Category Archives: firearms

Intended Victim not ‘Subject’

The man did not know he was being followed according to police and once at the man’s home, [the shootee] allegedly produced a firearm and confronted the subject [sic] as he was trying to get out of his vehicle and go into his home.

https://wfxl.com/news/local/valdosta-shooting-ruled-self-defense

‘Subject,’ in POlice terms, is almost always used in the context of a wrong doer. In current times, the default treatment of anyone who shoots someone else is that the shooter is a criminal who must then prove his or her innocence. While some States provide some legal protection for self-defense, unless you never travel outside the county you live in, those protections cannot be relied on. ‘Stand Your Ground’ should always be viewed as a courtroom strategy not a tactical option. Keep that in mind. Do your best to AVOID or ESCAPE prior to being forced into CONFRONT or RESIST.

Surveillance Detection is a useful skill. Your car mirrors are a tool for you to use frequently, especially at 5AM. It’s beneficial to always take a few turns for Surveillance Detection purposes prior to committing yourself to turning into your driveway or other place you cannot escape from. Once you are Decisively Engaged https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/situational-awareness-and-positioning-part-i/ because your path is blocked, you are forced to CONFRONT or RESIST.

Note also that “the man was able to retrieve a handgun of his own.” ‘Retrieve’ most likely means that the gun was in the car not on his person. This mention is not intended as commentary about leaving unsecured guns in cars. Rather, it is an observation that many of the incidents in my database involve successfully accessing guns that are stored off-body.

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Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Trigger Press or Alignment on Target?

#fridayfundamentals

In the context of Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/05/08/3x3x3-level-one/, which is more important, trigger press or alignment on target? The conventional wisdom is that trigger press is the important factor in making hit in a self-defense situation. I’m always cautious about the metrics that underlie assumptions and doctrine, though.

Certainly, when shooting a B-8 target, trigger press is an important skill. However, if the gun isn’t in line with the target, does a smooth trigger press have any value? While this may seem like an advocacy of point shooting, it’s not, but that discussion is for another post.

This video is a preliminary experiment of aligning the gun on the target and then yanking/jerking the trigger. The pistol used is the gun with the trigger everyone loves to hate, a KelTec P32.

At this point, it’s just an experiment to me. What I’d like to have is more input from other shooters because I’m no longer neurologically equipped to yank/jerk the trigger.

Doing the experiment is fairly simple and only requires five rounds. A target is attached to this post.

At 3 yards, aim at the heart on the target, touch the trigger face, and then fire 1 shot with a trigger jerk. Repeat 4 times for 5 shots total. Email me, tacticalprofessor@gmail.com, a picture of your results. I’ll randomly award a package of my books to one person who sends me their results.

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Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis II)

In a previous post https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/08/17/the-sandra-ochoa-incident-shooting-analysis/, I discussed Officer A’s shooting performance during the incident. The weapon system manipulation aspects also bear discussion.

This incident forced Officer A to manipulate two different flashlights in rapid succession. He approached the scene with a hand held light, which most industry professionals would consider a best practice. At the gate, he immediately had to make a SHOOT decision and held onto his handheld light while shooting using his weapon mounted light. His shooting grip was compromised as a result. This image capture is from immediately after his sixth shot.

It’s apparent he is holding onto his handheld light with the ring and little fingers of his Support (left) Hand and trying to wrap his index and middle fingers around his pistol. The compromised grip may have been part of the reason for his low hit rate with the first five shots. This observation is not a criticism of Officer A, rather it’s a recognition of the complexity of the manipulation problem he encountered. Having and rapidly using two different types of flashlight in succession is not a training drill we often practice, myself included.

As is often the case, technology has advanced more rapidly than practical doctrine for using it. Several possibilities arise for using the two lights.

  1. Simply do the best you can with what you’ve got, as Officer A was forced to do.
  2. Shoot one handed, while maintaining control of the handheld light in the Support Hand.
  3. Drop the handheld, shoot with the weapon mounted light, and then retrieve the handheld light when necessary or feasible.
  4. Have the handheld on a large flexible ring that allows it to be dropped without losing total control of it. This is the approach I am currently experimenting with.

It’s worth noting that one incident in Real Shootouts of the LAPD involved the use of a flashlight. Also, some of the tragedies referenced in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make could have been averted by the use of a flashlight. The Ochoa Incident gives us some food for thought about the need for doctrine and practice with flashlights.

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The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis)

Body Worn Video (BWV) not only has value for analysis of Use of Force, it also can be used as a shooting analysis tool. By looking at a BWV in conjunction the results of a subsequent investigation, we can arrive at a more complete picture of the shooting incident.

On May 31, 2020, LAPD officers responded to a radio call of a “murder suspect there now.” Upon arrival, the officers observed the suspect cutting the victim’s throat and an Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) occurred. The BWV of both officers present was later released by the LAPD. The incident was adjudicated by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners on May 4, 2021. The shooting was ruled objectively reasonable, necessary, and In Policy. https://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/023-20-ois-pr.pdf

A short edited and annotated video of the shooting portion of the incident is available on my YouTube Channel.

Several points can be derived from the BWV and the subsequent investigation and rulings. The first is that there is a significant difference between a shooting and gunfight. Noted firearms authority Ken Hackathorn mentioned years ago that a Private Citizen is just as likely to be involved in a ‘shooting’ as in a ‘gunfight,’ if not more so. In a shooting, there is sufficient cause to use a firearm (deadly force) in defense against an assailant who is armed with a contact weapon or personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.). This incident is a good example. The assailant was armed with a pair of scissors and succeeded in murdering her victim with those scissors.

The cadence of shooting by Officer A is another item we can analyze. The LAPD Force Investigation Division quantified the officer’s splits (time between shots) as follows:

  • Shot 2 – 0.340
  • Shot 3 – 0.286
  • Shot 4 – 0.232
  • Shot 5 – 0.247

The average of those splits was 0.276 seconds, with a total time for the first 5 shots of 1.105. The officer was shooting at a cyclic rate for the first five shots. Although he said he ‘assessed’ between those shots, it’s unlikely there was any assessment between shots 1 through 5. Shot number 6 had a split time of 0.711. That’s the more likely point of there being an assessment of bullet damage, i.e., target effect.

Just like Sergeant Tim Gramins in 2013 https://www.police1.com/officer-shootings/articles/why-one-cop-carries-145-rounds-of-ammo-on-the-job-clGBbLYpnqqHxwMq/ , he may have said to himself, “Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.” I.e., shoot better – meaning, achieve an adequate sight picture and perform a smoother trigger press. What likely occurred by the officer was a ‘Bullet damage assessment’ after 5 shots, followed by a marksmanship improvement and a more accurate 6th shot.

Of the 6 shots fired, 2 were hits. There’s no way to say for sure but the likelihood is that of the first 5 shots, 1 was a hit. The 6th shot was likely a hit and perhaps a better hit that got the message across. Viewed this way, there were actually 2 sequences of fire. Sequence 1 consisted of 5 shots resulting in 1 hit, a 20% hit ratio. Sequence 2 consisted of 1 shot, which resulted in 1 hit, a 100% hit ratio.

Nothing in this analysis is intended as a criticism of the officer. Shooting someone who isn’t immediately adjacent to a victim is difficult enough. Shooting with an innocent downrange and right next to the assailant is a very difficult task that is seldom practiced for.

Although the victim in this case died, there’s a good chance she had been fatally wounded prior to the shooting. The officer did the best he could under the circumstances. Not all situations have a Positive Outcome.

Other items of note were that, as is frequently the case, the officer under-estimated the number of shots he fired. There’s nothing uncommon about that. In most of the Categorical Use of Force reports, when more than two shots are fired, the officer undercounts. On the other hand, the officer estimated the distance of the shot quite accurately. He thought it was 20 to 25 feet and the actual distance was 18 feet. Very few people’s eyeballs are calibrated to better than 10% margin of error for distance.

The full LAPD news release video (NRF023-20) is posted on the LAPD YouTube Channel.

Incidents like these, but involving off duty officer incidents, is why I found my work on Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/ so worthwhile. The off duty Officer Involved Shootings very much mirrored the thousands of Private Citizen Armed Encountered I have studied. However, there was a great deal more detail available about what led up to the encounter and how it unfolded.

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Recognition Primed Decision-making (part IV)

RPD in the context of Personal Protection has two components. The first is Recognizing what is happening. The second is making a Decision about what to do about it. That Decision is the result of overlaying our ‘Options’ on ‘People’ and ‘Situations’ to achieve an appropriate response. Our response represents the Confront and Resist components of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist model. The best decisions are made in advance and then implemented in the moment of need.

Part I of the series Recognition Primed Decision-making (part I) discussed the types of people we might encounter.

  • Benign person
  • Angry person
  • Predator or angry person with personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.)
  • Angry person or predator with a contact weapon
  • Predator or angry person with a projectile weapon(s)

Examples of situations were also discussed.

  • Area of limited visibility such as a parking deck
  • Walking alone in unfamiliar territory
  • Being in the presence of a person who makes us uncomfortable
  • Having an unknown person approach us
  • Being home in a state of Unawareness or Unfocused on personal protection
  • Etc.

Part II Recognition Primed Decision-making (part II) listed our Reactions or Options to an attempted predation.

  • Freeze
  • Submit (at least temporarily)
  • Negotiate
  • Posture
  • Flight
  • Fight
    • Unarmed
    • Non-Lethal
    • Lethal

Our Confront and Resist Options are based on our personal situation and value choices. These can change over time or rapidly, even second to second. A person may not be initially comfortable with carrying potentially lethal tools but be perfectly comfortable with unarmed combat or non-lethal tools. As time goes on, they may become more comfortable with a wider range of Options or they may not.

Changes in available tools varies with the situation. For instance, a person may not choose to carry a firearm in their place of employment but instead to lock it in their vehicle while working. During the walk from the business place to the vehicle, they might only be equipped with pepper spray and a flashlight. Immediately upon entering and locking the vehicle, the person may don a handgun and impact tool. During the walk, the person may choose a previously developed response tactic that only involves using the tools on their person. While this may not be the optimal solution, it is the one available at the time. Upon upgrading their Defense Condition https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEFCON with a handgun, the chosen tactic may be different.

It’s useful to view the context of Boyd’s Process as an iterative and interactive model between two parties rather than the single party static model usually described. In a predation, the predator will make the first move, the intended victim will respond with a Reaction or Option, and then the predator will choose or react from his/her range of Options.

A predator also has a group of Options/Reactions when the intended victim begins to Confront or Resist rather than being caught up in the Victim Mix. Part V will explore what these are and how they affect our Decisions.

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Serious Gunowner Mistakes – Unintentional Discharges (Part I)

One of the categories of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com is ‘Unintentional Discharges.’ A colleague texted me this question.

Would it be fair to say that most of the negligent shootings on ranges are when people are re‑holstering too quickly?

There are some definitional issues involved in answering the question. First, are we talking about ‘Shootings,’ i.e., an injury occurs, or ‘Discharges,’ where an unplanned discharge occurs that may or may not involve injury?

So far, I haven’t done a statistical analysis about Shootings, per se. However, my collection of images of extremity (hands and feet) injuries that are the result of self-inflicted gun shot wounds is many times larger than my collection of images relating to holster related injuries. It is worthy of note how gory the shotgun wounds through the foot are as a result of using those toe popper shoe attachments that are popular in the clay target sports. The injuries are similar to those caused by the M14 Toepopper Anti-Personnel Mine.

It’s sometimes difficult to tell in either case whether the injury occurred at the range or somewhere else. Whether the discharge occurred at the range or elsewhere may or may not be important, depending on your point of view.

My opinion is that, regardless of where they occur, holster related injuries are not the majority but they are the most publicized. The reasons are simple. First, they tend to be graphic injuries that lend themselves well to being posted and viralized on social media. Second, they are the most likely to occur where someone will capture an image or video. However, a video recently surfaced of a party in an underdeveloped part of the world at which an attendee shot himself in the hand. Nothing good comes of placing the muzzle of a pistol against the palm of your hand and pulling the trigger. His friend was very angry about the copious amount of blood that went all over his sandals.

Another definitional issue is the distinction between Unintentional Discharges (UD), Accidental Discharges (AD), and Negligent Discharges (ND). The Los Angeles Police Department Board of Police Commissioners https://www.lapdonline.org/police_commission draws a distinction between AD and ND as concerns LAPD Officers and considers each type to be a separate subset of UD. AD are caused by equipment failure, i.e., the mechanism of the firearm itself malfunctioned, which caused the Discharge. While this is rare, it does occur. By contrast, the BOPC defines ND as the result an operator error of a fully functional firearm. This distinction was made explicit in Categorical Use of Force Report 045-09 NON-TACTICAL UNINTENTIONAL DISCHARGE https://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/045-09_Outside%20City-NTUD.pdf. This report was in regard to an Unintentional Discharge by an officer while Outside the City.

A. Unintentional Discharge

The definitions for an Unintentional Discharge, both Accidental and Negligent, are as follows:

Accidental Discharge: The unintentional discharge of a firearm as a result of an accident such as a firearm malfunction or other mechanical failure, not the result of operator error.

Negligent Discharge: Finding where it was determined that the unintentional discharge of a firearm resulted from operator error, such as the violation of firearm safety rules.

LAPD Board of Police Commissioners

A third definitional issue has been raised by Marty Hayes, President of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/ He commented that the circumstances of most Unintentional Discharges do not fit the legal definition of ‘Negligent.’ Given the firearms community’s preoccupation with the distinction between ‘clip’ and ‘magazine,’ his comment is particularly cogent. The possibility exists that a ‘Negligent’ Discharge might have to be defined in the context of Intentional but Undesirable Discharges (resulting in a Negative Outcome) rather than Unintentional Discharges.

Getting back to the original question, it is easy to make a simple numerical contrast relating to ‘Discharges.’ Observe the number of bullet impacts on the ceiling and floor of an indoor range. Almost every one of those was a Discharge that was unplanned and went somewhere other than it was intended.

I say ‘almost,’ because I was once asked to give a private lesson to a lady who literally shot her revolver like Antonio Banderas in Desperado. Most likely several rounds of each cylinder hit the ceiling. While the shots were Planned, they did not impact anywhere near the target.

There are something like 4,000 shooting facilities in the US, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. https://www.nssf.org/shooting/where-to-shoot/ Given the number of unplanned impacts at Atlanta area ranges alone, it’s likely that Unplanned Discharges occur thousands of times daily throughout the US. However, almost all of those cause only property damage or no damage at all. So, while we can probably safely say that Unplanned Discharges are relatively common, Unplanned Shootings are relatively rare.

Part II of this series will explore the types of UDs in Serious Mistakes, discuss definitional issues further, and make some observations about preventing this undesirable phenomenon.

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Note that Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with the purchase of any other book.

Consistency (again)

In my book, consistency does not mean 70%, it means 100%. I’ve written about it before https://wordpress.com/post/tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/173323 but it’s worth mentioning again.

That’s the reason I prefer evaluation protocols that involve short 100% standards that are done repetitively. I would rather someone know exactly what they can do to a 100% standard and stay within those boundaries than have two rounds out of six going into someone else’s house.

Two NRA standards come to mind.

  1. the Red, White, and Blue Levels of the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting
  2. the NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program – Defensive Pistol I

Naturally, I love the 5^5 standard I developed, based on Gila Hayes‘ original 5 times 4 idea.

Work on learning to do one thing consistently well, then move on to more Cool Kid Cosplay stuff.

Package Deal Update

I’m gratified that Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection has been well received. One reader sent me the following comment, which I found quite gratifying.

I went through the book quickly and my initial impression is that it is superb. Tremendous intellectual effort and incredibly sage and mature counsel on the subject. It’s also incredibly in-depth and thoughtful.

J.T.

I want to spread the word as far as I can so I’ve now included it in the Shooting Drills Package https://www.payloadz.com/go/sip?id=3348053

The Package still includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make, also.

I appreciate the loyalty of those who have already purchased the Package, so I will be sending previous purchasers a download link for the book.

Two non-gun related books heavily influenced me in writing the book. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli and Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom are both very insightful books about topics that aren’t often discussed.

Without knowing a proper name for it, I’ve been working with ‘small data’ for decades. I think Lindstrom would have approved of the Deloitte & Touche Real Estate Capital Markets Database that I created years ago. It started out with a few notes in Word and eventually grew into the broadest analysis of Wall Street’s entry into the commercial real estate finance business that has been done. Even the Wall Street soothsayers were only tracking 20 percent of the data in my database.

Contrary to the popular opinion that “the plural of anecdote is not data,” Lindstrom’s work shows that the opposite is actually true. All of Gary Klein’s work about decision-making is based on small data. Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, one of the books in the Package, is based on the concept of small data.

The collection of books in the Package presents a very comprehensive view of using firearms and other tools for preservation of life. Tools, skills, philosophy, and pitfalls are all covered. Those who are serious about our Art will find them useful reading, I am sure. I hope you will consider purchasing the collection.

How useful are sights on a pistol?

Since I’ve gathered some data on the topic in the past, I am going to link to a Lucky Gunner article about using the sights on a pistol.

https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/are-pistol-sights-actually-useful-for-self-defense/

I did an experiment years ago in which 10 different experienced shooters tried point shooting a single round at a silhouette starting at one yard. Then the distance was increased one yard at a time for the group. To test whether some form of visual indexing to the pistol was necessary, each shooter had a piece of cardboard placed horizontally in front of him at neck level so there was absolutely no visual reference to the pistol’s orientation. There was no time limit, the shooters were free to adjust their pointing until they thought they were on target.

The bullets starting hitting the ground at two yards. Only one shooter was able to make a hit anywhere on the silhouette at 5 yards and that was a peripheral hit. I discontinued the experiment at that point.

I figured out everything I needed to know about hitting a target without visual reference to the gun and with the gun below the eye-target line from that experiment.

Using the sights (i.e., getting the pistol into the eye-target line) is how we learn to kinesthetically index the handgun. Ask someone to point their finger at any object. Notice they don’t do it outside of their ‘workspace’ the more or less basketball sized space in front of the chest, properly called the ‘ipsilateral visual field.’

We may not always use the sights in a fight but training with them is how we learn to correctly index the pistol kinesthetically.

Training the trigger finger

#fridayfundamentals

The trigger finger should move back as parallel to the bore as possible when pressing the trigger. Here’s a little exercise I designed at the elite Rogers Shooting School to help our clients practice moving the finger correctly. It requires no equipment and gives biofeedback on your performance. It is also the safest form of dry practice, other than from quizzical looks by others.

For revolver shooters, this is a powerful learning exercise.

I enjoy wearing my NRA Certified Instructor cap when I’m teaching, even when it’s not an NRA class. 🙂