Going Beyond the Average Gunfight

Depending on whose numbers we are using the average gunfight occurs from 3 to 7 yards, lasts 3 to 7 seconds where we will fire 2 to 6 rounds and will do so while standing/moving on your feet. But using statistics does not help us in a gunfight if that gunfight is not average.

This is one reason new students feel overwhelmed and start adding random training in the hopes of covering all their bases. Most of the non-average gunfights follow several trends that you can train for.


Previously I mentioned that we should practice 5 to 7 yards from the target and as our skill increases keep moving  back to 25 yards. If we are able to shoot a 6 to 8 inch circle at 25 yards then we have covered over 99% of all gunfights. In 99% of the remaining 1%, we should think about using that distance to disengage from the bad guy in a tactical retreat (i.e. run away). That about covers 99.99% of all our possible gunfights. We will talk about the problems of the .01% gunfights in later posts.

From 0 to 1 yard we will need to shoot from retention. we should practice this position at home and shoot it at the range. Be careful when shooting the retention position. Do not shoot this dynamically when first starting. Get into position, look down at the muzzle to make sure it’s pointed at the target and move our support hand behind you before firing. Do not fire multiple rounds at a time when first starting this training. We might walk our muzzle right up into our hand or face. Go slow.

Time and number of rounds fired:

If we are in a gunfight where we fire more than a magazine full of ammunition and the bad guy is not stopping his actions we should change tactics. Perhaps shooting a nervous system target (spine or head) or we are just missing the target. Either way we will need to do something different. It’s important to understand that the bad guy is also shooting/stabbing/clubbing us during this time.  Research has shown the average shooter can hit the target with some of their rounds in about a .25 to .35 seconds per round. So while we should have a spare magazine with us, it might be a bad time to stand there and reload when someone is shooting at us from 5 to 7 yards.


Learning to shoot from a seated position is useful. Drawing and shooting from a seated position such as inside our car happens sometimes. Practice getting up out of a chair while we draw our weapon. Drawing our weapon after falling on our butt, face, etc. Practice these at home with a blue training pistol or an empty pistol. If our range does not allow for anything but standing fire, I suggest we look for an IDPA or other competitive match. These matches have discretionary targets (good and bad guys), a variety of position shooting as well as one-handed shooting.

One-handed draw and shooting:

If we have to shoot in the retention position we will usually be shooting one-handed because the other hand is blocking or fighting the bad guy. Depending on the incident we may also have to draw our pistol one-handed because the other hand is injured, holding a child or fighting. Practice moving the cover garment and drawing the pistol while holding the other hand up to protect the head. I like to practice shooting one-handed out to 7 yards.


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