Pretend (for a moment) that you’re the guy in the blue jeans, button-down shirt, and cowboy hat. Caught completely off guard with his back to the door, and panicked. His life, your life, went from calm and peaceful to turmoil, in a matter of seconds. Completely focused on the two threats (one of which is armed and brandishing a handgun) you struggle to take cover behind the nearest display you see, while the armed robber dives through the counter window and shoots at the two cashiers who frantically scramble out of the way of the incoming rounds.
The armed robber notices you and takes aim, thankfully he decides not to engage you and diverts his attention back to the cashiers. While the armed robber was distracted by your presence one of the cashiers was able to retrieve a handgun from underneath the counter. Armed shithead takes another couple shots at one of the cashiers who then takes a shot of his own at shithead number 2. Having been shot at himself, shithead number 2 decides it is time to get the hell out of there and dives back through the cashier window and flees towards the exit.
But let’s get back to you. What would you have done, assuming that you had your concealed handgun on your person. When would you have acted? Would you have acted? What information and considerations would you have had to process in the initial milliseconds of the armed men barging into the gas station? What would you have done differently than the version of yourself in this video?
My thoughts and answers on the above questions below.
What would I have done, assuming that I had my concealed handgun on me?
Putting myself in the shoes of the gentleman in the cowboy hat, in those exact circumstances (without doing anything differently as listed in my answer below), I most likely would have reacted and done what the guy in the cowboy hat did – panic, scramble, and try to get the hell out of the bad guys’ focus. There’s a reason those of us in the firearms industry advocate remaining aware of your surroundings, at all times. It’s for the rare moment played out in the video above.
What would I have done differently?
The first thing that you notice when the guy in the cowboy hat comes into the scene is that his back is to the door and he appears to be pretty unaware of what is going on around him (perhaps aside from what the cashiers are doing). Those of you familiar with Cooper’s Color Codes of Awareness would agree that he was in condition White. I don’t see anyone else in any of the scenes, so it is safe for us to assume that the guy in the cowboy hat was the only person in the gas station, besides the two cashiers. I would have positioned myself in such a way that I could see the door and still be involved with the transaction at hand. Does this mean that I get the drop on the bad guys when they storm the gas station? Absolutely not. Does this mean that my bullets beat theirs if I draw my CCW the second that I see two masked men and a gun?
Absolutely not. But what this does mean is that I might have a few extra milliseconds to react, allowing myself to get behind cover (preferably further away than where we see the guy in the cowboy hat take cover) and draw my handgun without it being noticed. But the best time to act would have been before the cowboy even got to “cover”.
When would I have acted?
It’s easy to watch a video and armchair quarterback it. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s armchair quarterback the video above. In the video we see the gunman devote all of his attention to the cashiers and engage them with a few rounds. Replaying the video from 14 seconds you see what unfolds in the 5 seconds between when the cowboy first sees the gun and armed robber to when the armed robber turns his attention to the cowboy. At one point the second shithead attempts to jump through the cashier’s window and actually jumps onto the guy with the gun. That happens about 3 seconds after you first notice the robbery. Without that knowledge, it is my opinion, that the best time to have acted (and when I would like to think that I would have acted) would have been at approximately the 18 second mark. This gives myself 2 seconds to observe what was going on, orient myself, decide what to do, and act – or carry out my decision. 2 seconds seems fair, being in condition yellow and having thought about/planning how I could react during an armed robbery prior to being involved in the incident.
Knowing that on a square range – and anticipating the beep of my timer – I can present my handgun from concealment and engage an 8″ target at 7 yards in 1.2 seconds I feel confident that I could have presented my handgun from concealment and began to engage the threat just as the second attacker entered the store (19 seconds). Would I have been able to present my handgun and engage the threat in 1.2 seconds (my consistent time on the range)? Absolutely not! We will never be as fast in a real life ambush attack as we are when we’re training or practicing on the square range. However, I am confident that I could have gotten my handgun out of its holster and on target, at the distance in the video, in under a second and a half.
What did we learn?
I think that the biggest takeaway isn’t necessarily a lesson, or new lesson, as much as it is a reminder of older lessons already learned. The most important of which – PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR F#%KING SURROUNDINGS.
If you had 5 seconds to observe a threat to your life, decide to act, and then act on that decision, would you be able to execute the necessary actions to save your life? In the context of concealed carry and a life-threatening self-defense encounter, would you be able to observe the threat, decide to use deadly force, and then be able to present your handgun and engage the threat in under 5 seconds (5 seconds is probably a good bit longer than you might actually have)?
How much time would you need to execute that decision?
What are you doing to DECREASE the amount of time that you NEED to present your handgun?
What are you doing to INCREASE the time that you HAVE to make that decision? Hint: you should be mentally preparing yourself for that rare encounter. That way when you see an armed robber barge into the gas station that you’re at your brain has a slight head-start compared to if you have never envisioned yourself in an armed robbery.
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