When you’re shooting at someone to eliminate an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm, do what the police do: aim center mass. Never mind what you may see in the movies or the bleating of antis who suggest you should only “shoot to wound.”
Aim at the threat’s body to stop the threat.
Specifically, that big area in the middle. A body’s center of mass is really somewhere in the upper stomach area. Where you really want to aim is the center of the chest area as in the target at the top. Still, that’s commonly referred to as center mass, so we’ll go with that.
The thinking is simple enough: the bigger the target the better your chance of hitting it. At the same time, all of the perp’s vital organs are conveniently located in the upper middle are of his or her body.
You’re far more likely to stop a threat if you hit the bad guy’s oxygen and circulation engines (the lungs and the heart). Which is all well and good if the bad guy is facing you head on.
But what if he’s sideways to you?
Same thing. Aim for the middle. In fact, you’re well-advised to get yourself some of these “side-on” targets; gun ranges generally don’t stock them.
Some gun gurus recommend aiming for the pelvic girdle (that bit below center mass just below the stomach). They usually add the caveat that you should do so when the bad guy is right on top of you. At which point shooting any part of their body is a very good idea.
Back in the day, before the widespread adoption of semi-automatic pistols, instructors used to talk about shooting a revolver to “zip up” the bad guy (that’s got nothing to do with hoodies). They advised armed self-defenders start shooting at the bad guy’s pelvis and keep firing. As the gun’s muzzle rises, follow-up shots will rise too, moving from pelvis to center mass.
But that’s a lot of thinking and aiming for a tense, adrenaline-filled life-or-death scenario. Don’t over-think it. Just aim for center mass.
Shooting a bad guy isn’t easy. You’re moving — you are moving, right? — the bad guy’s moving and your stress level is pegged at Chernobyl levels.
While cops tend to get a mulligan (or dozen) when rounds go astray, you don’t. Every bullet you fire comes with a lawyer attached (as they say). You need every round to hit the bad guy, and none not to.
So move, shoot, aim at the bad guy’s center mass and hope for the best. Remember: people don’t fall over and die when you shoot them like they do on TV. Keep shooting — center mass — until the threat stops. And try hard not to miss.
That said, if your attacker is wearing body armor or you really, really want to stop them dead in their tracks, go for a head shot. Realizing that the only way to raise the odds of that working is to get close. Gruesome as it sounds, gruesome as it will be, a contact shot is best.