PDA

View Full Version : Suppressive Fire


Socrates3000
April 12, 2006, 05:18 PM
Is suppressive fire ever a viable option for a civilian self defense situation, and if so, when? Is the idea of one shot, one kill outdated and overrated?

pickpocket
April 12, 2006, 06:17 PM
You are talking about two completely different concepts, neither of which should ever apply to a self-defense situation.

Suppressive Fire has been discussed extensively. Here's one thread:
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=195168

One shot, one kill isn't a term that should be applied to self-defense situations, either. It's a phrase that has been thrown around the sniper community for YEARS before it gained popularity with the rest of the world. The entire concept of "one shot, one kill" doesn't even apply to self-defense, CCW, or PISTOLS even in the most extreme cases.
It's applicable to the shooters that have the training and skill to take a single well aimed shot from considerable distances and kill someone.

garryc
April 12, 2006, 10:26 PM
I'm going to let this continue but under very close monitoring.

Agreed, anyone who would even consider such a "tactic" in a SD situation needs to put the beer down and think.

dctag
April 12, 2006, 11:33 PM
I have to agree in that 99.9999999% of cases suppressive fire is just the wrong idea for a civilian and even for pretty much any civilian or even LEO work. Maybe if you somehow got caught up in a "North Hollywood Shootout" scenario but even then I would question it. Of course we can come up with scenarios worthy of "24" all day but they get ridiculous quickly and are not the purpose of this board.

-David

chemist308
April 12, 2006, 11:46 PM
Maybe if you somehow got caught up in a "North Hollywood Shootout" and even then it only works if you hold your pistol sideways and shoot rifles from the hip... :)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the idea of civilian self defense was to shoot to stop, or shoot and move (retreat/flee).

Capt Charlie
April 12, 2006, 11:53 PM
I have to agree in that 99.9999999% of cases suppressive fire is just the wrong idea for a civilian and even for CONUS work. Maybe if you somehow got caught up in a "North Hollywood Shootout" scenario but even then I would question it.
Agreed. Suppressive fire has no place in civilian self defense, and very limited use in law enforcement, especially in an urban environment.

Remember that it involves a massive and more or less uncontrolled flow of lead. It's designed to keep the enemy's head down while sharpshooters, leapfrog advance, or a flanking maneuver do the real work.

In a military situation, collateral damage is acceptable. It isn't in law enforcement, and even less for non-LE, and it's never to be used unless you have multiple allies engaging hostiles with you.

alduro
April 13, 2006, 12:05 AM
Shooting to stop is not just a civilian response; it is also the response of law enforcement. You only get away with "shoot to kill" in the civilized land of England.

roscoe
April 13, 2006, 02:03 AM
I'm going to let this continue but under very close monitoring
What's that all about?

I certainly can envision scenarios where one is surprised and has to shoot a couple of quick shots to break contact and make an escape. You might not have time to make a perfectly aimed shot, and, like Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackmen) said in 'Unforgiven', getting shot at 'plum rattles some folks'.

It might give you the time you need. And, yes, you are responsible for where those slugs end up.

Hard Ball
April 13, 2006, 10:18 AM
Unless you carry far more ammunition than most people do, ask yourself how many rounds can you afford to use up in supressive fire.

ATW525
April 13, 2006, 06:35 PM
I would imagine it would depend on what you consider to be suppressive fire. If you consider it to consist of unloading your weapon as fast as you can and saturating the area with bullets, than I'd say that it has no application in legitimate self-defense.

However it is possible that you could be in situation where causing the bad guy to get his head down could be desirable, such as a situation with a crazed gunman where you might be able to buy time for loved ones or bystanders to get to cover. In such a case, though, I think that the suppressive effect is best achieved through aimed, controlled fire. You are accountable for every shot you fire, so you might as well do your best to put every one into the bad guy.

riverrat66
April 13, 2006, 07:21 PM
Suppressive fire has no place in civilian self defense, and very limited use in law enforcement, especially in an urban environment.
In combat only, suppressive fire had it's purpose of keeping the enemy's head down by the 1st squad so the 2nd squad could advance, so on and so forth. Maybe it's not done like that anymore in the new modern Army.

pickpocket
April 13, 2006, 07:46 PM
I'll explain this one more time:

By definition, suppressive fire is any fires directed at an enemy in order to prevent him from leveraging effective fires against a maneuver element.

This was one of the most common points of contention between myself and many inexperienced senior officers throughout my career in the Marine Corps. Often people believe that you must send rounds down range in a steady stream in order to prevent someone from sticking their head up or out. However, even in a military situation this simply encourages poor fire discipline and general lack of accountability for where one's rounds are going.
I've heard all of the "collateral damage" arguments, so before anyone says that almost any amount of collateral damage is worth the life of one of our Marines (or soldiers) let me tell you that there's a difference between the real philosophy of suppressive fire and what many other people think suppressive fire is.

I taught for years that in order for suppressive fire to be effective it has to do two things:

Prevent the enemy from effectively engaging you with direct-fire weapons
Facilitate movement of some sort


If you cannot see your target, you do not shoot.
One does NOT simply hold their weapon over the top of a barrier, point it int he general direction of the enemy, and send rounds at him hoping to convince him that he shouldn't shoot at you. There are two logical problems with this: first you can't see what you're shooting, and secondly you can't see what he's doing. If you can't see him, you can't really expect to supress his ability to leverage effective fire against either you or your "maneuver" element (probably your wife, kids, etc.).

If you do not have a target, you do not shoot.
If you are simply impacting rounds around the general area where you think BG is hiding, what are you really accomplishing? Are you preventing him from peeking? Are you preventing him from shooting at you? Are you preventing him from doing anything except standing up and announcing his whereabouts?
Possibly - but it is far more likely you are simply wasting rounds that you might need later. I have yet to see a gunfight that comes complete with an "end-of-the-round timer" that allows you to go back to your corner and re-up.

For "suppressive fire" is not aphorism for "cyclic rate of fire". True, it must be sustained, but isn't 6 rounds per minute "sustained"? If you have time to aim your shots and dump a mag or two at BG, don't you also have time to simply place well-aimed shots at opportune moments (like when you see his little head pop up) rather than just "spray and pray"??? Wouldn't one well-aimed shot whenever BG showed his head be considered "sustained"?

If the intent is to truly keep BG from shooting at you, shouldn't that be done in the most effective manner? To do otherwise is simply irresponsible.

Capt Charlie
April 13, 2006, 10:48 PM
In combat only, suppressive fire had it's purpose of keeping the enemy's head down by the 1st squad so the 2nd squad could advance, so on and so forth. Maybe it's not done like that anymore in the new modern Army.
Nope. Still the same. That's exactly what I was referring to when I said "leapfrogging".

In college in the 60's, I pledged Pershing Rifles, and we went on maneuvers down in Wayne Natl Forest. One of the exercises was a leapfrogging frontal assault on a bunker. I was the squad leader on this one, and me being the independent cuss that I am, decided to have the fire teams fake the assault with little real advance while I took one guy with me to flank the bunker, come in from behind, and lob a couple of smoke grenades in. I didn't tell the Lt., so he couldn't tell me that they had planted artillery simulators on the right flank, and I got knocked on my toush and said "what?" a whole lot over the next few days :o :D .

And they wondered why I decided to go Navy after that :D :D .

riverrat66
April 13, 2006, 11:34 PM
One does NOT simply hold their weapon over the top of a barrier, point it in the general direction of the enemy, and send rounds at him hoping to convince him that he shouldn't shoot at you.
I agree but there was ALOT of that done in Vietnam and probably the only benefit of that was it made Lady Bird Johnson rich as she owned a munitions factory at the time.
If you are simply impacting rounds around the general area where you think BG is hiding, what are you really accomplishing? Are you preventing him from peeking? Are you preventing him from shooting at you?
Well actually yes you are accomplishing both but I would have said where you know the enemy is shooting from because you are preventing him from "peeking" and shooting at you at least until you can move to another position.

You may not agree but there are times when "spray & pray" is appropriate, maybe not for a grunt but certainly for the door gunner of a Huey or the gunner on a river patrol boat and many other instances also.
But I don't profess to be an expert or student of infantry maneuvers but I know what we did 40 years ago and I'm alive today because of it.

pickpocket
April 13, 2006, 11:39 PM
You're right - but you have to admit that running a 60 from the skid of a Huey gunship isn't exactly "accurate" fire :)

Get's the job done, though.

Stay safe, watch your 6!

riverrat66
April 13, 2006, 11:41 PM
Ah, for the good old days! ;)

Rightwinger
April 15, 2006, 11:02 AM
Playing a team match in paintball or airsoft... Yes, suppresive fire is effective and usefull.

In the real civilian world? No, it's unsafe and foolish.

Hal8000
April 15, 2006, 11:26 AM
Here (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v321/Hal8000/TwilightZone.jpg) is my story...

Given the same variables, I'd do it again... My family is still alive!

shamus005
April 15, 2006, 12:15 PM
If you know the proper principles (as have been previously defined), then suppressive fire is a good tool for your toolbox. The need for that tool is dependent on the situation.

I don't presume to have the arrogance in saying that it has no place in civilian applications.

Neophyte
April 16, 2006, 11:44 PM
Given the same variables, I'd do it again... My family is still alive! I'm truly glad you and your family survived such a horrible ordeal!

But let me add that I hope that the shotgun "behind the door" or wherever is now loaded...and that there's a loaded .308-or-better rifle keeping it company!

Socrates3000
April 16, 2006, 11:50 PM
I posted the thread to be thought provoking. My wording could stand to be a little less polemic and more precise. Thank you everyone for your good responses.

Jack Malloy
April 17, 2006, 07:59 AM
Try as I might, I can't think of a single incident where shooting somebody in the head would not be preferale to laying down a volley of fire to make him keep his head down.
All those extra rounds downrange are just a potential civil liability lawsuit waiting to bankrupt you too. :barf:

Hal8000
April 17, 2006, 08:31 AM
Originally Posted by Neophyte: [/But let me add that I hope that the shotgun "behind the door" or wherever is now loaded...QUOTE]

Although Gina did a pretty darn good job in writing the story, she did "skew" a few things. For example, the shotgun WAS loaded, it just didn't have a round in the chamber. So when she says I loaded it, I actually shucked a round into the chamber...
There are definitely some things I do differently now. First, I don't keep the shotgun behind the door. That seems like a good spot, but you have to shut the door to get to it, and in our case, a shut door had to be opened. Frankly, that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do!
Second, I dry fire the shotgun now so the little button under by the trigger does not have to be depressed to shuck it. The only reason I shucked it for my wife in the first place was because I questioned in my mind whether or not she'd know to push that button...

Thank you for your kind comments!

Originally Posted by Jack Malloy: [QUOTE]Try as I might, I can't think of a single incident where shooting somebody in the head would not be preferale to laying down a volley of fire to make him keep his head down.
All those extra rounds downrange are just a potential civil liability lawsuit waiting to bankrupt you too.
Gina also did not include that by me laying down the "suppressive fire" it allowed my wife to get my daughter into the bed room and out of the line of fire... It worked, he kept his head behind the wall... There was no other alternative, except maybe to charge him, and THAT would have been stupid!...
Also, my closest neighbor is over a mile away, and all of my rounds were stopped by the wall I shot into. If they had of gone through the wall, I might of got the perp. That was my intent anyway!
Besides that, legal crap is the LEAST of things on your mind when your being attacked! The name of the game is SURVIVAL!

Eghad
April 17, 2006, 09:00 AM
Movement and manuever are two diffrent things. Movement is traveling towards the enemy. Manuever is used to gain an advantage over the enemy when contact is made. Tactical movement is done before you contact the enemy. Once the enemy contact is made you are in manuever mode.

What CPT Charlie is reffering to is called alternating bounding overwatch. the elements take turns moving forward towards the objective. One element moves while the other provides what is called an overwatch. Upon command they can provide suppressing fire to support the moving element. The bounding unit must follow two rules.

1. never move into the overwatch element's line of fire
2. dont move out of range of the overwatch element's range of fire.

METT-T is used to decide on the best way to accomplish the manuever.

Mission- on a mission to take ground or on a mission to probe enemy lines

Enemy- enemy's capabilities, equipment, probable courses of action

Terrain and Weather - use the terrain (cover and concealment) and weather to seek an advantage over the enemy

Troops Available- number and capabilities of friendly troops

Time or Timing - rapid advancement towards the enemy helps to keep him at a tactical disatvantage.

riverrat66
April 17, 2006, 09:35 AM
Try as I might, I can't think of a single incident where shooting somebody in the head would not be preferale to laying down a volley of fire to make him keep his head down.

Well who wouldn't take the head shot if it presented itself but the guy was BEHIND the wall. So Hal just gave you one very good reason for "laying down a volley of fire".

While I agreed with everyone else that suppressive fire had no place in civilian self defense, Hal8000 has shown us that under certain circumstances suppressive fire can be a useful defensive tool.
All those extra rounds downrange are just a potential civil liability lawsuit waiting to bankrupt you too.
Once again it's called "situational awareness". Hal was aware of his surroundings and took advantage of that. Hopefully he would not have fired seven rounds as "suppressive fire" in a public place.
Besides that, legal crap is the LEAST of things on your mind when your being attacked! The name of the game is SURVIVAL!
Especially when you're being fired upon in you're own home! I think under the circumstances Hal did exactly what he needed to do. It's just too bad he didn't kill the SOB right there on the spot!

threegun
April 17, 2006, 09:57 AM
One thing should be well understood.......in a gunfight you just never know what you might have to do. If you have to fire to put someone behind cover to save your wife and child as Hal did, then suppressive fire does have a place in self defense. Of course if you can fire to hit them even better. The times it is needed might be rare and the danger posed to others must be taken into consideration. Make no mistake if I am being chased by a gunman and my wifes handgun fire from 70 yards forces him to take cover thus allowing me to escape, it was a useful tool to say the least. Despite the bad guy not being hit in Hals case it was still a successful defensive use of the gun.

pickpocket
April 17, 2006, 11:12 AM
Just as a point of contention - my responses were focused on SD outside the home. Once inside your own home, all bets are off and if you've got the capabilities to detonate the claymores on your perimeter and use the malaysian whip covering your front hallway then more power too you. There's no such thing as inappropriate when defending your own home. :)

Way to go, Hal!

Threegun - you're right. That's why I made a specific attempt to delineate between "suppresive fire" and "spray & pray" in an earlier post. Too many people confuse the two.

Trip20
April 17, 2006, 01:05 PM
There's no such thing as inappropriate when defending your own home.

Many have living arrangements in apartments, condos, duplexes, and single-family homes build very close together. It is a valid concern to think about where each and every bullet may go once it leaves your barrel, even if firing from with in your home.

Being in your own home does not mean you should dismiss one of the four rules -- Know your target and beyond.

I'm unsure how important this will seem when someone is attacking you in your own home (i.e., in the heat of the moment defending the lives of yourself and loved ones), so I've tried incorporate this ahead of time when planning the areas of my home to which I'd retreat, if necessary, giving me the best cover, and best/safest line of fire. I've considered this issue as I live in a duplex. It did not take much time to sort out the best options.

Also consider that all members of your family may not be in the same room as yourself, when it comes time to defend your castle...

By no means am I advocating letting your wife and child perish because you are unsure if your neighbor is making a pot of coffee in his kitchen at 3am -- directly in your line of fire... I'm simply suggesting that the significance of knowing what's beyond your target does not diminish when you are with in your own home.

Hal8000
April 17, 2006, 01:56 PM
As I was taught, I so teach... Never fire a round without having a nearly positive idea of where that bullet will wind up... It's part of shooting! A BIG part! You are responsible for your bullet(s)... I agree completely.

I'm simply suggesting that the significance of knowing what's beyond your target does not diminish when you are with in your own home.
In my case, I was counting on more penetration than what I got from my bullets and had no doubt what was in front of and behind my target...

Two further comments: The Sheriff's Department were impressed with my "group". It looks as though all of my years of practice, practice, practice paid off. Even though it was pure instinctive shooting, my bullet placement was perfect with nary a single flyer...
With that said, I say; I should have had a good group, it was like only 10 feet away! Well within the FBI's argument that most shootings occur within 7 yards.

Trip20
April 17, 2006, 02:05 PM
Hal - I certainly wasn't addressing your situation. In my opinion you are a hero, you are courageous, and I hope I have your fortitude to come out ahead if faced with a similar situation.

While reading your story, I was hoping for more penetration as well. I was damning the solid brick wall. ;)

BamaMac54
April 17, 2006, 02:07 PM
"In combat only, suppressive fire had it's purpose of keeping the enemy's head down by the 1st squad so the 2nd squad could advance, so on and so forth. Maybe it's not done like that anymore in the new modern Army."

Yeah, in today's army soldiers are more likely to thrown down suppressive email.

Hal8000
April 17, 2006, 02:13 PM
BTW... Thanks to all of you for the chance to share our experience, and I appreciate everyones civility, it can be a rather touchy subject.

For what it's worth, I think there are very few situations that "suppressive fire" is called for in civilian situations. But I have to admit, there are some, even if we can't think of one. They do exist.
One must be able to adapt with covariant solutions to survive.

threegun
April 18, 2006, 06:03 AM
Hal,

One must be able to adapt with covariant solutions to survive.


Amen. Just do what it takes to survive

Mike Irwin
April 19, 2006, 09:30 AM
The only example I can think of where civilians have ever had to provide suppressive fire is during the Texas Tower incident.

Police got a number of civilians armed with hunting rifles to fire on the tower where Charles Whitman was holed up, which allowed them to get inside the building and end the incident.

Glenn E. Meyer
April 19, 2006, 10:19 AM
Mike, from what I read, the Tower fire from civilians was unorganized and not requested by the police in any formal sense.

threegun
April 19, 2006, 10:57 AM
Ditto what Glenn said. I have seen several shows on the event and can't recall the police organizing with civilians either.

SBrocker8
April 19, 2006, 11:28 AM
Maybe they SHOULD HAVE gotten civilian help, then...:cool: Could have helped in Los Angeles in 1997 as well.