During any dangerous situation - a car wreck, natural disaster or violent confrontation - communication is essential. You communicate with family or friends, providing information and/or instructions. "Call 911 now!" With an armed partner communication is required to time and coordinate actions. It's also a good idea, in most situations, to issue verbal commands to the threat(s). "Stop! Leave my house!" They may comply; it happens many times a year. Most people understand the need for delivering commands to the threat(s), but have problems as to when to start issuing commands and what to say.
The best way to start the conversation is with "Stop!" Whatever they are doing you want them to stop it right now. Then you can add additional information as dictated by the situation. "Don't come any closer!" If they comply that's good. Should they ignore the command then you prepare to ramp up your response.
Generally, the sooner you start telling them what to do the sooner they may comply. You see someone who looks like they may be a possible problem. They are forty feet away, but visually locked in on you and moving closer. They may want to bum a dollar; they may have more violent intentions - don't know, don't care. Telling them to stop while they are forty feet away is a lot better than waiting until they are only six feet from you.
Another advantage of issuing commands as soon as possible is that it calls attention to the bad guy. "Certain types of predators," Rory Miller states in Mediations On Violence
, "are like cockroaches - they don't like light. They don't like attention." When there are other people hear someone shouting, "Stop!" they will look for the source of trouble, if only to ensure they aren't involved in it. Drawing attention to a possible threat may deter them from preceding any further.
You've issued verbal commands but the threat continues to advance, maybe at an escalated pace. Now you know there's a problem. Establishing your opponent(s) intentions early provides you with more time. More time means more options, whether that's a rapid escape and withdraw or a more aggressive response - presenting your weapon, moving, using cover and if necessary engaging with accurate hits.
When issuing verbal commands use your "outside" voice. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that you are serious, and you want witnesses to hear you so they can testify accordingly. Keep your commands short and simple. Don't get into a discussion or debate, a common distraction tactic used by bad guys. (One guy is "explaining" his predicament while his partner is coming up behind you.) Use your time wisely. While telling them what to do start creating distance, moving to cover or closer to an exit. Keep in mind there are always exceptions to everything discussed here; every situation is unique and different.
Communication, like all other combative skills, requires practice. Work it on the range. Get a friend and role-play, but keep it realistic. Watch a movie and issue verbal commands to the threats on screen. There are a variety of ways to learn communication, but let there be no doubt, it requires practice.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns," writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html