Now we know what we are training for, and how to train for it

Last year Tom Givens sent me a PowerPoint presentation detailing the statistics around the 60+ students that he’s had involved in gunfights — that is, in defending their life with their gun.  These were all ordinary citizens, not cops.  Tom teaches in Memphis, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., but nonetheless, over 60 students involved in gunfights is a lot!  Every one of his students prevailed in their fight, except for two that weren’t carrying a gun!  So obviously Tom is doing something right.  I don’t have his permission to share the PowerPoint with you, but he subsequently wrote an article for American Handgunner in which he discusses the major points.  I think this is the most important article ever written on the civilian use of a firearm for self-defense.  His analysis completely turned around my own training and thinking.  Key points:

  • Most fights happen at the distance of one to two car lengths.  This is quite different from where LE fights occur, and the article discusses the differences between LE and civilian fights.  A few happened at contact distance, and one at 20+ yards, but the vast majority happened at a few yards.
  • He trains his students in traditional sighted, eye-level, two-handed fire.  When I asked if his students had seen their sights he responded, “I don’t know and who cares?”, and he was right.  The point is that traditional training works, whether his students got a sight picture or were running on kinesthetic memory.
  • Most of his students were facing a drawn handgun.  They managed to out draw and shoot an assailant who had the drop on them, by getting inside their OODA loop.  I wouldn’t have thought that possible, but the data is overwhelming.
  • The implication for integrating too much LE-derived or military-derived training into your training is clear.
  • This is good news: traditional training, which is widely available, works (although the trip to Tom to get the real sauce would be the smartest thing to do), and you can often do something useful when starting down the barrel of a gun.

Read the article,  Ponder on it a spell.  Clarify your objectives in training.  If making the most efficient use of your time for self-defense competency is your goal (as opposed to maximizing your shooting ability), then integrate its lessons into your training.

To repeat: This is the most important article ever written on the civilian use of a firearm for self-defense.

Finally: I’ll hit this point often and hard: if you carry a gun for self-defense, you have to know the law. Invest the money you’d spend on shaving a tenth of a second off your splits with Andrew Branca’s book or seminars — it’ll pay far greater dividends. Visit this link to learn more, and use the discount code “streetstandards” for a 10% discount.


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