ENCOUNTERS OF THE WORST KIND
Two Real World Solutions
lots of people argue about the veracity of much of the data reported
annually in the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR), few disagree with
the section that deals with average engagement ranges. In fact,
with only minor fluctuations each year, the UCR has for its entire
existence (since 1968) indicated that handgun encounters generally
take place at short ranges.
yet, just what does that statement mean? If you ask the average
self-defense shooter or even the typical police officer to tell
you the statistical average handgun engagement range, as often as
not, the response will be "7 yards." Well, 7 yards (21
feet) is close, but that figure isn't correct and has no factual
or historic basis. In fact, it is entirely arbitrary -- seven to
ten feet is more like it.
that is close -- very close, which means that reaction/response
times and the execution of physical defense procedures are severely
limited. Simply put, to train at range beginning at 7 yards is a
mistake, because regardless of whose statistics you choose to believe,
virtually all of them cite 7-10 feet as the norm.
is why we here at the AMERICAN SMALL ARMS ACADEMY we have always
begun our training emphasis at 3-meters (10 feet) and included detailed
instruction on how to handle situations that might occur at even
closer ranges, even at or inside arm's length.
if an attacker initiates actions from a full 7 yards away, such
as might be expected with an edged or blunt weapon, a typical male,
on a dry level surface, can move from a standing start to within
effective striking distance in a mere 1.5 seconds! This means that
you have only 1.5 seconds to identify the threat, classify it as
being deadly (thus warranting a Deadly Force response on your part),
initiate and execute physical defensive procedures. Not much time,
to say the least.
fact, even if you do everything perfectly, it may not be enough
time or distance. You can present your weapon and center-punch your
rushing assailant twice in the chest (or pelvis, if you prefer,
or where ever), and still find yourself with him looming in your
face due simply to his own forward momentum. Even if he is toppling
or stumbling from your hits, he can still fire a gun, swing a club
or slash with a knife, meaning that you must be prepared to step
aside or give ground rearward until he collapses fully.
problem is also another reason to return to a proper Ready Position
(weapon held 40 degrees below line of sight to the target, finger
off the trigger) after you engage and fire. You need to know the
results of your shots and you cannot ascertain such with the gun
held in front of your face, especially if the target is moving --
something they all tend to do within a few seconds even if they
initially were standing still.
call this "going dynamic," meaning that the situation
begins to become more fluid and less defined and thus identifiable.
This, in conjunction with the fact that handguns just aren't all
that powerful, graphically underscores something that we here at
ASAA pioneered and developed -- The Tactical Mind Set.
act of firing your gun merely confirms that the fight has begun,
not that it is over or that you have won. Before you can know that,
a number of questions must be answered. First, did I hit him? Second,
is he down? Third, is he incapacitated? (Most shooters and instructors
don't realize that the act of a target falling down doesn't necessarily
mean it is incapacitated or otherwise unable to continue the fight).
Fourth, does he have friends?
only way you can answer these questions is to bring the weapon back
to Ready, examining your attacker as you do. If, after a few seconds
of analysis, you find him to be out of action, then slowly change
your line of sight left and right while maintaining a proper Ready
position directly beneath as you do. This way, if additional targets
appear, you and your weapon are in a position for instant engagement.
To avoid safety (negligent discharge) concerns, simply remove your
trigger finger from the trigger guard area as you initially bring
the gun down to Ready -- if re-engagement is required, you can re-insert
it as quickly as you can raise the gun.
truth, by the time you've actually brought your weapon back down
to the Ready, you'll already have a pretty good idea of how effective
your shots have been. Still, even if your assailant has collapsed
and is lying motionless on the ground, stay at the Ready and visually
examine him for at least four seconds. It is a common tactic these
days for a missed or merely wounded criminal to "lie doggo"
in the hope of enticing you to approach, thus allowing him to physically
contact you (and grapple over your gun!)
next kind of "close encounter of the worst kind" is when
the fight begins quite literally within arm's reach. Here, two techniques
have proven superior. If you have room behind you, such as might
be the case outdoors, for example, The Stepback is recommended.
If not, such as might be the case in a hallway, between two parked
cars or in a crowded area, The Speedrock is the best solution.
possible, gain standoff distance from your attacker as you present
your own weapon. This allows you to bring the gun to eye level,
use the sights and shoot from a traditional Weaver or Isosceles
stance. If there is no room behind to step away, then the danger
of bringing your weapon to eye level should be apparent -- in so
doing, you're quite literally presenting the weapon to your adversary,
resulting in a wrestling match for the weapon. Bad business, to
say the least.
you choose The Stepback, take a long step rearward with your firing
side foot as you obtain a firing grip on your weapon, but keep your
upper torso forward to maintain balance. Then, as you begin the
actual weapon presentation, take a half-step rearward with the firing
side foot, taking you and your weapon outside arm's reach of your
adversary. Engage, using a flash sight picture and firing two quick
shots, then, as you begin to bring the gun back down to Ready, repeat
the footwork procedure again.
will double your standoff distance at no cost -- you're executing
the process as you assess the effect of your initial shots. Thus,
by the time you've completed the procedure, you're another step
and about three-quarters of a second away from the target. this
places you in an excellent position to follow up with a shot to
the cranio-ocular vault areas if a Failure To Stop is experienced.
word of caution here -- when performing a Stepback, keep your hands
and arms away from your attacker. A number of schools teach punching
the target under or on the point of the chin, presumably knocking
him silly (any maybe even killing him) and down, then executing
the Stepback procedure.
are two things wrong with this concept. First, it offers your arm
to the attacker, normally resulting in a wrestling match. Second,
it forces you to attempt too many things in too short a time, resulting
in "telescoping" the blow as you step away, hardly an
effective strike. And, even if the blow is effective, there is this
to consider -- if you just knocked him down and/or out, why are
you using a deadly weapon against him?
no longer a deadly threat to you, meaning that you're criminally
liable for serious charges, even to the point of manslaughter or
even murder, if you use Deadly Force against him. Again...bad business
and certainly not indicative of having thought out the technique
before teaching or utilizing it. Here at ASAA, we call this, "The
Firing Range Mentality," which is clearly dangerous and has
no place in effective, realistic self-defense training, yet is often
The Speedrock is a worst-case reactive procedure used when there
is no room to gain standoff distance. Here, the firer simply rocks
rearward by slightly bending his knees as he presents his weapon
and presses the base of the firing hand against his own midsection.
Once this platform is established, the weapon is then fired. Normally,
it is best to keep the non-firing hand in a downward and to the
side attitude, but in the event of a strike with an edged or blunt
weapon, it can be raised to block if necessary.
of these response drills are theoretical -- they've been employed
successfully by ASAA students in actual gunfights on a number of
occasions and they've worked perfectly. Do they make a close encounter
of the worst kind easy? No, of course not -- such a thing isn't
possible. However, they have proven themselves to work and work
well as a means to defend yourself when you're placed in an unusual
or untenable tactical situation. And, as such, they've validated
themselves as being the best responses currently known for such
occasions -- if you execute them correctly.
insure this, choose your trainer(s) carefully, making certain of
their real-world experience and approach to the subject of defensive
weaponcraft. The price of failure in close encounters of the worst
kind is just too high to look at the subject any other way.