Lessons from observing 5000 gunfights

John Correia of Active Self Protection posted the following on Facebook.

I’ve watched about 5,000 gunfights at this point, and the patterns that emerge are pretty clear. Some thoughts you might want to consider that I don’t think that the training community really wants to hear:

1. Most gunfights aren’t entangled gunfights. Empty-handed skills are important, but very rare once the gun comes out. They’re necessary for LE more than CCW, by a long shot. For CCW, empty-handed skills are critical for the 80% of assaults that don’t rise to the level of deadly force response. So go to your martial arts training.

2. Reloads are almost vanishingly insignificant factors in gunfights. I have seen precisely 2 reloads in a real gunfight that weren’t on-duty LEO. And neither of those affected the outcome of the fight. I have seen about 7 or 8 where a higher capacity firearm or the presence of a reload might have affected the outcome. So 0.2% of what I have witnessed. Don’t spend much valuable class time teaching emergency and retention reloads…at least until your highest level classes where all the fundamentals are flawless. I like Tom Givens’ focus on the PROACTIVE reload once the fight is over. That has value in my opinion.

3. He who puts the first shot into meaty bits on the other guy, wins. Not 100%, but darn near, at least partially because of the FIBS Factor. Therefore, training a fast and reliable draw and first shot in the meaty bits is most important, in my opinion. It is THE critical skill to winning the gunfight. The best cover is fire superiority.

4. Follow-up shots are necessary. Seldom do gunfights END with that first shot, so keep at him until he decides he is done fighting. This is where multiple target acquisition is important, because it simulates a moving target to hit. (unless you have a fancy moving target that can move erratically, in which case you are high speed!)

5. People have a crazy tendency to use the gun one-handed, mostly because they have stuff in their support hand. Training people to drop what’s in their hands and get two hands on the gun is a necessary skill for #3 and 4.

6. You simply WILL NOT stand still while someone wants to kill you. Unless you’re counter-ambushing, when the gun comes out you will move. So training students to move with purpose while #3 and 4 are going on is also a critical skill. They’re going to do it, so teach them to use it.

7. Chasing deadly threats is another bad habit that I see all the time. Teach your students to shoot and scoot. Move AWAY from the threat.

8. Concealment ain’t cover, but it works identically in 99.9% of cases. People won’t shoot what they can’t see, so teach your students to get to concealment, and to shoot through it if their threat is behind it.

9. People love cover so much they give it a hug. Reliably. Like all the time. Teaching distance from cover/concealment is an important skill and one that is necessary.

10. Malfunctions happen. They just do. But unless you’re carrying a crap gun, they’re rare. In all my videos I have never seen someone clear a malfunction that needed a tap to the baseplate to get the gun back working again or whose mag fell out when the gun went click…rack and reassess is necessary though. In a couple of instances, a strip, rack, reload would have helped.

Just some random thoughts…I hope we have met your jimmy rustling needs for today.

John’s pretty spot-on here.

Point 5 I think is an interesting one. Something worth conditioning yourself for. But realize it’s not as simple as “drop what’s in your hands” (tho that is a good place to start). You have to consider what’s in your hands (e.g. a sack of groceries vs. an infant).

Corollary to that, if you have someone in your life that holds on to your hand, it’s worth conditioning them to drop your hand. It’s natural when frightened to want to grab, cling, and squeeze. It’s possible a small child holding your hand will continue to (how will you contend with this?). But your spouse ought to learn to drop your hand and move away.

Point 7 is another that may be worth having more training and condintioning. That is, to condition people to move away (perhaps to concealment/cover – Point 8). So many times you see people pursuing and closing in – it’s very natural (monkey-brain), so building in a conditioned response to get away is important.

Good stuff, John. Thank you for sharing.



8 thoughts on “Lessons from observing 5000 gunfights

  1. Pingback: Lessons from observing 5000 gunfights | Gunpon

  2. question, ‘watched’ 5000 gunfights or… ‘read about’ 5000 gunfights. i dare say even youtube doesn’t
    have that many listed. just wondering.

    • You’d have to ask John Correia, but he said “watched”.

      He does produce a lot of videos that examine incidents caught on video, so I’m sure John has seen quite a number. YouTube isn’t the only source out there.

      Either way, I’m just passing along what he wrote. If you’re skeptical about his numbers, you’ll have to take it up with him (he may be able to clarify his sources, if you ask).

      • So, I do not do FB for security reasons. Any other contact info for him? And as an aside, I think it was, he ‘researched or read’ 5k reports. I am skeptical he has seen 5k videos of real shootings. I do not believe 5k videos exist unless he is NSA. Not questioning his integrity, just perhaps he meant one thing and wrote another. Thats all. I would like to believe his observations, but the first one is clearly out of the box. And, most of his observations seem valid, just would like to know for sure.

        • Huh. Just realized that on his activeselfprotection.com website he doesn’t list contact information (the website is more of a “forum” than his personal site).

          I don’t have any other contact information for him, other than via Facebook.

          But! I just went back and looked at the Facebook posting this came from. Someone there (someone I know and respect) asked him about the 5000, just like you. John’s response:

          It’s what I do. People send me armed robberies, muggings, stabbings, and associated badness caught on surveillance video.

  3. Ok, it still seems like a lot. but apparently it is la verdad. I had searched his site using the title but nothing came up. As a CCW carrier, I do believe, as you, that the tactical reload i.e. proactive reload, when things
    are calm, is of great value. But you do have to carry an extra mag to perform the reload, and if you are doing so, might as well practice reloads also. But get the point about not spending an inordinate amount of time in training on it. Overall, all decent points made. Thanks for the follow up and dialogue.

    • John has always come across as a pretty stand-up guy, and has the respect of many of my peers and mentors, so I have no reason to doubt his claim.

      On the reloads – yes, it’s a low-probability event given all the data that’s out there. Of course, “low probability” statistics are of little comfort when you get to be the anomaly. 🙂 I generally carry a reload (sometimes life dictates I have to go without), and I do practice it. But in terms of where to spend the finite amount of training/practice time we have? It’s certainly lower on the list than say working up to something like a 1.5 second concealment draw (7 yards, A-zone hit) – that’s a higher-probability event, y’know?

  4. Pingback: Muzzle Direction during a reload – Notes from KR

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