In the Well Armed Woman demo video below the St. Louis shooter shows the crowd how she shoots while moving. Right answer! Get off the X! Movement is life! If you can’t practice moving and shooting at a square range, find somewhere where you can. Otherwise you’re in real danger of creating a training scar: shooting while standing still. There’s a problem here though . . .

Moving backwards while shooting is the least desirable option — if you have one. That’s true for one simple reason: you can’t see behind yourself. While it would be nice to think you already know what’s behind you when the ballistic sh*t hits the proverbial fan (situational awareness and all), it’s not bloody likely.

And then there’s the problem of dragging a child or backwards. Their natural reaction to being pulled backwards: resist the movement. And that’s the most likely way they’ll fall, when you pull them backwards.

Moving backwards is the most likely way for you to trip and fall. And falling backwards is the worst way to fall during a defensive gun use.

Train yourself to move sideways. Also train yourself to move backwards. In other words, don’t train yourself to move in ONE direction (or listen to their music obsessively).

It doesn’t hurt to look before you move, but that may not be possible. And when you move, it’s baby steps people. Baby steps.

22 Responses to Don’t Back Up (Unless You Have To): Self-Defense Tip

    • Yup. It’s fun to train at drawing down on a charging blade-wielding partner and watch their head spin when you move toads them at 45 degrees and they end up completely past you and flailing while you get a bead.

  1. Don’t forget that moving straight back leaves you directly in their line of fire. Same thing goes for hand to hand, when I am sparring with someone and they start moving straight back I just follow until they are pinned to the wall. Talk about instant enlightenment!

  2. Two things: 1) gang bangers can’t shoot so you might jump into the path of a bullet that otherwise would have missed. And 2) Unless I’m defending another when I get off the X I’m going to be moving like a leopard and assess whether to shoot back or keep going. If trapped with nowhere to go it’s straight at the attacker with everything I’ve got. I’ll use guns, knives, hands, feet, teeth, and head butts come into play as well. And anything that might be laying around will get weaponized. I take violence directed at me personally!

    • 1) gang bangers can’t shoot so you might jump into the path of a bullet that otherwise would have missed.

      Not moving laterally because your opponent might be a bad shot has to be the worst tactical advice I’ve ever heard.

      • Yea, and having grown up in a city where people i knew actually had been gang bangers, I can tell ya something. They shoot very well. Underestimating their shooting skills will get you killed. The reason people think they shoot poorly is because, just like everyone else, they often dont train at shooting while moving. They train at gun ranges or a fellow bangers back yard in the middle of know where. Stationary targets.

        Soooo, stand on the x against a bangers….your getting killed.

  3. I’m no hardcore tactical trainer but something I’ve observed comes into play here and, loath as I am to admit it, it’s a training issue that can and probably should be addressed by some sort of FoF training (how you get that is up to you, martial arts classes are generally cheaper than a weekend with some high-end former operator and more useful IMHO).

    Lots of people I’ve seen will tell you that they don’t let people into the “bubble” but this simply isn’t true because sometimes you don’t get the choice. Something that should be considered and, IMHO, practiced a bit is making space. A lot of people I’ve met labor under the delusion that they’ll draw their gun and you even see this in some training videos about getting the gun out at extremely close quarters. Yeah, that generally ain’t happening. If someone’s close enough to get their hands on you the options are 1) shoot through clothing with that revolver in your pocket on which you already have your hand or 2) make space before you draw. As Mike Tyson noted, your plan is good to go right until you start getting punched in the face.

    If someone’s blasting you in the face (or trying to), coming at you with a knife or making a good faith effort to take you to the ground you’re probably going to fail on your draw and, again MHO, you’re an idiot for trying to draw in that situation. Fight back to make space. Once that space is made you can escape or you can draw or both or whatever is applicable at the time. There’s no point in attempting to draw a gun while you’re tangled up with someone because you probably can’t use it and very well could lose control of the weapon or end up shooting yourself or an innocent bystander during the struggle.

    Don’t move backwards and don’t assume you can draw your firearm at close quarters. Assume, rather, that you cannot draw. If you end up being able to, well universe dropped a big old favor right in your lap.

    • You are very correct guns are just one tool of readiness, mindset and training are what enable you to use your tools if you need them. Being equipped with some good hand to hand techniques will serve far better than just carry alone.

  4. Square range. That’s an interesting term. If you search for the meaning of it on the major search engines you’ll come up pretty empty. An article on the origin of that term as well as the types of shooting ranges, might be interesting. Particularly to those new to the sport.

  5. A little tip we learned in Kenpo: when you’re moving backwards or sideways (ie, where you’re not able to look, because your assailant is in front of you, and you’re looking at him), you “drag-step” – you drag your leading foot, in slight contact with the ground, in the direction you want to go, then step in the direction of movement with the trailing leg.

    The “drag” on the leading foot helps tell you what the terrain is like, what’s in your way – the trailing leg stepping is to get away from the threat ASAP.

    It’s saved me from a mis-step onto things like bottles and into holes in a couple of sketchy situations.

    • A fair point, I was taught that too, also in Kenpo Karate.

      It does have a significant drawback though IMO. That drawback is that it’s easy to get into a habit of stalker-stepping which severely limits your ability to move.

  6. As stated in the article moving rearward is not the best option for several reasons. Trip and fall over something…. visually you’re not moving you’re just getting smaller. We generally teach people bow to move in all directions. Ideally I would want to move laterally or diagonally. You could however being a hallway and have no choice but to move backwards which is why we teach people to move in all directions..

    As someone else said “get off the X’ move don’t just stand there……..

  7. Crouch and move forward, no tunnel vision. Or turn and run like hell! Of course you will be turning your back to the enemy. Then if you do that you can’t watch your six. It all depends, going in to battle your game plan always changes, by the seconds.

  8. And falling backwards is the worst way to fall during a defensive gun use.

    If you are going to fall, I think falling backwards is the best way to fall — at least the way I am picturing it in my head. And here is why:
    (1) Now that you are on your keister, spread your feet apart and blast away. You should have a good sight picture and even have the option of shooting two-handed.
    (2) If your attacker tries to advance and pounce on you, all you have to do is tilt onto your back and let your legs — the most powerful muscle group in your body — hold your attacker’s weight or deflect him/her sideways (and most likely onto the ground as well).
    (3) In order for your attacker to harm you, they have to shoot/stab/bludgeon through your legs which are a much better shield than your rib cage. Sure, leg wounds can be critical/fatal — and typically nowhere near as critical/fatal as wounds to your torso.

    Falling forward seems to be about the worst because it would be very difficult to arch your neck/back (enough to see your attacker), push on the ground with your free hand, and aim/fire with your other hand.

    • Falling backwards, especially due to tripping over something or stepping off a curb you didn’t see is a great way to whack your head. That can lead concussions, unconsciousness and death. In fact it happens often enough with people who are not involved in a fight that the CDC keeps stats on it. Last I looked it was something on the order of 700 people a year died from falling down on a flat surface. That’s not people falling off a scaffold or something, it’s people tripping over their own feet, rocks, curbs etc.

      In the context of this article: I’m of the opinion that if you’re close enough that you feel the need to hit reverse you’re probably too close to draw anyway. People really need to get away from the idea that their firearm is even usable in a lot of situations.

      Now, don’t get me wrong. Often that gun is accessible and usable to great effect, but assuming that it will be is a bad idea because when Mr. Murphy shows up and takes that option away from you bad shit is going to happen if your whole plan was based around your burner.

      Consider this video (granted the guy did start the fight) and when, after the fight starts, either one would have had the opportunity to draw a gun. By the time the trucker gains the upper hand to the point that he could draw it would no longer be legal.

      http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshh2ZV2YiJg3d8jaz64

      That shit at the end there isn’t the guy trying to get up. He’s having a seizure due to the asswhipping he just got.

      • strych9,

        Obviously, if you fall backwards like someone just fell a tree, you are in serious trouble. Maybe I am different: I know how to fall backwards and land on my butt and hands and not hit my head. That was the picture that I had in my head.

        • I think its not the falling down with a gun in your hand, I think its the teetering thing. If your stumbling your hand waving is not a shooting stance. It could result into shooting in the air, shooting a bystander or even shooting yourself or whatever. Balance and shooting goes together like rum and coke and if you don’t drink it is like peanut-butter and jelly. Just not a good thing off balance shooting. Just saying.

  9. The best direction to move in any encounter could be forward, sideways, or backwards.

    Here are some advantages and disadvantages or moving in various directions:

    — Moving forward
    You reduce your attacker’s time to aim, reload, reconsider, etc. and you increase the odds that you will hit your attacker.
    Of course you also reduce your time to aim, reload, reconsider, etc. and you increase the odds that your attacker will hit you.

    — Moving sideways
    You reduce your attacker’s chance of hitting you because you are moving sideways. You might also reduce your chance of hitting your attacker because you are moving. And, you may not see what is beside you and run into something or trip on something.

    — Moving backwards
    You decrease the attacker’s chance of hitting you (because you become a smaller target) and you increase the time it takes your attacker to advance on you which gives you more options. Of course you also decrease your chance of hitting your attacker (because he/she is becoming a smaller target) and you have a really good chance of tripping over something behind you that you cannot see.

    There are no guarantees in life. Staying still could be a significant factor in your demise, just like moving forward, sideways, or backward. Do you best and hope and pray for the best.

  10. I took a class a couple of years ago where the philosophy really made a lot of sense.

    there was an emphasis on moving even more than shooting.
    There was an emphasis on moving backwards. FAST.

    The way to do that is to turn in the direcetion of flight and fire towards the attacker with one hand .
    Think of running diagonally forwards to the left while shooting with your right arm extended right and even slightly back if your flexibility allows.

    Since this was an instinctive shooting class, after a bit of practice we could all retreat faster and more safely than duck stepping backwards while delivering fast, combat accurate fire.

    This obviously doesn’t apply to all situations. The instructor stressed this as a way to get to cover or even simply escape. He stressed that running away, unless there is an innocent to protect is almost always better than fighting.

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