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“You’re a police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call. Go!” Oh great. I’m a cop. I am so not a cop. I don’t think like a cop. I don’t know cop rules. And yet there I was in my noggin’, neck and nuts protective gear, pretending to be an LEO in the most dangerous situation that the Boys in Blue face on a regular basis. Simunition training. What are you gonna do? I’ll tell you what I did: knocked on the door. After a “What the f do you want?” reply, I asked permission to enter, opened the door (from a squatting position) and shot the dog. JK. I entered the room and saw a man standing at the far end with a gun to his head . . .

I went to total cover, OK concealment, behind a counter. I tried to reason with the loon. “You have other options,” I shouted. He sure did. The bastard shot my arm and torso. With a revolver. Three times. And holy s did it hurt. I still have the welts.

Sometimes the more painful the lesson the more important it is.

In this case, I learned two extremely important lessons. First, don’t EVER lose sight of the threat. That was really dumb. Second, don’t enter a room unless you have to. I could have—should have—used the doorway for concealment. I would have maintained distance and had a much better chance of not getting shot.

“Our natural instinct is to move towards the target,” Jeff Peltier said, not even slightly soothing my wounded ego or bleeding appendage. “Don’t over-penetrate a room. You eliminate options and put yourself in harm’s way.”

The video above illustrates the point—only not really. As Jeff pointed out, all bets are off  in a hostage situation . You may have to go in all guns blazing. Setting aside the shooter’s violation of boarding house rules—everyone gets firsts before anyone gets seconds—the competitor was doing what a competitor’s gotta do.

Otherwise, you don’t have to go in hot and deep (so to speak) into a danger zone. I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone into that mock house in my Simunition drill if I hadn’t been deputized. Enter a room with a suicidal maniac? Are you kidding? Enter three rooms with shooters and hostages (as above)? That’s meshugah.

Still, point taken: don’t rush in where angels (and SWAT teams) fear to tread. When my turn came to design a scenario, I created a confrontation to reality check the anti-penetration warning for armed civilians.

I had the bad guy lie down in the floor of the mock house. I told him to say nothing and remain motionless. After about twenty seconds, he was to sit up and shoot the good guy. I told the good guy that his daughter was in the back bedroom. Go.

The good guy went into the room and tried to figure out what was going on. The bad guy sat still for a bit, sat up and shot him. The good guy should have “pied” the room from the doorway for multiple threats (if nothing else), maintained concealment and dealt with it from there. If he needed to go in, he should have done so quickly and moved strategically.

I’m setting up a Simuntions training date at American Firearms School for mid-July. If you’d like to participate, ping guntruth@me.com with the word SIMUNITION in the subject bar. There are only twenty places; five are gone. Meanwhile, remember that distance equals time; time is your friend. Over-penetrate a room and you could be out of time before you know it.

7 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Over-Penetrate a Room

  1. This emphasizes the point that civilians should leave the cop work to the cops because unless you and your significant other practice as team you are on your own. More often than not you will be surprised by the BG in your own home so never attempt to clear your house. If you don’t have line of sight to a position once you detect a threat in your house don’t go there.

    If you have a high paranoia quotient get a bunch of cheap webcams and put one in each room and monitor them from your bedroom “command center.”

  2. This is so very similar to a scenario that I went through Thursday, in the Police Academy, that I thought R.F. was there with us for a minute. Now, the sim rounds don’t hurt that bad, and I too have the blood to prove it.

  3. Good article. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply things, because lets face it in real life you don’t get time to review a plan, or even think that hard. Putting some basic rules in place like distance=time may not seem like much but it changes how you do things across the board.
    It would be cool to come up with a short list, especially for DGU.
    Easy to remember things like:
    Distance=time
    Pie your doors
    Aim while moving “comes from the move latterly while drawing and aiming. Hopefully you are moving side ways towards cover.”
    finger off trigger “Ok I made this up, but I feel keeping your finger off trigger until you have a target makes sense since you don’t want to shoot the dog or another family member”

    Simple things that if something happens you can check them off without thinking. Kind of like the four golden rules, but in this case it is for DGU.

  4. I am the guy running the rifle in the videos. First of all let me clarify, this was not run as a tactical scenario, it was a tactical type scenario and it was a competition shoot for score not tactical accuracy. It was made clear in the range brief to not shoot as a tactical drill. I am not a wanna be, I do alot of tactical training and teaching. My time would have been faster but my training kept kicking in making me be slow and methodical. I actually did better than many of the full time police officers. If this had been a tactical drill it wold have looked alot different. I would have not entered a room with only nine rounds in the gun or by myself without cover or back up. I would have also been agressing the targets while moving.

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