There are over 100 million Americans gun owners, and of those, there are almost 13 million with concealed carry permits. Many others practice open carry, and/or live in a state where permitting is not required. While not everyone who has the option to carry a firearm with them in their daily lives opts to do so all the time for a wide range of reasons, it is probably reasonable to suggest that on any given day there are probably at least a million lawfully-armed citizens walking down our streets with a firearm in their possession.

What would you do as a lawfully-armed citizen, if violence suddenly and unexpectedly entered your life?

Thanks to Gunsite Academy’s 350 Intermediate Pistol course, a number of us got to get a firsthand taste of what that situation might feel like.

The Scenario

Before every simulator run, students were “armored up” with gloves, masks, helmets, groin protection, and (especially for the ladies) chest protectors, as a safety precaution. We were using Simunitions, which uses a specialized gun that fires only man-marker rounds.

While every student was given a slightly different reason for entering the building, we all were led in the front, met with the receptionist, and then were led to the back to wait to speak to someone in a conference room… and then something happened.

In the real world it happens just that fast, folks. It’s not like the movies.

There is no ominous music, no foreshadowing, and many times, there are no hints that anything is amiss… until it all goes drastically, catastrophically wrong.

Please note that there were 16 different students who ran through this scenario, and no one played it exactly the same.

The first video, featuring Katie, shows her shooting the attacker one time, the stopping to assess the situation, before firing a second individual shot moments later when the attacker was standing there without any weapon visible in his hands. He then staggers away, around the corner… and reappears with a gun, firing a shot that narrowly misses her. She then re-engages, and finally puts him down.

In the second video, featuring Maggie, she fires three aimed shots initially, and then the attacker staggered around the corner, re-emerging with a gun in his hand. She fires two more shots and drops him, but was so focused on the attacker she didn’t notice that her gun had malfunctioned even when she reholstered.

In the interests of full disclosure, my run wasn’t perfect either.

When the attacker dropped the dummy and started stabbing him, I fired four shots as his arm was raised, putting all four shots in the left side of his chest in what would have been double-lung/heart shots that would have killed the attacker within seconds (No, I did not give him any warning, nor was he entitled to one). As the role-players are professionally trained to respond to the hits they take, he immediately slumped over and didn’t move. He never had a chance to draw his gun, as I shot him “dead.”

I then took the prompt from our veteran SWAT instructor, Bob Whaley, and asked the receptionist to call 911.

Perfect, right? Wrong.

After he was down, I did the same thing Katie and Maggie did, and attempted to start clearing the structure, to engage any more possible threats and see if there were other people trapped/injured.

What was the correct response?

After downing the bad guy and asking for someone to call 911, I should have hardpointed in the breakroom (where the camera was) so that I had cover, and then tried to remotely assess the victim and attacker’s conditions to relay them to the receptionist who was on the phone with 911. Once the police arrived, they could clear the structure.

Force-on-force training and indoor and outdoor simulator runs were part of our training in the Gunsite Academy 350 Intermediate pistol class, which I’l l be writing about quite a bit more over the next several weeks.