Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guest Post: Hollywood Tactics...

by American Mercenary

American Mercenary is an Airborne Ranger and an officer. He has spent one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. His blog may be found here

(Editor's Note: This article represents a tonal shift from most of the posts here at Blue Collar Prepping, as we don't usually write about tactical things. However, many of the BCP regulars own firearms, and posts about guns and reloading have proven popular here. 

Therefore, this article is posted under the "Doing It Wrong" tag -- not as instruction on how to shoot, as there are far better sources of instruction for that -- but rather as a caution against doing what might get you killed in the real world.)

... an example of what NOT to do
Steven Seagal has gotten old and fat, and his hair looks like a really bad toupee.

Being in Afghanistan where we recycle movies in the spirit of "share and share alike", one of the direct-to-video movies* starring, produced, and directed by Steven Seagal was Violence of Action. As it turns out, about the only thing I liked about the movie was the title.  

You see, I believe in violence of action. So did Col. Jeff Cooper. Even if you disagree with Col. Cooper, he came about his opinions the honest way: through experience.

Unfortunately, having a great title won't save a horribly crappy movie. (It was still better than Twilight, though.**)

The Fatal Derp
In Violence of Action we see wise, tactical guru Steven Seagal working on shooting through the "fatal funnel" to take a "turkey peek" before moving, and then telling another shooter that he changes hands after shooting and moving from one side of the doorway to the other. 

I gigglesnorted a couple times watching this scene because it was so horribly wrong. Don't "peek" because, if you train yourself to "peek then move" every time, all you are doing is telegraphing your next move. 

If you find yourself at a door and wish to be sensible,  you have a few options:
  1. Go through it and shoot as fast and accurately as you can. This is what Infantrymen and SWAT train to do. This is "violence of action." 
  2. Freeze in the doorway and unload. This is what SWAT actually did to Jose Guerena. This is what happens when you don't rise to the occasion but instead sink to your lowest level of training. Hesitating in the fatal funnel is a tactical “no-no".
  3. Use the side of the door as a barrier for shooting from cover. This is what Infantrymen pulling security are trained to do, and USPSA/IPSC/3-Gun types are all familiar with this. This is what you do when you have to secure a room or hallway before your buddies can get to you to help you clear it. By the way, this is what Jose Guerena did, and it didn't work out so well for him.
Notice that none of these tactically good options include flitting from one side of the doorway to the other while swapping firing hands on the pistol (or carbine or shotgun, etc). And none of them are really good options for someone alone with only their handgun. But suppose a storm brought down power and communication and you had to clear your house by yourself because you just got home and the door was obviously kicked in?

You can go slow and deliberately, as quiet as you can, slicing the pie at each corner. But every doorway is a fatal funnel and you need to get out of the fatal funnel as quickly as you can. Often times we will clear as much of the room by working the angles through an open door before we enter and clear with violence of action. On a closed door it is always hilarious when a fire team slams themselves into what turns out to be a linen closet. (Seriously funny in training, anyway).

Never go faster than smooth. The saying "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is true: don't rush yourself, and you'll go faster than you think you can.

So, now that I've addressed why you don't want to hang out in the door, silhouetting yourself in the obvious line of attack for a defender, lets deal with why you shouldn't swap hands:
  • A handgun is supposed to be a “hand gun” in that you can operate it with one hand. Double action revolvers are great for this because if you have a misfire, you just pull the trigger again. But, if you have a failure with a pistol, it becomes a “hands gun.”
  • Every time you unnecessarily manipulate your weapon you are setting yourself up for an accident. Palms slippery from sweat and arms jittery from adrenaline work against you. 
  • Manipulating your weapon with a second hand doubles this risk. 
  • Swapping your gun to your weak hand (unless you absolutely must, likely due to injury) is worse than all of these, because not only could you accidentally fire or otherwise mis-operate your weapon, you now run the risk of dropping it. 
Remember, what looks cool on film doesn't translate well to the real world. Instead, remember the fundamentals. Mine are draw, rack***, push, front sight on target, squeeze trigger. Even if some tactical genius gun guru could shave fractions of a second off my routine by changing it, I won't change it;  I've shot this way for years and it's what my muscle memory knows. In my opinion, it's better to be consistent than risk an accident by trying something new and fighting an old habit.

To Reiterate:
  1. Be consistent.
  2. Keep your gun in the same hand unless you are forced to change it.
  3. Don't stand in the doorway, and don't freeze. 
  4. If you have to be violent, be violent and get it over quickly by being deliberate and smooth.
  5. If you are moving, you need to have your gun up and ready to engage targets. 
  6. If you are stationary, you need to be reloading or waiting for your buddies to catch up so you can move again.

* It turns out that this was originally a TV series called True Justice which had episodes turned into 2-hour DVD "movies" that were sold in the UK. I think this was just a last ditch attempt to regain lost capital from a TV show that had poor writing, bad action, and dull characters.

** If anyone asks why I watched such crap, remember that you'll watch just about anything on a deployment.

*** When I carry a pistol, I carry with an empty chamber. This generally turns a “hand gun” into a “hands gun.” But I am 6 foot 200 lbs of man, I am comfortable with my hand-to-hand combat skill level (not as good as someone who trains more regularly, but better than most) so I feel that the half second it takes for me to rack the slide is a good trade-off. You may feel differently, and that is your choice.

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