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Expert Weapons Tactics

Introductory Notes



What will you do in a crisis? How can you train to survive? I think the warrior mindset may benefit from some kind of epiphany. Mine came as a college student when I was mugged at gunpoint. The horror of the experience helped to open my eyes to the fact that evil cannot be ignored on the physical plane, or for that matter, any other.  Like the yin and yang, we all have a balance of the pacifist and warrior within. Depending on the circumstance, there is a time to reap and a time to sow. While keeping a calm vigilance as a pacifist maintaining all options of avoidance and flight, the warrior within each of us needs to be ready in an instant to spring into devastating, aggressive, decisive, no holds barred fight to the finish. Each one of us needs to find the motivation to train and flip that switch without hesitation.




While mounting a flashlight on the gun may have advantages for military and law enforcement applications, it is not as important for civilian self-defense on the street.  Unless you feel experienced enough to try to clear your own house, that operation is not recommended without a partner to open doors and provide scanning and cover fire.  The benefits of a gun light include the ability to use the off hand for other tasks and the simultaneous ability to illuminate, identify, and shoot.  However, the drawbacks to the gun mounted light are quite serious.  There may not be time to activate an additional switch.  The light can be a target and a dead giveaway.  Shining family members is also pointing the muzzle at them.  More self discipline and control are necessary.  The added bulk and weight of the light preclude comfortable concealed carry options and slow the draw.  The gun light might serve for home defense, but it's removal is recommended for street carry.  A flashlight should definitely be part of everyday carry, and held away from the body in the off hand, it can serve as a deterrent as well as a valuable, blinding, defensive tool and contact weapon.




Those serious about personal safety usually carry a BUG.  Some feel that reloading their primary weapon is not as fast as producing a backup, and it’s sometimes called the New York reload.  A BUG is recommended, but not for that purpose.  Using good off hand technique, extra magazines or speed loaders can re-supply the primary gun more quickly.  After all, the primary is usually more powerful and practiced with.  However, any mechanical device can malfunction, or the strong side, arm, and hand may be blocked or incapacitated in a fight.  Therefore, it is recommended that the backup be ambidextrous, a double action revolver or DAO semi-auto, and accessible to the off hand.  Keep it separated from spare ammo, knife, flashlight, and cell phone.  The BUG ought to be a 380 auto or 38 Special, at a minimum, and as small, light, and snag free as possible.

In Massad Ayoob's The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, he tackles a lot of the issues that prosecutors will try to nail you on, like carrying hollow points, spare mags, etc. He also has an entire chapter dedicated to a backup gun, with seven reasons to carry one.
  1. The primary gun may be taken away.
  2. The primary gun may be unusable because it is the object of a struggle.
  3. The primary gun may be empty.
  4. The primary gun may malfunction.
  5. The primary gun may be struck by an opponent's bullet and rendered inoperable.
  6. The primary gun may not be as readily accessible as the backup.
  7. The primary gun can arm only one good person at a time.





A gun mounted laser or laser grip makes a great training aid.  Use it when dry firing from awkward positions or around cover to make sure the gun stays steady and trigger manipulation is correct.  Use it to maintain the point of aim while practicing the lateral blast off the line of force coming from a moving target.  Use it to practice pointing from various stances and angles to help you find your natural instincts.  Use it from behind cover in the safe room to point at an attacker breaking through the strong door.  And use it to hold an adversary face down, spread eagle, palms up, until police arrive.  Make sure the arriving officers know you are the good guy, and keep your other hand high holding your identification.  Be aware that the laser can create a false sense of competence.  Accurate shooting requires a steady gun hand and fundamental trigger control.  On the street, it is recommended that the master switch be off.  Your firm grip in a tense situation will automatically activate it, whether or not you want it on.  Rely on your training in the basics and simple, reliable tools, instead of toys or gimmicks.




1.        Get to it before the shooting starts.

2.         Try to know in advance where cover is, how good it is, and how to use it.

3.         Never expose consecutively from the same spot.

4.         Peek out and duck back in to scan with minimum exposure.

5.         Quickly lean out and cant the gun if necessary for 1 to 3 shots each time.

6.         If you are comfortable, you are too visible.  Resist looking to see if you score.

7.         When your position is discovered, use concealment to change cover so that you can ambush your previous spot or ambush the route your opponent has to take to get to where he thinks you are.

8.         Move away opposite your last exposure only to get to better cover.  Make your opponent do the moving in the open.

9.         Stay away from cover, especially if it can chip or splinter.  Stay away from corners when rounding them and lean out to view little pieces one at a time, like slices of a pie.  Alternate high and low lean outs while slicing the pie.

10.       Keep scanning and orienting 360 degrees.



From John Farnam:

24 Jan 07

Comments on team tactics, from an instructor in WI:

We conducted a large-scale, building-search/response scenario for suburban officers, which involved most PDs in the county.  I was a terrorist for two days, and observed:

Teams that were aggressive, coordinated, decisive, and that moved quickly were difficult to pin down and engage successfully. Conversely, teams with confused, indecisive leadership, that dithered and hesitated, were quickly and effortlessly wiped out.

I was monotonously successful in hitting the inadvertently exposed knees, feet, and elbows of officers who thought they were using cover competently.  When thus struck, officers were astonished.  They had no idea that these body parts were (unnecessarily) exposed.

Officers who were trained to shoot rifles and shotguns off either shoulder had a significant advantage, as they were able to effectively use either left or right-hand cover.  Those who, when shooting from left-hand cover, continued to support the rifle from the right shoulder were easily picked off.

Teams that chicken-walked in the open seldom lived through the first minute.  Teams that bounded aggressively from cover to cover were usually successful.

Comment: The goal when using cover is not to eliminate exposure.  It is to eliminate unnecessary/unproductive exposure.  Some exposure is going to be necessary, and risk will always attach to it.

Building clearing is no place for confused dithering!  When you think you must go in, your movement must be coordinated and aggressive if there is to be any change of success.

Learn to shoot left-handed!






by Stephen P. Wenger

The following article was originally written as a series for a shooting club newsletter. It is not intended to belittle those who enjoy the action pistol sports. Rather, it is an effort to create tactical awareness among those who may use a firearm in self-defense by comparing examples from the different arenas. The article has been published previously in the SMITH & WESSON ACADEMY NEWSLETTER..

DOUBLE TAPS: A staple of the IPSC crowd, the double tap has two sets of problems on the street:

When faced with a single assailant the best course is to shoot until the threat ceases. If the assailant goes into surrender mode after the first shot, the second shot is no longer justifiable. If the assailant is still charging you it is foolish to pause after the second shot.

When faced with multiple assailants it makes more sense to put a round into each aggressor as quickly as possible, then go back and place more rounds into anyone who is still a threat. About ten years ago there was actually an incident in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where an IPSC-shooting cop went up against three assailants. He double-tapped the first two and was shot and killed by the third. Had he shot each assailant once initially he might have had a better chance of prevailing.

SCORING BY THE CLOCK: Virtually all of the action pistol sports use a timer. Speed is certainly a useful attribute in a gunfight, although it is worth remembering the words of Bill Jordan, “Speed is fine but accuracy is final.”

I’m not trying to discourage people from developing speed in placing accurate fire on the target. My concern is when rewarding the shortest time over a course of fire encourages people to do things like leaving cover and reloading on the move. If the cardboard targets or steel plates were shooting back, would you want to leave cover with an empty gun? Even if you have a high-capacity gun and it isn’t empty yet, wouldn’t you rather have the gun fully loaded when circumstances dictate your move to the next piece of cover? What if you get shot in the leg and can’t make it to the next piece of cover?

MOVING TO COVER: Most sport shooters try to shorten the distance to the target to make the shot easier. Couple this with shooting against the clock, then set up a stage where the shooter starts in the open and has to move to cover which is somewhere downrange. Most competitors will run directly to the point where they intend to shoot, on a straight line.

Years ago the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center disseminated a concept known as the “FLETC L.” If you’re really under fire, you want to get the cover between you and your assailant as quickly as possible. Move laterally to get behind the cover, then turn, making an “L,” if you need to move closer to the cover.

DISTANCE FROM COVER: Most sport shooters try to shorten the distance to the target to make the shot easier. Most sport shooters have also learned to use “barricades” to gain support to steady the gun. One IPSC-style shooting academy teaches resting the back of the support hand on the side of the barricade when shooting from the gun-hand side of cover.

First of all, this technique will usually expose greater than 50% of your body to the target, but that’s all right when your target is just a piece of buff-colored cardboard. Secondly, if the target and the cover were real, shots fired by the target could “skip” off the side of the cover, such as a wall surface parallel to the direction of the incoming fire, and strike you if you were within six feet of the cover. For this reason people who train for the real world generally try to leave at least six feet of space between them and cover which is large enough to permit it.

LATERAL FAULT LINES: To protect the competitor from hostile fire from cardboard or steel targets, most action shooting sports which use cover in scenarios place fault lines to the side of the cover. If your foot strays over the fault line you lose points. If your head and body hang out there, that’s okay.

Cardboard and steel targets generally stay in one place whereas people intent on harming you move around. If you’re in an upright position it’s not likely that your foot will project noticeably wider than another part of your body. People who train to deal with targets that shoot back will usually “slice the pie.” This means that if they are approaching a doorway or a corner they will stay back about six feet, keep the gun in a low ready position of some sort and inch themselves past the edge of the cover. Every inch yields a new fan or pie-slice of view and if a threat is found in one of these slices, the gun rises and the shot is taken. If they were to insist on hiding the feet while incrementally exposing head and body, they would merely place themselves off balance at a time when balance might be very valuable.

RIGHT TO LEFT OR LEFT TO RIGHT: Most right-handed sport shooters, when faced with a bank of targets, will shoot them from left to right.

When faced with real threats, you want to shoot the most immediate threat first. This is going to be a split-second judgment, but those come easier if you have dealt with them in training. However, in cases where two or more threats are of comparable urgency and similar distance, it makes sense to protect your gun side first. An awful lot of gunshot wounds are to the gun hand, the arm of the gun hand or the shoulder of the gun hand. Eliminating or reducing the threat on your gun side increases the likelihood of being around to finish the fight. For a right-handed shooter this means that when you’ve got a bank of targets it makes more sense to shoot from right to left.

Stephen P. Wenger



Successful fighter pilots use a decision making process called the OODA loop.  The anachronism stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.  The goal is to spin the loop fast enough to penetrate the OODA loop of the adversary and win.  Training can expedite the observation and orientation.  Experience is a key to fast decision making.  Effective action requires skill.  It can be essential to find the right compromise between deadly hesitation and the speedy action of reckless abandon.  Perseverance prevails, sometimes with the help of blind luck.  Reset the OODA loop.

Observation begins with the scan.  Most sheeple, in condition white, have a 90 degree cone of awareness in front of them, if they are not preoccupied.  Sometimes they glance ahead, but they don’t observe.  On the other hand, secret service agents are in condition orange and observe their complete sphere with hard scans that would  be seen as “over the top”  in a convenience store setting.  Scanning starts by trying to see into an environment before you enter it.  How many take the extra second to peer through the glass door before they push their way into what could be an armed robbery in progress?

Avoid staring or undue eye contact which may cause confrontation.  Rather use unobtrusive scanning to cover the full circle around you in random cycles.  The art of scanning, using smooth eye movement and peripheral vision, makes the "grey man" invisible, because others can't tell he's scanning.  Observe static points of interest quickly and then monitor dynamic changes for things that seem unusual, illogical, or out of place.  The static environment assessment looks for avenues of possible attack or escape, obstacles, concealment, and especially cover.  The constant-dynamic assessment catalogues routinely moving objects, normal traffic, and background scenarios.  This helps minimize extraneous details and confusing stimuli when split second decisions are essential.  The dynamic assessment catalogs the people in the immediate environment.  Among people near you, estimate who would be a likely subject of attack and from where it would originate.  Note backgrounds that would preclude a shot. 

As you assess others, look for their hands and eyes.  If you can’t see them, they should be a priority concern.  While an angry or troubled person will telegraph his anxiety and intent to assault by his body language, the danger signs of a stalking predator or psychopathic killer aren’t as obvious.

 Watch for thoracic breathing (heaving chest), especially with an open mouth.  Watch for the white of the eye showing above the lower eyelid and a slouched or unkempt appearance.  Beware of someone who's eyes never look down, as he is not emotionally connected with the situation.  Watch out for eyes that flick without a corresponding movement of the head.  Notice hesitant but unabated movement toward a command position or a victim.  Watch for controlled, mechanical, or jerky gestures, especially patting, securing, or protecting hidden objects on their body.  Note darting eyes and rearward glances, or frequent eye contact with accomplices or a stationed lookout.  Beware anyone who creates a distraction or initiates a conversation with a stranger while approaching them.  Steer clear of  self-involved but idle groups that just appear to be hanging out. 

When waiting in lines, angle your strong side toward the space you leave to the back of the person in front of you.  Brief eye contact with the person behind you should be enough to keep them at a distance.

Seat yourself in restaurants so you have a view of entrances or exits and can seek cover, deploy your handgun, or escape quickly.

 In public restrooms, always use a locking stall, but the clatter of guns and ammo on the tile is unprofessional.  Don’t try to catch a falling gun.  Secure it in the cradle of your trousers or on your handbag in front of you, out of sight.  Be careful of loose speed loaders or magazines, and remember to take everything with you when you exit.

 While brief, initial eye contact will indicate to you others around you who are also aware, you still can’t trust even the most well dressed or innocent looking not to be a psychopathic killer.  Awareness serves as a beacon to ward off common predators who are assessing you, too.  Keep your head up and turning with the nonchalance of calm vigilance.  Keep good posture, poise, and balance.  Keep your strong hand free and be ready to drop everything if you have to dive for cover.  A confident demeanor and purposeful stride will likely keep the bad guys looking to surprise an easier victim.




Speed Vs. Precision
The balance between Speed & Precision might be the most important thing that a shooter should understand about training for the tactical use of a pistol.
by Rob Pincus




Defensive Reaction


Use simple tools if you want to survive

Keen awareness and a Colt 45


An attacker will try to surprise his victim, and he counts on shock with attendant sensory overload to debilitate defensive decision-making.  The element of surprise is minimized by awareness and prior practice evaluating defensive options in likely scenarios.  The shock of surprise won’t dismay those who expect the unexpected.  Sensory overload must be prevented by ignoring unimportant stimuli and focusing on the essential problem.  When the environment has already been cataloged for escape, cover, background, and potential threats, decisiveness becomes as natural as the instinct to focus on the impending threat.  Injury will come from an assailant's hands.  Stopping the threat will require focus on the assailant's center of mass.


Actions must follow decisions immediately.  New decisions and actions will roll seamlessly as observations of the important facts lead to corrections in orientation.  This has been expressed elsewhere as the OODA loop, Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.  Decisions can be made more quickly if, through experience or role-play, the situation is familiar.  Actions, on the other hand, will be limited to skills acquired through practice.


Basic skills, those that come from practicing the fundamentals, are the most reliable and flexible.  Shooting while flying headfirst through the air, or rolling on the ground, should be delayed until there has been mastery of uncovering the gun, acquiring a firing grip, drawing safely, and then alignment, retention, point, flash sight, and aimed fire from cover.  Moving targets are not a problem, but shooting while moving to cover will be a challenge best saved until after exercises of jams, reloads, and incapacitations from behind cover.  Concentrate on the skills that will apply to the most likely threats based on your lifestyle and common elements of an attack.  Don’t fight against yourself.  Keep in mind that soon after an adrenaline surge, the body will begin to shake as the drug dissipates.  Practice simple drills that incorporate survival instincts, like crouching, threat focus, and creating distance, which are common stress reactions. 


Maintain or create distance for more time to exercise options.  Survival odds are greater when the attack is slowed or turned by the defender blasting laterally or obliquely back off the line of force.  Sometimes a lateral blast that ends in a forward move can preempt an attack strike with a knife.  Backwards movement has little tactical value, and it likely causes a stumble.  Movement should be part of most defensive reactions, especially when it’s used to get to cover or concealment.  From awkward positions behind cover, shooting is more difficult, but it is preferred to being in the open.  Of course, it would be best to create distance before an attack, and any movement of the attacker or defender will cause the background to change as well.


When awareness and confident demeanor have not stopped the attacker from choosing his victim, he may try to test the victim while closing the distance prior to an attack on the head.  An effective defensive reaction to maintain distance might be the use of the command voice.  The command voice is deep, clear, and loud.  Alpha, or leader, commands are short and explicit.  Shouted commands can mean stop, keep away, keep your hands out of your pockets, I can not help you, “Do you feel lucky, punk, do you?”


After hearing the command voice, an attacker knows he has lost the element of surprise.  If he continues to close the distance, he may be irrational and under the influence of, or craving, some drug.  If he does not exhibit a weapon, make a scene and create distance to escape or get to cover.  It is recommended that 911 be called anytime a threat has been perceived, the gun is exposed, the firing grip is acquired, or the gun is drawn and fired.  The first person to call 911 is generally considered to be the victim, and dispatch will record anything audible.  If the cell phone is holstered on the weak side, keep it in front of a flashlight, OC spray, and separated from spare magazines so it doesn’t get stuffed into the magazine well of the gun during a stress reload.  Making a call or producing identification should not expose the gun, especially to an attacker.


If the assailant has a weapon, explode off the line of force, to cover, during the draw.  Keep him out of contact range if he has a knife or club.  If the assailant has a gun and the victim has the training, point shooting during the lateral burst may be an option.  Although dangerous, if an opening or distraction can be created, or if the assailant suddenly tries to produce a weapon, it may be an option to speed rock and stitch him on the spot.  The most dangerous defensive situations will be at extremely close range.  Troublesome or unexpected attacks can come from the sides and rear.  Movement may not be possible during the moments leading up to the need to react with the use of deadly force in self-defense. 


By Ed Lovette in the Febuary issue of Combat Handguns. (From the author's own research.)
Defensive uses of the firearm

!) Location--vast majority happen in the victims home or place of business.
2) Lighting Conditions--Victim usually has the chance to get the lights on.
3) Distance--0-10 feet. Most between 6-10 feet.
4) Duration---actual shooting was over in seconds or a fraction of seconds.
5) Physical contact rarely involved but when it did was exceptionally violent.
6) Number of shots fired was often one but an average of three.
7) Movement--movement was usually to retrieve the pistol and then to confirm the problem.
There was no "pie-ing" or searching, no moving while shooting or lateral movement to avoid gunfire.
8) Use of security equipment ( OC spray, knife, flashlight etc)..NONE!!!
9) Use of Cover--Almost nonexistent.
10) Firing positions---Shots fired by the Armed Citizen (AC) were most frequently from the standing position, several were on their back in bed, only one fired using the bed as cover.
11) Type of Weapon Used.. AC overwhelmingly used a .38 revolver.
12) Response of Bad Guy When Shot---He most often stopped fighting and ran off, closely followed by stopping fighting and falling down. When the AC fired a contact shot into the bad guys torso/neck the fight was usually over very quickly.
13) Verbal Exchange Between AC and Bad Guy---Almost always.
14) Training by AC---Overwhelmingly none, followed by a small number who had taken a CCW course and a very small amount who had fired a handgun while in the military.



Some posts concerning movement from Gunthorp and other members of the defensivecarry.com forum

Every situation is different. Your main defensive tool is your mind. If you have the proper mind set and are in Condition Yellow and see the attack before it even starts then you can make defensive moves. (Someone hiding behind car. Someone in the shadows ahead of you that could be a threat.) Seeing the attack before it happens allows you to make distance between you and the perceived threat. Making distance means you have more time as it takes more time for the Bad Guy to cover that distance. It also may prevent the attack all together as the Perp knows he has lost the element of surprise and the distance you have made radios to him that you know he is there and what he is up to. The distance also gives you more time if he does attach as it takes him more time to cover the larger distance.

Again you mind set is your best defensive and offensive tool. You must be ready to use all your abilities in a split second. First you must recognize an attack and react. If you don’t recognize it fast enough nothing you can do will matter.

Once you recognize the attack you must react. Your reactions are behind the perps actions so you are behind the curve and reacting. If you are only 5 yards away from the perp before you recognize the attack the knife he is coming at you with will be in your chest before you can draw and shoot.

Movement must be a part of your actions. Movement straight away or straight towards the perp does not change their angle of the attack especially if they have a firearm. Their point of aim is only getting smaller and is not moving left or right making them modify their aim in two planes.

If you move straight towards them you are closing the distance and again not changing their point of aim left and right but you only getting bigger in their sites. They want you close.

Moving laterally especially at an angle moving left or right and back at the same time makes it harder for them to hit you with a firearm and if they are attacking with a knife their direction of attack must change directions and that gives you more time every time they must change their angle of attack.

You should practice moving and shooting in all directions. You should practice shooting in all different positions. The more you practice the more apt you are to react to a threat using what you have practiced.

You could write a whole book on Movement in a self defense situation. This thread will cover just a small part of it. So don’t stop thinking about movement and shooting when this thread moves on. Think about it and practice it. That practice is what will give you the confidence to prevail when that attack really happens and you have to move and shoot to defend your life.

Stay Safe,
Gary Slider



Training to move and shoot in every direction is the best way to go. The only thing that I refuse to teach is back peddeling. There are ways to engage while moving rearward without back peddeling.

I believe that getting off of the line of attack is very important. This accomplishes getting out of the kill zone as quickly as possible. Moving straight in or straight back simply does not get you out of the kill zone. But there are times when moving straight in is a very good idea. If you find yourself in a position where you can not avoid the situation, but you are in a dominant position (inside of the BG's OODA loop), due to awareness, distraction, deception, metsubishi, or ballistic effect moving forward agressively and stopping the threat has it's place.

Movement needs to have purpose. Getting to cover would be the most obvious purpose. But many times cover is just not a reality. In this case, movement to acquire the adversaries flanks is an outstanding tactic. Moving forward to the obliques or using eliptical movement to try to get behind the adversary is as solid a tactic as there is.

If your natural reaction (just reacting, with no conscious thought does happen when you are behind in the reactionary curve) is to move one direction, that does not mean that you need to keep moving that direction. Direction can be changed with elipitcal movement or "cutback" type moves. The directional changes can come out of the visual input of the dynamics of the encounter. You need to be able to recognize the changes in your position in the OODA loop. Making adjustments to your movement due to this visual input is something that everyone should be aware of.

Moving rearward to the obliques while putting accurate hits on board is an outstanding skill to own. This can be accomplished quite easilly with the correct training and tools. The LEO's that we have taught in our Integrated Threat Focus courses have considered these skills "life saving skills" for officers that have been caught behind the reactionary curve. In a typical traffic stop, the officer cover, radio, long gun......down right security is behind him. To be able to fight their way back to the patrol car, while delivering accurate hits, can be an excellent tool to own.

Lateral movement is the best way to not get hit, but it is also the most difficult way to get hits. The dynamics of this displacement dictate this as fact. This is why the ability to make hits laterally, on a full run is the ultimate goal of Threat Focus courses.

Here is a little something that I wrote on movement a while back.

What am I physically capable of?

I believe that there should be continuity to ones movement. I feel that one should train to get hits through the entire movement spectrum. There is no doubt about the importance of "stand and deliver" skills. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on this skill with tens of thousands of drawstrokes. If my body chooses this solution to the problem, that skill will be there.

I also see a need for very controlled movement that facilitates a precision shot on the move. This could include skills such as "just walk", side stepping (crab walk,) or even the old groucho (duck) walk. All three of these techniques have there place (however small they might be) and should be something that you can do on demand, if that demand arises. I practice head shots at logical distances with this type of movement.

I also see a need to be able to get hits with your toes pointing the direction that you are moving. This type of movement has your upper body working independent from your lower body, "like a turret of a tank." Toes point the direction you are headed, body turreted the direction that you are shooting. This type of movement brings in your bi-lateral skills. Shooting to the firing side can be done two handed to a certain point, then you need to go one handed. The possible speed of this movement can cover the full spectrum, from a walk, to a jog, to a stride, to a run, and finally to a sprint. This is where you find what you are physically capable of. This is where the limitations are pushed, and the standards are set.

Feints, jukes, cut backs and directional changes are also part of the movement skills set. One should explore there ability to use these skills and the limitations that different terrain/footing give you.

React as you need to react, move as you need to move, and see what you need to see to solve the problem that you are confronted with. If you train with these basic concepts, you will have covered the vast majority of the possible situations. In covering these situations, your body will chose, with confidence, the appropriate solution.

"We just give students tools and options....it is their call how well they fit into their box or plan"




In the world of the gun there are two types of responses to a life threatening event. The first and most popular is the conditioned response. A few examples of conditioned responses would be stand and deliver, the controlled pair, and to always make use of your sights. These are responses that we train into ourselves with the hope that when the SHTF we will default to our training and this programming will save the day.

While I was learning the Modern Techniques, (MT) I constantly questioned the logic behind many of the conditioned responses. To me, there was very little common sense attached to these conditioned responses. Even as a newbie I knew that I would never fight in this manner. It went away from the logic of all of my past experiences. As I trained and trained in the MT, I always held on to the realization the MT's were just going to be a foundation, a foundation that I built my fighting style on top of.

As I progressed, I began to incorporate what I thought a common sense fighting style would entail. I began to seek out people that thought as I did. My observations were confirmed again and again by highly respected "been there done that" guys, most notably a Federal Agent that went under the handle 7677.He would write posts of his real world experience that coincided with my thoughts and observations As my suspicions were verified, my training progressed into an area that very few people have explored. I began to embrace the concept of natural human response.

As I participated in and witnessed FOF encounters, it became very clear that the vast majority of the people that trained on a regular basis, cast aside their training when the action was fast and close. They would default to their natural human response. They solved problems at a sub-conscious level. I witnessed many people doing things that they had never been trained to do. After the encounter I would talk to them about their response. The majority actually did not know what they had done to solve the problem. As I told them what they did, they would often look at me in disbelief that they reacted in that manner. This furthered my interest in the subject, which lead me to my next level of enlightenment.

I call this level Fluid Situational Response. The concept is that you can incorporate your natural human response and your conditioned response and use them fluidly in the appropriate situation all along, what 7677 calls the fighting continuum. I know some of you will say that this does not stay within the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle, or that it does not conform to Hicks law (the more options you have, the longer it will take to access an option). IMHO this is just not so. Hicks law applies to conditioned responses, that is why you should have a mastery of a few essential techniques. Hicks law does not apply to natural human response. There is no lag time to access these responses. Your body will choose the solution to the problem in a microsecond at a subconscious level. Accepting this to be fact opens up a world that very few have explored.

My training is now geared to my Fluid Situational Response. The response is dictated by time, distance, and where you find yourself in the reactionary curve. The position on the reactionary curve is the most important factor to your response. This is where natural human response of "fight or flight" takes over. IMHO you should embrace the "fight or flight" response and train within that response. One thing to keep in mind, when it comes to firearms "fight or flight" is also "fight and flight." The direction you move, the speed of your movement, the necessary visual input to maneuver and to comprehend the problem, the necessary visual input needed to make the hits, and the necessary visual input to recognize the situational changes are all dependent on your position on the reactionary curve inside of the 7677 fight continuum.

There is no doubt that at certain distances, going hands on before you access your handgun is the very best response. But for now, let's take a look at responses that are outside of hand to hand ranges.

If you have succeeded in being ahead in the reactionary curve due to awareness, deception, distraction, or metsubishi (throw something in the face of your adversary) you are in a dominant position. Conditioned responses are excellent for this situation. Stand and deliver, sighted fire, aggressively advancing to your
12:00 are all appropriate responses.

If you find yourself even in the reactionary curve, your response will have to be different. Conditioned responses may not get the job done as well as natural human response. The fight and flight response will kick in and you will want to get out of the kill zone. Move as you draw, put hits on the adversary as soon as you can using threat focused skills, work towards getting inside of the adversaries OODA loop by your movement, making hits, and acquiring his flank. Once you have turned the reactionary curve in your favor, embrace your fluid situational response and shift from a reactionary position to the dominant position and eliminate the threat.

If you find yourself well behind the reactionary curve, your response will have to change even more. A conditioned response could be suicide, your best hope is a natural human response. Brownies startle response can be use to your advantage and you must train to be comfortable within your startle response. Flight overrides fight, because you must survive the initial contact so that you can get into the fight. Explode out of the kill zone, move to cover if near or access the weapon on the sprint, put hits on the adversary using threat focus skills, look to turn the tide, if the situation changes, flow into the next appropriate response.

Once you embrace your Fluid Situational Response you will go places that you never thought were possible, Where your mind is the weapon and the gun is just an extension of your mind, and everything flows with no conscious thought.

The inevitable question arises, "what is more important, to get the hits or to not get hit?" The Fluid Situational Response answers that question. When you are ahead of the reactionary curve, it is more important to get the hits. You are in the dominate position....ELIMINATE THE THREAT! If you are even on the reactionary curve the importance are equal. Use a balance of speed (of movement) and accuracy to solve the problem. If you are behind in the reactionary curve it is more important to not get hit. Get out of the kill zone by "thinking move first." Sprint to cover if it is near or access your handgun on the sprint and put hits on your adversary. Always look to get inside of the adversaries OODA loop and progress through your Fluid Situational Response until you are either dominating the confrontation or have put yourself in the position to terminate the confrontation.

"We just give students tools and options....it is their call how well they fit into their box or plan"




We train to move off the line of force during the draw, both to the strong and weak sides. Never move back unless it’s to cover, because it’s too easy to lose your balance. Drawing from concealment will likely require the off hand to uncover and necessitate a one hand presentation. You can demonstrate to yourself how much easier movement is when the off hand is free instead of trying to maintain a two hand hold. An onrushing BG is probably going to be at very close range by the time your gun clears on target, and a five shot zipper takes surprisingly little time. Jelly Brice once sidestepped a shotgun blast during his draw and killed the BG before he could fire another blast. You have to do some “what if” thinking as you go through your unique daily routine. That said, movement to the knife or gun side of the adversary, followed by a forward component, will take away his strong moves and make his reactions delayed with regard to your position. Is this the only drill to practice? By no means. If 99% of situations present cover, use your common sense when designing your drills, and be safe on the range.


1. Try to know in advance where cover is, how good it is, and how to use it.
2. Get to it before the shooting starts.
3. Never expose consecutively from the same spot.
4. Duck out and back in to scan with minimum exposure.
5. Quickly lean out and cant the gun if necessary for 1 to 3 shots each time.
6. If you are comfortable, you are too visible. Resist looking to see if you score.
7. When your position is discovered, use concealment to change cover so that you can ambush your previous spot or ambush the route your opponent has to take.
8. Move opposite your last exposure only to get to better cover. Make your opponent do the moving in the open.
9. Stay away from cover that can chip or splinter. Stay away from corners when rounding them and lean out to view pieces one at a time, like slices of a pie. Alternate high and low lean outs while slicing the pie.
10. Keep scanning and orienting 360 degrees.



+1 Gary Slider (thanks for all your work on packing.org)
+1 Sweatnbullets (your philosophy and common sense agrees with ours)

Your posts are most welcome and will be appreciated here. Thanks, belatedly, for joining this forum, the only one for which I have had time, lately. The mods are exceptional, and the opinions of the membership are well considered.

After lateral movement, a forward hook is more likely to penetrate the OODA loop of the adversary. Whenever it is seen as an offensive move, one’s attorney may cite the need to avoid background casualties and missed shots. Both tunnel vision and fixated threat focus are instincts that make balance and shooting while moving backward tools requiring much training effort. Far better to build on fight/flight instincts in defensive training, because they will become difficult to sublimate, even with the warrior mindset.

Awareness can preempt crises reactions by allowing time for decisions and giving distance for accurate actions. A moments lapse, a slight hesitation, or a determined surprise attack require CQB drills that count on the survival instincts of our reptilian brain.

First drill is always movement off the line, while drawing. Once the gun is clear, the elbow can be thrust down to align the bore. If gross motor skills are what we have to rely on, we practice locking the wrist and gun to the forearm, and using the forearm as the pointing tool. If we visualize a gyro stabilizing the forearm, and put some tension in the shoulder/elbow muscles (no elbow to hip contact, as is taught by some) then the gun-hand-wrist-forearm makes an accurate close range pointer. Retention is enabled by angling the off side and defensive arm toward the threat. Fire control rests with the head and threat focused concentration. Shooting while moving is the goal. Firing a five shot zipper teaches the force cadence for confident accuracy at close ranges. Shooting from the draw to a two hand hold and then to the sights in a fluid dynamic insures the fastest response coupled with the most accuracy. The smiles on the student’s faces when they get it are priceless.


Feels kinda weird responding to this because so much good information has already been posted. BUT...I'm an opinionated SOB and this thread has got me thinking (shh don't tell anyone) Maybe I'll say something in this though that will add more value.

As a combatives instructor I talk alot about breaking your system of training down to three levels, first is your doctrine, or the big picture that allows you to form strategy for dealing with conflict. A doctrine can be applied to any conflict where victory is the option. (not necassarily an argument with the wife...unless you LIKE the couch) For instance, my doctrine has three steps:

1. Break the Midline
2. Close and envelope
3. Fight through the enemy

Once you've established doctrine, you begin working on tactics to achieve your doctrine. Your tactics are always determined by a principle known in the army as METT-TC.
Mission, Equipment, Time Available, Troops Available, Terrain, and Civilian presence. So based on that to break the midline do I move laterally, obliquely, backwards, forwards, or use a j-hook. I have to determine why I'm responding...am I in trouble, is someone else in trouble. Am I armed, and if so what with, how quickly do I have to respond, is it a hostage situation or an ambush, do I have back up with me now, whats the police response time in my area, how many BG's, what is the BG armed with. What are my surroundings, is there cover available, whats behind my target, whats behind me, wheres my escape route, wheres the BG's escape route. How many civilians or bystanders are present, whats their location, whats their acuity. Thes are some questions that you have to ask to determine your tactics in response to a conflict. This all has to be done quickly and confidantly without hesitation.

After you've determine what tactics are applicable to the situation you determine your techniques, am I gonna speed rock and stictch this guy, am I gonna move laterally and point shoot, am I gonna j-hook back and take an aimed shot at flaccid paralysis.

I guess the bottom line is that visualization, and preplanning for an incident is great exercise and a definate asset but you really can't predetermine a response to a situation without knowing all the factors involved with that situation. Especially as an armed citizen when you also have to be concerned with legal repercussions, and more times than not your families safety is dependant on your judgement as much as your safety is.

This has been an awesome thread I hope I've added to it.




Do not feel like the Lone Ranger. There are those that have an unbelievable amount of real world experience that state that aggressive, straight forward movement is all you need. Guys Like Fairbairn, Sykes, and Applegate.

I prefer to be more well rounded.

I appreciate that you sarted this thread. I have been around on a lot of forums and have never seen such a large group or obviously squared away individules with such well thought out opinions. 7677 and I seem to have been lone voices for so long that it is good to hear others that have headed down the same path with the same thought process.

Very good thread Glockman17! Be proud of the information that has come out in it.

Gunthorp, Thank you.

Kikr, nice addition.

Rocky, how can you say so much in so few words?

So much has been covered and it really is all intertwined. Here is another piece of the puzzle in regards to movement. This is something that is often overlooked.

Visual input

When it comes to vision, I see things a little differently than a lot of other people. There is the necessary vision to make the shot (see what you need to see) and there is another aspect of vision that people tend to ignore. I believe that the body will choose the height and the extension of the gun due to the amount of vision that the brain will require to solve the entire problem.

The visual information the the brain requires is covered in my Fluid Situatonal Response.

The ability to make the hit.
The ability to ID the threat.
The ability to have a field of vision to comprehend the entire problem.
The ability to have a field of vision that facilitates movement that has purpose.
The ability to have a field of vision to manuver through and around obstacles.
The ability to recognize the changes in your position in regards to the OODA loop.
The ability to eliminate visual interference and negative visual input.

In my opinion, the dynamics or the chaos of the encounter will dictate the height, the extension, the positon, and whether you use one hand or two hands, in regards to your HG. This is why I feel so strongly about the ability to shoot throughout your draw stroke and from every angle and position. It is my opinon that this natural act (the body picking the best position so that the brain can take in the necessary visual information) is a much better idea than a conditioned act (always bring the gun to line of sight) that is not as well rounded or versatile and has many negatives connected with it.

I think that the ability to put your bullets right where you are looking is a very natural and important ability. This is not some skill that takes time to develop. I could introduce anyone, to their natural ability to do this in a day or two.......and you would own that natural ability for the rest of your life with very little need for maintenance.

I believe that natural abilities should go hand in hand with your conditoned abilities. If your conditoned abilities fail you (such as not being able to get to your line of sight) your natural abilities can take over. All your bases are covered due to being wellrounded, you just keep rolling right along.......as opposed to being flat sided.

"We just give students tools and options....it is their call how well they fit into their box or plan"




Hate to beat it to death, but movement and shooting while moving are supreme tools.

Excellent additions, Kikr
Sweatnbullets, again +1 You’re relating so much with few words it bears rereading. You are observing the whole chessboard.

FWIW we also look at each chess piece in order to avoid unnatural motion or wasted effort. Good movement habits incorporating natural defensive instinct can be choreographed like the draw. Fairbairn , like martial artists of old, realized that the crouch is an instinctive reaction to stress that gives balance and the spring necessary to produce movement. His idea of a stance can be likened to that of a tennis player awaiting service.

The tennis stance allows excellent movement options to the right or left, but it lacks the fore and aft stability to handle recoil or blows from an adversary. The boxer stance, or weak foot forward, is good for one hand retention and two hand sighted shooting, and it uses the strong foot to propel the body to the weak side and forward. On the other hand there is the fencing stance with the strong foot forward. This lends itself to better one hand sighted shooting and movement back and to the strong side. All three stances are just a matter of shifting the angle of the body and pivoting the feet. The idea is to practice transitions between the stances for a dynamic fluidity of motion. We leave to the imagination the diving for cover stance, the scared to death stance, and the falling down after being hit from behind stance.

The two hand hold, while conducive to accuracy when time allows, makes critical survival movement awkward, at best. Instinct wants to keep the arms out away from the body for balance, like the man on a tightrope. After one sees how fast and accurate instinct shooting can be at ranges out to 15 yards, they will reserve two hand fine sight fire to the brain stem in hostage situations. After firing five shot strings, the double tap idea, except from behind cover, may fade away.

One of our last drills, called the four quadrant drill, involves movement only to turn the body and bow or sway for defensive shooting against a sudden surprise attack, our worst nightmare, coming from any or all points abeam and abaft. The head turns to identify the threat during uncover and grip stages of the draw. After that, the goal is to put shots on target safely, quickly, and with the absolute minimum of movement.



Gunthorp, Very nice as usual. To heck with beating this to death, information like this is a gold mine.

I teach what I call the "Get out of the kill zone draw stroke." It is an explosive move that gets you off of the line of attack while simultaneously acquiring your HG. I'm not just talking about side stepping.....it is an explosive move like a wide reciever starting his pass pattern. To accomplish this simultaneously one needs to "think move first." If you do not "think move first", you will hesitate in the kill zone while trying to access your HG. BAD JUJU!

With this explosive movement, I have found the the closed front garment can be much more difficult to deal with than from a static position, or with controlled movement. Here is what I have found to work best for me

Clearing the closed front garment during dynamic movement.

I have been showed many ways to do this. So far none have been completely satifactory. I came up with this procedure, never seen it, never heard of it, but I'm sure someone else is already doing it and has named it.

Take the firing side hand and grab the garment right below the gun.

Rip the garment out and up till the garment is held on the rib cage (makes no different where you wear the holster)

As you are ripping the garment out and up the support side hand is coming to the chest area as in the four count draw stroke. The support side hand presses the ripped garment against the torso and holds it in place. (this is done very quickly)

The firing side hand goes down and aquires the firing grip and draws the gun.

The support side hand releases the garment and mates with the gun at count three or it goes out to the side for balance and to facilitate dynamic movement.
The problems that I was looking to solve are simple.

How to get to the gun in a very effective and dependable manner.

A manner that dractically reduces the chances of missing the garment in the initial grab.

A way to gaurantee that the garment is out of the way and stays out of the way, so you do not end up with a fist full of shirt.

A clearance that helps facilitate dynamic movement out of the kill zone. With this type of movement I found that the dynamics of the garment changes. The twisting of the body, the wind generated by the initial explosion out of the kill zone, and the natural tendency to swing the arms to help facilitate the movement tend to leave the garment tighter to the body than from a static position.

Those were the problems, and I have to admit that it took me about three seconds to come up with my answer.

The full, firing side hand grasp of the garment is a very dependable motion.

It is your primary hand.

The dependability of "out and up" is a key factor.

It does not require some akward twisting or reaching of the support side hand that takes away from your ability to initiate your explosive movement out of the kill zone.

Reaching the support side hand around to your
4:00 is just not dependable and leaves very little very little room to pull "out and up."

Now what about the support side hand? This is where many people may decide that the clearance is not for them. As a Modern Techniques guy it is absolutely perfect. My default drawstroke brings my suppot side hand explosively to my pectoral region. This indexes my support hand in a position to aquire my count three (compressed ready.) So my thinking is if my hand is going to be coming there in most cases, (outside of bad breath distances) why not have it hold my garment up? I found that it worked perfecty and was extremely reliable and fast. It worked with appendix, at the 3:00 and at the
4:00 position. The support side hand did have to come further past the centerline at the 4:00 position. No big deal, it naturally knew where it needed to go with zero conscious thought.

I also found the the explosive movement of the support side hand to the pectoral region hepled facilitate my dynamic movement out of the kill zone.

I know, I know, I am still going to have to have a one handed draw. But the truth be told, there is no one handed draw (from a close front garment) that is as dependable as a two handed draw. I want to be as sure as I possibly can within the known context.

I came up with a catchy name, if this if it is indeed my technique.

I call it "clearing a closed front garment." Kind of catchy isn't it? LMAO!



Originally Posted by kikr

Not to be captain obvious but gotta say it:

The ability to Accept the threat. More about mindset than vision. But I encounter it frequently, where people say "this can't be happening" Or "a nice guy like that wouldnt hurt anyone" If it feels wrong it is wrong and denying the danger only increases it.

kiker, It is obvious.... but not to many. All of this is intertwined, mindset, vision, reaction, movement, tactics, and response.

It is obvious....... but look how few people talk about it. This thread started as a simple movement thread, but there is no way to talk just about movement without covering the things that are intertwined into it.

Movement must have purpose and effective movement has certain factors that must enter into the equation.



Away is allways prefered even if it makes it harder for you to hit them, IMO the only reasons to go toward the BG is 3rd party protection, thats where cover is, you at at contact distance and need to get control of their weapon.


Saying the attacker is armed with a knife or a firearm, dosn't matter. Pressing the attacker is the way to go, offence is better than defence.

It does make a difference a knife is only good at close range and a better weapon than a gun in the right hands, you have to be somewhat skilled to hit a motionless target at 21' any idiot can hit you at 10' just by pulling the trigger, if their gun is out you may not make it 21' or less.


If it was so wrong in the "real" world, why would the US Armed forces teach push the atacker?

I might consider pressing the attacker with 20 guys behind me with automatic weapons.

Your decision for fight or flight will not be a conscious decision it will depend on the circumstances at the time and on your training which just shooting at the range may not help with, pulling the trigger is the easy part its your tactics that will decide the outcome more than anything else.


I'm not saying blindly, but I won't retreat when fired upon. Stand my ground yes, push foward when the time comes yes, retreat..... NO.

You might be surprised how willing you are to retreat / gain distance when someone points a gun / shooting at you, its human nature to move away from gunfire. If the poice are trained to increase distance and they get shot at more than any other group of people out there it can't be all that bad an idea.

Remember tv is not the real world its entertainment if the hero backed away and seeked cover he wouldn't be the hero, the news isn't much better they spin it how they want to get the reaction they want.



Heck you like it so far....check this out....

Four Elements of Accurate Shooting with Dynamic Movement

There are four elements that must be in place to be able to make hits on a full run with a handgun. They are quite simple, but am very surprised that they have never been written down before. My definition of accurate is inside of the thoracic cavity.

(1) Absolute confidence in your threat focused skills. You must have your threat focused skills down to a subconsciously competent level.

(2) Elimination of negative visual input. The gun must not be in your line of sight. You must not be able to see the sight alignment. You should only be able to verify that the arm, hand, and entire weapon is aligned on the targeted area.

(3) One handed shooting skills. You must be able to shoot very well one handed. Two handed shooting on the run is not effective or efficient.

(4) The ability to use the support side hand and arm in a natural manner to stabilize the firing side hand.

That is all there is to it. Take it out to the range....play with it for a while. If you do not have threat focused skills get some training.

"We just give students tools and options....it is their call how well they fit into their box or plan"




Just to be fair, my plan for actions on is to scoot away from the family as per my combat doctrine. If my wife is with me then her and the kid are to find a hole to hide in while I either shield them or shoot and scoot away from them. Either way she's in charge of getting through to 911.

I will say this, all my training has always stated that planning on have the significant other clear the area is not a reasonable plan. The significant other as a general rule, unless they are well trained, or really wants the insurance money, will not leave.

As far as with my kid, my plan is to cover him with myself as I go E&E and try to clear out of the danger zone. There is no way I try very hard not to have him out of my sight in normal situation. In a critical incident like this I wouldnt want him more than an arms length away.



It's not so cut and dried for me. All the theories and training don't cover a wife who is wheelchair bound with severe MS. She will be unable to move herself to a safer place or seek cover if things go wrong . My options are pretty much limited movement to protect her and enter the fight with a no holds barred attitude. It really puts me in more of a body guard role than just "self" defense. While no spring chicken any more I still can shoot, have trained alot with a blade in the past, fight dirty and use accumulated dirty tricks and guile accumulated over the years. My primary tactic in protecting her still needs to be situational avoidance and awareness. Too many scumbags look at the handicapped as easy victims...




By John Farnum:

Last weekend, in concert with several colleagues, I conducted a Close-Range Combatives Course in SC.  We spent a day in live-fire drills and a second day in role-playing drills using Airsoft pistols.  Scenarios were allowed to "free-play," and students were confronted with hostage situations, car-jackings, and numerous other contacts with VCAs.

My observations confirmed what has been observed at the NTI and every other close-range, violent-encounter drill in which I've been involved.  Students invariably came to the identical conclusion:

When confronted with imminent violence at close range, who (1) aggressively (but precisely) explode off the line of  force, without delay, and continue to move aggressively, rarely get shot, and unfailingly inflict lethal wounds upon astonished VCAs. Who (2) move off the line but then stop moving, get shot more often.  Who (3) hesitate, dither, or surrender meekly, seldom live through it.

A precise, but explosive, counterattack, combined with unrelenting and aggressive movement upsets VCAs' plans so completely that they rarely regain the offensive.  Successful students don't let VCA(s) breath.  They finish the fight!

There is little doubt that the longer you allow yourself to be under the control and domination of a VCA, the more likely you'll suffer serious harm.  There are surely risks involved in acting immediately and decisively, but there are even greater risks that attach to doing nothing.   When they commence their attack, VCAs are always weakest and most vulnerable.  After they gain control over you, they will become progressively stronger as you become progressively weaker.  In the end, when you're gagged and tied up, all options will evaporate.  You'll perish, wishing you had acted when you had the chance!

"Delay in the use of force, and hesitation to accept responsibility for its employment, will always be interpreted as weakness. Such indecision will encourage further disorder, and will eventually necessitate measures more severe than those which would have sufficed in the first instance."

- United States Marine Corps Small Wars Manual, (1940) page 27, paragraph (d)

Back in the days when US Marines were armed all the time, they served as escorts on trains delivering supplies to remote outposts.  These trains were often the targets of bandits looking for an easy score.  Standing orders for all Marines so deployed directed that, in the event of an armed assault on the train, all Marines will start firing immediately!  It didn't matter what the odds, every Marine fired, without delay.  Bandits were thus put on notice that there would never be an "easy score."  Whatever happened, whatever the ultimate outcome, bandit blood would be on the deck, without fail, before it was all over.

Not surprisingly, armed attacks dropped off dramatically and eventually stopped altogether!  A far cry from today's universal "surrender-at-the-drop-of-a-hat" policy, eh?




By Brian K. LaMaster:

For the most part, we would all like to believe that we will act or react in an appropriate amount of time in a situation. Truth of the matter is, will you really react the way you think you will?!

Many of us have heard that we are most likely to be confronted within twenty-one feet. My understanding that one of the reasons this saying started was due to the distances at which law enforcement encounters occur. Truth of the matter is that we are most likely to be attacked within ten feet. If I am attacked by someone who is twenty-one feet away, I believe that it is a good day for me!

The purpose of this article is to hopefully get you to understand just how much time you do or do not have to react. Personally, I do not feel this has been put into proper perspective by a lot of instructor's. This information is, in my opinion, critical to your survival because you need to know how much time you do or do not have to react in a situation and that your current firearms training (if any) may not be enough to keep you alive in a situation.

Now, if you have been around for very long in the gun community you have probably heard of the Tueller drill. This drill may also be somewhat responsible for the saying of you are likely to be attacked within twenty-one feet. Okay, it is safe to say based upon the Tueller drill findings that most people can cover twenty-one feet of ground in about one and a half seconds to two seconds. And that you can probably successfully react by drawing and shoot the attacker who is twenty-one feet away and is advancing towards you. So, if you are ten feet away from an attacker who is holding a knife, how much time do you have to react to the threat if they make the first move? Well, first of all you must understand the reaction time continuum. On the average, reaction times can vary from .4 seconds to .8 seconds. This means you have very little time to perceive their movement and react to it. Alright, you have about three- fourths of a second to react to someone who is moving towards you at ten feet away. If your reaction time is one half to three-fourths of a second, that leaves you with little or no time to react!

More distance equals more reaction time. When you are close to an attacker and you move laterally, how much more distance are you really creating? Not as much as you might think! How much distance you create depends upon the method of footwork you are using to move. If an attacker makes the first move and you are able to react and you move laterally, more than likely you are not really creating much distance away from the attacker in order to survive! In our training and research we have experienced some not-so-good news.

First of all, our numbers are from our training exercises and are only being presented for you to begin the process of researching things yourself. In our research we used people who have not trained in drawing and firing their gun from concealment. The purpose of this is because a large percentage of people who have CCW or CHL permits do not train as often as they should. One of the advantages our participants had was that they knew the other person was going to move. We did our best at not trying to anticipate their movement. We conducted each test several times to see if we got similar results. I will try to summarize the results.

We started with the attacker at twenty-one feet away and the person who was the defender was able to respond by drawing and firing shots at the attacker. This was of no surprise to us. However, the defender still got cut and even knocked down because they did not move off the line of attack. From there we started the knife wielding attacker out at ten feet. The attacker made the first move and within one second the attacker was on the victim and had cut him at least once. After that, we had the defender move laterally by sidestepping. About one-half second into the attacker's movement the defender started his lateral movement. On the average, the defender was only able to cover about four feet of ground. Moving laterally does not created distance away from the attacker fast enough in order to survive especially when using the sidestepping method of footwork. In some instances the defender drew their gun only after being cut multiple times by the attacker. Now, when we placed someone who has trained extensively in drawing and firing from concealment combined with unarmed combat tactics, we found that one is more likely to have more positive results.

Starting at the ten foot mark while remaining still, the more experienced person was able to successfully draw their gun and get at least one shot off. Again, they experienced multiple cuts and were knocked down as a result of not moving. When moving laterally the defender used cross-stepping method of footwork which kept the defender ahead of the attacker and out of reach for the most part. The defender was able to create about ten feet of ground before finally getting cut. I might ad that for the most part the defender only received cuts on his free side arm since he was drawing and shooting one handed! All of this happened in just a little over one and one-half seconds and it took that long only because the defender was able to create so much distance by cross-stepping.

Moving the threat even closer, we started the attacker at five feet out. Needless to say, the inexperienced defender didn't have a chance to even go for his gun. Not once did the defender get his gun out! You might want to read that again. He didn't have a chance to move laterally either. At this close distance you are pretty much toast if you think that you are going to get your gun out and use it when the attacker makes the first move. So, after several attempts failed by the rookie, we placed the experienced individual in the same situation. Well, at times he was successful at getting the gun out of the holster, but did not get to fire any shots. Again, he knew the attack was coming. One of the things that gave him the advantage was the attacker's cues. This is where knowing the attacker's rituals comes in handy. We never did tell him that defender was picking up on them and what they were. However, everyone does them! So, you had better learn them! The experienced defender really didn't have any time to move laterally either without being cut several times.

One thing that a lot of people tend to forget is that you are most likely to be attacked in low-light conditions. So, for that very reason we conducted several exercises in the dark just after sunset when your eyes are adjusting to the lighting conditions. Let me tell you that things change greatly and if you do not train in these conditions, then you are fooling yourself that you have even the slightest chance to survive. Not to mention, that you are probably not going to be able to hit your target if you are able to draw and shoot.

Alright, as you can imagine, the results were not good. Keep in mind that the participants were previously "focusing on drawing their gun." With that in mind, we switched things up a little and told the experienced person to respond with unarmed combatives first and then draw his gun if he was able. Even in the low lighting conditions the experienced person in unarmed combatives was able to successfully respond against the attacker who was holding a knife and was five feet away. We found that you need to move first and react to the knife attack with an unarmed move and then draw your gun if that is the thing to do. After several exercises our results were more pleasing when responding with unarmed combatives than going straight for your gun. Very few times did the defender get cut where he may not have be able to draw and shoot, or remain in the fight. If you are able to deliver a counter strike to the knife attack that slows the attacker down even for one second, that will buy you more time to attempt to draw your gun or create more distance in order to do so.

In short, responding with unarmed combatives will keep you in the fight longer than by going straight for your gun. Going straight for your gun most of the time is not going to be a wise idea. And, if you move laterally or other directions with a step-n-drag method of footwork, you will not create enough distance to survive!

There are directions of movement you can utilize that will take you away from the danger allowing you more time to react, draw and fire. In addition, there are other methods of footwork that will allow you to traverse ground much quicker! We will discuss both of those topics at a later time.

When facing an attacker that has you at gunpoint at close distances, things don't really look any better! In fact, at close distances you are simply going to be exchanging bullets if you use the sidestepping method of footwork and two handed shooting stances such as the Isosceles and Weaver. Exchanging bullets is not a good idea in my book! In order to survive a situation where an attacker has a gun drawn on you, you need to do one of two things. Become a small fast moving target creating as much distance as you can. Or, move in on the attacker past the muzzle of his gun and disarm him or draw your gun as you move in. And of course, there are good and bad ways to do this. If you want some ideas of good ways to do this, you might be interested in this article.

Train hard, train often, and train realistically!

Brian K. LaMaster is a blackbelt in Kobudo and trains in firearms on a daily basis. Brian is a certified NRA instructor and teaches Ohio CCW courses, Advanced Pistol Fighting courses, and much more.


The Rules of Gunfighting
David E. Petzal

(Editor's Note: Normally, this forum is dedicated to peaceful pursuits. However, SFC Frick speaks much wisdom. I am giving him a meritorious promotion to Command Sergeant Major.)

Drill Sergeant Joe B. Fricks Rules For A Gunfight

1. Forget about knives, bats and fists. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. Bring four times the ammunition you think you could ever need.

2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap - life is expensive. If you shoot inside, buckshot is your friend. A new wall is cheap - funerals are expensive

3. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.

4. If your shooting stance is good, you're probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.

5. Move away from your attacker and go to cover. Distance is your friend. (Bulletproof cover and diagonal or lateral movement are preferred.)

6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a semi or full-automatic long gun and a friend with a long gun.

7. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.

8. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running. Yell "Fire!" Why "Fire"? Cops will come with the Fire Department, sirens often scare off the bad guys, or at least cause then to lose concentration and will.... and who is going to summon help if you yell "Intruder," "Glock" or "Winchester?"

9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on "pucker factor" than the inherent accuracy of the gun.

10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.

11. Stretch the rules. Always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.

12. Have a plan.

13. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won't work. "No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy."

14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible, but remember, sheetrock walls and the like stop nothing but your pulse when bullets tear through them.

15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.

16. Don't drop your guard.

17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. Practice reloading one-handed and off-hand shooting. That's how you live if hit in your "good" side.

18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. Smiles, frowns and other facial expressions don't (In God we trust. Everyone else keep your hands where I can see them.)

19. Decide NOW to always be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.

20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

21. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet if necessary, because they may want to kill you.

22. Be courteous to everyone, overly friendly to no one.

23. Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with anything smaller than "4".

25. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. "All skill is in vain when an Angel blows the powder from the flintlock of your musket." At a practice session, throw you gun into the mud, then make sure it still works. You can clean it later.

26. Practice shooting in the dark, with someone shouting at you, when out of breath, etc.

27. Regardless of whether justified of not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.

28. The only thing you EVER say afterwards is, "He said he was going to kill me. I believed him. I'm sorry, Officer, but I'm very upset now. I can't say anything more. Please speak with my attorney."

Finally, Drill Sergeant Frick's Rules For Un-armed Combat.

1. Never be unarmed."





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