GrumpyBiker and jljones had an interesting back-and-forth in a thread in the rifle room; I think it merits more exploration in a dedicated thread, in a more appropriate location. I opted not to post in the CCW forum, because I think it's really more a matter of training and outlook.
I'll begin by copying relevant excerpts from the other thread...
In response to jljones original response to GrumpyBiker's T1 preference comment
This post is a bit messy, but I wanted anyone participating to be able to see the entire inspiration in one place.
I, for one, would take that shot at 150 yards, in a civilian setting, at an active shooter on a rooftop. I don't always have a rifle on my person, but there is one that lives in my car. It is an Ar15 with iron sights, and I am confident in the rifle and my abilities at that range, under those circumstances. I think the lives potentially saved is worth you putting yourself on the line, both literally, and in terms of weathering the post-conflict legal storm. I found myself pondering this exact thing, after the Highland Park tragedy; the downtown area of my relatively small town hosts various festivals and car show events regularly, and those make for a very similar target-rich environment, for an active shooter. Even after Uvalde, I found myself considering how long it would take me to get to the nearby elementary school, from where I work; I could likely be there in under a minute, on foot; call it two minutes, if I retrieve the rifle from the car. These are things we need to think about, and take into account in our preparedness attitude and training disciplines.This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSGM,
|Fighting the good fight|
Lots of things come into play in these kind of "What If" scenarios here...
Issue #1: Can you fully identify your target at 150 yards, and are you confident in your situational awareness and decision-making regarding something 150 yards away? At 150 yards, is there a way for you to conclusively know whether that is your shooter, a responding officer (plainclothes or otherwise), or another concerned armed civilian like yourself?
Once you get past that target identification hurdle, you hit Issue #2: Are you skilled enough to make an effective first shot hit on a moving man-sized target at 150 yards? Hitting a constantly-moving person - especially something like just a head and shoulders popping up over the edge of a rooftop - is much different than poking holes in static paper targets on the firing line. This is true regardless of range, but is amplified significantly at longer ranges.
Then Issue #3: Do you even have the opportunity to safely take such a shot at 150 yards, with a clear line of fire and a safe backstop?
There are plenty of situations that I can envision that I would not be willing to take a shot at 150 yards. Probably well more than there are situations in which I'd be willing to shoot.
In the scenario you posited at the end of your post, with a guy peeking over a rooftop 150 yards away, I would not take that shot, especially with an iron-sighted rifle. Too far away with too small of a target that is too easy to move unexpectedly, and no safe backstop due to the upward trajectory resulting in rounds flying up and away to who-knows-where.
This isn't the military in a war zone, dumping rounds in the general direction of what you think is the bad guy to make them keep their head down, and usually knowing where the good guys are (or should be). In the civilian world - LE or otherwise - you are accountable for the outcome of every single bullet you shoot. So you need to be sure before you pull that trigger that every single bullet you shoot is going at a known bad guy (Issue #1), is most likely going to hit that bad guy (Issue #2), and that each bullet fired is going to be reasonable safe - even if it does happen to miss (Issue #3).
That's all true regardless of distance, but it becomes significantly harder to meet all that criteria at 150 yards.
I agree with your decision-making process. My OP was written under the assumption that you know what's on that rooftop 150 yards away is the threat. My minds eye conjured a man popping up and down, in and out of sight; I wouldn't attempt to engage a laterally moving target on a rooftop at 150 yards. With my eyes, and my proficiency with iron sights, I would be only slightly less confident than if my rifle was equipped with a dot. The safe backstop is absolutely a point of contention, to which I pose the following question: Is it worth you putting it on the line; taking the chance, to eliminate that guy, potentially saving five to ten lives? It seems, according to your thought process, that the only justifiable action is a trained sniper from a helicopter or a SWAT team building entry and ascent to the rooftop. We all know both of those things aren't going to happen quickly. If you're there when he first opens fire, there's a lot of good you could do, if you're willing to take the chance; if you're not, what the hell are we really doing with any of this armed citizen stuff?
You make some good, valid points, RogueJSK, but some thoughts about the issue of ensuring we have a safe backstop beyond the target in a situation of the sort being discussed.
Ensuring we know where our bullets will go after missing or passing through the target is a fundamental shooting safety rule for good reason. Unfortunately, though, if everyone observed that rule in every defensive shooting there would be almost none. Unless we can see that there’s a sturdy masonry wall or big pile of dirt behind the bad guy we’re shooting at, how often can we be absolutely certain that our bullet(s) won’t hit someone farther along?
There are many YouTube videos of law enforcement shootings and various descriptions of other incidents have been published over the years. In most of them any evident concern about where the bullets go after they pass the target is totally lacking. LEOs are seen emptying their weapons at an attacker in the dark when it would be impossible to see if there were any bystanders out there somewhere. Very often they shoot at someone who jumps out of his vehicle that’s stopped beside a busy roadway. In incidents like the ones involving active shooters high on a building as in New Orleans or Austin, countless rounds were fired by LEOs (and others) and although many bullets hit the buildings, many didn’t and went flying to parts unknown.
In a recent incident in Colorado an officer shot at a man in a mall. There was no one visible behind him, but the bullet penetrated a changing room and killed a girl who was sheltering there. There is some question whether the shot was even justified, but the outcome would have been no different if the BG was actively shooting at the officers. In the Uvalde incident one officer who reportedly had the killer in his rifle sights is supposed to have said he hesitated because he was afraid his shot could penetrate to the school and injure someone there. The result was that the man was able to go on to kill 21 people. Had an errant shot by the officer indeed injured or even killed someone in the school, would that have been worse than what actually happened?
None of that is to say we should disregard our concerns and decide to just let the chips fall where they may. If anything we do does cause unintentional harm to bystanders, no matter how well-intentioned our acts or what possible worse outcomes we might have prevented, the consequences to us personally could be disastrous, and the probability of that increases daily, it seems. Without going into any further detail, that probability is why just yesterday I said about something I had done many times before, “No. No more.” Perhaps the time will come again when it won’t be necessary for the would-be defenders among us to fear the consequences of even good outcomes. It’s not that way now, though, and the reason is because those whom we might protect have made it the way it is now.
|Fighting the good fight|
I totally agree that you often are faced with making do with what you have.
But given the opportunity, you should do what you can to make the shot as reasonably safe as possible. That can be as simple as moving slightly to present a better angle with a better backstop before pulling the trigger. Or even getting closer to increase the likelihood of the shots hitting the bad guy and not having to worry as much about what's behind/around them.
In the specific situation here, with shots being taken at 150 yards on a moving human, it's quite likely that many/most of your rounds are going to miss. Therefore, I stand by my assertion that I likely wouldn't take that shot, until I had either maneuvered closer to further minimize missing, or maneuvered to where there was at least a safer backstop (if possible).
To put it another way, faced with this same scenario, but with just a handgun instead of a rifle, would you still take that shot? Sure, you could potentially make hits at 150 yards on a moving human with your handgun. But it's even less likely than with a rifle.
So why aren't we just emptying the handgun towards the bad guy 150 yards away if they might hit and therefore might save lives?
Because the likelihood of effective hits isn't high enough to justify the danger of firing those rounds (and yes, the liability for what those rounds end up doing). So you're taking an already deadly active shooter situation and merely adding in additional unreasonable danger that is likely to just potentially make it worse rather than better. Instead, you'd elect to get closer before firing your handgun, in order to ensure that you're better able to safely and effectively engage the target.
Therefore, the same holds for the rifle, with the difference being that the "close enough to be reasonably safe and effective" distance for hits on a man-sized moving target with a iron-sighted rifle is generally going to be longer than with just a handgun.
Again, I cannot dispute what you say.
I will point out, though, something that gets overlooked in most discussions that bring up dangers to bystanders: Hitting the target with most bullets fired from defensive handgun cartridges is no guarantee that the bullet will just stop there and not pass through to injure or kill someone else. We must also remember that most shots fired in defensive shootings miss their targets completely even at the usual close distances. Am I different and none of my shots would miss? Of course. I am different from all those other people who can’t shoot straight. (Yes, of course I am being totally sarcastic, but many people who believe that about themselves wouldn’t be.)
Risk assessment, mitigation, and ultimate acceptance is what this, and many other things in life, is all about; we will of course mitigate as best as we possibly can, before finally deciding whether or not the current level of remaining risk is acceptable to us, given the circumstance. Folks who think different than we do would have people believe that risk can be eliminated by legislation; knowing that is false, and being prepared to accept mitigated risk is a very American sentiment indeed.
Subjectivity can be the death of many an online discussion, and it's oftentimes unavoidable.
Closing the distance is, of course, desirable, in this scenario. If the shooter is firing every couple seconds, and maybe mortally wounding someone every third shot, we're looking at a dead citizen every six seconds. If I have a shot at 150 yards, I think it'd be advisable to engage; you'd likely have to accept the deaths of at least two more people, in the time it would take you to move to what you hope is a more favorable spot, and regain the target.
I have found that many people don’t like seeing discussions of subjects like these and sometimes become very defensive even though it’s just an Internet discussion and they’re not required to participate, much less get involved in a real event. I, however, find them interesting and ultimately informative because they force me to think about and analyze my own views. If I were to decide that I could possibly become involved in something myself, I’m required to then think about my own skills, abilities, equipment—and especially—my responsibilities.
Other than the fact that some people’s personal insecurities or arrogance (“You couldn’t do that!”) prompt them to try to derail the discussion, the biggest problem is always that almost everyone will view a hypothetical situation through the very narrow lens of their own assumptions based on their—usually limited—experience and perceptions.
For example, when I ask about aiding a lone officer in an active killer event, usually someone will tell us that a swarm of LEOs will arrive on scene with a few minutes. Even though that may be true in most parts of the country, and most of the time they will even be officers prepared to actually take action to end the event, it’s not true everywhere. Where I live I would usually expect one officer or possibly two to be within quick responding distance of perhaps five minutes, but more than that would be rare. It wouldn’t be unusual for no backup to arrive before someone responded from another county.
The same is true about other aspects of such situations. Would a 150 yard handgun shot attempt be appropriate? Possibly. It might be totally ineffective, but it might distract or scare the BG, and—Who knows?—perhaps the horse will learn to sing. Although I wouldn’t even suggest that I could do it all the time, I knocked over a bowling pin at 100+ yards with my second shot from a 357 SIG P229, and used my first S&W model 29 to topple a metallic silhouette pig at 300 meters with my third. And as I tell my LE students, distance can actually be our friend. Who is likely to be the better shot? One of many members here or an 18-year-old with a gun he bought last week and whose experience with shooting was mostly limited to video games? Those thoughts are of course not tactical advice, but they are something to think about. And although we should think first and foremost about our own situations, we should likewise never forget how much we learn from others.
Anyway, even though these discussions give some the chance to signal their virtues regarding everything from ballistics to tactical expertise, I find them fascinating at the very least.
|Irksome Whirling Dervish|
I finished up a two day CCW tactics class last weekend and long distance shots were discussed and attempted.
The overall discussion was that if you were absolutely certain that a shot was necessary and that you'd checked to see if bystanders were out of harms way and otherwise had a green light, could you make the shot? A cold shot, nonetheless?
The target was a full size man steel at 150 yards. Not a single student, from a standing position and taking their time hit it on the first shot. Some shots were a miss by quite a ways and others were near misses. For some, the BG would know they were being shot at and for others the BG would have little idea.
We shot a total of around 20 rounds. I was using a 9mm 3.1" Shield and managed to hit it 3 times and came close a few more but overall, it's damn hard to hit something that's static at that distance and when you add in stress, wind, distractions, commotion and such, it's a very difficult cold shot.
The guns were capable and whether you shot a short Shield, Government Model, G19 or similar, not one had reliable success.
I don't see a scenario where a white cowboy hat citizen is going to make a 150 yard shot. Yes, they can play artillery but the class showed it was damn hard to make a quality hit.
This conversation has been about rifles. I think most people would agree that a 100y+ shot with a handgun is going to more often than not fall into the reckless category.
|Irksome Whirling Dervish|
Yes, it was about rifles although an average CCW holder may not have the luxury of a truck gun and circumstances would then dictate whatever they had on their belt or tucked in a pocket.
I believe the overall discussion would be applicable to both, with extra consideration given for the harder shot with a handgun.
Despite the intent of the OP, in regards to the weapon used, I appreciate your participation in the discussion. In the scenario presented, with access to my vehicle weapon restricted, I'd be limited to my CCW Taurus TCP. Needless to say, I'd be looking to cover significant ground, in an effort to close the distance. I'd be pretty well useless against a rooftop shooter, other than perhaps providing temporary harassing fire, which is certainly better than nothing. Considering the fact I'd close as much distance as possible before engaging, my rounds would presumably be on a pretty extreme upward trajectory, making misses of little concern, in regards to "backstop"; so there's a silver lining.
I suppose I might actually attempt to gain access to the roof. The shooter likely has the easiest point of entry barricaded in some way though.
If thinking about engaging an active killer armed with a rifle on a rooftop with a handgun by oneself, I recommend reading the book A Sniper in the Tower: The Charles Whitman Murders by Gary M. Lavergne. It is not only difficult, but very dangerous. Admittedly, the killer in that incident was unusually skilled as compared with most active shooters, but it’s something to be aware of.
|They're after my Lucky Charms!|
Some issues might be local dependent. Being in Fairfax County, where the police have a left bend to them, I would be hesitant to use a rifle/carbine outside the house. But move out towards the Shenandoah Valley, and if didn't have an AR in the trunk, the locals will look at you weird, or mock you for having a poodle shooter in bear country.
Lord, your ocean is so very large and my divos are so very f****d-up
Dirt Sailors Unite!
I discuss my experience with 150 yard handgun shots here:
|Sigforum K9 handler|
Weird that the hand wringers have been pretty quiet in the last week on the topic of distance shooting and “not being a cop”.
"It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it works out for them"
Indeed. A LGS conversation a couple days ago had a sceptic doubting a confident engagement at the supposed distance in the mall takedown (40yd?). Myself and another patron disagreed, citing our own experiences in practice, and the efficacy of a braced position. Whether or not the "good Samaritan" braced on something is, I suppose, unknown.
Hey, hey, what’s that sound?
Thousands of concealed carriers trying a 40 yard drill.
I couldn’t resist myself. Even unbraced with irons alone (anyone still remember those?), eight of ten wasn’t too difficult, but I couldn’t match the seven seconds claim I saw someplace.
Why not? We all did the Jack Wilson drill for a few weeks in early '20.
|Sigforum K9 handler|
I just completed a 2 day defensive RDS pistol class with Sage Dynamics. His “standards” course went back to the 25.
Interestingly, he had a 50 round skill test that started at the 5 and ended at the 50. At the 5 yard line, you had 2.5 seconds to fire 5 rounds from concealment or duty holster. Then you moved to the 10 where you would draw and fire 5 in 3.5. The 15 in 4.5. And continue back each 5 yards until you got to the 50 in 11.5 seconds. His modified “A” box is 4x6. “B” is 8.5x11. And D is normal USPSA size.
I made all of the par times with time to spare. Final tally was 5 Ds, 11 Bs, and 34 As.
BTW, great class and super instructor.
"It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it works out for them"
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