Saturday, February 20, 2010

Get on your knees and Aim

In the world of "concealed & carry" and self-defense with handguns there is an well perpetuated axiom that if one is forced to use their handgun in self-defense that it is likely to occur under the following conditions:

less than 5 rounds fired at seven yards in low light conditions.

Whether the very old statistical data is true or not it has created some very significant problems in the CCW world (imho). One is that it inbreeds laziness on a certain level. To the extent that even the gun manufacturers have caught onto this given the current crop of 0oz plastic .380s with non-existent sights.

We have in the gun-carry culture become so focused on ourselves that many of us would rather not be "inconvenienced" by carrying a full or medium size handgun. Steel, plastic or otherwise.

Over reliance on tiny back up guns as primary pieces on a regular basis, combined with the vast majority of our ammo being expended at the 7 yards range is that it creates inherently bad habits. Sub-consciously we place self-imposed limitations on our fighting ability. Telling ourselves ahead of time through this prediction what the fight is going to be, usually with statements such as “Oh I'm just running down to the _______”.

In truth the least talked about, the least trained for situation is contending with a mass shooter. Yet, in no small irony it is usually the main motivator for people seeking out a CCW permit. If we are going to go up against a well armed aggressor we need to be prepared to fight and kill him (or her), and do so accurately.

Going to the range and expending a few magazines at short distances in no way prepares you for this.

Work in Executive Protection even a short amount of time and you realize very quickly that there is general problematic area you are going to have to deal with should the feces hit the impeller.

Other people. Innocent other people.

We (as the good guys) are responsible for the terminal resting place of every round fired from our weapons. Shooting and wounding or killing an innocent individual while you are attempting to kill the M-S-I-Q (Mass Shooter In Question) is not only unacceptable but will likely lead to your facing of a jury pool.

Our shots fired at a M-S-I-Q can be farther than you think and through a narrower gap. Next time you are walking to the office coffee pot or taking your kids back to Sunday School pace off the distance from one end of the hall way to the other. It's most likely not seven yards. Given some hallways in modern homes shots could be over ten and fifteen yards.

Mass Shooters are generally well armed with everything from high capacity rifles and/or handguns to pipe bombs. What they lack in skill they make up for in an abundance of firepower. Ourselves on the other hand will generally be less-than-adequately armed with a pistol and hopefully at the very least a full spare reload. So we need to be better trained than that of the aggressor.

There are a few fundamental things we need to understand when returning fire with “the peoples” running and fleeing as an attack occurs. Our reaction will be just that. A reaction.

Be realistic in understanding that in such a scenario that as loud as gunfire is, it can also be very readily muffled inside of a building and distorted to the point where your brain decides that it must really be something else.

Your first encounter in a mass shooting situation may be seeing a fleeing panicked crowd and over hearing “GUN!” before you identify who the M-S-I-Q is.

The second thing you realize is that time is on your side... to a degree. You won't necessarily have minutes but you will have seconds. So use your time wisely and most importantly develop and implement a plan.

A plan?

Yes a plan. We're not talking about laying siege to Tyre rather K.I.S.S. as dad said.

Get to cover. Cover being something that will stop incoming bullets. Despite all of those heroic images you have in your mind you stand a pretty damn good chance of getting shot when guns pointed in your direction start going off.

Three, Get on your knees and aim.

Dropping into and shooting from the "California Prayer" position aids in concealing your position from the M-S-I-Q. Because even bad guys threat assess.

Getting low also presents your targets vitals better and since people trying to flee or hide from a roaming gunman will either crawl into the fetal position, lay down or crouch run, lowering your position puts your muzzle and target generally above other people.

In the likelihood of a missed shot your round stands a better chance of being lodged into the upper portion of a wall.

On the bad guy's anatomy you are given an upward angle on the head and better exposure (albeit small) to the throat. But this also allows for bullet connectivity to the Cervical Vertebrae and the Clavicle area. Not to mention the Carotid arteries.

Shots placed into the torso will angle slightly upward. And upward means a longer wound channel. Longer wound channel means more blood loss and increased chance of lung deflation. A bad guy focused on trying to catch his breath means he slows down. His focus becomes less on shooting and more on breathing. It also makes him a more stable target.

Shooting from a low knee position also places the lower abdomen and crotch area in a direct line of sight. This means lots of soft tissue damage AND more importantly better access to the Femoral and Deep Femoral arteries. The targeting of this area if you are shooting a heavier caliber handgun round also means straight on availability to the hip bones. Not even the most PCP laden gunman can will broken bone to work or support the rest of the body.

For yourself shooting from cover, prone or from your knees may also mean having the opportunity to shoot from a rest, and you need to get every advantage you can in order to do one thing.


Armed in society means a greater responsibility. You have removed yourself as merely a gun owner and placed yourself on a voluntary pedestal. We all need to shoot, train....and be armed accordingly.

The fight will always be what it's going to be. Not what you want it to be.

Because someday you may be facing down a terrorist driving a bulldozer with your pistol like Israeli citizen Yaki Asael did in July of 2008.


Anonymous said...

Going low around the strong-side of solid objects works also. Filing cabinets, ATMs, bookshelves, vending machines. Don't be afraid to knock/flip things over too if it will help with cover/concealment. Carrying concealed, your's is the element of surprise. Also, many people will say "shoot till they go down" my suggestion is "shoot till they won't get up."

Anonymous said...

Man great perspective as always. Gives me something to reconsider when I carry my Ruger LCP over my Sig 228.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Matt! At our church, we train to "take a knee" and fire at the M-S-I-Q. Ceiling tiles are a lot more replaceable than lives.

Sheepdog said...

As always very informative and interesting. Thanks for the information that you share.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion to go to my knees. It makes good intuitive sense and yet I never thought of it. I frequently use it while handgun hunting -- why not in this kind of scenario? Yet it simply had not occurred to me before, so again, thanks. This is a great blog.

Kerry said...

"The targeting of this area if you are shooting a heavier caliber handgun round also means straight on availability to the hip bones." Not to ignite the 'caliber wars', but which do you consider to be "heavier"? I presume you include .45, .40, .44 mag, .357 mag, maybe 10mm. I of course exclude 9x18, .380, .38 special. Notice what I haven't said? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hoo-yah Sheep dog

Keep them coming

Be safe

hotel26 said...

I disagree with the get on your knees advice.
Take a knee, yes; it allows fairly rapid movement if necessary but knees? me I'm getting too long in the tooth and unfit to boot for that to work.

Carl (not Carlson) said...

Hotel 26

Just let gravity do all the work.

Will said...

Any time I get to the outdoor range, I shoot my carry guns on the 40yard tin can range. With my snubbies, I do it double action. Those possible very long shots is why I have not removed the single action sear on them, although they have pocket hammers instead of the original spur type. If I can bounce soup cans a couple times a cylinder, DA, offhand, I should be ok for torso hits at that range.
Occasionally, I get the chance to shoot them at 100yards.

I would be more inclined to drop down for an up angle shot if the target is close, as that will give bystanders a better chance, but the angle change on a long shot probably won't make much difference. Hmmm, might need to measure that out.
One point you didn't cover is multiple targets. Although not as common, I would be inclined to take a few more seconds to make a visual/aural sweep before lighting him up. Spoil your whole day if #2 sees you while you're dealing with #1.
Also, would be helpful to spot any one else looking to take out the shooter. I would be looking for someone doing what I would be, that is, moving toward the sound of the guns. Bucking the stream of people fleeing the action might be noticeable to someone doing the same.
How can one avoid being mistaken for another MISQ? My thinking is to leave it holstered until I am in a good shooting location/position, draw and shoot, and get it re-holstered ASAP. Maybe reload or top off if more than half the guns ammo has been fired, just in case #2 suddenly shows up. With an auto, I would swap mags with it in the holster. Don't want to look like a bad guy any longer than I have to, might be hazardous to my health!
Also, I always carry at least one reload, with a couple more in the car, just in case.
I would be looking for body armor on the shooter. Which, of course, complicates things a lot.

Perhaps you could expand on these points.

threadbndr said...

I always shoot (at least) a fifty box in my CC gun each time I'm at the range. I've also (twice) shot the little beast without hearing protection on, just because I don't think the hypothetical goblins will let me get out the sonic muffs LOL.

After reading this, I'm adding some kneeling and crouching practice if I can talk the range master into it. I really want to take a live fire tactics class one of these days. The Marine!goth and I have played lazer tag (with board pointers) a couple of times through the house - it was a blast. It taught me a lot about cover and how to 'clear' a room.

As always, food for thought and action.

Beat And Release said...

Oh great, another must read blog I've had to add to the blogroll of honor.


Anonymous said...

Have a son deploying to Afghanistan. I want him to have a few gold coins "just in case." Any suggestions? Country of origin, denominations/ Something to bribe his way out of a bad situation.

Matthew said...

If I had to pick Gold coins from outside the U.S. and be able to get access to them pdq I would probably go with something like Mexico or Central America. If you have the means Switzerland would be best. France would be another.

The thing with gold coins and operating in unfriendly environments is that you don't want it to scream American obviously, but for a soldier you don't want him to be mistaken for a spook either. Canada, England, Australia are all "Allied" countries so it wouldn't do him any good.

And by doing him any good what I mean is down the trail when some third party comes across the coinage. Obviously persons dealing with him will know right off the bat. So deflecting a more obscure country means when the guy who traded safe passage for your son gets asked "where did you get zis gkold koin!?" he can say from the nice National Geographic reporter.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Mexican coins are easy for us to obtain.

Bret said...

Great column. I like to read common sense tactics from people like you.

Anonymous said...

FYI, the new post "Drive Like You Mean It" doesn't appear to be working properly.

Kathleenie said...

Also not seeing Drive Like You Mean It, and really wish I could!

Enjoy all your postings.

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