I’ve been thinking about Robert Fargo’s question How much ammo do you carry? I’ve been wondering how a shooter’s available ammo supply relates to their strategy and training for a defensive gun use (DGU). A shooter who carries a snub-nosed revolver without spare ammunition has far fewer options that the citizen carrying a high capacity service pistol and several spare magazines. The difference can range anywhere between five to 50 (or more) rounds. Is that a life-or-death difference? Or is training the key variable no matter how many (or few) rounds you carry? Conventional wisdom says . . .
When you train to use your gun for self-defense, shoot to stop. Basically keep shooting until there’s no longer a threat. You may kill your assailant or you may not. The important goal: eliminating the chance that they can harm you, your loved ones or (perhaps) other innocent life.
Under the stress of a DGU, we are far more likely to “overshoot” our target. In other words, fire more rounds than are strictly, objectively necessary. If someone is charging at you with a knife, you’re not going to check his pulse after every round to see if he’s stopping.
Nor are you going to count rounds as your brain (eventually) struggles to assess your attacker’s ballistically altered offensive capabilities. There’s a large body of evidence showing that shooters involved in a DGU—both civilians and police—can’t recall how many shots they have fired.
As long as the bullets get the job done and no innocent bystanders are aerated, there’s only one major problem: another threat. The dangers of going to slide-lock (i.e. emptying your gun) against attacker #1 is great if attacker #1 is the only threat. Since we can’t see forward in time, attackers #2 and #3 could still show up after we’re empty. So . . .
If you carry a pocket pistol or revolver without spare ammo, do you train to be more conservative with your shots? Do you err on the side of accuracy over speed because the lack of a well placed shot would make a bigger difference when you only have a few of them? Or do you hold your breath and cross your fingers that that statistics work in your favor and you’ll only need three shots to end the fight?
If you carry a high[er] capacity firearm with a lot of ammo and spare mag or mags, do you train to unleash as much lead as possible as accurately as possible and hope for the best? Double taps? Or do you train to continually assess the need to fire each individual bullet?
[Nick Savery (not shown) is the author of www.IndestructibleTraining.com, a blog discussing integrating training across a variety of systems and platforms for the purposes of self-defense.]