The Safariland Group Blog

How To Win A Gunfight Part I

July 13, 2012 at 11:42

It’s high noon and the Sheriff slowly steps out onto a vacant street to meet his adversary and maybe his death. His duster is slung back to expose the gun belt and six-shooter that he carries low and tethered to his leg. With his hat pulled down firmly to where one can barely see his steely eyes that pierce the day, he scans left and right for the ambush that would change this gunfight into something he could not survive.  Yet there is not a trace of fear or worry about his fate or the unknown the end of the street will bring.

How many times have you watched this scenario play out in some of your favorite western movies?  The anticipation of what is about to happen makes us all admire the Sheriff for what he has the courage to face.  Did it ever really happen like that?  Probably not as much as the movie makers would like us to believe, but its fun to live that experience through the eyes of someone else.  We would all like to believe that should that moment come, when we have to fight for our lives, we would have the same steel grit, courage, and coolness under pressure the Sheriff displayed.  This is something that we in Law Enforcement (LE) have all pondered and some have experienced firsthand.  For many of us that have, our performance may not have been what it could or should have been but we survived just the same.

Over the next few posts, I will attempt to point out what I feel are some of the factors that can make a difference in a gunfight.  I base my opinions not only on my own experiences but also the experiences of numerous friends and colleagues over my 28 years in LE.  I have also drawn from Dr. David Klinger’s book, Into the Kill Zone.  This book is a treasure trove of LE gunfighting experiences, if you haven’t read it, go now and get it. Dr. Klinger interviewed 80 active and former LE Officers and then detailed information surrounding their experiences.  His research was funded in part by a Federal grant to research but with all that information compiled he was compelled to write the book to share the experiences with us all. 

This is part one of a four part series; please check back for the next installment.

Sandy Wall retired from Houston Police Department after 28 years, 22 of which were served as a SWAT officer. He is a three-term president of the Texas Tactical Police Officer Association (TTPOA) and the founder of the Less Lethal Solutions, Inc., and the inventor of “The WallBanger.” Sandy is currently the Training Director for the Safariland Training Group.

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