That my briefcase??

If you will all forgive me for using a "movie" example, I think this scene from Collateral demonstrates some skills worth examining.....
I remember thinking at the time that the gun-play in this film was better than I have come to expect from Hollywood, and after a little investigating,  found that the actor had spent a substantial amount of time receiving firearms training from SAS veteran Mick Gould. So what skills are we looking at here specifically?

1) Social engineering & positional assessment - As the badguys approach, goodguy chats them up and slips into a more passive profile, raising the hands slightly, wearing a faux "startled" look on his face.....this can all serve to have a disarming effect on the badguy. A little basic Sun Tzu prepping of the the battlespace if you will. As to position....instead of allowing himself to be centered equally between threats, he stayed in a position (granted the badguys kinda helped here) where he would have the option of maneuvering himself to a flank where he would have one badguy between himself and the other with just a quick lateral step.

2) Prioritization of targets - Goodguy is faced with two targets, each armed, but target one is closer and has his firearm drawn and indexed on two is further away and has not yet drawn his pistol. Well, this one is a no brainer as target one meets both the crucial decision parameters of Proximity and Hazard, thus making him the clear priority in this case. What if it were presented differently though? For example, what if target one was close, as he is in the picture but presented no firearm.....okay, well we still have proximity, two has drawn his pistol. Now we have to weigh the threat of a potential grappling problem from target one with the firearm hazard posed by target two. Get the picture?

3) Multi-tasking -  Training to be able to do more than one task at a time. Notice he does not strike badguy's pistol hand away and then draw his own pistol, but performs both tasks at once effectively staying inside badguy's OODA loop. He also (presumably) maintains an awareness of badguy two's position and activity. I personally think I would have added more movement to my own platform to help me stay inside their loop.

4) Drawing from concealment - Unless you are a uniformed police officer or a deployed soldier, you are likely going to be wearing your pistol under a garment....yet 90% of the folks I see practicing at the range do not actively train from this style of carry. This is part of the unfortunately prevalent belief that one will "rise to the occasion" when needed. That was a bitter lesson for me to learn when I transitioned from years of overt carry to having to train for dynamic engagements from a strictly low profile model. It is also worth noting how badguy two struggles unsuccessfully to draw from a semi concealed appendix carry before getting shot down. No doubt poor training on his part.

5) Shooting styles - Because of the proximity to badguy one, the goodguy does not draw to full extension, but employs a "speed rock" technique. After firing a quick hammer into badguy one, he pivots and acquires badguy two with proper SP/SA and puts him down with a Mozambique/FTS (two quick shots to high center mass, one aimed shot to brainbox. What the clip above does not show is goodguy then proceeding to clean the scene by applying a "security round" to the head of a still wiggling badguy one before turning his back on the engagement area. It should go without saying, but this practice would be legally dubious at best and none of this should be construed as "advice", but simply an examination of techniques.

I would also note that although I am not an advocate for the liberal application of "point shooting", the speed rock technique can be done with more accuracy than one would expect - understanding, of course, the limited situations where one would apply such a technique. A former SMU instructor I trained with had a particular way of teaching this principal that resulted in shooters consistently hitting small bulls at 5 yards. It's good to have options......


  1. As a firearms instructor, combat martial artist and veteran law enforcement officer, I greatly enjoy your posts. Very well done , well thought out and researched. Your depth of training and experience is well evident. Keep[ up the educational posts.

  2. The "will to kill" when the wepons come out. KILL. Everything else is tactics."This is the basic truth. Walk up to your enemy and cut off his head" ( book of the five rings)

  3. In an emergency you do what you have to do. But getting tips from movies is more likely than not going to result in your injury or death.
    1. Good guy pushes bad guy's gun across good guy's center mass.
    Although it never happens in movies, statistics show that in the majority of these cases, the gun will be fired. Unless there is no option, the gun should be pushed out and away not across.
    2. Generally, you would fire once at bad guy 1, then double tap bad guy 2, then back to bad guy 1. I know that bad guy 2 did not have his gun drawn so you could argue that it was right to spend the extra time/shot on bad guy 1. However, unless good guy missed bad guy 2 it would be wrong to fire 3 times at unarmed bad guy 2 instead of returning point to the armed bad guy 1.

    1. In an emergency, you will revert to what you spent the most time training to do. Reality always bears this out. The scene depicted provides a useful tool for analysis and dialogue, it's origin notwithstanding. You are misrepresenting my rather clear intent by the implication that I advocate "getting tips from movies". Be that as it may, you bring up some points that we can use to further the dialogue. Regarding your first point - badguy's pistol was pointed at the center of goodguy's head, so from a purely geometrical standpoint, the muzzle is going to "cross" some of his body whether he strikes it away to the inside or to the outside. As humans we bring the most weapons to bear when we fight from our center-line (or square up), be they body weapons or mechanical ones. So, all things being equal and given a choice, I would rather move to an opponent' oblique or flank (or make him move), as it degrades his ability yet bolsters my own. Many fighting systems are built on this very premise. Also worth noting from our example above is, in order to "push it out and away" as you suggest, goodguy, being in the classic "surrender" position, would have had to drop his left hand and travel under badguy's pistol...and then he would be in a position to strike out and away. Sorry, but in this particular case it would be much faster to strike straight across as was you yourself pointed out, there is a substantial likelihood of badguy's pistol discharging when struck, hence speed (not to mention surprise) is essential.
      As for your second point...there is no argument to be had here. There is no doctrinal battledrill or template with which to choreograph a precise response for an encounter of this nature. As shooters we practice a multitude of techniques, from spread fire to priority fire to non standard response, and on and on. You have to make a snap judgement on how to address the threat (see my #2 in the article) based on how it presents itself and how you are able to "shape the engagement" and then you live/die with the outcome.
      Thanks for stopping in and adding to the conversation.

  4. I was given some lessons by a police officer who taught me the same technique seen in the clip (hip firing, for you COD guys). He told me over and over again, "This is only for point-blank range. Don't try it beyond three feet."

  5. Good review of one of my favorite Tom Cruise flicks.

    Even though Americans are delusional about their hand guns effectiveness. It's the drive through mentality to everything in life. Put a gun in mah purse, I'm safe. Heh.

  6. Lets break this down.
    First off his push of bad guy 1's gun.
    Not BS, your action will be faster than his reaction to pull the trigger. CONSISTANTLY!! replicate it with a paintball or airsoft gun if you doubt me. The target will consistantly be able to push the shooters gun away even when the shooter knows its going to happen. distance is more of a key here than anything. His reaction will be slower than your action.
    The target then draws his pistol and shoots from the hip.
    Again NOT BS! Point shooing is more than a viable technique its what you will default to in a stress situation. You draw and shoot and the odds are you will do it with a single hand and not even see your sights. Yes there is a distance factor but its more than 3 feet in spite of what some think. Again try it with a paintball or airsoft pistol if you doubt me. Will you be able to make nice 1 inch groups? Nope but you wont be doing that from full two hand extension in a stress shot either. I mean real stress as in "someone is trying to kill me" stress not "I need to beat that timer" stress.
    To continue
    He should have done a move to his left to bring bad guy 1 between himself and bad guy 2 as he was drawing as well. Yes you can do three things at once again try it with a training partner if you doubt me. His push of the gun is done in conjunction with his move to the left and helps get him offline of the attack. Once he puts a few into BG 1 he then spreads the love to BG 2 at that point it does not matter as long as they both hit the ground and stop moving.

    I am not some special op ninja but I have trained to do the things this clip shows and even beyond. Your ability to do them is there you just need to accept that you do not have to be welded to a stance or grip and that you can move faster than you think you can. Be more organic and let the gun move with your body and you will make hits on target while you move at full speed with no use of the sights. Yes it takes some practice but its VERY doable.

  7. All good,BUT.... he had the "opportunity" to wack em from behind...two to the guy with the case, and numnuts with the drawstroke issues is still pretty much a open throat....thats not good film tho!


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