Saturday, March 3, 2012

Self Defense Findings

The following comes to us courtesy of Claude Werner, Director of Firearms Training LLC. It is an analysis of five years of incidents reported in the NRA "Armed Citizen" column. Lots of things here to think about, and many thanks to Claude for allowing me to post it here.

Here's my analysis of what armed self-defense for the Private Citizen, not LEO, looks like. You decide what suits your needs best to solve this type of problem.
Private citizens reload in approximately 1/2 of one percent of shooting incidents (3/482).
If the defender fires any shots, most likely it will be 2 rounds.
The shooting distance in the vast majority of cases was slightly in excess of arm's length.
At this distances, even .22s and .25s are highly immediately lethal.
A revolver, even J-frame, is perfectly capable of dealing with almost all of the incidents. The ones which were beyond the capabilities of a five shot revolver would be best deal with by a shotgun, anyway.
For those who do not practice, a revolver is far preferable to the autoloader because of the revolver's simpler manual of arms. Eighty per cent of gunshot wounds are self-inflicted. Guns are handled many times more than they are shot and so safe gunhandling qualities are much more important characteristics than its ability to be shot accurately and reloaded quickly. Revolvers are much less likely than autoloaders to AD in the hands of novices.
The perceived need for massive quantities of ammo, reloading, and precision shooting at distance is largely a figbar of people's imaginations. There is simply no evidence to support the contention that any of those conditions occur during armed confrontation involving the Private Citizen.
The Armed Citizen - A Five Year Analysis
Executive Summary
For the period 1997 – 2001, reports of 482 incidents were examined. All involved the use of firearms by private citizens in self defense or defense of others. No law enforcement related incidents were included.
The majority of incidents (52%) took place in the home. Next most common locale (32%) was in a business. Incidents took place in public places in 9% of reports and 7% occurred in or around vehicles. The most common initial crimes were armed robbery (32%), home invasion (30%), and burglary (18%).
Overall, shots were fired by the defender in 72% of incidents. The average and median number of shots fired was 2. When more than 2 shots were fired, it generally appeared that the defender’s initial response was to fire until empty.
Handguns were used in 78% of incidents while long guns were used in 13%; in the balance the type of firearm was not reported. The most common size of handgun was the .35 caliber family (.38, .357, 9mm) at 61%, with most .38s apparently being of the 5 shot variety. Mouseguns (.380s and below) were at 23%, and .40 caliber and up at 15%.
The range of most incidents appears to be short but in excess of touching distance. It appears that most defenders will make the shoot decision shortly before the criminal comes within arm's length. Defenders frequently communicate with their attackers before shooting.
The firearm was carried on the body of the defender in only 20% of incidents. In 80% of cases, the firearm was obtained from a place of storage, frequently in another room.
Reloading was required in only 3 incidents. One of those involved killing an escaped lion with a .32 caliber revolver, which was eventually successful after 13 shots.
Multiple conspirators were involved in 36% of the incidents. However, there are no apparent cases of drivers or lookouts acting as reinforcements for the criminal actor(s) once shooting starts. Immediate flight is the most common response for drivers and lookouts at the sound of gunfire.
The largest group of violent criminal actors was 7, who committed serial home invasions in Rochester NY. An alert and prepared homeowner dispatched them (2 killed and 1 seriously wounded) with a shotgun when they broke in his door.
Incidents rarely occurred in reaction time (i.e., ¼ second increments). Most commonly, criminals acted in a shark-like fashion, slowly circling and alerting their intended victims. The defender(s) then had time to access even weapons that were stored in other rooms and bring them to bear.
The most common responses of criminals upon being shot were to flee immediately or expire. With few exceptions, criminals ceased their advances immediately upon being shot. Even mouseguns displayed a significant degree of immediate lethality (30% immediate one shot kills) when employed at close range. Many criminal actors vocally expressed their fear of being shot when the defender displayed a weapon. Upon the criminals' flight, the "victims" frequently chased and captured or shot the criminals and held them for the authorities.
Analysis by Claude Werner


  1. I've been waiting for another post here. Welcome back; good post.

  2. Thanks, Jim. Please feel free to suggest aticles that you have seen or issues you think we should discuss, or any other ideas you (or others) may have. I've got a couple of things percolating in the background for this year, but input is always welcome.

  3. How about actually posting the #'s?

  4. The total number of incidents was 482, so you can get any of the actual numbers by figuring the percentage from that number. I'll speak to Claude and see if he has something like a spreadsheet or file we can post with the various raw numbers for convenience.

  5. David

    Thanks- glad you have returned.

    I appreciate the work you have done to shed some additional light on this contentious situation - namely " how much is enough"?

    I am concerned that the sample size is so small that a general conclusion cannot be supported.

    Data set - while Armed Citizen is a valuable source, was it selected for ease of access?

    My concern is that AC represents a "cherry picked" sample. I dont know how the editorial decision at AC is made - to include or exclude- but it is possible that the more mundane incidents are over-sampled. Also, at the local news level, many defensive firearms uses simply dont make it to print or broadcast, in spite of being suitable - perhaps the news editor didnt want to cover a "good" firearms use, or a looming deadline prevented following the story, etc.

    482 incidents over 4 years is about 10 incidents reported in AC per month. Obviously, a great number of incidents are left out- I personally have seen self-defense shootings reported in College Station, Texas, as well as DFW that never made it to Armed Citizen.

    I would also like to see data within the last 3 or 4 years - bad guy behavior may have changed, and with it the environment for good guy armed citizen. What was true ten years ago, may not be true now.

    Before I develop a training regime around 2 shots max, no reloads needed, I would prefer a bigger sample.



  6. No disagreement with any of your points, Greg. When it comes to data like this I like say "it is what it is." One of the problems working in the social science area, such as this, is that you pretty well get stuck with what is available. And often what is available is not so much a "this is what you need to do" as it is a "this really is not as needed as we thought." The best way to use information like this, in my opinion, is to look at it as one part of the puzzle and see how it fits with other pieces. How does this data relate to what we found from SOP-9 from NYPD, or the Police Marksman report, or whatever else we can find? Since there is not anything like a central repository of shooting data there will always be problems with the material at hand. I don't hink Claude was suggesting anyone whould develop a training regime around this information, and I certainly am not. But it might help us decide, for example, is this extra 3 hours of training time I have better spent working on reloads or shooting from unusual positions or quick-draw, or something else.

  7. Interesting read, though I have to admit, "figbar of people's imaginations" gave me a good laugh.

    I think many people focus on training for extended engagements because it represents a skill set that can be practiced easily and conveniently. Developing the skills (and in time, habits) of situational awareness and clear thinking under stress aren't so straightforward, and so don't get nearly the attention they deserve.

  8. Hi Dave: As a fellow academician, and an NRA Instructor in multiple disciplines, I certainly understand the problem with the data set, or more properly stated, the lack of data. That being said, I have some confirmation bias here as your conclusions correspond with what I have being preaching for years. John Lott and I had a discussion on some of this when he presented his findings at my University a couple years ago. I don't know if John has some other, or better data. He's a pretty good guy and you may find it helpful to contact him to see what he has. I smell a great academic journal article in here somewhere.

    George R.

  9. Thanks for the feedback, George. And giving credit where credit is due, the conclusions belong to Mr. Werner, not me, although my personal conclusions do largely coincide with his, and apparently also yours. That is what I mean when talking about pieces of the puzzle fitting together. When different researchers using different data sources come to similar conclusions, and those findings are repeated over and over, there is a strong likelihood that the findings are fairly accurate. As for a journal article....I'm always open to a collaboration if you're interested!

  10. Anonymous said: "I think many people focus on training for extended engagements because it represents a skill set that can be practiced easily and conveniently."
    So true. There is a tendency for many to practice what is easy or what they are already good at, and not practice what is needed.

  11. The Armed Citizen data doesn't agree with the data that Tom Givens presents, on the 56 shootings his students have been involved in. Distances are 5 yards or less, but total rounds fired ranged from 1-11.

    If you take the analysis literally, it encourages people NOT to carry, since it shows that they are at little risk outside the home, which is BS. Most of Givens' student-involved shootings occurred outside the home. There were 1130 carjackings in Houston last year. Violent crime in downtown Austin, Texas is up 83% - that's all 'outside the home' down in the tourist area.

    If 2 rounds is the "average" number, so what? Training to the average means that 50% of the time you will come up short. What's much more important is the 90% level - how many total rounds were fired in 90% of the incidents in which the armed citizen prevailed?

    The vast majority of people involved in "Armed Citizen" incidents are untrained, so using the analysis as a roadmap for what we "should do" is flawed thinking -- like the people that tell us we shouldn't use the sights because untrained people, under stress, don't use their sights.

    The high number of self-inflicted gunshot wounds shows a need for better training, particularly in safe gun handling. Long heavy trigger pulls make a gun idiotproof but also make it harder to shoot. I've been training students for 20+ years and haven't had any students shoot themselves. Again, the actions of the untrained should not define best practices for the skilled.

  12. I debated publishing the above post, but then decided I would as it seems to me to be a good example of a big problem I have seen in the shooting world. That problem is failing to read what is written, or trying to read into something things that are not written. Either is bad from the perspective of the Thinking Gunfighter. Due to length this response is broken into two parts.

    "The Armed Citizen data doesn't agree with the data that Tom Givens presents, on the 56 shootings his students have been involved in. Distances are 5 yards or less, but total rounds fired ranged from 1-11. "
    Actually that does not say that Tom's data disagrees. I've heard Tom's data tossed around a lot, but have yet to see anything close to a good analysis of the information. This is a good example. "Total rounds fired ranged from 1-11" may or may not mean the average was about 2 rounds. We don't know. We know that in at least one incedent only 1 round was fired and that in at least one incident 11 rounds were fired. We don't know what the mean or the median number is.

    "If you take the analysis literally, it encourages people NOT to carry, since it shows that they are at little risk outside the home, which is BS. Most of Givens' student-involved shootings occurred outside the home. There were 1130 carjackings in Houston last year. Violent crime in downtown Austin, Texas is up 83% - that's all 'outside the home' down in the tourist area."
    I'm not sure where you are getting that idea. Nothing in Claude's work says not to carry outside of the home. On the contrary, it suggest that one should carry in the home as well as outside as your home as the need is about equally high, 52% versus 48%. At least that is what I get out of it, and again that tends to agree with most other findings, that a high percentage of attacks occur in and around the home.

    "If 2 rounds is the "average" number, so what? Training to the average means that 50% of the time you will come up short. What's much more important is the 90% level - how many total rounds were fired in 90% of the incidents in which the armed citizen prevailed?"
    First, that is mathematically incorrect and includes a rather strange assumption. First, the assumption that one would only train to the average is unwarranted and unrealistic. I'm not aware of anyone in any discipline who trains to the average. Second, even if one trains to the average it does not mean they will come up short. One round may be sufficient to handle most cases, in which case training to twice that level may be adequate for 75% or 95% of the cases. 2 rounds is the average does not automatically mean that on average it takes two rounds to accomplish the task. Very different issues!

    "The vast majority of people involved in "Armed Citizen" incidents are untrained, so using the analysis as a roadmap for what we "should do" is flawed thinking -- like the people that tell us we shouldn't use the sights because untrained people, under stress, don't use their sights."
    Again, I'm not sure where you are getting some of this stuff, but it is certainly not from this article. There is no roadmap for what we should do, there is simply information to consider. The author clearly states at the beginning **You decide what suits your needs best ** not this is what you should do. As for the people who say we shouldn't use the sights, I've been doing this a long time and I'm not aware of anyone of any credibility in the target-focus camp who says that. What is more accurate seems to be that one should use the sights whenever the situation allows it, but one should also be able to shoot without the sights when necessary.

    "The high number of self-inflicted gunshot wounds shows a need for better training, particularly in safe gun handling. Long heavy trigger pulls make a gun idiotproof but also make it harder to shoot. I've been training students for 20+ years and haven't had any students shoot themselves. Again, the actions of the untrained should not define best practices for the skilled."
    Agreed. But since that is not happening here I'm not sure what the point is, given that some of the best trained folks out there have had NDs (and a few have managed to shoot themselves!) and there are no best practices offered, be it for skilled or unskilled.

  14. Thank for the article. It was very helpful. I'm looking forward to seeing more articles here at "The Thinking Gunfighter."

  15. Very interesting data. I've trained with Claude and respect his work, but some of the information here causes me to raise an eyebrow.

    Being as it's too much to put into a comment, I just posted it all on my own blog:

    - Hsoi

  16. Thanks to Hsoi, and I recommend we all take a minute and check out the link provided. This, I feel, is the essence of the Thinking Gunfighter. Hsoi gives us all a look at the information provided in a reasonable, focused manner that allows the reader to look at another perspective as opposed to tossing out mantra and claims that are not relevant to what was actually said in an article or post. I might (actually I do) disagree with some issues as he presents them, just as he disagrees with some of Claude's, but the discussion is appropriate and gives the reader information to make their own decision rather than arguing against a decision that is not actually present in the article. So thanks, Hsoi, for a link to an informative article as well as a good example of how to look at comparative and sometimes conflicting pieces of information.

    1. FWIW, I know KR -- he's a friend and boss-man, and I actually owe much of my skills and knowledge on firearms to him. I have the highest regard and respect for him, as do many in the training community. He's well versed, and I can read about what he wrote and filter a lot of it to say that well.. perhaps he wrote it in a rush and didn't convey everything as clearly as he could have. He left out information that connects the dots between Claude's article and what he wrote. I can tell what those dots are and he didn't make any sort of bad leap, just didn't write it all down here (and frankly it's a lot of stuff, more than a comment could do justice to). Happens to the best of us.

      In the end, KR and I are both basically trying to convey the same message: be mindful of this data because while interesting, it doesn't paint a complete picture and even contradicts a lot of other data that's out there on this same topic. And there's risk, based upon the presentation of this data, that someone might take the data to justify or define how they train. That if Claude says reloads never happen, why should we bother practicing reloads because it will never happen? That could take people into dangerous territory and leave people with serious gaps in their training. Data and stats should shape how we train, but it shouldn't define it.

      That's all.

      - Hsoi

  17. I've not met Karl in person but I've interacted with several of his students and I think he does a great job training. As for data and training, we all have to base our training on some sort of data. Let's stay with the reload issue as an example. Claude does not say reloads never happen, he says they happened about a half of a percent in his data. Now to me that doesn't say we should never practice reloading, but it does suggest that if you are going to a shooting school and they are going to teach you 4 different ways to execute a reload and spend 25% of your training time and resources on that instruction you might want to think is that is a good return on your training dollar.

    People are always going to use some sort of data to justify how they train. I would suggest the more they learn the better that justification will be. Claude's data or Tom's data or Dave Spaulding's data or my data and so on will always be just one snapshot in a large movie. I think we are all after the same goal... the more a person knows the better their choices can be. The more snapshots we see the more we will know about the movie. Part of the problem is that the movie is not finished so we need to keep getting new pictures.

  18. This from the the Buckeye Firearms association, fits very nicely with your conclusions.

  19. Yes, it does, and more to the point it is another source of information that we can look at and assess. As I mentioned earlier, "When different researchers using different data sources come to similar conclusions, and those findings are repeated over and over, there is a strong likelihood that the findings are fairly accurate."

  20. I recall reading that in the eleven shot incident from Givens' database, the attacker became trapped between the door and body of the car. Because this prevented him from falling, the defender lacked any feedback his bullets were doing any good and continued to fire until empty. The number of rounds fired was a point of contention at the inquest.

  21. An interesting and informative point. Sometimes the numbers don't always tell us the whole story. That was one of the things I liked so much about NYPD's SOP-9, each incident had a narrative to go with the numbers.

  22. Another great read. I would be curious to see the numbers by State. In my 30 years in LE these numbers would be consistent with my observations in California. But, CCW is not common for citizens so the home would be the logical place where a citizen would have access to their firearm for defense.

    Maybe I missed it, does the study include victims with CCW that either didn't have or deploy a weapon at the time of the event?

    I think it would be an interesting for a study of "potential" firearm use based on actual crime data. Clearly there are more robberies and assaults outside of the home but there are very few CCW holders. In 30 years of LE, out of hundreds of one on one crime cases, I have never had one (1) involved victim who was CCW and either had a weapon or failed to deploy the weapon.

    The data show what we already know, there are more people with guns in the home than there are with CCW.

    Thanks again for this blog.

    1. Just for thought, I believe I saw an article in a mag a year or so ago that indicated that among ccw holders the most likely use of a firearm for defense was also in the home. (?)

      Can't find the article now. (May have one of those last-page articles, and had a sequel in the following edition... Hmmm ... Anyone else recall seeing something like that?)

  23. We did have a recent case here in San Diego, CA. where the homeowner came home to a burglary/home invasion and fired his CCW weapon. He missed, and was subsequently pistol whipped by the suspects. His wife, a neighbor and the CCW holder survived.

  24. David,

    Am a newcomer to firearms and happened across your TTG site. Quite a revelation after reviewing many other gun related sites, a fair number of which seemed to be inhabited by would be Ninja warriors. For much of my life I have felt no need to own a gun. Two home invasion/murders (neither involving firearms)in my area have caused me to rethink this and I have made the decision to become an "armed citizen." However, I am not at the point where I am inclined to make firearms/shooting a lifestyle activity. At this point a gun is a defensive tool. I will read, train, and learn but this will not be a central part of who I am. All this to say that the Self Defense Findings post is more than a little interesting and relevant for me. It makes me want to know much more about these issues. You and other cite a varity of sources of related info, a few with links. Would be a great service to at least publish a fairly complete table of links, and a really great service to pull all this disparate info together in a comprehenisve article/post.

  25. Thanks, newcomer, and welcome. FWIW, you are probably in the same area as over 90% of gunowners who, like you, do not see it as a central part of who you are and are not interested in making shooting a lifestyle activity. The good news is that it seems you don't need to become an expert with a firearm in order to use it effectively. I would suggest at least a good NRA basic course of some kind so you can get familiar with safe and correct gunhandling skills.

    Pulling all the different bits of data and their locations together is a daunting task but certainly is something that would be am interesting project. I always recommend that those new to the game look at crime data for their own area, such as the Uniform Crime Reports or the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice, and pay attention to the local news and papers. You can collect some interesting information about your particular area that way.

  26. Thanks for providing this article, and particularly the interesting and informative discussion following here. Good and useful stuff.

    Since many here are more educated than I on the subject, I won't try to offer much substantive. There are a couple of things that struck me as I was reading here, however.

    The first was that it would help a lot, as some have suggested, to know how Armed Citizen chooses its incidents to report. That would define the sample, which is important in understanding the implications of the results. The folks in the Givans stats, for instance, may have very different lifestyles and behavior patterns from those in the Armed Citizen, so a realistic comparison of results without analyzing the samples might not be practical.

    The next is that it is possible that, although quite useful, no sample of gunfights and/or defensive shootings is going to be sufficiently predictive of attacks/attackers, anyway, since it limits the sample of attacks to only those where gunfire was the response.

    A broad study of incidents where any kind of force was employed by the perpetrator(s), regardless of the victim's/defender's response, might tell us more about the kinds of violence that we might have to face, and provide another important consideration in the preparation for defense.

    I will mention that somebody did an article in a handgun mag a year or two ago (which I can't locate now, unfortunately) suggesting some stats on licensed handgun carriers showed more defensive uses of guns in the home, and included some stats around that; but, Armstrong's suggestion that each analysis is "part of the puzzle" is instructive: rather than questions of which study is better, it might be useful to question WHY one study showed, for instance, more attacks in the home and one showed more attacks on the street.

    Anyway, thanks again to Armstrong and every contributor for this read. --Doug ("dugo")

  27. An informative article, thank you. And I found the comments helpful in thinking about the information. As a pubic defender for 16 years I use my, albeit imperfect and non-scientific, experience with cases and clients (they are the bad guys discussed)to help define my personal defense habits and training. Interestingly, what I've "learned" from work greatly parallels the statistics. What I did not consider is the value of remaining armed while at home, I simply assumed I could reach my gun if needed from it's storage place. I will say that much like the officers experience I have never had a case where a CCW carrier was a victim although this could because the perpetrator was killed. I would be interested to know where, that is parking lots, bars, parks, etc.., most attacks occur statistically and if this too parallels what I've come to believe based on my work.

    Thanks again for the information and links to there sources and keeping the emotional opinions and comments off the discussion board.

  28. David, this article and the attached comments have got me thinking, yes I know that's your goal ;), about what is the most pragmatic CCW gear. BTW I'm the PD from previous post. Currently I carry a G27 and a spare mag, more from training than from a realistic understanding that I may need to reload or a belief that my gun may fail at that one critical moment and I'll need that spare mag. So, in thinking and personalizing, I like a full grip or rather substance in my hand when I draw and shoot, but if 10 rounds is more than I need and I could scale down in girth... what? 357 snub, .45 micro, what? If you don't want to have this conversation here you can email me at: (yes we've had debates in the past, but over time I've come to respect you and your process)

  29. I am very much a "whatever works for you" kind of guy, within some broad parameters. I frequently carry a Glock 19 or 17, not because I worry about reloads or failures, but simply because either of those guns is comfortable for me to carry, I've got a lot of experience with them, and I trust them to do the job I expect from them. But I'm equally at home carrying an S&W Model 65 with a round butt, a Walther P1 or P5, or a 1911 Commander, or so on. If I feel it better to carry something smaller I may go with a J-frame or a small auto.

    For you? I can't tell you what will fit your grip and your needs. I can tell you that as long as it is reliable and reasonably accurate it will probably be just fine for CCW purposes. Of course, the G27 will fill that role also, but if you would like a different grip there are certainly options out there. Sounds like you might want to try a K-frame round butt with a shorter barrel, or a single stack auto of some type. As just one example, my daughter doesn't like the grip on a Glock; it feels "fat" to her. But one day she picked up an older model S&W 39 I had. She promptly declared that to be her gun and walked off with it, and I think she will do just fine should the need arise.

  30. Food for thought for sure.

    Man bites dog is news. If heroes were out there saving the day at the buger barn and mall by scootin' n shootin' multiple rounds w reloads we would know.

    Folks like Jean Assam are few and far between, and she didn't reload either.

  31. Hi Mike, and welcome aboard. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but that doesn't change the rule. If self-defense shootings regularly needed lots of ammo and reloading we would have seen some indication of it by now, I would think. That we haven't is rather telling.

  32. The stories reported here mostly represent the best case scenario for a defensive shooter - in the home, given lots of warning and time to get a gun. Which is probably a large part of the reason that they were successful. That would be my biggest concern from the data... if we looked at crash survivors data and found that nearly all of them were at low speeds, we shouldn't conclude that most crashes occur at low speeds, only those that were most readily survivable.

    Still, it is interesting data. It's too bad we don't have much better to go by.

  33. I really like the posts on this board and the intelligent discussion that follows, too bad more boards were not like this. More frequent posts wouldn't hurt :)

  34. Thanks. I try to make sure the place maintains a reasonable level. As for more frequent posts...I'd like to do that but it often takes me a while to get a good post out since I have to keep up with the rest of my life! I've got a couple in the works, however, so stay posted. And remember I'm always open to articles from other people that might fit into our format here, so if you have some ideas or you run across a post from someone else let me know.

  35. This is excellent information. The defensive shooting community, in general, often "what-if's" various scenarios more to justify the time and expense of tactical training to the significant other rather than focusing on what will likely actually occur during a defensive situation.

    I find the reaction time data to be particularly useful.

  36. I too found these stats interesting. I also find all shooting statistics to be like predicting the weather. The data just can never predict what will happen to you.

    Background: I spent 20 years in the military 16 of those years in SOF, I have experience training with multitudes of weapons and tactics. Since retiring I have been adjusting to civilian type shooting incidents. On to my points.

    Use these stats to train. I would not train for the average but for the max. The old "expect the worst, hope for the best." Train for the worst case scenario and hopefully you will encounter the average scenario. These outlier situations are the ones we see in the news (and on line to prove everyone's SD points). Outliers are usually washed away with standard careful with stats.

    Don't get lazy because the stats say it won't happen to you. I was 5 minutes from being in an outlier shootout at my local gas station. The reason I wasn't? I was going to leave to pick up my wife at the airport late on a Friday. I didn't schedule in crating my 2 dogs and I spent the extra 5 minutes doing that. I went to get gas and the Police were putting up the crime scene tape. I CCW a 1911 .45 Officer size (6+1). 4 (at least 1 armed) thugs did a strong arm robbery of the gas station where I would have been filling up had I not taken the dogs out(they also carjacked a 2nd getaway car at the scene). I didn't bring my 2 extra ChipMcC mags (7+1) because I was "just going to the Airport" Had I been there it would have left me with 7 rounds for 4 BG's. Not a good thought. Would they have all fled? Probably. I don't like to bet my life on probably.

    Ultimately, statistics tell you: "This is what will probably happen, not what will happen to you."

    The video here shows a few interesting cases:

  37. While I wouldn't disagree with the overall context of the comment, there are a few things I think are worth debating. First, one can never train for the worst scenario because one can never know what the worst scenario might be. And even trying to do so creates some real problems. If one spends too much time training for the unusual then preparing for the usual can, and often does, suffer. I can devote lots of time to learning how to shoot upside down, with only my off hand, in the dark, while talking on the radio. But all the time spent doing that is time taken away from training for the more likely shooting incident.

    Second, we use stats to determine the normal for a is normal. As you point out, you missed an outlier event by 5 minutes. The key, of course, is that you missed the outlier event. Thus it really doesn't come into play. Also I might question why anyone would get into a gunfight with 4-1 odds unless they have to, so maybe getting involved in that situation would not have been a good idea.

    You are right, stats do say what will probably happen. And while "probably" may not happen to you, odds are that it will. That is the reason to study this stuff. If we don't know what will probably happen we can spend a lot of time training for the unlikely while failing to train for the likely. We should never ignore outliers. After all, they have to happen to become the outliers! But we should recognize their place and the fact that there is a reason they are outliers.

  38. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you see the gear-queers rolling with vests and 3 guns with 14 magazines, a bowie knife, a light, 2 LTL weapons, an expandable baton, pepper spray, and leatherman (see picture of Nutnfancy). Then me on that night. I rolled out with 7 rounds. At that time I actually would sometimes not roll with a gun at all. I'm not saying I would have tried to stop my outlier situation. I just don't know, because by the Grace of God, I wasn't there. Would I have been the carjack victim? I don't know. I could have been in the store, I just don't know and no one knows until it happens. I am a sheepdog by nature, so my instinct is to do something. (unknown at the time was this crew had robbed several locations over the last few weeks and were becoming more violent with each robbery.)

    Prepping for "worse case" is impossible as it could involve millions of zombies, but we do have "statistical worse case" scenarios you CAN train for...our outliers. 4 thugs at various distances and angles. If in reality they flee, then thank the lord, if they don't and you didn't feel the need to train with reloading because it statistically doesn't happen...ooops, I hope you had an insurance policy in place for your family.

    Great point-counter point.

  39. Thanks. Good point/counter-point is something that we strive for and it is always good to get another viewpoint or position that is presented in a rational and reasonable way, as you have done. And I agree, there is an area in there between the “too much to carry” gear queer and the guy who has decided a single-shot Butler derringer in .22 Short that needs to be addressed. But I think that is where understanding the norm versus the outlier event comes into play. How do we decide where to draw the line, because we all have to draw it someplace. I don’t think anyone, particularly Claude, is saying one should never practice reloading or engaging multiple offenders. I think what is being suggested is don’t spend all your time preparing for a 4 against 1 gunfight at 20 yards, spend most of it preparing for an up-close encounter with one or two perps because that is what you will probably encounter and you need to be ready for that. The more something is an outlier the less likely it is, but everything is possible. The problem is we can’t prepare for everything so we have to draw the line. Understanding what is typical and what is unusual can help each of us decide where that line is located.

  40. How do you decide? Good question. I would assume it will be different for each person. One issue will certainly be cost/benefit analysis. How much money, time, and motivation do you have.

    Two, do you have a planned goal? Are you trying to just train for the probable defensive scenario or are you trying to become a tier one operator? For the civilian defensive shooter we should look to our crime statistics to determine this. Which statistics do we go by? Best case? Avg case? Worse case?

    Three, What is your beginning skill level? Novice? Why are you trying to train for the Zombie apocalypse? What ever happened to Crawl, walk, run? Start training for one attacker, once you have that down, train for two. Need a challenge? Throw in 3 and 4. After that you should be team training with a squad of Rangers.

    However you train it should be tough and realistic with difficult standards. The more sweat in peacetime, the less blood in combat (ala An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure). It should get your heart rate up above 150BPM while you are manipulating your weapon and gear... run and gun.

    Who has the best tactics? TTPs are like A-holes...everyone has one and they all stink. You're going to find a style that you like, follow it. Learn it. Question everything about it. If you have a great idea, test it. If it adds extra time/effort/thinking throw it out it will only bog you down.

    To quote Albert Einstein..."Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

    One other notable mention about training. When we train for more difficulty, problems that don't come to that level are very easy. A good test of shooting skills is the 700 point aggregate. It is shot at 25 meters on a NRA B-8 target. No multiple attackers, no CQB. The theory, if you can shoot this well, you can be taught to shoot up close and fast. You can't go the other way easily.

    This goes off track of the statistics but it is just as important. It goes hand in hand. You have to have a scenario but you also need goals and TTPs to reach that scenario with an amount of confidence that you can overcome that scenario.

  41. Excellent post. One quick comment regarding the 700 point aggregate. The theory that if one can do well at 25 meters one will be able to do well up close has been questioned on some fronts, as the up close shooting often involves far more than the pure marksmanship skills needed at greater distance.

  42. I don't think that the 700AG is a measure of: If you can shoot far you can shoot near, as much as if you can LEARN to shoot far you can LEARN to shoot near with much less effort. Because you have demonstrated good fundamentals and your mistakes are multiplied at distance. Driving nails at 5 yards doesn't equate at 25 yards (nor vis a vis, but it's easier) The 700ag is very difficult and it requires ALL your pistol skills. Move that to the 10 yard line and you can increase your speed without sacrificing much of your accuracy. The other thing is the 700AG is a test of skills, not a training curriculum. It definitely will humble you.

    Training is not one size fits all and just like martial arts, you have to start small and work hard up to mastering techniques up to becoming one with the art. 10,000 hours (3-5 years) is considered a round about time period to become an expert in most subjects and that is 8-12 hours a day/5 days a week.

    an example is: I advocate front sight post focus for the novice because it works at all ranges, but we experienced shooters know there is "getting in the zone" where your focus is in between the front sight and the target at close range (and under high stress, it is our body's natural response.) It takes a lot or experience to get there, see it, and use it. It's a mix of sight shooting and reflexive/point shooting. When I get in the zone it's sort of a dream, like driving your car and you not remembering the last 5 miles. your focus is nowhere and everywhere. It's hard to teach that until the novice gets to a certain skill point. For each person it's different. Some never get there. I had a commander that we told to look at the front sight when shooting. He said he was. He was shooting like crap so we were trying to adjust other things, never got very good. 6 months later he comes into the team room and yells "I get the 'front sight thing' now!" Well duh! "We told you 6 months ago and you said you were doing it." (BTW it took me about 5 minutes to explain it to my wife and she got it immediately) Some get it fast, some don't.

    Walk, crawl, run can be equated to Marksmanship, TTP's, and scenarios/force-on-force and within each of those you have crawl, walk, run. Weapon safety and fundamentals, different distances, and multiple targets from the draw and under time for marksmanship etc. USPSA/IDPA have a ranking system, and that doesn't equate to being able to defend yourself but it gives a measure of skill improvement. It's not possible to put a standard to self defense as the only measure is if you are the one alive after the fight.

    Again, sorry to get so far off the statistical aspect of the article. I do think that training and statistics go hand in hand. Thanks for the airtime.

  43. Just one quick comment on this. The issue of the 700 is that marksmanship and shooting skill becomes less important the closer the BG, and many gunfights occur in a zone where marksmanship fundamentals are literally of little to no importance. Sometimes we forget that, and equate "I can shoot good" with "I can fight good." The two are very different!

    As for the airtime, always glad to provide a space for a good discussion, and if you (or anyone else) would like to submit an article for the blog I'm always happy to look at them.

  44. Thanks for providing such valuable info worth recommending to our friends and followers. More power to you!

  45. Extraordinary work you folks are doing with this webpage.
    Danny Lowery

  46. Thanks Pistol, thanks James. This isn't the most active blog aroud, but I like to think it is one of the best when it comes to quality, and the comments and feedback of the readers and members are a big part of that.

  47. I have two handguns meant for concealed carry; one revolver and one semi-automatic. I almost always carry the revolver. I have 45 years
    of shooting experience, but no combat shooting. I have simply gone with what I feel the most comfortable with. I like the revolver. I practice with it.

  48. I prefer my revolver to my semi- auto for carry. I feel more comfortable and confident with my revolver. I have almost 50 years of experience with guns.

  49. self defense is the best preventing measure when we alone or in critical situation.

    Self Defense

  50. Hi David,

    Glad you are continuing with your blog. Great article and great discussion.

    Going to add an article on my site titled: Training For What? and will add a link to this blog post with a note that the discussion posts are "must read as well."

    The article is meant as a counter point to those who continue to repeat, over, and over, and over again, the thought that competition is the best training there is: period, and those that disagree are nut cases or worse.

  51. Thanks John, and feel free to send me some of your articles that you think might fit into what we do here. I'll be glad to look at them and put them up here if appropriate.

    1. Thanks David.

      Here are links to 2 "new" and 1 just updated articles that thinking gunfighters may find of interest. You can copy them and use them as is or I can send them to you in a variey of formats. TXT, HTML, PDF.

      Training for what?

      Women & Point Shooting

      Use of the sights in real close quarters life threat situations

      FYI I use the 1a..... in the file names so that all of those files will come up as a group when viewing my directory of uploaded files which contains a zillion pics and other stuff as well.
      The 1nosight file is an exception that has no a, as I also like to keep file names to 8 characters as we had to do in the olden days of computing. :-)

  52. Thank you for sharing this post...

  53. Nice article. Thanks. 2 rounds = double tap. Nice! So if I triple tap the bad guy, my odds of stopping them increase even more, awesome! (smile)

  54. As one of my mentors once said, "shoot what is there as long as it is there until it is no longer there."

  55. Good post. I think people carry so many rounds just because it makes them feel better. If they really think about it, they know they probably will only need what's in the gun.

  56. Right. IIRC, research indicates even in LE the need to reload is less than 1%. Usually you solve the problem with what is in the gun or you don't solve it at all.

  57. Awesome post. In the blogosphere of guns there is no shortage of opinions which seem to be shaped by emotions and perception - both for and opposed to guns. As has been observed elswhere: Your focus determines your reality. It is refreshing to see at least some data. And data helps us refine our focus to closer approximate reality. The real truth is that in modern society even an event requiring the need to defend yourself is somewhat of an outlier when you divide the number of incidents by the total population. And no, i am not saying the risk is low because of the low numbers in this report. What I AM saying is that the risk is quite low (sorry i don't actually have the numbers at hand, but it is low). So what i am thinking is that your conclusions are RIGHT ON. Because being attacked is already an outlier, more than 4 shots is an outlier (even using Hsoi's data), I might consider a glock 43 to carry as my 23 is overkill considering weight and firepower vs need - real world statistical need. I can't imagine carrying extra mags. Even carrying at all is, well, paranoid.

  58. WOW i stand corrected by actually researching the numbers. In 2011 for comparison there were 10.4 automobile related deaths per 100,000 population. That same year there were 3.6 people murdered per 100k and 50.8 people assalted per 100k. I guess it is dangerous out there as certainly driving is dangerous.