Wheelchair Concealed Carry – Part III
In this installment, we will be continuing my explanation of things to aid wheelchair users in the use and carry of a concealed firearm. This series is designed with able bodied instructors in mind as well; this may help them have some tools and knowledge available should they be approached for training and anwers by someone of disabled capacity. So far we have out laid some of the principle mindset issues involved and one option for concealed carry positioning (along with its tactical principles). In this rticle we will outline another potential carry option and its underlying fundamentals.
There is a fundamental principle in the self defense world that may seem obvious to some and not so obvious to the system-myopic; that is, if you are lacking something, you can compensate with something else to solve the same problem. In other words, if you are a small, agile fighter with great speed, you could in theory match a much larger, stronger, slower adversary as the attributes balance out. This also holds true for the wheelchair bound. Our attackers will almost always be bigger (taller at least), more mobile, and very often stronger. Most of us do not have the capacity to compensate for these disparities with physical, bodily attributes, so we have to look elsewhere.
Thankfully, human beings have two attributes that place us above any other in the animal kingdom: cardiovascular endurance and the ability to consciously adapt to survive. Seeing as running away is (usually) not an option, let us focus on the latter. Humans are natural tool makers and tool users. We have already talked about the tool itself (the gun) and its benefits (if they were not obvious), but we have not yet touched upon the subject of being a tool user. Superior weapon manipulation skills is another way one can compensate for a lack of natural physical attributes. This includes being able to perform reloads, the ability to fire in any direction with either hand, and the ability to draw and present the weapon quickly and efficiently.
As anybody who has seen me at a course or on the range can attest, I’m pretty fast with my manipulations. This was born out of advanced shooting classes involving an advancing firing line. Not wanting to be the guy left downrange (when the line is moving backward) or the guy behind the line of fire (when it is moving forward), I had to be done reloading, holstering, clearing, or otherwise manipulating my gun before the remainder of the line started moving to its next position. That’s where it started. The principles came later.
For this particular article let us limit the subject to the draw. The carry position I outlined in the last series segment is fast, but it is more concealable than it is fast, so the two positions I will mention here are appendix carry and fanny pack carry. These are two different methods, but they highlight the same principle. Having the gun in the front is quicker to get to and faster to bring to bear on a potential target. At least one of these methods is mainstream (appendix), and they work for a good number of people, but what is important here is how these methods benefit the wheelchair bound.
First of all, both methods make it easier to get to and holster the firearm. Holstering usually is not as important as drawing in most shootings, but this is a different for wheelchair users, particularly in a dynamic situation. Remember, for a chair bound individual to be able to move from one place to another, whether it is displacing after an engagement, escape, etc., he has to use his hands. He cannot use his hands if there is something in them. Therefore, it is exceptionally important for wheelchair users to learn to quickly and efficiently holster their weapon one handed. A wheelchair user may have to quickly draw and reholster his weapon several times in a longer engagement.
Another benefit is being able to remain quick and discreet when drawing the weapon. The benefit of being fast is obvious when time equals life: less time taken to complete each small task results in more reactionary time to think, adapt, and take control of a situation (which in turn may save your own or others’ lives). Being unnoticed is also important if you can manage it. If Mr. Badguy cannot tell you have a weapon in your hand until it’s making noise, that provides even more time for you. Being in a chair already puts up a silhouette and profile of someone of seemingly low threat potential. Reducing your draw stroke to the movement of a small rustling of the front of a shirt helps maintain this, even if your opponent is looking right at you. Use everything you can to your advantage, including their perception of you. (That actually goes for everyone, not just those in a wheelchair.)
Lastly, carrying your weapon in front of your body can also provide ways of retaining your weapon should things go hand to hand and it allows you access to your weapon with either hand. Getting in close is just the nature of learning to fight from a wheelchair. You cannot manage the distance, so if somebody closes with you for a confrontation, you have to deal with it as is. Trying to fend off prying hands from a weapon halfway around your back is a lot harder than if the gun is to the front where you can use both hands and your eyes. Another consequence of having to fight in place is not being able to always turn around to fire, so ambidextrous firing may be required depending on the position and circumstance; that is definitely a quintessential skill to have as a wheelchair gunfighter.
Let me be clear – these methods of carry are like any other. They are not for anybody or everybody. You have to evaluate what works well for you as an individual. Certain body types such as a protruding stomach may not allow for concealed appendix carry. It may be very uncomfortable by digging into your leg since you are in the sitting position all day (fanny pack carry may still work in that situation). If there was a universal solution for the self protection problem, then we would all be taking the same pill. Do what is comfortable and works well, but please try different things. Keep watching for future articles on concealed carry, tactics, and defensive strategies involving the wheelchair and the dynamic it presents.
About the Author: Jacob Romo is a Marine Corps combat veteran who instructs methods of self-defense to students with physical constraints such as those who are wheelchair bound. Mr. Romo has an extensive background in combatives, including two black belts and 4.5 years of service in the USMC. He is as keen a student as he is an instructor, a passion he leverages along with his fighting background to the benefit of his students. In addition to his own company, White Rabbit Protection Strategies, Mr. Romo has joined other SMEs such as Lee Vernon, Marty Hayes, Kelly Muir and RECOIL contributor Mike Seeklander as part of the Personal Defense Network staff. Classes instructed by White Rabbit Protection Strategies will run the gamut of hand-to-hand, knife, and firearm methodologies.