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Thread: Using the 21 foot drill as a tool

  1. #1
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    Using the 21 foot drill as a tool

    If you ask someone who carries a pistol about dealing with edged weapons they will likely mumble something about “not bringing a knife to a gun fight”, or something even less understandable about the 21 foot rule. Most of them will have never done the 21 foot drill, and if they did they probably concentrated on drawing and putting rounds on target instead of getting cut.

    Even though the research screams that you are very unlikely to see the edged weapon you are attacked with, for some reason we just cannot let go of training to shoot a bad guy holding a butcher knife glaring at us from seven yards away. We either train against that or the same guy charging us when he is given the signal. For our purposes here we will discuss the latter.

    First of all this is not a gun problem, first and foremost it is a movement and angle problem. The problem comes in when people whose most polished skill set is a pistol fixate on using it as the first part of solving the problem.

    In order for the edged weapon to cut us it has to make contact with us. And the damage it does is largely dependent on where that contact is made. The fact that the person is running at us almost guarantees that the 93%+ of the time it will be a right handed attack with the attack being an Angle #1 that travels from high right to low left, not unlike a haymaker. Whether it is a slash or a stab will depend on the type of weapon. With a butcher knife you will likely get a stab, with a box cutter it will be a slash.

    After doing this drill for what now seems 100’s of times, if I had to put my finger on one thing that ensures you will get seriously cut, it would be rushing to get two hands on the gun.

    Here are the reasons why-

    Having both hands on the gun increases tunnel vision and glues feet to the ground. For most people force on force is a new thing and they have done way more live fire. Under stress we revert back to what we have done most of or most recently. In this case you are scared to death of getting cut or stabbed so you focus on getting two hands on the gun in an attempt to get a better shot.

    Since we were children our eyes naturally focus on anything that we point at, this is increased when both hands are on the gun.
    Muscles contract under stress, and the more your heart rate sky rockets , the tighter you hold the gun.

    Even when the attacker is at contact distance their hands stay glued to the gun. This results into what would be at least one powerful disfiguring slash, or a deadly stab into their face, neck, or upper chest. Just by raising their arm they could mitigate some of the force.

    If students do move they go straight back, usually losing their balance and sometimes falling.

    The keys to conquering this scenario are the following-
    In response to the movement of the attacker, move forward to your left, you attackers right. This is likely his non dominant side. The faster he is the slower he is to respond to his weak side. By moving forward you can see where you are going and keep your momentum forward.

    Use your reaction side hand for navigation and to block/parry/ evade the attack. Draw your pistol and engage with your strong hand only.
    Realize that it may be physically impossible for you to get your pistol between your eyes and the threat making sighted fire impossible.

    Trying to force this and brining the sights up to the chest causes you to bypass the super vascular targets of the pelvic girdle. Because of ritualized combat your body and that of your attacker will be close to square. This means that if you start firing from your waist there is an excellent chance of striking his upper legs, pelvic girdle, and stomach.

    As he passes you and you are able to check his attacking arm with your off hand it is very likely that you will be in position for a contact shot under his armpit. If nothing else this will move you to his outside and force his weapons away from you.

    There are three types of physical stoppages-

    Central Nervous System- if you are able to hit the brain or spinal cord during a scenario this dynamic and close you may want to consider playing the lottery. There is no time or room for the intentional targeting of the head. If you are lucky enough to score a CNS hit you will know because they will drop. Consider it a 75 yard field goal though.

    Structural System- comprised of the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, SS hits to the feet, knees, pelvis, hands, elbows, and collar bone will likely be noticeable immediately.

    Circulatory System- the system that we are most familiar when it comes to ballistics. CS hits are the slowest to stop an attack but most likely to kill. The downfall of traditional firearms training is leading people to believe that people burst into flames when shot in the chest. They will keep going.

    So understanding this means realizing that they are a threat until they are no longer a physical threat and you have got to keep using movement and angles to achieve that……not just the gun.
    Last edited by mercop; 02-04-12 at 11:45.

  2. #2
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    So you have a standoff weapon and your attacker has a weapon only useful at arms length, and your solution is to CLOSE THE DISTANCE between yourself and the attacker? Am I reading that right when you say "move forward?"

    Then you say that "93%" of the time it will be a "right handed attack" immediately followed by the statement "move forward to your left, you attackers right. This is likely his non dominant side." Is it just me or wouldn't that be his dominant side? How do those two statements go together?

    I may be misreading you, but I see no benefit in closing the gap when you have the standoff weapon. Is this what you really mean to say?

    I will agree that waiting to get two hands on the gun before firing when being charged by an attacker with an edged weapon is not a good idea. The non dominant hand is best left free, for sure. I'm just not in line with closing the distance.
    Last edited by a0cake; 02-04-12 at 17:15.

  3. #3
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    Not having any training in this sort of scenario, I have a few questions. First, I agree with a0cake, and then, how easy is it for the attacker to change his attack from high/low slash to a stab?

    Also, are you assuming he will telegraph his move by starting with his blade in a certain position?

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    I have delved a lot in hand to hand, edged weapon, and blunt force study and practice and am pretty good in this arena.

    This just doesn't seem like a good piece to go off of. On the right track in some regards such as using your off hand to block an incoming attack from a rushing attacker vs tactic fixation of getting the gun up with sites and a two handed grip.

    What someone will do with an edged weapon is more or less guess work and it can be stabbing or slashing either way you should do an outward/sweeping block to either go for redirecting a stab or stopping a slash.

    As for stepping it would be better off to step to your right/their left with your forward foot (preferably left/in left foot fighting stance) then doing the block (exact block depending on attack height/angle), stepping forward with the back/right, turning to face them (turning to face them after stepping forward with the right will bring you back to left foot forward fighting stance), then with a low presentation (do not fully extend shooting arm or bring the gun up to his "zone") open fire center mass and work way to CNS if they don't fall fast enough. This should have the effect of your left arm keeping their right outside their body, your right with the gun inside theirs, and basically being in the advantage for offense and defense. This all is assuming left foot forward fighting stance and a right handed attacker.

    Left handed attacker is a lot trickier.

    As for closing the gap, very important part of footwork to get the advantage. Kinda hard to explain but you have to use a combination of advancing distance just right (to have the right starting foot positions and align up with the opponent at the right time) and then doing the proper side steps, pivoting, etc to be in a dominate position and/or redirect/throw off an opponent.
    Luck is awesome. The more proficient you are at what you do the luckier you seem to be.

    Do what you love and love what you do.

    Shooter and survivalist by hobby.

  5. #5
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    Best Defense TV show covered this subject very well a couple of weeks ago (Mike Seeklander and Mike Janich)...may be worth watching.

  6. #6
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    Understand I am talking about it as a drill and not a scenario. To put in in better context do it in a hallway or between two parked car.

    Moving into the left is based on the premise that right handed person reacts to their left, like a football player breaking off the line. So if you are moving behind them to their right it is then their non reaction side. I hope that makes sense.

    Moving to the right puts you in a very bad position in reference to controlling the live arm and moving to their outside. It is much easier for them to track you.

    When I am teaching LE and corrections I have them approach a contact on the attackers right. They use the back of there hand to make contact with the back of the subjects arm. If the subject goes for a weapon they can quickly isolate the arm from the weapons band by simply riding the arm up.

    All drill & ceremonies are done by stepping off on the left foot. We use this to add continuity to what we do.

    As far as the firearm being a stand off weapon. The firearm is unique in that it allows you to attack at a distance, however during the drill the distance is closing fast. The advantage is gone so you have got to do something open handed in conjunction with your pistol.- George

  7. #7
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    So using sound tactics, I have placed myself slightly to left of the suspect. His right. This gives me more visual of his right side and puts me off his line, forcing him to have to do a right turn to get to me. Am I following this correctly?
    Assuming I am, this also places my weapon hand farther away from suspect as he comes in.
    Now, as I visualize this, I see attacker moving forward as his weapon hand presents, I react and step forward(since I am in a fighting stance, and can get a quick forward movement) This forces him to have to change angle, or attempt a wide swing, which decreases accuracy and power of the slash/ stab. I use left hand to block best I can, and weapon hand draws pistol, and orients it on attacker as soon as it clears the holster.
    If I attempt to get 2 handed grip immediatly, I pull in my guard and lock down my stance. Which eliminates, do to training, any sort of dynamic movement.(training scar) and keeps me in the defense, rather than moving and dominating the situation.
    But if I use the advantage of the Pistol near the holster, use a point fire technique, and engage the threat, and continue to move, I can get to a point of advantadge, or at the very least, keep the power out of his strikes. Meanwhile, I can possibly get the time/space needed to do a follow on shot with more accuracy.
    What I am trying to create is attacker having to turn to his outside, and possibly pass me, with a gunshot wound to the hip, lower chest area, and minimizing damage to myself, while keeping an offensive mindset. Right?
    Ash Hess

    Government Sales Specialist at Knights Armament Company

    ahess@knightarmco.com

    Senior writer of TC 3-22.9 Rifle and Carbine
    US Army Master Marksmanship Instructor.
    Sionics Weapon Systems AR15 Armorer


  8. #8
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    A lot of that has to do with the attackers foot placement.

    If their right foot is forward and the weapon is in their right hand (more like a fencing stance) then going left does circle behind them more and has some advantages. However if you try to control their weapon arm you have to use a hand where the left you either have to cross over your own body or stay in front (more or less) of them, the right is your gun hand and the side the holster is on so it ends up out the fight for the most part.

    If their left foot is forward and you go to the left then you both are more or less just squared off with one another with your left arm matching with their right.

    Now going right:

    If their left foot/left hand (unarmed hand assuming) is forward then going right will put you behind them, your left matches theirs and same with the right and you can grab/use their left with yours to prevent them from spinning and facing you while addressing the issue more permanently with your right, to stab or slash you they must spin around or try to get at you from behind.

    If their right foot it forward and you go right then your left hand can meet their right and stop attacks, draw with right but again more or less squaring off.

    Think of it from the attackers point of view.

    Your right foot is forward along with your weapon hand and the person goes to your right, you spin to your right bringing your weapon arm with you and its leading, they can block you by using their right hand and tying up their primary weapon or try and reach over with their left and compromising their stance/body positioning. Left foot forward, well they more or less are just slipping along you and facing off.

    If left foot forward and they go left then you must spin around on them to your left (keeping momentum) and reface them and the weapon arm is back or break momentum and do a back spin. Right foot forward and they go left and they tie up your right hand and square off/pulls out a gun and your on defense against it.

    As for thinking of a scenario of being in a hallway or along cars. Much more prominent to also have all walls/obstacles to your left so your primary weapon isn't being tied up or hindered by them and so your back is covered by said wall/obstacle when you presume a left foot forward fighting stance. Consequently if your trying to use the surrounding area to your advantage then you are faced with going right and separating off.
    Luck is awesome. The more proficient you are at what you do the luckier you seem to be.

    Do what you love and love what you do.

    Shooter and survivalist by hobby.

  9. #9
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    Talking defensive tactics is like someone with no firearms experience buying a gun and sticking it in the closet. You can read all about it, but when the time comes you are going to default to instinct, and I can guarantee that all the mental chess, ninja strategy you thought about goes out the window.
    The only way to make it work is to work it. Additionally, a lot of stuff sounds good in theory, but fails miserably the first time you try it in practice.

    First, if someone pulls an edged weapon and tries to use it on you, accept the fact that you are going to get cut. If you don't, buy a lottery ticket afterwards.
    Second, people can close the distance FAST. If you get charged, the biggest mistake that you can make is to stand flat footed and use both hands to try and clear the holster. Instinct will get you to focus on getting the weapon out and if you tunnel vision, you will stand there like a rock.

    In regards to what the OP was saying, if I am correct, is that in the event of a right handed, outside to inside slash or stab, the best place to move is to the left. I agree. This is because an unskilled attacker is not going to swing with his right foot to the rear. 99% of the time he will have the right foot in front. It extends the strike range, and lets the body's muscular torque add to the power behind the swing.
    If he is right foot forward and you retreat, he simply keeps coming. If you go right, you are now squared up with him, and at very close range. If you shift left, however, you are quartered to his rear and for him to effective engage you, he has to withdraw his right foot while turning to face you. It buys you a little time and is the strongest defensive position that you can be in at that moment. Although, I much prefer to go on a 45° to the left. In simplistic terms, the "circle in a square" shows how you can angle off and be outside the strike radius, while still being close enough to either counter or control.

    Waaaaaaay to much to try to talk about in a post, but the bottom line is if you are attacked by an edged weapon, DO NOT stand there trying to get a gun out. MOVE. You can try to draw on the move, or enage with the intent of drawing after you can buy a couple of seconds of time, or even try to run away and draw at full sprint, but believe me on this: If you are carying concealed or are not comfortable with releasing from a retention holster to the level/speed that you can do is fast, fluid, and in your sleep, getting your weapon out is not your priority. Avoiding getting stabbed in the head, chest, or neck while buying enough time and distance to draw your weapon is. Remember that you are being attacked with a knife/edged weapon. If they close the gap while you are fumbling with a draw, you will most likely be fighting for control of your firearm, so a really bad situation can go really bad, really fast.
    Last edited by Tiny Killer Robot; 02-05-12 at 06:07.

  10. #10
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    ...and for the record, I have been stabbed in an altercation. I blocked an icepick coming at my head that wound up in my forearm. I didn't even feel it, and after it was over, it only hurt pulling it out.

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