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On his podcast last week, Michael Bane talked about altering our practice to accommodate the new reality of Islamic terrorism. In essence, we should prepare ourselves to deal with some of the same kind of things that Israel has been dealing with since about 1947 or so (Thankfully without the hordes of invading T-62′s for now, at least.).
Since at least the early ’70s, the paradigm in the United States for armed personal defense has been defending against street crime: Muggers and rapists were our greatest worry, not a re-creation of Charlie Hebdo on American soil. Sadly, those days are in the past. We’re no longer worried about the bad guy coming within bad-breath distance to do us harm, now we also need to worry about attackers with rifles whose intentions aren’t to rob us, but to kill us in the name of their god. Because there is nothing that an active shooter with a rifle wants from you besides your death, the distance of a potential deadly encounter is significantly increased, which affects how we practice and train with our defensive pistol.
The next time you’re out and about, take a look at the entrance to a shopping mall, movie theater or office building. Where is there possible concealment from an attacker? Where is there cover? Do you know how to tell the difference between the two? How far is cover away from where a shooter might be? When’s the last time you practiced at similar distances? I was somewhat amazed this week when I paced off the distance between the closest cover to the entrance of my local big blue discount store and found out it was over forty yards from a safe place behind a concrete planter to the front doors of the store. That can be a challenging distance for accurate pistol fire, especially under very stressful conditions.
Up until now, the longest shot I’ve taken practicing with my pistol is ten yards, as part of an El Presidenté drill, because that’s close to the upper edge of distance I would see in a practical shooting match, and until now, is about as far as I needed to worry about for self-defense. The reality of an active shooting situation is somewhat different, with the distance between a killer and the intended victims ranging between a few yards in a restaurant to 75 yards across an Air Force base parking lot. (Good shooting there, Airman.)
75 yards is… a challenge. I’ve trained at similar distances a couple of times, and I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of a red dot sight on a defensive pistol at such a range. While a red dot pistol sight definitely helps your long-range accuracy, so does consistent practice with regular sights, but at smaller targets. Next time you practice, rather than blast away at a full-size torso target, spend a few minutes before you head out to the range and print out a 1/3 scale target, which will effectively triple your practice distance. Work on accuracy: Don’t just hit the X ring, hit the center of the X itself, on-demand. If you can shoot a pistol from alternate positions like kneeling or squatting at your range, do so, it will help with putting rounds on-target at longer distances.
The question of whether you should engage an active shooter with your defensive firearm is up to the individual: The variables for the situation will be unique to you and your circumstances if your (un)lucky number comes up and you have to deal with someone intent on killing you and your companions. However, having the skills and tools needed to save your life and the lives of those under your care can only help in those circumstances. Stay safe, have fun.Published in