Are You Physically Fit Enough to Defend Yourself?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I was faced with an interesting dilemma a year ago, while participating in a tactical shoot at our local range. As part of one of the scenarios that night, we had to take some shots on one knee. Since this was a tactical shoot, that meant kneeling down, taking the shots and getting back up again quickly, as we were competing against the clock. I just had two problems; I was severely overweight and had problems with my knees.

This made me face a reality that I was trying to avoid. That is, I wasn’t physically fit enough to take care of myself. I’m not just talking about during an active shooter situation, but any sort of survival situation that I might encounter. I was too heavy and moved too slowly to get off the ground quickly, let alone doing anything else quickly.

Since then, I’ve lost 60 pounds and am planning on losing another 40. Yes, I was 100 pounds overweight. Getting up off the floor was a challenge; not something I’d want to try with someone shooting at me. It might have looked great in a comedy, but if someone was shooting, that wouldn’t be a comedy, it would be a tragedy.

Sadly, obesity is epidemic in our society, along with high blood pressure and other serious health problems. We Americans fall into two basic categories in this regard; gym rats and the rest of us. A growing percentage of people, especially young people, are working out and keeping fit. But that’s still a minority in the overall population. The rest of us… well, the way we put it is that we could use to lose a few pounds.

But if those few pounds keep us from moving well, it can be dangerous. There are many scenarios where the ability to move fast, as well as the ability to get down on the ground and back up again, are essential for surviving. Staying in one place too long or not moving fast enough; just make you a good target.

In other words, it’s not enough just to lose weight; we also need to get in shape. That means exercise, something I personally hate. We’re not talking becoming a gym rat here, pumping iron for several hours per day to build a physique that will make other men envious; we’re talking basic movement.  We’re talking having the strength, stamina and flexibility to do whatever is necessary.

All three of those are important. If you have to run, stamina is key, not strength. Running 50 feet and then getting winded isn’t going to do you much good. You’ve got to be able to run fast enough and far enough to get out of the danger zone. That could mean running a quarter mile, flat out.

Flexibility is important too. As we get older we tend to lose flexibility, as well as the strength that is needed to make that flexibility happen. Elderly people who have balance problems don’t have an inner-ear problem, they’ve got a muscle problem. They lose balance easily, because the muscles which are used to maintain balance are too weak to do their jobs right.

Going back to my problem at the tactical shoot; I wasn’t just overweight, I mentioned that I had knee problems. Part of that was due to an old injury and the surgery which followed it. But the other part was weight related. Making my knees pick up all that extra weight, especially the one which had been injured, was a challenge. Now that I’ve lost weight, it’s much easier to get back up again. I may not be as spry as a youngster, but I don’t look like I’m dying out there either.

But there’s another part that I did, which is neither diet or exercise; that’s working to develop the means to move efficiently. In this particular case, that meant developing the habit of kneeling on the knee which had been injured, so that the strong knee could help me rise. I had been in the habit of doing it the other way around, because of that old injury.

There are a number of different things we can do like this, finding ways to overcome our own physical limitations. But it’s not enough just to find them; we also need to practice them to the point where they are automatic. For me, that meant kneeling and rising enough times that I knelt on the right knee, without stopping to think about it.

Granted, being able to move well won’t keep you alive, all by itself. But what it will do is help ensure that when you do have to draw your gun; your body won’t be working against you. So it will help to keep you alive and even more importantly, keep alive those loved ones you are trying to protect.

So, while you’re keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand, make sure that you get your body ready to react as well, and then keep it there.

Dr. Rich

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