Thursday, August 21, 2014

Concealed Carry: Defense In A Vehicle

Many years ago in the 80’s I found myself with a bunch of Army guys. I was not in that branch of the service but had the opportunity of going to many Army schools and trained with many Army members. In spite of military branch rivalries, we actually got along great. It’s always interested me the different focus of each branch of the military and how they train. Anyway, I was taking a tactical driving course that was operated by the Army. I took this course with Air Force, Army, Marine, Secret Service, and FBI members. There were 12 of us in the class. We learned all the basics, driving over curbs, J turns, driving at a high rate backward and other skills. There was a portion of this course I’d like to address here, shooting from a vehicle.
This subject was thoroughly covered and practiced in my class in two days. I will only cover this subject generally here. Having taken the course, I am by no means an expert.
We’ll address static shooting because moving and shooting have a lot more to them. We had been driving for two days and had done some pretty crazy stuff when we started discussing shooting. The instructor told us we already knew the training for the primary action for a vehicle engagement, drive away! Do not back up away from an attacker and don’t duck down! These two things will be your death in the end. Backing puts a target up so aimed fire can occur and ducking only gives time to the attacker. As soon as you decide to move you’ll have to pop up. Both are wrong moves.
Ever shot a gun in a small, closed in space? Even with hearing protection the pressure is crazy! The first thing we talked about and practiced was the draw. This can be very difficult. Between sitting and seatbelts and steering wheels it can even be impossible. Rearrange your loadout (holster, EDC, etc) to accommodate a quick smooth draw. This is something you should consider every time you get in a vehicle as a concealed carry participant. If you pocket carry, how will you access your weapon? You also want to practice this so that you don’t end up shooting yourself or a passenger in a stressful time.
Once you have drawn the weapon you do your best to present as you would anywhere else. Use both hands and extend and shoot. This may take some movement to see and to aim the correct direction. If there are passengers you must shoot next to or in front of, extend the weapon past them if possible. This will freak them out but act quickly and you’ll be able to get a shot or two off before they do. Use one hand if you must. The key as always is to stop the threat.
Most vehicles have windshields made of a laminated glass. This a safety features. There is a piece of plastic between two pieces of glass which hold the glass together when broken. Large pieces won’t come flying toward you, but small chips will possibly come your way. (Called “spall”) In your excitement and concentration, don’t extend the weapon into the windshield. Contact with the windshield may cause an auto to not cycle correctly and malfunction. Use the steering wheel or dashboard as a support and to keep the weapon away from the windshield.
Another consideration is the angle of the glass. This will cause the round to end up high or not make it to the target at all. A second shot should act fairly normal though it may be slowed a bit. Just be aware that bullet movement will be different than you expect. Cranking off a 2nd and 3rd shot may be needed to do what you intend.
Shooting through glass has its own set of differences compared to what you are used to.
Tempered glass will break into small pieces when shattered. This is much better than say residence window glass. But there is still a chance of injury from the little pieces to consider. But the first shot will quite literally blow out the whole window. You’ve seen it on TV. The initial shot will be deflected some so a double or triple tap should be in order. If the window has tint on it, it will not be blown out but act similar to the windshield. You may not be able to see. If you decide to knock out the glass with something know that this can be dangerous. It takes your attention off the threat, although after the first shot if there is window tint you wouldn’t see the threat anymore anyway. Again, do a double tap.
A vehicle offers virtually no ballistic protection from incoming fire. Staying inside an immobile vehicle and attempting to fire on attackers outside the vehicle basically makes you a static target. Vehicles are “bullet magnets.” Not only do you need to worry about incoming bullets and their fragments, but you can also be injured by spall from bits of your car that go flying around inside. (This is the reason armored vehicles have “spall liners” of Kevlar-like fabric to protect the crew from ricocheting bits of shrapnel.)

What this all means is that you should avoid trying to fight from inside an immobile vehicle at all costs. If your vehicle can’t move (you’re boxed in), get out and fight on foot. Even if you have people in the vehicle, getting out will draw fire away from them.
In a nutshell:
If you see trouble coming, and can drive away – drive away!

If you see trouble coming, but cannot drive away – get out of the vehicle!

If you are caught by surprise and cannot drive away – pray, feign compliance, and get out of the vehicle. Once out, move! This is a bad scenario, but you aren’t going to outdraw an already drawn gun. Distraction, movement, guile, and luck are what are needed here.
I know some guys that practice shooting from and through (open windows) vehicles on a regular basis. This is ok but if you use any vehicle that you actually need for personal or company use, be advised that there is a good chance you will have a bullet hole in the car eventually. The only way I would practice this would be from an old derelict that I wouldn’t be concerned about. When I went through a course, these were government vehicles. We shot through glass but not in the vehicle. If you can figure a way to do this on a regular basis that would be great. I haven’t done it since I was in the military. We would practice occasionally from an open window. I’ll tell you, I never did like it much. I’m uncomfortable shooting like this and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it is the fact that unless you are in an armored vehicle, you are a big target. I think it’s good to learn but I’m not sure I like the idea of training this way.
Semper Paratus