A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Tueller Drill

Do not click unless you can tolerate a graphic image The Tueller Drill is a self defense training exercise used to demonstrate vulnerability against a short range knife attack when armed with a holstered handgun. Many people believe that a gun beats a knife every time. Sergeant Dennis Tueller, of the Salt Lake City, Utah Police Department, showed emphatically that it is not that simple. The officer pictured in the image hidden on the left also learned it was not that simple. The fact that his assailant slashed rather than stabbed is all that saved this officer's life.

A common test of handgun skill is to start with one’s hands at shoulder level with a holstered gun and place two shots on a target 21 feet away within 1.5 seconds. Typically, those well trained with handguns can complete the drill in about one and a half seconds, although a select few can place the two shots on target in under one second.

Over two decades ago, Sgt. Tueller wondered how quickly an attacker with a knife could cover those same 21 feet. So he measured as volunteers raced to stab a target. He determined that the distance could easily be crossed in 1.5 seconds. These results were first published as an article in S.W.A.T. Magazine in 1983 and in a police training video by the same title, “How Close is Too Close?”.

A person armed with a holstered handgun has a dilemma. If he shoots too early, he risks being charged with murder. If he waits until the attacker is definitely within striking range so there is no question about motives, he risks injury and even death. The Tueller experiments quantified a “danger zone” where an attacker presented a clear threat.

The Tueller Drill combines both parts of the original experiments by Sgt. Tueller. There are several ways it can be conducted.

The “attacker” and shooter are positioned back-to-back. At the signal, the “attacker” sprints away from the shooter, and the shooter unholsters his gun and shoots at the target 21 feet in front of him. The “attacker” stops as soon as the shot is fired. The shooter is successful only if his shot is good and if the runner did not cover 21 feet.
A more stressful arrangement is to have the “attacker” begin 21 feet behind the shooter and run towards the shooter. The shooter is successful only if he was able take a good shot before he is tapped on the back by the “attacker”.
If the “shooter” is armed with only an ASP Red Gun, a full-contact drill may be done with the “attacker” running towards the “shooter”. In this variation, the “shooter” should practice side-stepping the attacker while he is drawing the gun.

If you are unfamiliar with the Tueller Drill, but carry a gun, become familiar quickly. Do not educate yourself at the school of fast slashes like this officer did.

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Blogger garys said...

21 feet is the minimum distance. We performed this experiment at the SigArms Academy when I was attending a class. Despite being warned, and having discussed this the runner was almost 50 feet away before the shooter got his shot off.

It's an enlightening demonstration and shows that a well prepared person with a knife can close and injure or kill an armed person rather easily.

As with radiological exposure, the key to survival here is Time, Distance, and Shielding.


1:04 PM  
Blogger Steve Skubinna said...

I am always irked when somebody repeats the trite bromide about not bringing a knife to a gunfight. I damn well am going to bring a knife to one, as well as a second gun, and another knife, and some more ammunition, and maybe a third gun as well.

There's no such thing as an obsolete weapon.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

The distance factor today is also greater. More and more PD's are requiring complicated retention systems to the department holster requirements. It will take longer to unlimber a pistol with a complex system in place, allowing a person with a knife to close more distance.

Those are some nasty, nasty cuts. Thats one more thing I'm going to have to think seriously about.

3:49 PM  
Blogger George said...

I've heard of the attack drill being done in a training academy in NH. The attacker ran across gravel ... and consistently was able to get to the victim before (s)he could draw, aim and fire the handgun.

I don't know whether the trainees were using "quick draw" holsters or normal street carry.

Scary pix, though.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous MD said...

That pretty much scared the crap out of me... best bet is I'd be dead or cut to ribbons by the time I had my sidearm out.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Very educational article! I posted it on my website, MidSouth Gun Talk with a link back to the article on your blog. If you wish me to remove it, I will, but I think it would help educate my users. Thanks again for the great article!

Any chance you have that "officer" video available? It's showing no longer available from YouTube.

4:17 PM  

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