Briefing Room: Firepower?

In the last few years, I’ve noticed many people seem to be overrunning their headlights on the range—shooting faster than they can make good hits, especially with pistols.

I understand that in competition, time is a critical portion of the score. I get it. But while several “C” zones hit with a fast overall time may win in a game, they may not work out so well in a self-defense shooting.

During the time when semi-autos were replacing revolvers as the standard peace officer’s sidearm, an officer from an adjoining agency remarked to me, “Wow! Seventeen rounds—now I have firepower!” I replied, “Firepower is a unit of at least squad strength with select-fire rifles, with minimum one machinegun and the ability to call for artillery and air support. You’re still just a guy with a pistol.” He looked like I’d just kicked his dog, run away with his wife, and his kids were calling me daddy.

We carry pistols because, well, they are easy to carry—not because they are especially good at stopping fights. Over 80% of people who are shot with handguns survive.

But whether they live or die should not be of concern to you. Your only concern is to make them stop the actions that are causing a direct threat to your life or that of an innocent third person.

So the question is, do you want to bet your life—literally—on a few fast peripheral hits, or solid hits to the upper torso? Yes, numerous shots may cause extensive blood loss, but exsanguination (bleeding out) takes time. Some people have taken a round through the heart and stayed in the fight long enough to kill their opponent. In essence, they were dead but just didn’t know it.

The only way to immediately stop a threat is by placing a projectile in the bad guy’s brain, and this requires a surgical shot—not a fast shot—into the ocular or nasal cavity. In his wisdom, God made the skull naturally armored, and there have been cases of a shot to the upper part of the skull skipping off and not penetrating.

You don’t have “firepower.” Even with a high-capacity pistol, you have a limited number of rounds.

Make them count.

Until next time, stay low and watch your back.

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