IMG_0537-300x225Are you ready for a gunfight?  As we begin preparing for a gunfight the thing that comes to my mind is a phrase that was drilled into me as a law enforcement officer and that was, You play like you practice.  What does that mean for us as we  prepare for a gunfight?  Most of us train on a linear range where we know the threat is coming from down range.  We run shoot or don’t shoot scenarios and have become pretty good at getting combat groupings on hostile targets.  That is not enough, and training is one area we can effectively change they way we deal with fatal gunfight errors.

Condition your reactions.

How you react in a stressful situation can dictate your chance of survival.  Everyone will react in one of three ways in a stressful situation. You will either fight, flight, or freeze.  Knowing this is half the battle.  Fighting and running are acceptable reactions given the situation and we will talk about that a little bit later.  Freezing is what we want to avoid at all costs.  Freezing = inaction = you are behind the curve and in a dangerous spot.  How do you condition yourself to not freeze?  Training is the answer, but not just any training.  Train under stress.  Work with your friends and others on and off the range.  Put yourself in stressful training situations to build your automatic responses.  Play the what if game with yourself.  If you don’t know what the what if game is, here is the down and dirty of it.  As you drive, go out to a restaurant, on you jog or wherever you are ask yourself, what if this happened, how would I react?  By doing this you start creating a set of plans on how to address situations.  These plans help decrease the likelihood of freezing.  Remember action is always quicker than reaction.

Don’t square off.

Throw away any notion of a fair fight where you face down your opponent in the middle of the street.  There is no such thing as a fair fight.  In a gunfight there are only two ways to leave, you either win or you lose.  You don’t want to lose.  Don’t think I am some trigger happy gun nut that believes you have to engage every chance you get.  If you can safely break contact, then get out.  Getting out of an engagement is a win.  If you have spent any time in situations where you may have to take a life you know that is not something you want to do unless it is absolutely necessary.  If you do have to engage, utilize angles, movement and cover.  Win the encounter with a simple rule, find em, fix em, flank em.  Find em, means just that.  Find where your target is.  You can’t fight something if you don’t know where it is.  Fix em, means that once you have found your target do something to keep them there.  Once you have them locked into their position then you can move on to the third thing, flank em.  Gain the angle move around behind, beside or above, this gives you the advantage in the gunfight.

Don’t get comfortable.

Movement is your friend in a gunfight and here is why.  As human beings every single one of us goes through a decision making process.  United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd developed the concept of the OODA Loop the help describe the process we go through reacting to stimuli.  OODA is an acronym for Observe Orient Decide Act.  It is considered a loop because every you are exposed to a new stimuli you go through this decision making process.  Understanding this helps solidify why movement is important in a gunfight. Every time you move you are forcing your opponent to react to a new set of stimuli.  This creates a lag an slows your opponent down.  Remember action is quicker than reaction and by presenting your opponent with new stimuli you are forcing them to react to your actions.

Only the tip of the iceberg.

Keep in mind that this is not an all inclusive list of don’ts for a gunfight.  These are some of the basics that will help you survive should be become involved in a gunfight.  First do whatever you can to eliminate freezing in a stressful situation. Second, there is no such thing as a fair fight.  Your goal no matter what is to win.  Winning in a gunfight very rarely involves facing someone head on without any tactics.  Third, keep moving and make your opponent react to your actions.  Don’t get caught behind the eight ball where you are playing catch up because by that point you have already lost.  In coming blogs we will discuss tactics during engagements as well as the fight and flight response to situations.