excalibur syndrome


Excalibur Syndrome is a term a friend of mine coined for a tendency toward over-dependence on equipment that some weapon carriers have when confronted with physical force.

Many knowledgeable practicioners have heard of the Tueller Drill or the “21′ rule”, where it is shown that an officer, even with an exposed holster, has difficulty drawing and firing effective hits on a rushing opponent within 21′. The Excalibur Syndrome, while sharing similar roots, is a bit different.

Excalibur Syndrome is the overdependence or “talismanic dependence” on the weapon that causes people to singlemindedly attempt to access it even when they are being attacked. You can see it in officers trying to draw while being repeatedly punched in the face (as is illustrated in the attached video), women attempting to get their OC canister out of their purses while being assaulted and other similar events.

Weapons are important and effective tools that can make the difference between life and death, but they are only effective when they can be deployed. If you are going to be knocked out, choked out or bled out before you can deploy a tool then the tool was useless.

Police firearms instructor Dave Spaulding calls this close range situation “The Hole” . In an article I recommend to every Cop or civilian firearms carrier, Dave says:

The first thing you need to understand: The firearm is not the solution to every confrontation, even if deadly force is justified. When your confines are The Hole, introducing a gun may result in the suspect seizing it and using it against you. My opinion – based solely on personal experience – is that when confronted at double-arm’s length, you need simple-to-perform (but quite effective) hand-to-hand combat techniques, such as knee, elbow, palm-heel, forearm and head-butt strikes. Unfortunately, these skills are being replaced with more complicated subject-control techniques, such as wristlocks, pressure points, grappling and arm-bar takedowns. This is regrettable, because to disengage and create the space needed to employ a firearm, you must make aggressive strikes to soft parts of the body.

In addition, note these three points:

• You cannot draw a holstered pistol against a weapon that is already drawn;
• Action will always beat reaction unless you do something to distract the attacker; and
• If a gun or knife is already in play, the weapon must be the focus of the attack, not the individual


Which is exactly what I am trying to say here. That pistol you spent a fortune on, all that training at Blackwater and Gunsite and your IPSC titles will not save you if  you believe that weapon skills and that magic talisman are all that you are ever going to need. Defensive tactics are layered. If you are able to avoid the situation entirely through wise choices then do so. If you are alert enough to see trouble starting ahead of time you can engage at as far a range as possible and from cover. If you are cornered and can see that trouble is coming you need skill sets to cover that and if you are caught flat footed at close range, you better have the unarmed skills to prevail.

Check out my post on threat indicators, as it goes hand-in-hand with this.

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