By Bob Campbell,
As Saint Augustine said, time and space are the same thing— but he did not have time to explain. Both are equally important but it is interesting how some place more emphasis on one or the other. As an example, if you ask one person how far it is to the next town they might say fifteen minutes. The other might say ten miles and each is correct, but with a different perspective. It is interesting that modern society feels uncomfortable if they do not
know exactly where they are and what time it is. Time and space are also time and distance.
I think that while it still holds true that distance favors a trained shooter, by the same token when caught up in the tyranny of the moment and with adrenaline pumping, you are less likely to perform at your best. Prior training is everything in such a scenario. While distance may favor the trained shooter, most gunfights will take place at three to seven yards. A balance of speed and accuracy must always favor accurate shooting.
There are differences between competition and defensive training. Some “combat” instructors bristle at the thought of comparison to competition shooters, yet they mark their “combat” ranges off in measured increments of 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards. While part of this is to address state mandated courses for concealed permits and to measure student progress, this is still a static course related to competition. You take a deep breath and reach for the handgun at the whistle. Some classes begin with the handgun safely held in front of the shooter. While accuracy is always interesting, perhaps an emphasis on short range gun handling might better serve the average shooter. Personally I train for the worst case scenario such as an active shooter or a felon behind cover in my personal schedule. But just the same it would only make sense to spend the majority of our training time firing at the likely distance we will encounter an armed threat.
If you work in a business that may be targeted for a takeover robbery and it is an average size shop, then you should be aware of the avenues of entrance and egress. In the home the distance from the bed or safe room to the front door or back door is the likely distance at which the invader will enter. But he isn’t likely to remain in place and will be heading for things of value or for the homeowner.
If the felon is enraged enough or plain stupid enough to break into an occupied home, he may not be motivated by profit. Blood may be in his eyes and he will not be easily dissuaded. (Cocaine and a quart of whiskey do these things.) There is a real possibility you will not be able to react until he is almost upon you. A handgun in the top of the bedroom closet or a long gun in the corner of the hall closet may prove worthless in such a home invasion. You must balance safety against access, particularly with children in the home. But the handgun should be kept close at hand in order to be ready for a home invasion.
A good drill is to keep the handgun on a bench rest at the range and practice quickly accessing the handgun and firing at targets at close range.
Begin at three yards. It is easy to miss at close range and gun handling is everything. Accessing a handgun from the nightstand or table is different than drawing from a holster. Whatever condition the handgun is kept in—safety on or chamber loaded—should be maintained during practice drills. You must never fire unless you are awake and certain of your target. A verbal warning should be loudly shouted at the intruder before firing. There are worse things than being shot and one of them is shooting the wrong person. If you live alone the problem of target identification isn’t as severe but still must be given a great deal of consideration.
I think that at home tactics are not discussed enough and not
practiced enough. One overlooked consideration is taking cover. I realize we have seen cinematic depictions of a bad guy rushing from a house with a mattress as cover and somehow hundreds of cop bullets do not penetrate the mattress. While laughable, it isn’t real.
Just the same if you normally sleep with your left side toward the bedroom door then rolling off of the bed against the right side of the mattress isn’t a bad tactic, particularly if you move to one end of the bed and peek over the bottom end rather than the top of the bed. If the invader enters then you have every advantage—if you have practiced. Doing this while also calling 911 would be a good idea.
When firing at such close range marksmanship isn’t a severe problem but the proper grip, sight picture and sight alignment are vital. I did not include the stance because there is no stance but rather a crouch when you are behind cover. These tactics are also viable when traveling. I seem to see an increase in the incidences of felons attacking couples in hotels and motels. Increasingly they are targeting nicer establishments and not the seedy motels. After all the nicer the place, the more profitable for the criminal.
I recommend using a triple checked unloaded firearm or better yet a dummy gun when practicing home ready drills. Lay as if you were asleep in some drills and in others as if you were going about your daily chores while cleaning or working at home. When you are alarmed, access the weapon. If you are taking more than a couple of seconds to respond and make the firearm ready, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your firearm’s ready position. You are evaluating the time it takes to get ready to respond to threat—not simply responding to a threat. When the threat is further away in distance the time to respond is greater, as you must take more time to confirm the sight picture and to get ready to fire. You will find that the grip, trigger press and sight picture you have developed in practicing for close range encounters will serve you well. It is good to define how you view time, space and distance. My view is that time is the interval needed to draw or make the firearm ready and then address the threat. A distance is the area between the threat and myself (with a good understanding of the time taken to cover this distance) and that space is the space within the home or area we are in.
When practicing on the range, think outside the box. Do not set targets at the five, seven or ten yard line. Set the targets at about the distance you remember from observing your home or work surroundings. Don’t measure the distance, but put a couple of targets at randomly placed distances and practice transitioning from one to the other. Stay flexible and work for good hits. You will come to understand time and space well.