In many ways, competition shooting techniques aren’t applicable to defensive gun use. For example, I find the distinct lack of “no shoot” targets deeply worrying. I believe a defensive shooter should re-assess their situation between drawing their firearm and pulling the trigger. With their finger off the trigger. It’s a debatable point. Some gun guys reckon if the gun’s coming out it’s hammer time. Period. But one thing we can all agree on: if the bad guy needs shooting, center mass your target. Which most people don’t, for all kinds of reasons . . .
Did you know that New York City cops have a hit rate of 17%? It’s entirely possible that your average Joe (or gangbanger) is a better marksman than the Boys in Blue when push comes to shove
Anyway, let’s lump all the psychological, tactical and physiological reasons defensive shooters miss their target under the heading “stress.” And work from the principle that “spray and pray” is the worst possible armed self-defense technique. Or, if you prefer, rapid point shooting without aiming.
S&P is, of course, wildly inaccurate and ineffective fire. UNLESS you’re standing VERY close to the bad guy. Which may well account for the superior lethality of many non-police DGUs (Defensive Gun Uses).
In any case, concentrating on the first shot is the best way to avoid this dangerous (for bystanders as well as shooters) adrenalin-fueled panic response. All you need to do: tell yourself that only the first shot is the only one that counts.
WHAT? Any member of our Armed Intelligentsia will tell you that this “one shot stop” idea is utter rubbish (Mike the Limey in particular).
Stopping a threat with a single bullet—even if it’s a notoriously lethal round like the .357 Magnum—is a highly improbable occurrence. Most humans need a lot of shooting before they’ll croak. You’re best advised to keep shooting until the threat stops. And even then, it takes a while for the bad guy to bleed out.
BUT if you believe that the first shot is the only one that counts, and program yourself to take your time to deliver it effectively, you’re more likely to deliver it effectively. Start as you mean to finish. It’s amazing what a single well-placed bullet can do.
I made this discovery as a D-List celebrity in the UK when I was invited on a Jay Leno-like chat show. I figured if I could walk to the couch in a calm, relaxed way, I could stay relaxed throughout the entire [three-minute] interview. Those first few steps were the key to what came afterwards.
On the other side of the equation, if your first steps are hurried, if that initial defensive shot is wild, you’re far more likely to continue to blow it. I MISSED! HOLY S4it! I MISSED! HE’S GOING TO KILL ME! The recoil and noise and panic are bound to put you in a negative feedback loop. The next rounds will be equally wild or wilder. And then . . . that’s it. Time’s up. No more bullets for you boyo.
If you slow down, draw your weapon and make sure your first shot hits the target, your confidence will increase. You’ll know that you’re taking effective action, and can continue to do so. Or stop shooting, as needs be.
Remember: time is slowing down in a DGU. You have WAY more time than you think you have. You CAN do this. Concentrate on your initial shot is the best way to make sure that all your shots are accurate—at a time when accuracy is likely to be the difference between life and death.
If I can get that first shot on target, I’ll be OK. If it’s a lie, it’s a damned good one.