Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Decision point: Now.

In the blog before last, I called for your action in time of crisis. But, frankly, I left one point a little ambiguous. I said:

And there he is. Picking people off. Maybe you're next. Or maybe chance will smile on you. How many guns does he have? How many bullets? Maybe he has enough for all of you. This can't be allowed to continue.

It's time.

Time to decide-- are you going to dig down and hide among the fallen and hope that you live? Are you going to claw your way to an exit and leave the rest in the lecture hall? How are you going to live with yourself after that?

To which, in the Comments, my friend Don Gwinn rightly responded:

I decided a long time ago.

My decision is not quite as simple, though, because at any given time I'm the adult responsible for 12-24 children. Other peoples' children. So there are risks I've chosen not to take. I won't go looking for anyone, for instance. I've been called a coward for that, but the fact is that I don't see the percentage in leaving a group of students on their own to take their chances while I go glory-hunting.

That said, I think the only way to react fast enough to matter if someone does burst into the room and start hurting people is to know ahead of time exactly what you plan to do about it.

My plan is simple. I intend to reach the attacker as fast as I can and disarm him as fast as I can. Everything else depends on what's between us, what he's armed with, what I'm armed with, and what happens next.

Don states it very simply, and very well: in the instance that someone appears to be displaying a threat of deadly force to those in his charge within his area of responsibility, he will immediately address the problem directly.

When I was 12, my dad called it "Contingency Planning."

When I was in Driver's Education, they called it "IPDE" ("Identify. Predict. Decide. Execute.")

In the military and tactical training, they call it the "OODA Loop." ("Observe. Orient. Decide. Act.")

If you wish, think of it as a protocol. The ONLY decision that you should have to make is whether to implement your self-defense protocol.

Make scenarios in your head:

--"IF a man walked into the room shooting AND I can reach him, THEN I will attack him."

--"IF I'm alone in a room or building AND a man points a gun at me AND I can get away, THEN I will run like a striped-arse ape. "

And so on.

(No, I'm not going to explore the logical "Else" part of programming.)

Make this part of your life. Just like slamming on the brakes when an idjit pulls out in front of you on the road, you must decide ahead of time how you will react. Waiting until the occasion arises is a road to indecision.

Decide now.

Decide before you have to.

And, like putting on your seatbelt or paying flood insurance on yur house, I hope you never need to use it.

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At Saturday, February 16, 2008 5:00:00 PM, Blogger breda said...

I run what-if scenarios in my head, hoping that if something ever does occur, I won't have those moments of shock where the brain says, "I can't believe this is happening, this can't be real" - I want to be mentally prepared to act.

At Saturday, February 16, 2008 5:57:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

If you've really thought it out, and put yourself there, Breda, I see the initial emotional reaction as being one of recognition.

"Oh yeah! I know this one. Dammit, I KNEW this might happen. Engage the plan."

When I am hunting for a very hard-to-see game (person hiding, deer behind the bush, dove flying low, car being driven badly), I am at my most successful when I project myself under yonder bush, or around the next corner. When I look into a copse, a cul de sac, or a creekbed, I expect to see my quarry.

The idea is to recognize, and immediately act. "There you are," you might actually think to yourself.


No-- better to recognize it, than not. We've got things to do, quickly.

At Saturday, February 16, 2008 8:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yah, I'd like to think that I'd be found with a portion of the killer's trachea in my mouth and a big grin on my face.

Points to consider in a situation like the one(s) in the news lately.

You have nothing to lose by resisting. Worst case the adrenaline pumping through your veins will deaden any pain.

You just might save your own life and other people's lives.

Retracting the slide of a semiautomatic just an eighth of an inch renders that weapon incapable of firing until the slide is once again released.

Some makes of semiautos like the Browning HP or most S&W models cannot fire if the magazine is out of the gun. If you can push the mag release the weapon is at best a single shot pistol until reloaded.

Grasping the cylinder of a revolver firmly enough to impede the rotation of the cylinder renders that weapon useless in double-action mode.

Twisting the handgun to the outside of the shooter's body hard enough will usually result in a broken trigger finger for the shooter and a damned fine improvised club in your hand.

None of the techniques I mentioned above can be called safe or even reasonably sure of success. But all of them can result in the shooter no longer shooting for a brief period of time. During that brief period you can be clawing at eyes, punching a throat, or otherwise making life unpleasant for the perp.

Once again, you've got nothing to lose.

Let's roll.

At Saturday, February 16, 2008 10:19:00 PM, Blogger Sevesteen said...

I'd like to see some sort of near universal instruction on how to deal with a shooter--Nothing complex, something like "if you are in range, throw the largest object you can hit him with before you run away--chairs, books, backpacks, computers, fire extinguishers"

At Saturday, February 16, 2008 10:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about risk versus reward.

What are my goals?

1. Survive to see my family
2. Stop the madman from hurting others

In that order.

Assuming that I am unarmed, if I can slip out, I will.

If I can't get out, but have a chance to get on him without getting shot, I will. I will make all attempts to disable the threat while controlling the direction of his muzzle.

If I can't get out and I can't get to him without exposing myself to being shot, I will conceal myself and hope that he runs out of ammo, shoots himself, or someone else in a more advantageous position does stop him. Yes, I may get shot like a "coward." I may not get shot as well. Charging an armed man while he looks at me is foolish and WILL get me shot. That violates goal #1.

Ideally, I will be in a location where I am armed. If this is the case (it likely is), I will seek quick cover while procuring my firearm. I will then try to stop the man.

You see, I will fight and possibly die if I think the odds are in favor of my survival. What I will NOT do is charge an armed man head on because of some macho idea that "I will not be shot in the back of the head like a coward." My odds of success would be near zero.

At Saturday, February 16, 2008 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Don said...

That's what I hope will happen. I don't really have a way of knowing.

And running it in your head puts you ahead of most people, but if you haven't practiced the action extensively, my money is still on hesitation. "Sport fighters" and "street fighters" alike have known for a long time that there are many "martial artists" who have practiced complex maneuvers for years and reached high ranks without ever actually trying to beat up or grapple someone who is trying to do the same to them. These people have never been punched in the face, never been mounted, never been thrown in a way they didn't expect.

When the real thing happens, they're as likely as not to freeze up, not because they're weak, but because they've been practicing for something else for all those years. The fight is different, and it's new to them. They hesitate. There's video of my first standup sparring out there on the internet, and it's painful to watch. I found myself unable to reach out and jab my opponent in the nose! He did everything he could think of to make it happen, but I just couldn't. When he popped me, I didn't defend--I laughed. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I had never done it. I was uncomfortable and hesitant, but once you've been in there a few times, you know what a good shot feels like and you know it's not wrong to give a good shot of your own. It becomes no big deal.

If I seem wordy, it's because I've put some thought in. This isn't all academic to me; there were three bullet holes in the window next to my room one morning last spring. We all had a good idea who had put them there, and although others would have been more logical targets, he had reason enough to dislike me.
(I tend to express high expectations, another experience that makes people uncomfortable if they've never been exposed to it before.)

At Sunday, February 17, 2008 12:21:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

You have protocol. I respect that. I personally suspect that you are over-complicating it into an If/Then/Else statement, but if you can do it, then fine. Please understand that while I will probably do differently than you, I don't take issue with your protocol.

Sevesteen: While I agree that an iBook to the head would be a really good distraction technique, I bet that not one in 20 would do it instinctively. Too valuable! ;)

Don: you get that:
A: You're responsible for others in the room. (That's partially a unique function of your job, and partially a function of the type of person you are. There may well be a breed of giant red-haired sheepdogs.)

B: None of this theory stuff works unless you get the mindset right-- ideally, you are met with surprise, and must fight through pain and adversity.

At Sunday, February 17, 2008 12:23:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Uh, I mean "Ideally in practice."

At Sunday, February 17, 2008 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

I think this is one place where military training has it's advantages- The OODA loop and conditioned responses are drilled into one over the years. Having said that, everyone is different in how they react to any given scenario-

I would agree that by taking the advantage away from the perp through a surprising move (who probably is playing out a domination fantasy in his/her head)and charging him/her will cause a freeze as he/she tries to readjust to reality.

Much like simunitions training, scenarios are a good way to train force on force, but it is NOT REAL, because you do not get shot if you screw up...

Classic example, hostage situation, supposed to go in an negotiate- Went in, got a clean shot and took it with a clean head shot... Was then accused of 'cheating' because I didn't do what was 'expected'. My response- Hostage taker (large male) had knife to neck of small female, beligerent attitude, semi-dark room, unknown number of other potential hostages; I had a clean backlit shot and took it to protect all the hostages rather than potential of getting one killed waiting on negotiator.

At Sunday, February 17, 2008 1:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may well be a breed of giant red-haired sheepdogs.

Sure there are, though they're more often blondes.

Oh. Wait. You were probably talking about something entirely different...

At Sunday, February 17, 2008 8:07:00 PM, Blogger SpeakerTweaker said...

It doesn't help that I work amongst a bunch of folks who'd likely "present their heads" if'n someone started shootin. They think I'm some sort of commando because A. I carry a gun and 2. I think about Very Bad Things before they happen.

Let 'em think. When the SHTF, I will be acting. I still hope to God I can save them, but I don't know if I'll have the tact to resist an "I TOLD you so" somewhere after the smoke clears...

Nice post, this and it's predecessor. Anything that gets folks thinking gets 'em closer to surviving.


At Sunday, February 17, 2008 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

I'm old. I have scars. I have a reasonable expectation of the natural number of years I have left to live, and I know what they'll be like. I'm not happy about it, but that's not my job, to worry.

Folks on my team/pod at work already know how it's going to happen- at least, the ones who know me. They're going to come to my little hole and hide there, and I'm going out to deal with things. If a couple come along, all the better. I have no expectations of them. I'm going to rely on myself and my OODA loop is going to work. I doubt if my 'adversary' has a loop, aside from the delusional one playing out in his head. Nonetheless, I expect to prevail, or at least, stop the threat.


At Monday, February 18, 2008 9:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Projecting/"there you are" is great for saving time, at a time when time is priceless. Just be careful. The mind can play tricks on you if you want to see something bad enough..... it's happened to me once while hunting. It doesn't help when others do foolish things, like dress/sound like the quarry, and show up where you are expecting the quarry to show up...... no one got shot, but for a couple of second, I was SURE my brother was a turkey....

At Monday, February 18, 2008 1:26:00 PM, Blogger Carteach said...

Being an instructor presents a whole host of difficult decisions when facing this question. We are not allowed to be 'armed', although that is defined as something normally recognized as a weapon.

Our school has no real doctrine on defense, and barely has one on 'shooter/intruder in the building scenarios. My partner and I have our plans, and our own class of students to protect.

During intruder drills, we have actually managed to convince the drill monitors that our class was not even in the building... Neat trick and we'll keep the means to ourselves. We also have non-standard plans and rally points that no one but we know about.

That said.... we are not allowed to 'armed' to defend our students. The thing is, we teach an auto mechanics course. EVERYTHING is a weapon, with the right mind set.

Hide.... run.... fight.... in that order. We have kids to protect.
Let my partner or I get near a shooter.... and the bad guy stands a very poor chance. We have already made that decision.

At Monday, February 18, 2008 7:02:00 PM, Blogger Assrot said...

Yep, you can bet your ass on me. If I am not the first to be killed and there is anything near enough for me to pick up and charge the madman with the gun with, I'll do it.

It's scary as hell. In a classroom like that, there has to be a chair or desk that I can pick up and throw that far. Chairs and desks make good ammo.

Maybe if I take his ass down or distract him, some others can get help and some will help me once they see there is a defense to a gun beside a gun.

I'd prefer a gun but if I don't have one on me I make do with what I have on hand.

The cops will show up and find every piece of furniture in the room sticking out of his ass and me sitting on top of him.

Women, children and sissies run. The rest of us make a stand no matter the consequences.


At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 3:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap assrot/Joe. I hope you never have to find out what you will do in that circumstance.

At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 5:36:00 PM, Blogger Assrot said...

Kilgor, I have faced a similar circumstance and did exactly what I said I would.

Some asshole tried to rob me about 20 years ago and he had a gun in my face and told me he was going to use it.

I ruptured his family jewels and broke every finger on the hand he was holding the gun in. The cops were all very surprised when they showed up and I was sitting on him and had his gun unloaded and in a safe place (down the back of his gotdam pants) and the magazine emptied and in my pocket.

Of course they gave me the lecture about not fighting and just giving the guy my wallet but I was scared he was still going to shoot me. He was hopped up on PCP or something.

I am not a talker buddy. I am a doer. No chickens in my family. If I'm around, you can go ahead an run. I'll take care of business.


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