For me shooting has been away of life. I can vividly remember the first time my father handed me a .22 rifle and the awe it inspired in me. Its wood stock had been worn smooth by generations of men in my family who had owned it before me. Its presence had felt like a warm handshake in my grip that welcomed me into a skill that has served me well over the years.
That old .22 must have made quite an impression on me because after two police departments, some time in the military, and several shooting competitions later, I am still hungry for knowledge to help hone my skill set. This article is a compilation of lessons I have learned, either from real world events or through lessons taught to me by the men and women I served with. Their advice has saved my life on a few occasions, and perhaps this gunfighter’s guide, also developed from lessons learned the hard way, may do the same for you one day.
Guns and Cars
A Terrible Place To Get Into A Gunfight
A soft skin (unarmored) vehicle is a terrible place to get into a gunfight. It is basically like sitting still in a tin can. If you can’t easily escape by driving away, get out so you can move.
The engine block is the only place on a car that may stop a bullet. Your best bet is to crouch near the front wheel well, putting the engine block between you and incoming rounds.
The Difference Between Cover and Concealment
Know the difference between cover and concealment. Cover is anything that can stop incoming bullets; concealment only shrouds you from the view of the enemy. Cars are largely seen as concealment.
Barrel Sit Lower Than Sights
Be mindful that the barrel of your firearm sits lower than the sights. When shooting from a concealed position, it can be easy to accidentally send a round into the object you are hiding behind instead of over it. For instance, when shooting from behind the front wheel well of a patrol car, one could easily zipper open up the hood of a brand new vehicle, which is not easy to explain to your supervisor.
Shooting Through a Windshield
Bullets shot into a front windshield will impact targets in the vehicle a few inches lower than you expect them to, and rounds shot out of a windshield into outside targets will hit higher than you expect them to. Both of these situations are due to the extreme angle of the windshield.
When shooting out of a front windshield, it may also be helpful to have the first few rounds of your magazine be full metal jackets, which will not come apart when they hit the windshield and will punch clean holes. The idea of this tactic is that the holes left by the full metal jackets will allow the rest of your hollow points to pass the opening unobstructed, since hollow points have a tendency to open up and break apart on the first object they hit.
Drivers Don’t Shoot
Drivers don’t shoot; they drive. Passengers shoot and maintain fields of fire. They are responsible for providing security for the driver. Time and time again it has been proven that multitasking, such as shooting while driving, often leads to misplaced shots and accidents.
Small Space = Small Gun
A small space requires a small gun. Tailor your firearms to the environment in which you will be using them. AR pistols bring a powerful cartridge in a small package, while pistol caliber carbines work well for the cramped quarters and can be easier to control due to the smaller rounds being fired.
The Scorpion vs. Box Jellyfish Philosophy
The Two Strategies in Combat Zones
Modern warriors often pick one of two strategies while operating in combat zones. For example, they choose either high profile or low profile.
You can choose to either be the baddest looking guy on the block to deter those individuals from confronting you– the scorpion philosophy. Alternatively, you can choose to blend in, look unassuming and insignificant so threats will underestimate your capabilities. This is what a box jellyfish does.
The Scorpion Philosophy
Most people see a scorpion and say, “I am not going to mess with a creature that is covered in thick plate armor and has two sharp pincers and a formidable venomous stinger.” This is the same philosophy that some defense contractors use in war zones when they armor their vehicles and adorn them with light machine guns.
This tactic is in an effort to portray that they are going to be a particularly difficult target to defeat. If you chose to go with this philosophy, understand that you will attract a lot of attention and you better have the firepower to backup your image.
The Box Jellyfish Philosophy
On the other hand some contractors chose to blend in with their surroundings, much like a box jellyfish. The box jellyfish is a small invertebrate that is almost invisible in the ocean and yet is one of the most venomous creatures on the planet. Contractors demonstrate this philosophy by driving local vehicles, wearing the locals clothes, and concealing their firearms until they absolutely need to use them. This philosophy will attract much less attention, but it also can make you less capable and less armored, if you do encounter enemy fire.
Best Fit For Your Circumstances and Capabilities
In a SHTF situation, either of these philosophies can help you traverse potentially dangerous environments. I have seen both used effectively. It is up to you and your team to decide which will be the best fit for your circumstances and capabilities.
Close Quarters Battle Takeaways
Survival in U.S. Gunfights
In the U.S., most gunfights take place from zero to five feet and are over in less than three minutes. So, learning close quarters fighting is critical for survival.
Awareness is your best ally. You can be one of the fastest guns in the west and still be easy to kill if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings.
If awareness is more than half the battle, then the remaining piece is the ability to quickly access, draw, and fire on hostile actors. To accomplish this requires you to have lethal force ready and available.
Find a comfortable concealed carry holster, and practice drawing from it multiple times a week to stay proficient. Personally, the appendix conceal carry is most comfortable for me. However, I am fastest when I conceal carry from the front waistband holster. I found that it is easier to access too and more natural to lift up my shirt with the supporting hand when the firearm is on my waist in front.
Do not stick your barrel out of windows and doorways when engaging distant targets. Fire from inside the room. This makes your muzzle flash and residual dust harder to spot.
Practice clearing buildings by yourself as well as with a team, because the way you approach this will be different. For example, when entering a room with a teammate you have them to cover the angle you can’t cover. However, by yourself, you won’t have that luxury. So, it is important to take things slow and steady.
Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. “Pie” the corners of the room before entering by methodically inching your way around the corner until you have scanned the entire room. Most rooms can be scanned 80% of the way without ever entering. This is particularly important to do if you are a single person clearing a building.
Engage Before Dump Into a Room
If possible, engage targets before you dump into a room. Getting into a gunfight in the hallway is much better than getting into a gunfight in the doorway. From the hallway you can work the angles and disengage faster if you don’t get an advantageous shot.
Clearing Room by “Out Violencing” To Survive
If and when you do have to enter the room to fully clear it, do it with swift and deliberate intensity. You should know where you are going to stand/kneel and have a good idea of where a hostile subject could be hiding.The goal is to surprise and overwhelm hostiles inside. One of my first range instructors referred to this as, “Out violencing others’ violence in order to survive.” It has been years now, but his words still ring true.
Tomorrow, we will continue with backwoods fighting tips, dealing with intense stress, and more.
- The Gunfighter’s Guide: Lessons Learned the Hard Way- Part 2, by The Grumpy Gunfighter
- The Gunfighter’s Guide: Lessons Learned the Hard Way- Part 3, by The Grumpy Gunfighter
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.