31 August 2012

"Two to the chest, one to the head"...really

Anyone who has been around any kind of pistol training has heard this one. But try as I might, I am unable to find a documented situation where a law enforcement officer or citizen has accomplished it with a pistol.

For years the FBI has told us that police involved shootings take place at 3-5 feet in 3-5 seconds with 3-5 rounds fired. Of course this information is much harder to gather for shootings involving citizens, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that they are close to the same numbers.

Here is our setting; our good guy is approached by a bad guy in a parking lot. The BG tries to rob him at knife point from say 10 feet away. Our GG is able to draw his concealed pistol, fire two rounds to the chest, and then consciously transition to the head. The BG is no doubt going to be moving in some way in reaction to the furtive action of the GG drawing his pistol.

If this is accomplished, I have two questions for the GG-

1) Have you received firearms training and did it involve you training to fire two rounds to the chest and one to the head?

2) Did you consciously fire two rounds at the chest and then consciously transition to the head for the last shot?

I set our GG up for success. The BG is not running at him or shooting at him and is twice the distance where we understand these encounters to occur.
Over the last 8-10 years, I have been doing extensive force on force training using airsoft with police and citizens. I would guess that all of the police at some time in their career have been taught “two to the chest and one to the head”. For the citizens, it is a mixed bag of previous training so I won’t ponder a guess as to who has been taught that.

A conservative estimate of how many had been involved in previous force on force training would be about 30% for the police, with the majority using Simmunitions. That is problematic since according to Simmunitions safety protocol you cannot shoot within 7 yards. You know where shootings actually occur. For the citizens, I would say it is less than 5%.
Here are some common observations during a spontaneous “gunfight” that starts from furtive movement and not a buzzer or whistle-

No shooters reported being able to close one eye during the fight.

No shooters reported being able to “use” their sights.

Shooters report firing the majority of their rounds before their gun was between their eyes and the threat, making it physically impossible to use the sights.

Some students reported being able to “see” their sights towards the end of the fight.

The majority of rounds struck the BG in the torso, many struck the hands and arms because they were holding the weapon between their torso and the other shooter.

We have had a few head shots. Several have been contact shots or close to it. I have never had a student say that they purposely aimed for the head after putting two rounds in the chest.

In the past, some detractors of mine have stated that my students not being able to make these head shots are a reflection on my instruction. That is impossible because I don’t teach head shots at all. Actually, I believe quite the opposite is true. The people who turn up at MCS classes are motivated enough to spend valuable time and money training. There is no way of knowing, but I think that they are the in the minority when it comes to those who carry firearms and their amount of training. As described earlier, less that 5% of the citizens have previous force on force training.

Something else that is unfortunately common in all things is throwing the dart and then drawing a bulls eye around it. For example, I have a close friend who shot and killed a robbery suspect when the suspect drew down on him. My buddy fired several shots using vertical tracking, the last of which center punched the suspect right between the eyes. My buddy, an academy classmate of mine, is an excellent shooter, but when I asked about the shooting he could only say that he started shooting low and tracked up. Several people would tell others, except internal affairs, that the last round went right where they aimed.

This I believe is where the familiar “two to the chest, one to the head” mantra came from. I know it was originally started by Col Cooper after hearing about a shooting overseas. If someone knows more, let me know. Please also let me know if the Col was involved in any force on force training. I am not trying to be disrespectful, but there are a lot of things I can pull off on the square range against cardboard that I would not try on the street much less teach.

I am also looking for stories within the US of officers or citizens, after being trained to do so, actually fired “two to the chest, and one to the head” with a pistol.

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