Training for When Time is Life

Breaking the Paradigm – The 21-Foot Rule

The 21-foot rule has long been an established firearm training standard.  Simply put, it means an average man can close 21feet in 1.5 seconds, as we look at the below data of attacks on law enforcement officers the previous standard far from reflects the reality of the dynamic encounters in both distance and timing in enhancing your ability to prevail in a violent close quarter firearm encounter.

Many gun fights or attacks on principals occur at or near bad breath distance. Thus, your combatives training whether empty hand or with a firearm should more closely reflect the environment in which you may have to fight. Remember weapons don’t make you a better warrior they just extend your reach.

When I look at a survey that was done involving 500 law enforcement officers killed, they found:

  • 65% were killed within 10 feet.

  • 39% were killed within 6 – 10 feet.

  • 47% were killed within 5 feet.

Based on the above data from the moment of recognition to the moment of reaction you have from .5 to .75 second to launch your respective countermeasures. Remember firearms are not contact weapons so closing the gap for a perpetrator is often not required.

You may ask what the relevance is to a civilian of the distance that law enforcement officers were killed? When it comes to armed violence most civilian attacks are ambushes and take place at close range, that often start from a dispute or a professional predator disguising the attack to reduce your ability to defend, by shortening your time of recognition thus reducing your ability to respond.

While I applaud those who have been trained in covert surveillance and have the benefit of large protection details where they have agents working at various stand-off distances which provide a wider field of view, the reality the vast majority of Protection details are solo practitioner models. And under a hostile attack you can only do one of two things either move the client or impact the threat. From a standoff position no matter how good or fast you are you cannot effectively impact a threat at contact distance when you are outside of contact distance.

Also, when it comes to threats whether human or canine, while we know the engagements will typically come at close quarters the officer’s accuracy indicates there is a lot of room for improvement.

  • 38% Hit rate NYC Police Officers involving Shootings vs. Perpetrators and Dogs at distances between zero to two yards.

  • 17% Hit rate from three to seven yards.

  • 15% Metro-Dade Police officer hit rate.

When we look at the firearm performance from two of the largest police forces in the United States who all have ongoing required firearm qualification compared too little to no firearm ongoing required qualification or proof of performance, I have little optimism that most civilians or security professionals who don’t train regularly or shoot competitively would fare much better.

So, ask yourself, where do you want to concentrate your training?”  Throughout the book, we look to provide you some tips, techniques and procedures to help you increase your ability to prevail in the event of a deadly force encounter.

Inside of three yards it is not about being perfect it is about being effective.  Strive to become a student of combatives in general not merely a firearm’s student.  Learn to develop one fight system that works empty hand, with or against an edged weapon or firearm.  Understand movement can often compensate for lack of marksmanship, but a fast draw and great marksmanship often cannot compensate for lack of movement.

In extreme CQB rarely is a perfect sight picture required.  Often a flash sight picture or natural body indexing will allow you to have a positive ballistic impact on the perpetrator.  You don’t need perfect, you need to be effective and able to get your tools into the battle when required.  Carry your tools in a way that allows you to balance your attack, engage from any position or maintain their stealth.  The situation should always dictate the tactics, tools or carry position.”

Training for When Time is LifeAn excerpt from Defensive Handgun IIBy Mark “Six” James CPO, EPS, CAS

Mark “Six” James is Founder and Executive Director of Panther Protection Services, LLC.  He is an internationally published author, keynote speaker, security consultant to educational institutions and frequent contributor to a number of print, broadcast and online media.  Panther Protection Services is a full service protection agency focusing on Risk and Crisis Mitigation, Protective Services, Self-Defense Training, and Firearm Instruction.

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