Emotions are still running high following the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, just outside of St. Louis. But if you step back a little bit, there have been some incredibly valuable lessons that could just keep you alive if you ever find yourself in a self-defense situation…regardless of whether it’s with a firearm or if you’re empty handed.
They span the gamut from time distortion, shot placement, self-defense psychology, and more.
One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know exactly what happened yet. Don’t get emotional about what you’re about to read…I’m merely using headlines and storylines that are in the news (that may or may not be true) to illustrate realities that may help keep you alive. The stories and storylines may or may not be accurate, but the lessons most definitely ARE accurate.
Lesson #1: You’re living in the past (One possible reason why Michael Brown was shot in the top of the head)
The coroners’ reports show that Michael Brown was shot 6 times, including once in the top of the head and some in the media are saying that there was no rational reason why this should have happened.
One theory is that Brown ducked his head to attack the officer.
For the purposes of this article, the reason doesn’t matter…but it’s vitally important that you understand the physiological reality that may very well have been at play.
It takes your brain half a second or more to consciously process what you see. In other words, what you think you’re seeing right now really happened half a second ago. This is the basis for many slight of hand tricks that you see in magic shows, bars, etc. For some people, the delay is slightly shorter than half a second. For some people, it’s significantly longer, but nobody consciously sees in real time.
This often plays out in self-defense shootings where the attacker is shot a couple of times in front and once in back. Because of the half second that your vision lags behind reality, it’s entirely possible to see someone moving towards you while you’re shooting even though they’ve really turned their back to you already.
Moral of the story…don’t put someone in the position where they feel they need to shoot you and then expect them to stop shooting when you change your mind.
Something else to realize is that it’s entirely possible to see someone with their hands by their side when, in reality, you’re seeing where their hands were half a second before and they’re really in the process of drawing a gun or lunging at you with a knife.
What this means is that it’s entirely possible that the officer may not have seen Brown’s head duck until after he fired.
Why is this important? Because when you KNOW that reacting puts you behind the curve, you can change your plans and tactics to take it into account. You can set your triggers for when to take action and what action you’ll take based on knowledge of this built-in delay. You can also your range to someone who’s being aggressive, knowing that if they’re too close that they can strike you without you even seeing it coming.
How can you use it to your advantage? Well, this reactionary gap is longer when you’re talking. So, don’t get involved in “conversations” when fractions of a second are critical and DO try to get your attacker talking if you want to get the jump on them.
And remember, a LOT can happen in half a second.
Lesson #2: Know your target (One possible reason why Brown might have been shot 4 times in the right arm)
Brown was shot 6 times…4 times in the right arm and twice in the head. When people are in a hyper-adrenalized state, it’s normal to focus exclusively on a perceived threat and shoot at it.
It’s one reason why many attackers are shot in the hand that they’re holding their weapon in.
In this case, it appears as if the officer might have seen Brown’s right hand as the biggest threat and shot at it.
I don’t know how many shots were fired yet, but I do know that the average hit ratio for law enforcement is in the 15% range and the fact that the officer hit Brown with 6 rounds shows a high level of proficiency.
But the 4 rounds that went into Brown’s arms were completely ineffective at stopping the threat.
This illustrates why it’s so important to program your mind to see PEOPLE as weapons and arms, legs, knives, and guns as mere tools. Specific spots on or in the body that will effectively stop the threat should be your target, not the body as a whole or the most scary limb.
Take away the will or the ability for the mind to fight
and the attacker’s size, ability, and tools cease to matter.
How do you do this? With internal and external dialog, mental rehearsal, and practice. When you’re watching a TV show and see an attacker (regardless of what tool they are using for their attack), program yourself to identify the person (not the weapon) as the threat and determine how you would stop that threat.
Lesson #3: Bullet placement matters.
Again, take emotion and right/wrong out of the equation and focus on the storyline and the lessons you can gain from them. The officer hit Brown 6 times, including 4 times in the right arm. In this case, 4 rounds to the arm were completely ineffective. One round to the right part of the brain stopped the threat immediately. The 4 rounds to the arm didn’t make the single round to the top of the head more effective…that single round ended the fight and stopped the threat.
In your training, don’t be content with merely hitting the target. Spend at least some of your time shooting one hole groups as quickly as you’re able to and at as far of a distance as possible. Remember, your groups will open up under stress, you’ve got a limited amount of ammo and time in a life or death situation, and you’re responsible for every round that leaves your gun.
If you need to use a firearm, knife, or strike to stop a threat, don’t aim for “the body”. Pick specific targets (the smaller the better) that have a high potential of stopping the threat.
It’s not just the fact that only hits count, but only EFFECTIVE hits count.
Lesson #4: Bullets don’t always stop threats.
If the reports are correct, Brown “bum rushed” the officer and absorbed the first 5 rounds without being deterred.
This reminds me of a conversation with a friend of mine who just got back from hunting in Africa. He had a couple of clean kills where he took out the heart and at least one lung and the animals both ran more than 150 yards.
And another story where an officer put 14 rounds of .45 ACP hollow points into an attacker, including 6 center-of-mass shots, but the attacker kept on coming.
There are a lot of animals and criminals who haven’t gotten the memo that they’re supposed to give up when they get shot in the chest.
That’s why it’s important to remember that the only way to stop a threat instantly is to temporarily or permanently shut off the central nervous system…anything else is merely hoping that the attacker decides to stop.
When you’re training, incorporate this into your shooting and dry fire sequences by switching how many rounds you fire and when/if you switch from center of mass to central nervous system. If you have a training partner, keep shooting until they say “he’s down,” “attacker down,” “he gave up,” or something similar.
Lesson #5: Don’t fear guns, knives, sticks, or other weapons
I have never in my life had a gun, knife, stick, or other weapon randomly decide to take action on it’s own. Left alone, they’re all as dangerous as a paperweight. There’s no reason to fear them or focus on them. The human mind, on the other hand, is a completely different matter–it is the ultimate weapon.
One of the stories coming out is that Brown and the officer fought over the officer’s sidearm in the officer’s car and it discharged in the process.
I wasn’t there and don’t know what happened, but I do know that people have a tendency to fixate on guns in a fight and ignore the true weapon and true threat–the other person.
Take out your attacker’s ability and/or will to hurt you and the threat of the weapon they have or are trying to get goes away.
Again, as you’re watching TV or movies and see situations where people are struggling over a firearm or knife, skip back and rewatch it a couple of times, putting yourself in both people’s positions. Try to pick out spots where you could take one hand off of the firearm or knife and jam your thumb into the other person’s eye, grab and squeeze their larynx, or chop their throat with your forearm—or any other action that would stop the real threat (the attacker) and render the gun/knife meaningless.
As far as resources for continued training, I’ve got a few recommendations:
For the empty hands combatives side, >THIS< is the training that I’ve used and recommended for almost 20 years, and it’s the same material that Ox helped teach Glenn Beck’s staff last fall.
On the firearms side, there are 4 resources that I’d like to recommend:
As far as the greatest bang for your buck, it’s impossible to beat Dry Fire Training Cards. They’re used by dozens of Tier I and Tier II operators from multiple countries, are a tested and recommended resource for the National Tactical Officers’ Association, and are the single best tool that I know of to lock in lessons you’ve learned in firearms classes that you’ve taken.
They’ll help you quickly and affordably take the head knowledge from your classes and drive it deep into your subconscious so you can execute proper technique when stress is high and there’s no time to think through each step in the process of putting accurate rounds on target. Learn more now by going >HERE<
Next, are former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham’s 30-10 Pistol and retired Navy SEAL, Larry Yatch’s Concealed Carry Masters Course. Ox is friends with both of these guys and was instrumental in the creation of both courses.
Chris’ course and Larry’s course are both awesome. They have a lot of similarities and the easiest thing to say is that they harmonize with each other.
The courses are different and both exceptional in their own ways. And, most importantly, they deliver both head knowledge (training) and a drills (practice) to help you hardwire skills into your subconscious so that you can execute them under extreme stress.
From a learning modality perspective, Chris’ is 99% written with some short supplementary videos. Larry’s is 75% video with a written summary and drills guide.
30-10 Pistol is downloadable and Concealed Carry Masters Course is on 4 DVDs, comes with a book, and also has on-demand online content.
From a performance perspective, they’re both solid, proven instructors and courses.
Chris is one of the few guys who gets sent overseas/downrange to train military, other government agencies, and contractors in war zones between their missions. He was a tip of the spear guy (Force Recon) who trains tip of the spear guys.
Larry and the Sealed Mindset crew were also tip of the spear guys (2 SEALs, 1 SF, 1 Force Recon, + SWAT) who focus primarily on law enforcement and civilian training.
Both guys have been there, seen the elephant (been under enemy fire), excelled as warriors, and are phenomenal instructors.
Both guys train operators who have/are going to see the elephant, and both have had students who are alive today because of training that they got from them within the last few months.
Finally, there’s a 4th course that’s completely different that I want to tell you about. It’s the Deadly Accuracy Home Study Course from Matt Seibert.
It’s difficult to explain in a few sentences, but it is an incredibly high leverage training program that will help you rewire your brain to shoot incredibly fast and accurately under stress. In part, it takes advantage of a little known hack that allows you to, at will, blunt the effects of extreme stress, increase the speed that you see from 2 frames per second to 18-20 frames per second, SIGNIFICANTLY increase the processing speed of your brain by switching it from sequential processing to parallel processing, and engages a mechanism in your brain that automatically centers your front sight to a tiny fraction of an inch.
Again, it’s crazy high-speed stuff, and if you’re interested in learning more, you can do so by going >HERE<
Normally, I don’t give you this many recommendations in a single article, but we’re living in crazy times and I want to get this information into the hands of as many people as possible AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
Thoughts? Comments? Experience? Please share by commenting below: