There are lots of good lessons in Garand Gal’s story, so it’s worth the read. Maybe the most interesting is this: she did not recognize the sound of gunfire when she heard it “in real life,” and could not immediately process what was happening. I suspect she’s beating herself up over that, a little bit, but she shouldn’t. It’s normal.
Although she wasn’t on high alert, and she wasn’t ramped up with a huge load of adrenalin, it’s very common for people who are ramped up or fighting for their lives to not even hear the gunfire at all… not even their own. I’ve talked to several people who defended themselves with a firearm (and have read more such accounts), and nearly all of them told me that the gunshots sounded “muffled,” or “quiet,” or “wrong.” Some of them didn’t hear a thing. Some thought their own guns had malfunctioned, because they just couldn’t figure out the sound. Even those who were simply bystanders sometimes say the same thing, as Garand Gal does in her story.
What’s the lesson, here? It’s this: If you are ever involved in a high-stress situation, and your gun sounds funny to you, don’t quit! Keep doing whatever you need to do to survive. Odd-sounding gunfire just seems to be part of the package. Don’t let it throw you for a loop.
When Garand Gal couldn’t figure out what was going on, she was smart enough not to go rushing into the situation. She stayed in the shadows, became a good witness, and kept herself safe. Could she have done more or done better? Maybe in some perfect world, the one where the bad guys announced their intentions beforehand and gave her time to load, make ready, and clear her head before they began. Here in the real world, I think she did just fine.
What’s the lesson, here? Just this: we don’t deal in fantasy. It’s good to visualize situations and figure out how we would have handled them had we been their ourselves, but it is not good to be unrealistic about the way crimes happen. Or about our normal responses to confusing situations. Crimes usually happen very fast, and they are often confusing to both victims and bystanders. When you think about how you’ll defend yourself from a violent crime, take that reality into account.
Finally, Garand Gal wrote that she had a new winter coat, one that felt a little different and behaved a little differently than the one she wore last winter. She hadn’t yet practiced drawing with that coat on, an oversight she has since remedied.
What’s the lesson, here? Simple: whenever you try out a new holster, a new carry method, or a substantially new cover garment, you need to do a little dryfire drawing practice to be sure it will work well for you. It only takes a few minutes, but the reassurance that practice provides will stay with you every day.
When you practice dryfire, be sure you do it safely: Dry Fire Safety.
When you practice your drawstroke, be sure you are not practicing bad habits. Here are articles about how to safely draw from a belt holster, a shoulder holster or shoulder holster variant, and a fanny pack.