Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Distance Is Your Friend: The 21 Foot "Rule"

Have you ever ran the Tueller Drill? Do you know what it is? If you are practicing self-defense with a gun or other means, you should know this drill.

The Tueller Drill can be set up and run in a number of different ways.
• Have a runner and a shooter stand back to back. On the go command, the runner sprints away from the shooter as fast as he can. The shooter draws and fires one shot at a target 21 feet away. The shooter is successful if the runner did not cover 21 feet.
• Another way is to position the runner 21 feet behind the shooter. On the go command, the runner sprints towards the shooter with the intent to tap the shooter on the back. The shooter must draw and fire one shot at a target 21 feet away. The shooter is successful if he is able to get the shot off before being tapped from behind. This can add more stress to the shooter since they don’t know when the tap is coming.
• If you have a training gun, a full contact drill could be run. Have an attacker start 21 feet away from the shooter. On the go command, the attacker runs at the shooter and the shooter must draw and “shoot” the running attacker before they get to them and touch them. Another variation of this is to have a target that can move at the shooter and do the same thing, only live fire since it’s a target.
• If you are lucky enough to have a local gun range with a programmable target carrier system and allows draw from the holster, you can run the drill yourself. Program a delayed random start time, a return to zero from 21 feet and a turn to face at the beginning. When the target turns and advances, draw and fire.
• If you can draw from the holster at your range, use a shot timer. Your goal is to draw and fire at a target 21 feet away in under 1.5 seconds.
In 1983, Salt Lake City Police Department Sergeant Dennis Tueller wondered how quickly an attacker with intent to do harm and armed with a knife could cover 21 feet. By timing volunteers, he was able to determine that it only takes 1.5 seconds for the attacker to cover the distance.
If you’re interested in the original article google “How Close Is Too Close” 1983, SWAT Magazine.
I saw an interview with Dennis Tueller in 2008 and he said:
“Tueller: When I was a new police officer in the 1970s if, during range training, someone had even proposed the idea of moving with a loaded gun in your hand, the Range Officer would have had you flogged! You planted your feet, toed the line and stayed right there. You loaded only on command and unloaded when you were done firing. It seems they were overly concerned with running a safe range, and thus were not doing a very good job of teaching officers how to win an armed confrontation. Me being a product of that type of training, I wanted to sell the idea of taking a single big step back as you draw - to gain a bit more distance from your attacker - as an acceptable technique. Of course I’ve come to realize that if one step back is good, six or eight are better if you can maintain control and move smoothly.”

I like this thinking. Distance is your friend. The 21 foot drill makes it clear that we must be aware of our surroundings and practicing good situational awareness. If you see a problem coming and it looks like they will continue to advance, use those verbal commands way back at the 35 foot line.

The issue is still debated by some, mostly those with no first-hand experience with knives, guns, or psychopaths, and they see the use of a firearm against a knife-wielding attacker as murder. They are the same people that say “shoot them in the leg” or “use a taser.” However, if you take a few minutes to practice the Tueller Drill with a buddy you will be surprised to learn how quickly a person can cover 21 feet… on average 1.5 seconds.

I’ve read articles that cite professors and even a “policing consultant” saying police officers should choose other options other than shooting a knife wielding assailant. The officers need more training. This coming from people whom I guess have never been confronted by someone with a knife. I think these “experts” need to be a little more realistic in their reference of this information. Frankly if a guy is running at me with a knife, I think 30 feet is too close. Notice how I said running toward me, not just standing. I’m not sure in most situations you have 30 or 21 feet to make a decision. More like 5 feet. Instead of referring to this as the “21 foot rule” I think it should be referred to as the “Tueller Study” instead. This study is used often in martial arts training also.
I think that this study should be used as the basis of general training. But I’m not a police officer. I think the same applies but even more so. As civilians who are armed we don’t normally have training that would make us “paranoid” as they have called some law enforcement.
We need to learn the same concepts but also other aspects of judging a potential attacker. As a police officer you could not just walk to the other side of the street if you see someone you may consider a threat coming toward you. A civilian must have the same powers of situational awareness that law enforcement does but we can avoid a confrontation unlike a cop. So for the intent of this article (I don’t train law enforcement), I would say that if you see a potential problem coming your way, move! Get out of the way! Run the opposite way! We do not have to confront bad guys like law enforcement. (This is why we should regard them higher, and pay them more!)
The 21 foot “rule” is really not a rule at all. It is a general training tool. So take it as it is. The Tueller study can help anyone to assess a situation and then act in a safe and defensive way. I don’t care what any college professor or consultant says, if someone is running toward me with a knife they will probably get shot.
What the above “experts” do not understand in some of these cases is why the shooter shot the attacker so many times. Getting shot is not the end. Usually one shot does not kill a person. It can, of course, but unless the heart, brain, or other organ is hit people can actually keep moving. It has been said by former military surgeons Dr. DiMaio and Dr. Fackler “If a gunshot victim’s heart is still beating upon arrival at the hospital, there is a 95 percent chance of survival.”
Dr. Fackler said “Shots to roughly 80 percent of targets on the body would not be fatal blows. Still, it is like roulette.”
This is how someone who has been shot can keep coming. I don’t want to make light of shooting a person, but shooting a deer is similar. If the shot is off that deer can go a long way before losing enough blood to stop. What that says to those of us who carry a gun is practice, practice, practice. Law enforcement or civilian we should be able to stop the threat coming at us. If we are any good, we may be able to stop the threat before we empty that 17 round magazine.
So to summarize, use the Tueller study and drill for training, but as a civilian, situational awareness and practice will save you and yours.

Semper Paratus
Check 6