Danger Close

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

It is said that 70% of self-defense shooting happens within 9 to 15 feet, explaining why most of us practice at that range. Only about 5% of self-defense shooting is at a range of 50 feet or greater. But there’s another category of self-defense shooting that’s important to consider; that is, the high number of self-defense shooting that happens at 5 feet or less. While I can’t find any current statistics about this category, I’ve heard that it is about 30% of all self-defense shooting. If it is, that’s significant.

There’s actually a big problem with self-defense at that range. If you think about it, there’s really not enough time or space to execute a full draw, bringing your gun up to eye level and aiming your shot. Even if you can, that’s going to put your gun within reach of the attacker, where they can grab it and pull it out of your hand.

We can break threats at this distance down into two separate categories. The more obvious is the risk of someone with a gun who is that close to you. The other category is broader and includes people wielding any sort of weapon. An attacker doesn’t have to be armed with a gun to be dangerous.

A knife at this distance can actually be more dangerous than a gun, especially a large knife. While a bullet moves faster than a stab with a knife, the knife can produce a large wound. Besides that, stabbing with a knife is instinctive, which can make it faster than shooting a gun.

Okay, so how do we deal with this problem, if we’re ever faced with it?


The first thing to consider, and you’ve only got a split second to consider it, is whether or not you can disarm the assailant. There are drills you can practice for taking a pistol out of someone’s hand and they are quite effective. But that’s not the kind of thing you want to try, unless you have practiced it extensively. A lot of what makes that particular move effective, is the element of surprise.

Other weapons may be harder to remove from an assailant’s hand. There’s no way you want to try grabbing a knife that’s pointed at you. At best, all you’ll accomplish is cutting your hand. Not only will that not win the engagement, but it will make it much harder for you to draw and use your pistol.


The first thing to try and do is to get some distance between you and the attacker. Regardless of what they are using as a weapon, you need distance so that you can draw and aim your sidearm. While distance alone doesn’t provide a whole lot of protection, it does provide some; especially if they don’t react to your moving away from them very quickly.

As you are moving away, there are two other things you want to accomplish, if you can. The first is to move towards one side or the other. This moves you out of their direct line of fire, causing them to have to adjust their aim or miss you. The second thing you want to do is attempt to move around objects, putting those objects between you and them. Those objects become obstacles that they have to maneuver around in order to get at you. At the same time, they can provide concealment, even if they don’t provide cover.

Adding distance also provides you with more time to draw your own firearm and prepare to defend yourself. Even if you have a secondary weapon, like your own knife, you’ll still need distance and time. You can always stop backpedaling at any time and go on the offensive, if needed.

Shooting Instinctively

The other thing to consider is drawing and shooting instinctively. Think of this like the old west shootout, something that never really happened outside of Hollywood. If you’ve ever read any of Louis L’Amour’s books, you will probably have run across some old-timer telling the younger guy how to shoot. He would have said something about it being just like pointing your finger.

The problem is that not everyone points their finger correctly. I’ve seen a lot of people who point their finger 15 or 20 degrees off the mark. So, before even thinking about doing any instinctive shooting, try drawing your finger gun and see just how accurately you point. Get someone else to judge you, as you’ll most likely give yourself more credit than you deserve.

Instinctive shooting requires practice, just like any other sort of shooting. It can be done and even done accurately. But it takes time to get to that point. On the other side of the equation, we’re not talking about shooting very far here. If you’re within five feet of someone, you can be off 5 or 10 degrees and still hit them; but any farther and you’ll probably hit an innocent bystander.

You’re going to have to find some outdoor plinking range to practice instinctive shooting, if you want to get good at it. No shooting range will allow it for liability reasons. Start out with dry fire drills; maybe with a laser sight, but once you’re comfortable with that, move on to shooting with live ammo, so you can see where your shots are really going.

Just one more tool for the toolbox. If you learn it, it will help you be more prepared, just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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