How much time do you spend in a car or truck every day?
How many cars or trucks do you pass by?
Vehicles make up a huge part of our daily lives. We use them to commute to and from work and school. Parking lots are filled with cars that we walk by all the time. Even in the city, you walk by a huge number of cars parallel parked on the side of the road. You cannot escape the fact that wherever you go and whatever you do, vehicles will be a part of your environment.
We face dangers every day on the road
Besides being a constant part of our lives, vehicles are also one of the most dangerous parts of our environment. Anytime you get behind the wheel you are facing a significant amount of danger. Drunk drivers, rowdy teens, and rampant texters all share the road with you every day. When you factor in additional dangers like poor road conditions and man-made obstacles, you can see that there is a lot you should be prepared for on the roads. Then there are parking lots...
Parking Lots are a Dangerous Place to be
Parking lots are another hugely dangerous environment, simply due to the presence of vehicles. Being alert enough to not get run over is a minor concern compared to the threat of an assailant ready to attack you. The parking lot jungle is an easy place to be hunted, and it provides an ever changing maze of tight quarters and confined spaces. Someone could be lying in wait around any of these corners.
Parking lot assaults are not uncommon. Just the other day the writer at balloongoesup had a near miss with two kids who sized him up on his way into a sporting goods store. These two kids were waiting behind his Jeep for the opportunity to try and assail him. If it weren't for the unlikely occurrence that he happened to be walking to his vehicle with a security guard, this encounter could have ended much differently.
I too have found myself in a few situations I would prefer to have avoided, but thankfully I ended up fine I was approached a few years ago by a transient in a crowded parking lot who needed some change to buy lunch or booze. Luckily he moved on easily, but it could have been an easy setup for an assault.
More recently a crazy woman drove by me in a department store parking lot. She pointed at some paper I was carrying and asked me if it was hers. By rendering me utterly confused, she could easily have been a distraction from something more sinister. It turned out she was merely crazy, but this was yet another parking lot incident. These often unexpected situations in the confines of a parking lot leave plenty of opportunities to be harmed. A parking garage can be even more dangerous.
Road Rage isn't Just for Driving
Ever been in an accident? Even a minor fender bender can turn into a very dangerous situation if you happen to hit or be hit by the wrong person. An angry driver who just had his beautiful sports car banged up can be very aggressive and dangerous. It doesn't take much time for him to be out of his vehicle and be in your space. Do you know how to deal with these situations? Do you know how to get out of your vehicle quickly enough to not be trapped by this angry attacker?
A process as seemingly trivial as getting into and out of a vehicle can require a decent amount of practice to be made efficient. This is a skill that needs to be both second nature and smooth. The last place you want to be in a confrontation is stuck in your vehicle. Mobility is key in self-defense; if you cannot drive away, you want to be out of that vehicle.
The Confines of a Vehicle Make Fighting an Entirely Different Game
You probably don't realize it unless you have tried it, but fighting inside a vehicle is not for the faint of heart. Maneuvering, learning to take space from your adversary, and knowing how to access and prevent access to weapons are all difficult tasks inside a vehicle. Discovering these difficulties for the first time when you really need to overcome them puts you at a huge disadvantage. These are all skills that can and should be practiced before you need them, even if you don't think you are likely to need them.
Fighting around a vehicle also presents its own challenges. Being ambushed inside the triangle (in between the car door and the door frame) is a very bad situation to be in. Training can help you know how to prevent getting in this situation, but also how to get out of it.
Effectively Using a Firearm Changes Dramatically in and Around a Vehicle
If you carry a gun, you have many additional reasons to train around vehicles. Shooting within the confines of a vehicle is not as easy as it may seem in the movies. You should not only know how to employ that firearm to engage targets within the vehicle, but also how to safely and effectively engage targets outside it. And what if you are not traveling alone? Your training should encompass how to engage targets without putting your passengers at risk.
You should train gun handling around a vehicle because it presents problems you may not expect. The car itself is not quite the cover it is made out to be on TV. Most bullets pass through both sides without much trouble. Windshields do an amazing job at changing the trajectory of your rounds. There is certainly a right way and a wrong way to use a vehicle for cover and to shoot in and around it. You don't want to be discovering this under pressure.
Whatever you do or wherever you go, vehicles will be a part of your life. Anyone who lives in a modern culture is likely to be surrounded by and often reliant on vehicles. It is in your best interest to learn how to apply your self-defense techniques and tactics in a vehicular environment.
Nick Savery is the author of www.IndestructibleTraining.com, a blog discussing integrating training across a variety of systems and platforms for the purposes of self-defense.
Image via John Goode.