Why You Don't Shoot From "The Back Of The Bus"

South Africa is a rancid next of criminal behavior, and unfortunately, their cops clearly aren’t very well trained.

In the security camera video below, several officers are attempting to engage a gang of armed robbers at a Katlehong township gas station.



There are two officers in the footage. The officer with the rifle is in a kneeling position engaging the robbers with a semi-automatic rifle, while his skittish partner bounces around behind him like a five-year-old on a long car trip with a full bladder.


The officer in the rear finally decides he wants of a piece of the action, aims, and presses off a shot, just as the officer with the long gun shifts to his right to get a shot on the same suspect.


The results are as tragic as they are predictable.


The officer in the front seems to have died immediately from a shot to the back of the head or upper spine from his partner.

It is very rare that you will encounter a situation as an average citizen where you’ll have to work with an armed partner to address a threat, and also unlikely that you’ll have an unarmed bystander nearby that can easily move into your line of fire.


The fact remains that you must avoid what firearms trainers call “shooting from the back of the bus.”

If you find yourself in a situation where you are called upon to address a deadly force threat, you must make sure that you don’t have bystanders either in or proximate to your line of fire. IF you’re going to engage with your weapon, you need to get the muzzle of that weapon past those who might move in your way. In most instances, that means moving forward, out of the “back of the bus” to where you can address the threat.


This is something we drilled on carefully in the Vehicle Close Quarters Combat (VCQB) Instructors course sponsored by Daniel Defense and taught by Will Petty of Centrifuge Training with Chase Jenkins of Talon Defense and an assist from John Johnston of Ballistic Radio/Citizens’ Defense Research. We worked in-vehicle partner scenarios in a more than 180-degree environment where we often had to lean past our partners with either a handgun or a long gun to engage a threat, and even had to sometimes shoot behind our partners, forcing us to be aware of our muzzle in relation to our partner at all times.

Where might you have a need to move from “the back of the bus” as a regular citizen?

One example that easily comes to mind is a home invasion or a robbery in parking lot where a loved one is closer to the threat than you are. You need to orient your muzzle in a safe direction until you can move up and put your weapon past your family member before engaging the target to ensure that you don’t pull the trigger and put a bullet into the back of the skull of your husband, wife, son, daughter, or friend.

It’s hard to do without practicing this sort of movement, and something that I’d recommend practicing for with either blue guns (inert plastic training guns) or airsoft guns unless you are in a formal class with a highly experienced and squared away instructor cadre. The only reasons we were able to do it with live weapons in the VCQB Instructors course is that A), we went through the drill with verified empty weapons first, and B), the entire student body (myself excluded) was composed of highly experienced firearms training officers (FTOs) from their home agencies.


It’s easy to preach “muzzle discipline” on a square range shooting at paper targets, but things get a lot more interesting when you start incorporating real or simulated movement and a moving partner or ally on the field.

As always, get the best possible defensive firearms training you can afford. One day your life of the life of someone you love may depend upon this very perishable skill, and you will not rise to the occasion, but default to your level of training.

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