The Realities of a Gunfight

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Tactical Training Scenarios

  • SumoMe


Written by Greg Ellifritz




Reading through some of the transcripts of the trial involving the Fort Hood Active Shooter, I realized that the average gun owner/ CCW permit holder is wholly unprepared for anything but the most basic of gunfights.



Read the article below and ask yourself if you are prepared for a gunfight like it describes.

Police officer says Fort Hood shooter kicked gun from her hand after she was shot 3 times



The police officer here was responding to a call involving shots fired.  As she approached the scene on foot, she saw a man dressed in army fatigues carrying a gun.  The man pointed his gun at the officer and she was temporarily blinded by his laser sight flashing across her eyes.  She retreated behind a wall for cover and began to fire as the shooter fired his weapon on the run towards her position.



Her shots were ineffective and the shooter rounded the cover that the officer was using.  They traded gunfire at a distance of eight feet.  The officer was hit three times (with a 5.7mm pistol) and the shooter was grazed once by the officer’s 9mm Beretta.  BOTH of them had pistol malfunctions.  The officer was unable to clear her malfunction.  The shooter advanced on her and kicked the gun out of her hand.  The shooter then cleared his own malfunction, but was shot again by other officers before being able to find another innocent target.



That’s a lot of activity to occur in just a few seconds.  Did your instructor train you how to deal with any of those eventualities in your concealed carry class?  Would you be prepared for it?  Here are some questions you should ask yourself:



1) Cover.  Is moving to cover a reflexive act for you?  Can you quickly identify cover and move to it without a thought?  Have you ever shot from behind cover?  Do you know how to maximally utilize your cover without over exposing yourself?



2) Charging attackers.  Have you ever shot at a moving target?  How about training with simunitions or airsoft?  Do you have a plan for dealing with an attacker running directly towards you?



3) Close quarters shooting.  The final gunfight between the officer and the killer took place at a distance of less than eight FEET.  That’s almost touching distance.  Have you practiced shooting from a retention position?



4) Alternate position shooting.  The officer here was on the ground, partially disabled by three gunshot wounds.  Have you ever fired your gun from the seated position or from a position on the ground?



5) Malfunctions.  Both the officer and the killer had malfunctions.  Do you know how to clear a malfunction reflexively?  Have you trained to transition to alternate weapons in the event you can’t clear it?



6) Weapon retention.  You lose cool points in the gunfight if your gun is kicked out of your hand by your attacker.  Do you know any techniques for keeping your gun in your hand if someone tries to grab or kick it?



7) Tactical medicine.  Do you know how to treat an arterial bleed from a gunshot wound?  This officer used a wall to help provide direct pressure to her wound until medical help could arrive.  In the worst case scenario, you can bleed to death in less than two minutes.  You have to be able to stop that kind of bleeding and your standard first aid class isn’t enough.



The average police officer is not a highly trained gunfighter.  Police training isn’t nearly as complete as most expect it to be.  It clearly wasn’t enough to give this officer the ability to win her gunfight.  Even though most police training is inadequate, it is FAR more extensive than any CCW class.  What makes you think your four-hour certification class gives you the skills you need to win a gunfight?



If you carry a gun, you probably need more training than you currently have.  Training in the above listed concepts is widely available to everyone in the USA.  It’s up to you to seek it out.  If you are in the central Ohio area, this course will cover many of the concepts that are currently not addressed in the standard CCW class.




If you would like to see more articles like this, please sign up for my email updates.



19 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Aaron says:

    Where do you see alternate or secondary weapons systems fitting into this continuum? Hearing that the shooter kicked the weapon from the responding officer’s hand I immediately thought “What a great place to deploy a fixed blade!”.

    • MIke says:

      Aaron, I think I would rather have a backup gun than a fixed blade. The officer was prostrate on the ground with pretty sever injuries. It is unlikely that she could have deployed a fixed blade in an effective manner. The shooter was standing close enough to kick the gun from her hand but a person can kick pretty fast. She would have had to have been very quick to pull a blade and have the chance to make contact with the shooter. On the other hand she might have been able to access an back up gun one handed and the distance wouldn’t have mattered. However, as Greg pointed out in his article, this happened real fast. I doubt she would have had time to deploy any other weapon. The best bet would have been to be able to clear her malfunction and get her primary gun back in action. Has she been able to do this she might have ended the fight before the shooter got close enough to kick the gun from her hand.
      P.S. In this particular case we don’t know if these officers (civilian military police) are allowed to carry any type of secondary weapon. The often work under very strict rules on the type of weapons that they can carry.

    • Thom says:

      Aaron, I can’t say that a bladed weapon would have been a prudent addition to the continuum. A knife’s use is limited to functional reach of its user. Considering that the officer was wounded to a point that their weapon was able to be kicked out of their hand, I don’t have much faith that they would have been able to effectively fight with a knife. Generally speaking, if you lose your gun, you loose the fight. Hints the old-timer wisdom,”Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” A back-up gun may have been a possibility, but it’s hard to say having not been there to see it unfold.

  2. John_234 says:

    I think Awerbuck and Massad Ayoob’s respective arguments for carrying two handguns are very compelling when a malfunction happens in a vicious, close-range firefight like that described here.

  3. Brendan Doran says:

    She doesn’t loose cool points, she’d been shot 3X after being blinded.

    She’s still balls up, or ovaries up in my book.

    This would be great training but I think my range officer – OLD SCHOOL REDNECK RETIRED EXCEPT FOR RANGE would kick me off the range.

    She’ll do better her next gunfight, as will the other Ft.Hood Officers.

    Training is great. But you have to get shot at. Sorry.

    WTF is up with all these weapon malfunctions.?

  4. Chefjon says:

    All 7 are very valid issues. I was lucky enough to find a decent local instructor who ran us through some basic drills on all of them. That said, I don’t think anyone ever has enough training/practice.

    I think the biggest take-away from this article, though, is that courtroom artists can’t draw guns LOL. All the people in that pic at the top look fine, but that gun on the wall looks like a Hi-Point on crack!

  5. Ron says:

    SPOT ON!!! EWWWW RAHHHH! I preach and preach to folks that having a gun & a permit means very little. Jeff Cooper said “owning a piano doesn’t make you a musician”. Skills necessary to one’s survival don’t fall from the sky, and they don’t come in the box with that shiny new gun either.

    About 3 months ago I had shooters laying belly down, weak hand ONLY engagement of targets while I was behind them kicking at their feet. The one fellow finally blurted out in obvious frustration “what is the point to this”? Simple,,,, distraction & stress. The more hard bark we can develop BEFORE an incident, the better our chances will be.

  6. Brendan Doran says:

    She had an M9 Beretta?

    What was the load?

    Cuz the most important matter of a gun is will it fire.

  7. Aaron says:

    Valid points, definitely. I guess the prospect of being weaponless in that situation just squigs me out.

  8. Brendan Doran says:

    That’s when God manifests your friends, in this case Officer Todd.

  9. Henry Chinery says:

    Perhaps here problem was her ammo. Does she rotate fressh ammo in and waste the old at the range or did she still have the same stuff she was originally issued and has been carrying for years?

    • Ron says:

      There are a few factors that can bring on malfunctions;
      * Magazines that are not in tune, or dirty.
      * Bullet shape can be another. Some guns don’t like some ammo when it comes to the feed ramp.
      * Power level of ammo, not enough power to fully cycle the slide.
      * Handgun maintenance; is it clean & lubed properly.
      * Limp wrist will cause a short cycle.
      * Thumb interference with slide.
      Can you spell REVOLVER!

  10. Dann in Ohio says:

    The wife and I are not ninja-super warriors… we’re just to average, just past middle-aged folks… we practice regularly on our private range… we do dry-fire, drawing, malfunction practice… we try to do at least one training opportunity each year in our budget… this past year I attended additional NRA instructor training… we both attended TDI’s Handgun Levels I, II, & III… and the wife attended FASTER training for armed teachers at TDI…

    I don’t know what we’re actually ready for… We plan and prepare… and discuss scenarios… and have worked as a pair when training so we know what to do if we’re together in a self-defense situation… I believe we have good mindsets for survival and self-defense… but there will always likely be bad guy out there that is faster, stronger, drugged-up enough, or just luckier… but we press on…

    Thanks for more info and good stuff to discuss and scenarios to think about…

    Dann in Ohio

    • Ron says:

      Ninja Super Warriors are fictional and exist only in Hollywood.

      Planning, preparation, role-play are all great assets to have on your side. You mentioned MINDSET which I believe to be extremely valuable. Sounds like you folks are off to a great start.

  11. Trevor Shepherd says:

    Thumb interference with the slide during a high-stress, real life fight for your life is the main, but not the only, reason I think instructors should NOT be teaching the thumbs-forward grip for shooting handguns.

    • Greg Ellifritz says:

      I disagree. The only time a thumbs forward grip will interfere with slide cycling is on a gun with a very weak recoil spring (usually a .22 or .25). I shoot tens of thousands of rounds a year with a thumbs forward grip. I’ve never had a malfunction that could be attributed to thumbs forward in anything .380 and up.

  12. Greg Ellifritz says:

    There are lots of reasons for malfunctions (many are listed above). But in reality, the majority of the malfunctions I see in combat are the result of operator error.

    It’s easy go get a poor grip on the gun when someone is shooting at you. And in a close range attack, guns get fouled by clothing and grabbing hands. They get shot as well. On the range, malfunctions can usually be traced back to ammo, mags, or lube. Presumably, the cop had adequate ammo (her partner;s gun didn’t malfunction). I would bet on operator error.

    In the most recent study of NYPD gunfights, 13% of officers had malfunctions (with Glock 19s and Speer Gold Dots). It isn’t the gun or ammo, it’s operator error.

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. The reality of a REAL gunfight | Weapons Training for Life Preservation