Would you have had the emotional fitness to stay in this fight? I think that the officer did a pretty fine job of keeping his wits as this traffic stop went south and practicing Active Self Protection so as not to get killed by this man who had nothing to lose.
Original video and news story: http://get-asp.com/ku3k
News story with more details: http://get-asp.com/x17p
What does this officer involved shooting teach us about protecting ourselves during an attack?
- To defend against this kind of attack, you need emotional fitness. Emotional fitness is defined as the ability to internally represent a situation or predicament to yourself in such a way as to make you strong and able to successfully defend yourself against it. Repeated practice and thousands of reps of sparring and self-defense absolutely build your emotional fitness to be able to handle whatever comes your way.
- Situational awareness is your best friend. It doesn’t mean that you always are paranoid or living in “condition orange,” but it does mean that you know Col. Cooper’s color code of awareness and you live by it. Pay attention to your surroundings, and recognize that when you’re in public places you need to be more aware of your surroundings than when you’re in private.
- In any territorial or predatorial violence, the attacker gets to set the time and circumstances of the attack. They will almost always launch that attack from ambush, or as we like to call it in Umas, from “obscurity.” Surviving that ambush is one of the most important keys to successfully defending yourself.
- If you run from an attack, don’t just run AWAY from danger. Run TO something. Run TO the corner where you can fight one at a time. Run TO a store where a guard can help you. Run TO your house where you can lock the door. Run TO a place where you can better defend yourself from attack. Running FROM danger is great, but running TO safety is better! Here the officer ran TO his car for cover and concealment, which was a great choice.
- 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, as this officer did. 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. I also highly recommend a firearm-mounted flashlight to use in situations like this one, because lighting your target for disorientation and for better shot placement is a good idea. I carry the TLR1HL: http://amzn.to/1W9KH5z.
- If you have spiritual fitness by knowing what you’re willing to fight for and that you’re willing and ready to win the fight no matter what, you place yourself way ahead of most attackers. Attackers are looking for victims and not looking for fights, so many times when an intended victim puts up a significant fight they will disengage and find other prey. This makes sense even in the animal kingdom where we often see an apex predator disengage from feisty prey for fear of injury. Being ready to defend yourself is a key in self-defense because that defense will often cause the bad guy to run. This is part of why spiritual fitness is so important to self-defense.
- Marksmanship is critical in a gunfight, because you are responsible for every round that leaves the muzzle of your firearm. You must recognize that you are accountable for any errant rounds that leave your gun and the damage they cause. This gunfight was 28 rounds…that’s a lot of liability flying around! The rules of firearm safety apply in a gunfight, just like they do on the range or in your home. Whether you prefer to articulate them as Colonel Cooper’s four rules or the NRA’s three rules (I have a discussion of my preference here: https://get-asp.com/cfgf if you want to read it), you must have the presence of mind to keep your firearm pointed in the appropriate direction and only fire when you will not hit an innocent. You are morally and legally responsible for the rounds that leave your gun, so make sure to train and practice so that you take responsible shots in the moment of need.
- Capacity matters. My rule of thumb is that I want a minimum of 5 rounds for each bad guy I might face, which accounts for 2 misses and 3 shots on target for each. (of course, you never want to miss…I am just accommodating me on my worst day) this gunfight was clearly an outlier in terms of the statistical number of rounds fired, but it’s still a good reminder for all of us to think about how many rounds we’re carrying. I carry 31 on my person (16 in the gun and a 15 round spare).
- In a gunfight, movement is your friend. You must be ready not only to draw and fire, but to draw and fire while moving laterally, back, and diagonally. You simply will not stand still in a gunfight because it is against every instinct you have when in mortal danger! People who focus too much on stance or isosceles vs. Weaver forget this fact, but as self-defenders we must know that we will be moving. So practice and train movement on the draw and fire. This is a great reason to have airsoft trainers and practice draw and move in your dry-fire regimen as well.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
Instructors, don’t miss these ideas for classes: