A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rule Four

Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.

This is an interesting rule. Most people hear target and think of the range. They are reminded of the berm behind the targets. Making sure of your targets and backstop at the range is important, but Rule Four has greater implications.

In a crisis of fear Rule Four is often abandoned. It is, however, of the utmost importance. When in desperate fear for their lives, people will shoot at noises, at moving shadows, and at anything that moves. Shooting before identifying your target is fraught with danger. As shooters, we train to make skill play a greater role in our survival, and to decrease our reliance on luck. When we shoot at shadows and noises in a crisis, we negate our hard earned skills, and take a gamble with lady luck. The gamble not only wastes precious ammo resources, decreasing one's survival potential, but it can also destroy innocent lives.

Back in November 2005 I blogged about shooting through doors. I have met people who have killed family members by shooting through doors at unseen noises. I will never forget talking to a despondent man, an honorable man, who put a .357 magnum round through his 18 year old daughter's heart. He shot through a door at noises in the night that he thought were threatening. It was declared an accident. He never accepted that, and neither do I. It was negligence that took his daughter's life.

I knew a law officer who retired after thirteen years. In year twelve of his tenure on the force, he took the life of a child instead of the criminal he was pursuing. He never did reach acceptance of his error. Nobody could reach the depths of his anguish and help him escape his torment over his fatal error. He eventually took his own life.

These tragedies occur much more frequently than they should. They are often ruled accidents. I will not argue that, as I do not wish to increase the burden these unfortunate shooters must bear for the rest of their lives. We can learn from their errors though. We do not have to follow in their footsteps. Rule Four is the rule that prevents these tragedies. Incorporate it into your training. Be sure of what you shoot.

Finally, know the penetrating capabilities of your chosen weapon and ammunition. The Box o'Truth is an interesting grass roots website which explores ammunition capabilities in a no bullshit fashion. It is a simple task to do the same with one's own defensive weapons and ammunition. Killing or injuring an innocent person with a bullet that missed a threat and penetrated a wall is another occurrence that happens. These too, are often ruled accidents, but the psychological repercussions of taking an innocent life are difficult to bear. Knowing that it could have been prevented with better choices in ammunition and firearms can be potentially devastating. Whether the law holds you responsible for your bullet's destructive path or not, a person with a conscience will hold themselves responsible.

Identify your perceived threat and be sure you want to destroy it. The consequences of not doing so are too great.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link 'o truth.

I'm changing the shell type in the evil black home defense shotgun right now.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Porta's Cat said...

I have done some of my own experiments on "home defense" rounds (found in the blog) and come to the conclusion that, based upon Rule #4,:

1. Any reasonable defensive round has "too much penetration", unless you live inside a battleship.

2. The only way to deliver "safe fire", relative to defensive shooting, is to deliver accurate fire with no reasonable chance of a miss.

3. Accurate fire, other than point blank to about 15 feet, can only be assured with handgun (to about 75 feet at a standing target) and a rifle/carbine at longer ranges.

What I found about shotguns is that they filled the black full of holes, and the grey, and the white. At longer distances, some didn't even hit the target, although they hit something.

I am sure someone can argue my findings on some level, and many have. But speaking on #4, once you take out the (obvious) component of using your brain to make sure you SHOULD shoot, the next most important component is having a weapon that won't, by default, FORCE you to violate #4, as well as the shooting skills so that YOU don't, by default, violate #4.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Xavier. Here's my question and this isn't the first time it's entered my mind. In fact, being an instructor, I teach Rule Four myself all the time. My personal quandary: If my life is indeed in immediate danger, and I DO have to shoot to save myself or my family member, what then about Rule Four? To my mind, it seems that all things considered, sometimes you just have to shoot and do your best. This is a sticky wicket, to be sure.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sticky wicket, indeed, Monica.

I always add the caveat of knowing what's around your target, and what's between you and the target as well. Some folks can have tunnelk vision so bad that they don't realize a 'good guy' has walked into the path between them and the 'bad guy'.

Xavier, I want to thank you very very very much for posting this little series. They are highly entertaining and educational as well. They bring to light a lot of things about the 4 Rules that I frequently see others ranting about in various places on the internet.

Bravo Zulu.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Xavier for going through the 4 Rules Again. We can never Read, Explain nor Live these enough.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

I've really enjoyed your recap of the four rules, and hope you keep up the good work!

6:57 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

I hear on forums from otherwise sharp and gunhandy folks who laugh at my comments about using Glasers in my home protection handguns and about my comments about which calibers and weapons to automatically rule out for home defense because of excessive penetration problems. I agree with you completely...SEE your target before engaging it and use ammo which won't go through hell and hald of Georgia after it hits its intended target. There are several rounds which will be productive self-protection rounds without overpenettration. It takes a small amount of research to locate them, but that cost is offset in safety and peace of mind. If more than one is needed put it in the same place as number 1. Underpenetrating twice will be better than overpenetrating even once.

3:08 PM  

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