4 Firearms Myths That Bad Guys Believe And You Shouldn’t

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The Home Defense firearm?

4 Firearms Myths That Bad Guys Believe And You Shouldn’t

MYTH 1. You can’t shoot accurately with a (fill in the blank) pistol.

Normally, I hear this argument about subcompacts, pistols/revolvers with long heavy triggers, or pistols that have a long double action for the first round and a single action thereafter.

The fact is that all of these make firing fast and accurate groups more difficult, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for poor performance. Once you know the fundamentals of shooting there are no excuses.

If you have a sub-compact pistol or revolver that shoots large groups, I challenge you to put it in a gun vice, shoot a few rounds with it at 10-15 feet, and see just how precise and accurate it really is.

9 times out of 10, when someone gives me a gun and tells me that it’s all over the place, I can put the next 5 rounds into a 1″ group. Am I a good shot? Yes. But I’m incredibly average as far as physical ability and natural vision go. I’ve just put the time in to be able to consistently grip with 3 of my fingers, keep my thumb relaxed, and patiently focus on the front sight while I slowly press my index finger straight back. The great news about that is that you can practice 90% of what you need to be able to shoot precisely in your living room or basement, doing dry fire, without using any ammo.

And once you can do it with a subcompact or a gun with a “difficult” trigger, you can perform with ANY pistol or revolver.

MYTH 2. It’s better to practice spreading your shots rather than shooting 1 hole groups.

The logic here is that, as you’re practicing on paper targets, you should TRY to spread out your shots so that you’ll do more damage to more organs and hopefully stop your attacker faster.

I believe the exact opposite…that you should practice shooting 1 hole groups and progressively adding speed, motion, and/or stress. Here’s why:

First: Keep in mind that shooting a 1 hole group is a litmus test. The faster you can do it, the more solid your mechanical, vision, and mental skills are for shooting. The slower you have to go, or if you can’t do it at all, indicates that you have some low hanging fruit for improvement.

Second: When you know you can shoot 1 hole groups, your EARNED (not bluster & bravado) confidence goes up. When your earned confidence is high, you stay calmer. When you stay calmer and remain more in control in an extreme stress situation, you’ll dump less adrenaline, have a lower heart rate, you’ll be able to suppress your fight or flight response, and the higher level implicit system of the brain will remain more in control…all of which leads to seeing and identifying threats faster, reacting faster, and performing closer to how you would under ideal conditions. (Confidence is 1 of many factors…having it won’t guarantee success, but a lack of confidence greatly increases the chance of failure in an extreme stress situation)

Third: Let’s look at the “TRYING to spread out your shots increases damage” myth.

Theoretically, I agree with this with a carbine or rifle.

A pistol is not a carbine or rifle. A pistol is a relatively pathetic tool for stopping lethal threats in a timely manner and it normally takes multiple well placed shots to stop the threat from a determined attacker who is at close range. (Determined attacker=one who doesn’t turn and run at the sight of a muzzle blast, regardless of what it does.)

So, back to spreading your groups out vs. 1 hole groups…

2 things…First off, shooting a one hole group at a static paper target standing flat footed doesn’t necessarily translate to shooting a 1 hole group on a dynamic attacker when you’re moving. If you train to shoot 1 hole groups…or at least tight groups, you’ll get the 2-5″ groups that you’re looking for in combat when you add in speed, stress, and motion. If you insist on shooting a standard of 5-8″ groups in practice (without being able to shoot 1 hole groups), stats and hundreds of police after action reports per year show that you’ll probably miss your target with 8-9 of 10 shots fired.

You’re better off firing all of your shots through the same trajectory and letting the movement of your attacker spread where they impact. You’ll get more “effective” center-mass hits, fewer ineffective hits, and fewer misses. It will take fewer shots fired to stop a threat, and probably result in less liability.

Second, keep in mind that even the best defensive ammo is weak and underpowered compared to carbine and rifle ammunition and piling round after round on top of each other is a wonderful thing…if you have a specific purpose and target in mind. If you’re piling round after round through the lower right quadrant of the belly, you’re wasting time and ammo. But if you’re viewing your attacker 3 dimensionally, as you should be, and aiming through the body for the spinal cord at about armpit level, then let’s say, for arguments sake, that the first round uses up a lot of it’s energy punching through clothing and the sternum or other bone. The 2nd shot could go 5″ away from it and spend a lot of it’s energy punching through barriers again, OR it could go through tissue that’s already been damaged and have significantly more energy to disrupt the circulatory system or possibly even get a CNS stoppage by hitting the spine. Will it really happen? Probably not. The first example is more realistic than this one–the chance of you and your attacker being in the exact same spot and orientation from 1 shot to the next is next to zero…which is all the more reason to TRY to pile your rounds on top of each other rather than adding a variable to the equation.

MYTH 3. All fine motor skills will fail under extreme stress.

I LOVE this argument, mainly because I’ve been passionate on both sides of it. I used to be passionate that all fine motor skills failed under extreme stress…until I had enough people who’d been in combat multiple times tell me I was wrong. Fine motor skills don’t fail under stress, PEOPLE fail under stress and people can train and inoculate themselves to stress to the point where they can respond calmly and precisely in situations where others default to gross motor skills or freeze.

This is kind of tricky and fuzzy, but suffice it to say that there’s a gauntlet that you have to go through before you respond calmly in situations where others get over-amped up or freeze and you won’t know that you’ve made it through until you’ve been tested and had one or more successful outcomes…be it simulated (realistically) or real.

What you’ll find is that the more you’ve practiced a given fine or complex motor skill, the longer you’ll be able to perform it at higher pulse rates and higher adrenaline (among other brain chemical/hormone) levels. In other words, it’s more accurate to say that fine motor skills that haven’t been practiced enough will fail when you have an extreme reaction to an extreme stress event.

MYTH 4. You fall down and stop fighting or die when you get shot.

At the beginning of the Global War On Terror, people were getting shot with non immediate life threatening wounds, not realizing they were shot (and still fighting) and then, when they saw that they were shot, falling on the ground screaming like what they’d seen people do on TV and sometimes even dying.

It’s what we see on TV & movies. When you play paintball and get hit, you raise your gun and yell “I’m hit” or “I’m out” and stop fighting. Same with airsoft. Same with MOST wax bullet and simunition training. It’s not reality.

There’s a 90%+ chance that you’ll survive a single gunshot wound…and that’s without body armor. If you are conscious and realize that you’ve been shot, regardless of the number of times, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll survive. SO KEEP FIGHTING IF YOU GET HIT and finish the fight!

Something else to keep in mind…if someone is shot and drops to the ground due to a drop in blood pressure, going horizontal might compensate blood pressure enough for them to get back in the fight. We saw this in the St. Cloud Mall stabbings. If someone drops to the ground due to their pelvic girdle being hit, they may not be mobile, but they can still trigger a bomb (like we saw in the Istanbul airport bombing) or shoot a gun. People can also drop to the ground temporarily for psychological or electrical reasons and quickly get back in the fight. So if you get shot and go to the ground, don’t think you’re out of the fight. If you shoot a threat and they drop to the ground, it’s not a guarantee that they’re out of the fight, so continue to access the threat!

Todd Widick
Todd Widick
Todd Widick served six years with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. He currently holds instructor certifications with the California Department of Justice in Pistol and the National Rifle Association in Pistol, Rifle, and shotgun. Todd is gunshot trauma trained and a certified CCW instructor for the states of Utah & Florida. He also holds a Class 1 Federal Firearms license.

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