Why hammer on the stoppage reduction drills?

Why hammer on the stoppage reduction drills?

“I did my homework, and got off my wallet, to get a gun that never, ever jams.  So why do we have to practice stoppage reduction till we can do it blindfolded?”

The following is taken from an after action report I did for our students from the June 4, 2018 class (updated with additional material from more recent classes).


If you have a choice, stay as far away from the bad guy(s) as possible, preferably in a different zip code.  “Distance favors the trained marksman,” and one of the biggest advantages of projectile launchers is that they can operate over distance.

BUT, it’s more likely than not that if you get into a fight, it WILL be at close range, probably even within arms’ reach. As I often say, nobody gets raped, mugged, or kidnapped from across the street.

When a gun is pointed at anybody, it is normal for them to want it pointed somewhere, anywhere, else.  We can expect our assailant to try to bat ours away, perhaps even to grab it.  Too many “armed” citizens, be they civilians, police, or military, do not plan and practice for the near certainty that this will happen.

The cure, of course, is to practice shooting and challenging from a retention hold, back by your ribs (and rolled slightly out so the slide doesn’t hang up on you or your clothes).  However, unless you do this early and often in your firearms education, you may default to the hundreds of times you held the pistol out in front of you at the range. If you do that, and when (not if) the bad guy tries to off-line it, he will very likely impede the motion of your slide (or perhaps bump the mag release button), causing a “jam.”  Over and over, I’ve spoken with or read about people who got into a wrestling match with a pistol, then through some “miracle” (if it was the bad guy’s gun) or “for some unexplainable reason” (if it was their own) “the gun didn’t go off.”  Miracles sometimes happen, but the explanation is usually far more mundane, even predictable.  We need to plan on it.

But first, repel boarders…

Using pistols (or rifles, or shotguns) as clubs is a stop-gap, air-bag, near-desperation move, but it is also a valid way to buy the time and distance to clear the stoppage and shoot him.  It probably won’t happen at all if you’ve never practiced doing it.

It’s possible, but not likely, that smacking an assailant with you pistol might knock him out.  SWAT operator Gabe Suarez cold cocked a hostage taker with the flashlight mounted to his pistol.  When you practice muzzle strikes, make that your goal.  Strike THROUGH the target.  But don’t be surprised and get freaked out if the bad guy doesn’t evaporate after your first strike.  It’s more likely that your thrust(s) will only take a little wind out his sails (if you are lucky).  Pistols are poorly shaped clubs.

Whenever deadly force is necessary, our default is to use projectile launchers to launch projectiles, if at all possible.  If your gun won’t make noise, please feed him the muzzle, using the two handed retention hold you were taught.  But in the brief second or two after that, while he’s still doing the “Chester Cheetah,” move obliquely, create some distance, and clear that stoppage so you can finish the fight.  PRACTICE clearing stoppages non-diagnostically, till your responses become reflexive.


Ideally, you won’t be in a fight in the first place.  And if you are, ideally, you’ll have two hands (and lots of heavily armed, steroid abusing friends) to fight with.  But if something bad happens to your weapon, there’s a good possibility that one or both of your hands were wrapped around it when it happened.  Train for the possibility of clearing stoppages one handed–even if you have a two-handed gun.  In this photo, a student is racking her pistol’s slide on her jeans.  Below we see another of our students pinning their carbine between a hard object and the shoulder, fixing it in place for one handed manipulations.  You can also pin it against the ground, lay it down, use gravity in conjunction with a sling, or hold it between your feet.  Heloderm can show you how.