In this column we often talk about doing something immediately when faced with an unexpected threat. Taking direct and immediate action to counter an attack or to get out of the “kill zone” should be programmed into your subconscious. This could be vital to survival. You must work to avoid falling into the “deer frozen in the headlights” syndrome. When you do something immediately, this will often throw your attacker off balance and disrupt his game plan, and this will give you a few precious seconds to turn the tables to gain the upper hand.
One problem that’s often overlooked is getting caught in the open, but just a few feet from cover. Often the best immediate response would be to just stand there, draw your gun and concentrate on the front sight. There are times, however, that the right response might be to head for that nearby cover. In this case, firing one or more shots to put the attackers at risk as you move might be a sound tactic.
This tactic has several worthwhile advantages. First, since you are on the move you present a more difficult target. Secondly, by firing one or two shots at your attackers while you move you put them at risk, thus getting them to put their heads down or spoil their aim. The third and most obvious benefit of this maneuver is that once you get to cover you will be protected from their fire. All of this presumes that this cover is not too far away, and that it will be substantial enough to stop or deflect their bullets.
The use of one or more suppressive shots is frowned on in some official circles because of the chance of hitting a bystander behind your intended target. At first glance this may indeed seem dangerous and irresponsible. However, in this scenario you are already under deadly attack and your survival is at stake. Even if you stand in place and shoot it out, there is no guarantee that one or more of your shots will not miss and strike well beyond your intended target.
Firing one or several shots at your attackers while moving towards cover will put them at risk. If they see you are firing back it might make them duck for cover, or spoil their aim. If you show fight instead of being a passive victim, they might even break off the attack and beat a hasty retreat simply because they don’t want to get hurt themselves.
When shooting on the move and while under attack yourself, the technique you use is not at all like what you will see in a “practical” pistol match. In competition you are interested in racking up the highest possible point total. Heavy emphasis is placed on controlled steady movement that will allow the shooter to concentrate on good sight alignment and trigger control. The goal is a high point score, while economizing on movement and time. On the street the shooter is concerned with staying alive. As I’ve stated many times before, the techniques and methods for match shooting and survival shooting overlap, but they are not always the same.
As you fire a shot or two while moving towards cover to suppress the fire of your attackers, don’t try to be too precise. As you move and draw your pistol, get it up to eye level and use both hands if possible. Get the front sight on target, and don’t try to refine the sight picture too much. This wastes time. The object is to get your handgun out and fire a shot or two towards your opponents while moving to cover as rapidly as possible. You want them to put their heads down. If you score a hit or two, that’s a bonus.
Bring that pistol up to eye level and get that front sight on target as you fire the shot, without wasting time. Experience has shown that, at a range of 25 to 35 feet, hit probability will be about 50 percent. If you are really good, hit probability will be about 75 percent. Once the safety of cover has been reached, you can clean up any loose ends if the threat still remains.
For a right-hand shooter moving left to right will make it easy and natural to use both hands. Moving from right to left makes it more difficult to use both hands, though it can be done. Many shooters opt to use only one hand, with the arm fully extended and at eye level. Of course, this will all be reversed for a left-handed shooter. The most important thing is to get the weapon up to eye level, which will increase your hit probability greatly.
Shooting while on the move is another useful skill that the practical handgunner should work on from time to time, just to have in his bag of tricks. When working on techniques such as this, keep a firm grasp on the basic shooting fundamentals. In our Paladin Program at the end of each day we have an informal time where each shooter will toe the firing line to practice a few things that they individually want to work on. This could include single draws from concealment, quick pairs, headshots, tactical or speed reloads, etc. We make a point at the end of each day to work on a few of the basics, just to stay in tune.