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Old October 29, 2010, 09:40 PM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Ammunition Consumption as a function of OODA loop

A recent thread got me thinking on this subject; but that thread got sidetracked in a different direction, so I wanted to bring up the subject again with focus on the part that interested me.

It is commonly accepted that it may be necessary to fire more than one round to stop a threat when using a firearm defensively. Because most defensive shootings happen at close range and even a relatively untrained shooter can fire rapidly, ending a confrontation quickly reduces the likelihood of being shot.

This leads to a problem - unless you hit the central nervous system, the human body is capable of sustaining a tremendous amount of damage and still keep on going. People with their hearts completely destroyed have remained mobile and active for as long as 13 seconds. With even untrained shooters, this means that somebody with only seconds left to live can still throw a lot of lead your way.

This leads to two schools of thought:

1. Shoot X number of rounds and assess
2. Shoot until the threat goes away

If you adhere to number 2, you have a problem. Even an untrained shooter can fire 2 shots a second without much effort using a semi-auto or revolver. A trained shooter can easily hit 5 shots a second. Even if your hits are immediately effective, it may take a second or two for the target to react and for you to observe that reaction and realize what is happening. Even when you do realize the threat has ended, this study found that 69% of people fired at least 1 extra shot, 17% fired 2 extra shots and 8% fired 3 or more extra shots (Thanks to DocCasualty for sharing the link). In as little as two seconds, you could easily fire between 4 and 10 rounds at a single target. The low end number leaves 1 or 2 rounds in most revolvers and is half the onboard ammo of a compact semi-auto or 1911. The high end number will run all revolvers and many semi-autos dry.

If it later turns out there is another threat that you did not notice intiially, you could easily be out of ammo depending on what you carry. And in theory, you could shoot someone right through the heart on the first shot; but shoot another 26 rounds before they succumbed to the wounds.

On the other side, the shoot X number of rounds and assess method better conserves ammo; but you run the risk of giving somebody who is a trying to kill you a chance to do just that while you assess.

So I am wondering how different TFL members approach this problem? If you carry a 5-shot revolver or 1911 do you train to shoot and assess to conserve your limited ammo load?

If you carry a 9mm semi-auto and shoot until the threat goes away, what do you do when you've fired an entire 17 round magazine (between 4 and 9 seconds into our 13 second hypothetical) and the threat still appears to be present?

How about the scenario where an additonal attacker makes himself known after you've just gone high-stress on a previous attacker?
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Old October 29, 2010, 11:01 PM   #2
Gary L. Griffiths
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I teach, "Shoot to Stop. Shoot until it Stops!" But you don't want to just dump rounds into the threat as fast as you can pull the trigger. You have to re-point the gun at where you're aiming. The impact of a bullet will stop an opponent for at least a fraction of a second, most of the time (PCP users and zombies excepted), and you want to make those shots count. Observe while you're shooting (that's why I'm an advocate of point shooting) so that you don't (1) turn a perfectly good shoot into a grand jury indictment for excessive force, and (2) run dry when the unseen opponent around the corner jumps out and starts shooting at you. I've seen both happen to professionally trained LEOs in simulator training.

Double-tap and observe, though, is insane, IMHO. I've seen many, many, officers trained in double-tap fire their double-tap, then stand there with stupid looks on their faces while the (video) opponent keeps shooting at them. In simulator training, as in real life, you don't know how many of your rounds hit the opponent, and what effect they're going to have on him or her.
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Old October 29, 2010, 11:12 PM   #3
Zak Smith
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Great opening post!

I don't think it's a good idea to train to shoot X number of rounds and then re-evaluate (which really means to stop or pause shooting). You are still shooting because he is potentially a threat by definition, in your scenario, even if he has a mortal wound. Round X+1 might be that CNS you need to stop him immediately.

If multiple threats are present, I would engage proportionally to the threat. Your clincher, when you are either out of ammo or very low, and another threat appears, is a good thing to bring attention to.

In force on force training, I tended to shoot until I was out of ammo (generally 5 rounds or less in training guns), and then beat feet. If there were multiple attackers, I shot roughly in the proportion to the threat, IE, close guy got some hits and then the guy a few feet further back got some hits.

It's definitely a good idea to train reloads using one's actual mode of carrying an extra mag. In a high capacity pistol, I think the need for a reload is much less.
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Old October 29, 2010, 11:31 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
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I'm not sure there's a perfect answer. I've been taught, and teach, to shoot until the threat stops; and that's probably the best compromise. If the assailant is still a threat, I don't see how it could make sense to stop. And if there's another threat, that's why we carry extra ammunition, practice speed reloads and practice moving.

And I agree that we must be observing as we are firing. Overdoing it may create legal problems. But I think the first order of business is to stop the threat.

BTW, in practice, I shoot strings of varying lengths to avoid pre-programing any set number of shots.
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Old October 29, 2010, 11:59 PM   #5
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Big believer in the OODA driven defense mindset, here.

Even if you do #2, #1 will occur. You will cycle through the loop repeatedly and evaluating the effect of your actions is necessary to formulating the next actions. Think of a rolling, looping, diving dogfight. Getting a hit is not a win. Surviving the entire action is a win.

My experience, both collective and personal, is that if you get blind sided by a threat that 'comes out of nowhere' you are likely going to shoot more. The important thing is to have the mechanical aspects of shooting fast and well burned into your subconscious, so your conscious efforts can be invested in further threat assessment and getting the hell out of range of whoever, or whatever, is trying to do you in.
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Old October 30, 2010, 09:14 AM   #6
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My military training says a double tap to the triangle region with the rifle, if the target is still up one to the head. But that is with a rifle.

With a pistol it is the same strategy but I would advise against this. The 5.56 round out of a rifle is significantly more likely to drop a human sized threat than most common SD pistol rounds. It is also easier to aim a rifle under stress than a handgun at anything other than very close range. My personal defense strategy is 3-4 center of mass and evaluate with weapon on target. The more rounds you shoot the less options you have.
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Old October 30, 2010, 09:21 AM   #7
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I think this also...

... just emphasizes the value of getting off the line of fire, preferably behind cover, as soon as possible.

If a heart-shot BG can function and shoot for several seconds, staying where he has decent odds of hitting you seems like a not-so-good tactic.
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Old October 30, 2010, 02:37 PM   #8
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Which is better tactically better shoot and get off the "X" or get off the "X" and then shoot and get off the "X" again? I don't claim to know the answer; but, a mortally wounded attacker is less likely to re-engage if he can't find the target. The expression "Get off the "X" is attributed to John Farnam. It helps break the VCA's OODA loop.
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Old October 30, 2010, 03:46 PM   #9
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Shoot while getting off the x is the best answer
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Old October 30, 2010, 04:33 PM   #10
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if I fire three from my J-frames, ..

I'm getting behind cover and reloading.

Any expenditures over 50%, RELOAD NOW, Don't think, DO IT!

Tha't why I enjoy bowling pins with my J's, you HAVE to PLACE them.

With my BHP then I go double tap.
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Old October 30, 2010, 05:33 PM   #11
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Like SMINCE said, shoot while moving. I am a strong proponant of multiple handguns. A "J" frame ain't a primary. I carry at least 2 reloads for anything I carry (An H&K 40 or a 1911 in 45).

That being said, the number of rounds depends on the initial number of BG's too, don't get so focused on BG A that you don't see B or C. If your first clue that you are in trouble is that you gotta quick draw to respond, you are already behind the curve.
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Old November 5, 2010, 08:18 AM   #12
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I've taken a number of training courses and none of them teach a double tap as the solution to a problem ... with some variations, all teach that you shoot to stop the threat; if it takes one shot, you're golden. If it takes five or six, keep shooting ... Stop the attack; if that means emptying your gun into a PCP-crazed attacker, so be it. But if one shot is sufficient -- and perhaps not fatal, which would be a good outcome for all concerned -- then one shot is enough.
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Old November 5, 2010, 08:34 AM   #13
Glenn E. Meyer
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Great post - at the NTI, in some of the FOF, they gave us revolvers with unknown loads. Made you think - some folks shot as if they had semis. There were reloads on downed compadres if you had got through the fog of 'war' to look for them.

You ended up fighting with tennis rackets and bopping Tactical targets with your flashlight. I did to one.
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Old November 5, 2010, 09:03 AM   #14
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I have to ask: what is the shooter focusing on, if they have to reassess their target?

To me-as much as I shoot-I wouldn't be doing #1 or #2. I think a trained shooter would be focusing on the front sight, the target and surroundings; all simultaneously. I don't necessarily think your trained shooter would be so tunnel-visioned that they either have to dump an entire mag, or shoot X number of rounds and reassess; just my opinion.

If a threat were coming after me, I would shoot center mass then lead to a head shot within a second or two. To just sit there an dump a mag is rediculous because-the OP said-the BG may not succumb to wounds until 12-13 seconds later. So my action would be to double tap, and evade if the target has not dropped yet-giving yourself distance from the attacker.

If all else fails, shoot the head; end of story.
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Old November 5, 2010, 09:12 AM   #15
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Bart, great thread.

I recently found out that my dad was keeping his Sig 229 loaded as his bedside gun... but was only loading the magazines to 10 rounds rather than to full capacity, and he had no spare magazine with the pistol despite having several downstairs in the safe.

The result of this was me dragging him to a "Defensive Handgun 101" class at the local training club. Get off the X, reloading 101, shoot to stop, some close proximity point shooting, etc. He had fun and he learned a good bit. Supposedly, the magazine is now full and there's a second one along side it.

I changed from carrying a 1911 to a wundernine recently for this reason. I've learned since doing a lot of steel shooting, that my magazines are most certainly not bottomless despite being 18+1 rounds when starting. I've been caught unaware at slide-lock rather than performing a tactical reload while moving, many times. It happened a LOT more with my 1911 while still engaging targets.

Aside from the financial aspects of the 9mm making it more economically feasible for me to train more often, I feel that I am simply better protected by having greater capacity (and the brains to move and seek cover while shooting).

There have been so many stages I've had to shoot since beginning to actually train/compete rather than just waste rounds at the range, where I've had to engage multiple targets and reload with a single stack .45, and not have to do it with the wundernine. My wundernine is my carry and nightstand gun, and if I have to defend myself in my house from possibly multiple aggressors, I want to be able to handle the possibility of 2-3 attackers without capacity being my downfall. If it takes 4-6 hits per attacker to stop them, then ideally I want to still have rounds left after dealing with 2 or 3 of them. If the opportunity presents itself I will certainly perform a tactical reload, but firing to slide-lock is something I fear now since I know I can't count my rounds when excited or stressed.
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Old November 5, 2010, 12:54 PM   #16
Eagle0711
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Shooting a lot of rounds is a bad stragity. Dangerous and looks bad in court, and not necessary.

My plan is to take a small fraction of a second and put the front sight between the running lights and press the trigger smoothly straight to the rear. I am willing to take a fast shot at me to accomplish this. Many around here are wearing BP vests. Most will not agree with this, but 5 shots go fast.


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Old November 5, 2010, 03:44 PM   #17
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I would think shooting till empty could be a bad thing.
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Old November 5, 2010, 04:37 PM   #18
Nnobby45
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Quote:
This leads to two schools of thought:

1. Shoot X number of rounds and assess
2. Shoot until the threat goes away
Don't think there are still two schools of thought. Those practicing the former have been weeded from the gene pool by now. Or at least training has changed to teach the latter.

Stopping to evaluate went out of style a long time ago as officers got killed as a result of their missguided politically correct training developed by bureaucrats rather than real world street survivalists.

Just my thoughts on the matter.
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Old November 5, 2010, 04:57 PM   #19
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Emptying the magazine prevents lawsuits from occurring since you will be the only one explaining the encounter. If deadly force is required, it should be exercised to your best advantage. Just make sure that it is required before beginning in your endeavor.

+1 for a backup magazine
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Old November 5, 2010, 09:06 PM   #20
Nnobby45
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Quote:
My plan is to take a small fraction of a second and put the front sight between the running lights and press the trigger smoothly straight to the rear. I am willing to take a fast shot at me to accomplish this. Many around here are wearing BP vests. Most will not agree with this, but 5 shots go fast.
Well, I'm glad to hear that. All that talk from those who've been there, from LE to military, to citizens,who say that one's plans are the first thing to turn to S%#% in a gunfight is now exposed as pure myth.
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Old November 5, 2010, 09:22 PM   #21
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I have been impressed by the numbers of shooters that I have seen screw of simple shooting sequences and who do so mainly when the situation becomes atypical, suffer a distraction, or the like. As such, I would be inclined to believe that many who train to shoot two and only two shots and then reassess will likely find that they have shot numbers other than 2.

Quote:
I would think shooting till empty could be a bad thing.
Back when I started attending Thunder Ranch in 2002 or 2003, there were students in the class who had attended other schools where it was being taught that letting your gun run out of ammo was a bad thing. It meant that you had not managed your ammo-on-board properly and left you defenseless until you reloaded which was then dictacted by your ammo level (0) and hence was not a conscious decision on your part which meant you might be changing mags while vulnerable. This came up with Clint Smith and he went into one of his ranting monologues about the stupidity of never running out of ammo-on-board which included such considerations as...
- people can't count shots under stress (giving several examples of those who claimed to have fired 1 or 2 shots and who fired several times as many or until the gun was empty
- you shoot ammo at your aggressor to save life, not to save ammo.
- there is no logic in not firing the last round if the threat still exists just because some guy at a gun school said it was a bad thing. A bad thing is a threat that hurts you because you didn't shoot it enough.

Quote:
Shooting a lot of rounds is a bad stragity. Dangerous and looks bad in court, and not necessary.
So you only put a couple of rounds in your gun?

Shooting is supposed to be dangerous. That is what makes shooting useful for self defense. The notion of not shooting enough rounds because you are afraid it will look bad in court reflects an improper ranking of priorities. The first priority is to survive the battle, not how it will look it court. How it looks in court doesn't matter if you are all screwed up or dead as a result.

While not specific to the number of rounds shot, here is a great example of a guy worrying about the legalities of his actions during an active shooter situation. The guy, Brandon (Danny) McKowan, was heralded as something of a hero of Tacoma Mall because he did intervene. He had his CCW with him, drew it, reholstered it because he wasn't sure if he could legally have his gun out, then stood from behind cover and verbally challenged the shooter who imediately shot him multiple times. Why wasn't his gun drawn? By his own admission, part of the reason is that he was afraid he would get in trouble for brandishing (see post#20 in the following link as the original news link is dead http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ht=tacoma+mall). McKowan suffers permanent disabilities as a result of his injuries. http://www.danmckown.com/

Note that McKowan's shooter shot him once and as McKowan started to collapse, the shooter followed him down with shots. In short, the shooter neutralized the threat. Unfortunately, the threat was one of the good guys.

Quote:
So I am wondering how different TFL members approach this problem? If you carry a 5-shot revolver or 1911 do you train to shoot and assess to conserve your limited ammo load?
I carry a 1911 and 1 spare mag consistently, sometimes two spares. My idea of conservation of ammo is removing my self from the situation. Proximity to the threat, whether vertical or horizontal, is not a good thing. If I can get to safety before I am out of ammo, then I have conserved ammo.

When it comes to self defense, solve the problem at hand first. You can worry about ammo issues if and when they become an issue.
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Old November 6, 2010, 02:33 AM   #22
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Yes Nnobby 45; I know that. These thigs never go the way that er would like and no two are the same. I know about moving to the left, and getting behid cover, and reloading if necessary. It's a dynamic flowing situation.

I was talking about a basic plan. I'd do it if possible, but who knows for sure what will happen. The 642 could also be fired from the pocket while some enemy has approached you at close range.

First have a gun, better yet have two plus a reload,and always be aware of who is around and watch thier body language. I ain't quite stupid enough to know things are simple and will go my way. If I could control the situation, my origihal statement is what I'd hope to accomplish. I fell off of the turnip wagon a long way back.
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Old November 6, 2010, 02:49 AM   #23
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I was talking about a basic plan. I'd do it if possible, but who knows for sure what will happen. The 642 could also be fired from the pocket while some enemy has approached you at close range.
Well, no offense, Eagle---just that there are those who think the training range and stuff they creatre in their head is like it is for real. MIght have temporarily mistook you for one of those. Plans can (and probably will) turn to crap, but that doesn't mean good tactics always have to.

I like my 642 in my left pants, or inside vest pocket--depending on what I'm wearing. And I really like it in my coat pocket in cold weather when I need to button up, and have restricted access to my main weapon. I always have quick access to a reload, and am never without a flashlight. Parking garages and stairwells can be dark during the day.cool:
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Old November 8, 2010, 04:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
there is no logic in not firing the last round if the threat still exists just because some guy at a gun school said it was a bad thing. A bad thing is a threat that hurts you because you didn't shoot it enough.
Well if you run till empty without hitting anything and the bad guy is still able to shoot = bad thing way I see it.

Best is to maintain mind control, dont panic, aim well and hit the target. Is what I was taught by a shooter that had exp shooting people.

Was taught that the draw and time to get on target was more important than pulling and run till dry. This is what I practise, the draw (c ant shoot if it is in the holster) time to get on target and shoot. Try it and test the speed.

Most SD situations you already have the threat with a weapon on you. No matter how fast you are if he already is on you, well best comply till you can do otherwise.

In other words use your head.

These things were taught to me by a Deputy Sheriff, a former marine with combat exp and a few others back in the day.
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Old November 8, 2010, 04:45 PM   #25
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Well if you run till empty without hitting anything and the bad guy is still able to shoot = bad thing way I see it.
Okay, that is a completely different problem. Not hitting anything is not the same as running out of ammo. Not everyone responds to being shot in a manner that is immediately obvious to the shooter, especially with handgun ammo. You may hit him several times and not know for sure. So do you just stop shooting because you don't think you are hitting? To stop shooting at the bad guy when you know he is still a threat is not a winning strategy.

Quote:
Was taught that the draw and time to get on target was more important than pulling and run till dry.
Nobody here has suggested it is more important to keep firing randomly without the gun being on target. We aren't about draw speed either. This discussion pertains to that which happens after you have been shooting and whether or not you should conserve ammo.

Quote:
These things were taught to me by a Deputy Sheriff, a former marine with combat exp and a few others back in the day.
And I am sure he would think you a ninny if you stopped trying to put rounds on target if the bad guy was still a threat to you.
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