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This is part two of a five-part series on an advanced tactical training force-on-force class at PFT in West Virginia. Force-on-force uses Airsoft guns, paintball guns or simunitions to make the training scenarios as real as possible. In part one, I’d overcome a mentally ill attacker in a doctor’s office waiting room. I’d knocked away the bad guy’s handgun (which he had pushed into my chest), drew my own concealed gun and shot him three times from a retention position (the butt of the handgun anchored to my right hip with my body twisted slightly right). In part two, we faced an armed robber in a simulated convenience store.

There was one door into the room by a corner. I’ll call that the front of the room. There was a table with a cash register between the door and the opposite wall at the front of the room. The “store clerk” was standing by the cash register.

In the back of the room: three-levels of shelving that contained a sampling of products (a large package of toilet tissue, a case of beer, cleaners, and some other items and boxes). There were some closets on the side of the room near the door. The closets ran from the front of the room to the back of the room. That was about it.

In this scenario two “good guys” were armed: VCDL Board member Dennis O’Connor and I. There were about eight other people in the room. We were all told to simply go about our business, looking at goods, talking to the clerk or to each other, whatever.

After milling about for a few minutes, I was in the back of the room and had my back to the door when I heard a person yell something to the effect of “This is a hold up!”

I froze, and then slowly turned around to see someone standing about ten feet inside the door and about twenty feet from me brandishing a handgun in the general direction of the clerk. The room was as silent as a tomb. If that was all he was going to say and he was going to simply clean out the register and leave, I was not planning to take any action other than to stand still.

That being said, I WAS moving my hand slowly toward my concealed firearm just in case. Next, the bad guy yelled for everyone to lay down on the floor.

THAT changed everything.

I’d decided I wasn’t about to get into a position where I’d be completely helpless. Laying face down on the floor lends itself to the person on the ground being executed.

I’d seen this happen for real in the surveillance video of the Golden Market in Richmond. [YouTube description here.] The bad guy pointed his gun TWICE at a helpless, prostrated customer. He was going to pull the trigger when a gun owner at the front of the convenience store fired at the bad guy and distracted him.

For me the question was no longer “if” I would fire, but when. There was no where to hide, no real cover. For now, the bad guy hadn’t really been paying attention to me with all the other people in the store. As I feigned going down to a kneeling position, I noticed that almost everyone else was down on the floor.

I had a clean shot, with the other customers between me and the bad guy being out of my line of fire. Of course, the bad guy had a clean shot at me and his gun wasn’t concealed in a holster. I was vulnerable – there was simply no practical cover or concealment available. If I tried to move, the chance of me tripping over a customer lying on the floor was just too high. I was frozen in place and in extreme danger.

I knew I had to make up my mind quickly; the fact that I was one of the only customers not on the ground made me a more visible—and likely–target. Once I opened fire, all hell would tear loose. I had to get that gun out of concealment and firing in a fast, smooth, and accurate manner—before the bad guy knew what was happening. If I screwed this up, the chances were high that I’d die in a hail of bullets.

As I was getting ready to draw, I heard a series of rapid shots from my left! My peripheral vision was greatly reduced under the stress. My focus on the bad guy was so complete, I didn’t see any movement from my left and didn’t know anything was happening until I heard the shots.

I turned my head towards the sound. It was Dennis, who was off slightly to one side and behind the clerk. He had decided that he, too, was not going to lay on the ground, and made up his mind faster than I did. He’d opened fire.

Realizing that the bad guy might now open fire to retaliate, I turned my head back toward the bad guy, I drew like lightening and REALLY OPENED UP ON HIM, firing to slide-lock. I simply could not take the chance of the bad guy returning fire at all. He MUST be stopped.

Having received multiple lethal hits in a fast sequence from Dennis and me, the bad guy dropped to the floor without being able to get a single shot off. Someone ran up and kicked the bad guy’s gun away from him.

I decided that this might be a good time to breath.

The total elapsed time from “This is a hold up!” to my breathing again, was probably less than 15 seconds. Dennis and I had both survived the second shooting scenario unscathed.

Next time, neither of is wouldn’t be so lucky.

[Read Part 1 of this series here. Next Friday, Part 3: Clearing a Room]

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  1. I love to see people engaging in this type of force on force training. The square range stuff is good to get the basics of gun-handling, but only the kind of training you're describing can provide the stress-inoculation necessary to learn how to think under stress.

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