There are a few fundamental concepts everyone should understand about engaging a threat in their home. Your strategy for handling the situation will differ depending on if you live alone or with loved ones. Let’s start with the basics of handling a doorway.
The infamous Fatal Funnel is the grey area depicted above. Any bad guys who are expecting you are going to focus their attacks on the doorway since that is the way you are most likely to enter. Therefore not respecting the funnel is an easy way to get shot or otherwise injured. Note that the funnel runs in both directions from the doorway. Managing the Fatal Funnel is actually pretty simple:
- avoid this area around any doorway
- if you must move through it do so as quickly as you can
The blue lines show the progression of movement you can use to look for threats in a room while minimizing your exposure. You should step laterally to follow the path and could start from the left side and move right if you came up to the doorway from the left. This technique is called Slicing the Pie.
- be sure to move fast as you cross the Funnel
- visually scan from floor to ceiling as you clear each slice – but don’t linger in the Funnel
- note that you need to leave space between you and the doorway (at least an arm’s length) when you’re at the start/finish positions- it’s dangerous to crowd the doorway but many people want to do this
- don’t hug or lean on the walls- that’s another common beginner mistake. Staying quiet is critical and stepping out gives you a better field of vision
All this is great if you live alone. But what about a situation where a loved one is in the house? When this happens you have a new priority- getting to your spouse/child. Spend 2:50 on this video and get some advice from Asymmetric Solutions on how to navigate a hallway and a few points on managing a defensive situation if your children are home:
Got all that? If you are defending loved ones the key concepts are:
- get to them as quickly as possible
- cover the point of egress from the deep corner
- call the police. It’s ideal if someone else can handle the call while you worry about your firearm and that point of egress
Using a pistol for self defense at close quarters is about as far from a square range experience as you can get. The dynamics of each situation are likely to be unique- so there are few hard and fast rules you can rely on. A good way to start to wrap your head around this is to consider the basic goals of escaping a close quarters situation. Learning to not act like a victim can help you avoid many dangerous situations (this document from Safeism is a great read on managing unknown contacts in public) but unfortunately not all of them. So here are some things to consider if you have to defend yourself at close quarters ranges (less than 3 yards):
- Your main goal is to escape if possible. If escape is not an option, your immediate goals should be to create distance and neutralize the immediate threat- preferably in that order. To that end double taps or even worse, single shots are not the answer here. You should be planning to fire as many shots as it takes until you see the threat collapse
- In order to create distance (if the threat is too close you may not have enough space to draw and fire) you may need to strike the threat to permit you to move away far enough to draw. Dave Spaulding showcases a few nice techniques in the video above and self defense secrets like the Tactical Testicle Tap are mentioned in this recap of a Sig Sauer course
- As noted on the video above, don’t think for a moment you will be able to draw and assume full arm extension into your isosceles stance when fighting in close quarters. The Third Eye technique as explained by Bryce Towsley (of Triple-T fame) is a sound technique but you may not even have time to bring your pistol up that high
- The technique Dave Spaulding covers in the video above where he holds his pistol tight to his side with his thumb creating clearance is faster than the Third Eye. With a little practice you can even tuck your weapon hand to your hip or abdomen and get a shot off even faster
In real life you will probably end up improvising and putting these things together. That’s the goal- be sure to practice for it to help sharpen your reactions.
Recently I was perusing the latest catalog from HiViz and discovered that they offer a wide range of shooting tips from a wide range of contributors. One tip from retired SEAL Mark Hotaling stood out- a technique for aiming your pistol in close quarters.
At ranges of 3 yards or less it is not optimal to extend your arms forward into a full isosceles stance. Doing so costs precious time and puts you in a bad position for weapon retention. In these situations you should:
- Extend your arms
- Keep both eyes open
- Look over the sights while using the front sight to use for aiming reference
This isn’t the only close range pistol technique being taught today and is not a hard and fast solution to every situation- I’m not saying that this is the only way to defend yourself. However I am a proponent of learning many techniques–who complains about having too many tools in their toolbox? Practice this a little bit at the range and at home (double or triple check to confirm the pistol is empty) to see how it works for you and your style of carry.
It seems logical that anyone who keeps a firearm handy for defensive use would practice with that weapon to ensure that if they have to use it there are no surprises. This means practicing at close range (3 yds or less)- not 7 yds, not 25 yds and certainly not 50 yds. If you have an AR platform rifle or pistol as your primary home defense weapon or even as a potential option for home defense you owe it to your loved ones and yourself to practice close quarters handling and firing.
Bullet trajectory is an interesting phenomenon. Some good background on trajectory is here. If you want to be good at using your rifle in places other than a square range with targets at fixed distances take a few minutes to learn about what happens when you press the trigger.
The photo above illustrates a traditional sight picture (what is used for a typical range shot at a target 25 or more yds downrange). The chart in the trajectory article referenced above illustrates where a close quarters shot will go with pretty much any zero – you’re going to hit high low (thanks to D. Russell for catching and pointing this out) if you aim the way the photo above depicts. In fact you may miss the target entriely or fail to neutralize the threat- and neither result is acceptable when the safety of you and your loved ones is at risk.
This problem has a pretty easy solution- one that is reliable and repeatable enough for a wide range of people that the US Army teaches it. The proper method of aiming close quarters shots is to maintain the typical rifle shooting position (cheek weld, nose touching the charging handle, etc.) but to look over the rear sight and use the front sight the same way you always do.
The photo above illustrates this close quarters sight picture. Basically you want to position the base of the front sight on top of the ghost ring. The technique is reliable up to about 13 yards (12 meters) and allows you to engage threats quickly with the sort of accuracy required for self defense. In other words this should cover most home defense situations.
Be sure to get out to a place you can practice this- that’s one key to deliberate action in a life threatening situation. Also be certain that you are using ammo that is safe for home defense- Range ammo (FMJs), Most frangible ammo and even Defensive ammo like Hornaday TAP can easily exit the walls of your home and keep traveling. Be responsible and stay safe out there.
Follow- through gets lots of attention from some pistol instructors and very little from others. If you query enough sources you will find that many people don’t really know what follow-through is. Follow-through should not be confused with recovery. Recovery should be defined as bringing the pistol back down and getting a post-shot sight picture. Situations where both come on handy include:
Follow-through technique can be gauged by seeing the front sight rise as the shot breaks. That should be your goal with every rep. Remember to keep your visual focus sharp on the front sight:
If your grip and trigger control are solid you are good to go if you see the front sight rise.
Chris Costa: Magpul Dynamics, DHS/Coast Guard rock star chasing down drug runners, Tactical Beard. While having his own action figure was a questionable move, the Easy Day video released this week confirms it- Costa needs an ego check. Watch this train wreck of a video if you don’t believe me.
To quote Keanu Reeves (since apparently we are in full Hollywood mode): woah. How many stupid and unrealistic things happen in this video? Here are a few that annoy me to no end:
- They seriously tip off the suspect with that half-witted brake check ?
- The suspect just happens to be carrying a suppressed MAC- because that’s exactly the stereotype we need to perpetuate when criminals in America pretty much NEVER use full auto weapons
- Costa cowboys his way into that warehouse room right through the fatal funnel? Even for a cartoon character that was a reach
- Be sure to finish the mag dump into the suspect you need for questioning Chris
If this is something worthy of putting the Costa name and brand on, what does it say about the quality of the rest of his training or gear?