Category Archives: Unsighted Fire

Charlotte Bus Shootout

On May 18, 2023, an altercation occurred between a bus driver and a young criminal riding the bus in Charlotte NC. As the altercation escalated, the young criminal produced a pistol from his pocket and approached the driver. Upon seeing the young criminal’s weapon, the driver produced his own pistol and opened fire on the young criminal. The young criminal fired back. Multiple rounds were subsequently exchanged.

ABC News link

Both shooters were wounded in the engagement. The young criminal was hit once in the abdomen and required six days of hospitalization with life threatening injuries. The bus driver was wounded in the arm, treated, and released. The young criminal was arrested and charged with Assault With A Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injuries, Communicating Threats, and Carrying A Concealed Firearm. The bus driver was fired from his job but has not been charged, at least yet.


There are numerous issues that can be discussed regarding the incident.

  • De-escalation
    • The driver was fired for not using de-escalation techniques as taught by his employer. At this point, there is no way of knowing whether de-escalation would have been possible.
  • Preparation for combat
    • Although the young criminal was carrying a weapon and ‘communicated a threat,’ he had to consider the situation after he pulled his pistol out.
    • The bus driver was clearly prepared for the incident because his draw was a one second draw any firearm instructor would be happy with.
  • Situational Awareness
    • The bus driver, despite having to drive the bus, was immediately aware of the young criminal’s approach after he armed himself.
  • Point Shooting
    • Distances
      • The initial exchange of gunfire took place at about 4 feet, the boundary between Personal Space and Social Space in Proxemics.
      • As the shootout continued, the distances increased dramatically with the final shot taking place at seven to 10 yards.
      • Both shooters fired one handed. Neither used a Gangsta style shooting stance. The young criminal’s initial stance was a classic point shooting Square stance with weapon just below the eye-target line as described by Fairbairn and Sykes in Shooting to Live.
      • As the young criminal retreated, the bus driver employed a ‘tactical blind fire’ method of continuing his barrage.
    • Hits
      • The results were that out of a magazine fired by each shooter, one hit was made by each. The young criminal was hit in the abdomen and the bus driver was hit in the arm. The hit ratio was less than 10 percent. Although the young criminal was seriously wounded, he was still mobile and unneutralized, as is often the case with abdominal wounds.
  • Weapons used
    • Glock 19
    • SCCY
    • Neither weapon appears to have malfunctioned.
    • Both were equipped with iron sights.
  • Anger management
    • In Principles of Personal Defense, Jeff Cooper said “Now how do we cultivate an aggressive response? I think the answer is indignation. … Your response, if attacked, must not be fear, it must be anger. The two emotions are very close and you can quite easily turn one into the other. … Anger lets you do this.“ Although it is unlikely that the bus driver has ever read Cooper’s book, it’s very clear that he used Cooper’s philosophy.
  • Actions after the initial exchange
    • The bus driver fired three volleys.
      • The initial exchange at the front of the bus, including the tactical blind fire.
      • After the initial exchange of gunfire, the bus driver got up from his seat, opened the partition, had a verbal exchange with the young criminal, and then began shooting again.
      • Finally, after the young criminal had exited the bus through the rear door, the bus driver debussed through the front door and fired one more round at the young criminal, who was now in the open seven to 10 yards away. This shot is problematic.
  • Endangering innocent bystanders
    • There were two bystanders on the bus. Both were endangered by the tactical blind fire of Volley 1 and the bus driver’s second volley.
    • The second volley was unnecessary and irresponsible. The underlying motive for these shots was vengeance “You shot me!” not self-defense.
    • The final round fired in the open as a parting shot menaced the entire area. Cooper’s anger principle is entirely inappropriate at this point.
  • Gunhandling
    • The bus driver had to switch hands twice. To undo his seat belt and open his partition, he had to switch his pistol to his left hand. After stepping past the partition, he transitioned back to his right hand. He was able to do this without having an Unintentional Discharge.
  • Verbal commands
    • The bus driver commanded the young criminal to “Get your a** back!” when the young criminal was at the back door. The young criminal refused, fearing he would be shot again.
  • Self-aid for wounds
    • Both the young criminal and the bus driver were wounded. Neither had any first aid equipment. Note in the video that the bus driver is holding his arm where he was wounded.
  • Chasing fleeing criminals
    • Getting out of his seat to maintain visual on the young criminal was entirely appropriate. Following the criminal out of the bus was not. We see time and again the chase instinct that occurs when the predator-prey relationship reverses. It’s an instinct that we need to be aware of and not give in to.

My analysis of the Point Shooting aspects are on my Patreon page. I will be going over other aspects of the shootout in more detail in my next few posts there. Click the image below to follow.

The Value of Historical Methods

A viewer of my Shooting to Live Advanced Methods demo YouTube video asked an interesting question.

“Do you think that there is any value added by practicing the WWII Combatives shooting methods beyond learning historical training firsthand?”

In a conversation with him, he further elaborated that he was asking from his perspective as a competent shooter who practices regularly using demanding time and accuracy standards. From that perspective, my answer was NO. The only value to him would be for historical academic interest. There is nothing that will be learned of practical value for someone with his level of proficiency.

However, I continued on by saying that to the millions of first time gun buyers of the past few years, MAYBE. Only a miniscule fraction of those people will ever take a class on gun safety and learn how to shoot to some standard, whatever that standard might be.

For those millions of first time gun buyers, studying actual WWII shooting combatives, such as Shooting to Live and Field Manual 23-35 Pistols and Revolvers (1946), could have some value. Shooting to Live and its immediately successor, US Army Combat Firing, at least provide some structure and standards for brand new pistol shooters. Any system based on real combat is preferable to going to an indoor range and randomly blasting away based on what’s shown on TV.

I began the long term series about ‘Unsighted Fire’ aka Point Shooting on Patreon for a very specific reason. It is that obviously the vast majority of people who write about point shooting or make YouTube videos on “Fairbairn Method” shooting have never really read or studied any of the literature about it, including Shooting to Live. From the perspective of an historian and researcher, this lack of fact based information is both annoying and disturbing.

The gunhandling and safety aspects of WWII pistol combatives alone have a great deal of merit. Gripping the pistol properly. A strong emphasis on practical gunhandling in addition to marksmanship. Including malfunction clearance in early stages of Live Fire. Equal weight on Dry Practice as Live Fire, especially prior to the initial firing practice. Highlighting the concept of treating a pistol as always loaded. Emphasizing the importance of muzzle direction when handling a pistol. Practicing clearing and making the pistol safe when less than a magazine has been fired. Those are all highly useful skills, probably even more so than the marksmanship standards, which were not very high.

But please avoid muzzling your instructors. We won’t be happy about that. We will try to keep away from putting ourselves in a position where you can.

While the hit standards Shooting to Live and Field Manual 23-35 Pistols and Revolvers (1946) establish are rudimentary, they do give new shooters an idea that they’re supposed to actually hit something when shooting. The standard in Shooting to Live is 50 percent hits on a silhouette for single presentations within Social Space (4 yards). The 1946 US Army standard was 100 percent hits for single presentations on an E Silhouette at 5 yards.

Although most proficient shooters today would consider the techniques obsolete and the standards mediocre, at best, they’re still better than practicing what’s seen on TV and in movies. TV and movies are where most gunowners’ training takes place and that’s bad news.

If you would like to follow my Patreon page to go into more depth about point shooting and personal protection incidents, click on the image below.

Shooting to Live Methods and Results


Shooting to Live by Captains Fairbairn and Sykes is one of the most mentioned books ever in the shooting community. Or at least a caricature of what the book actually said. The reality of what Fairbairn and Sykes taught in reality is much different, both in method and results, than is usually understood.

Clarifying what the two men wrote and trained other to do is not hard. Their “Recruit Training Program” is a grand total of 35 pages, which are heavily illustrated. There are 4660 words in total so it should take an average person 23 minutes to read it. That reading just doesn’t seem to be done by many who talk about their system.

One of the first demonstrations the Recruits received was of the “Extreme Speed” that a pistol without a round in the chamber could be fired at. This is a live fire demonstration of what the Recruits were shown in Dry Practice.

Note that in one iteration, I forgot to chamber the round despite being set up for the drill. Contrary to popular belief, while Fairbairn and Sykes may have “practiced their draws thousands of times” their Recruits did not. In fact, there is very little draw practice in the Recruit Training Programme other than as incidental to the drills fired from Ready and Three-quarter Hip.

The first live fire the Recruits had is demonstrated in this video. It’s quite rudimentary and most likely could be successfully taught to anyone who wasn’t afraid of gunfire with a dozen or so iterations of dry practice. Using a .22 would make it a piece of cake.

Let’s skip to “Advanced Methods.” Note where the hits are on the target. Hits in areas that are likely to have rapid debilitating effect are highlighted. The geometry of the position, being crouched down, forearm even with the stomach, and bore parallel to the ground is almost guaranteed to cause the bullets to impact below the diaphragm.

As Tom Givens likes to quip:

“What do people do when you shoot them below the diaphragm? Pretty much the same thing they were doing before you shot them.”

We need to keep in mind what Fairbairn and Sykes wrote their system was capable of, i.e., their performance standards. The hits had to be somewhere on the entire silhouette target; whether the legs were included is not explicitly stated but neither was it disavowed. The shooting distance of their Programme did not exceed 4 yards at any point and nearly half took place at 2 yards.

“The qualification we require before the recruit’s course can be successfully passed is 50 per cent. of hits anywhere on the man-sized targets employed. Time has shown this to be adequate for the purpose in view.”

Explaining what Shooting to Live was the first segment of my Patreon series on Unsighted Fire. The next segment being addressed is US Army Handgun Marksmanship Training Evolution of WWII and Beyond. It’s very interesting to leave The Telephone Game The Telephone Game and the Training Industry behind and go to the source itself. If you would like to learn more about point shooting and personal protection incidents, click on the image below.