The primary purpose most people have when acquiring a concealed weapons license is to legally carry a firearm to protect themselves from an unprovoked attacked. However, not all people feel comfortable using a handgun. During a surprise attack, the finality of this weapon, even though used in self-defense, may have long-lasting mental and emotional effects on the user—and it’s this fear that steers some people away from carrying a handgun.

In spite of this, people still want the means to defend themselves if they come up against people out in the world that want to do them harm. Luckily, there are other weapon choices that are available to the general public that can be used in conjunction with a concealed weapons license. These include knives, batons, stun guns, Mace and pepper spray (yes, they are two different products) and many smaller items described in the concealed weapons criteria set forth by each individual state in the country.

Gathering your preferred weapons is the easy part, but carrying them all is another story. You need something that holds all your items while providing quick and easy access to them when or if you are in a critical situation that requires their use. However, there is a simple solution. Although it may seem juvenile by name, this item offers accessibility and convenience while providing you an all-in-one weapons-carrying tool. This item is your very own concealed weapons utility belt.

Quick Access

Your first decision when creating your weapons utility belt is to find the belt that fits your particular needs. You can locate many companies online that will provide you with a good starting point. Military surplus or law enforcement suppliers online have a wide variety of gear belts to choose from. You want to look for a belt that is easily adjustable, has attachable compartments useful for several of your smaller components and is durable enough to hold the weight of your combined goods.

Don’t immediately buy the least expensive item even though it appears to do the job. The last thing you need is to have items falling off throughout your day, causing uncomfortable situations for people observing nearby. Conversely, the highest priced item isn’t necessarily the best one either. Find a balance between price and quality, and, as always, read the reviews as they more or less give you a true overview of the item. This saves you headaches in the future with returns or exchanges for a belt that you received that in no way matches how it was described.

What weapons do you want to include on your utility belt? A few things to consider when selecting your weapons of choice include the size of the weapons, the weight of the combined items and their effectiveness in a multitude of self-defense scenarios. The size and weight of the items should be proportionate with the height and physical size of the individual. The belt should never be awkward or uncomfortable to wear. If so, the wearer may tend to skip carrying it for a day here and there. That could wind up being a very costly mistake if an attack occurs.

Always remember that not all self-defense situations can be grouped into one single category, meaning the response you administer should be based on the severity of the attack. For example, a single assailant demanding your wallet won’t demand the same action from you as would a group of three armed individuals threatening your life.

Your variety of gear should reflect this thinking. Your “first tier” should include less-lethal items like Mace or pepper spray, stun guns and high-lumen flashlights. Your second level should include batons and kubitons (small, pressure-point-striking weapons) that allow you to hit an attacker’s vital areas, allowing you to incapacitate your assailant and escape. Finally, a knife (or knives, since you could potentially stock two different blades that perform two different functions) should be added to your belt for when an attacker is in close proximity to you and you essentially have no other choice.

Prepare To Defend Yourself

Before you even attempt to wear your utility belt out on the streets, you first must become proficient with the gear that you are carrying. This doesn’t mean that you must attend self-defense classes that emphasize weapons training (although it’s a great idea) but you should be comfortable wielding your selected weapons. Become familiar with the grip and weight of your knife or knives. Practice opening your baton and striking targets on a heavy bag or practice dummy to become proficient at hitting an attacker’s vital areas (eyes, nose, temple, joints, throat, wrist etc.).

You must also learn how to quickly open and disperse pepper spray or Mace without also being affected by its debilitating effects. Finally, learn all the switches and safety catches associated with stun guns and self-defense flashlights. A weapon is like any other tool—it will do the job, but you must first know how to properly use it.

Configuring the correct locations of the weapons you are carrying on your belt is a process of trial and error. That means trial and error well before you hit the streets with your gear. The specific position of certain items depends upon a few things. Are you right- or left-handed? Do you feel more comfortable with a side reach or a cross reach? Is the item close enough to grab with relatively little effort?

There is no right answer that can be generalized for everyone. The best idea is to start with an initial setup and then go from there. Reach for each item and test if it feels right. If so, keep it there and try the next item, and so forth. After steady experimentation, you should have a functioning setup.

Stop The Threat

A concealed weapons license states that your weapons cannot be visible by others when out in public. This means that your belt, with all your items attached, must be well hidden under some sort of clothing, like a long jacket or coat. For those people living in cool or cold environment, this is an easy task, while for others in warmer regions, the act of making your belt “invisible” in public is a bit more difficult. For those individuals, all weapons should be smaller and more streamlined, and the amount that you initially intended to carry may need to be reduced to allow for full concealment without drawing unnecessary attention.

Training with your weapons is essential to maximize your skills if you do find yourself in a life-or-death self-defense situation. Similar to this training, steady practice of drawing and utilizing each weapon from your belt is essential to prepare yourself if personal defense is required in the future.

The key is to constantly repeat each motion until it becomes natural. Pretend you are being attacked. In fact, use a friend to pose as an assailant armed with various weapons and note how you would perform under pressure. Although nothing can compare to the real thing, a mock attack with friends serving as assailants can test the basics of fighting back like reaction time and implementation—crucial for surviving an encounter.

Only through constant repetition can you become proficient with accessing your weapons. Remember, it’s not seconds that make a difference in a confrontation, but rather fractions of a second. You don’t have time to fiddle or misjudge your grip when reaching for a weapon. Your life may depend upon you securing the needed item quickly, efficiently and without error.

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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