Combat Mindset and Killer Instinct – Forward Observer Shop

Combat Mindset and Killer Instinct

Many people in the firearms and prepper-survivalist communities like to ramble about their impressive “combat mindset” and “killer instinct.” People who have repeatedly faced violence successfully, especially those who have done so in a professional capacity, understand that guns and gear are of tertiary importance, at best. Even physical conditioning is secondary to the critical importance of cultivation and continuous development of a proper mental attitude— combat mindset.

That mindset is composed of three attributes: an unwavering but well-founded conviction in the effectiveness of your training and ability, an absolute willingness, if not anticipation, to apply that training to kill bad people, and the intestinal fortitude to overcome whatever obstacles arise in order to survive to lay hate and discontent on the enemy.

Unwavering by well-founded conviction in your ability demands a “software-centric” approach to your training. It’s not about the guns and gear. Even within the ranks of the most vocal “three-percenters” there exist masses of gun owners who purchase an AR-15 or AK-47 at their local sporting goods store, along with a couple boxes of ammunition, based on the advice of some blog writer they’ve never met. Then, the rifle and the ammunition get tossed in a closet or onto a shelf in their “bunker” basement, to be promptly forgotten.  These people place absolute faith in the weapon, expecting it to solve their potential future problems. The firearm becomes a sort of magical talisman in their imagination. This is the “hardware-centric” approach that is the hallmark of amateurs.

The professional recognizes that man is a tool user, and values his tools. Nevertheless, he understands that those tools are inanimate objects. The weapon is only effective in the hands of a trained and aggressive operator. The trained, experienced gunslinger accepts the inarguable logic that training is more important than specific tools. If the only weapon available to the professional is a .22LR zip gun, he’ll use it effectively.  There is no time or space for the sin of mediocrity in the software-centric approach to training. The professional doesn’t go to the local strip mall karate dojo for his combatives training. He doesn’t mistake plinking beer cans in the backyard with a .22LR as combat rifle training.

Combat mindset and killer instinct means knowing the difference between confident assertiveness, animal aggressiveness, and false braggadocio… This confidence provides you the moral and physical courage to “flip the switch” to predatory, animal aggressiveness when necessary.

The motivated professional trains like the Type-A Alpha Male that he is within his tribe. He recognizes that his training is not just for himself, but also to protect his tribe, and to pass on that training on to members of his tribe. He seeks out the best training available and practices the skills he learns until he has mastered them, then he practices them some more. He spends hours every week practicing his combat rifle skills and his combatives. He spends hours every week doing PT to harden his body and his mind against stress and pain. Like some fabled warrior of old, he trains to perfection and then he trains some more.  Combat mindset and killer instinct means knowing the difference between confident assertiveness, animal aggressiveness, and false braggadocio. It allows you to carry yourself assertively because you know your own skill level, and recognize yourself as the most lethal man in the room—regardless of what room you are in. This confidence provides you the moral and physical courage to “flip the switch” to predatory, animal aggressiveness when necessary. Like mediocrity, hesitation is a mortal sin.

Effective training is an initiation into fear. It is an immunization against the effects of fear. It teaches the truth of the cliché, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” It teaches us to accept the truth without complaint. Training should be painful and frightening. Gunfights are painful and frightening.

Professionals expect to be punched in the mouth and to be slammed to the mats during combatives training. He expects to experience—and learn to tolerate—the flesh-bruising sting of force-on-force training munitions. He looks forward to the lung- and muscle-bursting agony of ridiculously strenuous physical conditioning training.

This is the most important aspect of training: dealing with and overcoming this pain in training is what starts building the intestinal fortitude and determination to carry on the fight and win, despite being shot, stabbed, or blown up. The professional accepts that he may be critically—perhaps even mortally—wounded, but rejects the popular myth of mediocrity that insists he will freeze in pain, panic and terror when that happens.

Realistic training should teach you that hatred is not a negative emotion, despite what you’ve been conditioned to believe. Hatred is nothing more than intensely-focused anger. It is just and righteous to hate those who would kill or harm you or your loved ones. Despite the whining protests of the weak-souled, hate is a positive energy. It is what allows you to overcome the cultural conditioning of a decadent, post-modern society to stab the enemy in the face with your bayonet. Our post-modern, apologist, soft and sensitive culture cries out that hatred and violence are never the answer. It has created a society of hesitation and fear that feels it necessary to apologize for its own righteousness and strength.

We want to be the “good guys.” We want to be “nice.” You must learn to damn the cowardice of the masses to an eternity of hellfire. Embrace the fact that you will be called upon in the righteous defense of Life, Liberty, and Community, to destroy the minds, spirits, and bodies of your enemy. Make peace with this ground truth so at the moment of truth, you are not plagued with the doubts and reservations of the weak. Focus on the sight picture and squeeze the trigger. Repeat as necessary. Hesitation is a sin.

Developing effective combat mindset and killer instinct is the most important aspect of tactical training. It is too often overlooked beyond, “You gotta have killer instinct.” Some believe this is something you have to be born with. They say it cannot be developed. They are wrong. We are all born with it. It is the legacy of our ancestors. We just have to learn to overcome post-modern cultural conditioning to bring it back to the forefront of our options.  Of course, the past of history may change course. The Republic may be restored peaceably, and you may never face violent physical danger. You may die of old age, peacefully in your bed, surrounded by a legion of loving children and grandchildren.

Or, you may die face down in the mud on a wet, dark night, choking on your own blood and lung tissue, a burst of 7.62×51 through the chest, listening to the screams of your wife and children as a mob drag them off to a living hell. The choice is yours.

John Mosby is a former U.S. Army Special Operations soldier. He lives somewhere in the mountains.


  1. Balls on perfect description ! Dad,who made over forty north Atlantic crossings in WWII said,” There were no Athiests on board the ships he commanded.” To see thousands of men going to the bottom of a frozen grave stayed with him. In convoy,there was no stopping. You and Selco tell the truth to the best of your ability. I respect that. This coming shitstorm will suck. Make it suck worse for the Bad Guys! Knuck

  2. Outstanding article! Very motivating and I hope it encourages people! Train! Train hard! Being powerful is the most loving thing you can do for your family!

  3. The trouble is, you don’t really know until the chips are down. Years ago I used to have a series of similar dreams. I’d be facing some kind of threat, with a gun in my hand, but my trigger finger was paralyzed. I’d wake up then. It caused me to wonder if I’d choke up in the face of a threat. Then one night I awoke to find an intruder in my bedroom. I didn’t hesitate. I grabbed my bedside gun, racked the slide, and took off after him as he ran. The layout flashed through my mind. Houses on 3 sides and an open field on the 4th side. I remember thinking I had to get him against the 4th side. He made it down the stairs and out the door before I could get a clear shot at him. There’s no doubt in my mind that had I gotten a clear shot, he’d have been stone cold dead on the floor. However, in retrospect, I’m just as happy I didn’t shoot him. No corpse to explain, no grand jury, no prosecutor. Just told the police what happened, and that he got away. I have more confidence in my reactions now. The only change I’ve made is to keep that bedside gun loaded and cocked, with the safety on. But until I faced that problem, I really didnd’t know how I’d react.

  4. Good article but I disagree with the hate. I don’t think hate is necessarily bad; but it is an emotion, and acting from an emotional response can be dangerous.

    The truly effective and scary people, are the ones who take the emotion out of it, who don’t need that hate too pull the trigger. The ones who do it because it is what they are good at, and can’t imagine another life.

    The ones who don’t have to hate or dehumanize their enemy before they face them. The true warrior can respect his enemy and still not hesitate to destroy them and all they hold dear.

    Hate and anger can be used against you, and your decisions can be manipulated if they are based even a little bit off of emotion. The truly dangerous foe is the one who is cold, not hot.

    1. I don’t know Loren, I look at his use of hate more like when Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that we should “hate our father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters…” he was saying it in comparison. I want that cannabilistic San Franciscan Zombie to stop doing bad and see the light, but I know that is very unlikely, and if he is coming after me and mine then I will hate that, and hate his actions, and if he fails to change his deeds than I hate him for that, for encroaching on the freedoms of others, and destroying my peace and community. I don’t see how you can kill without emotion. Maybe some steely eyed ninja delta ranger could but 99.9% of those on this site I would guess are not and could not. IMHO

  5. There are some truths here and also some misunderstanding. Fear is the absence of love. Love is the opposite of hate.

    In an age of moral ambiguity, moral relativism men are lost and clung to primal instincts. Using these instincts as their moral compasses. No dfferent from any common thug.

    Virtue is the line between two vices. Courage lies between cowardice and brashness. Virtue is our compass that seta us apart from animals.

    Wars are won or lost, civilizations rise and fall because they hold or lose the moral high ground. Killing out of righteous retribution is always the winning game plan. Hate is evil. There are many wearing the same uniform as I do that are morally empty, without any virtue, that kill out of hate. I pity them. What good is it to win a fight if you’ve lost your soul?

    Fear leads to anger and anger to hate. The first one to get angry loses – I read that somewhere. Have you ever been in a fight, and after which thought about what you coulda shoulda woulda? Do you know why you didnt think of those things during the fight? Because you were full of fear, anger, & hate.

    The righteous mind and love filled heart dont fear death. They dont hate the foe. But they unconsciously perform each action masterfully, dispatching foes the same ss they would put down a sick dog.

    If you find that you need to hate your enemy in order to kill him, if you’re successful you’ll regret it someday.

    1. “… civilizations rise and fall because they hold or lose the moral high ground…”

      That’s just plain wrong, Joe. Civilizations rise because they’re better competitors than the alternatives, and they fall because the alternatives are better competitors.

      Hate is definitely NOT evil. In Romans, Paul told Christians to hate what is evil, so hate can’t possibly be evil. He echoed David who said that those who love the Lord also hate evil.

      I completely disagree with what you wrote. There’s nothing wrong with hate, but it’s the application of hate that matters. Hating evil is inherently good.

    2. “Fear leads to anger and anger to hate.” I can’t ignore the fact that you are quoting Yoda.

      Star Wars quotes aside, great article and interesting discussion.

  6. Disagree as you like. I don’t figure there are more than a handful in a Battalion that would agree with me. Hate is like revenge. It consumes.

    I don’t doubt your scripture references for a second. However, I think that maybe there are different words for hate in Greek, Aramaic, or Ancient Hebrew that don’t translate well into modern American English. For example, the word love is used almost universally in the bible, but the Greeks had different words for love, Philadelphia for one example.

    At any rate, hate as you please, I don’t doubt it’s effectiveness. It’s the same fuel that allows middle easterners to torture and dismember Christians, one cannot question the efficacy of their cruelty. I’m not saying don’t kill our enemies. I can do that without hating them. If you hate them, are you prone to render aid to them as it is your duty to do so, once they are no longer in the fight, but wounded and alive?

    Perhaps there is nothing more cruel and hateful than a 13 year long war, when one side has the means to finish it decisively but stays its hand, prolonging the suffering across generations. I could support a six week long carpet bombing campaign targeting every instance of human civilization in the target area. Weapons free, no target restrictions. But I don’t hate them. That’s the kind of righteous retribution that must take place to establish a lasting and meaningful peace in the region. Islam is not compatible with humanity.

    This kind of long term festering malady, humanity suffers at the hand of those who just don’t understand the black and white of war, and those who are intoxicated with the rage and bloodshed of war is a terrifically, profoundly sad thing. We don’t put down a sick dog, by cutting off parts of its tail and limbs over a decade, pulling out a tooth here and there along the way. Then insanely feeding and watering it to keep it alive. That’s what we’re doing there.

    But we’re getting diseased along the way. Becoming fans of hate.

    1. bah
      interjection ˈbä, ˈba

      —used to show dislike or disapproval of something
      Full Definition of BAH
      —used to express disdain or contempt

      ” It is just and righteous to hate those who would kill or harm you or your loved ones”.

    2. Well Joe, if someone wasn’t gonna disagree I was. .For one I have studied Greek and Hebrew a bit now..When God said he loved Jacob but hated Esau he clearly meant Hate..When David said he hated his enemies with a perfect hatred it meant Hate..Lets not forget David was the only man God refered to as a man after his own heart..I don’t know JM’s beliefs but what he says is valid and just. We have to get past this passifist mindset of finding good in all and loving all..Only humanistic philosophy condones this shit and that my friend has cost us many men’s lives. Are the future generations gonna say “they may have lost but you know I don’t think they hated a soul”.Is this. what we have become conditioned to..I don’t think you really believe that Joe..

    3. Or instead of bombarding civilians and killing thousands of innocents, U.S.A could finish everything with a couple of black ops :/

  7. Awesome article!
    One of the best I have read in a very long time.

    The only thing I disagree with is “hate” being used so freely.

    Sure, righteous anger can empower you to move past pain, fear and other things and be a self-motivator but
    only to a finite point.

    Anything that can control, move or manipulate your emotions other than yourself are a danger to you.
    Hate is a BIG emotional commitment. Each moment you need to choose how you feel and what you think.
    If something from outside of you is doing that you are not in control of yourself and for something as
    serious as this subject that is a problem….life and death?….You need 100% control of yourself AND
    your complete situational awareness….Anger clouds up your SA.
    (Easier said than done but that is the ideal to work for)

    I think some are missing the point…

    The opposite of Hate is NOT love!….It is crystal-clear Apathy.
    The opposite of Love is NOT hate!….It’s crystal-clear Apathy.

    Love and Hate are emotional commitments….Apathy is outside the influence of love and hate
    and that way of thinking helps to keep your mind clear.

    Do you “feel” anything when you take out your trash?….no?….well good you shouldn’t.
    Do you “feel” when you use bug-spray in your garage?…no?….same…you shouldn’t’ feel anything.
    Some things are not meant to feel anything….like completely destroying your foe without hesitation.
    The only thing you should (ideally) feel when you destroy your foe is relief. Your alive and
    that SOB is dead….now move your ass to better cover/position, reload, keep your eyes open, scan 360.

    You do what you have to do to survive (each moment) period, there is no thinking/feeling about it.
    You can think and or feel AFTER you are sure you and yours are safe.

    Just an opinion here…as always.think for yourself….DYODD.

    1. I’ve been saying that for years. The opposite of LOVE is Not hate, it is APATHY. I do not care that you exist only that you do not present a Threat.

  8. I am most definitely not a “professional” and I recognize that, especially after reading this. I would like to think my crazy switch would flip if people tried to hurt my family, and I do have some training with my firearms under my belt (working on more), but this has brought up much self evaluation in me. One of the biggest issues for me is getting in shape, I have become soft and lethargic, have been for several years. This was by far an inspiring article. Thanks Mosby!

    P.S. Maybe you guys could do a podcast on exercise plans, and please don’t suggest Crossfit. 😉 I did Crossfit for 6 months and lot a bunch of weight, but I couldn’t afford it. I love the encouragement from the other people in the class though.

    1. I personally like Scott Sonnon’s Tacfit Commando exercise program.. Its a 27 day program that pushes you through 3 stages recruit,grunt,then commando. So its about a 3 month program. Sonnon has plenty of credentials. He has designed programs for military elite and world class grapplers just to name a few. You can do it at home in limited space and its primary focus is cardio and functional strength. I use it to break up the boredom from weights,kettlebells, and running. ?Anyone can do it, it is progression. Here is a link to the whole program in PDF..

  9. What I find most interesting, is the most popular movies amongst the “prepper/threeper/constitutionalist” crowd, the PSYOPS that gets pushed is be nice, hesitate, withhold force, it’s all about the weapon as attributes of The Good Guys.

    What you rightly cite, are what Bad Guys do.

  10. I have taught empty hand and improvised weapons combat for many years. Your are spot on brother, when you speak of the “combat mindset.” I’ve been tested and survived using that mindset and I promise you, this is an absolute fact. In nature, animals understand this. In combat, survivors understand this too. There is a time for peace and understanding, but when your life is on the line there is only one way to survive and that is with aggression and the right mindset.

  11. “I will tell you this categorically, preparing the mind is as essential as any possible skill you could ever learn or any weapon held in your hand. Your mindset is the dispenser and finisher of the battle you are engaged. When you are thrust into the combat vortex and are at the tip of the spear, your mindset determines whether you win or die!” ~ Jack C. Perritt, STRIKE – CMC

    I enjoyed you comments.

  12. Great article. Thankful I discovered this website. I echo Devin st Clair … Outta shape and looking for programs to turn sedentary fat guy into high speed survivalist, for my family’s sake.

    God bless America. Long live the republic,

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