Consider this—In October 1881, City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized his brothers and Dr. John Holliday to arrest a group of armed cowboys. They met the cowboys on Fremont Street, in a vacant lot near the back entrance to the OK Corral. Standing within a few feet of each other, all nine men started shooting. Three men died and three others were wounded. In approximately 30 seconds, some 30 shots were fired.
When you study gunfight details—like the NRA’s Armed Citizen—one thing becomes very clear. Most civilian shootings occur at very close range and in a very short time. In fact, I have read reports that the average gunfight involves 3 or 4 shots that are fired in about 3 seconds.
Even the stupidest criminals have some street smarts about them. They know that, if they give their intentions away from any sort of distance, you have got time to avoid them. Instead, they find ways to get close to you, really close, before they make their move. In this way, they can take control of you, shoot you or stab you while you are still surprised.
This is the main reason that we encourage defensive shooters to avoid carrying their semi-auto pistol with an empty chamber. You simply may not have time to chamber that round when the deal goes down. That is assuming that you still have the use of both of your hands—the crook may have grabbed your arm or already injured an arm, due to your defensive response.
Here's another scenario: you and your partner might be getting out of the car in a crowded parking lot when your partner is engaged by a criminal. The fight may be over before you can react and get around the car to try to be of any help to your partner.
None of our awareness skills are always what they should be, and the guy who claims to always be aware of his surroundings is either lying or fooling himself. Nevertheless, we should continually work to improve our skills at spotting a potential problem as early as possible. This is one of the ways to counter these in-your-face attacks.
Another way is to continually work on a speedy pistol presentation and first-shot hit. Nothing ruins a violent crook’s day like a fast draw and a center hit.
Both of these avoidance techniques take practice—a lot of practice. But, if we are serious about our personal defense, that is exactly what we do. In a gunfight, time is truly of the essence. Don’t waste it.