Whether you are a police officer, a soldier performing COIN operations in Afghanistan, an armed citizen in every day carry self-defense, protecting your retreat property against armed incursion by cannibalistic San Franciscans, or are an insurgent trying to effectively counter the security forces of a totalitarian regime, you HAVE to discriminate your targets. Killing the neighbor’s kid, because he was in your pasture, sneaking over to talk your daughter into a hayloft visit is a non-starter. Killing the local commander’s 8-year old daughter, because she was next to her daddy, and you missed a shot, will not win friends and influence people amongst the local populace.
One of the drawbacks to the way a lot of guys teach/train for discrimination shooting is that it stays pretty predictable. “Shoot the guy with the guns.” “Shoot the white IPSC targets and not the brown ones.” The problem is, while there can be some discernment built in to this, there’s no ongoing conscious decision-making and thinking going on, as there will be in an actual encounter.
Target discrimination is much more than just “shoot/no shoot,” although it quite often gets dumbed down to that level in shooting courses. It’s also a matter of understanding basic geometry and physics.Think about the rule of “know what is downrange. Know what is between you and your target, to either side of your target, and beyond your target.” A solid hit to the hips is great…unless it over-penetrates his pelvic cavity and punches into a kid’s head six feet behind him…Realistic combat shooting is not a simple binary decision-making process. You have to train to streamline the rest of the OODA cycle in order to speed up your binary matrix aspects.
In an actual fight, there are always going to be changing factors shifting around within the battle space, requiring your OODA Cycle to accelerate if you want to be successful. Just seeing the right target is not enough. You also have to orient to how that target affects your decision-making process, based on the METT-TC conditions. Do you have a clean shot, or do you need to move to change angles, in order to get a clean shot that doesn’t involve punching holes in good guys? Are you capable of looking at multiple targets, and not only deciding which ones are threats, but which one is the most dangerous threat at any given time?
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If practiced and done correctly, you will also be able to quickly and effectively follow Gun Safety Rule #3 - Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!
Remember, innocent casualties are never acceptable.