Meta : Critical Skills and Goals for Personal Protection

I am VERY fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with and listen to some of the brightest minds and greatest thinkers of the personal protection game. Over the last few years, I’ve listened to several of these well respected trainers and researchers present skills they believe really win gunfights based on their personal experiences and research projects. After hearing 4-5 of them, I started to pick up on the overlap. If 5 people from separate backgrounds are saying the same things, that’s a clue that those skills might be worth prioritizing in our training. The first two segments are summaries of regular people’s documented fights, whether reported to the NRA or on CCTV. The remainder of the summaries are  lessons taken from actual gunfighters and the training of successful gunfighters. I think there are very powerful lessons when we observe the overlap between the real incidents with what high-level trainers are teaching their students. Here we go.

Realities of Real Gun Fights – Statistics and Lessons

Photo Credit: Claude Werner

I’ll start with my friend and mentor, Claude Werner – The Tactical Professor. Claude annually compiles the skills that private citizens needed to succeed in their confrontations from The Armed Citizen reports. Here’s his list of needed skills from the first half of 2014:

  • Average number of shots needed 1.43 (most – 2)
  • Retrieve from Storage (handgun) 32%
  • Move safely from place to place at ready 22%
  • Draw to shoot 20%
  • Challenge from ready 15%
  • Intervene in another’s situation 15%
  • Draw to challenge 12%
  • Engage from ready (handgun) 12%
  • Hold at gunpoint until police arrive 12%
  • Retrieve from Storage (unknown) 10%
  • Shoot with non-threats downrange 10%
  • Draw to ready (seated in auto) 7%
  • Engage multiple adversaries 7%
  • Challenge with non-threats downrange 7%
  • Shoot menacing animal 7%
  • Shoot in midst of others 7%
  • Draw to ready 5%
  • Struggle 5%
  • Retrieve from Storage (shotgun) 5%
  • Draw pistol from wife’s purse 2%
  • ID with flashlight 2%
  • Shoot animal from grounded position 2%
  • Shoot with shotgun 2%
  • Retrieve from Storage (rifle) 0%
  • Reload 0%
Photo Credit : ASP

Next in the list of great analysts, is John Correia of Active Self Protection. He has made a business out of analyzing and watching CCTV gunfights and robberies. He has watched over 10,000 incidents on video and recently made a presentation on it. Short Barrel Shepherd did a summary about it here. I’ll drop some bullet points to summarize below.

  • Most gunfights aren’t entangled. Once the gun comes out people tend to separate. Pre-firearm access, empty-handed skills are critical
  • Attacks happen in transitional spaces (parking lots, cash registers, ATMs, upon entering or exiting building or vehicle, etc)
  • Lack of awareness (task-fixation in public) creates big problems
  • 1/3 of the incidents have multiple attackers, with usually only 2 getting shot at before the rest scatter.
  • Whoever lands the first shots, wins
  • In a gunfight, the pistol has to be ready for action NOW due to time pressure (no empty chamber)
  • Cops initiate contact-Criminals start fight vs. Criminals initiate contact – Citizen starts the fight. A plus for us citizens.
  • Tom Given’s ‘car length’ gunfight distance seems to be the norm, though some have been as far as 22 yds.
  • Multiple shot strings are needed to get bad guy to stop
  • Lots of one handed gun usage (for better or worse)
  • After the gun comes out, people move
  • People tend to use concealment and cover interchangeably, and people don’t seem to shoot at what they can’t see, even if their bullets could easily penetrate
  • The desire to close distance with an adversary is hard to resist
  • Malfunctions happen
  • Knife attacks are brutal and rapid, and don’t take skill to pull off.
  • Weapon Mounted Lights haven’t played a significant role in the documented shootings

Training to Dominate Your Gunfight

John Daub of KR Training and his HSOI Blog made a great post about this as well. Here it is. He did an EXCELLENT and well reasoned summary on this very topic as it pertains to ‘average trainees’. I’ll repost his summary below. Take the time to read that full post.

  • drawing from concealment
    • And perhaps moving on that draw (like a side-step then stop; not shoot-and-move)
  • getting multiple hits
  • in a small area
    • 5″ circle? 6″ circle? 8″ circle? consider human anatomy
  • from close range
    • Within a car length, so say 0-5 yards
  • quickly
    • 3 seconds or less
  • using both hands, or maybe one hand (or the other)

Next I’ll cover Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs of HiTS out of Texas. I had the pleasure of listening to their presentation What Really Matters at the Range-Master Tactical Conference this year. I wrote about it here. I’ll recap below.

  • “Train for maximum efficiency at an assessment speed on an acceptable target” -HiTS. The speed at which you can see, interpret, and choose where to hit a target. Asking yourself, “Is my target still there? No? Stop Shooting. Yes? Keep shooting”
  • Acceptable target- Is a target about the size of a grapefruit (The black of a B-8 bullseye target) Heart and brain are both about this size.
  • Always be thinking you’ll need a failure drill (ending with a headshot) and practice with that in mind.
  • Draw but don’t touch the trigger until you have a good sight track. This isn’t good for shooting, but it’s good for people management.
  • Don’t touch the trigger until you have satisfied these three. Target ID, Objective reason to shoot, and your firearm is aligned with that shoot target.
  • Train what is hard (50 and 100 yd pistol shooting, for instance)
  • Train to an accuracy standard, not a time.
  • You WILL be able to see movement of your target peripherally while maintaining a hard focus on your sights. Use your sights.
  • All you REALLY need in a carry gun is sights I can see, a usable trigger, and reliability
  • LAPD trains to a .5 second split time, their shootings are shot WELL.
  • If your splits are faster than .3 seconds, you’ll fire unintentionally until the signal to stop makes it to your hands. (force science)

Lastly, I’ll cover John Hearne’s excellent lecture Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why: Understanding Human Performance When Death Is On The Line. He presented this at Paul-E-Palooza in Ohio this year (and will again at next year’s Tactical Conference at DARC) John’s research has lead him to a summary list of necessary skills for dominating wins in gunfights. I’ll give the synopsis.

  • Our goal should be to remove novelty, if we have seen it before, we will be able to act more quickly. Always seek exposure to novel stimuli, and war-game scenarios.
  • Build valid mental maps, develop emotional bookmarks to positive outcomes, Force On Force, video simulators, thinking and shooting, address physiological effects of stress
  • Develop robust motor programs. Break tasks down into steps, start slow, build speed, find failure points. Build new pathways in mind for motor programs (myelination)
  • Primary Pistol Skills – Failure drill from holster, failure drill from ready, moving off-line, minimal reloading
  • Secondary Pistol Skills – Type 1/2 clearing, one handed shooting, precision work
  • Tertiary Pistol Skills- Type 3 malf. clearing, shoot and move, one handed malf.
  • Allocate resources based on probability of need, focus on primary skills until overlearned
  • Keep skills and mental maps refreshed. It’s about recency over volume. (dry-fire at least weekly, life-fire at least quarterly)
  • Make People Think with a gun in hand.
  • Train emotional control via books, visualization, combat sports, rock climbing, talking with gun-fight survivors, etc.

In Closing

This post is plenty long, but it should be pretty clear which skills are needed often, work well, and are worthy of your precious practice time. I hope you found this summary of summaries worthwhile.

 “The Path” Tshirt. Check them out.

If you find value in my posts, please consider subscribing and sharing. And please do your Amazon shopping through our affiliate link.


Book Review: Surveillance Detection – The Art of Prevention

A critical aspect of personal protection is situational awareness. An important facet of situational awareness is the ability to know if we’re being watched or monitored. We as private citizens should practice surveillance detection. We want to notice if a person or group of people are patterning our behavior and monitoring us or our families (or businesses) with the intention of some sort of attack.

The surveillance could be as simple as someone loitering outside of a gas station for opportunistic crime or panhandling, through stalkers with violent intent, or as complicated as years long terrorism plots. Surveillance is a critical part of all of these criminal activities, and therefor surveillance detection is a topic you should understand.

I was interested in this topic, so I found the book Surveillance Detection – The Art of Prevention on Amazon and started to study.

The book defines terms and dispels some myths that exist around this field. Throughout the book the authors use anecdotal and hypothetical examples to illustrate their points and allow the reader to more easily visualize the techniques described. They carry the reader from designing to implementing a SD program, all the way through what to do if surveillance is detected. It’s quite thorough.

The authors give ideas for individual, small business, corporation, law enforcement, and even military level surveillance detection operations. You can be as elaborate as you choose to be.

I’ll quickly run down the major facets of SD and note things I found useful. The steps to building a personal surveillance detection program include:

  • A Risk/Threat assessment in which you list all possible threats you face, the relative likelihood of those threats, the risk factors that caused you to include them on the assessment sheet, the preventative course of action to mitigate that threat, and the residual risk AFTER you have taken the preventative course of action.
  • Route reviews which are sketched on maps that include your daily travel routes, where surveillance (SV) would be able to watch you on your routes, finding parts of the route that overlap so SV can find you each day, identifying likely attack points, and determining SV’s likely cover stories and possible escape routes. For most people like us, these are in our neighborhoods, at work, and at any other regular stops we make.
  • Building reviews which can be sketched on google maps printouts of your home/office. With this tool, you can determine the most likely places of your home/office that SV will be looking at. You can see where they will observe from, and determine where you can watch them observe you (both from inside and outside the structure). I did a similar exercise in this post.

arialhouse

  • Tips on observation. There are three categories: areas, people, and vehicles. The authors describe how to observe an area for possible SV, using arching visual fields and looking at hard corners of buildings and vehicles (think parking lot at grocery store). Noting features of people and vehicles are also covered. Practicing these skills allow you to “be a good witness”. They are valuable to everyone.

The book also goes into depth about building an operational plan for team-based SD. This is more in depth than we need to go, but I found it interesting.

While the focus of the book is primarily on a higher level, team based, corporate SD team (because it’s the most complicated), a little imagination will give you ideas that you can implement for your family. I found this to be an interesting read and worth of my time.

Thanks,

Mark
If you find value in my ramblings, please subscribe, share, and shop through our amazon affiliate link.


Children, Guns, Home Invaders, and Likely Events

Recently on a Facebook discussion, a question was posed to a group of generally very well trained gun people. The original poster is a high level military guy, and a much tougher man, better shooter, etc. than I’ll ever be. He asked this question:

main post

So he’s concerned with Home Defense (HD) presumably because he wants to protect his family. So he wants to be able to get to his tools if his home is invaded. He thinks he’ll need them so fast that safes and lock boxes are out of the question. Most of you already understand the issue here, as did most of the respondees to his original post. This decision process is showing that he believes it is more likely to need a firearm than it is for the child to happen upon the firearms or gain access through toddler cleverness.

We, as gun people, need to keep in mind the relative chances of different events when we prioritize how we layer our home security. It seems that total novices as well as extremely competent gun owners can suffer the same failure in logic. I won’t bore you with numbers, but which do YOU think is more probable:

  1. A team of home invaders kicks down the door during dinner requiring a sub 10 second reaction time to start dealing justice… or…
  2. A child that lives in your house comes into contact with your weapons (in whatever condition) in the several years between birth and being old enough to fully understand the dangers of firearms and resist the temptation to play even when no adults are present?

It’s pretty obvious. Lock away any firearms you aren’t carrying.

This gentleman is banking on height over floor being a deterrent:
dude 2

I posted this video:

He then said something like, “A parent would know if his kid was spiderman and wouldn’t store guns where he could get them.” Sure, but would you want the first time you found out he/she was a climber to be when you see their lifeless body next to your carry gun under the fridge? Me neither.

Last:

dude 3

So he’s banking on height and condition 3 (mag in, empty chamber). If you give a child enough time to tinker with something, they eventually will figure it out, even if it’s by dumb luck. They are learning, problem-solving beings. They’re people and they’re watching.

The cost of a mistake is just too great.

If our ultimate goal is to protect our families from being killed, pick the low hanging fruit first. Lock them up.

Thanks,

Mark

If you find value in my ramblings, please subscribe, share, and shop through our amazon affiliate link.

Rise and Shine!: Staging Bump In The Night Firearms

 

Sorry for the hiatus. I’m back.

Every nightstand pistol/shotgun/rifle should:

  1. Have a flashlight next to it (or on it) for identifying what you’re about to point (or pointing) a gun at.
  2. Be secured from access by a non-authorized person. For the sake of this article, that person is YOU until you wake up fully.

That second point is not often considered. The bump in the night is far more likely to be a person you know than a crew of home invaders. I think the best way to prevent a groggy tragedy is to force yourself to complete several fine motor movements and/or take several steps prior to having a loaded gun in your hand. You need time to shake the cobwebs out of your head and assess what’s actually happening.

Failure to do so can have tragic results:

Here’s what I’ve worked out for myself. Pick 2 or 3 items from the list of your preferred home defense weapon and layer them so you’re alert and awake before waving a gun around…

ucorrqd
For Example: Type code, grab magazine, insert magazine, release slide, address the issue

Auto pistol:

Revolver:

  • Same as above but with cylinder open
  • Cylinder empty and speed loader next to pistol

Carbine:

  • Chamber empty
  • Safety on
  • Magazine removed and kept lashed to the hand guard or stored nearby
  • In a closet or corner several steps away

Shotgun:

  • Chamber empty
  • Magazine tube empty
  • Safety on
  • Action open
  • “Cruiser ready” (empty chamber, action closed)

You don’t need to do every item to have success with this idea. Pick two or three that make sense for you and give it a try. I’m looking to buy about 30 seconds to fully awaken.

But it will slow down my room clearin’!

If you have less than 5 seconds to get a gun into action from a dead sleep, you screwed up a long time ago. Go read my article about layered home defense to get your house or apartment right. If you can’t get a magazine into your pistol and rack the slide, you’re not awake enough to be moving in your house with a gun.You need to protect you from yourself first.

Lets remember the firearms requirement hierarchy:

  1. Don’t Shoot Ourselves
  2. Don’t Shoot What We Don’t Want To Shoot
  3. Shoot What We Want To Shoot

And for goodness sake, start verbalizing ASAP so you don’t show the muzzle to the wrong person. “Who’s there!? I am armed!” or whatever.

The opportunity for a negative outcome is greatly increased if you are startled from a dead sleep and start making life and death decisions before you fully wake up. Give yourself some time.

Stay safe.

If you find value in my ramblings, please subscribe, share, and shop through our amazon affiliate link.