Back in May, I took several force-on-force classes at Practical Firearms Training in West Virginia. The instruction included “live fire” with Airsoft and paintball guns and simunitions. In Part Three, I attempted to clear a room with a bad guy in it. Unsuccessfully. In this exercise, the situation was reversed: I was the good guy, defending my territory. Same layout: one door with a series of three closets that stick out about a foot or so beyond the wall running along the wall on my immediate left. I was given a minute or so to choose a hiding place.  There wasn’t a whole lot to work with, but you play the hand you’re dealt . . .

I hid behind the wall that sticks out about a foot or so just past the last closet on the left side of the room. I positioned myself with my back and left arm flat against the wall for maximum concealment. I had my gun extended out in my right hand, but just behind the closet wall. I figured I could fire quickly once the bad guy became visible, while remaining as concealed as possible.

Time moved slowly as I waited, motionless, with my gun extended, for the bad guy to become visible.

Occasionally, I could hear him moving as he was working his way into the room. But the low level noise didn’t give me enough information to identify his location. I wasn’t about to break cover to see if I could spot him.

The processes seemed to go on forever. My heart rate increased. My gun started shaking from muscle fatigue. Remaining motionless provides no physical release from the stress of anticipation. It’s equally constraining psychologically; you have very little control over the situation. It’s too late to move to a better location.

In fact, unlike the invader, I was cornered. I couldn’t just call the whole thing off and leave. No, I was stuck. The invader was setting the pace of events and it was SLOW.
The longer I stood there, with my gun straight out, the more my muscle control degraded. I also felt increasingly nervous, watching and waiting for any sign of the bad guy.
Suddenly I spotted part of him, just around the corner I was hiding behind, maybe ten feet away.

Now! I leaned out from the cover and opened fire holding the gun in my right hand. At the same moment, the bad guy opened fire with his Airsoft gun.
In the fast and vicious exchange of shots at fairly close range, I felt strong stinging pain in my right hand.

The instructor yelled for a cease fire.

I was bleeding. I’d taken a hit immediately behind my nail on my right thumb. At close range, the BB from an Airsoft gun can break bare skin.

I’d put on shooting gloves to avoid getting such shots. But they didn’t cover the last 1/3 of my fingers, Naturally, the BB hit me on the uncovered area.
I’d also been hit on the knuckle of my right right finger, which was protected by the glove.

The next morning I noticed my right little finger had swollen up. I’d been hit THREE times on my right hand.

As best we could tell, I’d missed the bad guy completely. (I was using a paintball gun with jamming problems). At least one of my shots sailed over his right shoulder and hit the wall behind him.

My status: severely wounded. My right hand would have been totally incapacitated. My torso could also have been hit by rounds passing through my hand.

Lessons learned:

* Any body part protruding from cover/concealment is vulnerable, especially your gun hand
* When confronted with a weapon, many shooters get tunnel vision: their eyes lock onto that weapon. Generally speaking, where you look is where the bullets will go. Get in the habit of looking at people’s hands, then raise your eyes to their body mass.
* It’s not a bad idea to practice shooting with your weak hand
* Gun fights tend to be very, very fast. They’re best avoided altogether. Even if you do everything right, you still might lose.

Next: Part Five – stopping an active shooter in a school

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