I have seen, practiced and even operationally utilized some two man movement techniques similar to these but they sometimes left me thinking about the wisdom of them.
I can see the utility in “nuts to butts drills” when used doing building clearing and other situations where you need to maneuver in tight quarters and keep a 360 deg security. Similarly I can see their advantages as immediate reaction drills where you make contact while in a stack or while approaching a scene/suspect with a partner close by.
However, once the bullets start flying I can’t see an advantage in standing close together and slugging it out. One, you present a big target and two, you fail to present the opponent with the attention dividing distraction two people can present. I would think that it would be better to split up and find cover that would allow you to mutually support each other with fire.
I was just reading Tiger McKee’s “The Book of Two Guns” where I came across this passage:
When engaging a threat with fire you are shooting to stop the threat-not kill them. Due to the areas we must shoot to stop the threat effectively-the center mass and head, the threat may die. But that isn’t the desired effect. Our job is to stop the threat as quickly as possible-or we hurt them enough that they decide to leave.
I entirely understand WHY we are taught this way…because of litigation. “So officer you are saying that you INTENDED TO KILL MY CLIENT?!?!” And to combat the television educated critics that demand to know why we don’t just “shoot him in the leg” or knee.
There’s also the (IMO) silly argument that “shooting to kill” means that we execute incapacitated subjects or surrendering offenders.
However, I have always thought that this meme has some holes in it (so to speak).
If you draw your firearm and shoot someone in self defense, you are intending to use lethal force against them with legal justification. It’s called the “Use of DEADLY force” for a reason. It’s not called the “use of STOPPING force”. Death is not merely a side-effect of your actions, it is most likely going to be the natural consequence of them.
A lack of intent does nothing to establish the justification of self defense, yet somehow people have gotten the idea that they have to pretend that they had no intent when they pull the trigger.
“Stopping” is not a legal term in this context, but firearms trainers are determined to give it legal significance. I would bet an attorney would say that it has none and never has. You can try to dress up the use of lethal force anyway you want, but the bottom line is if you use it you had better be justified in intending to kill. “Shooting to stop” could easily include shooting the handgun out of their hand or shooting their leg. That’s a dangerous road to go down. If you could defend yourself by using less-than-lethal force, then you probably weren’t justified in using lethal force.
If some crook shoots me in an attempt to escape and I survive he is going to be charged with attempted MURDER not an illegal STOP with a firearm.
I will refer you to another post of mine where I addressed this. It was in reference to the tragic death of Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt.
Officer Schmidt was gunned down on a traffic stop while trying to arrest a man with a warrant for an unleashed dog. The man came out of the backseat of the car firing and Schmidt lost his life. A quote from a local news article reads:
Wounded in the neck and scrambling away from a gunman, a young Arkansas police officer managed to shove his sergeant out of harm’s way before dying in a shootout while pleading for his life, witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
According to Elumbaugh, when Schmidt opened the rear passenger door where Lard was sitting, Lard lunged at him and started shooting. Schmidt, hit in the neck by a bullet, turned away and pushed Overstreet toward safety.
Once Overstreet was behind Schmidt’s police car, Schmidt turned back toward Lard and began to return fire.
While he was shooting, Elumbaugh said, Lard was cursing Schmidt, saying “Die, (expletive)!”
“Please don’t shoot me. Please don’t shoot me,” Schmidt cried out, Elumbaugh said.
It’s my opinion that the “shoot to stop” meme so popular in our profession (and made necessary by attorneys) ingrains in us the mindset of “please stop..please let this stop him…God stop him!!”. In this sort of situation, where a gunman has hit you in the neck and is screaming “DIE F$%^#R!!!” at you…perhaps it should be entering into our minds that it’s KILL or BE KILLED! If he’s yelling “DIE MOTHER F#$@%R!!!” I’d prefer to see officers yelling “YOU FIRST A$$%^!E!!!” through a barrage of bullets.
It’s a difficult topic. On one hand I understand the reasoning behind the “shoot to stop” mentality, but on the other it seems more about semantics than tactics.
Anyone into LE/MIL training has heard of the book “Sharpening the Warriors Edge“. The core of the book is focused on the proposition that the human heart rate is a factor in combative performance under stress and that as the heart rate increases a person will loose motor function and other skills.
This book and author were picked up by Ltc David Grossman, who you all know, and this heart rate chart was propagated throughout MIL/LEcircles as proven science.
I have always been skeptical of the whole “heart rate chart” thing and how the TAC/LE community seems to have swallowed it without any sort of verification or peer review.
I don’t believe that HR in and of itself causes any significant motor loss. I remember doing drills in SWAT school where I had to run in full gear and assemble a pistol while competing head to head. Since it wasn’t life or death it wasn’t exceedingly difficult. If anything, it would have been the mental stress of competition that caused any motor skill degradation. Conversely I’ve had some “oh shit” moments that left my hands shaking…Imo its adrenalin and mental factors that are whats in play here not HR at all. Saying heart rate is the cause is like saying that dilated pupils cause nodding out…not heroin in the bloodstream. Heart rate may be somewhat of an indicator of hormonal changes in the body but I see no proof that those indicators prove to be universal between all persons.
I note that in more recent versions of the HR chart it stipulates “HORMONAL Induced Heart Rate”. I don’t know if Siddle has altered his approach or if these charts are from a source other than Siddle, but when it first came out it seemed implied that heart rate ALONE was the factor and that’s how many LE/MIL/TAC trainers were regurgitating it to their students.
All the same I don’t know that HR should be used as a metric at all. I would think that people would have different symptoms at different heart rates under adrenaline/hormonal influences. Just because I may loose motor skills when scared at around 155 BPM doesn’t mean you are going to lose them at the same rate.
I wonder where these numbers came from…and so do others. That’s the core of the criticism as I see it.
Some other LE/MIL folks didn’t bite either. Hock Hochheim posted the following.
Go to the bottom…August 1st post.
Of particular interest to this discussion from Hocks post is:
The professional look of the chart and its matter-of-fact presentation suggests some very serious, study work has been done. But by whom? The actual source is somewhat elusive these days. The source is usually just regurgitated as “Bruce Siddle’s work on,” or the “work of Bruce Siddle,” over and over again, as through Siddle himself was a renown heart surgeon or maybe a Distinguished Fellow, doctor at Houston’s Debakey Heart Center. Does anyone ask, just who this Siddle really is? Actually, Siddle has not graduated a college and has no psychology or medical degree or experience. He is essentially a self-proclaimed, martial arts grandmaster of his own style ” Fist of Dharma,” from a small, Illinois town. He had an idea at a very ripe time decades ago, to teach very non-violent, police courses. Many police administrations loved the programs because of the pressure-point approach. Many, many officers, including myself, did not like the program.
Siddle is also the guy behind the Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT) System that was so popular in LE circles for a while.
Its interesting how a self-proclaimed grandmaster can found a widely LE accepted DT system, leverage what many are now believing to be a mistaken idea into notoriety, and even get ownership of a handgun manufacturing outfit (with Grossman once again). The snake eating tail aspect of tactical experts endorsing/spouting each others work serves to ingrain concepts into our training and operations…some are good, but others we really should be taking a closer look at.
This all goes to show the power of “getting an in” with LE and MIL circles. I don’t want to come off as “bashing” any of these authors but we in the LE/MIL communities seem to be having a “flavor of the day” issue with people and concepts. I think a dose of skepticism would serve us better than hero worship of authors and trainers we haven’t seriously investigated or vetted.
Do any of my readers have any additional information or expertise on this subject?
The Radley Balko book “Rise of the Warrior Cop” has been making a lot of media hay lately and I have discussed the subject in various discussion forums. To paraphrase those discussions I have the following to say on the subject.
I agree that 10 man departments forming SWAT teams is a problem, but I also think Balko is going in with an agenda, cherry picking data and exhibiting a little confirmation bias.
My opinion…it’s not gear that “militarizes” police. Its their actions with or without the gear. If I kick down your door and storm your house in street clothes pointing a revolver it’s not legally different than if Im wearing a helmet and carrying a subgun. The overkill stories being bandied about are ALL about police leadership decision making. The trappings and vehicles are just a diversion from the fact that storming an office building for wood importation records would be overkill if it was done by uniformed patrolmen.
If anyone is truly interested in the roots of PD’s “gearing up” I think they need to look into the after action analysis of the Mumbai attack. That attack (in conjunction with domestic mass shootings) plays a LARGE role in US police forces trying to prepare themselves to deal with such situations. I sat through a number of regional meetings on it. As the Bank of America incident illustrated: Two domestic bank robbers outgunned cops with nothing but pistols and shotguns. What would 4 dedicated attackers with AK’s be able to do in your Town/City with officers restricted to Barney Fife equipment?
This is not to say that cops should be walking the streets CARRYING rifles..and they really don’t, they are just kept in cars in case of need…or doing routine patrol in Bearcats. But we need to balance preparedness with departmental policies of use. Which is the REAL issue here IMO….
I have seen pictures of turn of the century (1918 etc) cops with motorcycle mounted machine guns and 1940’s cops with armored vehicles. I don’t think this trend is unprecedented, or that having the gear is necessarily wrong. But if we cant use it correctly then someone will have to set policy limits on its use.
This is a repost from early 2009, I’m hearing these more often lately.
Due to the popularity of “reality television” shows like Cops, Wildest Police Videos, Stories of the Highway Patrol and the rest, many people are being exposed to the “language of the street”.
In this language there are many phrases and customs that the unitiated may have difficulty understanding. Some viewers may become confused by the actions of officers when the person they are dealing with seems to sound perfectly reasonable.
Therefore, as a public service I am providing this easy to understand guide. With it the viewer can have a better understanding of what exactly the police officer and his “customer” are saying to each other. Be reassured that in most cases each party knows exactly what the other is saying:
When he/she says——–He/she really means:
That’s not mine!——-That’s mine.
I don’t have my ID on me.——- Im going to lie about my identity.
I didn’t do anything!——- I did it.
I swear to God!——-I’m about to lie.
That’s not my purse——- I have drugs in my purse.
I don’t know his name/I know him as…——-I’m about to lie about my friends identity because he probably has a warrant.
I swear on my child’s life!——- I’m about to lie.
I’m just driving around——- I just came from a drug house.
I don’t have my drivers license on me——- My drivers license is suspended or revoked. The judge took my license away from me.
I’m not going to lie to you officer!——-I’m about to lie.
I did what? What did you say?——- Im trying to think up a lie.
These aren’t my pants!——-That’s my dope in the pocket.
“As far as I know” (usually in response to a question about warrants, licenses, presence of illegal items)——- I don’t know if the warrant was issued yet. I can’t remember when the protective order expires. I’m unsure if the suspension took effect yet.
I swear on my mothers grave!——-I’m about to lie.
I paid for that!——- I stole that.
I just got paid/ I won it at the casino/I just sold my car.——-That’s my drug sales money.
Why are you hasslin’ me?——- Why do I keep getting caught?
This is bullshit!——- I hate getting caught.
You only stopped me because I’m (insert group here)!——-Yes, I rolled through that stop sign in my tinted up hoop-de with the one headlight out, the door lock punched and a cloud of marijuana smoke emitting from the windows.
I’m just driving around——- I just came from the scene of a crime.
I only had 2 or 3 beers——-I’m drunk.
I was driving to the store when my old lady called and said that her friend needed to be picked up from the bar, but first I had to stop for some gas so I was going to the station over there when I saw my buddy…..——-Im a “verbal diarrhea” liar.
There are people killing each other out there and you guys are arresting me?——- I did it.
This car? This car belongs to my friends girl…I don’t know her name——- This car is a “crack rental”.
I think I’m having a heart attack! (while in a cell)——- I want to spend the night in a hospital bed instead of on a concrete slab with a roll of toilet paper for a pillow.
You didn’t read me my rights!——- I’m clueless about criminal procedure and really think that this means my arrest is invalid and you have to let me go.
Another basic rule about the tactical use of lights. DO NOT silhouette your team mates! It is all too easy to forget this one and I must admit to doing it accidentally on occasion; but you should constantly be reminding yourself to avoid using your light if there is someone in front of you. Bursts of light to the left or right may be OK, but you must practice with your lights so that you know just how far laterally you can shine your lights and not cast shadows of any team members in front of you.
I had been reading a lot about this book on various tactical forums lately so I decided to buy a copy. The author, Kyle Lamb, is a former SF (most likely Delta) soldier with combat experience in Mogadishu and Mosul, and is currently an owner of Viking-Tactics. Kyle wrote this book over the course of several years during down time in-between ops while in the box.
The book is written for the AR shooter specifically, but much of what is written can be of use to the tactical shooter regardless of the platform he/she carries.
Green Eyes & Black Rifles (referring to the green eyes of NVG goggles and the AR) starts out with rifle history, manufacture and components. He then heads to optics and sighting systems, weapon handling, reloads and a thorough section of clearing malfunctions. This is then followed by marksmanship techniques, the fighting stance, various shooting positions and shooting on the move. Zeroing, ballistics, slings (Viking-Tactics slings of course 😉 ), weapon retention, night fighting, cleaning and more than I care to mention are all covered in a concise and matter of fact manner in this book.
If you are looking for the “secret techniques” that will make you the King of Combat, you are going to be disappointed; but that is exactly why you should get this book. Kyle, like almost any warrior-trainer who has been there and done that, knows that there are no “secret techniques” only basics performed at higher speeds. He is cutting through the bullshit and giving you the techniques that work.
So. If you are looking for “specialization” perhaps this book isn’t for you, but if you want to know what a decorated combat Delta trooper has to say about the combat carbine you can’t go wrong with this book.
Post ressurection from 2008
After the flame wars over caliber effectiveness and autos vs. revolvers, the next most discussed pistol issue would have to be holster choice. The options for discussion are numerous; inside the waistband our outside? Ankle carry, shoulder rig or waist? Retention or scabbard? Leather or Kydex? and on and on.
IMO many people get too far into the weeds when talking about holster choice. As I see things, the primary concerns for civilian carry should be finding a holster that safely retains the weapon and prevents accidental discharges. It should present the weapon consistently and be comfortable and convenient enough that you will wear it. The “top of the line” holster you never wear is a waste. Having the weapon on you when needed is first and foremost.
Many people confuse law enforcement retention requirements with what a “civilian” CCW carrier is likely to face. Uniform cops or detectives that “open carry” have to be concerned with gun grab attempts because the bad guys know that you have a gun on you somewhere. Undercover cops and civilians don’t typically have the same concerns. Decent retention and ease of access from under clothing are larger issues. I own a number of holsters; from pricey leather to cheap polymer. My pistol pictured above is in a Fobus, polymer holster. A few years ago an “issue” with these holsters came up:
This caused a big stir in the gun nut community. People were afraid that while walking through the grocery store some tweaker or terrorist was going to attack and break their weapon off of their hip. My problem with this whole hullabaloo is that the holster wasnt designed for external, level III style carry. It’s a beautiful holster for when I’m carrying under a sweater and my Buffalo winter overcoat. It’s fast on the draw with no straps or levers to deal with. It has a positive “click” retention that wont let the weapon bounce out on its own. But Id never carry it exposed on duty or working a plain clothes detail simply because it’s a paddle holster, nevermind the possibility of it breaking off in a struggle.
You must choose your equipment with the purpose you intend to use it for in mind. If you want a holster for range carry or casual low-risk concealed carry, you can use these less expensive holsters. If you are in a job where a real possibility of a struggle over your weapon exists, you should get a high-end holster and belt rig with added security features.
Keep in mind however that even a level IV holster can be defeated given enough time and intellect on the part of the BG. Safety features only buy you time to try to prevent the disarm.