4 firearm myths that bad guys believe but you shouldn’t
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Myth 1: You can't shoot accurately with a [fill in the blank] pistol.
Normally, I hear this argument about subcompacts, pistols/revolvers with long, heavy triggers, or pistols that have a long double action for the first round and a single action thereafter.
The fact is that all of these make firing fast and accurate groups more difficult, but it shouldn't be an excuse for poor performance. If you have a subcompact pistol or revolver that shoots large groups, I challenge you to put it in a gun vice, shoot a few rounds with it at 10-15 feet, and see just how precise and accurate it really is.
Nine times out of 10, when someone gives me a gun and tells me it's all over the place, I can put the next five rounds into a 1-inch group.
Am I a good shot? Yes. But I'm incredibly average as far as physical ability and natural vision go. I've just put the time in to be able to consistently grip with three of my fingers, keep my thumb relaxed and patiently focus on the front sight while I slowly press my index finger straight back.
The great news about that is you can practice 90 percent of what you need to be able to shoot precisely in your living room or basement, doing dry fire without using any ammo.
And once you can do it with a subcompact or a gun with a "difficult" trigger, you can perform with any pistol or revolver.
Myth 2: It's better to practice spreading your shots rather than shooting one-hole groups.
The logic here is that as you're practicing on paper targets, you should try to spread out your shots so you'll do more damage to more organs and hopefully stop your attacker faster.
I believe the exact opposite. You should practice shooting one-hole groups and progressively adding speed, motion and/or stress. Here's why:
First: Keep in mind that shooting a one-hole group is a litmus test. The faster you can do it, the more solid your mechanical, vision and mental skills are for shooting. The slower you have to go — or if you can't do it at all — indicates you have some low-hanging fruit for improvement.
Second: When you know you can shoot one-hole groups, your earned confidence — not bluster and bravado — goes up. When your earned confidence is high, you stay calmer. When you stay calmer and remain more in control in an extreme stress situation, you'll dump less adrenaline, have a lower heart rate and be able to suppress your fight-or-flight response.
The higher-level implicit system of the brain will remain more in control — all of which leads to seeing and identifying threats faster, reacting faster and performing closer to how you would under ideal conditions. (Confidence is one of many factors. Having it won't guarantee success, but a lack of confidence greatly increases the chance of failure in an extreme stress situation.)
Third: Let's look at the "trying to spread out your shots increases damage" myth.
Theoretically, I agree with this with a carbine or rifle, but not a pistol. A pistol is a relatively pathetic tool for stopping lethal threats in a timely manner, and it normally takes multiple well-placed shots to stop the threat from a determined attacker who is at close range.
If you take exception to my comment about pistol ammo being pathetic, check your state's hunting laws and see what caliber they consider to be the minimum humane caliber to use on deer. In most states, you'll find the guns most people carry on a daily basis aren't legal for hunting.
So, back to spreading your groups out vs. one-hole groups ...
First off, shooting a one-hole group at a static paper target while standing flat-footed doesn't necessarily translate to shooting a one-hole group on a dynamic attacker when you're moving.
If you train to shoot one-hole groups — or at least tight groups — you'll get the 2-5-inch groups you're looking for in combat when you add in speed, stress and motion. If you insist on shooting a standard of 5-8-inch groups in practice (without being able to shoot one-hole groups), stats and hundreds of police after-action reports per year show that you'll probably miss your target with eight or nine of 10 shots fired.
Second, keep in mind that even the best defensive ammo is weak and underpowered compared to carbine and rifle ammunition, and piling round after round on top of each other is a wonderful thing — if you have a specific purpose and target in mind. If you're piling round after round through the lower right quadrant of the belly, you're wasting time and ammo.
But if you're viewing your attacker three-dimensionally and aiming through the body for the T3-T4 vertebrae, then that first round uses up a lot of its energy punching through clothing and the sternum or other bone. The second shot could go 2 inches away from it and spend a lot of its energy punching through barriers again, or it could go right through the first hole and have significantly more energy to disrupt the circulatory system or possibly even get a CNS stoppage by hitting the spine.
Will it really happen? Probably not. The first example is more realistic than this one — the chance of you and your attacker being in the exact same spot and orientation from one shot to the next is next to zero, which is all the more reason to try to pile your rounds on top of each other rather than adding a variable to the equation.
Myth 3: All fine motor skills will fail under extreme stress.
I love this argument, mainly because I've been passionate on both sides of it. I used to be passionate that all fine motor skills failed under extreme stress — until I had enough people who had been in combat multiple times tell me I was wrong.
Fine motor skills don't fail under stress, people fail under stress. However, people can train and inoculate themselves to stress to the point where they can respond calmly and precisely in situations where others default to gross motor skills or freeze.
This is kind of tricky and fuzzy, but suffice it to say that there's a gantlet you have to go through before you respond calmly in situations where others get overamped up or freeze. You won't know you've made it through until you've been tested and had one or more successful outcomes — be it simulated (realistically) or real.
What you'll find is the more you've practiced a given fine or complex motor skill, the longer you'll be able to perform it at higher pulse rates and higher adrenaline (among other brain chemical/hormone) levels. In other words, it's more accurate to say fine motor skills will fail when you have an extreme reaction to an extreme stress event.
Here's an example: If you've had someone with intent point a gun at you at close range 20 times (what I'd call an extreme stress event) and walked away the winner every time, you're going to be much calmer the 21st time than someone else will be if it's their first time.
Myth 4: You fall down and stop fighting or die when you get shot.
At the beginning of the Global War on Terror, troops were getting shot with nonimmediate-life-threatening wounds, without realizing they were shot (and still fighting). Then, when they saw they were shot, they would fall on the ground screaming like what they'd seen people do on TV — sometimes even dying.
It's what we see on TV and movies all the time. When you play paintball and get hit, you raise your gun and yell "I'm hit" or "I'm out" and stop fighting. Same with Airsoft. Same with most wax bullet and simunition training. It's not reality.
There's a 90 percent-plus chance you'll survive a single gunshot wound — and that's without body armor. So keep fighting if you get hit and finish the fight!
Thoughts? Questions? Supporting or contradictory experience? Sound off by commenting below.
- The stress of 911 call-takers and emergency dispatchers
- Children of the badge: The impact of stress on law enforcement children
- Married to the badge: Stress in the law enforcement marriage
- 7 trigger control errors and how to fix them
- Why our home defense plan turned out to be a failure
- Dirty dozen: Avoid these 12 bad habits while shooting
- Managing law enforcement stress through emotional intelligence
- NYC’s crackdown on e-bikes: What this means for riders, owners
- Build a foundation of trust on your team
- Immigration efforts add even more stress to police duties
- How dentists can help fix America’s opioid epidemic
- Intel’s latest move puts spotlight on tech side of autonomous cars
- What parents of gifted students desperately want your school to know
See your work in future editions
Your content, Your Expertise,
Your Industry Needs YOUR Expert Voice & We've got the platform you needFind Out How