Why Not Both?

(Part 1 of 2)

You may have heard statements such as “Fast is fine, but accuracy is final” or “In a gun fight… You need to take your time in a hurry”, which are attributed to Wyatt Earp or you may have heard from your military friends “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. In such phrases, people have attempted to simplify understanding speed and accuracy when it comes to gun fighting.

Well, fast is fast and accurate is accurate!

Do you need to have the ability to be fast in a gunfight? Absolutely!

Do you need to have the ability to be accurate in a gunfight? Absolutely!

 I often compare this situation to that of mixed martial arts (MMA). In MMA, two fighters face off and compete with a broad variety of martial arts skills. In the early days of the sport, a boxer would come out and attempt to stand up and fight as a boxer against a wrestler or a wrestler against a judo player. The weaknesses were obvious.

Most of the boxers did not have a clue how to fight once on the ground or how to stop a wrestler from taking them down. At the same time, a wrestler taking down a Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) fighter would find himself in a very troubling position because a BJJ fighter, unlike a wrestler, does not mind fighting from his back. In modern day MMA, the champions are simply great at everything. In a gunfight, we need to have a complete bag of skills from which to draw, which absolutely must include both speed and accuracy.

Every instance where a gun is pulled and used in self-defense is unique. The vast majority of justified civilian self-defense shootings, appear to be very short range affairs. The data is a bit complicated and incomplete, but most evidence appears to confirm most are short range.

How fast is fast enough?

Most of us have adequate speed when it comes to shooting at common self defense distances. The portion of speed which counts the most is the time to the first shot.

There are several factors affecting speed. You first have to possess the awareness to realize you need to pull your gun. (You are reacting to the threat.) Next, you have to be able to clear any concealment garments and withdraw your gun from the holster. (This is assuming you are not having to move to conceal your draw or otherwise move due to the threat.) Finally, you have to get your gun on the target and break your first shot with acceptable accuracy.

How fast do you need to be? I will not put any numbers on it, but the faster you can make your first shot given how you carry your gun and the situation in which you find yourself, the more likely you are to survive the encounter. As a point of reference, the 2x2x2 drill comes from the US Special Forces community. You draw your gun and from 20 feet, within 2 seconds you put 2 shots on a 3×5 card.

How accurate is accurate enough?

Within “bad breath distances” accuracy is very often considered to be secondary to speed. I agree with that, with a caveat. Though it is easy to get hits on a target at close range, they need to be good hits.

Good hits are stopping hits. Stopping hits are central nervous system hits or ones which take out the heart or majority arteries in the upper thoracic cavity, though CNS hits are better. This is a relatively small area.

How accurate do you need to be? Again, I will reference the 2x2x2 drill. A 3×5 card at 20 feet is a relatively small target and a good baseline.

In part 2, I will write about how to increase both speed and accuracy…learning to combine them into acceptable speed and acceptable accuracy applied at the same time being the end goal.