Rules For A Gunfight – Rule 4


If you haven’t already read Rule 1, Rule 2, and Rule 3, go ahead and catch up. I’ll wait.

Back? OK, let’s get to today’s rule, Rule 4.

We spend the vast majority of our time, thankfully, on one way ranges. That is to say, the only bullets flying are coming out of our guns and slaying cardboard, paper, or steel targets downrange. A gunfight takes place on a two way range, where bullets are flying in both, sometimes all, directions. As the targets on a one way range generally don’t move, you’ll notice they’re fairly easy to hit. So today we’ll talk about how if you don’t move or get behind something that will stop bullets in an actual gunfight, your fate will be similar to a cardboard IDPA target.


We talked about situational awareness in Rule 3. Part of observing what is in your surroundings should be a scan for cover. Cover, not concealment. Concealment hides you from your assailant. Cover stops bullets. I don’t know about you, but I know what I’d rather be behind.

So, unless your engagement is at touching distance where you don’t have time to get to cover and your only choice is to quickly neutralize the threat, moving and shooting can go a long way in you seeing the next sunrise. That perfectly tuned Weaver or Isosceles stance that serves you so well on the range during a PPC or Steel Challenge match will be a hindrance to you when the flag goes up for real.

Odds are you don’t have the shooting and moving arrow in your quiver right now. If not, it’s something you definitely need to add. Referred to as “Getting off the X”, this is something that you can practice at the range, once you learn how to do it properly. This is definitely something you want to have taught you by an experienced instructor. And no, I’m not just saying that because I am one. Movement with a loaded firearm adds a whole new dynamic to shooting, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, the opportunity to leave the range with one more hole in your body than you arrived with most certainly exists.

Your reaction to an armed encounter should be to draw your weapon, engage the threat, and make it difficult if not impossible for your assailant to shoot you. These three things can all be accomplished while on the move. Ideally you want to be able to draw, fire into your assailant, and assess if you need to reengage from behind cover.

This is another area where an IDPA match excels at helping you practice your skills. A match can be a valuable training aid if you use it as such. If you go into it with the mindset that you’re not out to win anything (and in local IDPA matches this is easy as there are no prizes to win anyway) and just problem solve each stage you’ll quickly identify what skills you need to work on. Most stages are based on real world occurrences, such as a robbery at an ATM, a carjacking, etc. They give you the opportunity, in a controlled environment, to put your skills to use in a manner in which you may some day have to.

IDPA matches have a lot of movement while engaging targets in them, and you get penalized time for not using cover properly. Scenario based training beats static range training for instilling all but basic gunhandling and marksmanship skills into a shooter. It’s kind of like geometry on school…you solve for X, but you don’t know why. Measure your kitchen floor for new tile, and it makes sense to you. Same with shooting. You get immediate feedback on the “if I do this, this is the outcome” of the skills you’re practicing.

Shooting while moving is an advanced skill. Just remember, advanced skills are the basics mastered. There’s no reason why with a little bit of effort you can’t add them to your toolbox.


The Tactical Pirate

View posts by The Tactical Pirate
President and lead instructor. Follow me on Twitter, and check out our blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top