Defense discussion point: Training vs Reality


I know that at the training facilities I’ve been to the practice has always been two shots to the center of mass, a reevaluation of the threat and if needed a head shot or follow up torso shots.
I also know the theory is we will, when the need arises, follow our training. Most training I’ve had has benn done by or attended by at least one LE officer. So I assume if they teach and train this way that is what we would expect to see from them and by us in a lethal force situation.
But in recent videos of police shootings and on a recent episode of LivePD (all deemed to be justifiable) LE has fired numerous rounds (10 or more) with no “reevaluation.”
So my questions for discussion are:

  1. Is the double tap / head shot practical?
  2. Is it taught more from a legal (criminal or civil) defense position?
  3. Are LE policies different from civilian training policies?

I assume most concealed carriers also carry at least one spare mag so if the double tap method is strictly for economy let’s ignore that and for the sake of this argument there is only one bad guy to deal with.

Your thought?


In a high stress situation we don’t rise to our best, we fall to our worst. The trick is to make sure our worst is better than the other guys best. So you train. Many, but not all LEO don’t train like they should. They may hit the range a few times, and re cert each year. The standard for that is rather low. Training courses are great and I highly recommend them. With that said, I strongly recommend people join a pistol league, such as IDPA. This way they train on a regular basis with their carry weapon under different condition while being watched by trained RO.


Good points. IDPA is something I’ve wanted (and should) look into.
But for the sake of discussion at least on this one point, do you think it would be less defensible in court if a civilian were to fire say 6-8 rounds into an attacker? On one hand it could be seen as overly aggressive with an intent to kill vs stopping the threat. On the other hand the adrenaline added to the situation might be more of a defense for a civilian than a LEO.


In court you will always be held accountable. Excessive force, Too many rounds, gun too big, modified trigger, choice of ammunition, could you have retreated, did you have other options. The list goes on. Bottom line, you stop the threat does not mean dead. It means stopped. If you put a person down with one round, the threat is stopped. If you then pump the rest of a mag into them, you will have problems. Training needs to concentrate on stopping the threat. Now lets say you drop a person with one round, but that person is still holding a gun and starting to point at you, the threat has not been stopped and more force is justifiable. Your actions must be considered justifiable to another impartial person 24-48 hours after that action. LEO and civilians are not held to the same standards. A LEO shoots a person, they get sent home, a civilian spends the night in a cell.


Understood that the point is stop the threat and points regarding flight. I guess the question is really about the training. Why two shots? Why not one? Why not 3?
And while I know I’m spending the night in jail and the cop goes home, I assume they are held to the same “stop the threat” standard. Or is that incorrect?

Also please understand it is not my intention to go all Rambo on anybody. I fully comprehend the responsibility and criminal and civil consequences of lethal force. Just questioning the training standard, civilian vs LE.


So I glean from this you think it’s maybe, kinda a good idea? But from what you’ve written IDPA is a gateway drug to USPSA and steel. I’m retired dude. Limited budget and all that.

Then again money is just for food and ammo anyway.

Fine. I’ll see what I can find around here.


T’wernt looking for no sympathy you young whipper-snapper. And dang gum right we retired f**ks rule the roost.


The IDPA is good if you’re only looking to work with your carry weapon, little to no modifications. USPSA is what I compete in. I’m in open class. USPSA steel is great for older guys or those unable to move very well, such as myself, just wish I had steel challenge in my area.

This is just my opinion on double tap, so take it as that. One round could miss and one round only stops people in the movies. Two is one, and one is none. By the third round most people are so far off target they will end up with a flyer, not something you really want. You have to be able to account for every round you fire. Three empty cases better have three holes in the bad guy.


Excellent points. So it really is more about legal defense.


My thoughts are as follows:
Watch a ton of videos from actual defensive incidents both LE and citizen. Active Self Protection channel (on that site that shall not be mentioned) does a great job of showing these vids and following it up with analysis.
You’ll see some very interesting stuff, and after you watch enough of them you may come to the same conclusion I have: there’s just no way you can predict what’s going to happen in a gunfight/knifefight/fistfight/all at once or sequentially.
Train with your carry gun. Train frequently. If you can; train walking/moving, train by firing from behind cover, around obstacles and in awkward positions…in short, train any way you can…just train. Become very comfortable with your carry gun so you don’t have to think about your grip, sights, reloads, clearing malfunctions etc.
Then pray you never have to use those skills, and do everything in your power to avoid confrontation. I don’t think it matters if you practice the 2-1 drill or 3-1, or all 11, 16, 18 rounds COM. Just hit what you’re aiming at. As has already been stated: stop the threat then stop shooting.


For the record I joined the IDPA after watching a bunch of videos. Looks fun and the local club is only about 30 miles from here. Looking forward to giving it a go.


You’ll have fun. I can’t move fast but still enjoy USPSA


If you wait until retirement to pursue this stuff, you done waited way too long.
Better late than never, though.
You can catch up by attending a genuine training facility.
Expensive, but well worth it.


Hey… I’m retired. Not dead.


I do training though not as often as I’d like. FrontSight occasionally and a few ranges around here when I need to renew my CCW. (Every two years here). We do go out once a month to some BLM land near 29 Palms and set up some shoot and move setups. After watching some IDPA vids it’s clear ours are not as elaborate as some I’ve seen. But I’m really looking forward to the competition stress factor and just improving myself. Don’t expect to win anything.


The way I have always heard it on how many rounds to shoot:

“every bullet (shot) comes with a lawyer attached” - meaning, you have to defend the shooting of every single bullet. The more bullets shot, the (much) more difficult the defense of shooting so many rounds.

Also, you may want to look up Massad Ayoob. He is probably retired now, but was a police officer for many years. His writings talk a lot about how to defend yourself legally and how to avoid ending up going to jail or getting sued.

Another thing that can help is to view as many videos as you can (and/or see it in person), the range videos where they focus on bullet penetration of ballistic gelatin, as well as other objects. Helps you see just what kind of damage certain bullets fired out of various guns can do.

An even more effective approach to learning what your guns and bullets can do is hunt (animals) with them. I have done some hunting with my personal defense guns and it helped me to know what they can do (more or less).


Marine Corps training has been 2 in the chest, a third into the pelvic box. Much easier target to hit, and a stray will go in the ground sooner. Plus, it’s hard to for someone with a knife to chase you with a shattered hip joint. Other than that, shoot until the threat is down.


The number of rounds comes to do threat level. Head and heart are considered switch shots, all others are dimmer shots. The switch turns them off, while the rest slow them down.


as with all tactical situations, they are different. For close contact (0-10ft) the two to CoM and one to the head was what we were taught (because there was a good chance the opponet was wearing body armour).Anything from 10-100ft it was two rounds down range and past that it was shoot until the target either went down or escaped. And we were using rifles not handguns so of all things consider your accuracy of the tool.
Running around as if you are some super soldier tacicool operator is just foolish because what your first thought isn’t to kill but how will I SURVIVE. As civilians your concern should be the immediate protection of your life, surpression of the threat and seeking cover to be able to defend yourself.


You didn’t mention how effective all those rounds were.
Were they actually needed to stop the threat, or was it pray and spray due to poor training and being scared because of lack of confidence?