Monday, September 26, 2011

Tactics and Reality

The new cop shows have arrived on television and with them new tactical ideas.  I sometimes wonder if these ideas are worth anything. 

We still laugh about the “Sabrina Carry” position from the original Charlie’s Angels.  Oh, you remember.  That was carrying the gun, safety off, finger on trigger, next to your ear.  The muzzle is pointed up and makes for dramatic entrances when the actress jumps into the room and pulls the gun down and commands “Drop the gun, scum-sucker!”

Of course, it’s not the best position for retention, and your finger is on the trigger so that future AD will destroy your hearing and the muzzle blast may leave you with a permanent tattoo.  That’s almost as funny as the police arriving outside a building and having to rack their slides to load their guns before they rush in.  Good drama, poor tactics.  At least I haven’t seen anyone rack their revolver yet.

The one tactic that I have been seeing from legitimate trainers and police forces is the high slide-lock reload.  In this tactic the gun is shot dry and it is rotated so the palm side of the shooting hand faces the shooter held in front of the face.  This position allows the shooter to look through the trigger guard and keep an eye on the down range activity.  One underlying assumption seems to be that you’re in the open.

If you had cover or concealment you should be using it.    Keep your head down to make sure it isn’t shot off.

With the gun in this position you can see the reload and still watch your target.  The muzzle is pointed up and away at a 45 degree angle.  Top Shot recently touted this as one of the secrets of America’s Ninjas, the Navy SEALs.  I truly feel they deserve that title.  I mean them no offense. 

My red tinted targets visible during the reload as is the top of the berm


The problem is accidental discharge.

In a gun fight there is only one safe place to point your gun: at the person you’re shooting at.  On the practice range an AD will leave the range and I’ve seen it happen.  Crowding cover, numb fingers from the adrenalin rush, mind focused on long term survival and not on reloading, fingers in the wrong place, a worn or defective gun, and when your slide goes forward, your round leaves the barrel.  You will have no idea who or if you have shot someone.

That AD maybe acceptable in Yemen or Afghanistan, but do that in downtown Cleveland and trouble will find you.  
  
What has caused the change from pointing the gun down range, rotating it on the barrel axis so you can see the mag well to pointing the muzzle up and over the berm on the range or into an apartment and offices in the city?  I don’t know.

One thought is crowding cover.  You pushed yourself into the safest place available and now you don’t have room to manipulate the pistol.  Maybe you don’t have any cover or concealment and your only path to safety is to get the gun reloaded and back into the offense. 

More likely is the tendency to look down at the pistol and no longer scan the battlefield.  And it is a battlefield.  I was just at the range practicing moving and shooting.  Of course I shot the gun dry.  Reloading is an important aspect of all handgun training.  I dropped the magazine as soon as I confirmed I had a reload.  Brought the pistol in and locked my elbow to my side for that felt index and looked down at my gun, saw my feet and gave my steel targets the gift of invisibility.  Good thing they couldn’t move.   It’s a bad tactic.  

Ayoob’s Law of Necessary Hypocrisy :  Do stupid things the least stupid way possible.

But if I have an AD during a reload, I want it to go toward the person I’m trying to shoot and not toward anyone else.  So my new training regimen includes one dry fire activity where I bring the gun up to eye level, rotate my elbow in, my gun wrist outward giving me the maximum rotational motion and freedom.  From there I slide the reload home.  Any AD is going down range.

More red tinted targets, but no berm tops.


I wouldn’t say the current “look-through-the-trigger-guard” tactic is wrong.  I will say let’s make sure it’s not an answer looking for a question.