Instagram seems to be filled with a lot of tactical ninjas featuring high speed close proximity shooting. I have partaken as well as it’s a lot of fun after all! The videos show people engaging threats with a pistol from the hip, with little to no distance, and in most cases with one or two strike beforehand. But do these ninjas and the people watching understand the context, the reality of the situation, or the biomechanics of it? Should the hands be used first or can the gun be drawn in time?
To answer the question above, we must first understand the context of these situations. What would require us to use deadly force at such close proximity? A knife attack, a threat with a pistol, a hand-to-hand confrontation? In these situations we must first address the immediate danger, especially when that situation is already an attack. In many cases, reaching for your gun will be near impossible without creating distance from your attacker(s). That space will equal time to draw the firearm and at the very least shoot from the hip.
Space = time to draw
When deadly force is justified we should preempt, reaching for your gun first. Especially when we know that the assailant already has a weapon and has shown intent to use it. Perhaps an openly carried firearm or a brandished knife at a considerable distance. In these situations action will be faster than reaction and that action will be the result of having time and distance.
Biomechanically speaking, to shoot from the hip (retention position) accurately, the gun needs to be facing the same way the front of the body is facing (there are many other off angle and intermediary positions that we can shoot from). Therefore, if the attack was already initiated it will become difficult to achieve this shooting position, as the reflexive reaction will be to defend oneself and regain balance. Hence, strikes will need to be used first to gain distance and balance. This will allow you to achieve a close to ideal biomechanical retention shooting position.
How to train for close proximity shooting? Look at here!
The training you need
Start from the basics. Learn to shoot accurately from a distance of 3 meters or less from a retention position. Add a shot timer to see how quickly you can execute the first shot on target accurately and repeatedly. Later add movement while drawing your firearm, lateral, forward, and back. Once a proficient level is reached, consider performing dry force-on-force training. This can be done by combining fighting, knife attacks, gun disarms and drawing you firearms. The ultimate test will be to use simunitions/UTM/airsoft pistols along with an attacker and training from the unknown with random attacks. These attacks should combine situations where the defender will have to determine whether deadly force can or cannot be used.
To answer our question: in close proximity shooting, should you use your hands first or reach for your gun? In most cases, fighting will have to be used to gain distance and time to draw the firearm. However, with proper situational awareness and training the reaching for your gun first is a definite possibility.