Category Archives: practice

Downrange Incident in Rock Hill

This story is about what I call a “downrange incident,” meaning that innocent parties are downrange and in close proximity to the criminal when the shot needs to be fired.

During the initial investigation process, officials learned the 19-year-old allegedly initiated a verbal altercation with others in the apartment. Authorities said the altercation then escalated when the 19-year-old began assaulting those in the apartment and threatened to kill them. The 19-year-old strangled a male who[m] he assaulted, officials said, and was then shot by another person in the apartment in an attempt to stop the attack. Officers said the 19-year-old then turned and started strangling a female in the apartment. He was then shot a second time, then collapsed.

https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/crime/19-year-old-shot-in-rock-hill/275-32c631c0-bb0c-415e-98c2-e8db8a9cd2a9

These types of situations happen more often than is commonly thought. Having it happen twice in one incident, such as this one, is rare however. Making a clean close range precision shot should be part of our practice regimen.

From my old YouTube Channel that I can’t access anymore.

The Magic of Knowing that You Can Shoot Quick and Straight

#mindsetmonday

J. Henry Fitzgerald’s book Shooting was published in 1930. Some things in it are dated but most of the book is still very worthwhile. The entire book is available online, courtesy of Sportsman’s Vintage Press.

http://sportsmansvintagepress.com/read-free/shooting-table-contents/

The chapter on The Magic of Knowing that You Can Shoot Quick and Straight is an example of practical mindset. Many times, explanations of ‘mindset’ are vague and nebulous but Fitzgerald’s is straightforward and actionable.

http://sportsmansvintagepress.com/read-free/shooting-table-contents/shoot-quick-and-straight/

Some things related to human nature and performance haven’t changed one bit. Fitzgerald’s commentary on the Dunning-Kruger Effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect is a hilarious example.

I have listened to many officers explaining how good they could shoot and when they got on the firing line they couldn’t hit a cow in the head with a snow shovel.

J. Henry Fitzgerald

It’s not necessary to be a great shot to defend yourself but having a degree of demonstrated competence is a valuable asset to your mindset. Drills like 3x3x3 are one way to demonstrate your competence to yourself. Shooting some of the drills from Indoor Range Practice Sessions and Concealed Carry Skills and Drills are another. Click on the images to purchase either or both books.

FTC notice: I am not affiliated with Sportsman’s Vintage Press and receive no commissions from them.

3X3X3 – Level One

Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards has been discussed in the context of gunfights since the 1970s. It is the most commonly cited statistic about gunfights.

Practicing to hit the silhouette every time using the 3X3X3 basis is Level One of learning to shoot the drill well. It is a good baseline for entry level shooters and those who have never measured their performance.

Level One – hit a silhouette consistently

Level Two – hit a sheet of paper consistently

Level Three – hit a half sheet of paper consistently

Level Four – hit a quarter sheet of paper consistently

The dry practice drill was discussed in a previous post.

Here’s the live fire version.

When I wrote Real Shootouts of the LAPD, I wasn’t surprised that NYPD Lt. Frank McGee was pretty much on the mark when he first described it. Almost all of the off-duty shootouts fit into that statistic.

A related note is that I fired about 100 .22 Long Rifle rounds through my 317 snub with a standard (8.5 lb) mainspring. There was not one Failure to Fire during the session. Ammunition for my .38 is precious and hard to come by so I used the .22 for demo purposes. For those who think that was cheating, I also shot with my SCCY CPX-2 9mm.

If you would like to purchase my book about actual shootouts that are not a figbar of someone’s imagination, click on the image below.

Occupational Hazards

#mindsetmonday

The training community is often obsessed with and overestimates the value of what we do and say. The Most Dangerous Man in the World cautioned me about becoming too enthused about hearing myself talk (not me personally but rather as an occupational hazard) as a firearms instructor. More and more, I appreciate his wisdom in that regard.

Is training a substitute for practice and experience? Even bad practice will generally lead to some action.

Doing anything, even the wrong thing, is better than doing nothing.

Ranger saying

I’m not sure the same is true for training, especially when it occurred more than 30 days ago. That’s the half-life of hands-on training, according to Army Medical Department studies.

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below.

I’m working on the next volume, Tales of the Gauge, about LAPD shotgun shootouts. It’s very interesting.

Practicing the First Shot

This really should be #fridayfundamentals but I feel compelled by some recent conversations to send it.

As I mentioned previously https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/04/09/the-importance-of-the-first-shot/, the importance of the first shot shouldn’t be underestimated. How to practice that remains a bit of mystery when people are shooting. Shooting multiple shot, often full magazine, strings of fire is the most common way people practice. Unfortunately, that masks the result of the first sight picture and trigger press.

For new shooters, we also need to keep in mind the concept of ‘progression,’ which is a fundamental concept of two of the world’s elite shooting schools, the Rogers Shooting School https://rogersshootingschool.com/ and the Mid-South Institute of Self-Defense Shooting https://weaponstraining.com/ .

The concepts of First Shot Drill and progression can be easily combined. Consider a series of Levels for hitting with the first shot. Start out at the 3 yard distance.

  • Level 1 – hit a silhouette consistently
  • Level 2 – hit a sheet of paper consistently
  • Level 3 – hit a half sheet of paper consistently
  • Level 4 – hit a quarter sheet of paper consistently

Shoot each Level using a progressively difficult start position; Low Ready, Midpoint of the drawstroke, and from the Holster.

You can use any silhouette you like. Having a face, a weapon, and an aiming point is more important than the type of silhouette used.

For those who don’t have access to or don’t wish to purchase a silhouette, a perfectly acceptable substitute can be made out of posterboard.

Start by doing dry practice. Level 1 would look like this.

My colleague Lee Weems https://thatweemsguy.com/ made an incisive comment at the Tactical Conference.

Enough Force used soon enough means less force used later.

Lee Weems

That could also be paraphrased as ‘a good enough hit with the first shot means less shooting later.’

If you would like to purchase my book about actual shootouts that are not a figbar of someone’s imagination, click on the image below.

The Importance of the First Shot

#fridayfundamentals

Some principles are just as fundamental as is technique. One of the unintentional themes of the 2021 Tactical Conference was the importance of the first shot. One class even had that as its title. Several other instructors touched on it as part of their classes and presentations.

Rolf Penzel and Mike Treat titled their class Making the First Shot Count.

John Murphy made the comment “It’s not a ‘one shot drill,’ it’s a ‘first shot drill’” in his class.

During his presentation Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters, Darryl Bolke stated “training efficiency means using the sights.”

Chuck Haggard used the term “Target Picture” to illustrate the concept of placing the sight picture on the part of the target we want to hit initially.

In his AIWB Skills class, John Daub instructed his clients to “think about where you want the muzzle to end up” at the conclusion of the draw.

Scott Jedlinski’s comment “The original 1911 sights were suggestions” in his class was a humorous illustration of why point shooting was so common in days gone by. Tom Givens has also written about the dismal quality of factory sights on pistols and revolvers of yesteryear and how that affected technique training of a century ago.

One of trends that is apparent in the Categorical Use of Force Reports by the LAPD is how often one or two shots solve the problem. This is true through the entire database of over 1,000 incidents, not just the off-duty incidents chronicled in my first book about LAPD Shootouts. LAPD’s emphasis on marksmanship and frequent scored qualification is no doubt responsible for this difference from other large departments that have minimal standards.

In a gunfight, the shooter who first scores a hit above the diaphragm of his opponent is the one who seizes the initiative in the incident. Making a good hit with the FIRST SHOT fired is key to seizing the initiative and then retaining it until the incident is over. No one’s performance improves after he gets shot in a vital area.

In terms of operationalizing this principle, the fact that most common autoloaders don’t have a second strike capability during dry practice becomes irrelevant to the fundamental of making a good hit with the first shot. Your dry practice should mostly focus on the first shot anyway.

During live fire, the majority of our practice should be ‘first shot drills.’ Do a little recoil management practice but don’t overestimate its priority relative to the first shot in the real world. As John Farnam put it, “Our desired range product is victory.”

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below.

Tactical Conference 2021 Shootoff

The Shootoff at the Tactical Conference saw some great shooters competing on a simple but challenging Course of Fire. It was well worth watching.

Most people, including gunowners, really don’t understand the capabilities of the handgun. The Shootoff is a good demonstration of what can be done when you know how.

If you would like to read about some real shootouts and learn from them, please click the image below to purchase my book.

Rangemaster Course of Fire

This is the Course of Fire for the Rangemaster Tactical Conference 2018. It’ somewhat different each year but usually has similar elements to this.

It’s not complicated yet is a good test of marksmanship ability.

Decisions and experience

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.

Although incorrectly attributed to Will Rogers, the concept of learning from other peoples’ experience rather than our own still has value. We can use the Intelligence community’s technique of ‘walking back the cat’ to de-construct an incident. This allows us to visualize it and learn from the experience of someone else.

The concept of ‘Decision points’ has been emphasized by both Gary Klein, PhD., a noted expert on the decision-making process, and President George W. Bush. Any drama contains not just one, but a sequence of decisions and decision points we can study.

The Don’t Shoot/Shoot decision is the one most commonly focused on the training and firearms communities. However, any Defensive Gun Use, whether shots are fired or not, contains a plethora of decisions and decision points. These occur before, during, and after the shooting or display of a firearm takes place.

A rich source for walking back the cat is the Categorical Use of Force reports by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners. The following is an analysis of one incident by an off-duty LAPD officer. The analysis will use the phases of an incident as described in my book Real Shootouts of the LAPD. http://realshootoutsofthelapd.com

The incident began as an Aggravated Assault on an LAPD off-duty officer. The full report by the Board of Police Commissioners, including its Findings about Tactics, Drawing and Exhibiting of a Firearm, and Use of Lethal Force can be found here. http://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/011-11_Harbor-OIS.pdf

Incident Summary

The Situation

Officer A, who was off-duty, walked to his vehicle parked in the driveway of a residence. He did not see anyone around at the time. His duty weapon was in the right front pocket of his pants. After driving out of the driveway, he backed his vehicle up and left the lights on. He then walked back to the gate to close it.

  • Decision point — Leave home armed with his weapon on his person or at least accessible? Even for POlice officers, this is not as absolute a decision as it would seem, as can be seen in other LAPD off-duty incidents.
  • Decision point — Close gate (initial entry barrier to home) or not? As mundane as this decision seems, many people leave their garage doors open when they drive away from their home.

The Buildup

Officer A saw the Subject walking on the sidewalk coming toward him. The Subject then began to run toward Officer A. As the distance to the Subject became closer, Officer A saw the Subject had a handgun in his hand. The Subject pointed the handgun at Officer A.

  • Decision point — Maintain awareness of surroundings or focus on telephone or other attention divider?
  • Decision point — Maintain surveillance on the suspect or not?
  • Decision point — Recognize and accept that an armed attack is imminent or not?

Drawing and Exhibiting

Officer A drew his service pistol from his pocket.

  • Decision point — Draw own pistol or not?

The Gunfight

Immediately after drawing his pistol, Officer A fired one round at the Subject.

  • Decision point — Don’t Shoot or Shoot?
  • Decision point — Fire in place or Shoot on the Move?
  • Decision point — Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference?

The Subject seemed unaffected, so Officer A fired a second round at the Subject.

  • Decision point — Don’t Shoot or Shoot a second time?
  • Decision point — Fire in place or Shoot on the Move?
  • Decision point — Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference?

After running past Officer’s A car, the subject collapsed on the sidewalk behind a short block wall.

Post Gunfight Actions

Because he could not see him and wanted to wait for responding officers to arrive, Officer A did not approach the Subject.

  • Decision point — Approach the suspect or not?

Officer A retreated to cover at the house and called 911.

  • Decision point — Hold position or retreat to cover?
  • Decision point — Call 9-1-1 or do something else?

While he was calling 911, Officer A observed another male come over to the Subject, squat down, then stand up and adjust his shirt. The second male then walked away.

  • Decision point — Interact with/challenge the secondary suspect or not?

Two other males walked to the fallen Subject, leaned over to look at him, and then walked away.

  • Decision point — Interact with/challenge the tertiary suspects or not?

There are also implied decision points subsequent in the drama but were not elaborated on by the BOPC.

  •  Actions on approach of responding officers.
  • What statements, if any, should be made to responding officers and then to detectives.
  • Whom else to notify about the incident; Significant Other, etc.
  • Retain an attorney or call pre-paid legal assistance plan.

At least 21 decisions/decision points are readily discernible in this incident. There are perhaps even more, despite this being a relatively uncomplicated DGU. Also note that of the 21, only six (Don’t Shoot or Shoot [X2]), (Fire in place or Shoot on the Move [X2]), and (Obtain an adequate sight picture to make a hit or fire without visual reference [X2]) can be readily practiced with live fire. Those and another, (Draw own pistol or not) can be practiced dry. The other two-thirds of the decisions are more in the nature of ‘soft skills’ that are best decided upon in advance and then practiced away from the range.

“Best decided upon in advance and practiced away from the range” represents our opportunities during the current ammo shortage. Rather than sit on our hands because ammo has become so precious, we can begin developing and practicing a more complete repertoire of the skills we need for Personal Protection. If you would like to read my analyses of the rest of the incidents described in the book, please subscribe to me on Patreon. Patreon link I will be posting the rest of them there.

Scenario Development from Real Life Incidents

#scenariosunday

Reading about Real Life incidents, such the LAPD Categorical Use of Force reports, is interesting but what good is it if we don’t put some of the lessons learned into practice? One way to make that knowledge actionable is to translate the incident report into a Course of Fire that we could actually shoot. The various action shooting sports, such as IDPA, USPSA, etc., call this Stage Design.

Here’s an example based on one of the incidents in Real Shootouts of the LAPD.

Categorical Use of Force Incident – 011-11

Aggravated Assault

http://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/011-11_Harbor-OIS.pdf

(full original report linked above)

The Board of Police Commissioners Incident summarized the incident as follows:

Off-duty Officer A was leaving a residence. Officer A walked out to his vehicle, which was parked in the driveway. Officer A did not see anybody as he walked to his vehicle. Officer A had his duty weapon in his right front pants pocket at the time.

Officer A backed his vehicle up, leaving the vehicle running with the lights on, while he walked back to close the driveway gate. Officer A saw the Subject walking toward him on the sidewalk. The Subject then started to run in his direction. As the Subject got closer, Officer A saw a handgun in the Subject’s hand. The Subject then pointed it at Officer A. Officer A drew his pistol from his pocket and fired one round at the Subject.

The Subject continued to point the gun at Officer A, so Officer A fired a second round. The Subject passed in front of Officer A’s vehicle before collapsing on the sidewalk, behind a short block wall. Officer A believed the Subject had been shot but could not see him, so Officer A did not try and approach the Subject, pending the arrival of assistance.

Officer A ran toward the back door of the home, while covering the Subject’s last known position. Officer A called 9-1-1. While speaking to the Operator and waiting for the first unit to arrive, Officer A saw a male approach the Subject. The male squatted down near the Subject and Officer A lost sight of him. The male then stood back up, adjusted his shirt, and walked away. Officer A saw two other males walk over to the Subject, lean over him momentarily, then stand back up and walk away. Upon the arrival of assisting officers, the officers were unable to locate the Subject’s weapon.

LAPD Board of Police Commissioners

To design a Stage from this Summary, we would extract Officer A’s actions, step by step. For clarity, each step is italicized in the above report.

Sequence of events for scenario development of 011-11

  1. While standing at P1, draw pistol from concealment and fire one round at T1 (7 yards).
  2. Fire one round at T2 (5 yards).
  3. Retreat to cover at P2 and point pistol at P3.
  4. Call 911, giving your location, while continuing to maintain pistol pointed at P3.

We can then create a diagram of what that would look like. Someone who was going to shoot it would know step by step what they had to do.

Based on the diagram, we can then replicate what Officer A had to do to keep from getting victimized or killed. While Stages created based on ‘Real Life’ tend to be much less lurid than the Stages shot in organized competition, they do give us an idea of what we might need to do to keep ourselves from being victimized or killed.

The LAPD Board of Police Commissioners made the following Findings about the actions of this Officer A.

  1. Tactics
    The BOPC found Officer A’s tactics to warrant a Tactical Debrief. (This is required after any Officer Involved Shooting.)
  2. Drawing and Exhibiting
    The BOPC found Officer A’s drawing and exhibiting a firearm to be In policy.
  3. Lethal Use of Force
    The BOPC found Officer A’s use of lethal force to be In policy.

If you would like to read the book and create your own Courses of Fire from it, simply click on the book cover below.