A USCG TACLET approaches four suspected smugglers on a 40-foot go-fast boat. Some 4,400 pounds of cocaine were found in the vessel’s cargo hold. DoD Photos

Small And Unstable
Unlike a landside engagement, a steady sight picture can’t always be expected on the water. Iron sights and optics will be effective in certain situations, but on small, unstable vessels, shooters will normally have to adopt a point-shooting style. Limited separation will also be a major issue, with only a few inches or feet between those involved in the fighting. For these situations, you must adopt point shooting, or using the body’s natural reaction to point toward a target instead of using the weapon’s intended sight picture. The time available to observe and respond to a threat that close is minimal, making the point method of bringing a weapon to the third eye or similar firing position, orienting toward the threat, and firing, an accepted response.

However, competing in a quick-draw contest with an assailant is often a bad move. It may be more practical instead to use the movement and instability of the boat to rapidly close the distance separating you and your target and move to disarm him by going hands-on, dropping him to the deck or pushing him over the side and into the water. If he initiated his draw first or the weapon is already visible, going in close with empty hands may be the only way to avoid being shot.

Bulkhead Cover
Although point shooting is the preferred technique on some small boats where cover is sparse or nonexistent, on larger vessels fitted with a cabin or accommodation space, getting to cover and leaning into a bulkhead or going low to the deck for balance will establish a firing position where a sight picture is possible. A significant point to remember about available cover on vessels: Interior and exterior walls of a cabin may work, but choose carefully as some construction materials, particularly on recreational vessels, are easily penetrated by even small-caliber rounds. Working from this knowledge, if an assailant retreats into a cabin, like that on a small sailboat, where following would mean presenting yourself as a clear target in the narrow entrance and walkway, you could continue to engage from concealment by firing through the exterior bulkheads. If there is high ground available, like an elevated bridge or accommodation deck, and you can safely get to it, make the move and hold. It’s much easier to control the situation with an overhead field of view.

USCG Maritime Safety & Security Team 91103 prepares to advance to the bridge of a non-compliant vessel during a training exercise in San Francisco Bay.

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A USCG TACLET approaches four suspected smugglers on a 40-foot go-fast boat. Some 4,400…