Tag Archives: gun combatives



Every once in a while, in my years in police work ranging back to the early 1970s, we would get a new shift supervisor like a sergeant or lieutenant, that would open his early shift briefings with some new preference standards. Often this would be a desk jockey or what we use to call a “REMF,” in the Army. Which stands for “rear-echelon-m________, f_________.” These were folks with little to no street experience, by their choice, or folks forced upwards too soon, to fill admin openings. Still a lack of experience.

And yes, some of these people were detached airheads. Several demanded that we never, ever pull-draw guns unless we absolutely have to shoot a bad guy, All other times, the gun must remain holstered. Only draw and must shoot. Must draw? Then must shoot! We would look at each other and think, and later complain in private powwows:
  • “Has this idiot ever searched a building or home after an   alarm or invader threat?”
  • “Has this knucklehead never made a felony traffic stop?”
  • “Has this yahoo never…… (on and on with this list).”
Apparently not! How could some supervisors in law enforcement be this ignorant. But this idea transcends policing. I bring these memories up because, lately in my teaching travels, sometimes big, sometimes small, I have run across citizens who have been smart enough to attend concealed carry classes or other entry-level, defensive tactics courses. They attend my “Force Necessary: Gun” courses also. When teaching this and organizing class training to make decisions, a number of attendees are graduates of simplistic, entry-level, CCH and intro “def-tacts” from other programs. Some of these attendees have approached me and said –
“Well, they told us in _______ that we only draw our pistol in severest, deadly force situations and can only draw to shoot to kill-stop. You can’t pull your gun unless you also intend to shoot to kill-stop.”
Ooooh boy. That old chestnut again. I just look at them, flabbergasted, and wonder “who are these teachers?” And how can I undo this kindergarten, mentality message. I try to explain that I use a commandment list of “Assess, Draw-and-Assess,” decision-making based on many actual events.
Assess, Draw and Access, the big five decisions:
1: There-Not There.
2: Pull-Don’t Pull.
3: Aim-Don’t Aim.
4: Shoot-Don’t Shoot.
5: Leave-Don’t leave.
These decisions may all occur in 2 seconds or half an hour! Yeah. Situational. I am not writing this today to dissect the list of 5 materials, as I have written long essays on each, elsewhere. Each of the 5 have a successful history in situational, real-world defense, crime and even war.
I always repeat the old studies once so easily found in DOJ – Department of Justice – annual reports about firearms use. Each year there was a statistic that about 69% of the time when a gun (or knife, not stick) was drawn by the intended victim, the criminal left. Sure, each situation was ugly and scary (I report some actual situations to attendees) but this was an average end result over the years. Sometime in the 2000s this routine annual stat became really hard and then impossible to find, because it does not suit the political powers that be. This cause was then picked up by various pro-gun groups and their publications. They regularly report successful citizen, gun, crime-fighting events, but they are declared as right-wing bias and they do not carry the mojo of a government report.
Yet, these successful events happen frequently, and you are deprived of the truth. When things go unusually “bump in your house, bump in the church, bump in the school, bump in the stores-malls, bump in the wherever” you may be in a position to pull your gun and assess. Remember the best quick draw is pulling your gun out just before you really needed it. (We’ve dissected “brandishing” in detail another essay here.)
Gun instructors. Here in the United States, while I and others consider the rising plethora of non-police experienced and non-military-experienced gun instructors, their presence is still a good thing in general. Hey, it’s become a cottage industry hasn’t it?  Citizens teaching gun courses and school and church-shooting courses, etc.. I still think It’s a good thing overall because we’ve noticed they’ve-we’ve achieved a overall higher level of good material. The bar has risen. Overall? Good. But for some of us, sometimes, we can’t help but wonder about some of them and ask,
  • “Okay, who is teaching what in these courses regularly?” and,
  • “That guy said…what now?”
If questionable recollections, are these students misinterpreting what the instructor actually meant or said?” That’s certainly possible. But, police, military, citizen instructors and their courses all need to vetted by customers, sure. And, needless to say within those jobs, there is job leakage that won’t fit. For examples-
  • Do police really need military-based shooting courses?
  • Do the military really need police shooting courses?
  • Do citizens really need police and-or military shooting courses?
To some extent? Well, yes. To some extent? Well, no. Careful! Reduce the abstract. Its my old “who, what, where, when, how and why questions.”
It might be so quick, so easy and so legally course-sue-safe, especially for the class and instructor, to declare in a very brief citizen gun course that you can ONLY draw and shoot. Mandatory! But then, you can’t just draw and assess? Scare off? Issue verbal commands? Hide and ambush? Etc. Customize survival thinking to the plethora of situations?
Quick legal message, “point-don’t point” also means “aim-don’t aim” and are legal evaluations in court and internal affairs police investigations. For a reason!
I try to explain, but what really sinks in best is classes replicating and making them do repetitions with simulated ammo. Working through actual situations where each of the 5 decision steps above have historically worked and why they are so important. From a legal standpoint, these options must be explained and must be taught. Sometimes you CAN and SHOULD draw WITHOUT shooting.

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I am full of old-school mainstays. Some I like. Some I don’t. In military training tips – I was in at the tail-end of Vietnam and went through Basic Training in Fort Polk , LA. Dubbed “Little Vietnam” for its weather, look and occasional “swampiness.” “Tigerland.” We were advised to stay a machine gun burst apart when maneuvering around. At times even a hand grenade blast apart if space allowed. Plus, distance apart opens up fields of vision and fields of fire. Ralph on the far right sees more than Jimmy on the left, and vice versa. (Jody is at home with your wife or girlfriend, there ain’t no use in looking back!) But, these very generic distance tips makes you think about moving formations of two or more troops. There was a lot of fire and maneuver with cover fire lessons to advance when seemingly un-advanceable.
In the old police academies, we were told to stay at least “one shotgun blast” apart. Okay, as they were not overly-worried about machine guns or like…bazookas. What about semi-auto pistols? They can spray pretty damn fast too, kinda like a machine gun burst.
So still, police, military or civilian common sense, staying apart if possible is a good generic plan. If you can. But in narrow hallways, passageways and tight spots of life, often there is no space to spread. Always risky.
I wonder, is the distance idea emphasized today like the olden days, though? Today (like many recent years) there seems to be a lot of clumping taught, even when there is space to un-clump. Sometimes you can’t. Take a look at the associated photo . A hallway. Not much space to spread. Narrow hallways, passageways and tight spots, no space to spread. Always risky. But now consider the guy in the back. The guy in the back might shoot the guy (or guys) in the front if the feces suddenly hits the proverbial fan. Some of these formations have the guy in the back, walking backwards! That’s some serious “6 Watching” right there. And not a terrible idea at all.
Or line-ups. Is trudging single file in a SWAT line some form of clumping? Lots of SWAT folks line up like toy soldiers to get from the staging area, say, van point A to point B doorway. It’s an efficient way to move, yeah. I could tell some interesting stories in sims classes about that. But I always wondered that in a world of planned terrorists and bad guys, after they have worked on a hostage deal or raid, or robbery, do they ever say to each other,
  • “Okay, now…where will SWAT park?”
  • “Where will the response team stage?”
  • “Where will the Bradley stage?”
Bombs and snipers are next to thwart the good guys from the get-go. Reminds me of the great L.A.P.D. SWAT plank member Scott Reitz recalling, when the van doors opened up once, he instantly had to shoot an armed bad guy right there at the doors! In my city, if any residents of bad neighborhoods saw the SWAT team van driving anywhere day or night, cell phones would light up with warnings. “SWATs out!”
Getting there. Getting into position. Sometimes just to encircle and guard-watch via a perimeter, toss in the phone? Or gain entry into buildings? SWAT has become very efficient “room-raiders,” perhaps at the expense of “open-field” crossing training, ignoring Point A to be Point B transit training worries? Does getting there sometimes mean crossing open spaces under sudden or known fire? Cover fire is an advancement solution but a tricky thing in the civilian world, Cover fire as in the right side laying down a field of fire so the left side can advance, then vice-versa. I’ve had a number of SWAT commanders and police admin say, “no way” to firing for such cover. Taboo. You either justifiably shoot directly at a bad guy or you can-not, do-not take any shot at all. (I do think there can be very controlled cover fire, but the generic response is no to the concept. (I still teach the concept to all with simulated ammo, and the subject of another essay.)
Anyway, citizens, police, military! To clump or not to clump? That be the question. One Shakespeare never pondered. But I wish more people would think about it.

“Protecting the Belt,” Gun Retention Observations

I would like to tell 5 quick, pistol/holster retention stories

Retention story #1:
Several years ago I taught at a major US city police academy, an in-service combatives course. Running there also was the rookie class. There was a woman in this rookie class that was consistently having her pistol taken during defensive tactics classes. Instructors told me she’d purchased a high level (many tricks to draw) retention holster. There were so many twists and turns, pushes and pulls, that she herself could not draw her own gun. Their final qualifications were coming up and she absolutely refused to give up her new safer holster, even though she literally could not pull the gun out on demand! I left before there was a conclusion. My best guess though, is she changed holsters.


Retention story #2
I was teaching a Chicago seminar once that was attended by a large group of area police officers. One of the scenarios I taught was drawing and shooting after your strong-side/gun-side arm had been incapacitated as in injured or shot. You cross-draw, pull your gun with your support hand, taking care not to accidentally insert your pinky into the trigger guard, a common discharge problem from this angle. You either shoot the pistol upside down (can you do this with your pistol?) or use a knee pinch to get the gun right-side-up. We do this standing and on the ground with simulated ammo as the practitioner actually has to shoot a moving, thinking person closing in and/or shooting back. Next came a short break and I saw all the officers over in one corner of the gym, their support arm stretching and reaching unsuccessfully around their backs to pull their pistol. Only the skinniest, most limber, police woman could do it. I asked them what they were doing, and they told me that their guns and holsters were department issue. The holster retention device would not allow for such a frontal, angle removal. That holster company feared that gun takeaways would usually occur from the front. In order to pull the pistol from that model holster, a shooter had to grab the gun pull/angle it back, and then out. This holster prohibited the easy, common sense draw I, and so many others, teach. (And, what about drawing while seated in a car?)


Retention story #3
In the 1990s I was teaching an Air Force SWAT-style team and the San Antonio SWAT team. I was, once again doing simulated ammo scenarios and was doing one on the ground, on my back. I asked for a gun belt and an SAPD officer quickly gave me his. On my back, when time to draw and shoot, I could not remove the pistol from the holster. We all gathered around closely to inspect this. The SWAT officer’s holster had several retention tricks built in. His holster, that company, had also decided that most pistols were removed from the front, requiring a pull backward first, then out. Since I was flat on my back, I could not pull the gun back. No one, all seasoned vets, in the class had thought of this, least of all this SWAT officer until this experiment. One would think that a holster company would put such news on the packaging label and advertisement.

“WARNING! You cannot draw this weapon when down on your back!”

We learned that to draw from such a 3 o’clock, hip holster, you had to roll half-over, or lift your body into a half a crab-walk position.


Retention story #4
“Back in the day,” as a detective, I was working with a fellow investigator on a case when we heard of a very nearby armed robbery on the police radio. We were so close, we actually saw the suspect run from the store. We drove as far as we could to chase him, then had to bail from the car and go on foot. A few fences were jumped and the robber got into a cement factory with a large, open gravel lot, and big trucks. We’d split up, but we both saw the robber stop by a truck as we could see his legs under the truck. We split further apart, circled the truck and drew our guns as we closed in. My partner pulled his .45 out on the run. He pulled the pistol AND paddle holster out and pointed it at the bad guy. He made a violent jerk and the holster flew off the pistol. The robber, facing our two guns, surrendered. We laughed about it later because we were a little crazy back then, but we also learned a lesson about holsters.


Retention story #5     The Sandpit Travesty.  One of my officer friends once, lost his pistol and was shot and killed by a fugitive. Without revealing any personal details, this SWAT officer had a retention duty holster on regular duty, but when on a SWAT assignment had a “drop” holster as shown previously, a low, thigh, tactical holster, minus any retention. His pistol was taken in a ground fight and he was shot in the head. Since sad events like this, retention devices started appearing on the most “tactical” of holsters, (even Taser holsters,)
His agency went on a PR, press junket to prove how much they cared about the subject, suggesting that holster retention was so well trained. They filmed a news segment for TV with their officers training in a sandpit. A trainer grabbed a trainee’s holstered pistol and tried to remove it. The trainee held on and basically the two engages in a stupid, standing wrestling match – four hands on a holstered rubber gun. Sometimes falling down in the ruckess.
Perhaps to an ignorant novice, this seemed like terrific, tough-guy, training? But it is not. No one threw a punch, kicked a nut, yanked head hair, popped an eye, or broke a bone. A bad guy wanting to kill you will do all these things. An officer, wanting to stay alive will do all these things. All the things that can not happen full speed in training, but can be partially simulated, yet still are totally ignored. And like you learn to forget to punch in Judo, bad training makes you forget how to survival fight. This is not preparing an officer, or any one toting a gun, to respond properly to a disarm attack.
And that is why, this sort of sandpit style training is a stupid travesty. And it doesn’t have to be in a sandpit either, as you’ll find stupid anywhere.

Words of wisdom – Military vet and weapons instructor Mike Woods sums up by saying, “Buyer Beware. So, if you’re shopping for a holster – as an individual or as an agency buyer – you need to go beyond the ratings and advertising hype by fully understanding how the various security features work. You also need to ask hard questions about the specific tests and criteria that a manufacturer uses to rate their products. Until the industry unites around a single standard, it’s not enough to assume that Brand X’s Level III rating denotes a comparable level of security, durability and quality as Brand Y’s Level III rating. Your choice of duty gear is too critical — and your safety too important – to be influenced by clever marketing. Ask tough questions, get the details, and make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples.”

Protecting the belt! There are many such stories. Keep your eyes and ears open for them. And, keep experimenting. Just think about handgun/holster retention. In 26 years in line operations, I have had only 5 attempts on my holstered pistol. There are many attempts on record all over the world. It happens. Statistically your odds on an attempt may be like one in 40,000? But if it happens to you? It’s one in one.

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Escalation! “I PULL, THEN HE PULLS!”

Trauma and drama. Years ago in a seminar in Kentucky, USA, an attendee, someone with zero martial or martial arts experience, just a regular guy attending a gun and knife seminar, asked…

“Someone confronts me over something. Maybe there will be a fight. It’s – you know- getting tense. If I pull my knife to…to scare him away or defend myself? And he is carrying a gun? Or a bigger knife? Will this cause him to pull his out? Have I caused him to escalate the fight?”

“Aahhh, yeah, that could happen,” I said.
“That’s pretty messy,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.

And everyone stared at me for follow-up, words of wisdom and some “magic bullet” solution. I have none, except to remind, “Violence will almost always suck.”

People want “magic bullet” answers to a lot of complicated, situational, self-defense questions. There’s always big talk in the self-defense industry about “avoidance.” If too late to avoid, then next up in the event list is what they call “de-escalation.” Avoiding and de-escalating a common knucklehead before a fight physically starts is a small cottage industry of money-making. Some instructors confidently dole out magic bullets and solutions to confrontations.

  • “Say these things!”
  • “Do this!”
  • “Do that!”
  • “Stand like this!”
  • “Don’t ever….

Now, I think it is certainly good to be exposed to all these ideas and methods. Sure. Why not? Do so. But as an obsessed skeptic, I see the false positives of the advice. I have investigated a whole lot of crimes through the decades; and while there are identifiable patterns and surprises, chaos can sure still reign supreme. But let me summarize by calling it all “situational.”

In the end, solutions are situational. Like calling plays in a football game, it depends on the situation. How you stand and what you say or do should be situational. Custom-built. 

Other than an ambush, there’s an argument-confrontation. Then maybe a fight Given you have already performed all your pop/psych, lingo-bingo, avoidance and de-escalation steps, is it legally time to pull the weapon? You are armed under your coat or in your pocket with a knife or even a gun, and this verbal voodoo just ain’t working! “I’m singing the wrong song!” “Calling the wrong play!”

The mean man won’t leave! Or worse, the men (plural) won’t leave. Do you pull that weapon out? There are some situational concerns with doing this; and these concerns certainly do involve the overall escalating ladder of weaponry, violence, and legal problems. Even a facial expression and certainly striking a fighting stance can escalate the problem.

Here are a few facts and related ideas on the subject to kick around:

  • Fact: Some people do leave. You have the lingo-bingo and dodged the fight, or you have vamoosed yourself! (It’s the old, “why did you go there and why are you still there”?) On the flip side- will he leave? Will your pulled weapon make him leave? For many a year, 65% to 70% of the time when a knife or a pistol (sticks, by the way, are not in these study figures) is pulled in the USA, the criminal leaves you alone (old DOJ stats, old as it became harder and harder since the 1990s to find these numbers, as I don’t think the liberals like the message.) I have often heard the easy average of 67% used. But investigating crimes, I must warn folks that this is not as clean and simple an escape as it sounds. You pull, he walks away? Not so simple. There are many emotional, ugly events that happen in this weapon presentation-confrontation, even if the bad guy eventually leaves. In my experience and study, if the criminal is alone he might be quicker to leave, but if he is in or around a group, “his” group, he puts on more of a show before leaving to save face. We discuss these details in certain topical seminars and other specific essays. But a command presence while holding a weapon is worth looking into a mirror and practicing. I am sure Clint Eastwood did. And like actors practice their lines, it’s good to practice some lingo-bingo. Oh, and by the way Gorgo, you can’t shoot everybody. 

Fact: Some people don’t leave. The good news with the 65%-35% split that if he will leaves 65% of the time, then you may only have to fight about 30-ish% of the time! So 30% of the time, 3 out of 10 the opponent does not leave and the fight is on, whether he is unarmed or armed, alone or with a pack. The bad news is when you are now in that “unlucky 30%,” or you might say you are now a 100%-er. You are 100% there and stuck in it. A hand, stick, knife, or gun fight! Your 6 out of 10 wins has turned to a 1 to 1 because, it’s you. You!

Fact: Yes, Some people are armed. You read it here! 40% to…gulp…90%? If you pull first, will he pull a bigger one next? General USA stats quoted for many years past say that 40% of the time the people we fight are armed. A few years back the FBI upped that anti. One retired state trooper deep dove into the stats and declared that NINETY percent of the people we scrap with are armed. Wow. 90%! That shocked me and I can’t imagine that. And another gem to add in is that 40% of the time we fight two or more people. Hmmm. So 40% (or 90%?) or more armed times 40% multiple opponents. Not a healthy equation. Lots of people. Lots of weapons. Lots of numerical possibilities. Lots of situations. The “smart money” in the USA or anywhere else is always bet that the opponent is armed.

Facts: Times and reasons to pull weapons. Back to the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why foundation questions I harp on. Time to pull relates to when? And reasons to pull relates to why? Logical and physical. Time and reason might seem the same, but defining times and reasons in your mind and for your training is smart. Be a legal-beagle. You may as well check into the de-escalator cottage industry and evaluate the material. Even I have suggestions on the subject as I know there are “scripts” to life, and criminal-victim exchanges often follow a script. Dialogues. Good to ad-lib. There is a script book to violence and you don’t want to be in that movie. Their movie.

Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

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OUTSIDE-INSIDE, Drawn Guns and Knives…or Not? And If So – When?

Not a lot of people practice drawing their weapons under realistic stress, if indeed some people ever practice drawing their weapons at all. In typical training the stick, the knife, or the gun are already in one’s hands when they start a training set! If a stick, knife or gun weapon-pull is involved in training, it is usually done in a classic western motif, that is like a showdown, like an old west stand-off gunfight, standing 5, 6 or more feet from an enemy. It suggests the enemy is far enough away that the practitioner has somehow been visually tipped-off that the enemy is about to draw their own weapon. Thusly, justification of a practitioner’s self defense draw. 

western scene

Thee cowboy, main street, showdown of the old west, is discounted today as largely a myth by historians and the public, especially in gunfights. Yet most gun people still mostly shoot at ranges today under exactly this basic, myth-format, minus the reality tips-offs! Think about it. This “western-format” of training is innocently-ignorantly forced upon gun people, because of:

  • one-way, live-fire range, safety. It is obvious that one cannot get into the “nitty-gritty” of CQC combat with live-fire weapons, waaaay too dangerous, and-
  • the overall, total obsession with precision, bullseye shooting – which is certainly important enough, yet it creates the mind trap of doing only that and too much of it, in lieu of other very important, interactive firearms training. (And it’s so much fun!)

And I might add, with guns, you draw on a whistle or a beep. Abstract, not the vital, visual clues of a human opponent drawing a weapon on you. But way worse these days, due to range safety and insurance regulations, most never even get to draw a pistol from their holsters at all!  (More on this later.)

pistol quick draw

These “some-distance-apart” – “outside” draws do happen, sure, but weapons of all sorts are frequently drawn very close up, “inside,” in full contact with bodies vertical and horizontal, after a fight has started! From inside a hands-on fight, while standing all the way down to a ground fight. Situationally, one might say then, outside-the-fight, or inside-the-fight, and that there are two weapon, distance draw times,”

  • Distance Draw One – “before first-contact.” Outside the fight and,
  • No Distance Draw Two, the second draw – “after first contact. Inside the fight,” and the after-contact gun draw is awfully ignored in training. In the empty-hand, stick and knife world this reality is better realized, I think because unarmed, stick and knife people come better prepared for messy, athletic combatives experiments, while in the gun world, more people shy away from or ignore the ugly, messy, (and very athletic) unarmed combatives aspect of close quarter fighting.

So, that messy, “second draw”, the one after the fight as started, after a few punches are thrown, after your face has been raked, after your nose if broken, after your back has slammed against the cement, after your nuts or shin has been kicked…exactly when do they or us – do we or don’t we, do they or don’t they, draw out knives, guns, clubs, brass knucks, etc. and why? So, we shall enter into the study of “who, what, where, when, how, and why” do people draw their weapons inside the physical fight, and after the first collision? 

The Pathways of the Hands to Weapons. First off, some primers. We have already documented the three major weapon-carry sites in prior essays, outlines, and books but here they are again quickly:

1: Primary Carry Sites – think quick draw
2: Secondary Carry Sites – think backup 
3: Tertiary Carry Sites – think lunge and reach, off the body.

These are locations on or near the body are we need to anticipate weapon pulls and grabs when dealing with suspicious people, and-or suspicious situations. Their hands access these weapon sites. (This is where we pack our stuff too!) “Watch the hands, it’s the hands that will kill you,” is the old police adage. Memorize the pathways of the hands! Of course, this doesn’t mean that you just stare at their hands during an encounter, but you must keep track of their hands. Tip-offs to weapon draws are in other essays and not the main topic in this one. 

Now, let’s try and keep you of jail, shall we? And quickly, this review too. If there’s going to be trouble, or there is trouble, the police will always dissect the, “why were you there?” question. But we look beyond that here too. Here are a few other considerations in the progression of justification:

  • Leave – Don’t Leave. (Why are you there? Why are you still there?)
  • Draw – Don’t Draw (as in Pull – Don’t Pull?)
  • Aim – Don’t Aim  (as in Point – Don’t Point?)
  • Strike Out – Don’t Strike Out (as in a: Use – Don’t Use,   b: Hit – Don’ t Hit,   c: Stab – Don’t Stab,   d: Shoot – Don’t Shoot?)

In other words, is aiming a stick tip, knife tip or gun barrel at someone legally worse than just pulling it out and just holding it down at your side? Could be. Legal dissections. Situational. Brandishing. But that sort of presentation stuff is usually in a stand-off, showdown, “Draw One,” distance-apart situation.

But if someone is armed, weapons pocketed or holstered, and gets into a grappling/fist-fight, why and at what point does the unarmed fight turn into a weapon draw and fight? Or! Or, not a weapons fight, after the fight has started, and instead remains an unarmed fight between two armed people?

As an Army and Texas patrolman and long-time detective within, I have investigated tons of assaults, aggravated assaults, attempted murders and murders, plus have received continuous police training on violent crime. Here is what I think about that…

  • 1: No pull – they actually forget they are armed.
  • 2: No pull – they know better, the use is not legal.
  • 3: Pull – when they get mad enough.
  • 4: Pull – when they start to lose.
  • 5: Pull – when they desire dominant fervor.

     1: No pull – they forget. Yes, people get in fights and can forget they are carrying a weapon. When we arrest them and discover a gun or knife on them and ask them, “Why didn’t you use this?” They sometimes answered, “I forgot I had it.” This is a common occurrence.

     2: No pull – they know better. Some people understand that the situation they are in doesn’t warrant or justify the use of their sticks, knives or guns. The situation doesn’t “rise to that occasion.” Some seasoned criminals know this. Smart guys and, of course, cops. Cops are carrying all kinds of weapons, get in all kinds of scrapes, and never pull the weapons from this sense of understanding and control.

     3: Pull – they get mad enough. Everyone understands this. You are in a fight and perhaps take an extra serious blow or experience, something that just further enrages you. You forget the law,  jail, and your common sense and you pull that knife or gun out.

     4: Pull – they start to lose. Everyone understands this, too. You are in a fight and sense it is ending very badly for you. Predicting the disaster, you pull out the weapon.

     5: Pull – dominant fervor. An official name for this category had arisen years ago, which recognizes a certain personality type. When they are in the final stage of winning or have won, they hate for it to be over. Victory! They want to further punish the opponent. So rather than leave, they want to enjoy themselves and the victory. Enjoy the moment. If they have the enemies pinned against the wall or ground or in their clutches, out comes the guns or knives. The weapons get shoved in the loser’s face with celebratory words. They may carve people up a bit. I recall a case I worked once where the winner cut the loser’s face and said, “Here, wear this for awhile.” Consider this as a “victory lap.”

football straight armBefore we summarize, I have to quickly mention two draw events we also practice within this module that get space after losing space. And they are the “Shove-Off” and draw, and the  “Football Straight Arm” and draw, weapon pulls. In the Shove, you’ve engage, then realize your weapon is needed. You shove-off the opponent and you are physically free of him for a second, free for a non-contact draw, and then you draw. In a way, you have disengaged back into a spatial, non-contact draw. Or, you “football-straight-arm the opponent, and at arm’s length away, draw your weapon.    

Outside-Inside Summary. In the martial world, “outside-inside” usually means to be positioned or doing something either outside the opponent’s arms or inside the arms. It must also include distance. To experiment with the “no-contact-yet, stress-draw” and “after-the-contact draw” challenge is to always train standing through ground with soft or dull, training weapons and replica guns with simulated ammo, so that you can interact with real-live, moving, thinking training partners, and you can feel and-or see the opponent’s after-contact weapon draws.

With firearms training, dedicate a time-split for an 8 hour day, something like 4 hours live fire, then step away from the range and real guns and do another 4 hours of simulated situations. The smallest of positional, situations should be practiced and experienced. Remember you are not learning how to gunfight, unless you are battling with moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you. 


Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

Check out Hock’s many books, now ebooks on Kindle. Training Missions One and Two spend a lot of mixed weapon time on this subject. Click here

hocks books

The Drop Dead Gun


“If I die in combat zone. Box me up and ship me home.”

You’ve all heard that ditty? Or, maybe you haven’t? It comes for most who have had it as a cadence –  a song – we all sang while marching and running in the military. It has been bastardized, or satired and altered for various messaging. One paraphrased version we don’t see much anymore, but old-timers will remember, was popularized on some t-shirts and posters years back. It was about you dying in a combat zone and having your gear split up by survivors, the words accompanied by the artwork of a rip-shirt, commando. This splitting-up is a very good idea for several reasons, but I don’t think the commandment reaches deep enough in citizen and police training methodology.

“If I die in a combat zone? Get my ammo, guns and gear and…continue to kill the enemy.”

It is common advice in shoot-outs that drawing and using a second gun is faster than reloading your first one. This of course depends on where you are carrying that second gun, but the advice is classic and comes from veterans. Did you arrive at this scene with a second gun? Can you find a second gun at the scene? More ammo? Was there a “second” gun, loose and back on the ground that you just ran right by?

There are numerous, vitally important, physical, gun-survival things you cannot and will not learn or get to do, should you decide to forever shoot on a paper target range and consider that practice to be the end-all to gun-fighting. 

This year, 2022 marks the 26th year that I have routinely, almost weekly, (barring Covid madness) created and supervised simulated ammo shooting scenarios of some sort. Some are short and involve two people. Some are much longer and involve numerous people, all are in numerous situations and locations. Urban. Suburban. Rural. Inside and outside. Daytime. Nighttime. People get shot by whatever simulated ammo we get to use for the training session. This reality can be very demoralizing. But, it happens.

In the briefing, I ask the participants, once “shot,” to evaluate their wounds when hit. If shot in their shooting limb, then they switch hands and carry on a bit. If shot in the leg, they limp on for a bit. If they take one or two serious shots, like shot in the head, I ask them to drop right where they are and essentially…“they be dead.” Playing this dead part, however demoralizing, is important, as you will soon read. Loose, or with lanyards and slings, you and your gun are laying there for all to seize.

Remember this is a very situational thing. How many guns and how much ammo did you bring? How long will this last? What to do about a “drop dead gun,” or the dropped gun – one dropped by a seriously wounded or dead person. Comrade or enemy? You can lecture on this, show charts, and talk it up. On the live-fire range, you can put various kinds of domestic or foreign guns in various conditions on a bench and suddenly make people pick them up, make-ready, load them, etc. and shoot them (which has been done forever by a few clever instructors by the way, but not enough, but done). The true savvy and timing of doing this pick up inside a hot, under-fire, hunter-hunted situation is hardly if ever practiced on the live-fire range. Too dangerous? A sims only endeavor? 

Loser-Taker Disarming. Technically, disarming should end with concerns of “weapon recovery.” Weapon recovery is often ignored in training. Recovering disarmed or dropped weapons is a missing link in most hand, stick, knife and gun martial, art or otherwise, systems. On the subject of weapon disarming training, two folks play parts. One the gun-loser, one the gun-taker. Most ignore the fact that either one could be the good guy or the bad guy, and typically the good guy gets to disarm-take from the bad guy in most typical training. This one-sided, prioritizing hinders good-guy, weapon recovery skills, but…look around you, this is the usual format, isn’t it?.

What if you are the good guy loser? When your pistol has been disarmed from you, holstered or out, you MUST recover it, hopefully while the taker is fumbling around with it, to get it aimed back at you. In practice, gun-takers often just take the gun, flip it around, fiddle with it into position, etc. Still the good-guy-loser must get his weapon back from bad-guy-taker, and instantly. Rush him! Now! (It is also a great training idea to have the bad-guy-loser instantly rush the good-guy-taker for the good-guy-taker to realize he has to instantly grapple with this reality heat. Are you following me with the whose-who?)

(Some instructors demand that the taker should perform impossible checks, fixes and repairs in those few split-seconds right upon acquisition, not expecting a vicious counter attack, weapon recovery from the loser. And in the real world, was the taken gun a replica? Out of battery? Empty? These are issues for another distinct, subject-centric article just about these very things.) 

But weapon recovery is a bigger issue that just good-guy, bad-guy, taker-loser disarming. There’s the rarely mentioned recovery of your downed comrade’s or enemy’s weapon, what this essay is actually about.

Blackboard-weapon recovery 

Aside from disarming, guns are dropped. I run only situational, simulated ammo gun courses, never teaching marksmanship.  I once saw a range master, and trophy winner cop, standing before an armed training partner in a scenario. Both with gas guns. The draw! And the police instructor vet lost his pistol in the air, mid-draw. He had never drawn right in front of an armed man with a pain-delivering gun. Gas gun hit the floor. Just the first time. Next time, he adjusted.

We also see photos and hear about such fumbles in both normal and stressful times. We see them dropped in simulated ammo scenario training. We even see them dropped at live fire ranges. Long guns and pistols are dropped with some frequency in non-combat life, of which we have no stats on, but they get dropped from time to time. I can’t recall dropping mine in some 50 years, but I’ve seen my friends and co-workers drop theirs a time or two. And we certainly see them dropped on youtube.  One example, we were doing a street shooting situation in Las Vegas. A very athletic, concealed carry guy ran from car to car and dropped his pistol. The metal gun hit the street in front of him and to make matters even worse, when it landed, he KICKED it! Kicked it right under a parked car…needless to say. He was killed.

Dropped When Shot. I can say with some experience that four common things happen when someone holding a firearm is shot. The shot person:

  • Drops the gun, or…
  • Convulsively fires the weapon, no aiming, or…
  • Aims and shoots back, or…
  • Gun does nothing. The gun remains unfired in their hands.

What about the dropped weapon of a shot, severely wounded or dead compatriot?  Or enemy? A “drop dead gun,” just laying there. 


As the organizer, over-seer of these scenarios, as the “ref” if you will, I see so many things in all of these shoot-outs. I see things people really do when in various predicaments. These occurrences, these experiences are quite remarkable and extremely educational. And one of the many things I consistently see is teammates, running past and around their deeply wounded, still or dead, yet still armed partners. Whatever kinds of weapons we are using, Airsoft, gas, markers, Simuntions, whatever –  the training weapons we can get wherever I am – these guns run out of ammo, gas, power or break down at the damndest instances.

To aid in the failures, I so want to advise, “pick up THAT gun!” as they run by the fallen. Sometimes they have the time to do so. But, I do not want to bark orders or suggestions to interfere in the middle of the freestyle, firefight exercise. I’ve see many folks run right by other available guns and ammo. As an “invisible” ref, I wait until the after-action review to bring the subject up and next time? They still often forget to do it.

Once in a while I see a practitioner who instantly knows to snatch up his dead buddy’s gun. Either, it is something trained and remembered, or they are just that naturally gun-and-ammo-hungry to simply know this and do this instinctively. They swoop down and snatch up the weapon as they go by. This is an event that never happens in live fire range training, but rather could happen in real life, and should be bolstered in simulated ammo, scenario training whenever possible. I say oddly but, many video game players of complicated war games, obsess about collecting weapons and ammo as a mainstay, and are prone to thinking about picking up “leftover” weapons. I say oddly because they have readily absorbed a concept from a totally, abstract reality. 

I might remind quickly here, that weapons are sometimes attached to people by lanyards and slings, something that can be very life-saving for the original holder, but also may flummox your partner’s attempt to get your weapons once you are down and out. Know your partner’s gear. Look them all over. Know your team or squad mates stuff. Which leads us to different issued gear topics.Hock-gun-cars-4

Different gear? Different guns? Different ammo? In many organizations such as with the military or police, certain weapons are mandated for all in policy for good reason. If we all have the same guns, we all have the same ammo, magazines and we can pick up, exchange, provide, etc., weapons. It can make for good sense. I am not advocating for the “one-gun, one-ammo” policy, I am just reporting on it here. There is something to be said too for personalized guns and gear, too. 

When military people move into policing jobs, they often and should carry-on with them these overall concepts. Well, I mean, if you were an Army “clerk,” you might not have take this to heart, but people trained for dangerous jobs and have experienced danger are better carriers of this idea.

So often, citizens minus these background, may not consider this at all, or not have the deep heartfelt, burn, understanding of the concepts of gear and the weapon recovery. Shooting instructors of all types may never even know to suggest this topic. You must realize that you might be missing huge chunks of important tactics, topics, subjects and situations. You might instead begin to dwell deeper and deeper into repetitive, endless  “gun minutiae” within your teaching. Why are they stuck in this redundancy when there is so much more diverse combative situations with sims ammo to dissect and experiment with?

Such experiments are psychologically and neurologically proven better learning experiences. Many experts call it “deep learning” in “wicked” environments. In other words, simply put – get off the range and do these interactive, situational shoot-outs with simulated ammo.

Blackboard-weapon series

Active Shooters Talk Yet Again. Martial arts instructors, ones who appear to have zero gun, police and military experience or at best very limited exposures, have organized some active shooter response classes. There should be something of a newer concern and movement in this “pick up” weapon subject, as more people should contemplate picking up the guns of shot police, downed security, etc. This pick-up-off-the-ground could be practiced with live fire too, with little imagination.

Remember that when you snatch up another’s gun? You might well not know how many rounds are left in it! Oh, and in certain crime and war circumstances, when citizens pick up the dead guy’s gun and the authorities arrive? Do I need to remind you? You could look like the bad guy at first. You could be shot.  Phone in, act and surrender accordingly – well, the same rules as if you were armed in the first place should the authorities arrive.

Souvenirs Anyone? This discussion cannot be complete with the pick-up-weapon-souvenir concept. Usually after the battle? My father landed on the beach in WW II and made it all the way to Berlin in Patten’s army. He collected German Lugers and had a box of them mailed home. They never made it through the US Post Office. I recall in Vietnam era, folks trying to get AK-47s. Often though, in many wars, watch out!  Such things are BOOBY TRAPPED! 

Evidence! This a crime scene? Is the bad guy dead-dead. Control the scene for authorities or supervisors or crime scene people. Sometimes weapons are stolen by onlookers. Consider this and other problems before automatically, cavalierly picking up enemy guns (knives, etc.) Sometimes EMTs can really disorganize your organized crime scene, too.

In Some Kind of Summary. It has been my experience that if frequently suggested in a briefing and-or corrected in after-action reviews, many people may think of this when the action starts and the possibility arises. The more they do it in training? The better. Again the pick-up is very situational.

That gun may be dropped, but it ain’t dead. 

“If I die in a combat zone? Get my ammo, guns and gear and…continue to kill the enemy.”

More on this from Sheriff Jim Wilson, click here


Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

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