This picture is of the opening image in an article written by Dennis Adler on Baby Glocks that appeared in Concealed Carry Handguns 2015. My criticism is aimed solely at the photo, and not the article or Mr. Adler’s writing.
Back before the Holidays, I posted this picture on Facebook with the comment “There is something very wrong with this picture! Comment below if you can see what the problem is. More next week about what’s wrong and WHY!” (I admit it took me longer than ‘next week’ to get on this, largely due to a nasty stomach flu that swept through my entire family and sent us all to the ER. Happily, that has passed and I am once again able to deliver
a foam-flecked rant quality instruction.)
There is a lot wrong with this picture. Can you see it? What stands out the most to you? For simplicity, here are the four things that stand out most to me.
Deal with the Immediate Threat First!
Is shooting the attacker at this distance going to keep you from getting stabbed? I really doubt it. Even if you empty the gun into him, there is still nothing stopping that knife from plunging into your torso. Our shooter doesn’t even have a hand up to block the incoming blade. Whether he shoots or not, the good guy is going to get stabbed. Why? Because he didn’t defend himself.
If you shoot him but still get stabbed to death, you don’t win some cosmic prize. Even if you “take him with you,” you’re still dead, you still failed.
Make sure you understand this: It’s not about shooting the other guy, it’s about protecting yourself. That means dealing with the immediate threat effectively. In this case the immediate threat is the knife. Whether it means using a clinch, an arm-drag or just grabbing his wrist with an outstretched hand, Stop the Knife First!
Posture affects your ability to move, to take a hit and to apply your own strength… and the good guy’s posture is terrible. If you lean back like our shooter demonstrates, you are moving your center of gravity off of your base and setting yourself up to get knocked over. Don’t believe me? Just plant your feet, lean back and have a buddy give you one sharp push to the middle of your chest. Now imagine if your buddy was really trying to kill you.
When our large attacker collides with the shooter, the shooter has a very large chance of ending up on the ground. Facing a knife-wielding attacker on your feet is a picnic compared to having one seated on your chest.
“But, Justin!” You may say, “He’s just leaning back to create space. Isn’t that good?” Yes, creating space is good, but never by sacrificing posture. Leaning back like this not only destroys your fighting posture and opens your chest (you know, that thing you keep your heart and lungs in) to the knife, it only gives you a few inches of additional space. If you want to create truly useful space in a fight, you need to know how to apply footwork, angles and clinch-work. There are no substitutes.
Your Gun Has Needs
Another big problem my readers noticed relates to the operation of the gun. So let me ask, what is the minimum a properly maintained semi-auto handgun needs in order to function? On the basic mechanical level it only needs three things: For the slide to have room to freely move, the grip to be stabilized (providing resistance for the slide to move against), and for the trigger to be pressed. Our shooter in the photo doesn’t even have his finger on the trigger to press it, and there may not be enough room between the slide and his arm for it to work properly.
Having a trained and consistent index for your weapon in close-quarters is very important. You can’t shoot if you don’t press the trigger, and you won’t get a follow-up shot if the slide didn’t fully reciprocate.
The Gun is Not a Magic Wand
I think the notion that the handgun is a magic death wand is a big part of why we see pictures like this in magazines. Yeah, the good guy is about to be stabbed, but he’s got his gun out. Once he shoots, his attacker will instantly stop, right? Maybe he’ll drop right down, or vanish in a cloud of smoke or (my personal favorite) launch dramatically backward through a strategically placed plate-glass window… right?
The truth is, you can’t always count on your first shot to end any attack before you take damage, especially at the range depicted in that photo. We have feet to move with for a reason, and we have multi-round magazines for a reason.
Now, I can understand why a picture like this shows up in a gun mag. After all, the article isn’t about combatives or extreme-close-quarters shooting, it’s about guns. So why not assume that the gun alone is all it takes? Why not make that the focus? After all, they’re not trying to promote or sell training.
But training is even more important than gear. Doing it right is more important than what you do it with. That’s the truth, and editors should be careful to choose pictures that reflect that.
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