We do this very drill with law enforcement officers in our LE training. We have one officer with a training knife five feet away draw that knife and sprint towards the other officer to see if he can get his handgun out of the holster and trained on the attacker before being stabbed. We then repeat at ten feet, then fifteen. When we finally move the attacker back far enough that the officer can get his sidearm out and trained on the attacker we remind them that one shot isn’t going to knock the attacker off his feet. We have videos we show where an attacker takes ten or more shots mid chest and keeps stabbing and slashing. Most officers know that they need to be twenty-one feet away to draw and fire on an attacker with a knife before that attacker can get to them. This number has actually been moved to thirty feet, twenty-one feet was where the officer was winning half the time. They finally realized they needed a number where the officer was winning most of the time!

Now the problem is, if this is shown to officers (or anyone else) we must make sure that the right lessons are being taught. The knife guys usually smile and say “See, knives are where it’s at”. Well, the lesson is that the guy with the knife can stab you if they are within thirty feet before you can put them down. The lesson isn’t that the knife guy wins. If you stab someone but still take several shots mid chest, that is not a win. At best it’s a tie. Was your goal to have “I got him too” on your tombstone?

For the officer the lesson isn’t “I will shoot him but if he’s within thirty feet I’ll get stabbed”. Unfortunately I’ve seen this taught and that was pretty much what the officer was left with. What exactly are they supposed to learn from that? The lesson I would want to get into the officer’s head is that “yes, if a guy with a knife is within thirty feet and he charges at you and you do nothing but stand still and put both hands on your handgun to fire, you will get stabbed…so don’t do that!”

How about some tactics! Learn that when you draw on a person that has a knife to start moving, circling, creating distance, etc.! The time to practice this isn’t when It happens but in training. To always fire on a line at a target and never move isn’t training for what you will see in the real world, it is training to shoot a target that doesn’t move. The other horrible training flaw I see is that officers (and civilians) practice putting thousands of rounds down range with their good two hand grip. Under the stress of an attack the officer will do what he/she trained and fire with that two hand grip. Under extreme stress we all go to “mid-brain” and can’t think, we just react. We react with the training, good or bad, that we’ve had. I have seen videos where an officer keeps firing away at an attacker that has a knife as he takes stab after stab. If that officer would have just let go of the weapon with his off hand and blocked that knife as he fired, the outcome would have been much better. Again, we need to train firing one handed while blocking a knife, stick or punch with the other. Train for what we’ll see, not to hit bullseyes on paper more often than anyone else. This is why when we teach gun disarms that we have the person defending keep the handgun they took from the attacker in their off hand rather than put it under their arm pit or throw it down as they draw their own. If they keep the attacker’s gun in their off hand they won’t go to their two hand grip and are much more likely to block with that off hand if the attacker then pulls a knife.

As I’ve said many times, if someone is within three feet of me I’d rather them have a handgun than a knife. However, I’d still rather have a handgun than a knife for myself no matter what the distance! Don’t show cool videos and do cool training drills without figuring out answers. A drill to teach “wow, this is scary” won’t do us any good when it gets scary! There are no unwinnable scenarios when it comes to training to save you and your families lives! If you are in a fair fight your tactics suck! BE SAFE!

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