Marlan J. Ingram
It’s not uncommon to walk into the pistol range and see someone practicing with a target at 25 yards. Sometimes they are practicing head shots at that distance. Nothing wrong with that, as we should be able to hit both close, and at distance. However, sometimes we ask them why they are practicing at that distance and they say “because I don’t want the bad guys to get close”. On one hand, that may sound logical, but it also illustrates that perhaps they don’t truly grasp the realities of a violent encounter.
Working at a gun range, we hear WIDELY varying opinions on what distances you should be practicing with your self-defense firearm. The truth is that I’ve never met a man that didn’t have an opinion, but let’s see if we can use actual researched sources to look at the most common firearms related self-defense distances. The sources of this information have matured over the years, and much of it originated as law enforcement information. Back in the 80s, we used to get a publication from a major metropolitan law enforcement agency in a big state. The information was available to law enforcement instructors only, and we had to sign for it and promise that we wouldn’t share the information outside of law enforcement circles.
After the 1986 FBI Miami Shootout, the FBI began compiling stats, and publishing the information both for LE, and for the general public. Finally in 2019, the Modern Warrior Project put out a 132 page report called the Black Label Report, but they went above and beyond by including stats dealing with private citizen involved self defense incidents. The Modern Warrior Project is comprised of hand picked members with a variety of backgrounds – Spec Ops, Military Intelligence, S.E.R.E., LE, SWAT, Gov. Contracting, Search and Rescue, and even MMA. Their research is compiled of information from the FBI, LEOKA, and UCR.
Their report addressed the following points:
- Justifiable Self Defense Incidents and the Law
- Weapons Used
- #of Shots Fired and Accuracy, and more
The conclusions when it comes to distances of self defense gunfights are:
- 50% of gunfights are from 0-5 feet
- 20% of gunfights are from 6-10 feet
- 13% of gunfights are from 11-20 feet
- 8.7% of gunfights are from 21-50 feet
- 7.3% of gunfights are from 50+ feet
So, should you practice being able to shoot and hit at extended distances with your handgun? The answer is yes, but the majority of your practice should be at closer range. To understand this, it helps if you understand the circumstances under which a private citizen is most likely to have to pull a firearm to use it defensively to save their life. According to the Black Label Report, those circumstances are:
- Aggravated Assault
In the state of Kentucky, according to Kentucky Revised Statutes, you can add:
- Forceable Sodomy
- Unlawfully and Forcibly entering a residence or occupied vehicle
If we break this down and look at these individual crimes, then we understand that a male who’s going to commit a rape isn’t going to announce his intentions from 25 yards away and then charge in. The reality is that he’s going to use charm and BS to get her to let down her guard. By the time she realizes the nature of the guy she’s dealing with, they are most likely not only in the same room together, but most likely touching, or close enough to touch. Someone who’s going to rob you probably won’t shout from a block away for you to throw your wallet. Most likely, they will attempt to get close because you appear to be unaware and will attempt to further put you at ease by asking for the time, or for change.
At Openrange, our training is focused on the defensive use of firearms. We take our experience (law enforcement and military) and our training and infuse it with updated information such as the Black Label Report. This allows us to keep our training relevant and realistic as it relates to what the private citizen really needs.
This is why our Level 5 class is about Close Quarters Pistol Skills, and our Level 6 class is about Counter Ambush Pistol Skills. They are not target shooting classes, but they address certain unpleasant realities. We hope you as the private citizen are never in a position to NEED those skills, but as the saying goes, ‘It’s better to have those skills and not need them, than it is to need them and not have them.’
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