Only Hits Count

  • Beau Doboszenski, Owner/Lead Instructor

  • Originally published May 5th, 2017

Let's talk about getting rounds on target. As many of you know, it's harder than it sounds. Yeah, point that firearm downrange and pull the trigger, it'll get close... but close isn't good enough for defense. In the defender's world, only EFFECTIVE hits count.

Over the last several weeks, our Advanced Class has been working a lot of speed and volume drills. Techniques like fighting from cover/concealment, room clearing and low light. These bring a little more speed and adrenaline, which brings out bad habits and training scars (flinches, crushes, slaps) and cause the shots to spread on the target.

Similarly, last week I shot rifles with a young former Marine. Although he was good with his rifle, he clearly wasn't proficient at a skill called Hold of Sights. That meant that while my shots were hitting high center mass or central nervous system, his were hitting about belly button range or lower. A rifle shot to the guts is going to do a lot of damage, but it won't stop your threat as well as a high chest or central nervous system shot will do it.

Why am I telling you this? Because I found this news story today.

Someone attempted to burn down a Houston homeowner's house. The next night, the homeowner was out in the yard to guard the house from a second arson attempt. That's when a trio of criminals came to kill the homeowner in a drive-by shooting. 

But the criminals either didn't see, or didn't care, that the homeowner was armed with a Modern Sporting Rifle or AR15. As the car drove by, the criminals shot at the homeowner over 40 times! The homeowner, hiding behind some bushes, returned fire. When the smoke cleared, the homeowner was unscathed, and the criminals were bleeding. One died immediately, the second died as EMS got him to the hospital, and the final criminal is in very serious condition.

There will be debate among Law Enforcement and the District Attorney as to whether or not this case will be prosecuted. At the moment, Law Enforcement is telling local news that it appears to be a clear cut case of self-defense.

What I find interesting about this story as a trainer isn't the weapons chosen or the circumstances that surround it, but that gunfighter maxim we discussed earlier: only EFFECTIVE hits count. Whereas the criminals volleyed dozens of rounds toward the homeowner, they never stopped him because none of them hit. Assuming the homeowner had a standard 30 round magazine in his rifle, he may have returned fire with roughly the same number of rounds, so volume wasn't the deciding factor in surviving the firefight. 

It likely came down to better aim, rapid engagement, better performance under stress, or a more effective weapon.

Typically, the first person to get three EFFECTIVE rounds ON TARGET that generally wins the fight. Getting rounds on target is the key, and doing it with speed and precision are crucial. Had the homeowner been slow, the car would have driven away before he had gotten a shot off. If the homeowner had been imprecise, there would be a lot of ammo exchanged without any effect. So the question is: how do you train to get rounds on target with speed and precision?

The most productive way is to learn a solid technique, to practice it in dry fire and live fire, then test your techniques in scenarios that are as close to reality as possible. To learn solid techniques, join DMT for a training session or pick up a copy of the Concealed Carry Masters Course or Home Defense Rifle. Scenario work is harder to find, but DMT hopes to open up some sessions in the coming months so stay tuned.

Just because you own a firearm doesn't mean you are running it well enough to survive a violent encounter. Take those three steps - learn, practice, experience - and know to the core of your being that you could defend your home and your loved ones from any threat.