What We Look For

There are a lot of things to watch out for before, during and after a violent attack.

posted on December 2, 2023
Sheriff Jim Wilson

When faced with a criminal attack, the armed citizen has a lot of decisions to make and he or she may have to make them in a hurry. It is extremely important to pay attention to what is going on and to have a plan to deal with it.

Whenever a stranger approaches you, it is very important that you watch their hands. Obviously, you want to see immediately if there is a weapon in their hands. Even if the hands are empty, you want to be able to see immediately if the attacker starts to draw a weapon. In addition, seeing their overall demeanor may mean that you need to issue a verbal command to not come any closer. Being observant gives you a chance to deal with the situation before the threat gets right in your face.

Once a person determines that they are faced with an actual threat and that they are going to have to respond with deadly force, it is important to focus on the specific spot where they intend the bullets to go. To fail to do so causes one to shoot at the criminal as a whole and encourages misses and ineffective shots. We practice shooting at specific spots on a target (the bullseye) for a reason, and we need to use the same technique to end a fight with a minimum of shots. We don’t just shoot at the threat; we shoot at a particular spot on the threat that is most likely to stop the attack.

If a person is faced with multiple attackers, he or she needs to quickly evaluate them to determine which is the greatest threat and therefore should be addressed first. It might be the one that is closest. But it also might be the one who is most heavily armed. If one of three attackers has a shotgun, while the other two have a handgun or striking weapon, I want to neutralize the shotgunner first.

Just because our attacker goes down, it is important to keep in mind that the fight may not be over. The attacker may actually still be a threat or there may be other criminal actors in the immediate area. This is the reason that we are continually watching and also looking around us to see if there is any other danger.

The need to stay focused on what is going on around us is the reason that we should never have to look at our gun or holster while drawing. It is critically important to practice enough that the act of drawing the gun. Of course, if at all possible, be sure to put the gun away before the police arrive in order to avoid getting mistaken for a threat before things can be properly sorted out.

Dealing with a violent criminal attack gives us a lot of things to be looking for, looking at, and evaluating. And we have to do this in an almighty hurry, while dealing with a good deal of stress. It is not an easy thing to accomplish. It is one of the reasons that there is no such thing as too much training and practice.


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