How Close is too Close?

How Close is too Close?

This is a discussion on How Close is too Close? within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Team, the below article is what I teach Police Officers and my CCW/CHP students! Hope this helps! (I have trained with Dennis he is a ...

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Thread: How Close is too Close?

  1. #1
    Sponsor Array DCJS Instructor's Avatar
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    How Close is too Close?


    the below article is what I teach Police Officers and my CCW/CHP students! Hope this helps!
    (I have trained with Dennis he is a Great Instructor)

    How Close is too Close

    The Police Policy Studies Council

    by Dennis Tueller

    The "good guy" with the gun against the "bad guy" with the knife (or machete, axe, club, tire-iron, etc.). "No contest", you say. "The man with the gun can't lose." Or can he? A great deal depends on his ability with that gun and the proximity of his opponent.

    If, for example, our hero shoots his would-be attacker at a distance of 20 yards, he loses. Not the fight, you understand, but most probably his freedom because he will almost certainly be charged with murder. The only thing that justifies your shooting another human being is the immediate need to stop him from trying to kill you (or someone else), remember?

    If, on the other hand, our hero waits to fire until his attacker is within obvious striking distance, he may still lose. His shots may not stop his attacker instantly enough to keep him from using his knife.

    So, what is the answer - just how close is too close?

    Consider this. How long does it take for you to draw your handgun and place two center hits on a man-size target at seven yards? Those of us who have learned and practiced proper pistolcraft techniques would say that a time of about one and one-half seconds is acceptable for that drill.

    > With that in mind, let's consider what might be called the "Danger Zone" if you are confronted by an adversary armed with an edged or blunt weapon. At what distance does this adversary enter your Danger Zone and become a lethal threat to you?

    We have done some testing along those lines recently and have found that an average healthy adult male can cover the traditional seven yard distance in a time of (you guessed it) about one and one-half seconds. It would be safe to say then that an armed attacker at 21 feet is well within your Danger Zone.

    As the photo series illustrates, even if your draw and shots are perfect, you are cutting things awfully close (no pun intended). And even if your shots do take the wind out of his sails, his forward momentum may carry him right over the top of you, unless, of course, you manage to get out of his way. And if you are confronted with more than one assailant, things really get tricky. So what's a pistol-packing person to do?

    Having analyzed the problem, the following suggestions come to mind: First, develop and maintain a healthy level of tactical alertness. If you spot the danger signs early enough, you can probably avoid the confrontation altogether. A tactical withdrawal (I hesitate to use the word "retreat") may be your best bet, unless you're anxious to get involved in a shooting and the consequent legal hassles which are sure to follow.

    Next, if your "Early Warning System" tells you that a possible lethal confrontation is imminent, you want to place yourself in the best tactical position available. You should move to cover (if there is any close at hand), draw your weapon, and start to plan your next move.

    Why use cover, you may wonder, if your attacker is using only a knife? Because you want to make it hard for him to get to you. Anything between you and your attacker (trash cans, vehicles, furniture, etc.) that slows him down buys you more time to make the appropriate decisions, and, if it becomes necessary, more time to place your shots.

    I suggest you draw your weapon as soon as the danger clearly exists. There is no point in waiting until the last possible second to play "Quick-Draw McGraw" if you recognize the threat early on. Also, the sight of your "Equalizer" may be sufficient to terminate the action then and there.

    The purpose of the pistol is to stop fights, and whether it does so by dropping a thug in his tracks, or by causing him to turn tail and run, your goal is accomplished, is it not?

    At this point it might be advisable to issue a verbal challenge such as, "Stop"', "Don't move", or "Drop your weapon!" It may work, and even if it doesn't you'll be developing your legal case for self-defense by showing that you did everything you could to prevent a shooting. If all goes according to plan, the odds are that by now you will no longer have a problem, your attacker having remembered he had a more pressing engagement elsewhere.

    But, as we all know, things seldom go according to plan and the ideal circumstances previously described are probably not the norm. For example, if this goon tries to throw his knife (or other weapon) at you, what do you do then?

    Realistically, knife-throwing is something of a gallery trick requiring specially balanced knives and a pre-measured distance to the target. Suffice it to say, however, that if your attacker is within effective throwing range he will almost surely have encroached into your Danger Zone. This throwing business does create something of a timing problem, for, if you fire after he has thrown his weapon, you may have difficulty convincing a jury that you fired in self-defense since technically you were not in jeopardy if your former attacker is no longer in possession of a deadly weapon. Something to consider, and just one more reason to use cover if it is available and time permits.

    Sometime, of course, despite your best efforts, you could find you are suddenly, at close quarters, the intended victim of some lunatic slasher. If you are an expert in one of the many martial arts, you may opt to go at it hand-to-hand, and if you are in this category you do not need advice from me on how to do it. So, we'll get back to the use of the handgun for solving the problem. What it all comes down to now is your ability to smoothly and quickly draw your pistol and hit your adversary, and do it all reflexively. And the only way to develop these reflexes is through consistent, repetitive practice, practice, practice.

    Practice so the right move comes automatically.

    One thing you should practice, with this kind of encounter in mind, is the step-back technique in which you take a long step to the rear as you draw. This puts another three to four feet between you and your attacker, which may be just enough to make the difference.

    Remember, the greater your skill with your weapon, the smaller your Danger Zone will be, but only if that skill is coupled with good mental conditioning, tactical planning and alertness, because no amount of skill will do you any good unless you know that you're in trouble.

    Skill at arms and proper mental attitude. that's the combination that will make you the winner in a "Close Encounter of the Cutting Kind".

    We have a saying at my training school: "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option. Always stay in condition yellow and when all else fails align the front sight and press the trigger !”

    Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!

    Tom Perroni

    Owner/ Lead Instructor
    Perroni's Tactical Training Academy - Virginia Firearms Training
    Training Director
    Golden Seal Enterprises
    Lead Instructor
    Blackwater USA

  2. #2
    Array atctimmy's Avatar
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    Nice post. I think for me if he was armed and agressive I still think I'd pop him at 19yds (meaning his first step closer than twenty) and let the chips fall where they may.
    My name is Frogman46 and I'm tougher than you.

  3. #3
    Member Array 45Dave's Avatar
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    aprox 30 feet

    Interesting post. Just to add a few cents, a class I use to help teach from the NRA..Home Personal Protection does a drill to demonstrate how far close is. The drill is called the Tueller Drill (hey..same name as the author of the article) and it goes something like this.

    1-A shooter has there gun loaded with two rounds, facing down range in the low ready position with a runners hand on there shoulder. The shooter is to shoot two rounds into a target, placed 10 yards away, as soon as they feel the runners hand leave there shoulder.

    2-Runner, this is a person who has a brick, sand bag something heavy in one hand, there other hand is on the shoulder of the shooter and they are facing the opposite direction of the target. (Yes..they are going to run away from the target)

    Once everyone is set and ready, the Runner will take off and run like hell dropping the object when they hear the first shot then stop and stand still when they hear the second shot.

    We probably did this 45 times in a year or more. I tried to have at least two situations, a slow shooter and a fast shooter do the demo to show what practice and skill can buy you in distance. For most shooters the runner got about 14 yards for the first shot and a total of 28 yard or so feet for the second. Pretty much it was showing if a person had a knife and you had your gun OUT they could cover 25 yards and stick you while you could shoot them in that distance. The closer the danger got, the more advantage the knife had.

    The best one was a ex cop who was on a local swat team, had been delta force in the service. He put two rounds in the target before the guy could run 10 feet (talk about fast and accurate). The worse was when the runner ran out of room about 50 yards from a fella who needed lots of practice.

    So..if any of you wonder how far a knife threat would be, this is a great test to see what you personally do.

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  5. #4
    kpw is offline
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    Both encounters that I've had with guys with a knife happened a while ago. I'm not sure I could give a specific range. Both of them stopped coming at me somewhere around 10-12 feet with my gun aimed at them. Neither were running but walking up fast. I suppose if they had taken another step, that would have been my limit. If they had been running at me, I probably would have engaged them before that. How much further, I'm not sure. My biggest advantage was that I was aware of them well before they got too close for comfort. Parking lots make me nervous.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Excellent post, good information to think about.

    Just ran into this on YouTube and thought it was relevant. The target moves quite a bit before the shooter reacts, and his performance is adequate but less than ideal.
    YouTube - High Speed Amatuer Pistol Shooting - Sig Sauer p220 .45 ACP I'd like to see this guy do this from a concealment holster and starting with his hands at his sides. Up until the last shot, good shooting.

    Pete Zaria
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  7. #6
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    Great post DCJS.
    We have so many new members here. I hope they all take the time to read it and will then get motivated to at least ~ practice practice practice a quick, consistent, and efficient draw and presentation.
    And I hope that some others will reconsider their chosen method of carry and switch to a better body location where they can gain quicker access to their EDC.
    Hopefully reading your post will help to "wake up and shake up" some that continue to carry a "feel good security blanket" instead of a quickly accessible self defense tool.
    Again the old saying: You may never need it but, if you do need it ~ you're going to need it in a gosh awful big hurry.
    A firearm on your person that you cannot get to right when you need it is exactly as helpful as if you left it at home on the nightstand.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  8. #7
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    In the course of the working day it is amazing how close we have to get to people that could do us harm.

    There is no way around it, people are going to get close to you. This drill and article serves as a valid "wake up" call to some and a reminder to others.

    Thank you for the reminder. Stay safe and come home at the end of shift.


  9. #8
    VIP Member Array Supertac45's Avatar
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    Good post.
    Les Baer 45
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  10. #9
    Member Array Tenring's Avatar
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    Good information.

    No matter what happens, there will be lawyers second-guessing your decision.
    "The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that . . . it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. . . ." Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Justice John Cartwright (June 5, 1824)

  11. #10
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    +1 QKShooter!

    Years ago in the academy we had an exercise based on the video "Surviving Edged Weapons".

    Even when allowed to have my hand on my duty weapon and knowing that the instructor was going to attempt to stab me, (with a rubber knife by the way), at 25' he was still able to plant the blade before I could draw and shoot!

    I was SO dead!
    ALWAYS carry! - NEVER tell!

    "A superior Operator is best defined as someone who uses his superior
    judgement to keep himself out of situations that would require a display of his
    superior skills."

  12. #11
    kpw is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumper View Post
    +1 QKShooter!

    Years ago in the academy we had an exercise based on the video "Surviving Edged Weapons".

    Even when allowed to have my hand on my duty weapon and knowing that the instructor was going to attempt to stab me, (with a rubber knife by the way), at 25' he was still able to plant the blade before I could draw and shoot!

    I was SO dead!
    I've seen that video a number of times. It's a good one.

  13. #12
    Member Array roadsiderob's Avatar
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    Last night at the shooting range we did a Tueller drill using the motorized target carriers to simulate a charging BG. It really puts things into perspective.

  14. #13
    Member Array Airborne Sniper's Avatar
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    The keys to such shootings is to understand how fast a knife attacker can cover distances and for the shooter to understand when he feels threatened. The next thing is for the jury to understand how quick and dangerous confronting a person with a knife can be. So, this means that anybody who shoots a knife toter has to be able to (a.) make the jury understand that he REALLY was in fear for his life and,
    (b.) a videotape of the shooting scenarios involving the runners needs to be produced at such trials. If you produce about 10 of these videotapes showing the same results time after time, the jury gets the idea better than most prosecuting attorneys do. We've had to do this in court to justify more than one shooting involving an officer and a guy with a knife.

    What we recommend is that the attorney defending the officer let the attorney prosecuting the officer get really involved in saying that a knife toter is not a threat to an officer at a distance of..... whatever.... and then produce the videotape of the runners/shooters. That pretty much defeats anything that the attorney prosecuting the officer has to say. The officer gets off and the other attorney looks like a fool in the eyes of the jury or judge.
    Imagine that you're an enemy soldier and you are surrounded by U.S. Army paratroopers on one side and American marines on the other side... Talk about a hopeless situation... That has got to be legal grounds for suicide!

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