There are now quite a few ex-mil guys, with tons of real-world two-way range experience, many from what we now call “Tier 1 SF groups”, teaching to the public. That their wisdom and the lessons of their experience is freely available to citizens is a uniquely American prerogative, and we should all be grateful. We should all avail ourselves of what they have to say, and closely consider their advice regarding…well, everything gunfight-related.
And we should put that information through these five filters:
- These guys are not you and not me. They are young, for one thing, and in peak condition. They are the beneficiaries of decades of the very best, full-time training that American tax dollars can buy, not to mention the millions of rounds that they’ve been able to expend. On top of all that they are the product of a world-class selection process and they possess talents and physical and mental abilities that most people don’t. In short, what works for them may not for us. Might, but also might not.
- They train for and have experience in missions with ROE that differ considerably from that of U.S. citizens simply trying to defend themselves (and their families) within the time, budget, and legal constraints that most productive citizens have.
- They come out of an environment in which training and actual missions are conducted while being part of a team that is as high-speed as they are. On the other hand, you and I are alone.
- Their primary weapon is the M4 or similar. Engagements with the handgun are relatively rare. As Dave Spaulding has pointed out: police officers are the people that get into gunfights with handguns in large numbers, and in the context of civilian ROE to boot.
- My analysis of the gunfight data that Tom Givens has complied (see posts below) leads me to believe that if you can draw and hit an 8-inch circle at 7 yards in 1.5 seconds you can probably — probably — shoot well enough. You can add in a little more time once you draw from concealment, depending on the concealment method. (Tom may not agree with me, but note that I did emphasize probably, as in most of the time.) After that, your time is best spent on learning awareness, judgement, threat management, verbalization, aftermath tactics, the law, etc. There’s more to self-defense than shooting, and after I can meet this standard I don’t need to know how to shoot people faster. Improve your shooting if you enjoy so doing, but do not neglect these other areas!
One of the ex-T1SF guys that I admire greatly (although I’ve never had the privilege of meeting him) is Paul Howe. He realized that in order to teach cops he needed to live in that world, and so after retirement became an active sworn deputy – with all the civilian training that implies*. He understands what a cop alone on the beat does as well as he understands what his 1st SFOD-D comrades do. Since he carries, he also understands the constraints and challenges facing ordinary civilians. The teachings of MSGT Howe therefore have more relevance and credibility than those of someone with similar military experience but without this additional background.
*He had also been a cop for a little while before enlisting