About a month ago I told you about the inaugural Defense Against Street Crimes Class I attended at Gunsite Academy. Several weeks ago, I also walked you through one of my force-on-force runs during the last day of class, where I got shot in the knee during an attempted carjacking.

That force-on-force scenario wasn’t my only force-on-force drill of the day, however.

After all, shooting a bad guy and then taking a round in the kneecap makes a guy really thirsty. It’s science.

So decided that I needed a slushie from the Gunsite Gas-N-Sip.

When I arrived at the “convenience store,” there was a clerk behind the counter and other customers shopping. I walked up to the counter, and asked the clerk seated there where the slushie machine was located.

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Here I am entering the Gunsite Gas-N-Sip…

Just as I was turning away from the counter to my left, one of the other other customers drew a gun from beneath his coat and revealed himself as an armed robber. He yelled at the clerk for the money in the cash register, and demanded that I give him my wallet (below).

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After I went up to the clerk and asking where the slushy machine was, this gentleman announced that he wanted to make a withdrawal from the store’s cash register… and he wanted my wallet as well.

I bladed my body away from him at this point. I also put fear in my voice, making sure that I sounded compliant, pleading,  “please don’t shoot me! You can have anything you want!”

I slowly pulled my wallet out of my left rear pocket (I’m a natural lefty, and this is where I really keep it), and tossed it to him in a high, soft arc. You can see it in the air above the corner of the wall in the photo below. As soon as I could confirm that his eyes are off me and tracking the wallet, I drew my gun, which I already had my hand on out of his direct line of sight.

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Not wanting any trouble, I tossed him my wallet with my left hand. While he focused his eyes on the wallet to catch it, I drew the gun on my right side.

He caught the wallet, and that wasn’t all. I think my first bullet arrived at about the exact same time.

In the photo below, he’s clutching my wallet and cringing as my string of shots start impacting on his left upper chest, neck, and left shoulder.

Notice where his gun is pointed. That will matter in a minute.

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He’s caught my wallet. Big mistake. If you look over his head, you can see an empty cartridge case ejected from my gun as  he starts taking hits.

At this distance under these circumstances I’m not firing controlled pairs, nor am I firing what you would consider a proper “hammer.” I’m locked into a solid Weaver stance, orienting off the front sight, and focusing on simply running the trigger until the threat changes shape or goes away.

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A lethal force threat to multiple people identified and in my sights, I’m focused on running the gun as fast as I can get off accurate shots until the threat changes shape or goes away.

One of the interesting—and for that matter, terrifying—”training scars” that I’ve seen in many firearm class students (including law enforcement officers) is the “fire two shots and assess” syndrome. This often seems to develop as a combination of either rigid agency doctrine, a desire to conserve training ammunition, or perhaps simply a very human desire not to want to cause harm to another human being.

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with excellent instructors, and it is deeply ingrained in me that once you start shooting,  you need shoot the bad guy until he ceases to be a threat. The exact round count varies and is irrelevant.

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If we were using real rounds instead of Simunitions, this guy would have been taking hits from side-to-side. Broadside hits are devastating.

An interesting side effect of this role-player’s jacket is that the Simunition rounds we were using didn’t mark him very well. He felt the impacts, but we couldn’t check hits on him when we were done. You can, however, see the moment of impact of a round from the photo above when we zoomed in (below).

If you look very close to this enlarged freeze-frame, you can see one of the blue Simunition rounds impacting on the "bad guy's" jacket, just on the other side of the vertical seam.
If you look very close to this enlarged freeze-frame, you can see one of the blue Simunition rounds impacting on the “bad guy’s” jacket, just on the right side of the vertical seam.

He’s still in possession of his gun (and my wallet, as seen in his left hand below). He’s still a threat to me and everyone else in the store, so I’m still firing. He’s starting to go down here, and I suspect that the shell casing in the air between us is from my fifth and final shot.

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Stay on target…

He’s collapsed against the door/wall now, and isn’t moving (below). He still has a gun in his hand, however, so I need to make a decision here.

What do I do next?

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…And he’s down.

My decision was to try to get distance and something resembling cover. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of cover or distance to be had, other than a wall behind me to my right rear. I glanced backward and stepped behind this little bit of cover (below).

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Distance and cover are your friends.

The elapsed time from me opening the front door of the Gunsite Gas-N-Sip to me stepping behind cover with a warm gun in my hand is roughly 15 seconds. From drawing my gun to stepping behind cover after the fight is maybe 6-7 seconds.

The gunfight itself? It was even faster. I fired 5 rounds in under 3 seconds. Coincidentally, 2-3 seconds about how long real life gunfights take.

You’ll note that the clerk still has his heads up here, just as I stepped behind the wall.

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Our “store clerk” is still frozen in place. In real life, it would not be surprising at all to see bystanders completely lock up in a shooting. It is one of several possible natural responses.

Unfortunately for the clerk, he collapsed a split second after this picture (above) was taken, bleeding profusely from an “arterial hit” to his right arm.

Remember where the bad guy’s gun was oriented when he started taking hits? It was pointed at the clerk. When he started taking hits, he reflexively squeezed off a round. It found flesh.

Reality (even simulated reality) is messy and imperfect.  You can do everything to the best of your ability, just as you were trained, and innocent people can still get hurt either by you or the bad guy.

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He’s caught my wallet. Big mistake. If you look over his head, you can see an empty cartridge case ejected from my gun as  he starts taking hits.

I then found myself facing a potentially deadly dilemma.

I have an armed suspect against the wall in front of me, and the real-world knowledge that when bad guys hit the deck and their blood pressure equalizes, seemingly unconscious suspects sometimes wake up and get back in the fight.

I also had a clerk bleeding out behind the counter.

I was in a position of cover, with my primary responsibility being to survive to get home to my family.

Do I stay in cover, preserving my own life, or do I take the risk of crossing open ground and exposing myself to fire from the robber in an attempt to help the clerk?

I know what I did, but what would you do?