In general, most people want things delivered in nice clean packages.

It’s natural to want complex ideas simplified down to a soundbite or bumper sticker.

And it’s normal to want specific shooting scenarios or defensive situations to practice for…a drill that we can complete in a specific amount of time and know that we’re “good enough.”

It’s a shortcoming of the Reticular Activating System and you can see it in how people train, the drills we practice, how we evaluate other people when they shoot, and the conditioned responses we develop.

So, a lot of the time what our minds want to do is take averages of past gunfights and use those averages for our training…to see how we’d perform in an “average” life & death situation.

Some examples:

  • Practicing drawing and shooting at a target 21 feet away because the mythical “21 foot rule” says that the average cop can draw and shoot in 1.5 seconds and that’s how long it takes for an attacker with a knife to travel 21 feet.
  • Shooting 2 shots to the body and one to the head and calling it “good”…as if the head will stay stationary and assuming that a head shot with a pistol will always stop a threat.
  • One that I do is have shooters shoot 3 shot strings because of the FBI reports saying that it takes an average of 2.4-2.9 hits to stop an attacker…but if you stop there, you’re making a mistake.
  • Another one that I do is shoot drills at 11 feet because 50% of officer fatalities due to shooting happen within 11 feet…but if you stop there, you’re making a mistake.

There’s nothing wrong with doing drills like these…unless you look at them as a test of your ability to survive and win a fight for your life with a gun.

Because if you’re ever in a gunfight, the results won’t be based on averages.  They’re binary.  Black & white.  You won’t have a 60% win.  You’ll win or lose.  You’re all-in and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get dealt an “average” situation.

I know of one well documented outside of Chicago where an officer delivered 14 rounds of .45 ACP center mass and the suspect wasn’t fazed and kept shooting.  6 of the hits were considered “fatal” on a time scale of several minutes, but they didn’t stop the threat immediately.

I also have a friend who has told me details about 2 shootings he was involved in where the attacker (both suicide bombers) sustained more than a dozen “lethal” hits center-mass/torso from carbines and pistols without any behavioral effect.

To paraphrase a popular saying,

“When seconds count, sometimes death is only minutes away.”

In short, don’t hobble your chances of survival by only practicing for “average” gunfights.

I was having a conversation with former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham a few weeks ago, and he reinforced just how important it is not to settle for training for averages and just how common “extreme” or black swan events are in life and death situations.

Chris said, “The only thing certain about my next encounter is that it is astronomically unlikely to occur at the average range and won in the average time (limit) with an average number of hits of past recorded engagements.

It will be either shorter or longer range than that average and faster or slower than that average…maybe waaay longer, and maybe waaayy faster.  There may be more rounds fired, or I could get lucky and it could be less.

There is no such thing as good enough.

“When you train for the extremes,
the averages take care of themselves,
but if you train for an average encounter,
you will be unprepared for what you actually encounter
the vast majority of the time.”

You may recognize that this truism builds on the writings of 2 authors who both Chris and I appreciate…Tim Ferriss, as well as Nassim Talib.

So, how DO you train for the extremes?  For black swan events like terrorist attacks?

It doesn’t really take extra time or money.  It just means you want to train smart instead of doing what everyone else does.

It starts with a foundation of perfect form, practiced often enough that it becomes automatic…something you no longer need to think about.  You simply decide to execute and all of the steps happen reflexively.

It doesn’t take a ton of time.  A few minutes per day of the RIGHT technique, practiced the RIGHT way will allow you to run circles around most shooters sending 1,000 rounds or more downrange per month in a very short amount of time.

When you’ve got the foundation built, you start pushing things.

Practice drawing and shooting 1” targets instead of 4 or 8” targets

Practice while moving, stressed, tired, in low light, etc.

Practice following and engaging moving targets.

Practice on targets at 50, 100, and 200 yards with your carry pistol.

Shoot strings of 3, 5, or 10 shots on a target instead of always assuming that 2 will get the job done.  In your mind, shoot until you get the desired effect, not until you’ve shot a prescribed course of fire.

Chris takes you step by step through this entire process in the 30-10 Pistol Home Study Course.

It’s the same training that he uses when he’s doing pre-deployment training for government agencies and tactical law enforcement.

It’s the same training that he put his wife through to get her shooting better with a pistol than most guys with multiple combat deployments…in only 30 days.

If you’re a serious shooter, this is a course that you definitely need.  Get special pricing and bonuses right now by clicking >HERE<

Chris and I work together.  A lot of our methods overlap.  But his extensive downrange experience gives him a different perspective than mine, and that’s why I go through the 30-10 course at least once a year.

I always learn from him and I’m always reminded of something important that I’ve forgotten along the way.

One of the benefits of Chris doing pre-deployment training is that he’s getting constant feedback from guys who have gone through the training and then had to use it in real-world situations.  When you go through Chris’ course, you know that you’re using techniques that have kept good guys alive overseas…possibly within the last few weeks.


by Mike Ox

Mike Ox is an avid defensive and competitive shooter who has co-created several firearms training products, including Dry Fire Training Cards,

Dry Fire Fit, 21 Day Alpha Shooter, and See Faster, Shoot Faster.  His brain based training focuses on accelerated learning techniques for shooting as well as controlling brain state and brain chemistry for optimal performance in extreme stress situations.  Learn more about dynamic dry fire training for defense and competition at