tactical preschool 27

Watch the hands!

A basic principle taught in law enforcement schools and in defensive tactics is to watch your opponents hands. It requires hands to operate a firearm or grasp a knife. If you cant see both of your opponents hands than you best beware.


For the military and LE types out there I suggest that you formulate a “scanning process” for evaluating threats. Most of y’all have heard the “watch the hands” mantra before…but what can happen if you focus immediately on the hands is that you may wind up shooting another good guy with a gun.

I have seen some “shoot/no-shoot” training where coppers are so tightly focused on the hands that they blast the target nicely then see the badge on the target guy’s chest after the fact. The tendency to do this increases when the exposure time to target is short or on room entry where the pressure is on to move, identify and than engage. I try to take a “wide view” of each target then shift focus to the hands.

A liberal use of “shoot/no-shoot” targets in training can be a helpful training aid.


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3 thoughts on “tactical preschool 27”

  1. Paul Howe in both of his books, Leadership and Training for the Fight and The Tactical Trainer, discusses this same issue. As you discuss in this post, he advocates looking at the whole target first then drawing your attention to the hands.

    He sets up observation exercises where you go into a room and scan 50 targets and identify which ones are threats using a systematic scanning pattern. For further information, check out either of his books.

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