01 September 2012

Using the 21 foot as a drill as a learning tool

If you ask someone who carries a pistol about dealing with edged weapons, they will likely mumble something about “not bringing a knife to a gun fight”, or something even less understandable about the 21 foot rule. Most of them will have never done the 21 foot drill, and if they did, they probably concentrated on drawing and putting rounds on target instead of getting cut.

Even though the research screams that you are very unlikely to see the edged weapon you are attacked with, for some reason we just cannot let go of training to shoot a bad guy holding a butcher knife glaring at us from seven yards away. We either train against that or the same guy charging us when he is given the signal. For our purposes here we will discuss the latter.

First of all, this is not a gun problem. First and foremost, it is a movement and angle problem. The problem comes in when people whose most polished skill set is a pistol, fixate on using it as the first part of solving the problem.

In order for the edged weapon to cut us, it has to make contact with us. And the damage it does is largely dependent on where that contact is made. The fact that the person is running at us almost guarantees that  93%+ of the time it will be a right handed attack with the attack being an Angle #1 that travels from high right to low left, not unlike a haymaker. Whether it is a slash or a stab will depend on the type of weapon. With a butcher knife, you will likely get a stab With a box cutter it will be a slash.

After doing this drill for what now seems 100’s of times, if I had to put my finger on one thing that ensures you will get seriously cut, it would be rushing to get two hands on the gun.

Here are the reasons why-

Having both hands on the gun increases tunnel vision and glues feet to the ground. For most people, force on force is a new thing and they have done way more live fire. Under stress we revert back to what we have done most of or most recently. In this case, you are scared to death of getting cut or stabbed so you focus on getting two hands on the gun in an attempt to get a better shot.

Since we were children, our eyes naturally focus on anything that we point at. This is increased when both hands are on the gun.
Muscles contract under stress and the more your heart rate sky rockets , the tighter you hold the gun.

Even when the attacker is at contact distance, their hands stay glued to the gun. This results into what would be at least one powerful disfiguring slash, or a deadly stab into their face, neck, or upper chest. Just by raising their arm, they could mitigate some of the force.

If students do move, they go straight back, usually losing their balance and sometimes falling.

The keys to conquering this scenario are the following-
In response to the movement of the attacker, move forward to your left, you attackers right. This is likely his non dominant side. The faster he is the slower he is to respond to his weak side. By moving forward, you can see where you are going and keep your momentum forward.

Use your reaction side hand for navigation and to block/parry/ evade the attack. Draw your pistol and engage with your strong hand only.
Realize that it may be physically impossible for you to get your pistol between your eyes and the threat, making sighted fire impossible.

Trying to force this and bringing the sights up to the chest causes you to bypass the super vascular targets of the pelvic girdle. Because of ritualized combat, your body and that of your attacker will be close to square. This means that if you start firing from your waist, there is an excellent chance of striking his upper legs, pelvic girdle, and stomach.

As he passes you and you are able to check his attacking arm with your off hand, it is very likely that you will be in position for a contact shot under his armpit. If nothing else, this will move you to his outside and force his weapons away from you.

There are three types of physical stoppages-

Central Nervous System- if you are able to hit the brain or spinal cord during a scenario that is this dynamic and close you may want to consider playing the lottery. There is no time or room for the intentional targeting of the head. If you are lucky enough to score a CNS, you will know because they will drop. Consider it a 75 yard field goal though.

Structural System- comprised of the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. SS hits to the feet, knees, pelvis, hands, elbows, and collar bone will likely be noticeable immediately.

Circulatory System- the system that we are most familiar when it comes to ballistics. CS hits are the slowest to stop an attack, but most likely to kill. The downfall of traditional firearms training is leading people to believe that people burst into flames when shot in the chest. They will keep going.

So, understanding this means realizing that they are a threat until they are no longer a physical threat and you have got to keep using movement and angles to achieve that……not just the gun.

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