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Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
Just shoot them?

Here is an old video of Dan Inosanto playing the role of a knife wielding criminal in unscripted police training. The point of the video is to demonstrate to police officers that “I’d just shoot them” is not a great tactic at closer than 21 feet when facing someone who may have a knife.

All the best,


JWT's picture

It's an excellent video Iain - thanks for posting it here.  I show it on quite a few of my courses and I often make reference to the Tueller drill.

I'm not sure whether you've seen it, but the article I've put a link to below from Police Patrol looks at the training tool above in context and raises some important points.


Marcus_1's picture

We do something similar to highlight the drawing of a tactical baton (work related).

Holgersen (not verified)
Visitor's picture

Videos like this have changed deadly force laws in different localities in the United States if I'm not mistaken. Before, it could be considered excessive force to shoot someone weilding a knife if they were farther than just a few feet.

It's pretty much accepted in defensive handgun circles, in the United States, that someone can charge you from 21 feet away with a knife and stab you before you can even clear your holster. I'm not sure anyone reputable even suggests the idea anymore where I'm from.

Still a great video. It's easy to get over confident with "superior firepower."

Wastelander's picture

This video, and the Tueller drill, are very important things to keep in mind for those of us who carry firearms. In training, it is important to practice dealing with this type of situation. I have found that, with the right movement and appropriate application of checks and kicks, it is quite possible to draw and fire on a knife-wielding opponent within the 21 foot range. Granted, this is all done with training weapons, so there is obviously not the same level of stress and fear involved. Without my karate training, however, I would most certainly not be able to do it, even with the training weapons.

Holgersen (not verified)
Visitor's picture

Exactly with training it is possible to draw your weapon within a distance of 21 feet.

It is not advisable, however, to just stand there and try and out draw a person charging you.

The Tueller drill is really about all you need, but stepping off line from an attack should really just be trained so much that it is automatic.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

On the subject of shooting distances generally, the book, “The Modern Day Gunslinger” by Don Mann – which is a very through book described as “a gunfighter’s bible” by Dave Grossman – states that, “approximately 75% of gunfights take place within three meters.” (Page 207 in the chapter on sight alignment)

I’m not sure where he gets that figure from, but he’s definitely someone who knows what he’s talking about so I’m making the assumption that’s a fair figure. That would mean that in the majority of cases we are talking about a distance of 9 feet or less. Much closer than movies would lead us to believe :-)

The book “Small Arms” by Chris Chant (another really good book) – talking from a military perspective – states that:

“The pistol, be it a revolver or automatic, has only a very limited range and at best (in the hands of a trained marksman) it has very little other than nuisance value beyond a range of 40 to 50 meters (45 to 55 yards)."

If these figures are correct, then we can see in most situations where handguns are used it is within a range where unarmed techniques can also be used; that we need a distance to access our own weaponry (if we have it), and in most cases we won’t have that distance, so we need to facilitate access to the weapon by first utilising our immediately available unarmed techniques; and that once we have a gap of 50 meters / 165 feet between us and the shooter even the most skilled shooters are likely to miss.

The average sprint speed of a human being is 12-15 mph (17.6 – 22 feet / second). So the average person will be out of the range of accurate shooting – assuming the shooter remains still, and if they are moving that will further reduce accuracy – in 2 to 3 seconds.

“The Modern Day Gunslinger” (page 83) also tells us that Law Enforcement statistics show that the bad guy only hit their target 14% of the time.

Statistically then, running away is not a bad option. If the situation begins close, then impacting and fleeing would again seem sound options.

Living in the UK – which has some of the strictest gun laws and lowest rates of gun crime anywhere in the world – I thankfully have no experience of being shot at, and very little of shooting. So I’d value the input of others on how these figures play out on the ground.

All the best,


Holgersen (not verified)
Visitor's picture

I'd also like to point out that the survival rate for someone shot with a pistol/ revolver is very high, something like 80 percent of people shot with handguns survive. If you do a youtube search you can find several videos of people being shot and then running away as if nothing happened.

Handguns are generally ineffective at any range unless you damage the brain or pierce the heart, and even if someone is shot in the heart they may have about fifteen seconds left of life to still do something nasty to you.

So i definitly agree with Iain that running away is a sound option even if you get hit. Probably your best option.