Closer Distances and Physical Fitness in a Gunfight

This one comes from the notion that a firearm is exclusively a longer-range implement. It is not.

Yes, you can definitely “reach out and touch someone” or something with a burn- or explosion-propelled projectile in a directed pressure vessel (such as the barrel of a firearm), in the sense that you can have a physical effect on a target from a distance that is generally significantly greater than simply throwing or launching something by hand or most other means (perhaps magnetic launchers might have an edge here if executed properly and of course, underwater or through solid substances is another matter entirely).

I repeat, if you are impressed by the size of your sword or your spear (no innuendos here), I can safely retort that I have several mini-spears that can reach thousands of feet or more, albeit not always accurately or with substantial power. And whereas you might have to use several large muscle groups to reach even just a few feet, I only need the muscles in my arm that control the fingers to launch a projectile with great and reasonably consistent force. Just making sure there’s no mistake about that before we move on to the next few parts.

If you recall, in my last post I talked about one of the big dangers of a close and violent encounter, only one of the many things that I’ve garnered from the experience and teachings of others. However, I also mentioned some of the tactics you might use to counter such a danger or similar. That is, blocking and dodging. Unless you have a potential or intended weapon in your hand(s) all the time – in this case, handgun – then a surprise encounter inside the “critical distance” will likely have something to do with your hands as direct manipulators. You will move to block, if you know what you’re doing, and also try and dodge the incoming attack if you have time. While you do that, you should also be reaching for your loaded firearm(s) and attempting to put rounds where it counts. This isn’t always prudent, you have to make the call – and do it quickly.

Handguns are used as an example because they are very popular for regular carry and they are convenient to manipulate in tight spaces. If nothing else, they are generally good chunks of metal. In their intended function, firearms are used to launch projectiles via ‘fire’, that is, burning or exploding powder that becomes gas and propels  the projectile down the path of least resistance. While you can use them at a distance, it is important to remember that as soon as the bullet leaves the barrel (or very shortly thereafter), the gases dissipate into the atmosphere and are no longer propelling the projectile. At this point, the bullet is losing energy. The longer it travels, the more energy it loses on the longitudinal axis, which is the most important axis when talking about terminal ballistics, I believe. So, theoretically, the closer a target is to the muzzle of the firearm (without blocking the bore), the harder the impact will be. That can work to your advantage against a bad guy as long as you follow at least this cardinal rule of gun safety: Always be aware of your target and what’s behind it. There’s a greater chance of over-penetration.

In the aforementioned example, you are the one with the firearm and the attacker has a melee weapon. What about an actual gunfight? You have a firearm (right?) and the bad guy(s) is similarly armed. You’ve made the very grievous and heavily-weighted decision to engage the bad guy(s). What now? Do you just pull the trigger and hope for the best? Perhaps. But it’s not far-fetched to say that sometimes, gunfights are more than that. As a disclaimer, I have no experience in this and I’m not doling out advice. This is food for thought.

You may need to move quickly. You may need to go in and out of cover. You may end up in a ‘critical distance’ confrontation. You will have to make important decisions in a timely manner. Your body needs to be able to carry out the tasks that you want it to. Physical fitness, then, is as key to the ranged fighter as it is to the close fighter. You may even be able to hold out longer if wounded. Your mind might also be sharper because the strain on your body isn’t debilitating. Of course, you can prevent or mitigate injuries caused by movement, as well. If you haven’t so much as walked too far in a long time, you may end up pulling muscles and damaging tendons. That will only make things more difficult for you, especially if you decide at any time to escape on foot, be it 50 feet to your vehicle or 5 miles home.

These are just some things that are worth thinking about. As an addendum, I’ll talk a little bit about the notion that those who carry firearms are unable to defend themselves any other way. That is simply ludicrous. As I will mention in a later post, carrying a firearm does not debilitate you, especially a handgun. If you did as you should and received continuous training or even recently received training in various arts of self-defense, you are perfectly capable of being reasonably prepared for most eventualities. Good courses will also have instructors who instill in you various methods of de-escalation, too. Expand your options. After all, that is why we carry, isn’t it?

-DH

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~ by demonhide on March 8, 2012.

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