The Safariland Group Blog

How to Win a Gunfight! Part IV: Be Smart and Don't Hesitate

August 22, 2012 at 10:57

Part ISmart

You must be smart about when and where you decide to fight.  Those in law enforcement don’t always have the luxury of picking when to fight, but often I read or hear about officers that forced a confrontation or made the fight fair when they didn’t have to.  Things like leaving cover and closing distance to their adversary when it wasn’t necessary or moving ahead of their team or partner, which in effect means taking them out of the fight.  Never make it a fair fight if you have a choice.   The Sheriff may have picked High Noon because he knew his opponent couldn’t see well in the bright sun light.  Better yet, he should have waited until the sun was at his back and in his opponent’s eyes, or positioned someone with a long weapon on high ground.  Maybe he should put on a good set of body armor as a fighting platform or just bring as many friends with him to the fight as he could find.  It may not be as sexy but it improves the ability to predict the outcome.  Live to fight another day, I always say.


The Intangibles:

How about shooting first?  I love the line in the movie, “The Shootist”.  Ron Howard is explaining to John Wayne what Bat Masterson wrote about in his book about gunfighting.  He was mentioning things like proficiency with a firearm and accuracy, and Wayne interrupts him and asks, “Did he mention that some people will hesitate, or blink, or draw a breath?  I won’t.”  As with any type of fight, the one who strikes first has a distinct advantage.  Strike first, strike hard, and repeat as necessary.


How about not being an easy target to hit?  This could mean that you are behind cover, or you may just be moving really fast.  Both are good things, and if you don’t have cover, how about moving really fast toward it.


In closing I would like to put in a plug for the Safariland Training Group’s course, “Startle Response to an Ambush”.  Safariland training programs include many of the things that can determine who wins a gunfight.  A friend of mine who used to lecture on the subject would say, “Bring a bigger gun”.  It’s hard to argue with that logic.  I say, focus on the things you can do something about. 


The true warrior will not hesitate, is not stupid, not ill-equipped, not unprepared, and definitely not easy to hit.  You must prepare and train for what you hope and pray you never have to do, or be prepared to suffer the consequences.  I love this quote about soldiers: “of every 100 men you send me 90 shouldn’t even be here, 9 are good combatants and they the fight make, ahh but the one… he is a true warrior and will bring the rest home safe”.  ~Unknown


Best of luck, but don’t count on it.  Train hard, be smart, and stay safe!


This is the final installment of a four part series; please click here for Part I, Part II or Part III.


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 Wall Banger.” Sandy is currently the Training Director for Safariland’s Training Group.

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