For some folks, the worst foreseeable experience is a car breakdown on a macadam road. A true close brush with death is another thing—it is like a brain enema. You think much differently and more clearly afterward. If we escape death, we are pleased with the results—ideal or not. Others have commented that before the event nothing was important and afterwards, everything was important.
Having observed innumerable varieties of human weirdness, I am well aware of the endless possibility of attack. Training gives up preparation and training keeps us sharp. There are quite a few folks who feel that anything other than primary concentration is too much like work. When an assailant roughly the size of a tree bears down on you, weapon in hand, you may regret a lack of tactical repertoire. What is happening becomes more important than how it happened. If you impede their unlawful and illustrious scheming, then you are in for a shiv or a hail of bullets.
I have been blessed with a true sixth sense that I have done my best to cultivate. This sense has been termed a protective gift of discernment. Some may call it situational awareness, but I have always had this sixth sense. I simply have not been intelligent enough to always listen or take my own counsel. Some incidents came at me faster than a car wreck.
Training and preparation are very important, but the question of why we train must be answered before we fire the first shot on the range. Facing a serial killer afflicted with acute decompensation can lead to an autopsy report that is not to your liking—it may have your initials on it. I recently looked over such a report that read, ‘Death by homicide-unknown ideology.’ However, I do not wish to be a victim, regardless the specific type of homicide.
In practice sessions, we often create realistic scenarios. We may stand at the 7-yard line and pour rounds into a stationary target, or we may get more realistic. Perhaps three terrorists at McDonalds isn’t realistic, so we need to be somewhere in between the two extremes. How much gut churning realism do we really need? Is the awareness of the horrific actions of our protein fed ex-con criminal class enough to motivate us to our personal best?
When facing an attacker who suffers from mild to moderate atrophy of the cerebellum, your actions had best be smooth, deliberate, and immediate as a counter to violence. There is no need to practice for every specific scenario, but to keep an open mind and a limber body. It isn’t possible to practice for every possible scenario.
I use past actions as a base for education, and there is always something new coming up. Every event is different but in other particulars every event is the same. The individual scenario may be diagrammed. I have considerable experience in creating emergency flow sheets, and this project is not dissimilar.
When you diagram the action and train with each part in due consideration, you are prepared for a deadly attack. Every confrontation does not result in an engagement, as an example, but considering the diagram of a typical assault is important.
Phases of an attack:
- Acquire target
The attack sets everything else in motion. The attack may also be the trigger for the presentation. You cannot waste time at this point with any shock at the realization you are being attacked. The attacker may suffer from a combination of physical and mental problems with psychological and physical roots. The NOS (Not otherwise specified) disorder aside, the attacker falls into one of two very distinct categories, although this may have little bearing upon the attack as far as defense goes. However, knowing the origin of attacks will help you to be more aware.
The first category is the predator. He has planned his actions and attacks accordingly. He may have been stalking the victim. He may choose to attack with some stealth and well be more difficult to defend against.
The second type of attacker is known as the effective. He or she picks the victim on impulse or as a result of an opportunity. While he may have planned a burglary, he will rape if the opportunity is presented. His attack is often more wild and savage. The attack will come fast.
Realization you are under attack may come with the attack, or you may realize you are going to be attacked just before it comes, reversing one and two in my flexible table. You may see only a movement in the shoulder or in the hand, or a blur of motion. You may not see the attack. Or, you may see someone firing into a crowd; it may not be a personal attack. Either way you cannot let shock deter your response.
Until you realize you are under attack, you cannot respond. You must get over the ‘It can’t happen to me’ shock immediately and move to action. The motivation for the assailants attack may be obvious, or it may be hidden. Often no objective reason for the attack is obvious. The motivation is immediate for you to act. React to live.
If you slightly modify the former to include the realization that your home is being invaded, a new cast is put on identification. You need to identify the target. When a mugger is standing in front of you with a knife, identification is much easier. The active shooter also must be identified, as an example. At intimate range, target identification is less crucial. In the home or in a crowd identification is critical.
The presentation of the handgun from leather or concealment is instigated by an attack. The presentation must be smooth, positive, and lead into the firing stance and target acquisition. If presentation isn’t properly executed, then recovery is very difficult. Clumsy gun handling at close range is deadly to the stooge handling the handgun. Properly acquiring and staying on target will be difficult if the presentation is not properly handled.
In acquiring the target, the handgun is superimposed over the target. We move the handgun smoothly to the target and line the sights properly on the target. We do not aim for the whole target but rather for a specific area that will do the most good when struck with a bullet. At intimate range, you may be shoving the pistol in the attackers body—you’ll know where the bullet is going.
Target engagement occurs when you have drawn the handgun, acquired the target, and you are ready to fire. You’ll keep your finger off the trigger until you fire, not when you think you will fire. Do not walk about with your finger in register. When you have made the decision to fire, you will engage the target. Fire accurately, and fire until the threat is no longer a threat—the assailant has either dropped, or turned and fled.
These diagrams may seem simple, but they cover the majority of the scenarios you will face. As you consider the likely zones of attack in each environment, be certain to you consider the likely avenues of escape and local cover. The situation may end when you draw the gun, or you may have to fire repeatedly. There may be multiple assailants. However, in the end, I think that the scenarios will be reflected my diagram.
How would you diagram a potential gunfight for training? Share your answer in the comment section.
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Good, well thought out article. I have worn 5 badges and recall most of the close encounters. My diagram would go from “oh shit” to reaction. Best line in this article to me is “keep an open mind and a limber body”. Seems to me the best, maybe only option, is often to dive behind a car or dumpster and then scurry along the ground to then create an attack plan. Shooting is often from a modified leaning over sideways position, things they would never allow on a range. So, my suggestion is also that folks find a place where they can shoot from a chair, including cross body like a car jacking. Shooting from the ground, as if you just got knocked on your butt, it happens to cops and surely anybody else. Shooting from inside a car or building, it is loud, and especially shooting in the dark, which the do not allow at my local range. Good article.
So this is the least of all concerns: potential hearing damage. But when it comes to attempted home invasions, as has happened to me on three occasions, a shotgun blast will probably damage your hearing. About a year ago I was faced with that kind of situation but, thankfully, I didn’t have to fire any shots. After that incident, I decided to place hearing protection next to my bed in case I’m faced with another similar incident. But using hearing protection the moment you find out you need to grab a weapon may not be realistic. It definitely wasn’t even on my mind during the first attempted home invasion of my home. Moreover, the retired officer who was in charge of a CCW class I took over three years ago told us that adrenaline will mitigate the effects of gun shots sounds to the ears. Is there some truth to this?
Silencers are legal and I keep a Silencerco Osprey on my C Z 75 home defense gun in my bedside table.
That will save your hearing if you ever have to shoot your gun while inside your home.
It will also prevent your shooting a family member when you say “who’s there” before you pull the trigger.
Without ear muffs on, and the silencer on the gun, you will be able to hear the response.
There have been too many cases of people shooting their children sneaking back into the house or thinking their wife is still in the bed beside them and shooting them by accident.
Unfortunately silencers are illegal where I live. I would have gotten one for all of my home defense weapons a long time ago if they were legal.
Just FYI, “death by homicide—unknown ideology” should be “unknown etiology”.