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Gun Competition and the Reality of Armed Defense

December 10, 2012

I’m writing this because I want to learn more about self-defense.  This all started when I shot another IDPA competition.  I liked all the stages, but this stage included several no-shoot targets.   You shoot at most of the targets on the range, but not all of them.  It is good to break that assumption that every target is a bad guy by including targets that you should not shoot, like this one.idpatarget no large

You can tell a no-shoot target because they show empty hands in front of the target.  Defensive weapons courses teach us to look at a possible assailant’s hands because that is where we might find a weapon.

If the no-shoot is close to you and the target is distant, then you have to move to get a clear line-of-sight to the target threatening you.   The intended target is well behind the no-shoot in this case.


You don’t need to see all of the target, but you need to see enough to have a clear shot without hitting the innocent bystander represented by the no-shoot target.  In real life you would want to establish several feet of clearance between the line to your target and the no-shoots.  You might not have that option, but people move in unexpected ways in real life.  A few inches of clearance works on the range but I’d want more if lives were at stake.  Shooting near a no-shoot target in competition is not realistic.


A second situation involves a no-shoot target that is immediately in front of the intended target.  This looks like a hostage situation where the no-shoot is in danger.  Moving to the side will not give me a clear shot to the target.  This target really had me thinking on the way home and wondering where I’d ever see a situation like that.

The situation could be as close as the mall parking lot when I go shopping with my family during the holidays.  What would I do if I heard,

    “Don’t move or I’ll cut her!”

I’ve been trained to clear, draw and point in.

  “Give me the car keys and drop the gun.  I’ll cut her, I swear it.”

Well this changes things.. or does it?  The way I see it, I  have no control over what a criminal will do.  He may cut my loved one, or not.  I could comply with the bad guy’s demands.  That could lead to a kidnap situation.  There is no amount of compliance that will guarantee the safety of my loved one.  There are no guarantees and no certain outcomes.  Reality is different than playing gun games.

Most self-defense training begins with presenting the gun from concealment.  That makes sense if I’m defending myself.  Walking toward a criminal with my gun drawn doesn’t make sense if he is threatening my loved one and the goal is to protect my loved one.  Let’s look at that situation again and not be in a hurry to present the weapon.

Again, my loved one and I are in the parking lot during the holidays.

    “Don’t move or I’ll cut her!  Give me your keys and wallet.  I’ll cut her, I swear I will.”

Now I’d walk toward the abductor with my wallet in one hand and my car keys jingling in the other.  Now I have a second to notice if the abductor has a partner and what lies behind the abductor.

I’d put my wallet and keys on the opposite end of the car from the abductor.  I’d step away while making another 360 scan.

    “There they are, now let her go.”

I wouldn’t shoot someone who wanted to steal my car, but the criminal has to let my loved one go.  Bullets fly if they try to take my loved one in the car.

There are no guarantees, but the IDPA competition has me thinking.  I’m thinking there are situations I haven’t considered.  Presenting a gun and quickly taking a shot is fine in competition.  That isn’t always the best course of action in the real world.  Time is on your side as you close the distance in a hostage situation.  Whatever you decide to do, it is better to have considered it ahead of time.  Considering some of the options will help you make better decisions when you are under pressure and it’s hard to think clearly.

What do you think?  What would you do?



2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2012 1:23 am

    I think I would talk this over with my loved ones, and have a code phrase that they and I know. So that my loved one can zig, while I zag, in such a situation. But I wouldn’t just jump straight to things like creating code words. I would first work to build trust and responsibility in other areas. I would work to instill a mindset of preparedness in each family member individually, and then together as a team. You’re not talking multiplication tables in this post. You’re talking the worst of the worst. You’re talking calculus.


    • December 13, 2012 5:46 am

      Good points, David. Nothing beats teamwork.
      I won’t try to match your calculus jokes.


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