Spouse as "backup"


Larry Ashcraft
December 22, 2005, 12:02 AM
In my off topic post to pax's thread about buying a gun for your wife, I posted this:
Here's some food for thought, and maybe deserves its own thread.

Our trainer, Leonard Jimenez, knows me pretty well, knows I've shot competitively, IHMSA and some USPSA. Knows I reload and shoot quite a bit. He also knows Sandy is supportive and wants her own CCW, but doesn't shoot quite as much as me.

During our classroom training, he made this statement:

"Sandy, you and Larry are likely to be together should something go down. Not to sound sexist but, you know your role is going to be as backup. Your gun may not need to be as big and your presentation may not need to be as fast. Your awareness, however, is paramount."

I don't think Leonard meant to be sexist, I think he just meant I would more likely respond with violence faster than she would. (In your case the roles would likely be reversed.)

If you enjoyed reading about "Spouse as "backup"" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 22, 2005, 12:12 AM
When I get married I intend to use mine as cover. :evil:

Seriously, assuming you are better trained and more experienced at this time that makes perfect sense. Odds are she'll be put in the backup role simply by the way events unfold, not necessarily by intention.

Even with me a diehard gunsel, there're buddies of mine who are BTDT actual .gov operators. I assume they are going to, due to experience and training, be acting while I'm still catching on to what's happening. At that point I provide support and watch for additional threats. If it comes to acting as a team, I'll be working off them, not the other way around.

Even among absolute "equals", somebody's going to be looking left while the other is looking right and sees the balloon go up first. At that point person two is "backup".

December 22, 2005, 12:34 AM
We train together and truth be told she might be a better shot. we carry the same primary and secondary guns/caliber for all of the obvious reasons.

We have code words for "trouble" and have worked out some basic plans for emergencies.

I prefer hip carry, she is either in the purse or SOB. So I am quicker on target(s). Knowing this she is the cover person and looking for other threats.

We've decided we won't seperate unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. And running away (or creating time/distance if you prefer) is an option, especially if the kids are present.

Tom Servo
December 22, 2005, 12:53 AM
I think it was Tamara who wrote, "a gentleman lays covering fire while the lady reloads." :)

In most cases, it most likely will be the male who has to engage first, because he's the more obvious threat to a 2-legged predator. Criminals aren't the most enlightened bunch, and they'll assume that taking down the obvious threat (the man) will cause the female to cower in fear. Bad call on their part...

The other thing is, most people don't expect women to be carrying. Imagine the goblin's surprise when my SO draws as well. Gotta love that "Oh fiddleysticks" look :p

December 22, 2005, 01:20 AM
Larry ~

Won't comment re sexism or not; that's been done to death and frankly every couple has to work their particular balance out between them. Who is "lead" & who is "backup" is a function of training, ability, & decisiveness, and means nothing except that someone has to call the shots in an emergency.

After thinking about it a bit, I disagree about backup not needing to be as fast or use as powerful a weapon as lead. If the backup person needs to fire at all, it will be because something has gone horribly, dreadfully wrong -- worse than had already happened just by being invaded -- and every last little bit of speed, accuracy, & power may not be enough. By all means use what you've got to work with, but if there's a choice, I don't think you'd go wrong to have your backup be well-trained and able to quickly use the most powerful weapon she can handle.

But I do absolutely agree that the backup person needs to be exceptionally alert. We have all heard the dangers of tunnel vision in moments of stress. And since lead will be busy solving the immediate problem, backup has more of an ability to pay attention to stuff outside of whatever lead is tunnelled in on -- if she knows to do it.

Probably a good idea to mention it to her beforehand, since it is that important.

My dos centavos ...


December 22, 2005, 01:20 AM
I just brought my comments from the other thread.

Here's my thought for what it's worth. Your instructor may well not intend to be sexist and I'm not saying he still might be, but the question of who's going to react violently to a threat faster, IMO, depends on the threat, which direction it came from and who saw it, and on the individual in question. Also, I recall something about the female of any species having to be deadlier than the male. So, if a married couple, for instance, finds themselves under attack, the reaction will depend on which partner saw it first. Which one will react more violently may just depend on who's ticked off worse. I think we can't know for sure unless we've been there and survived.

That said, as macho as I like to think of myself- yeah, right- when it comes to protecting the ladies, well, it surely don't hurt to have a lady you know can and will watch your back. I think everybody who's posted on this so far has a point.

December 22, 2005, 01:27 AM
A true gentleman provides cover-fire, extra ammo, and after-action clean-up for a lady. That said...

this is something Spoon and I REALLY need to work on. About the farthest we've gotten is "if i go down, grab the gun and scatter!". That'll be changing soon. ESPECIALLY with what we're doing in BACA...

December 22, 2005, 03:01 AM
ESPECIALLY with what we're doing in BACA...

...in back-a where? :evil:

December 22, 2005, 03:17 AM
likely to be together should something go down

I'm not sure how true that statement is . . . I don't know your particular situation, possibly your friend who knows you well enough to say that's a true statement. Most of us don't work with our spouses', I KNOW I don't go shopping with mine unless we were doing something otherwise that required us to be together for the trip . . . and her shopping trips are shortened considerably with me in tow after sufficient glares, looks of absolute boredom, and, "Yes honey, it looks fine" while I'm not really looking. They can always somehow tell . . . So, the majority of our waking hours thru the week are spent separated, and I imagine that's true for most of us?

As far as being a back-up to my wife . . . I think we, as men, tend to proclaim ourselves as better protectors. That may be so, but I guess it depends on the criteria you use to define what constitutes a good protector; it isn't necessarily proficiency in the use of arms.

I don't know about you, but comparative to some, I consider a relatively recent entrant into the apprenticeship of learning, studying and acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary in the defense myself and my loved ones. I will claim only the past 6 years as meaningful, worthwhile study; time spent before that was spent in pursuit of pipedream knowledge and boastful lore of the type offered by the ignorant and self-deceived. My whole experience pales in comparison to the awareness most women gain in their first few years of puberty.

I have found women to be better judges of character, quicker to read a rapidly deteriorating situation, and able to sense the subtlety of unwanted, focused attention long before most men pick up on such things. Men can learn these skills, usually hastened through repeated interaction and exposure with the public in specific professions that bring them in contact these manner of men.

Women have learned these awareness skills by virtue of being women. They have been approached by nice boys for dates; been oogled at and propositioned by bad ones; and have learned to recognize predatory behavior when displayed by those who intend them harm. Much more women than we would like to believe have been victims of sexual assualt, many fewer men have. A girl grows up learning both thru admonition and practical experience the evils of life while most boys are still playing tag on the playground.

To assume that because a man owns weapons, practices with them regularly, and enrolls in classes designed to teach and instill Jeff Cooper's "Color Codes" makes us better than a woman at awareness is another exercise in self-deception.

In reality, by the time we can legally purchase and carry a handgun, we are already about a decade behind learning what women now consider "common sense" skills in reading and detecting predatory behavior.

December 22, 2005, 10:00 AM
One factor to consider here is the presence of children. For us, we are rarely out as just a couple, much more frequently as a family. With that in mind, she takes the kids and heads to cover/safety while I cover her back and/or address the threat. Only had to use the plan once when a panhandler got aggressive. She scooped up the kids and locked the three in the van while I stayed between them and the aggresor, backing my way to the van. She pulled up next to me, putting the van between me and the aggressor, and we safely drove away.

Of course, when I got in the van, I noticed a little stainless friend in her lap...;)

December 22, 2005, 10:25 AM
It purely depends upon training and personality. The sex of the person isn't a factor. That said, cultural 'training' over a lifetime often is the basis of sexist stereotypes.

My wife is as aggressive and ferocious as anyone you'd ever meet in a conflict. She's more likely to get mad than frightened and her ability to not feel pain, ignore fatigue and refuse to give in/up would make any SF trooper envious. She shoots a .45, .40, 9mm or .380 very well and agrees that the gun you have is better than the gun you don't, but the more big fast bullets you have on target the better. That aside, she doesn't train a 10th as much as I do and my reaction time is a fraction of hers.

We've discussed the fact that although she's "meaner" than I am I'm better trained, stronger and still quicker and that unless she encounters the problem first I'm much more likely to react to defend before she even knows what's happening. That being the case we've discussed that checking for other threats before engaging is more important for whichever of us is not already in the fight.

If there's enough warning ahead of time I'll take lead and she'll act as backup for the aforementioned reasons and because as a woman we expect her to be overlooked as a threat giving her more time to get an advantegeous position.

December 22, 2005, 10:42 AM
Erik F


We visited about this. My take is anytime two or more persons are out, the extra set of senses are good to have. Even those senses of persons such as kids that cannot CCW.

Firearms and training in the use of firearms - just part of the tools.

Yes it is very likely the Male, or the stronger adult will be "targeted". Say a Mom being targeted instead of a kid(s).

In my case if out with mom most likely I will be focused 'on' if someone chooses to attack mom. Around here, the BGs do stuff like open a car door and knock down someone like mom whom cannot walk well.

With me being with her- the threat of focus on me, to snag her purse and keep me at bay as they drive away is one such concern. I cannot legally just start slinging lead at a car driving off. I have to follow the law.

I am a big believer in having plans and backup plans. I use codewords, passwords, and appreciate having an extra set of senses of another. Makes no difference if family or not.

Larry, you and I had a plan when together in Tulsa. Sandy may have forgotten the "plan" and "words" when I took your car with your wife and her friend.

When Preacherman and I were out together, I assure you even though we didnt' verbally discuss anything - we were using our respective senses for us both. Easiest thing for me to say - not being disrespectful either - would be to ask how his wife is doing, or his wife called. I gurantee Preacher would have taken the hint.


I'd appreciate you doing a thread on being out with kids.

This is kinda tough. One thing to be the only adult with the kids, now how to have a plan(s) with more than one adult (spouse) and add grandkids, kids not able to CCW.

Kids, elderly that do not CCW can be useful with their senses. They can be a detriment to awareness as well. Having a plan, practicing these plans before going out in public is good. Same as practicing these plans and not having a kid run an answer the door.


No matter gender, age, physical abilty, Training is good. Even a grandma in a wheelchair with a grandkid standing alonside needs a plan and the use of their senses.

I know from personal experience, coming home from having surgery, as weak and all as I was, not having a CCW on me....I could still be a set of senses and assistance, not a liabilty per se'.

Don Gwinn
December 22, 2005, 10:45 AM
Melissa has no interest in fighting/shooting. She understands that in return for not being bothered about these things by me (well, less, anyway) she accepts that I'm in absolute charge if the worst happens.

Her job is to keep me between herself (plus the children) and danger while escaping. I choose whether I fight or escape; she escapes. That's the deal.

December 22, 2005, 10:53 AM
Posted by Ken:
I have found women to be better judges of character, quicker to read a rapidly deteriorating situation, and able to sense the subtlety of unwanted, focused attention long before most men pick up on such things. Men can learn these skills, usually hastened through repeated interaction and exposure with the public in specific professions that bring them in contact these manner of men.

I have to disagree just a little. While I would agree that women, in general, display what Ken is talking about, it is certainly not universal. My wife fits the description, but my daughter does not. I have actually learned more from my son in public situations. He is the one who is more aware of his surroundings and has taught me urban survival skills.

I tend to be too focused, but I have learned from my wife and son, how to be more aware of what is happening around me. Having a CCW is only one small part of the equation, and in most situations, a very small part.

My wife will never carry; my son will never carry; but I will rely on them to be an integral part of our safety. poppy

December 22, 2005, 11:02 AM
Mr. Gwinn,

Yes, that was "our" plan when I was married, and had a stepson.

If the dog was with us, he seemed to have his own "ideas" , which was getting b/t me/ us, the danger so I/we could escape.

Being single I have folks I hang with that know "our" plans. It can vary from being with a single mom/ someone's wife and kids, to being with the dad and the kids, or the couple and kids. Add the elderly and we have plans for that too.

Leaving a Live Theatre Performance for instance with Grandpa in a Wheelchair, one granddaughter, one couple and me.

I went to get the vehicle, the couple kept tabs inside with grandpa and daughter. I picked them up at the front.

Grandpa recovered just fine, 4 y/o is kinda ticked, she liked practicing hopping onto grandpa's lap and being wheeled off to safety by mom while dad provided cover. She understands now, still not real happy when the wheelchair was turned in.

Had I not been there, dad gets the vehicle, others stay inside, dad provides cover to make sure all inside. Yes Mom, dad and grandpa CCW.

Have a plan, practice it, know it.

December 22, 2005, 11:14 AM
Larry -I'd say that in effect Bonnie and I would be as a team when out together - but accepting that I would almost certainly be numero uno target. I don't think I'd actually see either one of us as wearing the backup label - circumstances could alter events.

I want her to spend more time with me on practice and training, to augment the ''team'' aspect. Not so much to ''rehearse'' as who knows what the heck any scenario might be - but more to hone her own awareness skills as well as gun proficiency. Leaving aside any gender aspects leaves me seeing ''a couple'' as essentially two people armed instead of just one. The ''hierarchy'' is a moot point.

I am in favor of having a ''code word'' between spouses - a word that is innocent to the casual observer but which between us means something. A way to warn and perhaps too a way to initiate some predefined action.

December 22, 2005, 11:46 AM
Back in the dark ages when I was still flying for the Navy, we worked in pairs in a concept called "Loose Deuce". There was an engaged fighter and a cover fighter.

The engaged fighter's duties were to keep sight of the enemy, close to a firing position, and make the kill. If necessary, the engaged fighter gave the cover fighter maneuvering instructions to locate the enemy and maneuver into a position to help make the kill.

The cover fighter's duties were to keep sight of the engaged fighter and the enemy, cover the engaged fighter's rear, and be in a position to move in and make the kill if the engaged fighter wasn't in a position to make the kill.

Normally the engaged fighter was the lead, but the tactical situation could easily cause the roles to switch several times in the fight.

December 22, 2005, 11:55 AM

I started a thread in Shotgun for one reason and things ended up going another.

Between some unexpected matters coming up (flashers on and speeding to ER in the wee hours) and quite frankly not having any idea how to put into type and edit what all we did...

We addressed this "team" aspect in various scenerios. I know it may come as a shock to some - but it is really really hard to have an "Ultimate Shotgun" 24/7/365 on person being a just a Regular J.Q.Public.

One person whom had CCW did not always. This was the Hubby, his wife carried.
He did not want to scratch his CCW and ...gets complicated hence my difficulties in writing.

So besides other stuff we did, using real life places, and he did CCW.(I can be a PITA on serious matters)..I and the folks assisting me ...just had to go somewhere with metal detectors and NO CCW to ...err...prove some points.

No I am not one to meddle in others affairs. I am the one that has walked off and suggested to Anti's they flip a coin as to whom dials 911 and whom gets raped. They made it, and one converted to Pro- gun and now CCWs. Seems cell phones don't give the warm fuzzies as do CCWs going across a parking lot...

I was asked to assist. I listened to the reasons why, and then the kid's mom confirmed the reasons. I did these things for the dog, would not want the dog to not have a kid anymore, or the kids mom. The "doing it for the children" just comes out wrong and taken by the anti's anyway.

After I do this "Its for the dog".

Whenever I get it to type and edited. About time I kick back and focus on some other matters for me. Spend more time using PM , Email and landlines.

In another life I use to do some stuff. Well I have not lost the "touch". I was asked to do something 'very similar' to what I used to do. I had a younger lady as my pardner. I will do another 'something" with this young lady.

Only part about being older and letting her drive , is you fall asleep on the way back and then hear " about an hour ago I think is where you turn to head to Coal Creek Armory".

Tamara would have shot us anyway at wee hours of the morning had I known how to contact her. N-ville looked nice. Maybe I can qualify to sweep brass at CCA. Seems like a nice area to move to.

Yep, we had plans, some stuff always work. Didn't even have to do a ninja roll to enter the Stop&Rob in N-ville to take a restroom break. We did cover the restrooms for each other though...
Watched going thru Memphis r-e-a-l carefully.

It was my turn to drive - "wake me up when we hit BBQ-Town". Nice to have extra senses going thru Memphis...real nice.

Left turn on Red is legal in Memphis - right? ;)


If you enjoyed reading about "Spouse as "backup"" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!