View Full Version : Shooting Techniques Against Multiple Opponents

Hard Ball
September 10, 2002, 10:30 AM
What do you do when you have to deal with two or three opponents at close rane and you and they are armed with firearms.

In this case should you shoot number one twice ("Double tap" him) then shift to number two, double tap him and then swicth to number three? Or should you fire one shot each at each attacker in order to engage all three in the shortest possible time?

Obviously a double tap increases the probability of putting an attacker out of the fight, but obviously it takes longer. Your life may depend on your tactics,

It's interesting that experts disagree strongly on which technique is best. If it were your decsion what would you do?

Oleg Volk
September 10, 2002, 10:45 AM
Depends on the situation. If you can, move so they line up and interfere with each other's field of fire.

If cover is availiable, run to it first.

Else I'd shoot the closest target till is falls, then the next and so on. Faster to fire multiples than to pivot and switch aim to a new target.

Realistically, two opponents of similar competence will always win over a single guy. Bring backup.

Christopher II
September 10, 2002, 10:57 AM
Situations are very dynamic, so this advice might not work all the time. In general:

- Get to cover. Your chances of surviving against multiple opponents if you just stand there like a range weenie are slim and none. If there's no cover, move. It's tougher to hit a moving target, and maybe you can just run away. If you can't move, get small. Crouch, go prone, do something to minimize your chances of being hit. Fight dirty.

- Pick the most dangerous threat and cancel it. Might be the closest guy, might be the guy with the biggest gun, whatever. Get rid of the most dangerous one first. Shoot him until he's not a threat.

- Shoot the other threats as they become available. Maybe they'll run away, or surrender. If not, shoot the next threat until he goes down.

- Maintain your tactical advantage. Don't let the bad guys ruch your cover, get behind you, etc. Maneuver to improve your position. If the opportunity appears to run away, do so.

- Backup is good to have; make sure you can (and do) communicate with your buddy. It's harder to fight as a team than as an individual, but with good communications and tactics a partner or two can be an invaluable asset. Hope and pray that your opponents haven't practiced fighting as a team.

- Chris

September 10, 2002, 11:34 AM
Shoot and move.

You should practice shooting while moving. It gives you a massive advantage.

Of course cover is paramount.

As far as which cretin to shoot first: if they're roughly the same distance from you (+- 4 feet) put one shot in each and repeat as necessary. If any of them are closer than 5 feet, shoot them until they drop.

September 10, 2002, 11:35 AM
I seem to recall in IDPA there being a "picnic" method, in which everybody gets a helping before going back for seconds. Of course, that was IDPA.

Hard Ball
September 10, 2002, 12:22 PM
Looking in my notebool I see that I recorded under multiple targets that Hackathorn and Wilson ran a series of tests and found that in this situation firing double taps addeb only small amounts of time in this situation. Perhaps I can test this the next time I go to the range.

September 10, 2002, 12:23 PM
So many variables, so little time. If there is no close cover and the multiple targets are close together (1' or so apart) and roughly the same distance from me, I'd put one into each while moving for the nearest cover. If the targets are more spread out, double-tap with followup head shot if necessary (and I can stand roughly still or slow movement to assure a good hit) going from the closest target to furthest away.

as always, YMMV :eek:

September 10, 2002, 01:14 PM
Then engage the other 2.

September 10, 2002, 10:40 PM
Double tap times three.

It can be done very quickly with practice. (So quick that "which one" hypotheticals border on being moot.)

If not...

More El Presidente drills are in order.

September 10, 2002, 11:05 PM
Determined BGs with guns drawn and intent of taking you out...?

Bend over, put your arms between your legs, grab your ankles, and contort yourself so as to get into position, then kiss your butt goodbye.... :(

If they're average punks, you MIGHT do well to take out the closest one while he's in the field of vision of the other two. They're liable to puke and run or run and puke. Of course you'll have to do this while also being a tiny moving target yourself. Yell loudly, agressively, and fanatically like you're enjoying the encounter, and act like it!

September 11, 2002, 12:05 AM
Hey, with 15 shots how hard could it be? MWAHAHAHAHA

September 11, 2002, 02:21 AM
Decide if you're going to flank as you run for cover, if so, shoot the guy towrd your flank.
Funny word.
Maybe just yell "FLANK" a bunch and see what they do.


September 11, 2002, 05:45 AM
Seems I read a story in a tactics book (Ayoob, Suarez, etc?) of a LEO who gave a 2nd serving to 2 of 3 attackers when the 3rd made a fuss.

September 20, 2002, 01:49 PM
To quote Jim Grover: "The situation dictates."

Unfortunately, there are no simple solutions that will cover every situation.

That being said, I think it's reasonable that a round put into each threat as fast as possible is the way to go. Apply more rounds, as necessary...

Distance, time, training, capacity (i.e., what you can actually do, as opposed to your potential--Thanks to Tony Blauer for introducing me to that concept via video tape), equimpment, terrain and situation (Are you alone? In a crowd? With your family?) are some of the variables that have to be taken into account.

The two tactical options for movement are always moving towards a threat or away from it. Move away from it when you can (and it is safe to do so) and move towards it isn't safe to do so. This doesn't, necessarily, mean a frontal approach...A diagonal approach that allows for putting effective fire on target while moving towards a position of cover would be an example.

I think the key concept here is to have a plan, to have trained to perform that plan under stress and to be able to adapt and improvise on the spot. In other words, "The situation dictates."

September 20, 2002, 02:33 PM
Letting 3 bad guys draw while you're armed yourself is a situation that should have never happened. -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- happens though, so I'd probably give a single shot to each while heading for cover. Then worry about the ones that are still coming at you.

September 20, 2002, 04:14 PM
Can this answer really be answered?There may be a "right" answer,But when the lead starts flying,All plans go out the window.

Double Naught Spy
September 20, 2002, 05:06 PM
Hardball, we ran Hackathorn's drill in his class. Three opponents who were all about 2 yards distant, one at 9 o'clock, one at 12, and one at 3. At the time, the shooter was to draw and fire one shot into the 12 postion target, then one in each of the others. The whole class did that drill. Then we repeated with double taps. In general, double taps at that range required 0.4-0.5 seconds extra time - not much.

That being said, the extra 0.3-0.4 seconds it takes to get to that last guy is something of an eternity. Assuming his weapon was out and on target, he may be able to shoot you two times simply in that short amount of time, never mind all the time you spent drawing, firing, changing target, and firing before you ever got to the guy.

There are all sorts of theories on what is best. Personally, I believe in addressing targets in order of perceived threat to me and then secondly in terms of opportunity. Usually, that would mean dealing with the closest person first. Some people feel you should deal with all attackers at least once and then go back as necessary. If you don't neutralize your most immediate threat, you can bet he is not going to wait for you to come back to shoot him in round two. He will either shoot you dead or flee.

Upon shooting the #1 threat, as noted, movement is a good idea. If you can move in such a manner as to 'stack' your oppenents, then you will have less targets to deal with simultaneiously. Of course, as quickly as you stack, they will unstack and the situation will remain quite fluid.

Remember, just because you killed more people than your opponents does not mean you won the fight if you end up dead or crippled. A gun will only all you to throw bullets at your opponent but will do little to protect you from bullets thrown at you. It is much better for both sides to come away with little or no injury than for your to take the Hackathorn lesson and double tap to death Bad Guys 1 & 2 and then be shot dead by #3 who then takes the wallets from all three downed people and leaves in your car.

September 21, 2002, 07:51 AM
Move and shoot.
If you stand in place you make a better target.

Migrate to cover/concealment.
If they can't see all of you you've reduced the target size for them to shoot at.

Shoot from cover.
See above. Nothing rattles more than being in the open and taking fire from someone that isn't.

Practice, practice, practice!!

In my training I didn't find double taps to take nearly as long as people think they do.

September 21, 2002, 09:31 AM
In the 1980's a very experienced New Jersey State Trooper was shot and killed by 2 armed assailants on I-80. The distance was about 6 feet. The trooper missed with all his shots, dropped behind cover to reload, and was killed when the Bg's flanked and shot him in the side, between the panels of his vest.

Not mentioned anywhere above was taking the time to get hits. Everyone seems to assume that in a certified clusterf*ck the bullets will magically hit the BG's. Doesn't happen that way.

Hits count. Good hits count more.

September 21, 2002, 10:56 AM
BAD situation. Very dynamic with an infinate number of possible variations. That's why the experts can agree on a counter...

Things they mostly seem to agree on though are to

1. Action beats reaction - get going so it is they that have to catch up.
2. Act decisively and agressively - its your only hope. Decisively also means making your shots count.
3. Be a moving target - heading for cover while making good hits.
4. And hope you've lived life well and are ready to meet your maker......... (Wait - this ain't one of 'em. Its a nice thought, but has a defeatist attitude. You must have the intention and attitude that you will win. Proper mindset is essential. Without it, you've already lost.

It doesn't matter how many times you get shot, people survive shootings all the time - realize that and make sure it is you who put the BGs down for the count not the other way around.)

If If you can't do that, reread the first part of #4.

September 21, 2002, 12:51 PM
I keep seeing references to Hackathorn's drill, remember in the drill the targets were not moving. Real people move. If it takes you 1.5 seconds to draw, shoot and hit Bad Guy #1, what are BG#2 and BG#3 doing. They aren't just going to stand there and wait for you to shoot them. If they began rushing towards you as you iniated your drawstroke, they are going to be way closer than when the scenario started.

As has already been said, there are no hard and fast rules, particularly in dynamic situations, and I think three guys trying to kill you qualifies as "dynamic", but I tend to fall back on "boarding house rules". Everyone gets firsts before anybody gets seconds.


Gabe Suarez
September 24, 2002, 12:12 PM
Greetings Gents,

This issue of multiple adversaries is sometimes a confusing one. This is such because much of the "doctrine" for it has been developed on the firing range and not in the real world. The firing range is after all, only a simulation of reality, and not reality itself. First of all, forget the clock. The clock has its use in the development of skills and attributes, but it has nothing to do with anything else. Second, stop thinking of "targets" and begin thinking of "adversaries".

With a multiple adversary scenario there are two different situations. One is the multiple sequential adversaries problem. FWIW, I've been in two Multiple Sequential Adversary confrontations. The other is the multiple simultaneous adversaries problem.

In truth, with multiple simultaneous adversaries, (of assumed equal skill to you), and where you all go to guns at the same time, you will probably get shot. There are things you can do to mitigate the danger (although you will not eliminate it).

One is to move. In our courses we take multiple simultaneous adversaries on the move. To stand still ("plant your feet, face downrange.....etc.) is silly.

Two is to use the environment and any available distractions to forestall the attack of one or more adversaries while you mount your own attack.

Three is to "Line 'em up". Move so you have them more in line than accross your field of fire. Anyone who has trained in combatives and run through multiple man sparring knows that lining them up makes things easier for you. The situation is the same here.

Four is to Shoot 'em to the ground. Your magazine has anywhere between seven to seventeen rounds. Use them all if needed and then reload. Do not be stingy with your ammo in a situation like this.

Now to the second type of Multiple Adversary Problem - Multiple Sequential Adversaries. This means one-after-the-other, as opposed to all-at-once. With these the same process you use for a single adversary will do, but you will simply face the need to be able to disengage from one to other as he appears. The key point here is that YOU OFTEN DO NOT KNOW there are others in the fight.

As far as who you hit first and how many times and all that stuff - My Rule of Thumb is to go to the man who is most visually focused on you at the moment of contact. His reaction time will be less than the others and he is thus most dangerous (regardless of weapons).

Two shots - one shot - pattern, etc.?? At my last course taught in L.A. (Combative Pistol Concepts I) we had a long discussion about this. I took to students and had them face a row of targets. Shooter A had three targets and he was going to fire two round bursts on each. Shooter A represented the unfortunate individual who is suddenly confronted with hree adversaries, two of which may not be specifically focused on his presence. Shooter B had one single target. He represented the third adversary of a bad guy trio. His objective was to simply hit that target as fast as he could when he first heard shooter one's gunfire (I even let him point shoot if he wanted to).

The results? Shooter two always shot his target before shooter one ever even got to his third target. When we changed shooter A's mission to fire one shot on each, he beat shooter B 80% of the time. If we add the issue of movement, it was clear that such an engagement was only winnable by shooter A, but decisively so.

Bottom line, multiple adversary situations can be divided into Simultaneous or Sequential. Simultaneous ones are very difficult to win and very dangerous. That said, there are things you can do to minimize the danger and survive...even win one of these. But first, think of the targets not as "targets" but as equally trained men who are just as dangerous as you are...maybe more so.


Gabe Suarez
Suarez International Training Academy