Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Dangers of Backing Up… QUICKLY!

I am criticized regularly for “turning your back on a threat”! People ALWAYS deliver these criticisms with limited to no information, which in my estimation is just plain stupid. But then the Internet is full of really stupid people!  In reality, this criticism is uncalled for, as I am not telling practitioners of the combative pistol to turn their back on a threat, I am telling them not to try and move backwards quickly!  There is a BIG difference…its just that many of the tactical lug nuts on the Internet refuse to acknowledge it as it gives them something to bitch about. All of you reading this know how much the Internet tac-tards like to hear themselves talk…or type…

It has been a tradition of square range training for as long as I can remember to simulate staying on a threat (target) as it “goes down” and then holding for an undetermined period of time to make sure it “stays down”. I get it, its just I’m not sure what this accomplishes as the paper target does not fall and there is no visual indication of a threat and whether it is incapacitated or will get back up.  Students are merely “imaging” a threat and hopefully are holding long enough since there is really no way to know for sure.  Its like the simulated scan…one does it but no one really knows what is being accomplished as there is no real threat so we do not know what we are looking at or for. In reality, most shooters turn their head WAY TO FAST to truly see, but it does look cool.  Why do we do this? Tradition mostly…

I have long asked people who emphasize this hold on target what happens if the “threat’s” friends do not allow them to hold on target for the desired amount of time?  You know, they attack from the flank before you are ready to look for other threats?  This is reality, you know. I usually get a frozen stare as they try to process this. After all, this is NOT part of tradition…it’s not what they normally do!  When I suggest they may want to look around as soon as they get some feedback from their original threat (like folding over or falling down…something a fixed target does not do) I usually hear “they may get back up!” True, but how long does a look around for other attackers take? After all, you are not looking to scan the area HARD at this point, you are looking for obvious threats like someone running at you, stabbing with a knife or pointing a gun. Yeah, not perfect and in it’s place, but gunfighting seldom is…

Turning away from a threat and moving quickly is another subject that gets real emotional on line. After all, it’s easy to “type a good gunfight” from the comfort of your computer…much harder to actually do it under the duress of someone trying to kill you.  The fact of the matter is you can’t run backwards!  By run I mean move quickly, at a speed that will help save your life if bullets are in bound. Yes, it is possible to move to the rear at a controlled speed, but if moving as fast as humanely possible to create distance is the goal, then trying to move quickly backwards will result in a fall and falling in a gunfight can prove fatal.

Moving to the rear in a controlled fashion can be accomplished two ways. The first is a “step and drag” technique that has the shooter step back with one foot and then drag the trailing foot into place. The second is a “shuffle step” in which the feet are kept in contact with the ground and shifted back and forth…neither will allow for the development of rapid speed…the type of speed needed to get from place to place as fast a humanly possible.

If you take a moment to think about how you move forward…you don’t need a motor skill scientist to explain this… you will note the body’s center of gravity (the hips) stays either above or in between the feet while moving.  As you step and move forward, the hips are between the feet and as forward progression continues, the hips move over top of the feet until they are centered again between them.  This is a very efficient method and it allows us to walk, jog and run without falling. In addition, our eyes are in front of our head…the same way our feet are pointed! Even when moving laterally the body keeps the hips either over or between the feet. Falling occurs when the feet stop (snag on something?) but the hips do not due to momentum and you topple over.  There are techniques to ensure this does not happen and I teach them in my Advanced Combative Pistol course which is all about HOW TO MOVE in conflict.

Moving rapidly to the rear does not allow for this natural shift of the center of gravity between the feet.  The shuffle step and step and drag work to accomplish this, but when speed becomes the overriding concern, the hips shift forward of the feet as the body moves to the rear. Since the feet and toes are not pointed in the direction of said movement, the ass over rides the feet and the combatant falls.  Don’t believe me, watch Live Leak or You Tube and you will find a number of gunfight videos…primarily officer involved shootings…in which shooters try to move backwards rapidly and fall on flat surfaces! And these videos do not take into account those who trip and fall because they do not have eyes in the back of their head!

During rapid rearward movement, the typical person will have 3 to 4 steps before they run the risk of falling. This means a rapid disengagement, such as pushing away from a close contact fight, is possible but continued rearward movement become perilous. At this point, the combatant has two choices: 1. Stay facing the threat and move controlled but slowly back or 2. Turn and move rapidly away. Which you choose will be based on the situation you face. Yes, it will be situationally dependent; something some say is an excuse for lazy training but is a reality of combat. No two fights are exactly alike and it is impossible to train for every potential situation one may face. Thus, you focus and practice skill sets and adapt as necessary!

The idea that you will NEVER turn away from a threat is ludicrous! If others attack you, you will have to turn, refocus or die! If moving quickly is more important than moving in a controlled fashion, you may have to turn your back in order to create distance, move to cover or gain a position of advantage to continue the fight. If you have someone to cover you that is fantastic!  A “leap frog” movement will ensue with verbalization to ensure covered rearward movement. If not, move fast, turn as necessary and move again.  The choice is up to you and will be based on what you perceive to be IMPORTANT NOW…at this moment in time!

One thing I have learned over four decades of law enforcement and firearms training is to avoid the use of the words NEVER and ALWAYS…one or the other will certainly bite you in the ass at some point…

Finally, consider falling back in the middle of a gunfight. As you fall backwards, there is a good chance you will roll back and your ass will rise up due to momentum (unless you have been trained in how to fall).  I have had several medical experts tell me if you take a round (or rounds!) through the rectum that travel long ways up through the body, there is a very good chance it will result in a NON-SURVIVABLE WOUND! As the bullet(s) travel upward through the torso (most gunshot wounds travel across the body) a considerable amount of damage to a wide variety of organs and spine can occur. Infection would certainly be a concern.  In this age of medical care, your chances would be better than ever before, but those who work in the field tell me it would be a very tough fight.

In the end, it come down to WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW while the fight ensues. In truth, there is no way to predict how the fight will unfold but to say you will NEVER do something is wrought with peril. Yep, you may have to turn away from a threat to fight another or move quickly to a better position but one thing I can say with great certainty…you will not be able to run backwards FAST!

The choice is yours…of course…believe and do what you see as being best. Thanks for checking in!