Should you shoot to wound an attacker?

This interesting article was posted on the International Society of Close Quarter Combatants’ blog on March 14, 2013.

When it comes to self-defense shooting, there are those who will argue whether a person should “shoot to kill” or “shoot to wound”.

The reality of self-defense shooting is that it’s not really possible to do either.

Under the stress and adrenaline rush of a self-defense encounter, the citizen defender will have the most success simply engaging the target and putting rounds into that target until the aggressor stops aggressing.

This isn’t “shooting to wound” or “shooting to kill”, but simply “shooting to stop”.

What role, then, does shot placement play in putting an attacker down and stopping him from attacking you?

Shot placement, where you put your bullet in an assailant, is the most important factor in producing a quick or instantaneous stop of your assailant.

There are only two places, for physiological reasons, that will stop a person instantly, however…

  • The left ventricle of the heart (which will cause blood pressure to fall to zero when punctured)
  • And the human brain

If you put a bullet in the left ventricle, the attacker’s knees will buckle and he will fall down.

He will be incapable of returning fire or charging you with a contact weapon.

If you put a bullet in his brain, he will likewise (in all but freak cases in which the brain is penetrated) be unable to continue to attack you, because he will be dead.

Under the adrenal stress of an actual self-defense shooting, those are the only two factors that will stop a person medically.

Unfortunately, also in the stress of an actual shooting, bullet placement is the factor over which we have the least control.

In that situation, then, the most effective way to shoot someone is to put your bullets in the assailant’s center of mass.

Why is this the best method?

Quite simply, if you try to shoot for the head while under adrenal stress, you’re likely to miss completely.

You must get this straight NOW before you have to fire in an actual life-or-death attack scenario…

A real shooting is not like a target range.

You will not be able to shoot with precision.

You probably will not have time to engage your sights and employ breath- and trigger-control.

Those things are very important in target shooting, but adrenal stress renders them nearly impossible.

It is simply too difficult to use aimed fire in real-life, close-quarters encounters when shooting for self-defense.

What this means is that you must learn point-shooting skills so that you can quickly and effectively engage the center of the opponent’s mass in a real shooting.

The only exception would be a self-defense shooting in a public place, or in a hostage situation, where there are innocent people involved whom you cannot afford to hit.

If you can take cover and use aimed fire in those situations, you obviously should.

When your assailant is actively trying to murder you, however, there is no time for anything fancy.

To save your life, you must put rounds into his center of mass until he stops attacking.

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