Rules For A Gunfight – Rule 3


For our third installment on the rules for a gunfight, we’re going to cover getting hits. Remember, Rule 1 stated you had to have a gun. Rule 2 discussed how many rounds it would take to neutralize a threat.


While random gunfire can, and has, ended violent encounters without anyone actually being struck by a bullet, this really isn’t the optimal answer. The Vice President’s advice of firing a shotgun into the air to the contrary, loud noises and muzzle flash doesn’t always have the desired effect.

There is also the completely irresponsible aspect of blindly firing a weapon. People tend to forget that the bullets or shot are going to land somewhere. As we’re addressing gunfights from the concealed weapons permit holder’s point of view, this is especially important. CWP holders, well ANY responsible gun owner, knows that they own every bullet they send downrange. They are responsible for any damage their rounds do. Collateral damage isn’t even something the military can get away with anymore.

So your duty is simple. When suddenly confronted with a deadly encounter requiring the use of deadly force, in mere seconds you must draw your weapon, acquire your target, align your sights, and place rounds where they will have the most immediate and debilitating effects. All while trying to get to cover. And while being shot at. Easy-peasy, right?

If you have any kind of situational awareness, there isn’t much that should take you by surprise. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to pay attention to your surroundings while out and about. You should always be planning what to do should things go south. This doesn’t suggest paranoia, just preparedness. While you may not be able to completely eliminate being taken by surprise, you can certainly mitigate its effects. Find an NRA Refuse To Be A Victim class and take it. These contain some great information to help you establish a personal defense plan.

The ability to draw your weapon from concealment and effectively employ it under stress comes from training and practice. And yes, they are two different things. Through training you learn the proper, most effective way of drawing, presenting, and firing your weapon. This normally comes at the direction of an instructor, though some people are able to learn by watching videos. Videos, however, can only show you how to do it. They can’t watch you and catch and correct mistakes. Once you have the proper method down, practicing is what imprints it into your muscle memory so that under stress you are functioning without really thinking about it.

Conventional wisdom states that a particular move must be practiced three to five thousand times before it becomes muscle memory. That requires some dedication. It also requires that you do the movement correctly every time. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you are practicing a flawed movement, you have trained your muscle memory to perform a flawed movement. Do that, and it will take significantly many thousands more repetitions to erase the bad habit and replace it with the proper one. Kind of makes that instructor worthwhile, doesn’t it?

You will always default to the level of your training under stress. The better trained you are, the more proficiency you have, the better your chance of surviving a violent, armed encounter. Remember the stat from the post on Rule 2, that one shot in four strikes someone? You have to strive for far better than that. If you’re missing 75% of the time, you’re seriously decreasing your odds of survival.

And where are those misses going? How many innocent bystanders are you killing or wounding? Remember, your name is on every single bullet that comes out of your gun. You’re responsible for every trigger pull that you make sending lead downrange. Proficiency with your weapon is more important as a CWP holder than it is as a law enforcement officer. After the shooting, it is likely you will be facing criminal as well as civil prosecution. While society expects law enforcement to be armed, a very large segment takes a dim view of civilians carrying guns.

So you have to possess the necessary skills to effectively employ your weapon, defending yourself, neutralizing the threat, and not shooting any unintended victims. This means practice, and lots of it.

Fortunately, there’s no cost involved in practicing your draw, acquiring your target, and lining up your sights. This can be accomplished in the comfort of your home, using an unloaded pistol (let me say that again; an UNLOADED pistol)  in an area with no one else around. Hang a B27 target in your garage and spend thirty minutes or so a day practicing. Start slow, and concentrate on getting the movement perfect every time. Speed will come with proficiency.

Once you have mastered the draw stroke, take your practice to the next level. Join the local IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) club, and shoot in their matches. IDPA matches are scenario based, requiring you to draw from concealment and engage targets while being timed. While an IDPA match can’t simulate the stress of an actual gunfight, shooting in front of other people for time can put a degree of pressure on you that is out of your comfort zone. It will magnify your mistakes, and show you what areas you are weak in and can improve on.


The Tactical Pirate

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President and lead instructor. Follow me on Twitter, and check out our blog.

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