Basic Tactics

Basic Tactics

A favorite writing ploy among gun writers is to stoke up the “Action-pistol-shooting-will-get-you-killed” theme.  The article can generate letters to the editor and each letter is perceived as so many sets of eyeballs reading but not responding.

As a blogger I want the same thing, so here’s my attempt to stir up the embers.

Bad practices common in action shooting will surely get you killed or seriously injuredPeriod!

I know the tactics the single person uses are different from the team, just as the tactics used by a military fast company differ from the police and from the armed citizen.  I will also accept that at times doing the wrong thing is better than doing nothing.

Many range scenarios start with "you’re doing something and you hear shots" and you respond by getting in a gunfight.  As a citizen, my best response may be to simply call the police and be the best witness possible.  The police officer’s response might be to investigate and call for backup, while the military may want to set up a squad automatic weapon on high ground.

Each tactic is unique to the situation and the responding person and their resources.  But I do have a few ideas.

Have a gun and at least one reload.  Without these you’re a witness.  That’s not bad, unless trouble comes looking for you.

Don’t stand in doorways or frame yourself in windows.

Use cover and concealment, always.  Running through a doorway and stopping in the middle of the room may make for fast times and good scores but the cardboard targets aren’t shooting back, are they?  Damm right, they aren’t!

Cover is bulletproof.  It may be big and wide and or it may be a shallow concrete curb.  Know that cover can degrade.  What stops a 9mm HP may not fare too well with a .30-06 hunting round.  I’ve seen a demonstration of a .45 ACP shooting through a hollow concrete block.  It took two rounds to punch a hole.

Concealment is invisibility.  It should be total.  Remember those old movies where the person hides behind the drapes but his feet stick out?  It’s funny on the silver screen, but not so when it turns you into a bullet magnet. 

Use cover to move somewhere else.  Somewhere the shooter doesn’t know about.  Use that position to OODA-loop your next plan and the plan after that.

I used to tell students to use cover to move to a place you have an advantage.  I now realize that anywhere rounds aren’t converging is a place of advantage.  Use that place to move to your next position whether it be counter-attacking or hitting the road.  Both work better if people aren’t shooting at you.


Let me sidetrack this monolog for a second.

I recently shot the IDPA Classifier.  Stage three gives you a nod and wink to using cover and concealment if you let it.

At one point you’re asked to engage three targets in tactical order, reload behind simulated cover and then move to the barrel.  This is the point you can separate the people who have been shot at and those of us who have not.  The shot-at-type get down into a crouch with bent knees and stay that way as they move to the bulletproof shadow of the barrel.  Those of us who have not been under fire, bend at the waist and scurry over to the barrel.

The first is a good use of cover.  The second example leads us into the concept of leap frogging.



not what I had in mind
This isn't what I had in mind, but a controlled movement from cover to cover as you or your team moves .

Leap frogging is moving from cover to cover during lulls in the conflict.  With your partner or team providing fire to keep your opponent’s heads down, you move to another location.  You’ll then return the favor in turn as they move to cover.  You are attempting to out flank them or reach a position of advantage.  You’ll repeat this flanking activity until the conflict is over.

By yourself, you need a fully loaded gun and a lull.  Please note you might need to make a lull by shooting on the move. 

Rear Admiral Gallery once said you can salvage a lot of tactical blunders if you have the manpower and equipment to make up for it.  The personal equivalent to manpower and equipment is a fully loaded gun and a reload.

You’ll attempt to move from one position to a better, nearby position.  Better has a lot of meanings: more defensible, less exposure on your part, more exposure on their position, closer to the exit, closer to better equipment, closer to someone you must get to, a better weapon.

How nearby?  The Tueller Drill shows most of us can cover 21 feet in around 1.8 seconds.  You can do a lot of shooting with a drawn gun in 1.8 seconds, so it should be closer.  I suggest 10-15 feet max.  It needs to be close or have special properties like obstacles that screen your path (trees, lamp posts, cars, partial walls, piles of rubble…) or some impediment that limits your opponent’s ability to shoot at you. 

One of the bloggers with a police background that I follow suggests a mental count like:
He’s down.  I’m up and moving.
He sees me.  I’m going down.
He’s shooting.  I’m already down.

Working with a team has advantages as well as difficulties.  The key rule to working with a partner is never get into their line of fire.  Remember, friendly fire isn’t.

You need to know your team’s hand signals.  This isn’t the time to get confused and think the current hand command is to order a burger and fries.  Your team needs to work together and have the discipline needed to pull this off.  

what is he communicating by hand signal?
Is this Hello or Halt?  It could also mean he needs 5 happy meals.

It’s easy to see that someone, confused or perceiving a better/safer location could accidentally cross in front of a shooting team member.  Your pick-up doomsday team isn’t likely to have this skill set.

the last half of rally point of don't step in dog shit?
The second half of Rally Here signal or don't step in the dog pile?


It should also be noted that so many tactics describe actions based on equal number of participants or the much preferable situation of your many against their few.  The third option is you and yourself against the team.  The typical advice is to retreat, a good option, but not always possible.


Oh, damm.  I wanted to stay on basic tactics and got sidetracked.  The problem is using basic tactics almost automatically leads to a second tactic and as soon as you string them together, you’re no longer in the presence of basic tactics.

She's signalling "They paid me money to stand in a silly costume in front of a back drop."  Please note finger on trigger and poor pistol grip.





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