Steve lives in a large urban area. Sunday, after doing some shopping, a stranger tries to attack him. Steve's response has, as they all do, valuable lessons.
It's 12:30 on a bright Sunday afternoon. Steve exits the store with his bags, and while walking to his truck sees a man visually lock on him. Steve is an attorney who works with a variety of clients, and notices the guy is "tweeking," the herky, jerky body motion someone exhibits when using meth.
"His body language said 'trouble'," Steve tells me. "I was watching him," he explained, "but after I got to my truck," which is a long way from the guy, "I stopped watching."
He loads his bags into the truck, then sees the guy has closed ground, quickly. Once Steve notices this, the guy starts running full speed, rapidly closing the distance. "It looked like he was holding something," Steve told me, "but he was hiding his right hand so I couldn't tell for sure." Steve knows all about knives, box cutters, screwdrivers and such, which are dangerous weapons and easily hidden. "But, I didn't want to draw my pistol," he told me, "Until I knew he had a weapon."
It's decision making time. Steve explains, "I can fight, run across an open area, or cut through the parked cars and put the 'briar-patch" between him and me." That is what he does. He starts working his way through the parked vehicles surrounding him. The man keeps coming, following Steve through the maze.
Steve gets to a good spot - "where I could have a clear angle of fire if necessary" - stops, turns around, and yells out "What can I help you with?" The man suddenly halts and yells out, "I don't know anyone here!" Steve responds with, "Neither do I!" The man runs away, the incident ending as suddenly as it began.
Everything worked out well. But, there are a few things Steve could have done differently. First, keep in mind the bad guy probably will not show you his weapon until he has things exactly how he wants them. Plus, someone doesn't have to have a weapon to be a threat. Physical assaults can be just as bad as an "armed" attack.
It's a lot better to have the pistol in hand and not need it as opposed to waiting until you know for sure. By then it might be too late. Plus, with practice, you can draw without attracting any attention, keeping your weapon hidden until it's needed.
Issue verbal commands, as opposed to asking the threat questions. We see this a lot with people in the beginning of Force-On-Force training. Asking a question opens up the door for conversation, which may delay your response, allow the threat to get closer or provide time for their partner(s) to get into position. Tell the threat what to do. "Stop! Don't come any closer!" In addition to your shooting, manipulations and other skills don't forget to practice communication.
Once something has your attention – in this case suspicious body behavior – maintain a visual until you can safely say there's no longer any danger. Either they are gone, or you're in a safe place. People can cover a lot of ground quickly. Thirty, forty yards or more won't seem like that far when someone is running at you full speed.
Finally, always be ready. Yes, the majority of situations occur in low-light environments. This took place in the middle of the day in a crowded area. Trouble can occur anytime, anywhere.
Steve solved the problem; the best way to win the fight is without it getting physical. Avoidance and escape are always at the top of your list of tactics. But, we want to learn from Steve's situation so we're better prepared for those times when avoid/escape don't work, or are not options.
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: