs more of those?? You may want to research the available holsters for these models prior to purchasing to make sure the type of holster you want/need to wear is available for it. One important thing to be aware of is that the smaller, lighter guns will have quite a bit more recoil to contend with. They simply don't have the weight and size necessary to absorb it, so that means your hand an arm do!!!


Beretta Nano

Pico 0057


Perhaps you have some things that have worked for you that are not covered here. Please feel free to post them.

Stay cool ladies and stay safe!


Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and quest contributor for the Beretta Blog. Join the dynamic group of women shooters on Facebook orTwitter and visit

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube


This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

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