Basic personal skills to win your next gunfight


In this post I will be covering what I consider the three most important skills one should posses to increase their odds of winning a gunfight. While this post will be useful to any average Joe law abiding citizen that exercises his or her right to protect themselves and their loved ones, it will be geared more toward the Military or Law Enforcement reader that may find themselves in a prolonged engagement.

When I say prolonged I am talking about a fight that lasts long enough that the individuals involved will be required to not only react to the initial threat but to also make decisions on the changing situation and constantly evaluate the battlefield to gain the initiative. Both sides will run through multiple sources of ammunition and be forced to maintain their weapon and ability to keep rounds going down range.

For some of us our need is ultimately to not only survive but to win the engagement by forcing the enemy or suspect to cease hostile actions through violent actions.

I said WIN the fight, not survive. If I were in the average Joe scenario and found myself faced with a life threatening situation while accompanied by my family, my thought process and priorities would be a bit different than if I were back in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting with fellow Marines.

What I am getting at is; as a citizen with my family, my goal will be to ensure my families SURVIVAL.

On the other hand as a LEO or US Warfighter, we have a job to do, a task to accomplish if you will and simply surviving is not enough and just doesn’t get it done..

Applying the fundamentals of hitting the target is by far the most important skill to have in a fight. Its pretty simple really, no no I am not saying hitting the target is simple, in-fact sometimes hitting the target is extremely difficult even for the well trained. What is simple however, is the logic behind my statement. Us good guys have one thing in common with the bad guys. We are all allergic to bullets and getting hit with one or two or three… is exactly the opposite of what you or the bad guy wants to have happen in the gunfight.

Right now your probably thinking I should get on with it and stop just stating the obvious or your going to click the little X at the top right of your screen. I am stating the obvious because sometimes we need a reminder of the goal. I see and hear about people all the time who have the most tricked out gun, wear the latest gear and train by running around (or standing static) on a range just spraying led downrange and only making critical hits with a small percentage of their shots. To me this type or training is completely counter productive and all they are doing is creating bad habits. So feel free to postpone the ninja training until you are able hit the target consistently. Get the consistent accuracy down first then build on the delivery speed practically and as you speed up I am willing to bet that your accuracy will remain.

I hear the argument all the time about speed versus accuracy and I always say there is no argument. Speed and accuracy go hand in hand. Speed is important but not as important as a hit.

Still not convinced? Still say that speed is more important than accuracy? Then consider this, When is the last time you heard of someone killing a bad guy because they missed him really really fast?

Bottom line, rule 1 – is to hit the target. You just can’t possibly miss someone fast enough to kill them.

OK, so you’re in the fight and you have applied the fundamentals approximately 28 to 30 times while doing your best to get effective hits but considering your current situation (being shot at and having to fire in very awkward positions) the threats are still present. Assuming you are using a weapon that has a 30 round magazine it is now time to perform the second most important individual skill that you will use in a fire fight. Reloads!

There are two types of reloads you will be using in your fight. First there is the tactical reload or also known as condition one reloads. With a tactical reload you are simply keeping a round in the chamber and inserting a fresh magazine so your weapon is as full as possible for the next round of gunfighting.

Next we have speed or also known as a dry reload. Here the shooter is actively engaging the threat and the weapon runs out of ammo forcing you to get the weapon back up and running as fast as possible.

I can tell you from first hand knowledge that running dry in a fight can be either a scary thing or it can be a scary automatic thing. The goal is to make dry reloads second nature but a rare occurrence. I say rare because it is a heck of a lot better to reload when you want to reload vice when you have to reload. Of course in some situations there is no time to conduct tactical reloads, but if you do find yourself in a fight and there happens to be a lull in the action or you are about to make entry into a new room that may contain threats, a fresh mag is going to be much better than an almost empty one.

For the speed or dry reload your goal is to get the gun back in the fight as fast as you possibly can. It is as simple and as complicated as that.

Before we move on to our third skill I will take a second to cover something that I am sure some of you are thinking about. That would be the question of what do I do with my empty or not so full magazines during our two types of reloads?

First of all DO NOT EVER DIE FOR YOUR MAGAZINE but do your best to retain it if it has ammo in it or you are operating in an environment where you cannot replace the magazine for future fights. Now we could go into details about scenario after scenario and what to do in the zombie apocalypse but we are just going to leave it at don’t die for you mag but try to keep it. (there really is no reason to not retain used mags in a tactical reload unless you have to get on the trigger while conducting it)

Lastly, we have the least occurring yet most dreaded thing to have to do in a fight. (if it isn’t the least occurring I think its time to rethink your weapon of choice)

“The loudest sound on the battlefield is the sound of your hammer falling on the firing pin and nothing happening” -me

Clearing stoppages is the third skill we need to master and here are the types we need to worry about the most. Obviously some stoppages are much more common than others so when you are practicing clearing them you may want to spend more time on the most common ones. I have them ordered in most to least common.

  • Failure to feed/failure to fire. When this occurs you will hear that loud click of the hammer falling with no big boom after.
  • Double feed or brass/rounds obstructing the chamber. Easily identifiable because you can see that two pieces of matter are trying to occupy the same space but Newton says no no no and that makes your gun not work anymore or at least until you fix it.
  • A stove pipe is a stoppage that we need to train to clear even though it is a very very rare occurring stoppage.

If you are using a an AR type rifle, have fired a heck of a lot of rounds through your gun and god hates you, then there is a chance you have experienced a brass above bolt stoppage. ( I know God loves us all but this stoppage sucks so bad that Marines call it “god hates you”)

In this stoppages the brass of usually a non fired round will be lodged primer end first above the bolt, and you will have a very hard time pulling your charging handle to the rear. Despite how crappy this may sound or how bad it was when it happened to you. There is a an easy way to clear it and I will tell you how to get it cleared in 3 to 5 seconds on episode 019 of Gunfighter Cast.

(You can think of this as some kind of promo if you like, but truth be told I can tell you with my voice how to clear the stoppage much easier than I can type it.)

I will also elaborate on the other skills I covered and give you some different training techniques so you can be more proficient in these areas.

In summary. There are things that you are going to do if/when you get into a gunfight and you need to train so you can do them very well.

There is an old saying “the more you sweat in peace, the less you will bleed in war”. So get your sweating in now while working on these skills that way when you find yourself in a gunfight, not only will you survive and make it through the fight but you will overwhelm the enemy with uninterrupted accuracy and ensure that the good guys win.

Gunfighter Cast… Out


By Daniel Shaw
Host of Gunfighter Cast

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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