View Full Version : Tueller drill

Byron Quick
February 19, 1999, 06:35 AM
I have never participated in this drill so I have no experience here. I do have a question about it though based on personal experience.

As I understand the drill the assailant is about 21 feet away and can usually close on the good guy before the good guy can draw and fire. Is this basically correct?

OK. I had a confrontation years ago with a customer who objected to repossession of his major appliances. We were talking outside of his house in a workshed. Distance was about three feet. There was a tool box to his right a little in front of him with a row of bags of nails on top. The discussion was amicable when suddenly he grabbed a sledge hammer handle concealed on top of the tool chest behind the row of nail bags. The tool chest was about waist height. As he quickly raised the sledge overhead to cock for a strike, I slid off the line of attack by taking a large step with my right leg to my right rear oblique. Simultaneously with the step, I swept my sports coat with my strong hand and broke the thumbstrap. He had reached the top of his cocking swing at this point. He saw 1) that I had moved a step out of range and 2)that I was in the process of drawing a weapon. He released the hammer handle at the top of the swing. I backed up a few paces with my hand remaining on my pistol. The repossession proceeded with no further incidents.

The Tueller drill suggests that this guy should have beat my brains out. It didn't happen. I can't claim superior hand speed or superior hand/eye coordination. From martial art training I know I am well within average.
From other confrontations while I was still in repossessions I suspect I have higher octane adrenaline than the usual though. In real situations I have never had anyone manage to touch me if I saw them first. Not bragging or anything here, people, just trying to explain my experience to myself because it appears to contradict conventional wisdom.

Rob Pincus
February 19, 1999, 10:37 AM
The drill suggests that a person can close a significant distance in the time it takes to draw and fire a weapon. Whether or not it covers raising and striking with a hammer I don't know. IT is generally used to represent a charge with a knife, the idea being that even if you do get your gun out and fire, the guy with the knife will have enough momentum going to stab you (contrary to movies where 165gr bullets send 200 lb guys flying through windows...)

Personally, I view the drill as a trqaining aide to get people to understand how fast things happen. I know a lot of people who can "beat" the drill with a train pistol and a well timed side-step, but most people can't. Furthermore, "the drill" is useful for getting people to understand the importance of a dynamic response, as opposed toa static, 3 or 4 count presentation. Analyzing the situation, being prepared, reacting with your whole body, and presenting the weapon rapidly are all stressed during the proper presentation of the theories behind the Tueller Drill.


Joe 543
February 19, 1999, 10:53 AM
Spartacus, I don't know the extent of your training. But, from a LEO point of view. You should have never allowed him in the work shed. If the gentleman was in there when you arrived you should have asked (tell) him to accompany you outside. Even with a center mass double tap, he still could have quite possibly given you a good wack. I remember a scene (not mine) where a hatchet weilding man was shot 8 times with .45(emptied) before he fell. The officer was backing while shooting. Distance covered about 20 feet.

Stay safe

Jim March
February 19, 1999, 11:12 AM
The Tueller drill presupposes that the knife/club armed assailant has already drawn. In this case the guy had to make a grab for the weapon first, which helped.

Second, the "offline dodge" helped a WHOLE lot.

Am I close to sorting this out? It's a DAMN good question and post...

Jim March

Mike Spight
February 19, 1999, 11:27 AM
Joe: You raised a good point from a LEO standpoint...just remember that Spartacus was doing a job as a repo man and basically (IMHO) can't ask (tell) someone to do squat when that person is on his own property...his best option would have been not to place himself in a confined space w/the other individual. If he wanted to be sure of compliance would have been to bring LEO with him to make the repo if that practice is allowed in his city/county/state.

[This message has been edited by Mike Spight (edited February 19, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Mike Spight (edited February 19, 1999).]

Mike Mello
February 19, 1999, 11:57 AM
I think that Rob said it best. Any drill is just that, a drill. That doesn't mean that it works or does not work under all circumstances. What the drill does teach is that the ol' adage of "don't bring a knife (or club or chair) to a gun fight" may fall short of the real world.

As others have stated, I have seen mutants hit with several rounds, and still keep coming for more or running away. The human body/mind is a unique and crazy thing. Harry and I were just talking about this topic last week. His stories make mine sound tame with the ablilties of "the human spirit"

Rosco Benson
February 19, 1999, 04:41 PM
We run a variation on the Tueller drill in Rick Miller's Paladin program. The shooter faces a target at 3 yards. A runner takes a position 7 yards away, which positions him to run toward the shooter from the side, safely passing behind him. The shooter looks at the runner and, when the runner starts to move, the shooter draws and attempts to neutralize the target in front of him before the runner can smack him on the shoulder while passing by. There is time to get the hits, but not much more.

Variations on the drill have the start signal being the runner passing the 7 yard line at a full run (as opposed to a standing start). This cuts into the time available for the shooter to solve the problem. Another variation is to have the shooter start with his pistol in hand, in a low-ready position. This illustrates how much more quickly a target can be addressed when starting with the pistol in hand.

Given that, even with perfect hits, an attacker might not be stopped or his inertia might carry him into you...knocking you ass over teakettle and making you easy pickings for his buddies...one should practice moving off the line of the attack.

The main benefit of all this is to illustrate just how quickly a rather large distance can be closed. If this drill is incorporated into the training for a police department or individual citizen (and documented), it might prove to be helpful if the trainee is ever accused of shooting a contact-weapon-armed attacker at across-the-room distance. Absent this documentable training, the jury might well see things as "YOU had a gun and HE had a knife and he was ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE LIVING ROOM from you...WHY did you have to shoot him!???". If this drill has been documented as part of your training, then you might be able to have it demonstrated for the jury. Remember, it won't be a jury of your "peers", it'll be a jury comprised of people who draw their knowledge of CQB from "Starsky & Hutch" reruns.

As to Spartacus' good outcome with the hammer-weilder (Thor or Maxwell?); It is obvious that Spartacus was being observant and wasted no time when the threat presented itself. It is also difficult to say whether "Thor" really wanted to press the attack or was just "acting out" in a show of defiance. It also takes a bit of time and unproductive motion to "cock" one's arm while holding a heavy object. Considering that it takes a well-conditioned and alert person about .25 seconds to react to an anticipated stimulus, it is clear that someone at arms length can generally strike or stab you before you can draw and fire a handgun. That doesn't mean that you're not going to draw and fire WHILE he's striking or stabbing you, but he'll get in the first lick while you're drawing or taking other defensive action in most cases. It's a simple reaction-time thing. Keep your distance!


Jim March
February 19, 1999, 04:50 PM
One more thing: this all goes right back to why I love having a little "front pocket surprise" mousegun. If I get generally bad vibes I can stand around with hands in pocket without "causing escalation where none might have existed". If I *really* get the chills, you'd never spot me slipping "Baby" the .22Mag minirevolver clean out of it's leather pocket holster and going all the way to "full grip, thumb on hammer, finger straight" - and from there my "time to fire" is REAL fast.

A lot faster than somebody good with an IWB 1911 in condition 1.

Picking your "front pocket surprise mousegun" is if anything MORE important than picking your "true fighting handgun" because you'll have the shrimp more often, you'll be able to do these "prepped draws" if you get bad vibes, and you've got the "reach for the wallet" gag available for a close-range mugger.

The NAA Guardian is a GREAT choice for the role but I like my minirevolvers, I'm used to 'em, etc.

Jim March

Byron Quick
February 19, 1999, 05:11 PM
Good points, folks. When I was in repo, I was VERY observant but as mentioned I couldn't "tell" people squat. My assailant had a sledge hammer handle not a sledge hammer. Jim will recognize what I did with footwork as it is Bujinkan. I moved from shizen no kamae (natural posture feet about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hands at side) into ichimonji no kamae off the line of attack. My assailant would have had to take another step to reach me with his swing and I could have "tried" to move off the new line of attack while firing.

Taking an LEO would have been wonderful. Unfortunately, at that time in Georgia doing so took about two hundred bucks and about six weeks to arrange. Often that would make the repo unprofitable or impossible as the person would have moved.

I eventually got burned out doing this. My reaction to threats became "do it." With that attitude it was only a matter of time before I went to prison for illegal force. I changed carreers :)

February 19, 1999, 09:58 PM

With all respect, I dislike having my hands in my pockets if a confrontation is brewing. Yes, I would prefer to have my hands out and usable as opposed to in my pocket, fondling my MiniMaster. :)

February 19, 1999, 10:27 PM
The Tueller drill, as taught by both Farnam and Ayoob, the knife person starts the move, the shooter must react. When Farnam taught my class in 1987, the drill was run several ways. First with shooter standing still, then with shooter backing up on the same line as line of attack, and last with shooter moving back at an angle to the attack. I have seen attackers cover the 7yds in 1 1/4 seconds -- and I cannot react, draw, and fire an accurate stopping shot from concealment, that fast. Moving at an angle away from the attack will allow proper defense. GLV

Harry Humphries
February 21, 1999, 03:34 PM
Great topic Spartacus!

I tend to vision close combat with trident and net when you get on, but that's just me going back to my former self - hopefully I was the guy in the stands with the laurel reef on my head drinking lots of Roman wine, eating grapes- you know.

Just as your namesake realized over two millenniums ago, the combat is not predictable as anything that can go wrong in its execution will. Those who shouldn't have won did, the weak often got the upper hand through blind luck, etc., etc. Thus every conceivable fight scenario was staged and rehearsed using all sorts of training aids, drills, and so on, in order to automate, if you will, reflexive responses to as many forms of the potential attack as possible.

The "Tueller Drill" is designed to expose the student to an understanding of spatial relationships and motor functionability with respect to deteriorating effects of survival stress on combat performance. Normally the student realizes that the 21 foot rule should be increased to 30 feet or more. This is a good thing and the more one trains with the onrushing opponent the smoother the defensive reactions becomes.

However, the prepared responder, one who is anticipating the attack (Condition Orange), trained or not will physically outperform the surprised (Condition White), trained victim during the crucial initial seconds of the encounter. That has real meaning when you consider 21 feet can be covered in less than two seconds.

Your combat experience has given you a clear understanding of your performance under an anticipated attack, and you handled it well. If you were not aware of this joker's presence and you turned around and met with an onrushing attack, I can assure you that your initial reactions would have been much different, as mine or anyone's would have been.

Byron Quick
February 22, 1999, 09:07 AM

The worst injury I have ever received was when an onlooker attacked me from behind. He hit me so hard that the ring on my finger flew off. I received a concussion and a couple of days of amnesia. My attacker then proceeded to attack my opponent. I guess maybe he was a fanatic pacifist and the sight of two people fighting just totally pissed him off.

This happened several times during my teenage years. Eventually it dawned on me that when I was surprised by an attack or attacked from behind that I was getting my butt kicked pretty bad. I wasn't having any problem at all dealing with sudden attacks from the front.

Ever since I have endeavoured to train my self to two standards. Avoid surprise. Watch my six.

Douglas in CT
February 22, 1999, 09:20 AM
I seem to live life just outside of what is considered "Condition White".
Enjoying life and not aware of even looking for threats - except watching out for the idiots behind the wheel on the highways.

Am I really THAT NAIVE?
What, if anything am I doing wrong?

All responses will be carefully considered.

Thank you.

~Douglas in CT :)

Mike Spight
February 22, 1999, 11:43 AM
Douglas in CT...Yes, based on what you have told us I would have to say you are naive. But recognizing the problem takes one a long way toward correcting the situation. You said you do pay a lot of attention to idiots behind the wheel when you're operating your vehicle. Just apply the same principle to your surroundings when walking to/from your car at the local mall, 7-11 or wherever, and you'll be in Condition Yellow...best described as a state of relaxed watchfulness..not unlike a cat who remains focused on what is important, it's physical well-being...not taxes, your idiot boss, etc, but what is going on around you. It's really simple, and is most definitely NOT a state of perpetual paranoia...it's merely being aware of one's surroundings, the people who are around you, and what they are doing (especially if they're paying too much attention to you). Cooper and Ayoob have written some pretty good stuff on this...Good luck!

Byron Quick
February 24, 1999, 01:42 AM
Harry, I always thought the retiarius fighting with the trident and net was pretty cool, myself. I could watch them all day :)

Glenn Dee
March 6, 2010, 08:47 AM
The thing about "DRILL'S" is... everyone must play by the rules. In reality most people dont. And neither should you. While Driil's are helpfull in developing stratigy... By relying on the lesson learned from a drill, you may miss the big picture. IMO Armed confrontations ( civilian) are extremely fluid, and dynamic. A person concerned with getting into an armed confrontation may be better served by learning to be as fluid, and dynamic in their defense.

Glenn Dee.

Bud Helms
March 6, 2010, 08:56 AM
Dead-thread alert!

March 6, 2010, 09:12 AM
Going to go ahead and close this 11-year-old thread (wow, that has to be some sort of internet record...)

Please feel free to open a fresh one to discuss Tueller Drill if you'd like. Not trying to shut down the discussion itself, just trying to avoid confusion & hurt feelings when earlier posters in this thread "ignore" later ones! :D