Readers of this website come from a variety of backgrounds.  Some are military members, others are law enforcement professionals, but the vast majority of Tier Three readers tactical enthusiasts who don’t necessarily fall into any of those categories.  Never the less, anyone who is interested in firearms and the tactical lifestyle needs to have certain skills.  This article will cover the top skills and abilities you need from a tactical perspective, and I bet you have some major holes in your tactical game.  

1. Shoot Anything Anyone Hands You

The first thing you think of when you think of a tactical professional is someone who can shoot, and that means anything.  It’s hard to look really cool with your Oakley’s if someone hands you a Remington 700 and you hand it back cuz you don’t know how to work that weird bolty thingy.

So we should be able to accurately shoot any type of weapon, shotgun, handgun, rifle.  We also need to be able to safely handle, clear malfunctions, and load it.  If you think hard, I would bet there are a few of these weapons that you not very comfortable with.  I highly recommend working with them until you feel better about them.  You might get a pass on the gun below.

2. Sight in An Optic

Nothing makes me laugh more, slash scares the crap out of me on most civilian ranges than watching someone sight in a weapon.  Most folks have no idea what they are doing and act as if it’s some type of voodoo science.

Your first tip is to read the instructions for your sight.  Your second tip, is to decide what yardage you want to zero it for.  You can’t just randomly pick a yardage and hope that will work for any distance.  Bullets travel in arcs, rising from the muzzle, reaching an apex, then falling back towards earth.

You must know what point on that arc you wish to use for your weapon.  Lastly, you need to know how many clicks move your dot/reticle how far.  Most scopes state this right near the adjustment screws, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t see it.

3.  Navigate by Compass and Map

This is something that not many people have to rely on with the advent of GPS.  That being said, let me know how well that gps work when you drop it in a river, or crack the screen on a rock, or the batteries run out.  Using a topographic map and understanding what the lines mean is crucial.  If you are skilled enough with a topo map you don’t even need the compass, but a compass can help you navigate more accurately and help you dead reckon at night when it is difficult to read the terrain. This video is a bit long but very high quality.

4. Navigate in an Urban Environment

I consider this almost a separate skill from rural navigation.  There are much different factors to consider when planning routes and finding your destination.  What time of day is it?  Which way is traffic headed?  Where are the nearest emergency facilities?  This is crucially important especially if you are in an emergency situation.


Lets say you are putting some glassware on shelf, you slip and it shatters on your foot giving you multiple lacerations.  Should you dial 911 or can you drive yourself to the emergency room?  Where will the ambulance come from?  Will traffic be against them?  What is your best option?  Knowing the answer to these questions can be important for your survival and well being, and more importantly that of your friends and family.

5.  Give Tactical First Aid

There are only a few things you need to be able to do when giving tactical first aid.  First make sure that you are in a safe area to do so, i.e don’t try to resuscitate a crash victim in a travel lane on a busy freeway.

Second, you need to help them breath, either clearing their airway, giving rescue breaths, or chest compressions.  Lastly control major bleeding with direct pressure to the wound and a tourniquet if available, otherwise use a belt or another improvised device.  Anything else can wait for doctors and EMT’s.

6. Safely Carry a Concealed Firearm

Obviously you should only do this is you are legally permitted to do so.  That being said once you have your permit you need to learn to carry safely and smartly.  Having a card does not guarantee your safety or efficacy with that firearm.

First you need to select a weapon that you feel comfortable using and carrying.  Next it needs to concealed.  If you are a 5’2 guy, wearing a tight shirt over your 1911, people know you have a gun, and thus there is no concealment.  Lastly, you need to be able to safely deploy your weapon, using your method of carry, and hit a person size target in a reasonable timeframe.  Check out this article for more info on deadly force timelines.


7.  Deescalate A Tense Situation

If you are armed then you need to understand that a gun is not the answer to all your problems.  Deescalation is almost always the right solution.  Someone bumps into and calls you an asshole?  Keep walking.  But wait, he wants to fight and he seems drunk.  Swallow your pride say it was your fault and apologize.

Remember, legally in most states you are only allowed to use a firearm to prevent serious bodily injury, or death of yourself or someone else.  I doubt a fistfight between two adults will count as such in court.

Hulk cover
Good luck with this guy.
8.  Carry a Person On Your Back for 50m

This can come in handy in many situations, from your girlfriend needing you to carry her to from her car to her apartment because she just had foot surgery, to saving someone’s life in a traffic accident.  There are other ways to carry someone, but you need to be much stronger to do so.  Get them to your back and you can move them much quicker.

Photo Courtesy US Army Europe
Photo Courtesy US Army Europe
9.  Defend Yourself With Your Bare Hands

This goes along with your deescalation skills.  It is another option when you encounter someone who doesn’t particularly like you.  First you need to know how to not get knocked out, or choked out.  Then you can worry about winning the fight.  Tony Blauer has some good common sense video’s regarding fighting and combat.

10. Not Take Yourself Too Seriously

Let’s all take a deep breath and realize that yes many of these skills are used in seriously life or death situations, that does not mean you can’t have fun learning them.  No one wants to be around that guy where everything is super serious and he must look cool at all times, and nothing is cooler than having three gun’s on you at all times.

I’m all for looking cool, but every now and again you’re going to make dumb move and loose those cool points.  Make sure you are being safe, and laugh it off. Treat it as a learning experience.


  1. Wow thanks for the skills list a lot of good ones in here. Number 8 is one I’ve never heard before, being able to carry someone on your back is way better I’ll definitely remember that if I’m ever in that situation.