5 Lessons from 6 weeks of Attacks

I was listening to Michael Bane’s podcast on Wednesday about “chumming for monsters” and he brilliantly brought up some of the changes in accepted best practices that have happened over the last few weeks as a result of terrorist attacks.  If you’re not subscribed to his podcast, you can do so by clicking >HERE<

All of them have had one thing in common…they’ve proved out what law enforcement has said for years.  In a crisis, you’re on your own.  Or, when seconds count, police are only minutes away.  That is a reality for both civilians who call 911 and for law enforcement who hit their little red officer-in-distress button.

In the case of Orlando, police were hours away for some of the victims.  That is not a slight against Orlando PD.  That’s the reality of law enforcement.  YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.  Almost all law enforcement will willingly put their lives on the line to stop evil and save innocent life, but they won’t throw it away needlessly by running into a building where an armed bad guy has tactical advantage.

Tactical officers will squelch fear and storm a structure to take down armed bad guys, but only if they have enough of a tactical superiority to tilt the odds so far in their favor that they aren’t even really odds anymore.  It’s not the movies.  Just accept that you’re on your own and act accordingly.

There are 2 components to this…first is tactical.  Learn empty hands combatives.  Learn to identify improvised weapons that will increase the effectiveness of your empty hands skills.  Carry a gun whenever possible and commit to a few minutes every day of dry fire practice.

Second is medical.  Some of the people in Pulse who waited hours for police to take out the shooter had been shot and were bleeding.  Learn combat casualty care…preferably in a live class that will let you practice using tourniquets and improvised tourniquets on each other to see what really works and what doesn’t.  (hint…belts don’t work as tourniquets without a turnbuckle.  Neither does wire or single strand 550 cord, unless you want to guarantee that the patient loses the limb.)

In Dallas, we saw again that solid center-mass hits don’t always do the job.  You MUST train and practice to be able to make head shots—close range, long range, using perfect form, and awkwardly from behind cover.

In the Nice, France truck attack on Bastille Day, the attack was VERY close to being stopped by a determined citizen.  He rode up next to the truck on his moped, got off, jumped up on to the truck and tried to stop the driver by reaching in and struggling with him.  The terrorist driver ended up butt-striking him in the head with the pistol.  This man, named Frank, knew what he was up against, knew he might die, and took action anyhow because his son was in the crowd.  And while his actions were absolutely, 100% heroic, they weren’t effective.  If he JUST would have known targeting…to know to target the eyes, throat, and ears, it might have ended differently.

Baton Rouge taught us how VITAL it is to train to be able to make shots at distance.  One of the Baton Rouge Police officers shot the attacker from over 100 yards away with his patrol rifle.

More than half of all self-defense (law enforcement included) shootings happen within 11 feet, but all training is in context.  If you have an angle on an ISIS shooter who’s 50 yards away with a safe backstop, can you quickly and confidently get lead into him?  Don’t be so sure.

John Farnam recently told of an incident at a big department where several officers armed with their M4s confronted a suspect at distances from 10-30 meters.  The incident ended without shots being fired.

The next week, their instructor had them report to the range, re-create the situation and positioning with paper targets, and had the officers engage the paper with their red-dot equipped rifles.

NONE of the officers were able to deliver the required shots, even after several attempts…with a rifle…with optics, from braced positions, on paper, at close range.  None.  They assumed they could make the shot without any legitimate reason to have the confidence they did…don’t make the same mistake.  Their department will never make that mistake again.

How is this even possible?  I’m not sure in this case, but in many departments, officers have “patrol rifles” that stay safely in their patrol cars and they qualify & practice with “range rifles.”  This creates the opportunity for officers to qualify with a range rifle that’s sighted in and have a patrol rifle in their car that is not sighted in.  Know your guns.  On most of my rifles, I have masking tape on the side that says how they’re sighted in, the weight of bullet I used to sight it in, where it’s zeroed, and the offset at 100 yards for sub-sonic vs. full power, if appropriate.

If you’re law enforcement and you’re in Wal-Mart or Home Depot and an ISIS sympathizer starts shooting on the other side of the store, are you better fighting the bad guy you can see with the pistol you’ve got with you or running to your car, getting your carbine, re-entering the building, re-finding the bad guy, and engaging him after he’s had time to shoot more people?  It depends…and it’s a question that only you can answer.

What other lessons did Michael mention?  Here’s a few…

1.       Use cover and use cover properly.  Don’t crowd cover and realize that all cover has a clock attached to it.  Cover only works if it’s between you and your attacker.  If your attacker gets an angle on you and has an open shooting lane right to you, your cover doesn’t help anymore.

2.       Move and shoot.  Know how quickly you can shoot and move.  Know which angles of movement make you an easier target and which angles make you a harder target.

3.       Hip/pelvis shots aren’t the answer we used to think that they were.  In the Turkish airport attack, an officer shot a terrorist, knocked him to the ground, and the terrorist hit the button on a bomb.  It could have just as easily been a trigger on a gun.

4.       There’s no point in buying a gun, getting a permit, getting a training, and keeping your gun locked in a safe every day.

5.       Only 30-40% of concealed carry permit holders actually carry on a regular basis.

All of these lessons come down to comfort at arms.  The more time you deliberately and safely manipulate firearms, the safer and more comfortable you’ll be with them.  The safer and more comfortable you are with them, the more likely you’ll be to carry.  And the more you are able to practice perfect form, the better you’ll perform in a life or death situation.

For most people, practice is a stumbling block.  It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to do a lot of practice at a range with live ammo.

Fortunately, live fire practice at a range is not the most effective way to practice…in fact, too much live fire practice can severely hurt your ability to continually improve as a shooter.

>THIS< gets around the problems of traditional live fire training, and will help you develop the skills you need to survive lethal force encounters cheaper, faster, and easier than you thought possible.  Click >HERE< to learn more now.



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  1. Jay Greer
    3 months ago

    Why did you not discuss the case of the Minnesota man who had a gun and a permit and was shot by a police officer at point blank range while he was reaching for his wallet to get his driver’s license. What diid he do wrong?

    • Ox
      3 months ago

      Jay, that’s a great question.

      I strongly encourage you to do some force on force training where you are acting as law enforcement or just acting as a homeowner confronting a home invader. It’s shockingly eye opening…even for veteran beat cops. Real life is not TV. When you are at point blank range with someone who has told you that they have a gun and they make a furtive movement, it is INCREDIBLY difficult, almost impossible, to determine whether that furtive movement is for a wallet or for a gun before the person has fired the first shot.

      As a general rule in law enforcement, furtive movements are for weapons or to cause harm.

      Keep in mind that human reaction times are AT BEST, a quarter second. Half a second is more normal. If you have a gun pointed at me with your finger on the trigger and wait until you see and visually process that I have a gun in my hand and my finger on the trigger to do anything, I can get 1-3 shots off before you get your first shot off. Real life is not TV. And anyone who REALLY wants to have justice needs to understand the neurological and biological limitations of high stress sensory input processing and motor neuron execution…and you don’t need fancy words to understand it…those just happen to be concise.

      In this case, the most damning thing is the actions of the girlfriend. Instead of trying to help her boyfriend, she decides to live-stream and play it up for the camera. While her boyfriend is moaning and moving around, she tells the camera that the officer killed him…again, instead of helping him. She was calm, cool, collected, and repeatedly and deliberately ignored the requests of the officer. It appears as if she was baiting the officer. I just hope that the boyfriend wasn’t behaving the same way that she was.

      Thanks, Jay…and please let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Adam
    3 months ago

    He didn’t discuss it because this post is about lessons learned from recent terrorist attacks. Despite what certain agitator groups would have you believe, an officer-involved shooting (even if questionable) doesn’t qualify as terrorism.

    It’s certainly troubling that a person who was reportedly legally carrying a firearm was shot and killed during a traffic stop. However, we don’t know what he may or may not have done wrong because we really don’t know what transpired before the shooting.

    The video that was posted online stared filming after shots were fired, and the only first-hand information it conveyed was that a man was shot during a traffic stop. Everything else we supposedly know is based on the narration of a witness with a personal relation to the deceased.

    Consider this – in the absence of video or other corroboration, would you blindly accept an account of the incident as told by the officer’s partner?

  3. Jess
    3 months ago

    Do you have tips for pregnant women? It does make things a lot more difficult as the waist disappears. And unlike a beer belly, a tummy a baby inside doesn’t have option (ogre capability) of getting squished or forced into a belt. My friend always carried, until pregnancy made it so much more difficult to do. She had figured out, pre-pregnancy, what to do to make fashion and carrying work, but now, she’s at a loss. Thanks for all your great thoughts!

    • Ox
      3 months ago

      Off-body carry ends up being the best option for many pregnant women and Crossbreed makes a GREAT purse holster that fits in most purses.

      Unfortunately, if you’ve got one or more young children already, off-body carry isn’t as good of an option and my not be an option at all.

      I wish I could be more helpful on this question. It’s one that we struggled with and never found a great solution…just varying levels of “not really bad”.

  4. Justin Anderson
    3 months ago

    If I had read your statement “too much live fire practice can severely hurt your ability to continually improve as a shooter” a couple of years ago I probably would have stopped reading your articles but I actually found this to be true. Took some time off from the range, bought myself a SIRT and started practicing around the house. Went back to the range about a month later and had actually improved 10% better than when I noticed a decline. Keep up the great articles!

    • Ox
      3 months ago

      Thanks, Justin. It seems counter intuitive, but there are physical, chemical, and emotional reasons why too much live fire is detrimental. In fact, your comment makes me think I might need to write a full article on that.

      Glad you found the SIRT. Your story about shooting less and improving more is almost universal, even though it goes against decades of popular thought.

  5. .357mag
    3 months ago

    Head shots can immediately incapacitate. If a head shot hits the brain stem, a very small perhaps two inch diameter target, it should immediately incapacitate. Hitting such a small target while under the stress of a dangerous confrontation seems unlikely, especially if the target and shooter are moving and the shooter uses a pistol bullet which head bones might deflect.

    It is hard to imagine that someone can continue to fight effectively for very long with several serious thoracic wounds. Because the thorax presents a larger target area, additional serious thoracic wounds seem much easier to accomplish, and therefor the thorax presents a more reliable target choice than the head.

    If you have the time to attempt an accurate head shot, perhaps you don’t need to shoot at all.

    • Ox
      3 months ago

      I understand where you’re coming from and why you said what you said, but there’s a reason why military and law enforcement high speed entry teams shoot A LOT of headshots…in low light, under stress, while moving, with moving attackers.

      There have been a LOT of lessons learned in blood that shouldn’t need to be learned again. I personally know people who shot approaching suicide bombers and enemy combatants in houses/buildings just FEET away, center-mass 15-20 times before it had any effect. It may be hard to imagine, but it’s reality and I believe we should let reality dictate how and what we train.

      Thoracic HITS are easier to accomplish, but the goal is to stop the threat. If you have an immediate lethal force threat, you ideally want to end that threat immediately rather than in 3, 5, or 10 seconds. In addition, body armor and the resilience of the human body means that HITS don’t necessarily equal stopping the threat.

      As to having time to attempt an accurate head shot…that depends on your level of training. MOST people can’t make a fast head shot on a stationary paper target while standing still. I understand that. But they can work to be able to make fast head shots, then work to make fast precision head shots, then add in movement, stress, low light, etc.

      The point is, the threat is what it is, not what we want it to be. The reality of the threat MIGHT mean that we need to develop our skills more to be able to effectively take care of it.

      There’s a saying that you go to war with the army you’ve got…not the one you want. Likewise, if you need to defend your life from a lethal force threat, it’s going to be with the skills you’ve got and not the skills you had or want to have. Do what you can, be realistic, and never stop training and practicing.

      I’d encourage you to work on speeding up your ability to make both head shots and precision head shots. Your skill level and the individual situation will dictate whether or not you have time for a head shot or not…but I hope you never have to find out.

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