Just How Close is 21 Feet?

“Tueller Drill” (link) has been written up often BUT is worthy of a refresher. Just what can a threat do in 1.5 seconds? In this “drill” the threat can move 21 feet with a stabbing weapon or blunt force weapon and ruin your day. The “rule” postulates that in order to meet this threat you, as a police officer, must be able to recognize the threat, draw your weapon and fire two shots center-mass in under 1.5 seconds. What can we, as armed citizens take from this?

First – Quick Draw is a movie stunt! Write that down on the outside of all your ammunition storage containers. Freshen it up when it begins to fade and make it a ritual to read it every time you access your ammo store. If you do not believe this google “fast draw fails” and YouTube will provide you with some lessons learned by others that you seriously don’t need to experience to understand. A smooth, practiced draw is what you should work on, ALWAYS with an empty gun. Fluidity of motion is the goal, speed is a bonus as long as you remain fluid and disciplined in the motion, and complete in your practiced grip. And a fluid draw from a concealed weapon always has that pesky “clothes in the way” to trip you up. After all, all the “quick draw” videos are from open carry.

Second – repetition is a good thing. Practice makes better in all things, including the things that may save your life. Add a dose of “peer review” to avoid ingraining bad habits through repetitive practice!

Whether you chose to carry a wheel-gun or an auto is up to you and your comfort level with either. In my opinion a revolver is fine as long as the closed hammer sits on an open chamber, whereas, an auto carried as a sidearm WITHOUT a round chambered is a hammer, a poor one. There are a lot of interesting videos on how to “rack a round” in an auto, my fave, the guy who does it by running the top of the gun slide down against his jeans below the holster he just drew from, looked cool, took a full second longer and introduced the delay into a situation where you die if you delay. I would not do this with my Glock 36 as having a .45 ACP pointed at my foot is NOT something I want to perfect as a part of a response to an active threat. Call me foolish.

The drawing technique for a revolver should include your thumb drawing back the hammer after you clear the holster which aligns a round and then your finger engaging the trigger, not the other way around (like some of the YouTube videos.) For an auto the drawing technique should include your thumb releasing the safety after you clear the holster and then your finger engaging the trigger, again, not the other way around.

Having worked with police departments at every level, and having seen countless hours of real officer-involved shootings I have two conclusions as to the “Tueller Drill”. One, it is an excellent teaching tool and should be drilled into one’s self no matter what if you plan to carry a firearm in self-defense. Two, it is a drill for police and not a rule, and most gun fights that involve a CCW holder in self-defense happen at distances of 3-6 feet. They even happen in the movies at that distance, sometimes. In that scenario time spent on a smooth draw and operating action with a good, practiced controlling grip trump sights and aim every time.

I saw a TV show about cops where the message was “it isn’t how fast you return fire, it is how accurately”. I believe the writers of that show are now writing for the New York Times, or CNN, or perhaps ghost writing Brian Williams memoirs. Being accurate is very important, shooting second in this situation has the distinct possibility of making your accuracy worthless. Seldom in an emergency where you have to draw and fire quickly will you ever see the gun’s sights, to use a military phrase “who gets there the fasted with the mostest wins.”

It is important to take some other lessons from Teuller’s Drill which has been modified from the original parameters. You are a better pistol shot when squared against an incoming threat as opposed to shooting shoulder back and opposing shoulder forward as you would fire a rifle. Remaining stationary is just dumb. If a threat is coming, seek and fire from cover if possible, but just don’t wait for the charging bull to arrive. Movement and the use of cover is your best defense against any attacker. The is doubly true of an attacker with an edged or blunt force weapon. BTW, outside of the movies, few police officers can actually complete Tueller’ Drill successfully, so don’t get discouraged, just practice.

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A former rocket scientist (really) who has traveled the world, father, freedom lover, hates to stay indoors, and loves wild places, people and things. PC challenged, irreverent but always relevant and always looking to learn new things.


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