Be sure to watch the featured video before reading on.

Closing the Distance

The average, responsible, pistol shooter may find themselves at the range practicing their draw sequence, acquiring the sights, and shooting at a stagnant target, be it  steel or paper.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this when practicing for repetition and muscle memory, but are you training just to shoot, or are you training for self-defense?  The next time you’re at the range, if you are able, time yourself on how long it takes you to remove the pistol from your holster (concealed and open carry) and engage a target.  Compare your numbers with these statistics.

According to a study conducted by various police departments, the average human reaction time for 17 police officers to mentally justify firing their pistols during a simple decision-making scenario was 0.211 seconds. The same officers in a complex scenario took 0.895 seconds.  In one study 46 police officers who knew they were going to fire their pistols, and it was simply a matter of doing so when they received the signal. This test resulted in an average action time of 0.365 seconds with the officers’ finger already on the trigger.  More recent work by Dr. Bill Lewinski [Ref.6] a law enforcement professor at Minnesota State University tested 101 officers. The average Reaction/Action time of 1.5 seconds is sufficient time for an attacker to close a reactionary gap of 7 meters (22.96 feet).

  • Time to Draw (a pistol) from a Holster 1.19 seconds
  • Time to Raise (a pistol) and Fire 0.59 seconds
  • Time to Run 15 feet 1.28 seconds


Shot Placement Repeat

Although the assailant was hit in his chest, “center mass”, he was still able to move around, shoot, and drive a few miles away before dying.  According to a medical doctor specializing in gun shot wounds, you have an 85 percent chance of surviving!  Just ask Kenny Vaughan from North Carolina, who was shot about 20 times with a rifle that was only 5 feet away and lived!  I always preach that it’s not going to take a magical one or two shots to center mass to put an attacker down.  It may take three, four, or five. Shoot “repeatedly” until the target is down, using the same reference point of aim.

Moving Targets

As we all know, shooting a moving target is fairly difficult, especially if your range does not allow you to do so.  For those who know a little about moving targets, such as snipers, we know to aim in front of the target (Lead), when it comes to combative pistol engagements within 25 yards, the rule need not apply.  Whenever I teach a combat pistol class, I try to incorporate a moving human size silhouette, moving lateral at a fast pace walk.  Nine times out of ten, the student aims in front of the target and forcibly rushes their shots resulting in a miss.  The key to hitting a moving target, within a combat pistol range, is to simply aim at what you want to hit, focus on the front sight, and squeeze.


Adrenaline is something we cannot avoid in a high threat situation, especially in a gun fight for your life. A good example of this is shown in the video as the assailant presses the magazine release of his pistol and the magazine falls out of the weapon.  This was due to a few things in my opinion, a lack of training (good thing in this situation), muscle tightening from what may have been a bullet striking him or passing near, and overload of adrenaline.  When your body experiences an adrenaline overload, you may experience a few of these symptoms, tunnel vision, audio exclusion, shortness of breath, etc.  There is a simple solution to overcoming the symptoms of adrenaline overload and get you back on top of your game…deep breaths.  Your body needs the extra oxygen to deal with the extra stress. Yes… Just breath!