You Can Get Killed


Rule One: Only hits count.

Being involved with firearms and firearms training for the last thirty years, I’ve heard some pretty amazing things come from the mouths of the unknowing. I had a pretty well-known IPSC shooter tell me, “I’m so fast I’ll shoot you before you can get to cover.”

This, of course, could be true based on proximity, available cover, marksmanship and some other small tactical considerations like whether or not you were shooting at him while he was shooting at you. Fights often don’t go the way we plan them, and very few folks I know of would willingly go to a fight, if they thought they might get killed.

Train realistically and aggressively — not like it’s “Play-Day.”


We could train hard, and not like much of today’s “entertainment” training; but training to take lives and to defend others and ourselves. Much of today’s training is geared toward the casual wanna-be shooter, who often doesn’t realize to what level of severity his or her training will be tested in a real fight. They simply want to be entertained while at the training program — where’s the fun stuff?

“What no paint balls or plastic bullets? Yo, what’s this, no coffee, no doughnuts? And when do we get to shoot cool stuff, because I’m better than everyone else in this class, and what are their credentials compared to mine, by the way?” And before you pick up that pen to write to me to complain, don’t, unless you’ve been to some training and seen first-hand what I’m talking about. A simple request, I think.

In training, it’s often hard to replicate the conditions you will fight in. I know, because I have been trying for 30 years. But what I’ve found, actually, is in my opinion, most of the effort of replicating those conditions comes from the shooter’s mind — not the exercise itself. It’s how you think about it.

Bob, 75 years young, climbed this and engaged targets. Could you?

Physical Conditioning:

Often to simply survive will require physical conditioning of epic proportions. Test yourself and run up and down a flight of stairs four or five times, sprint fifty meters or do fifty pushups. Tired? Do one — or all of these things — and then look at your sights. Sights moving? Hands shaking? Breathing a little raspy?

If your argument is “I’m too old,” theres a funny thing about that attitude. Just today, I saw a 75-year-young man named Bob, with over 10,000 HALO parachute jumps, climb up a two-story ladder and clear a tactical house. He didn’t seem too old to me. Physical conditioning, appropriate to your age and health, without reservation contributes to your survivability.


“What wins fights is in your head not your tools,” “Who Dares Wins,” “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Whoever made these statements is correct to a degree. A willingness to fight is good, and appropriate when applied to the right time and place. In speculation, I think Custer may have been willing as he started down the hill toward the Greasy Grass River. Thirty minutes later, he may have been thinking differently.


Competent marksmanship is hard to define, and each person seems to have their own concept of what will be good enough for them in a fight. Because a fellow shot a good score on a P.P.C., I.D.PA. or I.P.S.C. course doesn’t, in my opinion, mean they can survive in a gun-fight. Is competition good practice? Yes, I actually believe it is as long as it’s kept in a proper perspective. However, I’ve never seen or shot in a match that was like any fight I was ever in. Simple bottom line here: You don’t hit the target — it doesn’t count. And, because you hit the target, doesn’t mean the fight is over.


The only thing harder to define than marksmanship is tactics. Boy is this a can of worms. If I’ve seen one, I’ve see, 50 ways to clear a doorway. The bottom line there is if there’s somebody inside the door with a gun, all the methods suck. Anything that involves tactics can get you killed.

The End

There is often one missing piece to the puzzle of training, physical conditioning, mindset, marksmanship and tactics. If you are in exactly the right place at the right time, shooting magnificently, applying good tactics — and you have the will and the skill — you can still get killed. Even if you did it all correctly.

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