The Entangled Gunfight

One of the first lessons Joe Smith, Hershel Davis, and Dave Wittrock pounded into our thick skulls at the Police Academy is that there is always at least one gun involved in any tussle. Every time an officer goes hands on it can at any moment become a fight over control of the officer’s weapon. (Not only the pistol, but OC, taser, baton or any other weapon on the officer’s person can be taken by the opponent and used against the officer.) This lesson has stuck with me, and driven the direction of quite a bit of my training efforts for the last 20 years.

Mas Ayoob had said many times that the moment you strap a pistol to your body you give up the right to flip someone the bird for cutting you off in traffic. That simple traffic altercation can rapidly escalate to a fight over your pistol or even a shooting. This is something Claude Werner might refer to as a negative outcome.

While some folks will quibble about the term entangled gunfight, or whether we need to learn to integrate our skills, it remains a fact; if you go hands-on with someone while carrying weapons it is indeed moments away from becoming an entangled gunfight.

It’s ironic to me that while some were arguing that entangled gunfights don’t happen the world was watching the George Zimmerman trial. I’m thinking those arguing could have benefited from some time around Smith, Davis, and Wittrock.

Bottom line, should you find yourself in a hand to hand altercation, while bearing weapons, you better treat it as an entangled gun-knife-OC-expandable baton fight… Because in an instant it can be.

Look First

William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting advises us to look into a space before entering. While this might seem to be a simple action how many of us apply this in everything we do? I know I don’t practice this simple preventative technique as often as I should. When approaching our vehicle do we look through the windows into the interior of the car before we open the door and enter? When we are approaching a place of business do we look into the space we are about to enter by looking through the exterior windows to include the windows found in the entry doors? Doing this can gives us a glimpse into the space we are about to enter. It only takes a moment to look first, before entering however, this moment might just save us from an unwanted surprise. Surprise equals deficit, and we want to avoid ever being in a deficit.

Make it a habit to look into doorways you pass as you walk down a hallway or as you mover through a room. In the beginning it might seem a little slow, and take quite a bit of conscious effort however, over time it will become second nature. As you become more aware of your environment, and adapt to processing more information you will find yourself able to more rapidly respond to various stimulus. Practice the “what if” game as you go about your day. Think about what you will do if a situation presents itself. This is part of looking first as you are mentally “looking first” at a possible situation, and working your way through various contingencies.

Physically we have to get into the habit of practicing our wide-angle-vision, attempting to gather as much data as possible mentally and physically to best prepare ourselves for whatever we may encounter. We have to do this in as relaxed a manner as possible since walking around with a wild-eyed look might attract some negative attention… One simple exercise I was taught to develop this skill was to stand in a doorway facing into a room. Take a small step into the room so that you are just barely breaking the plane of the door frame. Without turning your head, keeping your eyes forward, attempt to widen your vision so that you can see the corners of the room to your left and right. It might take a little work, learning to relax your vision and widen your focus from whatever is in front of you but you can do it. With a little effort you will be able to see the entire room without moving your head or eyes. The next step is develop this skill to the point you can do this while walking at your normal pace, or driving your car, moving up and down stairs or across an open space. Really challenge yourself, and let’s find out just how far into a space we can be mentally and visually before we physically enter that space.

More to come on this topic.