A real gunfight is almost nothing like what you see in the movies or on television. Instead, they go like this. Fast, brutal, deadly, and over in a heartbeat. This is why we focus at Active Self Protection on winning quickly, because quickly is all you have!
Original video and news story: https://get-asp.com/2adb
What does this gunfight teach us about protecting ourselves against an attack?
- The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the hands are the windows to the intent of a person. If you’re in a potential conflict, ALWAYS pay attention to what the aggressor is doing with their hands. They might have a force multiplier in their hand, or they might be hiding their hand so that you can’t see what is in it or using their hand to conceal something. If their hands are empty, there is a difference between someone with fists and someone whose hands are open and relaxed. As a self-defender your situational awareness must include seeing the hands of any potential threat in your vicinity, so watch the hands! Officer Hodge did a great job here of knowing that Reynolds’ hands were the problem he had to solve, and it may have saved his life.
- In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. On the range and in class we have time to consider and to think and to reset and to make multiple attempts, but when the balloon goes up in real life you’ve got fractions of seconds to decide what the best course of action is to protect yourself. The way to be better at decision making in the heat of the moment is training, specifically scenario training and force-on-force training that is designed to work on decision-making skills under stress. It’s offered all over the country, so get training!
- Using your verbal judo to de-escalate and redirect a conflict is always the best choice if it is available, so make sure that your verbal game is strong. Knowing how to redirect, how to persuade, how to empathize, and how to talk someone down from a confrontation is critical to avoiding some fights. That said, we must also know that some people will not be dissuaded from a fight, so knowing when to talk and when to act is critical as well.
- Even if you’re injured, you must stay in the fight and not stop as long as you have consciousness. The human body is designed to take a ridiculous amount of injury and still function, so never stop fighting just because you’re injured! Even if you’re shot or stabbed, you have a 67-95% chance of surviving! (https://get-asp.com/ew3l and https://get-asp.com/p0hn give the details) So practice emotional fitness by knowing that even if the bad guy gets the jump and you’re injured, you’re still in the fight and still likely to survive if you take definitive action to protect yourself.
- First aid skills are important. If you’re going to train and prepare to take a life to defend yourself, you should also have skills, training, and equipment to save life should you need to. (I carry an individual first aid kit at a minimum: http://amzn.to/1Or4yVz ) Often that will not involve defensive encounters, and in a defensive encounter your primary responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones.
- Marksmanship matters! The old saying is quite true: you can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight. As a self-defender you need to practice and train to put your first shot on target as fast as you can, but the key is to put as many shots on target as possible.
- In most instances that we see on surveillance video, the first person to put shots on target wins the gunfight. That’s not 100% because injured people can stay in the fight a long time, but it is a good “rule of thumb” because once someone gets shot they usually stop thinking about whatever it is they were doing and start thinking about the pain they’re in and how not to get shot again. The lesson in that is clear: be the first to put shots on target. (this is the corollary to Joe Frick’s Rules for a Gunfight #3, “Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.”)
- It’s dark for half the day, and bad guys of all kinds love to launch ambushes from the dark. That means, as a self defender, that part of having good situational awareness involves keeping a flashlight on your person. That flashlight doesn’t have to be crazy tacticool and shouldn’t be firearm-mounted, because its purpose is to help you see at night to give you better awareness of any potential threats far before they can hurt you. A VERY compact option that runs on AAs is this Streamlight: http://amzn.to/1U9S39H and I carry this 1000 lumen Fenix: http://amzn.to/1S73jjb which is rechargeable and has multiple modes of brightness. I highly recommend a flashlight for everyone, simply as an awareness tool at night.
- What we saw in this gunfight was a need for a pistol mounted light to be able to see the target more effectively, especially in the follow-up phase. Having a light mounted on your pistol is not for everyone, but for those who can make it work it does give you another tool in the toolbox. I carry the TLR-1 HL on my pistol and it works wonderfully. It does not replace a handheld light for general lighting needs, but for illuminating a known threat it is very helpful. The key, as always, is to train with it regularly and seriously.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.