Shooting Aftermath: Analysis and Lessons

Pile On!

Pile On!

A story has been circulating in the gun blog world, a podcast interview with a crime victim as well as the original thread where he posted his story.

After listening & reading, I (like many others) believe that there are lessons to be learned from this man’s unfortunate experience.

What those lessons are may depend heavily on the biases that you bring to the analysis.

This guy has beaten himself up plenty over this incident, and I am not trying to pile on.  But he made some major errors that are entirely correctable.


First, have a listen:

And read the original thread here:


Lesson #1: First Rule of Gunfighting is heeded

Quote from the thread: “On the way to Wal-Mart, I realized/remembered that I had removed my gun/holster earlier that day to go to the gym at lunch time and laid it on my desk. I debated with myself for a minute about whether or not to spend the extra 10 minutes to run down to the office to arm myself against the masses there at 9:30 at night. Common sense prevailed and I made the extra stop and was on my way. (Crucial turning point #1 of the night)”

Good job on making sure he was armed, even though it was inconvenient for him to do so.

Lesson #2: Situational Awareness fail

Quote: “We were out there for maybe a minute when a guy walked up to our group after appearing from around the corner of the building (not uncommon to have the neighbors come by and chat as there are also houses and apartments in this area) wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and drawn tight and a scarf or balaclava covering everything but his eyes. Not too uncommon, as it was rather cold and rainy that night. What was uncommon was that he was holding a stainless steel revolver at his side.”

Drinking on a public street, in cold rainy weather. Fail.

How far from the corner were they?  And while he says that he noticed the man and his gun, he utterly failed to react.  He allowed an armed man to enter “the hole” without resistance.  Fail.

He admits that he has been criticized for lack of situational awareness.  He also says that he thought it might have been a prank played by one of his friends, but doesn’t use this as an excuse.

Lesson #3: Allowing the predator to modify the environment more to his advantage

Quote: “He told us that we were going inside and that if any of us made a move, he would shoot us.”

He allowed himself to be marched into a private area without witnesses, and fewer avenues of escape, where the predator would be able to watch all of his victims easily and be in close proximity to them.  Fail.

Lesson #4: Allowing the predator to set the pace and agenda of the encounter

Human nerve impulses travel at the same speed no matter who you are.

In any encounter, a person is either Acting or Reacting.

When you Act, you set the pace and others must React to your actions.

When you surrender the initiative, you have no option except to follow the pace set by the Actor and React to his/her Actions.

It is impossible to get “ahead of the curve” if you start from behind the curve, unless your opponent makes a catastrophic mistake or some outside force or Actor intervenes.  And you cannot count on those things happening.

Sidebar:  OODA Loop

This guy surrendered the initiative at multiple points.  The predator emptied his revolver and clicked 3 times on empty chambers before deciding to flee (8 trigger pulls).  The victim got off 2 shots.  Fail.

Lesson #5: Manual safeties will get you killed

Quote: “I started turning to my right, into him, flipping the safety at some point along the way. He either saw the gun or heard the safety click as I had turned into him enough for him to be at my 3 O’clock and shoved his revolver inside my open jacket against my stomach and fired the first round.”

My feelings about the 1911 are well-documented.

One of the reasons I dislike the design is the fact that it relies on multiple user-actuated safeties to function.

A grip safety sounds like a great idea…until you grab your gun in the heat of the moment and don’t quite engage it.  Or until your hand is injured and you can’t grip it properly.  Or your hand is slippery from sweat.

And a manual safety is just stupidity in action.  One more thing to remember that you won’t remember when it’s important.  If your gun is so hazardous to carry that it needs a manual safety, you shouldn’t be carrying it.

This victim had time to plan out his actions, and thus remembered to flick off the safety.  The noise from doing so may have alerted his attacker to the fact that he was about to get shot at, prompting the attacker to shoot first.  Fail.

And, note that the two 230-grain .45acp bullets which hit the predator in the hand did not slow him down at all.  He kept trying to shoot, and was able to escape when he finally realized that he was out of ammo.  Relying on the .45acp to stop a fight due to its ballistic performance is foolish.

Lesson #6: Stay in the fight, retain the will to live

The victim performed well in this regard.  He didn’t freak out at the sight of blood, and kept his head in the fight.

He had the presence of mind to clear a “jam” and keep fighting.

He is now an instructor.  Part of me is glad to see that he has overcome his injuries and his anxieties.  And part of me wonders exactly what it is that he is teaching his students.  After listening to the podcast, there are some serious errors he made that he does not seem to acknowledge.  Yes, it’s an interview, and his courses might be completely different.

But if you don’t learn from the past you are doomed to repeat it.


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