Classes are for learning, and students ask questions. Sometimes they will want to debate the merits of a certain principle or technique. Often this debate is based on stories heard from a friend of a friend, or what I call gun fighting "myths," and even pure fiction, something they saw in a movie. It's good they are getting clarification. What's not good is that up to this point their education has been centered on false information.
"A friend of mine knows someone…" A lot of discussions start out this way. Some of these stories are simply impossible. They sound more like an urban legend. Or, maybe it is true, but a highly unusual situation, one of those rare exceptions. Your skills and tactics shouldn't be developed around legends or one of those one-in-a-million anomalies. Only the facts count.
There are plenty of gun fighting myths. These are stories that may have been based on fact – as mentioned above. But over time the plot has taken more twists and turns than one of our backcountry road. You've all heard these. "Semi autos aren't reliable," or, "When I rack my twelve gauge they'll run away." All sources should be proven reliable. Don't be afraid to ask "who, what, when and where."
Fiction, such as movies, should never be a source of tactics. Even if they are based on true events. Movies are entertainment. It's about is about telling a story and making it look good. Just because it looks good on screen doesn't mean it's a viable technique.
Every violent confrontation is truly unique. What we know for sure is that these skills will be required: moving, communication, and the use of cover, shooting (if necessary) and thinking. The common traits of confrontations are well documented. The majority of attacks occur in low-light environments. This could be in a parking lot at night, a dark parking garage during the daytime, or any other place where light is in short supply. The distances are likely to be close; the threats will be trying to intimidate you with proximity. There is a good chance of it involving more than one threat, and they'll be moving. The event will probably only last a few seconds. But, there are also exceptions to all these "norms."
You move for a lot of reasons. Movement forces the threat to react to you. You move to cover, to obtain a clear angle of attack on the threat or create distance. You communicate with the threat, issuing verbal commands, with friends and family or bystanders. Cover provides protection. You shoot if necessary. Finally you must be thinking, solving the problem as efficiently as possible.
There are plenty of documented situations available to study without having to rely on tales, myths or pure fiction. A great source of information on confrontations is Mass Ayoob's articles from American Handgunner, "The Ayoob Files." Ayoob has been collecting, documenting and writing about violent confrontations since 1985, and his entire collection is available from FMG
Learning how to respond to a violent attack is about preparing. Training introduces you to the skills required, and then practice is necessary in order to actually learn these skills. You study previous confrontations in order to learn what things may look like. While you never know exactly where the fight will occur, what form the threat will take or what will be necessary to solve the problem, there are basic principles and techniques to apply in response to danger.
Make sure during this process everything is based on the truth. When you hear about something research it to be sure of the details and actual facts. Self-defense is a serious subject, and should be approached accordingly.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html McKee's new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite's website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html