After a recent OIS I had an interesting conversation with a student regarding contact shots and near contact shots. Contact shots work, but near contact shots are more complicated.
A Dangerous Gambit
Contact shots are based around the fact the violent criminal actor’s hands are not doing anything or they are not aware of your intentions. If the VCA’s hands are not occupied with a task and they are aware of the gun in close proximity you can bet there will be a lot of effort directed towards controlling the gun. At this point, the viability of contact shots is low, opening up near contact shots. There are many viable means to controlling and if possible disarming an opponent armed with a gun. It is a dangerous gambit, but at this point danger is a foregone conclusion. But, what does it really look like. In a word, chaos.
Disrupting the Muzzle’s Alignment
The first step is in realizing the majority of violent encounters don’t go as planned. In a typical grappling encounter, the same side hands/arms are engaged with their opponent’s. This means my hand(s) is trying to control my opponents hand(s) on the same side as I face them. If one of the hands of either party is holding a weapon, the tendency is to go “two on one”. Recognizing the danger presented with the weapon leads to both hands attempting to grab or control the weapon or the opponent’s one hand holding the weapon. Remember, these altercations are happening at very close range. The likelihood of achieving a normal 2-handed range stance is low. Putting aside strength, gender and leverage, two hands are generally stronger than one. The risk of losing control of the weapon and being disarmed is very high, even if there is no trained disarm skill. The real advantage is not in the disarm, the real advantage comes in the form of disrupting the muzzle’s alignment.
Kinesthetic Muzzle Awareness
With two hands on the gun it is easier to move the muzzle away from the body, or pin the muzzle and move the body away. Either case ends the same, the body being out of the path of the bullet. That is great if you were the subject of an armed robbery, but what if the bad guy is able to get their hands on your gun. It seems unlikely they will drop their weapon to go 2on1, but even one hand is enough to disrupt muzzle alignment. The key is understanding when the muzzle is on and off target from a kinesthetic point of view. If it is on target, there is the viability of delivering at a minimum a single near contact shot.
Just Tango On
How does one develop the kinesthetic muzzle awareness when entangled with an opponent. It starts by acknowledging how dangerous this would be in real life. Then, just doing it. There are a couple of tenets to remember. What are they controlling; the gun or your body, ie. hand or wrist. The closer to the end of the lever, in this case the gun, the more control or force the opponent can exert. You need to regain some of that force by brining it back to as close to your centerline as possible. Realize your wrist and shoulder joints have a tremendous amount of articulation available. They can rotate in combination to create some very favorable angles. The next tenet is rotate inwards. Rotating outwards not only moves the muzzle off target, it makes it much harder to come back and easier to disarm. The last tenet is to change levels. In this case, you will have to move the body since the hand is somewhat isolated. Move the body to move the muzzle. A little goes a long way.
Get Behind the Gun
Obviously, this is a super complicated and dangerous concept. It however is more common than you might think. Gun grabs and gun takeaways are something to be aware of if for no other reason than to avoid making mistakes that lead to disarms. Far be it from me to tell someone not to do something to save their own lives. This might be your last best option in a defensive gun use. When you are danger close, it might be all you have once the gun is drawn. Think about the muzzle’s direction, is it on or off target. If off target, how do you get it back. Where is the control, gun or hand. Try to get it back to the centerline by moving it inwards. Change levels and use your whole body, not just your hand/arm to get behind the gun.
Is this an over simplification, perhaps. But, I will tell you these are principles. And like any principle, they are the foundation.