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Stand & Deliver; Stand & Die

Those who are familiar with the modern technique understand the concept of stand and deliver. This is the tactic of the good guy, upon seeing a lethal threat, immediately and rapidly drawing his pistol and placing effective fire on the bad guy--without moving off the "X." Of course students familiar with Suarez International Close Range Gunfighting and Force on Force understand that the fundamental flaw with this technique is that in reality, you stand and die. One of the drills we do in force on force is for each student, one with pistol drawn, the other drawing their pistol to both attempt to shoot each other with Airsoft while standing in place. In the force on force drill each student invariably shoots the other with a little plastic pellet; however this is not what happens in real life.

We recently conducted an experiment with 100 different trials. We had four participants: one advanced shooter, one intermediate, one somewhat trained, and one basically untrained. The advanced shooter has studied the modern technique for 30+ years, attended all of Suarez International Close Range Gunfighting and Force on Force courses, and is an affiliated instructor. The intermediate shooter has attended a couple of modern technique classes and is an IDPA Sharpshooter. The somewhat trained shooter has attended no formal instruction and is an IDPA Marksman while the basically untrained shooter has had no formal instruction and little experience drawing and firing a pistol from the holster.

The experiment has two shooters standing side-by-side, one drawing and shooting a target 3 meters down range. The shooter drawing from the holster (good guy) starts with his hand on the pistol grip, draws his pistol when he chooses, and fires one shot at the silhouette. The other shooter (bad guy) starts with his pistol aimed at the head of a silhouette target (also 3 meters away); reacting and firing when he sees (using peripheral vision) the good guy draw his pistol. In 98 out of 100 trials, the bad guy with his pistol aimed at the head of his target fired and hit first. We use a video camera at 60 frames per second to time the movements. We measure the draw time starting with the first frame that shows upward movement of the pistol from the holster and ending with the first frame showing that the good guy has fired. We measure the bad guy’s shot as the first frame indicating the bad guy is firing his pistol (i.e. the striker has gone forward, bullet has departed the barrel, pistol is unlocking, etc.).

Some numbers: The average draw time for all shooters was .372 seconds. The fastest draw time recorded was .300 seconds while the slowest draw time recorded was .479 seconds--all draws in less than half a second. The advanced shooter recorded the fastest draw time while the basically untrained shooter recorded the slowest. The average reaction time for all bad guy shots was .279 seconds; the fastest reaction time we recorded was .133 seconds, the slowest reaction time was .383 seconds. The intermediate shooter recorded the fastest reaction time while the basically untrained shooter had the slowest.

Observers of our experiment often thought both shooters fired simultaneously; however, that was not the case. The shortest split time between the bad guy firing and the good guy firing was .017 seconds or 17/1000s of a second. However, even in this short timeframe although the good guy's finger was on the trigger, his pistol was not quite on the target when the bad guy fired. So unlike Airsoft where both get hit with a little plastic pellet, in the stand and deliver mode the good guy gets hit in the forehead with a bullet and never fires a shot in 98 out of 100 times. The bottom line to these numbers--if you attempt to stand and deliver and the bad guy is paying attention, then you will stand and die.

The Suarez International solution is to move, draw, shoot, and live—-in that order. One of the challenges many long-time IDPA shooters face is the tendency to start the draw and then move. When I first began practicing the skills I learned in Close Range Gunfighting, I genuinely believed that I was moving and then drawing my pistol; however, the video proved I was not. This is a common training scar associated with those who regularly shoot IDPA and one that takes some effort to overcome. Based upon our experiment, the time I was taking in subconscious IDPA-mode to begin my draw before I started moving would have likely resulted in me taking a bullet.

This also illustrates the value of video in your training. Often video identifies issues that would otherwise go unnoticed. I recently recorded a student’s draw and realized that he was placing his finger on the trigger very early in the draw stroke. Although he had no inadvertent pistol discharges, it is quite likely that under stress he would press the trigger as he drew the pistol—perhaps with unwelcome results. His draw was very fast and I did not see what he was actually doing until I looked at the video frame by frame.