Training=Life or Death

Training=Life or Death

Five hundred years ago, men watched the sun rise in the east and set in the west, so they believed the sun revolved around the earth. This became the conventional thinking of the time. However, when Galileo conducted research with his telescope, he discovered the earth actually revolved around the sun. This brought conventional thinking into question, and eventually it led to a more accurate view of our world.

Conventional thinking exists in firearms training as well. And, just like in Galileo’s time, whenever conventional thinking is not supported by research, the conventional thinking must be brought into question, so it too can lead to a more accurate view of firearms training concepts and techniques.

One technique based on conventional thinking revolves around the belief that we must always carry an extra magazine, so we have additional ammunition, if needed, to address a “Type 3 malfunction”.  A “Type 3 malfunction” prevents the firearm from firing.  This malfunction is caused by a cartridge or empty casing failing to be extracted from the chamber of a firearm, and a new cartridge being pushed forward out of the magazine until it becomes wedged up against the cartridge or empty casing left in the chamber. The conventional technique taught to clear this malfunction and return the firearm to functioning ability, requires the shooter to activate the magazine release button/lever, forcibly remove the magazine out of the firearm, discard this magazine, remove the extra magazine from the magazine pouch, insert the extra magazine into the firearm, pull the upper receiver of the firearm completely to the rear, and then let the recoil spring pull the upper receiver completely forward before re-engaging the assailant with the firearm.

Research does not support this conventional thinking. First of all, FBI research documents the average police shooting involves 3.5 to 5.5 shots, so is there a realistic need for carrying additional ammunition? FBI research also documents the average police shooting occurs within 2.5  to 3.5 seconds and over seventy percent of police shootings occurred under ten feet.  Furthermore, at best, this required clearing technique takes three to five seconds to complete, and under the stress of a real world gunfight potentially several seconds longer. Therefore, this concept must be brought into question.

There is no research supporting the need to carry an extra magazine for additional ammunition, and an additional magazine complicates concealability. But, since this concern can easily be addressed with a clothing modification or creative option of using a cell phone or “ipod” carrier to conceal the magazine on the belt, there is no realistic practical downside to carrying an extra magazine for additional ammunition. However, there is a realistic practical downside to teaching this “Type 3 Malfunction” technique as the first response. Over the past five thousand years armies of the world have proven, the way we train is the way we react under stress. Therefore, if we accept this conventional thinking and its subsequent training technique, we will, almost automatically, attempt to execute this technique in the middle of a gunfight occurring within 2.5 to 3.5 seconds and less than ten feet away from your attacker. Under these circumstances, the realistic survivability of accomplishing this technique is extremely low to non-existent.

A real life example of how people responded as they were trained occurred in a tragic police shoot out many years ago. Back then police officers were using revolvers, and they were taught to unload the fired casings from revolver into their hand before placing them into their trouser pockets. This was done to eliminate the need for picking up used casings once the day’s firearms training was completed. And, the way they were trained is just the way they reacted when some of these same officers were involved in a gunfight. They tried to unload the fired casings from their revolvers into their hands before placing them into their trouser pockets, and this took so much time and attention, it allowed their attacker to rush forward and take their lives.

Since research does not support this conventional thinking, and its subsequent “Type 3 Malfunction” training technique as a first response, we must question its validity. Now, here is where the fur starts to fly. Conventional firearms trainers will be resistant to anyone who questions any of their long held conventional training techniques. Remember, when Galileo told the conventional thinkers of the time, about his researched supported discovery, they tried to have him put to death, rather than except their flawed thinking. So, let’s make this perfectly clear. We wholeheartedly support all shooters being taught the proper techniques for clearing the most common firearms malfunctions, so they can make a non-functioning firearm into a functioning firearm again. This makes perfect sense. What we’re bringing into question is training shooters to utilize the conventional “Type 3 Malfunction” clearing technique as a first response in a real world armed encounter, because in a real world armed encounter, you will be dead, before you can complete the technique.

Shooters should be taught more practical physical options to quickly and effectively distract or temporarily disable your attacker.  This will allow you to escape to another location, where you have more protection and time to complete the “Type 3 Malfunction” technique. This makes sense, and is supported by the available FBI research. Over the last forty years the FBI has documented research establishing fifty percent of police shootings occurred under five feet and seventy percent occurred under ten feet. These are “Close Quarter Battle” (CQB) distances, so a surprise physical option using the firearm, hands, and knees could easily be delivered quickly and effectively. A physical option would be using the inoperable firearm as an impact weapon by driving the barrel into the face, eye socket or solar plexus as well as sweeping the firearm upwards into the groin of an attacker. An additional option would be using the fingers of your support hand to claw the eye and face area of the attacker, or simply driving a fist or knee into the groin. Any of these physical options are quick and simple alternatives. They do not require cat like reflexes and years of martial arts training. They can all be accomplished by any adult male or female, and they are more practical first responses to a “Type 3 Malfunction” in a real world armed encounter.

Just because a training technique has been around for a long time, doesn’t validate the technique. Validation comes through a researched practical approach to developing training techniques. Teaching the “Type 3 Malfunction” clearing technique as a first response in a “Close Quarter Battle” situation has been taught for the past twenty years (or more); however, research proves the practical survivability of accomplishing the technique in a real world armed attack is little to none. But, research does validate teaching a physical option as a more practical and survivable first response when confronted by a similar “Type 3 Malfunction” situation.

Whenever conventional thinking is not supported by research, the conventional thinking must be brought into question, so it too can lead to more accurate firearms training concepts and techniques. Galileo’s research led to a more accurate view of our world and researched based training can lead to more practical techniques in the world of personal protection.

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Matt Canovi
Canovi & Associates
p:417-742-3435  m: 636-259-0267
a:3705 W Farm road 14
 Brighton, MO 65617  e:

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