Category Archives: decision making

Special Forces – The Big Picture

#throwbackthursday

February’s weekly episodes of The Big Picture will feature the role of Special Forces during the Cold War. https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cold-war-history

Guest Narrator for the first episode is Mr. Henry Fonda, the famed screen actor.

This man wears the uniform of the Special Forces. To use the word special in describing him is no mistake as you’ll see during the next half hour. He’s a mature, dedicated, and skillful professional and his line of work is demanding. It takes in a full scope of unconventional or guerrilla operations.

Special Warfare involves three types of activity; unconventional warfare, psychological warfare, and counterinsurgency operations. This last includes the complete range of military, political, economic, and sociological action. New emphasis is being placed on unconventional warfare and the reason isn’t hard to see.

Today, the threat of war takes three forms; general nuclear war, conventional war, and guerrilla or unconventional war. Fortunately, the world has never yet seen a general nuclear war. Conventional warfare, the regular forces of two or more nations in combat but without using nuclear weapons we know all too well but at the moment no such traditional war is going on. Unconventional warfare is a different story.

In a number of key spots around the world intense guerrilla operations are underway right now. It makes little difference to the people of a country whether they lose their freedom to an invading army of regulars or through the action of guerrilla forces sponsored by an outside power.

My book Shooting Your Black Rifle seems appropriate to this series of films. If you would like to purchase it, click on the image below.

Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 8)

#fridayfundamentals

My friend and colleague Shelley Hill of Image Based Decisional Drills https://www.imagebaseddecisionaldrills.com/ has generously contributed the following post about the importance of the Use of Force decisional process and training for it. We’ve been slapped in the face by the news about good and bad Use of Force decision making. It is the most important, consequential, and least practiced aspect of the Fundamentals.

Decisions Come Before Technique

by Shelley Hill

In the process of Personal Protection, from the time that a bad guy chooses you, you will have a limited amount of time to make a decision. THEY choose how and when. YOU have to respond to their actions. YOUR reactions need to be confident, quick, and decisive.

Seeing, recognizing, and believing danger is the first task. Having a plan for avoidance, deselection and escalation is second. If these fail, the fight is on, and it must be won. The first time you have to use the different levels of force, with everything on the line, should not be the first time you practice your skills. A wide variety of options are available for responding to an attempted attack. The choices you have include:

  • Non-lethal (mindset, verbal, walk away, flashlight, etc.),
  • Less than lethal (OC/pepper spray, Combatives, etc.) and
  • Lethal options (firearm, knife, advanced Combatives, etc.).

Your decision or decisions will come first, ideally before the incident ever begins. After deciding what to do, you will apply a technique to implement your decision. We must commit to a course of action and take advantage of making decisions ahead of time. Our instinctive responses to danger are fight, flight, or freeze. If we have thought about and practiced our decisions before the incident takes place, we have a better chance of expanding our instinctual reactions to something more effective or appropriate. When pre-need decisions have already been made, the techniques we have practiced will usually fall into place.

Recognition -primed decision making (RPD) is a model of how people make quick, effective decisions when faced with complex situations. In this model, the decision maker is assumed to generate a possible course of action, compare it to the constraints imposed by the situation, and select the first course of action that is not rejected. RPD has been useful for diverse groups including medical professionals, fire ground-commanders, chess players, and stock market traders.

It functions well in conditions of time pressure, and in which information is partial and goals defined only in a limited way. It appears, as discussed by Gary A. Klein in Sources of Power, to be a valid model for how human decision-makers make decisions. The result of pre-need decision-making is a decision that may not be perfect but is good enough to help keep you, or a loved one, safe.

With the help of Brian Hill and Claude Werner, I produced a decision learning system called Image Based Decisional Drills (IBDD). It is an evolution of the technique of visualization that has been used successfully for decades to help athletes, competitive shooters, and others make their decisions ahead of time and then carry them out as a programmed response instead of improvising decisions as they go.

It is called it IBDD because you are learning to quickly make ONE good FIRST decision based on visual stimuli. The word “decisional” means “having the power or authority to make decisions”, and drills means practicing. Image Based Decisional Drills is a system that can be used in either dry practice or live fire. It consists of a deck of 21 Image Cards that provide IMAGES that will help you to recognize danger and to make smart decisions ahead of time.

There are benefits to practicing good FIRST decisions through IBDD and then following up with GOOD techniques.

  • Visual cueing and pre-need decision making.
  • Learning distance management through “Reactionary Zones.”
  • Tool cycling and strategy changes that can be practiced repeatedly.
  • Pressure testing decisions under realistic time constraints with feedback for improvement.
  • The ability to practice your skills whether you are ON or OFF the range. The actual mechanics of shooting can be practiced separately while the IBDD drills will help with tool handling and selection.

Whatever system you use to practice your decision making skills, it’s important to keep an important concept in mind. It is easier to adapt a plan you made ahead of time to the situation than it is to improvise a plan on the spot. Make a plan, practice your plan, and then work your plan if the need arises.

Part 1    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/05/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-1/

Part 2    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/12/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-2/

Part 3    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/22/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-3/

Part 4    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/03/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-4/

Part 5    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/10/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-5/

Part 6    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/17/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-6/

Part 7    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/24/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-7/

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

100 percent standards

‘Tragic’: Teen apparently killed by stray police bullet in LA Burlington dressing room identified

https://abcnews.go.com/US/14-year-girl-dressing-room-killed-stray-bullet/story?id=81919639

This is an example of why I believe in 100 percent standards, not 70, 80, or anything less. My guess is that those officers will not last long on the LAPD and it’s not because they will get fired.

They will leave because the overwhelming majority of cops are decent people who want to do the right thing in life. That poor girl’s killing will haunt those officers forever. Whenever they put on their duty weapons, it will remind them of the consequences of the incident. No decent person wants to be reminded of that every day.

I’ll be following the investigation of this one closely.

Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 7)

#fridayfundamentals

My friend and colleague Brian Hill of The Complete Combatant http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/ has a unique perspective on one of the decision-making aspects of the Fundamentals. It was touched on in Part 1 of this series https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/05/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-1/. He has generously contributed the following post to expand and explain his viewpoint.

The Three Choices

The act of drawing from concealment to the first shot is the essential skill for the armed citizen, whether we are practicing, competing, or protecting ourselves. To improve the probability of success, the action requires a “recognition primed decision,” to use Gary Klein’s phrase. There are only three possible courses of action for the shooter once the decision to shoot has been reached. The need for a mental model which is conducive to quick decisions can be explained as follows.

1-Shoot

If the shooter can perform a clean draw, align the sights or index the pistol relative to the target, then the decision should be primed that the pattern is correct and to execute the process of shooting. This decision will be compressed to a short period of time; therefore, the intuition will recognize the correctness with feedback from both vision and feel. This observation will be based on the feeling of fluidity and efficiency of the movement with a visual confirmation of alignment allowing the pattern to be recognized as “good enough” relative to the size of the target. The shooter is not using a comparative analysis but a recognition of previous successes.

2-Correct and then shoot

Often pressure or lack of skill will alter this process; therefore, the shooter will have to correct either the physical index or visual alignment of the sight and target, or both. The pattern will be recognized as not “good enough,” and a correction will be applied. This correction cost the shooter a quarter of a second to make a correction which is much faster than firing another shot which may be no better than the previous one. Of course, the other possibility is looking to the target for indication of success or failure, and the minimum amount of time for this type of correction is .75 to 1.5 seconds. The more we practice the correct pattern, the faster the recognition primed decision happens. Experts gain an advantage in processing speed and a significant probability of making the right decision sooner, hence the need for practice.

3-Assess new information

Finally, as the shooter commits to the shooting process, something changes, the target disappears, changes, or stops needing to be engaged; therefore, the shooter needs to assess a possible new course of action, such as stopping the process of shooting, going to a ready position and taking the finger off the trigger, or moving away. Using the previous two steps, if there is not a “good enough” solution and no correction can be made, requires the shooter to reevaluate the situation. If there is any doubt then the answer is no, and the shooter needs to adjust or stop.

Shooting happens in highly compressed time periods, but the properly prepared mind will be able to perform efficiently and consistently. The key is repeated exposure to both success and failure, allowing the priming of the process. Practice with this style of immediate feedback will allow progress rapidly and is the key to competency under pressure.

The Complete Combatant http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

–Marcus Aurelius

In addition to the alignment process of the pistol to the target Brian mentions, the smoothness of the trigger press necessary will influence the success of the shot. Shooters are often victims of “urgency bias” with regard to trigger press. This is akin to the common human tendency to feel “I have to do something NOW.” Urgency bias can lead to “El Snatcho” and can negate the alignment of the pistol with the target. So, the necessary smoothness is also a decision that the shooter must make. What will suffice at two yards will probably not lead to good results at 10 yards. It is also a recognition primed decision that is only learned through practice.

The final part of the series will focus on the most important, consequential, and least practiced aspect of the Fundamentals, DON’T SHOOT/SHOOT.

Part I     https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/05/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-1/

Part 2    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/12/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-2/

Part 3    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/22/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-3/

Part 4    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/03/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-4/

Part 5    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/10/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-5/

Part 6    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/17/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-6/

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

A conversation I’m glad I will never have to have

“Mommy, where’s Daddy?”

“I’m sorry, sweetie, you killed him with his own gun when you were just a little boy because he didn’t believe in securing firearms.”

A conversation I’m glad I will never have to have with a child.

Points of Likely Contact

Sometimes we can be aware of danger zones and other times we can be on the lookout for specific spots where a predator might lay in ambush for the unsuspecting. The latter can be described as Points of Likely Contact. Recessed doorways, pillars inside parking garages, and dumpsters are examples of PoLC.

Today as I was on my daily walk, I noticed a suspicious individual hanging out behind a dumpster I pass by. There’s not really any good reason for someone to be hanging around a dumpster at noon that I can think of. So I made a detour through another pathway and walked around the front of the building instead of behind it.

This situation is a good example of Area of Interest and Area of Influence.

I’m interested in an Area that far exceeds the range of my weapons or a predator’s weapons. In this case, I saw him at least 35 yards away, so I had plenty of time and space to make a detour. No need to make any contact with lowlifes at all, if I can Avoid them. Avoid is the first, and most desirable, element of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist paradigm.

When the terrain permits, my Area of Interest is 100 yards or more. For example, the distance from the turn lane guidepoles to the traffic light is about 130 yards. I’m actively watching distances that far away when I can.

I keep my eyes on the horizon whenever I can. That maximizes my view of my Area of Interest. This is also a good technique when driving. Look past the bumper of the car in front of you and as far into the traffic ahead as you can.

New Package Deal

It was suggested that I create a package of the STOPP Presentation and Advanced Pistol Practice. That package is now available at:

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3384448

As with all of my materials, purchase of the package also includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

When the time for talking is over

#mindsetmonday

When someone pulls a deadly weapon on you, the time for posturing and talking is over. Regardless of whether it’s an edged weapon, gun, or impact tool, at that point the adversary has displayed deadly intent. In terms of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist paradigm, you should either be Escaping or Resisting not Confronting.

You might use some De-escalation words as you move away, but that’s merely a ploy to buy time not a serious attempt to defuse the situation.

“They say running is good for your health, in my neighborhood, it can save your life.” –Chicargo humor

The need for this mindset was very clear in the Calvin ‘Mad Dog’ Gonnigan incident https://wgntv.com/news/courts-man-killed-1-wounded-2-in-south-austin-after-plea-to-stop-shooting-gun-on-july-4/. It also applied to several other incidents that have been brought to my attention recently.

Practice changing direction quickly and be ready to do it at a moment’s notice. Break Contact as soon as you can.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Skills involved in the Oakland Incident (Part I)

#saturdayskills

An aspect of POlice Use of Deadly Force incidents is that they tend to receive more media and other coverage than successful Private Citizen incidents. Captain (Ret.) Ersie Joyner’s gas station shootout in Oakland https://www.ktvu.com/news/retired-oakland-police-captain-wounded-1-other-killed-during-gas-station-gun-battle is no exception. Given the media’s bias, if this had occurred to a lawfully carrying Private Citizen, it’s unlikely it would have received the degree of favorable coverage it has. The amount of coverage works in our favor when viewing it from the standpoint of Lessons to be Learned.

The surveillance video of the incident gives us a very definite view of the skillset Captain Joyner used. It also gives us the opportunity to wargame other skills or tactics that would have been desirable.

  1. Wait for an opportunity to escape or counterattack
  2. Create distance while maintaining visual contact with assailants
  3. Establish grip
  4. Make the Draw Decision
  5. Draw to the eye-target line
  6. Engage Mr. Red, preferably with at least two rounds
  7. Transition 60 degrees and engage Mr. Black, preferably with at least two rounds
  8. Actual Positioning – pursue into the open
  9. Alternative Positioning – pursue to a position of cover or at least concealment
  10. Desirable Positioning – create even more distance
  11. Desirable Positioning – take cover

Tasks 3, 5, 6, and 7 constitute the solution to the shooting aspects of the incident. Individually, they are very similar to the 6 and 10 foot Stages of the Louisiana Qual Course video.

Just as with the off-duty incidents chronicled in Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/, it’s not hard to picture a Private Citizen becoming involved in exactly this same scenario. If Kalifornia had a Shall Issue system for issuing licenses/permits to carry handguns, it’s probable that more such Outcomes would occur.

An interesting aspect of the incident was that despite three robbers physically searching the victim, his concealed handgun was not discovered. This seems unusual. A distinct possibility is that he carried a small pistol in his pocket. At the moment he began to access his handgun, his elbow position is much more consistent with a pocket draw than either an Appendix or Hip carry draw.

Task 3, Establish Grip, is the most time consuming part of the drawstroke. Surreptitiously being able to Establish Grip while creating distance and prior to making the Draw Decision would explain how Captain Joyner was able to Draw and Engage so quickly. The ability to Establish Grip without making the motions commonly associated with drawing a pistol is one of the strengths of pocket carry. In many cases, it’s possible to shield an attacker’s view of Establishing Grip by slightly blading one’s body, although Captain Joyner didn’t do that in this case.

Captain Joyner must be exceptionally coordinated because when executing Task 2, Create Distance, he was actually able to take three steps backward without tripping over his own feet. He was able to do this even while he was in the process of Establishing Grip. Humorously speaking, since we’ve been told that tripping over one’s feet when walking backward is almost inevitable, this was an absolutely amazing display of physical prowess. In actuality, using a dragging shuffle step probably would have been more of a giveaway to his assailants than simply walking backward.

The mother of the deceased robber made the statement to the press, “death was not the answer. many people act unruly and even commit crimes in young adulthood, but go on to lead productive lives.” Captain Joyner clearly felt that his own death was not the answer and good for him for making that decision. Even if a criminal doesn’t intend to shoot you, it doesn’t mean they won’t have an Unintentional Discharge and kill you ‘by accident.’

More about the skills involved and how to practice them will be covered in a future Part II.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF) — Note: bad links fixed

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Breaking Contact (Part 6)

#walkbackwednesday

It makes me happy that my thoughts about the explicit difference in the missions of Law Enforcement and Private Citizens are becoming mainstream. I appreciate the various members of the training community who are amplifying my concept that Breaking Contact is the fundamental mission of Private Citizens in self-defense or defense of others. My colleague John Correia has produced an excellent video about a recent incident with numerous learning points in it.

My initial takeaways from the ASP video.

  • pay attention and recognize when you’re in a transitional space
  • when your gas gets started pumping, step around to the other side of your vehicle
  • purposeful compliance until your counter-attack or escape opportunity arises
  • counter ambush (i.e., counter-attack)
  • different missions between law enforcement officers and private citizens
    • the mission for a private citizen defensive encounter is to break contact
  • only hits count (close range precision marksmanship)

The close range precision marksmanship of this incident are particularly noticeable in the video. Although Mr. Red was only double arm’s length (5 feet) away, he was also in profile. His target area in total was no larger than a sheet of paper in portrait mode.

Mr. Black was about triple arm’s length (8 feet) away. Like Mr. Red, he was also a profile target and his target area was not very large.

The ability to hit an eight inch circle or even smaller target at close range with the first shot can be essential to survival. Regardless of what one thinks about using the sights under stress, it’s obvious that Captain Joyner had his pistol in his eye-target line. He did this despite both attackers being within proxemic Social Space. An important note about Captain Joyner is that this wasn’t his first rodeo; Oakland is a tough place.

Over his career, Joyner was involved in five shootings as an officer

KTVU

Breaking Contact is one of the fundamental concepts of Thinking Clearly about Self-defense and Personal Protection https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208 It’s a strategy in the sense of doing the right things, as opposed to tactics, which are doing things right.

CCW Safe https://ccwsafe.com/ did an excellent series of blog posts about the concept of Breaking Contact. The key principle and goal is contained in the first post.

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

My article about the basic philosophy of breaking contact is here.

The Oakland POlice Department has posted a clear picture of the getaway vehicle.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Failing the Interview

#fridayfundamentals

To my knowledge, John Farnam https://defense-training.com/ coined the term “Failing the Interview.” It is an acknowledgement that the victimization process has two parties, the criminal and the potential victim. Criminals rarely attack victims by doing a ‘Tueller Drill.’ With very rare exceptions, criminal usage of what is commonly called the Tueller Drill is almost exclusively confined to ‘Breaking out of encirclement’ when confronted by the POlice.

Even the most inexperienced criminal knows that proper victim selection is paramount to continued success in criminal endeavors. Poor victim selection, especially in environments where potential victims may be armed, can lead to incarceration at the least and even being shot to death by the victim.

Rather than an abrupt approach, criminals observe a potential victim and decide whether they have or can gain a significant advantage over the victim. It is the first step of Boyd’s Process from the viewpoint of a criminal predator.

This can occur either as an Ambush or during a Movement to Contact, i.e., a hunting expedition. If they feel they can gain an advantage, the victimization process begins. If the criminal doesn’t feel they can gain an advantage, i.e., a GO condition, then they wait or search for another potential victim. This victimization decision process is “The Interview.” It usually takes place without the knowledge of the potential victim, although at times it will be an actual verbal interview.

What I’m looking for, Claude, is big ole bag of money.

A polished and experienced armed robber or extortionist to me on one occasion.

“Failing the interview” is the result of the potential victim’s portrayal of self as being someone who will be difficult to gain an advantage over or who will be uncooperative with the victimization process.

Well, what I’ve got is a bunch of empty tool bags.

My reply to the criminal.

I was tempted to say “I get off work at 10 p.m. Meet me in the parking lot and we’ll get this over with today” but I decided to avoid getting The Last Word In. For both of us, this was merely a rehearsal rather than an actual incident. Criminals practice dry repetitions of their repertoires just like we do.

What is the process to Fail the Interview? The first step to set ourselves up for success in this regard is to be aware of our surroundings. Both we and criminals have an Area of Interest and an Area of Influence.

Joint Publication 3-0 Joint Operations

https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp3_0ch1.pdf?ver=2018-11-27-160457-910

We want the criminal to make a NO GO decision on us while we are still in his Area of Interest and before we reach his Area of Influence. The NO GO decision is the absence of a GO decision. The default for criminals is NO GO because criminals know there are plenty of two-legged cheeseburgers walking around and the next one will be along in just a minute or two.

The second step is to portray ourselves as someone who is aware of and will not cooperate with the victimization process. Although the term ‘victim blaming’ is has been in vogue for some years, that concept is often an excuse for ignorant or foolish behavior. When someone gets badly sunburned, we don’t blame the Sun, we ask why the person spent so much time in the Sun without adequate sunscreen.

As my colleague Brian Hill http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/ points out, walking around with one’s face buried in a cell phone places a person in a posture of submission. Whether the person is actually submissive or not, that posture sets the tone for the victimization process to begin. Blithely talking on a cell phone in transitional spaces is another key indicator to a criminal that the potential victim is not paying attention to their surroundings. This is a way of setting one’s self up for predation. Being aware of our surroundings is a passive way of defeating the predator’s intent.

There are also active ways of Failing the Interview. The easiest is to openly indicate an intent to be uncooperative. Changing direction, displaying positive body language, or simply saying NO https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/keep-your-tape-loops-short/ are non-violent ways of signaling an uncooperative attitude. They fall into the areas of Escape and Confront in the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/07/31/recognition-primed-decision-making-part-iv/ paradigm.

The list of ways to Fail, or Not Fail, the interview is extensive. The first step of all of them is to recognize that The Interview exists and make conscious and continuous efforts to Fail it. If we are effective at Failing the Interview, we won’t have to escalate to the Resist step of A-E-C-R. Preempting the need to go to active Resistance is our best bet for avoiding a Negative Outcome, either during the encounter or afterward.

In every encounter, there is an element of chance.

John Hall, former Head of the FBI Firearms Training Unit

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307