During virtually every IDPA match I shoot or training I have been to there is “the headshot”. My last training in the company of police officers occurred in February and was a “post certified” course in the state of Missouri. There was a hostage stage that involved movement from one point of cover to another and then engaging a threat holding a hostage. My first round tickled his ear – the other three centered in the triangle of nose and eye.
The target was a life sized image of a woman being held hostage by a man. A simulation of a recent story of a co-ed being held hostage by a male with a gun. The male then turned his weapon on a police officer – the officer engaged the male . . . . and killed both the assailant and the hostage. Not the ending anyone wants or expects. Both the officer and the family are devastated. No LEO expects to kill an innocent. No parent expects their child to be shot by a police officer. Yet – it happened.
How does this affect you – a citizen who has chosen to carry a weapon to protect yourself, your family and your friends? I see a couple of lessons here I’d like to explore.
The gravity of your choice: Carrying a weapon is a grave responsibility. You hold the ability to take a life in your hand – even the ability to take the “wrong” life. When you look yourself in the mirror each morning – do you really understand this?? I’m not trying to get you to change your mind – I want you to understand your choice completely and insure you work hard every day to live up to it.
Your skill set matters: I find I am truly resistant to the “4-hour quickies”. Yes – I understand Constitutional Carry. Yes – I agree these courses meet the requirement laid down by the state. But . . . . but . . . . as a shooter, as a person carrying a death-dealing weapon on their side or in their purse . . . . I believe you have a personal obligation (albeit NOT a legal one) to be fully familiar with your weapon and fully capable of using it to its fullest. To me that means you work with your weapon DAILY. Draws, dry firing, use of Airsoft look-a likes, us of tools such as the SIRT pistol and LaserLyte rounds. EVERY FRICKIN’ DAY!!
Live rounds down range: Yep, know ammo is scarce. Yep, know it’s expensive. Still, if you’re not putting a couple hundred rounds down range each month – your skill set is diminishing – NOT even maintaining an even keel. I have no answer to this particular issue – I simply believe you MUST SHOOT to maintain a skill set. Find a way to make this happen.
Spend money on human targets: When you work on hostage shots – you should see a face. A human face of a victim. You should see the human face of the attacker. In real life – both have lives. You intended to end one if need be. Move your training for personal defense to a higher level and understand the importance of shot placement, consistent hits and accurate “cold” shots. The mini-range I’ve built in my office for my SIRT pistols has two hostage targets. I take dozens of shots every day on both. I TAKE THE SHOT!
Be confident in your hostage shot – TAKE THE SHOT: The average width of the human head is around 6 inches. With lives in the balance, conversations over and a clear intent on the part of the hostage taker to either kill you or the hostage – take the shot. It should be one of thousands you have taken. Your range time should always include this scenario – always.
“I could never take a head shot – I’m just not good enough.” Then why the hell are you carrying a gun? It’s no different than a 6 inch spot on a chest. Do not allow yourself to “go there”. If you feel inadequate – hit the range, take a couple of courses, increase your dry fire. YOU are responsible for your training – stop limiting yourself.
It would be easy to allow an “out” here and say something comforting like “of course, there is always the chance that even with all that training, you might still shoot the hostage”. It would be easy to say . . . . but I won’t. If you draw, choose to engage a hostage taker with your shot . . . . there are no options, on “buts”, or “damns” . . . . there is only room for the hostage taker down – hard.
Push yourself. Accept only perfection. Every day. And, after all that, after the thousands of head shots . . . .
. . . take the shot, it may well be the victim’s only opportunity at life.