Fighting to the Gun

This is a discussion on Fighting to the Gun within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Some thoughts from this week in training.... These last few months have been a flurry of learning and experiences for me. Shortly after completing my ...

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    Fighting to the Gun

    Some thoughts from this week in training....

    These last few months have been a flurry of learning and experiences for me. Shortly after completing my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training, my husband and I enrolled in Krav Maga, an Israeli version of down and dirty self defense training. While going through that program our instructor learned we were firearms instructors and got his first ever private firearms lesson from me.

    Our experiences are almost exactly opposite one another. He is a career martial artists who has dedicated decades of his life to hand-to-hand combat yet he knows next to nothing about firearms. He wants to get his concealed carry permit and so he wants to learn about guns but his mindset has not adapted to the gun yet. When given self defense scenarios he brilliantly comes up with unarmed responses and when given the option of a firearm it's an awkward afterthought he has to be reminded of.

    I, on the other hand, have come from a very different background of ideals and training. I've spent almost seven years learning about guns. I have little doubt that I would be a formidable opponent with a firearm. But I have to get to the firearm first. As our Krav instructor amuses himself with his near inability to remember a gun as an option, I frustrate myself with my lack of options if a gun is not available.

    He doesn't know how lucky he is and how irritated I am.

    In my blog titled Gun Centric Much?? I talked about the carry community's dirty little secret and that is that the gun is way over pushed as a solution to every self defense problem. Just today I got a comment that said, "... my plan has always been not to FIGHT if I can just SHOOT!"

    That statement, quite frankly, is terrifying.

    First, I'm going to touch a bit on legalities. Not every self defense situation out there warrants the use of a firearm or deadly/lethal force in general. Nor should anyone's goal be to use lethal force when they have a less-than-lethal option available to them. As Rory Miller put it in Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected the basic formula is this:

    "You may use the minimum level of force that you reasonably believe is necessary to safely resolve the situation."

    If you want a further breakdown of what that means I strongly encourage you to pick up the book and read it for yourself. It's very enlightening and essential information for anyone who wants to understand the legalities of using lethal force.


    In a nutshell, however, if you are going to have a lethal means of self defense on your person then you should understand when you can and cannot use it.

    But, let's get past that. Let's say you are perfectly justified in using lethal force. In fact, you MUST use lethal force to defend yourself.

    You've just been assaulted. A man twice your size with three times your strength has just attacked you. He's fighting to get his hands around your neck (or worse, he already has them there) and he's growling that he's going to kill you.


    Well, if polled, a vast majority of people would respond to this scenario with a hearty, "I'd shoot him!"

    That sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?

    But as your reach your hand back toward your gun your attacker recognizes the gesture, reaches down and grabs your gun hand, stopping your draw. He also begins to pull up his shirt and you see he also has a gun.. and he's reaching for it.

    Now what?

    "I'd shoot him!" doesn't seem to be so simple any more, does it?

    What many people who carry guns fail to realize is that, in many cases, the hardest part of using a firearm in self defense is actually getting to the gun.

    I can feel the eye-rolling through the screen.

    "I carry my gun on my body in an easy-to-access location. It's in an open top holster with no retention device. I practice my draw stroke daily. I have a less-than-a-second draw. I ever wear tactical clothing with weighted corners so that it can be brushed aside easier. I never button my cover garment....."


    Those are good things. And they mitigate some other problems with getting to your gun. But they no amount of ease of access is going to help you free your gun hand from your attacker's if that just happens to be the way the fight starts.


    I once asked the members of a gun forum I moderate what they would do if their first indication of danger was that their gun hand was grabbed by an attacker.

    I was shocked when a good number of members flat out said, "I don't know."

    Most attacks happen at very close distances. Many of them within five feet and if anyone tells you they don't let strangers get that close to them they are lying or delusional. In many cases, the first indication of danger is a surprise attack, a sucker punch, a grab, a push. Yes, sometimes there is an interview stage where a potential attacker will ask for the time or money or a cigarette, but, again if escalation occurs you may well find yourself in a physical fight just to get to your gun. Then you still have to make effective shots, potentially while still in a physical struggle.

    On Monday we did a bit of this in Krav. It was/is not easy to do. I have two bruised knees, a sore foot, scrapped ankle, bruised back and scratches on the front and back of both of my upper arms. I also have a nasty three-day-old headache from said head being bounced off the mat (Thank God there WAS a mat!).


    There are three scenarios we worked.


    1. Getting to the gun.

    2. Keeping the gun when your attacker discovers you have one.

    3. Keeping your gun and defending against an attackers gun.


    Depending on the scenario, getting the gun can be hard enough.

    Someone grabs your gun hand, you may have a smorgasbord or options depending on your training and the situation. Whether you punch him in the nose, kick him in the groin I don't care as long as it gets you free to get to your gun if it needs to escalate to that. It might not need to go there, but at least you have that option now.

    The number one, absolute best way to keep your gun is to keep it in its holster. Correction: Keep it in its QUALITY holster. The little nylon one-size-fits-most piece of junk you bought for $5 on the sale rack that has two tears in the plastic that holds the firearm to your belt is NOT a quality holster. Now, I certainly understand that not everyone can carry in a quality belt holster. Some outfits and carry needs demand an array of holster options that may be less-than-ideal. However, whenever possible, I would hope (and assume) that you are carrying in the best holster you could find for your lifestyle and needs. And, dare I say, if your cell phone has a better holster than your gun than you may need to rethink some priorities.

    Now, here is the problem with keeping that firearm in the holster. If the holster does not have an active retention device (and even if it does (depending on how much you trust that retention device)) it's going to take one of your hands. Which means that you are going to be fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Protect your head the best you know how (and if you don't know how I suggest you learn how) and get mean. Go nuts. Do whatever you can. If someone is trying to get your gun the likely outcome if they succeed is not going to be them smiling fondly and saying, "HA HA! I got it."


    And lastly, keep your eyes open and look for tell-tale signs that the attacker is going for a weapon of his own. Reaching to the hip or under a shirt are two big ones. They are universal signs announcing, "I have a gun."


    So, here you are. You have one hand on your gun, trying to keep it in the holster because some guy is grabbing for it. You have your head buried in his chest and you're trying to defend it from his blows while also staying on your feet and trying to get him off of you. And you see him reach for his waistband.

    I wish I had an easy solution to this one. It's a crappy situation for sure. If the scenario doesn't open your eyes to the understanding that you might need a little more training than a day or two at the range than I don't know what will.

    On Monday, my favored response seemed to be attempting to get to his gun before he could.

    When you grab a gun from someone else's waistband it's likely going to come out of the holster like this:


    Use it. Your pinky can just as effectively shoot a gun as your trigger finger can (I hope). You will have to fight the urge to just drive the muzzle into his flesh and pull the trigger. Why? Because you're going to push the slide out of battery and it won't fire. If it doesn't fire after that, oh well. At least you have a nice bludgeoning tool. Start bludgeoning.

    But let's say he gets the gun first? I'll have to get back to you on that one because it just plain sucks. The gun-nut in me wants to say, "How well do you know your guns?" A wheel gun with a stopped up cylinder cannot fire. Grab that cylinder and hold on tight. Any semi-auto with a slide out of battery cannot fire. A gun also cannot fire to the side. Get "inside the gun" (meaning behind the muzzle vs in front of it) and try to stay there while you commence the fight of your life. It seemed to work okay for me on Monday but I can't say I got away without ever getting shot. Which is why I have Option C: Medical Supplies!!

    Lastly, get used to firing from unnatural positions. On Monday, I "fired" twice from the ground (thank goodness for the training I've had that kept my legs and knees out of the way of my muzzle) , multiple times with my attackers gun held in my off hand upside down (as in the picture above), point blank. I believe that only once did I get a two-handed shooting grip and that was because I was able to get my attacker off of me, get some suitable distance and draw on him while he was still on the ground.

    I found it interesting to watch our Krav instructor work. He's much more likely to take a gun away and beat the attacker with it than use it because he's still incorporating firearms into his mindset. Others were also reluctant to shoot because they were either unfamiliar with guns or perhaps even intimidated by them. My sparring partner was more than a little trigger happy, however, and would shoot me whenever he got the chance. My husband and I were also quick to pull the trigger given the opportunity (for better or worse). Our only real advantage was our willingness to fire from unconventional shooting positions whereas I saw others actually taking the time to try to transfer firearms to their dominant hands or turn them around to make a shot.

    This post isn't so much about what to do in these situations (because I'm still learning that, too) but to make you aware that sometimes getting to the gun is a lot harder than you might imagine. And "I'd just shoot him" can mean a lot of exchanging blows before you even a gun out of a holster.

    Learn to be ready to fight to your gun.

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    VIP Member Array TedBeau's Avatar
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    As always Lima, You Rock!

    I am always amazed at the thought and insight that you convey in your post. I am also in awe of the amount of time and effort you put into your training. If there were more people like you and JD in this world it would be much safer place.

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    I've always enjoyed Michael Janich's approach. He has a very balanced approach to bare hands, blade, improvised weapon, and firearm integrated defense.

    Martial Blade Concepts | Home Page

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    But as your reach your hand back toward your gun your attacker recognizes the gesture, reaches down and grabs your gun hand, stopping your draw. He also begins to pull up his shirt and you see he also has a gun.. and he's reaching for it.
    How many hands does this attacker have?

    I agree with your post though. I just found this part a little funny.
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    Nice post, and it gives my something to think about. If I am on the ground with someone my first thought is using a knife........I've got to train some more
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    How many hands does this attacker have?

    I agree with your post though. I just found this part a little funny.
    LOL.. does sound funny.. in my mind I was thinking he lifted his shirt with one hand then when it cleared the firearm he let the shirt go and was reaching for it. Hopefully that leaves him with only two hands..

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgrass101 View Post
    Nice post, and it gives my something to think about. If I am on the ground with someone my first thought is using a knife........I've got to train some more
    I agree. While I have no doubt our Krav instructor would allow me to bring my training knife and use it in practice. I wanted to work on one weapon system at a time. He let me wear my trainer gun and holster through the entire night, including during all of our falling and hand-to-hand drills which was great because it helped me adjust my controlled falling to my gun as well. Trust me... falling on a Glock is not very comfortable... hence the bruise on my back. And, yeah, anyone who carries with a spine holster is an idiot!!! He understands that those of us who carry firearms should get used to fighting around them, protecting them and otherwise incorporating them into our self defense.

    He flat out said that from now on, those of us who carry firearms are required to fight/spar under the assumption that we are carrying a gun.. protecting our gun sides, etc, so we don't get in the habit of turning our guns towards our attackers or making stupid decisions out of habit because that's not how we practiced at Krav.

    Eventually, I will reintroduce my knife into the equation. I'm getting more comfortable with just the hand-to-hand aspect of things and now that we've added the gun it ups the tension a little bit and when I get more comfortable with that I will ask him if I can add my trainer knife. He'll probably be all for it.

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    Well you are the reason (at least one of your posts was) why I started carrying a fixed blade
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    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein,

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    Good post; lots to ponder.

    Lately, I've been thinking about shooting from the perspective of unarmed/edged weapons combat and it's making me think that a lot of traditional shooting techniques have some glaring faults in close combat. I completely agree that "getting to your gun" is of prime concern and much more difficult than most seem to think. As a shooter we are conditioned to draw our gun at the first sign of a life threatening attack, even if the threat is only at arms length. Contrast that with someone with edged weapons training and their first response to someone going for a weapon will more likely be either jamming your draw attempt or simply using bare hands and/or an improvised weapon.
    "Hell is truth seen too late."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eichorn View Post
    Good post; lots to ponder.

    Lately, I've been thinking about shooting from the perspective of unarmed/edged weapons combat and it's making me think that a lot of traditional shooting techniques have some glaring faults in close combat.
    Very much agreed. Firearms training very much concentrates on everything after you get your hand on the gun but skips over all of the stuff before that. I don't blame it really because you need to have the fundamentals of careful firearm operation down before you can start physically fighting with one but it leaves much to be desired.

    I've wondered if there is a better way to go about training (hand-to-hand first, then maybe some firearms the back to hand-to-hand and firearms) but some aren't able to do that so I don't know what would be better other than people just seeking out this training on their own.

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    Lady, I've not read any of your previous posts, but you are so right in every sense. Frankly, the gun does not work very well if you are nostril to nostril.
    Being closer to retirement age, I not as good as I once was and you remind me that perhaps I need to rethink my situation.
    Dang, thought I had the bases covered.
    Best wishes for Christmas.
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    This brings home a nagging fear I have had for a few years now. I am well versed in two different styles of Chinese martial arts. For many years that was enough. Even though I had been involved in shooting in many of its forms for the last 35 years I never considered carrying one for self defense, and in fact I couldn't legally carry one in the state in which I lived up until a few years ago.

    Now that I am getting older I have developed some physically debilitating health issues. I still remember much of my martial arts training and I still train and practice what of it I can but I am simply not able to do what I used to do. I train much more with my firearms now than I used to and I now live in a state that allows open and concealed carry, which I take advantage of, much because of my deteriorating health and the disparity of force that results. But I have contemplated the issue of "fighting to the gun" should it become necessary. I am still able to perform the movements of a type of defense called Ch'in Na, which I do still practice. The nagging question I have is whether I still have the strength and speed to carry out such a defense until I can get to my sidearm, with a huge unknown being the size, strength and fighting ability of my attacker. The good thing is that this nagging doubt has caused me to train more in Ch'in Na and I think I'd be OK until I can get to my gun, but I will never know unless and until such a situation arises, which of course I hope never happens. I do know that I will fight using all my might and abilities to end the attack, either with H2H or with my sidearm, which ever I can use effectively in the situation. I owe it to my wife to try to come home to her safely.
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    Thank you so much for this post, I appreciate that you took the time to share all of that with us. I actually just took my very first Krav Maga class tonight & I am really excited about it. I hadn't even thought about the fact that if I might be attacked, if I had my weapon on me I would have to consider that (like you said not giving them opportunity to get it) until I could get to it myself. I think between my range practice and Krav Maga classes I will be more aware of the situations around me and how I might need to react to any given situation.

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    Dear God Lima, self defense, knives, training. I have my gun so therefore I am safe, I don't even carry a round in the chamber as the mere sight of the gun or my NRA cap will send criminals cowering in fear!!!!!

    Excellent post as always.
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    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    Quote Originally Posted by tacman605 View Post
    Dear God Lima, self defense, knives, training. I have my gun so therefore I am safe, I don't even carry a round in the chamber as the mere sight of the gun or my NRA cap will send criminals cowering in fear!!!!!

    Excellent post as always.
    I wear an unloaded gun on a chain around my neck when I sleep to keep me safe. It works like a charm.
    Mark Twain:
    The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a
    patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.

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