Head Shots

With suicide bombings taking place worldwide how prepared are you when it comes to taking a high percentage shot. How good of a shot are you when it counts the most.

Good enough

After a terrorist attack a few things come to mind; are you good enough to make a head shot? While I’m speaking mainly to our domestic law enforcement I would extend this question to anyone who finds themselves in harms way. Years ago I was asked about the effectiveness of a head shot from a pistol. No doubt, they will produce a result. The question we all wonder is it the result we are looking for; immediate incapacitation.

It is a come as you are war

Head shots with a rifle tend to be more favorable for lots of reasons, but the reality is you probably won’t have a rifle with you so let’s just put that to bed right now. You will be forced to respond with a pistol; whether from your duty belt or concealed carry. After all, the main reason we carry a pistol is for convenience first, lethality second. There will be several different strategies floating around the internet on how to deal with this type of situation, but immediately incapacitating the threat is your tactical imperative.

Welcome to the nightmare

If you fail to immediately incapacitate, you may find they still have the ability to depress a button most likely taped to their hand so as not to be dropped or taken. If you look at some recent bombings you will notice how they wore gloves thus concealing the switch mechanisms even further, but more importantly making it inaccessible to a bystander. So, if you fail to immediately incapacitate it makes sense to consider they are still combat effective. In this case, combat effective implies capable of depressing the switch possibly taped to their hand and concealed with a glove.

What if

So, “what if” you find yourself in this situation? How far can you guarantee a head shot? I love hearing  folks comment on their abilities to make this shot at 25 yards easily. Well, to generate the immediate incapacitation we are looking for it means the target is smaller than the head itself. Basically you are looking at the base of the brainstem or about a four inch target. Now, how far can guarantee that hit? I feel it is safe to say 10 yards. That’s right, a measly ten yards from an explosive devise. While you may want to be much further away, outside the blast radius, your skill may prevent that luxury. In addition, while I comment on a head shot in the singular tense, I would want to place several rounds into the target zone increasing my chances of neutralizing the threat.

Don’t kid yourself

All of this places a high demand on the shooter, probably higher than you can ever imagine. If you fail to incapacitate and they detonate the bomb you may be responsible for countless lives loss. Though that may be an eventuality you cannot control, it would suck to know they depressed the switch after your failed attempt. My point, if you haven’t been practicing for reduced targets at extended ranges then don’t kid yourself. All these techniques you see out there that circumvent marksmanship principles will be of little use in this situation. Does it warrant a change to your training philosophy, maybe. It means accept reality and either go with it or do something different.

Realistic expectations

One final thought, target discrimination. Yes, that pesky notion of positively identifying the threat and in this case a suicide bomber. Some photographs show bulky clothing being worn, would that rouse suspicion alone? How would you know they are a suicide bomber? Have you been studying available information regarding mannerisms and appearances and if so is that enough to justify your head shot? This is an incredibly challenging incident and one we better start preparing for or at the very least discussing from a realistic capability standpoint.

To my friends in blue, train hard and be ready. That is all.

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