Tactical Tip Of The Week

Patchlogo

Tactical Tip Of The Week

By

Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

In a follow up to the last article that highlighted revolvers, I think it is worthwhile to discuss the issue of the small-frame revolver. Most notably this includes the Smith & Wesson “J” frame revolvers but also includes similar sized revolvers that are in use by many law enforcement officers and civilians. There are several points that I would like to make about their use. Throughout the years, I have read many articles about these small-framed revolvers and have often thought that the analysis wasn’t quite correct. It appeared that its mission/role wasn’t adequately defined and I thought I was reading an article that would be applicable to a larger duty sized handgun.

To expand on my comment above, one of the points covered in many articles dealt with the accuracy of these small frame revolvers. My first thought was, “ACCURACY”? OK, accuracy for doing what with this revolver? The segments I read on accuracy would begin with an analysis of 25-yard group size with these revolvers. My first thought was, “what does that have to do with what we use these small-frame revolvers for?” These firearms, like many others, have a role to play in the overall self-defense arena. So let’s examine this role and then link it to “accuracy” and more specifically – COMBAT ACCURACY.

Small-frame revolvers appeal to many who buy them because they fill the need for a small, relatively easy to conceal, lightweight and adequately powerful handgun for self-defense. The user’s purpose is not to engage in offensive ground combat operations, but have a means of defending themselves against a close-range threat. Some users will use it as a primary handgun (the one that will be first used if needed) or as a secondary handgun to back up a larger primary handgun. Here are a few reasons why the small-framed revolver is in use by so many in the law enforcement and civilian communities:

  •  The compact and relatively small nature of the small framed revolver lends itself to being concealed in a variety of easily accessible locations
  • Many light weight models are available to meet the need for comfort while carrying it concealed
  • Pocket carry can be easily accomplished and since it can be located in either right or left pocket

We have all read many articles that discuss the fact that the 5-shot “J” frames and similar revolvers don’t give us enough “gun” for many of the scenarios faced in today’s world. Many valid points are made about facing multiple threats or not enough capacity is available if faced with a suspect that is absorbing hits and not going down which would require more ammunition capacity to continue fighting. These points are all valid and worth the time to explore and analyze as it pertains to your personal choice of handguns. It makes it even MORE critical for you to fine-tune the role you intend your small framed revolver to have in your daily carry. It is very important to know the strong points and limitations of these small-frame revolvers so you can develop appropriate use of them for combative purposes. Along with understanding the capabilities of the small-frame revolver, it is critical to understand YOUR strong points and YOUR limitations with these handguns.

Understanding the weapon system and how it integrates with YOU will help you develop a realistic approach to the training and tactics you use when deploying your revolver in a combative scenario. So as I have pointed out, there are two issues to be analyzed – the capabilities and limitations of the small-framed revolver AND your personal capabilities to be effective with the small-framed revolver.

For the sake of the conversation, I would like to, as the lawyers say, “stipulate” that the “J” frame revolvers, Ruger LCR, SP101, Colt Detective Special and the other Colt small-framed revolvers (these are he ones I have personal experience with and there may be others that fill the role well) possess more than adequate accuracy potential for the roles that a small-framed revolver fill for those of us that use them. The “X” factor is OUR ability to tap into that accuracy and make the hits count.

Let’s focus some thought on the role of the small-framed revolver as it relates to its use as either a primary or secondary handgun. As I see it, the big difference between it being a primary or secondary handgun is determined by when and why it is actually deployed from its position of concealment, or to a much lesser extend, from open carry. As an example, I carry a “J” frame S&W in my left front pocket as a secondary handgun. That’s my initial reason for it being there in my left-front pocket. Why there? Having done extensive force-on-force training as a participant, instructor and role player, I have seen many of the “fights” that involved the primary hand being hit. This is a mirror of happens in a number of live combat shootings. Having a secondary handgun that can be easily accessed by my support hand can make a big difference in the fight if my primary hand gets injured. Also, I am able to have a hand around the grip of my “J” frame covertly if I don’t like something going on in my environment but hasn’t developed to the point where I would draw my primary handgun. There are other reasons but that gets the ball rolling.

A point I want to make using the example above is that the “role” of the handgun can change depending on how the scenario develops. Once I put my hand around the grip of the “J” frame in my left front pocket, I have selected it as my PRIMARY handgun” because it will be the first one in the fight. It’s much like a transition from the long gun to the handgun. Once I transition to the handgun, it becomes my primary weapon system.

At this time, I want to focus on training issues that I believe are important to consider. There are a couple of key points that I will focus on:

  •  Distance as it relates to combat shootings
  • Methodology as it relates to the anticipated distances of combat shootings
  • Positioning of the handgun as it relates to training
  • How does time available for training influence our training program

When we analyze combat shootings, the one thing that becomes apparent is that the distance between the suspect and the defender is relatively close. This is especially evident in the combat shootings within the concealed carry community as well as the law enforcement community. One reason for the close distance between the suspect and potential victim is that the criminal element initiates its attacks when in close proximity to their potential victim.   There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is that being close to the potential victim allows the suspect to be able to have a better chance of hitting the potential victim if using a handgun. Another reason is that it is more difficult for the potential victim to exit the danger area if the suspect is several feet from the potential victim. The element of surprise allows the suspect to maximize on the spontaneous affect that a sudden and unprovoked attack has on the potential victim. Of course there are more reasons but the point is made – being close can have many advantages for the suspect. So it would be a realistic analysis to conclude that the vast majority of combat shootings will happen between contact distance and approximately 7 yards from the suspect.

The importance of analyzing distance as it relates to combat shootings is that it will impact our training in several ways. As discussed above, distance to the suspect is close. The methodology we use to effectively engage the suspect in a spontaneous, high-stress, close-distance combat shooting must allow us to rapidly deploy our handgun and control the rounds fired at the suspect when the speed of engagement will be extremely fast. For these scenarios, I teach “Target-Focused Shooting” methods. In previous articles, I have covered this methodology in detail. If possible, please review the information found in the articles so that you can have more information to review.   I must emphasize that in order to fully understand, appreciate and develop skill in “Target- Focused Shooting”, proper instruction from qualified instructors who fully understand this methodology will be extremely beneficial. There are many who attempt to teach this method but do not fully understand how to teach it and how to develop a student’s ability to use this method of combat shooting. It must be understood that a valid program will also have sighted shooting as part of the curriculum since it is a vital part of someone’s overall training. One without the other is only training part of what is needed to be ready for the many scenarios faced in combat shootings.

Where we position our small-framed revolver will influence the way we train with it. Here are a few ways that small-framed revolvers are often carried:

  •  Pocket carry
  • Ankle carry
  • Inside the waistband in appendix, cross-draw or strong side behind thehip carry
  • Fanny pack
  • Off body carry (purse, or concealed in another means of carry (briefcase etc.)

I am sure individuals have other ways of carrying them, but these are the common ways that I have seen over the years.

Each way the small-frame revolver is carried will require specific training in drawing from that particular location and carry method. Also, you have to pay attention to what hand will be used to initially draw the revolver. As an example, I carry my “J” frame revolver in my left-front pocket. This impact my training with the revolver because it will be my support hand that will initially be used to draw from my left-front pocket. In essence, my support hand will become my “primary” hand because in a rapidly developing scenario that requires instant shooting upon drawing the revolver, there will be no time to switch hands and use my actual primary hand to engage the threat. So you guessed it, I must spend significant amount of my training time with the “J” frame using my “support hand only”. If I carry my “J” frame revolver in an inside the waistband or on the belt holster, the support hand may be used to move clothing out of the way in order to access the revolver and immediately drawing may cause you to shoot primary hand only. So, it will be wise to devote significant time drawing and using a one-handed grip to engage the threat. This doesn’t mean that you don’t also practice two-handed shooting using your support hand in your grip, but for the scenarios we face in close-quarters, becoming proficient in primary only and support hand only shooting is a critical skill that must be developed through training.

Here are some final thoughts I would like you to consider in your training program. The small-framed revolver and, for that matter, even your larger revolvers or semi-automatic handguns are most often used in close-quarters shooting in the vast majority of combat shootings. So you must account for the following distances and use appropriate methodologies to maximize your ability to rapidly hit the threat with appropriate positioning of the handgun based upon distance to the threat. Here are the distance considerations:

  • From 0-1 yard
  • From 2-4 yards
  • From 4-7 yards

Each of these distances requires specific positioning of the handgun to avoid potential disarming and allow for “combat accuracy” within the engagement distance.

Rapid deployment of the small-framed revolver (or any other handgun you use) and proper positioning of the handgun so it is not deflected or otherwise become susceptible to a disarming attempt must be emphasized in training. Appropriate (AND SAFELY ORAGNIZED) dry fire with your actual revolver or other handgun in the exact way you are carrying it is a must. Whenever possible, actual live fire would be another critical point of training. Also, force-on-force training is extremely helpful to really learn how to apply what you are training to do but I caution IT MUST BE DONE BY TRAINERS THAT FULLY UNDERSATND THE SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS AND HOW TO APPROPRIATELY CONDUCT THIS TYPE OF TRAINING.

As in all combative training, safety is a must and proper methods must be introduced and practiced to the point where you just can’t do it improperly. Close-quarter fights require the application of your training to be done rapidly and it has to be done correctly the first time. There are no “redoes”. So diligent practice of the right material is essential.

 Train hard and be safe.

 Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master

 

 

Tactical Tip Of The Week

Patchlogo

Tactical Tip Of The Week

 By

Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

 We live in a time where the semi-automatic pistol has become the standard duty pistol in law enforcement and for many used as a primary concealed carry handgun for civilians. We have a wide variety of high quality, reliable semi-automatic handguns from many manufactures with more choices continually being brought into the market.  This has greatly benefitted the shooting community because it allows an individual to select a handgun that fits their hand properly and better fits the role assigned to it by the end user.

There is another choice of handgun that is in use that remains a viable option for many and provides great service for those that choose to use it – THE REVOLVER!!

For decades, the revolver was the handgun that police agencies used as their primary duty handgun. Throughout that period, thousands of officers used the revolver to defend themselves and the public. Under a variety of climates and circumstances, the revolver’s reliability was exceptional. For those of us that went into the field with a revolver in our duty holsters, there was a feeling of confidence in its ability to perform well mechanically and deliver effectiveness when the situation required the use of lethal force against suspects. There was something about having a 125 grain .357 Magnum bullet travelling between 1350-1400 feet per second at your disposal that instilled confidence in your ability to stop a threat. Of course, other great choices of caliber were available for agencies that allowed individuals to use them. The vast majority, however, were revolvers in the .38/.357 magnum calibers.

I don’t want to get into the pros and cons of one system (revolvers) over the other (semi-automatic) since that has already been done to the point of overkill. There are numerous articles that can be read and this topic has been kicked around for a few decades now. I think it is pretty much a moot point to argue. Law enforcement and civilians are taking advantage of the many choices of reliable and powerful semi-automatic handguns available for their primary handguns. For the vast majority of law enforcement agencies, the type of handgun used for the primary duty handgun is specified by the agency. Members of the department must use what is provided by the agency. Some agencies allow choice of semi-automatic handguns used and establish a list of approved handguns that may be used at the officer’s own expense. Civilians have a free reign to select whatever handgun their want to use without worrying about complying with a particular department policy. Civilians have the best scenario since they have an unlimited choice to use and can tailor their handgun to their personal preference.

Let’s look at the revolver from this point on since many people still use them for their choice of primary defensive handgun and also in the role of a secondary/backup handgun to either their semi-automatic primary handgun or revolver they use as a primary handgun. If I may make a quick suggestion, try to look at someone’s choice of using a revolver from HIS OR HER standpoint not yours. What may work for YOU may not work for THEM. I simply find it gratifying that someone has decided to use a firearm for their protection and their loved ones. If they feel that a revolver works best for them, then I respect and support that decision.

Being involved in training others via my company, I have the opportunity to see what handguns are in use by both law enforcement and civilians I train in classes. The vast majority of revolvers I see in use are the smaller Smith & Wesson “J” frame sized revolvers. Another popular revolver is the Ruger “LCR” model. In the law enforcement community, even though the semi-automatic handgun has replaced the revolver as a primary handgun, many officers still rely upon the small frame revolver as a bask-up/secondary handgun. I fell into this category when I was still on active duty. In fact, to this day, I carry the same S&W ‘J” frame as a back-up/secondary handgun as part of my everyday carry (EDC).

Why are the small revolvers still a favorite among many law enforcement officers and in the concealed carry community? I think if we could get a number of people who use them together and ask them for their answers, we would find some common responses. Here are a few:

  •  The size facilitates concealment
  • Great selection of the type of finish available (blue/stainless)
  • Models that vary in weight based upon the materials used in a particular model
  • Reliability – tested over decades of hard service
  • A wide variety of ammunition available. Everything from lead wadcutter ammunition to the most modern hollow point ammunition can be used in the revolvers
  • Outstanding for pocket carry

This is a short but important list. More could be added since each person has a personal reason for their choice.

Let’s not forget the other group of individuals that use a larger framed revolver for a primary carry handgun. With proper holster selection, concealment can be on par with the more popular duty sized semi-automatic handguns that are carried concealed. Remember, revolvers larger than a “J” frame WERE carried as a primary concealed carry handgun for decades successfully. Some of the greatest combat hand gunners used larger framed revolvers to end many brutal and dynamic gunfights. I leave choice to the individual. Fighters will maximize on the capabilities of the equipment they use and develop the necessary proficiency to perform at their peak with the handgun they carry. NOTHING replaces developed skill through detailed, diligent practice.

I want to complete this article by discussing an issue I have seen via the training I conduct in various venues. When I entered into law enforcement, the vast majority of agencies carried revolvers. As an example my agency issued Smith & Wesson revolvers. Both 4-inch and 6-inch models were available and each trooper could choose the model they wanted to use for their duty revolver. Additionally, an approved list of revolvers specified what revolvers could be used at the expense of the individual trooper in lieu of the department issue. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I competed in the local combat shooting matches with my Colt Python. At the time the civilian competitors were using semi-automatic handguns. It meant a lot of work to keep up with the reloading but hard practice made up for a lot of the differences in reloading time.

For those of us that started with revolvers, we became proficient in their use. Reloading skills using both hands, reloading with only the primary hand and support hand only was stressed in training. We had to qualify and train with them because that is what we used as a duty handgun. So, everything about them was natural since for many in law enforcement, that was the only handgun they used. Even if they were using semi-automatics for sporting or off-duty use, they still had to train with the revolver.

Let’s scroll ahead to the present day. The semi-automatic handgun dominates the law enforcement agencies and civilian concealed carry world, as well as, the competitive shooting community. When the small “J” frame revolvers or their counterpart from another manufacturer is used, I have seen this following scenario:

The revolver is bought and if required, the law enforcement officer qualifies on a course designed by their department or state course of fire. Then that is about the end of the process. In short, in many cases there may be NO further training other than whatever qualification course is used to certify the carrying of the revolver as a back up/secondary handgun. For many that are not in law enforcement and use a semi-automatic pistol for their primary carry handgun, the use of the revolver may not get beyond shooting a certain number of rounds to test the revolver to ensure that it is functioning properly but then that is often the only training that the person will do with the revolver. Remember, for many, the revolver is a new and different system from the semi-automatic pistol that they have been trained on via their department or in the case of a civilian, by choice. Detailed revolver training has never been completed.

The results that I see are that there are usually issues in both shooting the revolver accurately and the gun-handling skills needed to smoothly operate the revolver. These skills have simply not been developed. Therefore, I would suggest the following:

  • If you purchase a “J” frame or similar revolver for use as either a back up/secondary or primary handgun, take the time to become completely familiar with its operation before using it
  • Do enough training both live fire and dry fire to get familiar with the difference between your semi-automatic handgun’s trigger and the new revolver’s trigger
  • If at all possible, get professional training from someone who understands revolvers and how to train someone to use them properly
  • If possible, purchase an airsoft revolver and integrate it into force-on-force training so you can complete the full cycle of training that consists of gun-handling, live fire and force-on-force training.

To close the article, I always recommend anyone I train to at some point purchase a small revolver. There are many out there that are great choices. Choose the one you feel comfortable with that suits your needs. There are many times when our full sized handguns are difficult to conceal due to the decorum of where you are going, the climate etc. Small revolvers are easy to conceal and can go almost anywhere that is legal to carry.

Train hard and be safe.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master

 

 

 

Tactical Tip Of The Week

 

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Tactical Tip Of The Week

 By

Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

A question I am often asked is, “What should I include in my training?” I really like this question because it shows me that someone cares about what they are doing in their training and is seeking to improve their skills. This is a great attitude to have no matter what level of expertise or training someone has attained. Lessons I have learned via my military, law enforcement and martial arts endeavors are that there is ALWAYS a new level of performance and understanding that one can attain. It is a never-ending life quest to become more skilled and seek self-improvement.

Before talking about some suggestions about what would be beneficial to add into your training regime, I must take a little time developing these thoughts with you. Before we invest our valuable training time attempting to increase skills, the first important element of the overall training program is to ensure that the methodology you intend to practice is applicable to the environment you anticipate operating in. Let’s face it, no matter if you are a law enforcement officer or civilian, there is a limited amount of time to devote to practice. Most people are busy and have full schedules so what time is available for training MUST be spent developing essential skills to be applied in the most likely scenarios we will face.

So, if your primary goal is to increase your skill in close-quarters environments, it is necessary to learn combat shooting methods compatible with that environment. Merely taking methods that are essential for deliberate, longer range shooting and practicing them much closer to the target can lead to a false sense of security and waste valuable training time practicing unrealistically.

I recommend seeking training in methods that are combat proven and works with the way your mind and body will respond when exposed to the rapid and violent nature of close-quarters combat. The method must work under the most extreme conditions often presented in spontaneous combat shootings when initiated by your opponent. Keep an open mind to new concepts because the only way you can determine if they are right for your particular situation and requirements is to receive the information with an open mind. Try not to prematurely dismiss a particular method before you have accurate information presented by someone who truly understands what is needed for your situation. I have seen far too many instances of instructors dismissing a method due to their PERSONAL feelings or understanding NOT the truth of the matter. This is dangerous for the student and disingenuous via the instructor.

Frankly, I have presented many workshops and courses that instructors attended throughout the country. Many didn’t initially understand the basics of what was presented based upon their PERSONAL believes and prior understanding of the method that was presented. However, once the material and method was presented properly to them, they were able to understand the method and it’s application in an overall program. Opinions must be based upon facts not speculation or erroneous information. Our attitude has a tremendous impact on how we receive information, process that information and form opinions. Being open minded minimizes negative impact on our learning.

Now let’s talk about developing a training regime that will help us prepare for deploying our firearms. The first step is to analyze the environment you are preparing to operate in and begin the process of developing a program of instruction, training regime and methodology that is compatible with that environment. Now, an individual can have more than one environment that they are preparing for. This will just require the same analysis to determine what additional training will be needed. Each environment will require methodology appropriate for that environment. Here are a few points to analyze:

  •  Will you be concealed carry or open carry as a law enforcement officer would be on-duty?
  • Do you anticipate operating in hours of darkness where dim light or very dark conditions will be present?
  • What distances do you anticipate operating in?
  • Will you need to include precision shooting into your program due to potential distances anticipated in your environment
  • What support gear will be with you and what training is required to become proficient in integrating your support gear with your combat shooting skills?
  • What frequency of training is needed to build and maintain skills?
  • How much time is available for training?
  • If you are training for home defense/home invasion scenarios, what training is necessary to conduct with family members?

Of course, you can add whatever other elements that you consider important to plan on and analyze. These are a few that can be used to help in the process. The goal is to increase skill and have a well-thought out guideline to follow so you can get he most out of the time you allocate for training. Every minute of training is important and having a solid plan and open mind will help attain higher levels of proficiency.

So, I will develop a sample training plan that is simple to use and integrate into your training for a particular application. Let’s look at developing a close-quarters shooting training regime that can help develop proficiency in an environment from contact distance to approximately 7 yards from concealment:

  •  Proper instruction in Target-Focused Shooting is necessary to augment any of the other precision shooting methods you may already have trained.
  • Once proficiency is developed in Target-Focused Shooting, practicing drawing from your carry holster is needed to develop the mechanics of drawing from the positioning of the holster you prefer for concealed carry. This is done without concealment until it is smooth and your bullet placement is combat accurate.
  • Once you can smoothly draw and attain combat accuracy, you need to develop your draw stroke for three potential close-quarter distances – when you are far enough from the suspect that allows for fully extended arm positioning, a close-quarters position to cover distances when fully extending your arm would be a potential hazard due to proximity to the suspect and an extremely close-quarters position that would be used when your are almost in body contact with the suspect and you deem it appropriate to try to draw and shoot the suspect (that is completely dependent on the situation and your assessment of the situation due to a potential weapon retention issue. You have to make the decision – no one else). The issue is knowing how to do it and then make a sound decision about using it. Notice I didn’t assess a particular yard line within that 0-7 yard close-quarters distance. Situations vary and a personal ability varies form person to person. You will have to determine how it works for you based upon your ability.
  • You need to practice one-handed draws, two-handed draws.
  • You need to develop the ability to move and shoot within the close-quarters distances form the suspect.
  • You need to develop the ability to apply your skills in dim lighting conditions using ambient lighting and also very poor lighting conditions using artificial lighting (flashlights) when there is so little lighting that target identification may be an issue.

These are a few ideas that may help determine what you should be doing in training. Add to it anything YOU consider important to practice.

It is always beneficial to periodically analyze what you are doing in your training. Adjusting your program to meet specific needs and help develop more diverse skills leads us to a better ability to defend ourselves. All my best and have a great time training.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master

 

 

Tactical Tip Of The Week

Patchlogo

Tactical Tip Of The Week

 By

Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

This “Tactical Tip Of The Week” will primarily look at law enforcement line of duty deaths that have been recently been in the headlines that have been due to traffic stops. My focus is not on statistics. Nor is it in ANY way a criticism of the actions of any officer, deputy or trooper in any agency. What I want to look at and discuss is how we can try to negate some of the inherent dangers inherent in law enforcement traffic stops and offer a few suggestions about what may help minimize the losses we have been suffering. For those no in the law enforcement community, this may add some insight about issues surrounding traffic stops.

So let’s discuss one of the most dangerous law enforcement endeavors – the traffic stop. I’m not sure how you feel, but it drives me crazy every time I hear these words used together (especially by the media) – ROUTINE TRAFFIC STOP!

My perspective on this comes from working a full career of approximately 23 years as a state trooper and doing it all on graveyard. While I spent an incredible amount of time teaching firearms and defensive tactics, most of that teaching was accomplished by doing double duty by working at night, teaching during the day when needed and sleeping in between. Having made thousands of traffic stops, I can assure you that there is nothing routine about them. Anyone with law enforcement experience will tell you that vehicle stops lead to many arrests for a multitude of crimes and pose many dangers.

Unlike planned actions such as a raid made by a SWAT TEAM, drug task force or warrant service team, the vast majority of traffic stops have a minimal amount of “Intel” about who you are dealing with prior to the stop. There is no rehearsal time or briefing before initiating contact with the driver, and when applicable, passenger(s) in the vehicle. You can request a check on the license plate of the vehicle but that is usually all you can do prior to making the stop.

There are many who will read this that have great ideas and follow sound procedures while making traffic stops. All I intend to do is highlight a few points that either reinforces those procedures already being done or cause some additional thought about this dangerous endeavor. Here are a few things to consider:

Location of the stop – sometimes, the desire to make the stop becomes more important to the officer than the location of the stop. What does this mean? Simply stated the violation is observed and the officer initiates the stop almost immediately. Its called getting in a hurry to make the stop. Of course, some circumstances require an accelerated need to make the stop, but for the vast majority of stops, there is enough time to at least let dispatch know where you are, pass a license plate to them and select a location that favors us. Your location can become an advantage or disadvantage based upon where you decide to make the stop. Vehicles hit many law enforcement officers conducting traffic stops each year. If you make stops in locations that are difficult for other drivers to see you such as in curves in the roadway, the danger increases dramatically. Making stops on overcrossings or bridges should be avoided. Getting in a physical confrontation on a bridge or overcrossing may be two possibilities – fall off the bridge or overcrossing or end up in the traffic lanes as the fight rages. Sometimes is just requires patience and waiting to drive into a better location before initiating the stop.

Focus of Attention – Once you decide to make a vehicle stop, your complete attention has to shift focus from the reason for the stop to staying alive on the stop. What do I mean by that? Once you made the observation that causes you to make a decision to initiate a vehicle stop, that decision is now history. The only thing that is important now is to be alive or uninjured at the end of the contact. I have observed way too many instances where the fixation of thought is on wanting to get the vehicle stopped, contact the driver, take enforcement action and be on the way to the next one. Once you exit your patrol car, you are in a world of unknowns and a certain amount of control is no longer in your powers since you have no idea what you are getting into. You could have just stopped the nicest person in the world or a complete lunatic. You could have just stopped someone who wouldn’t think of hurting you or someone who will shoot you in the face and think nothing of it. So, as I said, the reason for the stop is already been determined and ALL your focus needs to be on the tactics that you will use to end the stop with you in one piece and alive.

NOTE: What follows are suggestions. Everyone develops their way of conducting business but I want to point out a few things that may or may not be something considered by those making these dangerous and never routine traffic stops.

Conduct of the Stop: Once a safe location for the stop is selected, and the stop is initiated, observe the reaction of the driver via his response to being stopped. Are they immediately responding by pulling over? Are they taking a long time to respond? If you can observe the occupant(s) in their vehicle when enough lighting is available, are there any furtive movements or anything that gains your attention that is considered out of the ordinary that you are seeing?

Once the vehicle begins to pull over, you need to have a well-practiced regime of getting ready to exit your patrol car. Why is this so important? The one thing you want to be able to do is exit your patrol car as expeditiously as possible when your patrol car comes to a stop. Your goal is to not allow a driver or passenger in the vehicle you have stopped to be able to be out of their vehicle before you are out of yours. I have seen numerous traffic stops made both on duty and when merely driving around while off duty where the officer has remained in the vehicle once their patrol car has stopped for an excessive amount of time. So one critical skill to develop if you intend to make traffic stops is to develop the ability to do the tasks necessary to exit your patrol care expeditiously:

  • Get your seat belt off
  • Vehicle in park
  • ALWAYS SET THE PARKING BRAKE
  • Shut down unnecessary overhead lights (if policy dictates it)
  • Make a last check in your rear view mirror so you can see if any traffic behind you is a potential hazard when you exit the patrol car
  • And then actually exit the patrol car
  • Always try to be out of the patrol car before the driver or passenger of the vehicle you have stopped has the opportunity to be out of their vehicle and potentially execute a “hasty ambush” on you while you are still seated in the patrol car.

Contact After the Stop: Here is where your tactics will play a critical role in keeping you as safe as possible. It goes without saying that this is a dangerous endeavor and there can NEVER be 100% safety. What we try to do is MINIMIZE our exposure and MAXIMIZE on our ability to respond to whatever develops on the stop.

Once you exit your patrol car, your mind must be focused on what you will do if you are attacked at various points of your approach to the driver. This means that you must train your mind to think in terms of where do I go if the driver, passenger or both suddenly exit their vehicle and engages you with a firearm. Where is the nearest cover? In what direction can I safely move so I don’t inadvertently move into other traffic? What direction is my nearest point of cover? Simply stated, you need to break down second to second and train your mind to think in those terms. At first, it requires thought but after you start to develop this approach it becomes a part of your subconscious thought processing and it will be a natural way you think about and analyze your environment.

Many agencies and police academies teach driver side approaches in their training programs. Decades ago, the concept of PASSENGER side approaches was introduced and accepted as an alternative way to approach the stopped vehicle. It is what was taught in my department’s training program. I’m not going to go into the specifics of this method of approaching the vehicle since this is an open forum. I will simply say this – IT WORKS. If you analyze some of the recent officer involve shootings involving vehicle stops, many officers are getting shot while making driver side approaches. If you took those scenarios and ran them in simulations but the officer was making a passenger side approach, would the results been different? Having done this already dozens of times in training evolutions with a variety of officers, I can tell you that it was not as easy for the suspect to complete their ambush during passenger side approaches. I would advise anyone who is responsible for training vehicle stop tactics in the law enforcement community to at least take a hard look at passenger side approaches if it is not already in your training program. Let the officers try them both and then determine what THEY want to do and have a policy that at least allows them to have the option.

Ordering the Driver Out of the Vehicle for Further Investigation: There are many factors involved in this phase of the traffic stop. I will not cover all of them but offer a few suggestions that can help minimize your exposure to danger. I will say this from experience. Having two law enforcement officers present offers advantages that are not possible with just one officer present. There are tactics that can be employed that put the person contacted outside the vehicle at a disadvantage. This is especially true if there is a passenger (s) in the vehicle.

So, I will make this simple statement. Whenever possible, having two officers in a patrol car working as partners is something that should be done whenever possible. I fully understand that there are many agencies that are really understrength and don’t have much flexibility in running two officers in a patrol care. BUT, as I said, whenever possible, it allows for immediate cover and the ability to tactically conduct the stop with more flexibility and safety. We are losing far too many officers and many are in departments that ARE staffed to allow for two officers in a patrol car but still run one man units. An officer at 0300 having to contact an occupant(s) of a vehicle or, for that matter any call, alone is not an advantage stacked in our favor. Instant cover with a second officer immediately on scene has advantages that are immeasurable. Even if you have a cover officer coming your way, much can happen in a few seconds and long before they get to your location.

I don’t want to get into exact tactics in this article since this isn’t the place for it. It is the same, for me, as trying to do the “how to” of combat shooting programs in this arena.

I will leave this article with a final statement. Years ago in my Marine Corps training, I was taught that you have to constantly evaluate your tactics, evaluate the enemy and THEIR tactics and adjust immediately when required. Frankly, I don’t see much adjusting being done even though the environment for law enforcement officers has changed during the past few months. We have to constantly adjust to the types of attacks that are being made against us. Training needs to account for the variables that are present in the incidents that are happening every day. Many attacks begin as a physical fight that ends in a shooting of the suspect, officer or both. The question must be asked about what is being done in training to account for these circumstances. What unarmed combat skills are being developed and taught to the officers? How are the officers being taught to integrate their use of force tools? Is sufficient force-on-force training sessions being done to hone the mental and physical skills needed to better apply the tools provided and learn how they are used in a more unrestricted environment?  

Officers need to be able to default to a level of training that will allow them to have the best opportunity to win a confrontation. Integrating the skills taught in unarmed combat, firearms and the other force options in a realistic way will greatly increase an officer’s ability to WIN – not just survive. The use of appropriate tactics coupled with individual skills with all the use-of force options can have a profound affect on an officer’s ability to win confrontations.

To all my brothers and sisters who meet the challenge everyday, you are the most important asset in your agency. I hope some of the suggestions and comments I wrote will at least stimulate your minds to think about how you are conducting your traffic stops and contacts. All my best.  

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master

 

 

 

Tactical Tip Of The Week

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Tactical Tip Of The Week

 By

Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

I thought it would be a good time to discuss a concept that can be helpful for anyone piecing together the training they are doing on the range with its application in combat shootings. Taking the skill sets learned on the range into an environment that replicates reality is a key component to one’s overall training. Unfortunately, it is a missing link in many training regimes followed by those training with their firearms for self-protection.

The concept I am referring to is “Immediate Action Drills”. This concept is a way to:

  • Take the skills developed on the range into an environment that can help develop skill in applying those skills in real time against role players
  • The application can also be done in a controlled range environment against targets suitable for range training.
  • It is a way to develop responses to the type of incidents that may occur that cause you to deploy your firearm for self-defense

The range will help us develop skills with our firearms, help us to hone our gun handling skills, and sort out our gear. It is important to find out what works and what doesn’t long before getting into an incident that requires us to depend on the gear we are using and, of course, the training we have been doing with that gear.

“Immediate Action Drills” are responses to threats in a manner that maximizes our ability to defeat the threat and minimize our exposure to injury or death from the threat. While there is absolutely no way that we can have a specific “Immediate Action Drill” for every type of threat and attack, the goal is to develop a core number of sound tactics that can be applied to a number of scenarios and develop proficiency in applying them on demand when attacked. It is important to note that there isn’t a way to guarantee that developing “Immediate Action Drills” will always lead to winning or not getting injured. The goal is to have a plan of action that has been trained and increase our ability to win by aggressively counter-attacking whoever is attacking us.

We start the process of developing an “Immediate Action Drill” by first identifying what we are trying to defend against. Here is an example:

Threat – a person approaching me from the front aggressively and drawing a handgun from concealment.

“Immediate Action Drill” – Move aggressively in a 45-degree angle (approximately) in relation to the suspect rapidly in either direction depending on the layout of the area you are in while drawing your concealed handgun. Once your handgun is drawn, engage the suspect with multiple rounds while continuing to move to a position of cover if available or exit the immediate area to a position of safety.

As you can see, this is a simple reaction to a “gun threat” that isn’t complicated and can be rapidly accomplished. Now there are a couple of details to discuss about this “Immediate Action Drill”.

What I wrote above is laying out the threat and “Immediate Action Drill” to help counter the threat. It DID NOT lay out the training required to make it work to its fullest potential. Since this is not a “how to” article, I won’t go there. But, I will lay out a sequence that leads us to the full potential of the response.

First, the trainee will need to be taught and practice a methodology of close-quarters shooting that is designed to work in the rapidly developing scenario outlined in the scenario I presented. This also includes being able to apply the methodology from concealment. This means that not only does the method need to be learned but also the carry method, holster, and location of the concealed handgun must be optimized for the individual and their specific concealed carry requirements. This initial training would be done static until the methodology and drawing is smooth and safely accomplished.

Next, the entire process must be practiced dynamically. This means moving while engaging the threat. This is done in the “crawl-walk-run mode”. Of course, run in this instances means moving rapidly but in a controlled way to insure combat accuracy. The movement must be practiced going in the 45-degree (approximate) angle to the right and left side of the threat. As time permits, experimentation with other angles would need to be practiced since the real world may cause a wider angle to be used based upon the lay out of the area you are in when the attack is made against you.

This process would be initially done in a dry fire mode, and then you can do the same drills on the range under live fire conditions. It goes without saying that safety is the primary concern and the range must support this type of combat shooting.

An outstanding alternative to initially doing the live fire on the range is to use airsoft handguns to help develop the mechanics. It is a perfect way to learn these responses. Also, it is extremely safe to do in a wide variety of venues. In past articles, I discussed the value of airsoft training and this is one of those situations where airsoft is a perfect fit.

Once proficiency is accomplished and the drill is understood and smoothly demonstrated either on the range or using airsoft gear, the next step, and I might add a critical step in the process, is to practice the “Immediate Action Drill” dynamically against a role player. This is accomplished in a force-on-force environment. This allows the drill to be worked against an actual person and ultimately in real time and space. This environment requires the utmost of safety and diligence. No live weapons or ammo in the area, necessary safety gear, and someone who knows how to run the drills safely. There is NO compromise to these guidelines.

Repetition will plant the “Immediate Action Drill” in our subconscious so that when the high-speed and high-stress of this sort of incident hits, the programming will allow you to engage the threat with a well-thought out plan of action based upon training and practice as opposed to merely doing something that you think might work.

Following the guideline I have outlined in the drill above, there are a limitless number of scenarios that can be accounted for in training. Analyze the environment that is encountered in your daily routine and determine the likely threat and circumstances you may face. Take the time to determine what “Immediate Action Drill” is appropriate for the circumstances and when you find what response works the best for you, practice it until it is smooth and you develop combat accuracy with it.

As you can see, this is a process that is ongoing. There is always more work to be done and there is no training time to waste. Every minute we have to train needs to be productive with specific goals to meet. All too often, people believe that just going to the range and putting rounds downrange is enough to rely upon for self-defense. This is far form reality. Training without goals leads to incomplete training.

I hope this article stimulates your thinking about how critical prior planning can be to assist us in winning a violent encounter. I encourage you to think about your environment and what can potentially happen there. Spend the time to work through the “Immediate Action Drills” that will help you achieve success and win if you need to fight with your firearm. Be safe.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master