What struck me about the article was that it came from Claude Werner. I got to train with Claude a year ago, and as I wrote in my AAR:
After we finished FoF, we went inside for a presentation by Claude. Claude maintains a database of some over 3000 incidents of “gunfights” in America. This database of incidents has provided him with a great deal of information and perspective. Furthermore, he’s read the law enforcement records, such as the annual FBI reports. All of this has enabled Claude to really understand what “gunfights” are truly like, at least here in the USA. I refuse to spoil it by talking too much about it here, you’ll have to attend a class or conference to hear it. This alone was worth the tuition.
So this new article was interesting because, after having seen how Claude collects and reviews data, I thought there could be some good tidbits to take home.
You have to go read the article to understand what follows here. But just in the off-chance the referenced website goes away (the Int3rw3bz has a habit of that), I thought the information was worth archiving in a PDF.
As soon as I saw this article, I shared it with my fellow KR Training instructors because we’ve all trained with Claude and know where he’s coming from. I started to formulate this article, but Karl beat me to a response by commenting at the original blog (I’ve been busy). Still, I wanted to write my thoughts down.
Given Claude’s nature and hobby for collecting and analyzing data, I certainly read the article with interest. But upon reading it, the conclusions felt in stark contrast to other data I’ve seen on “private citizen” self-defense incidents.
Claude’s data shows 52% of incidents happening at home, 32% in a business. That’s the #1 and #2 locations.
US Department of Justice Robbery locations in 2007 have the street at 43.8%, residence at 15.2%. This comes from the April 2012 Rangemaster Newsletter
So, you are almost three times as likely to be robbed on the street than at home, and in the home only accounts for 1 robbery in 6. Similar patterns exist for rape, aggravated assaults, etc. In fact, good locks, an alarm system, and proper lighting can reduce your risk of violent crime at home to very low levels.
This also jives with data on encounters with plain-clothes FBI and DEA agents. Furthermore, looking at Tom Givens’ own student incidents, almost none of them happened in the home. I have papers with Tom’s data, but am having a hard time finding them online since Rangemaster recently redid their website: good redo, but many old links broken and getting at all the newsletter PDF’s is tough. 😦 If someone wants it that bad, I’ll go find my papers and print them here.
The upshot is Claude’s data makes it look like most violent encounters happen in the home. But is that really the case? His data set is the only one I’ve seen that draws that conclusion. Thus, it makes me want to look at the data set. Claude’s data is coming from the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine’s “Armed Citizen” column. It covers 5 years from 1997 to 2001 looking at 482 reports. That leaves out the last 10 years, and that’s rather significant when you consider the changing landscape of “Gun Culture 2.0″… concealed carry has expanded rapidly in the past 10 years. Could that mean because there are more guns in public, we’ll have more “gun incidents in public”? perhaps. But more consider the NRA. The NRA is about gun rights, not pepper spray rights or karate chop rights, so is the “Armed Citizen” column going to cover stories where someone fended off a criminal with a right-cross to the jaw? Nope. So we can’t say what’s reported is necessarily indicative of crime in general: only what the NRA chooses to report, and then only from the submissions they receive or discover. And that’s the key to mind: this isn’t a cross-section of all incidents, just the incidents printed. I’m sure the NRA gets a LOT more submissions than they can print, just due to practical issues like physical magazine space in which to print the stories. Thus there’s going to be some editorial selection, that this story will be printed but not that one. Would the NRA print a story that makes gun owners look bad? How about a story where some “Tactical Tommy” fended off the bad guy with his AR-15? Or would it be better to pick a story where “the old white man used his old Colt revolver”? (sorry to stereotype). Does it look better to the public to have stories of home defense because that’s a bit less political, than it is stories of people toting guns in public and using them in that venue? And again consider, this is 10-15 years ago and what the landscape was like then vs. now.
I’m not saying the NRA is being biased as I have no idea what sort of editorial choices they make, but they have to be making them because only so many stories can be printed every month. To me, that taints the data set and limits the conclusions one can draw from it.
Claude’s data concluded that most, if not all, incidents happened about at arm’s length. To an extent this holds with other data, whether it’s the “3 shots, 3 yards, 3 seconds” mantra, or the 0-5 yards, or the “within a car length”. It’s generally because the attacker needs to be close to you either to injure you or because if they’re mugging you because they need to be able to talk to you. But if the majority of incidents happen in the home, according to Claude’s data, why are the homeowners even allowing someone to get that close? One advantage of firearms over other self-defense tools is their ability to overcome distance and be effective at distant targets. Why aren’t people taking up a fortified position in their house and shooting from a distance? Especially if, again as Claude’s data reports, people do not have the gun on them and have to go to another room to get the gun first? Why are they then coming back to be so close to the attacker?
One possible reason: “Defenders frequently communicate with their attackers before shooting.” And so, that suggests a few things to me. They feel in order to be heard they have to be near… but you know what? find your inner drill-sergeant and yell. Or if they can’t hear you, fine! Take up your fortified position and yell, because if they do eventually get close enough to hear you yelling, that’s far enough for them to come and get the message they’ll get shot if they come any closer. And that’s probably the other aspect of this. Most likely the communication before shooting is a lot of “don’t come closer, or I’ll shoot you” or “stay back” or other such things. But still, you can communicate this over a distance. Don’t go back to where you know there’s trouble, unless the trouble could be worse if you didn’t (e.g. spouse or child in there, etc.).
But what really got me about distance was Claude’s conclusion:
The perceived need for massive quantities of ammo, reloading, and precision shooting at distance is largely a figbar of people’s imaginations. There is simply no evidence to support the contention that any of those conditions occur during armed confrontation
That might be the case from the limited data set which Claude examined, and perhaps he’s meaning it within that context. But the presentation is such that it implies such conditions NEVER happen PERIOD in any sort of private citizen self-defense encounter. Thus you should never worry about these matters, because there’s “simply no evidence” to support they ever happen. And that’s wrong, and Mr. Werner might want to check with his friend Tom Givens for some data on this topic.
Which takes me to another reason for why people might draw closer to their attacker: they can’t shoot them from far away. If all you ever do is blaze away at a cardboard target that’s 3 yards in front of you, you’ll probably be pretty good at that distance. If you never shoot your pistol at targets 25 yards away, how much confidence do you think you’ll have if now suddenly you have to make that shot? Under stress you’ll default to what you can already do, and given a drive for success you’ll work to put things more in your favor, so if that means getting closer then you will. If more of these citizens had adequate training, training that pushed them to do things like shoot at 15 or 25 yards on a regular basis, how might this data be different? And again, with the sharp rise in Gun Culture 2.0 and more private citizens seeking formal training, what would data from the last 10 years show by contrast?
Throughout Claude’s examination of the stories, he finds that you just don’t need much ammo. He said:
If the defender fires any shots, most likely it will be 2 rounds.
And then the above comment that you don’t need massive quantities of ammo, and saying that a snub revolver (typically holding 5 rounds) is all you’d need.
When Karl commented on the blog posting, he mentioned how Givens’ students shot from 1 to 11 rounds. The blog owner replied taking Karl’s statement to task, and he was right in doing so because Karl left out one important part of Tom’s data: the average was 3.4 rounds. The FBI/DEA data holds about the same too.
So no, it’s not THAT much different from Claude’s data, but it’s still different.
But remember what average is, statistically. There were enough incidents that required more rounds, including at least 1 incident that needed more than 2 snubs worth of ammo, more than what a 1911 traditionally holds.
What’s hard to read about Claude’s findings is again the way it is presented, that 2 shots is all you need, you’ll never need more than 5 to take care of anything. This is simply not the case. Sure that might be the average, but boy… if you opt to train to just the averages, how do you think you’ll feel when you get to be the one statistical anomaly? Look at the edge cases in Claude’s own data and piece them together. The largest group had 7 VCA’s, and you’re going to need more than a 5-shot snub to deal with that many attackers. Again, this is about playing to statistics, about assuming you’ll be alright because the averages say. Does anyone say “gee, I wish I had LESS ammo”?
At this distances, even .22s and .25s are highly immediately lethal.
A revolver, even J-frame, is perfectly capable of dealing with almost all of the incidents. The ones which were beyond the capabilities of a five shot revolver would be best deal with by a shotgun, anyway.
For those who do not practice, a revolver is far preferable to the autoloader because of the revolver’s simpler manual of arms. Eighty per cent of gunshot wounds are self-inflicted. Guns are handled many times more than they are shot and so safe gunhandling qualities are much more important characteristics than its ability to be shot accurately and reloaded quickly. Revolvers are much less likely than autoloaders to AD in the hands of novices.
Yes, I don’t want to get shot by a .22. I know a .22 could kill me. It’s not my first choice, but it’s better than no choice.
A shotgun would be better than a J-frame for sure. But I can’t carry a shotgun. Oh wait… this data shows that most incidents never happen out on the street where one might need to carry a gun. Hrm. Someone reading this data could draw the conclusion that we need personal protection in the home, but that we don’t really need it outside the home because most incidents happen inside and rarely outside. Thus why carry. Not sure that’s a good conclusion to allow people to draw.
And dealing with a snub? Folks, you have to know who Claude Werner is. He’s one of the masters of the snub revolver. He shoots IDPA matches and wins them with his snub. He was chief instructor at the Rogers Shooting School for a number of years. I’d say Claude’s abilities with a snub are far superior to the average citizen. Snubs are hard to shoot, and Claude knows that (again, see my AAR of his snub class). Yes, one reason I carry a snub as a back-up gun is because of the manual of arms: it is simpler, and if I had to give my BUG to someone else because the fur was flying that badly then I know at least I can expect them to “point and click” without having to worry about levers and gizmos and malfunctions and such: just keep pointing and clicking. But they are still very difficult to manage, very difficult to shoot well, all having very long and heavy triggers. Revolvers are not my first choice nor recommendation for anyone.
If we’re worried about AD’s? My suggestion? Get training. Understand and abide by the rules. And never think you’re above having an ND happen to you.
I don’t take odds with the data Claude collected, in terms of what he did and the summary picture that came out of the data set. I think it’s all reasonable collection and analysis of what was there. Furthermore, it does paint an interesting picture that’s worth knowing.
What I find problem with is some of the conclusions and suggestions in here, like that a snub is sufficient, that long distance shooting never happens, that reloads don’t happen. My fear is that someone could look at this data and use it as justification for developing a training program, or to justify they don’t need any training at all. “Why should I train how to reload? they never happen, and besides it’s a pain to reload my snub because it’s so small.” I believe this is Karl’s fear as well, tho it wasn’t perhaps expressed well enough in his comment (given the response from the blog owner). Claude may have stated at the beginning: “You decide what suits your needs best to solve this type of problem.” but to the untrained and unknowing, they’re going to look at Claude’s data, conclusions, and suggestions as authoritative and will likely use his data, conclusions, and suggestions in formulating what suits their needs best — because they’re a n00b and don’t know what their needs are and how to satisfy them! That’s the problem.
There’s something to be said for understanding all the data, and how that generates some averages and yes how that can and should influence our training both in terms of what to train and what not to train. If most self-defense incidents end up fitting that “3 shots, 3 yards, 3 seconds”, it would stand to reason that’s something to first ensure you can do (e.g. can you clean the “3 Seconds or Less Drill” consistently, constantly, and on demand). That doesn’t mean your training should only encompass that sort of work, but if you can’t do that stuff it’s best to master it before you go on to things like group shooting at 25 yards, if self-defense is your shooting goal. But you should eventually move on to being able to shoot groups at 25 yards and not be satisfied with what the data says, what the averages are, because while certain data sets may not support a need for it, who knows… you may get to be the lucky one that establishes a new data set.