Contact Distance Shooting…Rescuing a Friend or Family Member

Categories: Education, Skills
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Published on: September 13, 2012

Have you ever thought about how you would rescue a friend, partner, or loved one who was engaged in a life or death struggle with a criminal?

It may be a little more complex than you have imagined.

A couple weeks ago a concealed carry permit holder named Perry Stevens in Louisiana heroically took up the role as rescuer when a police officer needed some assistance.

You can read about his story at the link below.

Bystander Fired Deadly Shot, Not Officer

The officer was attacked by a man to whom he had just issued a citation.  The man knocked the officer to the ground and was on top of him, beating the officer with his fists.  The officer could not escape and, recognizing he was at risk of serious injury, he shot his assailant one time in the torso.  The gunshot had no effect and the assailant continued to assault the officer.

By that time, Mr. Stevens (who was shopping nearby) noticed the altercation and went to his truck to obtain his legally-carried pistol.  Mr. Stevens pointed the gun at the man on top of the officer and warned him to stop.  The attacker ignored the warnings and Mr. Stevens fired four shots with his .45 pistol into the attacker’s torso.

The four gunshots had no effect on the man who was still beating the officer.  Mr. Stevens gave an additional verbal command, closed the distance and fired one more shot.  That shot hit the assailant in the head, killing him instantly and ending the assault on the officer.

Mr. Stevens performed exceptionally well.  Five shots.  Five hits.  All against a moving target with an innocent person in very close proximity.  Would you have done as well?

The hero of the story

We see this type of “partner rescue” scenario in police shootings with some regularity.  Usually they don’t turn out quite as well as this one.  The victim officer is often mistakenly shot by the rescuing officer.

Even if you aren’t a police officer, you should be prepared to handle this type of event.  The victim that you rescue might be a spouse or a family member.  Husbands have rescued wives by shooting men in the process of committing a rape.  Wives and girlfriends have shot criminals who are beating or stabbing a loved one.  Parents have shot criminals attempting to molest or kidnap children. All of these shootings happen under frenzied conditions with innocent victims very close to the criminal attacker.

Have you ever trained to rescue a loved one in a position like this?


You can’t just stand at a safe distance and take the shot. In a rapidly moving attack, your loved one could end up in this position in a matter of a few seconds.

Here are some guidelines to follow in case you are ever forced to rescue a partner or loved one from a lethal force threat at very close range:

1)      Get close enough that you can guarantee your hit.  Too many potential rescuers begin firing as soon as they become aware of the problem.  In the incredibly dynamic nature of a close range lethal force attack, both the criminal and his victim will likely be moving.  Taking a long range shot is a recipe for disaster.  Move in close enough to make sure your shot hits the bad guy and not your loved one.

2)      Assure a clear entrance.  Make sure no part of your (or your partner’s) body is between the muzzle and the attacker you intend to shoot.  This seems like common sense, but it is actually fairly easy to shoot a hand or arm that is pushing, grabbing, or striking the attacker.

3)      Consider non-traditional targets.  In a close quarters gunfight, traditional targets like the center of the chest or head may not be available.  Shots to the armpit, neck, or pelvis are likely to be effective and may be faster than waiting for an opportunity to take the traditional “center mass” shot.

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