I recently spoke to Top Shot‘s Mike Hughes about his Jake Zweig photo-realistic shooting targets. I wondered if Mike had any qualms about encouraging people to, you know, shoot Jake. “They should be looking at the target’s hands,” he said. Weaselly but true: that’s where the bad shit usually comes from. While a bad guy’s bare hands can certainly pose a lethal threat, if the perp is holding a weapon, it’s an excellent indication that you need to get your game face on and your armed defense ready. Now. That said, keeping your eyes hand-o-centric in a high stress situation isn’t as easy as it sounds . . .
For one thing, bad guys are good at being bad. In fact, they’re way better than you at weapons concealment. If they get caught with something sharp or ballistic, they’re going to jail. So they figure-out how to keep the tools of their trade on the DL. And they’re quick; they can bring a hidden weapon from “out of nowhere” in seconds.
For another, perps are pros at pre-attack chit chat. “Hey man, what’s up?” Or “Do you know what time it is?” They also know how to lure victims in with a smile. When packed-up, gangs sometimes send one member to engage the vic while the others circle around. All of which is designed (however subconsciously) to distract you from the source of the real tsuris: their hands.
To keep a BG’s hands in sight, you need to resist the natural urge to stare at his or her face(s). Strike that. You need to train yourself to look at their hands. Luckily, that’s easy enough. Just do it all the time. Whenever you look at someone, look at their hands first, then bring your eyes up to their face. Before long, it becomes natural. But don’t forget to raise your eyes.
There are plenty of examples of people who shot bad guys’ hands because their eyes fixated on the perp’s weapon. That might look way cool in a TV western, but it’s a lucky unlucky shot. When it comes to stopping / slowing a lethal threat, your best bet will always be center mass. Unless the BG’s wearing body armor, when head shots are the order or the day. Provided you can’t run like hell.
In the same way that drivers are taught don’t look at the tree when they’re in the middle of an unplanned off-road adventure, an armed self-defender who’s in it to win it should take their eyes off the weapon and look where they want the bullets to go. Our old friend—the “call it out” multiple target range drill—will serve you well. Look, think, breathe, aim, shoot.
To paraphrase the Talking Heads, before you’re up against it, take a look at those hands. And remember the refrain: all I want is to breathe. To keep breathing, watch for danger where it lives.