Monday, August 24, 2015

Concealed Carry Skill: Gunfights

I have a good friend from my military days. I call him “X”. That was not his call sign but a nick name I’ve given him from our mutual love of the “X Files” T.V. series. My friend is a retired field agent for the FBI. He now teaches at Quantico at the FBI Academy. For some reason he says I saved his marriage. I don’t know if that’s true, but over the years he’s been a loyal friend.
X was tasked by the deputy director for the FBI to review some curriculum that the FBI teaches concerning gun fights. So in the process of reviewing this curriculum, he did a study of gun fights by law enforcement. This is his report to me after we had a little e-mail discussion about it. I will put his report in quotation marks and then my comments throughout.
“Burn, here are my results.
I found that an agent’s technique did not seem to make much difference in a gun fight. Whatever you do in training, under the stress of fire, only about 40% will get through and be used in an actual event.”
That says a lot. Do you find yourself at the range every other month? Think about 40% of that training next time you carry. Do you practice enough?
When we worry so much about grip, stance, and crossed thumbs, we are wasting our time. No as an instructor I know I need to teach something in the way of technique. I will continue to talk about these little details in a beginning class. But as an intermediate or advanced student comes my way I may just mention a technique to them. If it works for you, and you are shooting accurate, then I say If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
“OK Burn let’s talk caliber. What I found with a firefight is that quantity matters. Caliber is just the size of the hole. If you shoot 10 .45 holes in an assailant as opposed to 20 9mm holes, the smaller caliber may win. But of course, if 1 .22 hits someone between the eyes the number of .357 holes doesn’t really matter. But as a whole (no pun intended) the larger the caliber the better the “stopping power”. Center of mass is probably still a viable target but having a small group hit center of mass may not be the advantage. If you have a larger group in center of mass you have a better chance of actually stopping the assailant. From what I can see a group of 6 shots 5 to 8 inches is more lethal than 6 shots at 3 inches. A head shot and center of mass is not always effective. The average of shots needed to stop a regular guy is 4. But that does not mean that you will ever come upon that situation.
I interviewed a Sherriff’s Deputy who was on a joint organization drug bust. The door of the building was breached and he went in first only to be shot. He told me he fell back through the door way and was out of the fight. The problem was that a .32 caliber bullet had hit his vest and hardly left a bruise. He was treated at the scene and released.
What had stopped this decorated veteran law enforcement officer from going into that apartment and doing his job? His belief was that when you are shot you fall down. Hollywood and television have taught even good cops what happens when you are shot and he responded. I found that this is about a 50% deal. Half of anyone, shot anywhere, with anything, stop. Not because they must, but they choose to stop. “I’ve been shot” is usually someone who has been shot in a minor place and is bleeding. Those who are shot in major places with hemorrhaging, don’t usually say anything, they just stop.”
I remember reading that 60% of crimes stop when the victim pulls a gun. The odds of you actually getting into a crime situation where you need to pull your weapon are slim as it is.
“Burn it was just the other day I had a class at the range and it was drizzling rain. I’d never heard such whining. They wondered why we were practicing in bad weather. I told them: ‘In real world, your gunfight may be in the dark, in the cold, rainy, shooting up, shooting down, and usually shooting around something, preferably cover! Do you want to know ahead a time how you operate in these conditions? Or do you just want to wait and hope for the best?’ I think they saw my point. There is an old Army saying that goes ‘Shoot until the target changes shape, or catches fire!’ Standing up to on the ground is changing shape.”
In the military we were told that a 5.56 ball bullet travelling over 3000 feet per second will have to hit the enemy about 3 to 7 times to stop him. Hollow points might bring that down to 2 to 6 hits. The average 9mm jacketed hollow point only travels about 1000 to 1300 feet per second. That’s a significant difference than a rifle round. Of course distance from the target makes quite a difference too. Compare that with a .45 hollow point at 900 to 1100 feet per second and you can see why “stopping power” is significant with larger calibers.
“Handgun velocities, and expanding bullets, is unpredictable. Add in weather and positon of the shooter and it gets worse. Through the research out there, there has been developed a general formula, subject to the above mentioned unpredictable circumstances:
2-3 hits with a .45
4-6 with a .40
5-8 with a 9mm
These are the number of hits to stopping a threat.”
And the gun control nuts think you only need 10 shots. If two guys were coming at you and you had a subcompact (generally 7 to 10 shots per magazine load) and you had a 9mm, you would need 2 to 3 magazines just to stop two guys! That’s IF you hit every shot and IF those shots are placed well.
“Last but not least is distance. The FBI stats state that most officers who are killed in a gunfight are shot within about 21 feet or so. I always balk at that stat and have many times in my own training. I want to see how far away the winners are, not the losers! I don’t want to learn how to lose a gunfight but how to win one. The magic 21 feet comes into play with other research. Most of what I have seen has told me that distance is your friend in a gunfight. Do not let that attacker get even 21 feet close.” That may be difficult as an law enforcement officer but possible for you and me. That means situational awareness and staying in Yellow should be a priority. Staying alert and choosing where you go and when will also enhance your chances of avoiding a fight. If you must get that close to strangers remember the importance of weapon retention especially if your open carry.
Gunfights are not pretty. No one likes to talk about the blood and guts too much but it is our lives we’re talking about. We should all continue to research and learn from gunfights and how they are won. It may make all the difference in the world.
Semper Paratus
Check 6
X and Burn