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Old April 12, 2006, 05:18 PM   #1
Socrates3000
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Suppressive Fire

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 Is the idea of one shot, one kill outdated and overrated?
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Old April 12, 2006, 06:17 PM   #2
pickpocket
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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/...d.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.
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Old April 12, 2006, 10:26 PM   #3
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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.
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Old April 12, 2006, 11:33 PM   #4
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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.

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Old April 12, 2006, 11:46 PM   #5
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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).
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Old April 12, 2006, 11:53 PM   #6
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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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 12:05 AM   #7
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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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 02:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 10:18 AM   #9
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Unless you carry far more ammunition than most people do, ask yourself how many rounds can you afford to use up in supressive fire.
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Old April 13, 2006, 06:35 PM   #10
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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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 07:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Charlie
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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 07:46 PM   #12
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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:
  1. Prevent the enemy from effectively engaging you with direct-fire weapons
  2. 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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 10:48 PM   #13
Capt Charlie
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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 .

And they wondered why I decided to go Navy after that .
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Old April 13, 2006, 11:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
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.
Quote:
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.
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Old April 13, 2006, 11:39 PM   #15
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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!
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Old April 13, 2006, 11:41 PM   #16
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Ah, for the good old days!
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Old April 15, 2006, 11:02 AM   #17
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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.
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Old April 15, 2006, 11:26 AM   #18
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I used it once...

Here is my story...

Given the same variables, I'd do it again... My family is still alive!
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Old April 15, 2006, 12:15 PM   #19
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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.
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Old April 16, 2006, 11:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal8000
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!
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Old April 16, 2006, 11:50 PM   #21
Socrates3000
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My Apologies

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.
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Old April 17, 2006, 07:59 AM   #22
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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:
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Old April 17, 2006, 08:31 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Neophyte: [QUOTE][/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!
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Old April 17, 2006, 09:00 AM   #24
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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.
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Old April 17, 2006, 09:35 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Malloy
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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Malloy
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.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal8000
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!
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