Friday, November 14, 2008

Question for the Shooting Schools

I've been around boomware most of my life -- got my first BB gun at eight, first rifle at ten, and have probably owned sixty or seventy pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns since, though I've sold most of those long ago. Fired a few subguns and assault rifles, even a cannon or two. I'm no expert, but I've done some minor training here and there, classes, range qualification for IPSC and IDPA and like that, got an NRA certification to teach basic pistolcraft, so I know which end to point where.

Wednesday is gun night on the Outdoor Channel, and recently, there was a show that featured house-clearing, from one of the well-known shooting schools. This is done in what is called a fun house -- a shooting range built for scenario training, to look like the inside of a house or office building. Lot of these around now, police, military, civilian versions. Designed to let you shoot and keep the bullets from escaping.

During this episode, I think it was Shooting Gallery, instruction was offered to the show's reporter on how to open a door behind which you suspect might be an armed bad guy. You do it quickly, no hesitation, and then get out of the way so anybody inside and waiting doesn't have a clean target if he's got a gun.

Then, you sector the doorway, pie-slices, so you can peep without offering too much of your own body for the theoretically-hidden guy to blast. Soon as you confirm that there's a bad man in there with a weapon and you get a clean shot, you take it. Or, you turn around and run away. Mostly running is good, but if you have family in potential jeopardy, maybe you can't do that, which is why you are clearing the house anyhow.

Seems reasonable. I've seen several of these fun house how-tos over the last couple of years and there's a question that has been bugging me that I've never seen addressed.

I know these folks teaching know the difference between cover and concealment, and I also know that a half-hour TV show isn't going to give you the training you get in a week and a couple thousand rounds downrange. ("Cover," for our purposes here, stops a bullet from hitting you. "Concealment" hides you, but won't stop the bullet. If you are crouched behind a dumpster full of sheet metal scrap, it qualifies as cover. If you are behind an azalea bush, it doesn't.)

Most houses in the U.S. for at least the last fifty years have interior walls made of two-by-four framing underneath sheet rock. Maybe some paneling over that. If you quickly jerk the door open, the bad guy in the room is apt to notice that, and know that somebody is out there. When you don't immediately step into view, he -- if, for instance, he ever watches gun night or has seen a cops 'n' robbers movie -- is apt to figure that you have stepped out of view and are planning something he won't like.

So, since two panels of sheet rock offer as much resistance to a moderately-powerful center fire pistol as a wet paper bag does to your finger poking it, what is to stop ye olde bad guy from putting a couple rounds into the wall on either side of the door and potting you?

A jacketed 9mm hot load or a .357 Magnum round might go through the wall, you, the wall behind you, the fence, and still have a good chance at taking down your neighbor out walking his dog ...

Anybody here ever done a serious stint at Gunsite or Front Sight, some place like that? What do they tell you about this scenario? I'm not talking about the SWAT guys in full body armor going in hot, but the naked civilian who hears a bump in the night ...


jks9199 said...

I've had a reasonable amount of room clearing training. The first rule is really that if you aren't wearing body armor and (ideally) hiding behind a ballistic shield -- you shouldn't be doing it. You aren't really equipped for the job.

But that's not the answer you're wanting, is it, Steve?

So... it's hit the fan, the bad guy's in your house, you've called 911 but you just gotta rescue the dog or the kid or whatever, and to do that, you've got to clear part of the house. Past that closed door to the basement or whatever where you think the bad guy might be. And you feel like you have to go in there.

Nope. Sheetrock ain't cover. Hell, sometimes, it's barely concealment when you consider the crappy construction of a lot of homes today. The problem is that you don't want to pop through that fatal funnel without some idea of where the bad guy may be. (Hopefully, if this is your house -- you already know the hiding places. Which helps.) Pop the door, and go through. Get through that fatal funnel fast, dominate the room, and be ready. If you feel like you need to look first, you've got a choice; you can be hinge side or jamb side. Hinge side will generally give you more view of the room -- but you're in view if they're waiting in position. Jamb side might mean you're less visible -- but you can't see as well either. You can also try ducking to a different level while you're peaking. And don't stay there too long!

In sum -- no great answer. Just some options to consider.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, that's what I figured. I did a little training with Airsoft guns once and the result was pretty much that everybody got shot a lot. And even the spring-powered ones sting.

I was just wondering how the gun schools dealt with it. What little I've seen didn't look too safe. I figured that going in at ankle-level might work, if I didn't have a flash-bang or a Kevlar overcoat.

Dan Gambiera said...

Put it in The Box of Truth