Escaping the Kill Zone
Everyone has their own strategy when it comes to vehicle gun fighting. Most of it is based on television and with no sense of reality. NEWS FLASH – it doesn’t work like on television.
Most people have never fired into a vehicle or out of a vehicle that was either in motion or sitting still. So they have no context of lead, trail, bullet deformation, windshield penetration, or the pressure disorientation often associated with actually firing a firearm in a confined space. Others spend countless hours focusing on fast draw techniques and sniper type precision with their handgun. I am not saying that enhancing your draw and marksmanship are not important because they are critical. However there may be other tactical priorities.
I am a firm believer that when it comes to violence, deadly force situations or any high stress encounters the simpler the better. Your focus should be on gross motor skills as opposed to fine motor skills. In my mind people greatly over think the whole adversarial dynamic.
A fight is an altercation which involves two or more people generally one with bad intentions.
A gun fight is nothing but a fight that involves a gun. Vehicle gun fighting is a fight which involves at least one gun and a least one vehicle. The objective is the same. Make the bad guy stop trying to fight you or hurt you.
You generally have three choices. 1. Let the bad guy impose his or her will on you, your family or your client until they get tired or decide to move on. That strategy usually doesn’t work out well for the people being assaulted. 2. You can fight. 3. You can flee.
However in the context of deadly force encounters here are some critical things to consider. They don’t require you to be a ninja or advanced gun fighter but may offer you some defensive options. Action will generally beat reaction. USAF Colonel and famed Military Strategist John Boyd developed a concept he called the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) which describes a person’s decision making process particularly under combat stress.
Common layman interpretation, you see something bad, you say “oh sh#@,” and then you man up or start crying. So if you notice someone approaching with a gun, you are already behind the curve no matter how fast your draw or how accurate a marksman you may be. If your firearm is anywhere other than in your hand at that precise moment, you are already significantly disadvantaged no matter how well you shoot through glass.
In close quarter battle (CQB) movement is your friend. It buys you time and gives you options.
Time, Space and Distance and its impact on Marksmanship
If a perpetrator is directly in front of my vehicle and threatening me with severe bodily harm or death, I am going to drive into, around or over him. When you drive directly toward your adversary with the gun, the adversary’s self-preservation instincts starts to take over. This typically adversely impacts their marksmanship skills as their focus shifts from shooting you to not getting hit. Either threat neutralized or escape accomplished.
Something to consider with your own vehicle: from the front of my F150 to the driver’s seat is approximately 5 feet. The overall length of my truck is approximately 19 feet. If I put my truck in reverse and back up one truck length the armed adversary is now 24 ft. away from me. Most untrained people with handguns generally don’t shoot well over 21 feet and particularly at things which are moving. If I back up two vehicle lengths I am now 43 feet from my adversary; three truck lengths 62 feet.
“Escape the kill zone,” don’t try and shoot your way out unless your vehicle is disabled. Even if you have additional armed passengers the driver’s priority is still the same escape the kill zone. If you are part of a protective detail particularly with a chase vehicle you are already starting to employ your counter ambush tactics while attempting to evacuate your Principal. Everyone has their own strategy and no two encounters will ever be the same. Bottom line the situation should always dictate your tactics, although escaping is generally a universally accepted principle.
However “hope” will never be a tactical strategy so anytime you are stopped stay aware and be prepared to escape.
“Six’s” Vehicle Gun Fighting Tactical Priorities:
- It is more important to not get shot than it is to shoot. Shooting is extra credit.
- An escape beats an encounter every time.
- In a deadly force situation fight like your life depends on it, because it does.
- Keep hitting the bad guy hard until they stop trying to hurt you.
- Largest projectile generally causes more damage (3,000 lb automobile, generally causes more damage than a 115 – 230 grain bullet).
- Most people drive better with one hand, than they shoot with one hand.
- Most people can hold a steering wheel with one hand and drive while shifting with the other. Most can’t drive and shoot.
- Most people don’t shoot well while they are driving or drive well while they are shooting.
- Handguns generally don’t stop cars. Cars usually stop adversaries with handguns.
- Under stress use the tool that gives you the most margins for error (vehicles give you more margins for error than handguns).
The most important word in vehicle gun fighting is vehicle. Let your vehicle do the fighting. In the words of my friend Tony Scotti “Escape the Kill Zone!”
By Mark “Six” James