From the Archives, 2013
The armed civilian, like the LEO, needs to evaluate his Course of Fire and Firearm Drills frequently to make sure they stay current with the times. The best example of this is the increased use of Body Armor by thugs. Looking at history, one could expect your “higher class” of criminal to don Body Armor (ie the North Hollywood Shootout of 1997) where two bank robbers with custom-made Kevlar suits and automatic weapons shot it out with the LAPD in downtown Hollywood, ultimately to their demise.
Fast Forward to today and everybody and their uncle have Level III or better vest (IBA). One reason is the price point; a well made Level IIIA Vest can be had for around $400, a Level IV with Ballistic Plates can be had for under $800 depending on types of plates used.
To counter this threat, we need to shut down the computer (brain) of the attacker; although contrary to popular belief, hits to center mass while wearing an IBA will still cause severe blunt force trauma, but not enough to stop a well determined foe in most cases!
Training to target the “under-carriage” (hip/legs) to “stop the mobility” of an attacker wearing IBA is a tricky, if not asinine proposition if you ask me. Since the ultimate goal has to be to NEUTRALIZE the THREAT, simply taking away their “mobility” is not the same thing, especially if they are armed with a firearm. I can tell you from experience that taking the “legs” of a dedicated shooter is akin to wounding a dangerous animal. You HAVE to shut off the computer if you want the threat neutralized, simple as that. Never complicate your combat training! As Clint Smith is fond of saying: “Train on the high percentage stuff that get’s you home alive and save the rest for airsoft.”
A drill that I have had in my toolbox for some time to meet the IBA Issue is the Zipper.
Another useful drill (although heavily influenced by competitive shooting) is the “Mozambique Drill” or “Failure to Stop”. I consider the Zipper superior to this drill simply because the zipper is a Combative concept: it can be applied to both Pistol and Rifle with the same commonality of structure and is a gross motor action that can be done under stress. It also emphasizes movement over marksmanship, where the Mozambique, being a Modern Technique staple, is the reverse. In the words of one of my instructors in the early days, the Zipper concept “Spreads the Love” and ensures a LOT of LEAD is put on Target in a short amount of time.
For Pistol, I Drill this one and two-handed, ambidextrous, from all positions and on the move. Distance wise, I go from contact distance out to 10 yds or so. For Rifle, I vary my distance from 10-50 yds with all positions and ambidextrous. Keep in mind, depending on distance, pistol or rifle, you need to think about RETENTION. So, if you are at contact (touching) distance, First, you need to gain distance through combative striking, with pistol, I teach empty hand strikes (face smash, eye gouge, chin jab) and then draw your weapon; otherwise, if you try to draw your gun with this POS on top of you, you are setting yourself up for a fight for control of your gun! Not good. Also, unless you have no other option, forget striking with your weapon (pistol-whipping) this will not always turn out like the movies; often, the mag release is accidentally hit or the gun is lost all together due to slippery hands from sweat or blood. No gun=No good!
Once distance is gained, you need to fire from “1/4 hip” position or simply when you pistol barrel comes horizontal; lock your wrist into the top of your hip and fire, moving your string of fire upwards into the head until the threat is down. Integrate movement into this once the fundamentals are established. You can also integrate “Firing through Presentation” when you reach this point, again, taking into account your retention position.
I NEVER state what number of rounds needs to be fired in my Drills, as “Practice makes Permanent.” The “Fire two and assess” drill which came from the competition circuit has no place in real world situations.
We need to SHOOT until the THREAT IS DOWN. Period.
As a good friend of mine was fond of saying:
“Shoot them INTO the Ground! Use your gun like a F*cking Shovel!”
When drilling on the Zipper, the instructions were simple: “Fire X number of rounds beginning around the bread basket and ending at the eyeballs.”
Another overlooked anatomical effect of the zipper is the spine. If this person is not wearing IBA, the rounds are in line to pierce the spine area, which will cause IMMEDIATE neurological damage to STOP the person from moving or breathing in most cases. If they ARE wearing IBA, if the rounds pierce through the neck, the rounds are that much more devastating, piercing the carotid arteries and then the occipital area or top of the spine.
As it is frequently said “Adapt or Die” and that applies to the armed civilian in more ways than one. The more we look at the world around us and start questioning how we do things, the better off we are going to be; this keeps us from getting into a “rut” training wise and could possibly save a life someday.
Stay Armed and Dangerous!