Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Senseless Death

On the evening of February 28, 2020, Alan Womack Jr. went to the King of Prussia LA Fitness for a game of pick-up basketball. During the game, Womack accused a player on the opposite team of a traveling violation. Womack was so upset that he threatened to shoot the man in the head according to witnesses. 

The opposing player decided to leave; however, Womack followed him into the LA Fitness parking lot where he confronted the opposing player, drew a Taurus pistol, and racked a round into the chamber. The other man drew his own legally carried pistol and shot Womack in the chest.

After weeks of investigating the incident, reviewing surveillance video, and interviewing people who witnessed the argument, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele declined to file criminal charges.

Pennsylvania is a “duty to retreat” state under certain circumstances. However, Pennsylvania law does not impose a duty to retreat, even in circumstances where this would normally be the case when:

The defender is not engaged in a criminal activity, is not in illegal possession of a firearm, and is attacked in any place where:

    -- the defender has a right to be when he was attacked;

    -- the defender believes it is immediately necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury; and

    -- the person against whom the defender uses force displays or otherwise uses a firearm or replica of a firearm or any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.

It is certainly probable that the Montgomery County District Attorney applied this reasoning when he declined to press criminal charges.

You might wonder how something as trivial as a traveling violation during a pick-up basketball game resulted in the death of a 29-year-old young man. As Rory Miller explains, the Monkey brain is concerned with social survival and status. It literally cannot distinguish between humiliation and death.* 

The Monkey brain theory explains some of the outlandish behaviors we often seeparticularly in young males. When the Monkey brain is in control, reason and logic goes out the window. I suspect that one or more Monkey brains were at work in this incident. 

We all have a Monkey brain and it is important to recognize when it is trying to take control.  It is equally important to recognize when someone else's Monkey is stepping up.  Often we can de-escalate these types of situations if we recognize what's happening early enough.

* https://conflictresearchgroupintl.com/the-second-model-lizard-monkey-and-the-human-brain-rory-miller/

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Stand and Deliver Worked -- This Time

The First Shot--Notice the Bad Guy is Aiming at the Officer
Putting your hand on your pistol if there is any indication of an impending deadly threat can significantly cut your response time. I first addressed this subject in an article responding to the change in Texas law permitting open carry—this is an update to that article.* 

In the original article I mentioned research from Vickers and Lewinski who discovered that more experienced police officers placed their hand on their pistol and often drew their pistol earlier in a confrontation and thereby gained precious time in responding to a threat—often shooting before the threat could fire at them. **

In the video below, a police officer in Uruguay does exactly that. As he is sitting eating ice cream, he notices two men approaching and obviously triggers on them for some reason--he immediately obtains a firing grip on his concealed pistol. As one of the perpetrators begins to draw a pistol, an instant later the police officer starts to stand and begins drawing his pistol as well.

The armed perpetrator initially holds his pistol at his side; however, suddenly realizing his erstwhile victim is drawing a pistol the perpetrator brings his own pistol into a firing position aiming at the police officer. Unfortunately for the perp, the officer completes his draw and fires .04 seconds later, before the perp could pull his own trigger. The total time from the police officer initiating his draw to his first shot was 0.73 seconds. As an aside, the officer either missed with the first shot or the bullet went through the perp. You can see the bullet strike the wall behind the perp in the lower left corner of the screen.


The Vickers and Lewinski research prompted me to collect data to determine how much of a time advantage you can gain through placing your hand on the pistol versus starting with your hands in some other location (e.g. hands at sides). My goal was to determine how long it took a competitor (granted, not necessarily the average private citizen licensed to carry) to draw and fire single shot from different starting positions.

We have now timed the draws of 362 individuals over a period of several years during our local IDPA and Sensible Self Defense Short Range matches. We have measured 2458 specific instances of drawing the pistol and firing a shot from concealment, 1627 draws with the pistol not concealed, and 1349 instances when the competitor started with their hand on the holstered pistol. We only included instances where the competitor's shot stuck inside the -1 or 0 of the standard IDPA target or the Shootsteel target in the data set.

The skill level of the competitors has varied from new shooters participating in their first practical match, Novices, Marksmen, Sharpshooters, Experts, and two Masters--unfortunately we have few Master class shooters in our local matches.

We have discovered that for all experience levels, placing your hand on a concealed or openly carried pistol early in a dangerous situation can provide a 0.75 to 1.75 second time advantage (depending on the individual skill level) if you must draw compared to starting with the hands in some other position. This is not trivial—3/4th of a second to 1-3/4 seconds faster can be a lifetime in a deadly confrontation as we saw in the video.

If the police officer had started his draw from a neutral position without his hand on the pistol, it is highly probable that the perpetrator would have fired first—four one-hundredths of a second is 2.5 times faster than the average human eye can blink.

Trying to draw a pistol in a “Stand and Deliver” response to a criminal’s drawn pistol is a great way to get shot if the criminal is committed and paying attention. In an experiment we conducted in 2016 we found that even when the good guy had the initiative, in 98 out of 100 trials the bad guy fired first. We had one tie where both the good and the bad guy fired simultaneously and one instance where the good guy fired first.

Does Stand and Deliver work?  Sometimes. If you time your response or if the get inside the bad guy's decision cycle, a Stand and Deliver response can work as we saw in this incident.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Come out and shoot with us on the second Sunday of every month at Cedar Ridge Range in San Antonio, Texas.

For more information go to: www.sensibleselfdefense.com

* Is placing your hand on a holstered pistol a violation of the law as long as the pistol remains in the holster? I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice; laws vary by state—check your local laws as appropriate.

**You can find this article on the Force Science website at:

Monday, November 16, 2020

A California Pistol Qualification -- Blindfolded

A local retired law enforcement officer (LEO) recently asked me to assist him with a LEOSA requalification to demonstrate that he met his former California agency’s qualification standards. At the range, he provided me with a copy of the prescribed course of fire on his former agency’s letterhead.

We set up the target and I ran him through the qualification course with his Glock 9mm and his S&W .38 Special J-frame revolver. He scored 100% with his Glock and 86% (passing) with his snubbie.

I asked him about the course of fire and he assured me that it was the current standard for his former agency and that the agency had used this qualification standard when he had been an active LEO. 

I was so impressed with the qualification standard’s complexity and difficulty that I asked the retired LEO to witness me shooting the qualification—blindfolded. I did it blindfolded to ensure that there was no question about me being able to see the target in any way. I scored a 100% on the qualification.

The qualification course of fire was as follows:

-- 1-yard line: 5 shots, two strings of fire. String 1: draw and fire 3 shots with the primary hand only within 6 seconds. String 2: draw and fire 2 shots with the primary hand only
within 6 seconds.

-- 3-yard line: 5 shots, one string of fire. Draw and fire 3 shots with the primary hand only, switch the pistol to the other hand and fire 2 shots using only that hand
within 8 seconds.

-- 5-yard line: 5 shots, one string of fire. Draw and fire 2 shots with the primary hand only, switch the pistol to the other hand and fire 3 shots using only that hand
within 8 seconds.

If you objectively look at this course of fire it would seem that it would be impossible to fail. The retired LEO assured that that he had in fact seen colleagues in his former agency fail. 

When we compare this course of fire to the standards for the Texas License to Carry (LTC) test the differences are stark. The Texas LTC qualification requires 50 rounds at distances of 3, 7, and 15 yards. 

My experience with 1000+ LTC applicants is that very few fail the Texas LTC qualification. I have literally had students take a brand new pistol out of its box, remove the tags, and qualify; even though that was the first time they had ever touched a pistol in their life.

Many police officers are competent with their sidearms and some maintain their skills through competition and practice.  Others, like people in many professions, are satisfied with the minimum standard.  Although the California agency in question may have budgetary or other reasons for this simplistic qualification, I cannot help but think the agency is doing its officers and the public they serve a disservice. 

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Origins of the Failure Drill or the “Mozambique Drill”

Retired Marine Lt Col Jeff Copper is arguably the father of the modern pistol craft that Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, John Farnam, and a variety of others teach. Cooper published a number of books and I highly recommend them. Many today do not know of Jeff Cooper and his prolific writings and I intend to do a small part in correcting that through periodic quotes that may be relevant to the self-defense topics I discuss in this blog. Constructive comments as always are welcome.

Jeff Cooper originally promulgated what is now often known as a “failure drill” as the “Mozambique Drill.”

Jeff Cooper's Commentaries Vol. 1, No. 1; June 1993

Per Jeff Cooper:

"As time passes, we discover that there are a good many readers who have not been to school and who are puzzled by our reference to "The Mozambique Drill."

I added The Mozambique Drill to the modern doctrine after hearing of an experience of a student of mine up in Mozambique when that country was abandoned. My friend was involved in the fighting that took place around the Lourenço Marques airport. At one point, Mike turned a corner was confronted by a terrorist carrying an AK47. The man was advancing toward him at a walk at a range of perhaps 10 paces. Mike, who was a good shot, came up with his P35 and planted two satisfactory hits, one on each side of the wishbone. He expected his adversary to drop, but nothing happened, and the man continued to close the range. At this point, our boy quite sensibly opted to go for the head and tried to do so, but he was a little bit upset by this time and mashed slightly on the trigger, catching the terrorist precisely between the collar bones and severing his spinal cord. This stopped the fight.

Upon analysis, it seemed to me that the pistolero should be accustomed to the idea of placing two shots amidships as fast as he can and then being prepared to change his point of aim if this achieves no results. Two shots amidships can be placed very quickly and very reliably and they will nearly always stop the fight providing a major-caliber pistol is used and the subject is not wearing body armor. However, simply chanting "two in the body, one in the head" oversimplifies matters, since it takes considerably longer to be absolutely sure of a head shot than it does to be quite sure of two shots in the thorax. The problem for the shooter is to change his pace, going just as fast as he can with his first pair, then, pausing to observe results or lack thereof, he must slow down and shoot precisely. This is not easy to do. The beginner tends to fire all three shots at the same speed, which is either too slow for the body shots or too fast for the head shot. This change of pace calls for concentration and coordination which can only be developed through practice.

Mike Rouseau was later killed in action in the Rhodesian War. May he rest in peace!"