In any battle, prepare for the worst: Missions do not wait for comfort, nor style and grace.
There is an old adage that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The same can be said for gun battles. You have probably heard the litany of defensive tactics instructors say, “all fights end up on the ground.” While this may not always be true, we have to prepare for the eventuality that we will have to shoot from flat on our backs, rather than planted on our feet. You may end up on the ground from being put there by an enemy, or put there by gravity after you slip on the ice. Regardless, you’re where you don’t want to be, but missions do not wait for comfort, nor style and grace.

One problem we face is the range mentality that shooting from your back is “advanced”— that we can possibly train the S.W.A.T. guys this way, but patrol guys are another matter. The reality is that S.W.A.T. team members shoot relatively few goblins. The majority of shootings in the U.S. are done by patrol, on swing and graveyard shifts and troops should be trained, as soon as possible. Unknowing administrators will immediately flash on Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, rolling on the ground as he empties his Beretta into the bad guys. While it’s very possible to do as Mel did, we have some work to do first.

aunpos-44.gifGo To Ground
Dynamic movement was covered extensively in the January 08 issue of Tactical Weapons. Highlights include simple one or two-step movements in six directions that can keep us from getting shot. The next logical step is to get on the ground.

I endorse “Coates Drills,” after South Carolina Trooper Mark Coates. Every copper has seen the video of Coates fighting Richard Blackburn; after shooting Blackburn once, while both were on the ground, Coates stands and shoots while moving backwards. I don’t know about you, but I shoot better when I’m not moving, than when I’m in motion. The reason Coates did as he did is that he’d never been taught to fight from unusual positions.

Many of today’s LE shooting drills came from NRA’s Tactical Shooting Instructor course. They were developed by a brilliant trainer named Clive Shepherd, a former British Royal Marine Commando. Clive pressed a trigger from the Middle East to S.E. Asia (he claims you can kill an elephant with a 9mm Sterlingimg_6922.gif submachine gun…) and based his techniques on the realities of close combat.

Sight Alignment Is Key
Sight alignment is sight alignment. It does not matter if you are standing, sitting, supine, or in a fetal position: If the front and rear sights are aligned, then placed on a target, the trigger is properly pressed, the bullet will hit the target. We’ve all done shooting from traditional positions (kneeling, sitting, prone), so we begin to add positions to the mix. Using the coach/pupil method in this type of “tactical” training allows a coach for every shooter on the line. The coach can immediately stop the shooter if an unsafe action occurs.

As with all new stuff, dry practice before live-fire! Start by drawing the
pistol to the “guard” or “ready” position: Drop slowly to double knee, muzzle downrange, then roll carefully onto the left side; curl into a fetal position and shoot. Move to sitting, then flat on the back with knees raised, back to sitting, onto the right side (fetal again), firing two or three shots in each position. Speed or tactical load as needed.

Now it gets more interesting. The shooter goes to a supine (flat on the back) position with his head toward the target and feet up-range. While supine, upside down, trying to shoot. Some shooters need to bridge, raising themselves off the ground with just the head and feet touching. After shooting, roll onto the right side, stomach, left side, shooting from each position. Now is the time to try a Mel—shoot while continually rolling. It’s really not that hard, with a little practice, to get good hits while rolling on the ground.

img_6301_sm.gifThreat Identification
One crucial lesson learned in this drill is threat identification. We have all seen shooters shoot the wrong target while performing a static, standing drill. Compound this with being upside down and backwards, and hits on the wrong target are guaranteed! Even though we find ourselves in such a predicament, we can still only shoot the guys who need shooting, so this drill really reinforces threat identification.

The next suggested drill is called a “knock-down”. Dry-fire a few times before live-fire. The coach slaps the shooter in the chest; he falls flat on his back. Now is when the coach earns his money—he must ensure that the shooter slowly presents his pistol, swings it around the outside of the firing-side leg (not across the femur!), and aims at the target. The shooter fights to his feet, shooting from on his back to sitting, to kneeling, to standing, then with lateral movement. With practice, a good operator can keep one continuous stream of hits as he fights to his feet. Once the shooter can do the movement, require him to get all center-mass hits, because only hits finish gunfights.

The only two things that limit this type of training are range limitations and imagination. The NRA Chair Drill uses any metal folding chair for a variety of unusual positions. The shooter can shoot from sitting on the chair, around, behind, over, kneeling, prone, responding in four directions, holding the chair, and standing on the chair. The important thing is to think outside the box, and to try to envision situations that you might encounter in this world (plan and train for them in this world, or you’ll have time to think about them in the next one). It doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment, just a chair you can scrounge from the office.

csa-2005-07-19-111128tajiun.gifUse Their Reaction Time
One technique that many trainers utilize is called the “Surrender Pivot.” The first time I saw it, I thought it was some goofy Hollywood cinematographer’s answer to high-speed gunfighting. Since it didn’t look like anything I’d seen, my closed little mind wouldn’t accept it. Like most good stuff, I didn’t invent it—I learned it from a WA State Trooper who learned it at a training conference. The success of the technique requires taking advantage of the mental lag time that all folks experience: It may take anywhere from .5 to 1.5 seconds for someone to react to a stimulus.

The shooter stands with his back to the target, hands up in a surrender position. The shooter asks the goblin what he wants; as soon as the goblin speaks, the shooter bends at the waist while presenting his pistol. The first shot is fired upside down, bent 90 degrees at the waist. The shooter moves laterally, while continuing to fire as he turns and stands upright, making good hits into the goblin before the goblin can shoot. It takes me about .9 seconds to do a rear pivot with a good hit: It takes about .6 seconds to get the first hit with the “Surrender Pivot.” We’ve tried it with Simunitions, with lots of students, and can almost always get hits on the bad guy before he hits the shooter.

A shooter should start building on prior skills as soon and as often as possible. We practice the fundamentals, hard-wire them, then begin to push ourselves (satisfaction is the end of progress). Learn these techniques, practice, and add them to the tool box. You never know when you’ll find yourself on your big ol’ country butt instead of standing on your hind legs.

Editor’s note: As with all techniques you “read about,” don’t head to the range with a buddy and give it a try. These techniques should only be worked on initially with professional instruction!

Up Next

Criminals cutting-off fingertips

In any battle, prepare for the worst: Missions do not wait for comfort, nor…