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Departments : Officer Survival

One Down

April 01, 2003  |  by Mike Izumi


Training for one-armed combat now will give you the muscle memory you’ll need to fall back on if your shooting arm is wounded in the field.

Imagine yourself in the process of issuing a traffic cite when you notice what appears to be a gun under the subject's jacket. The subject is a wanted felon, and he sees that look of recognition in your eyes and immediately draws his firearm. You go for yours too, but too late. He fires, striking your gunhand. You're now in a gunbattle with only one arm.

If you should ever find yourself in this situation and have to ask, "What do I do now?" you're likely not going to survive it.

When faced with life-threatening situations, we revert back to our training. Many gunfight survivors have referred to their conditioned response as simply "autopilot," while a number of police trainers technically refer to the autonomic response as executing preprogrammed muscle memory for crisis intervention.

Unfortunately, the opposite side of our survival coin also holds true. Police trainers agree that, when faced with an dire circumstance, any time an officer asks the question, "What do I do now?" he or she is searching conscious thought for a acceptable solution to the problem. And that will get you killed in a gunfight.

The human brain works much like a computer or, more properly, the inventors of the computer used the human brain as a model for its development. As we face life, we have our computer screen (or desktop) in front of us, and this desktop is filled with a multitude of "folders." Whether we realize it or not, we all have a folder on our desktop that is titled "Emergency."

Now if we double click on the Emergency folder, we should find a series of sub-folders that are titled with every conceivable problem, including injury, that we might experience.

The goal of this article is to help you fill the sub-folder titled, "I've Been Shot in My Gun Arm." Having this information immediately available will allow you to recover, regain control of the situation, and prevail during the attack.

Your Other Hand

When shot in your gun arm, the first thing you have to do is immediately transition your gun from your dominant hand to your non-dominant hand and return fire one-handed. And the best way of transferring a handgun from one hand to the other is called the Chapman Transition. Here's how it's done.

First, de-cock or on-safe your handgun. Then slide the thumb of your receiving hand up the lifeline of the relinquishing hand. Now, here comes the key to this technique. With your relinquishing hand, press the handgun handle back hard to firmly seat the handgun into your receiving hand before releasing control of the weapon.

A proper Chapman Transition is characterized by the handgun being firmly placed in the receiving hand, with the shooting hand high up on the grip tang. When this is executed properly you should not have to move the handgun around to finalize the seating position of the weapon.

Reloading with One Hand


When you need to reload with your “weak” hand, put your gun in the holster backwards to load the magazine.

It's one thing to return fire with one hand. Most of us have practiced shooting one-handed with both our strong and weak hands. But how do you reload?

Well, there are two options. The best is to have a backup gun. If you do have a backup gun, discard your primary handgun and draw the backup gun.
If you don't have a backup gun, reloading is your only other option. And it's tricky but not impossible.

The best one-hand reload technique that I have seen comes from the Lethal Force Institute (LFI). Here's how it's done.

Drop the empty magazine and place the weapon back into your holster. Now if the reload is being performed with the non-dominant hand, the handgun must go into the holster backwards.

Some holsters do not do a very good job of securing a pistol backwards. So the time to find out if your equipment will accommodate this technique is now and not when you need it. If your holster does not do a good job of securing your firearm backwards, a good solid workaround is to jam the gun into your waistband.

Once the gun is secure in your holster or waistband, retrieve the loaded magazine and insert it into the magazine well. The most important aspect of this technique is to not slam the magazine home. Slamming in the mag will cause the handgun (now loaded) to jump from either the holster or waistband and fall to the ground.

To insert the magazine, use your index and middle finger to firmly squeeze the handgun handle, as the thumb presses the magazine home. When doing this one-handed reload, think "squeeze and press," so you don't reflexively revert back to smacking the magazine home. Now, either depress the slide stop lever, or hook the rear sight to drop the slide and charge the weapon.

If the slide should slam home during any portion of the one-handed reload, simply roll the gun over, hook the rear sight on the edge of your duty belt, and briskly cycle the slide. Be sure to practice this one-handed reloading technique with both the dominant and non-dominant hand.

CONTINUED: One Down «   Page 1 of 2   »

Tags: How-To Guides, officer survival


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