Alright, we can admit it- unless a person is a long time veteran of a police force- or has active combat service under their belt- most people are probably at least somewhat beholden to a few Hollywood myths about the physics of guns and ballistics. Even if you go to a private shooting range regularly, and shoot ballistic (not paper) targets, you probably don’t have a very realistic idea of what happens when a person is struck with a high caliber, high-velocity bullet.
If you’re like most people, you probably believe that if you shoot someone with a shotgun or powerful round they will go flying in the opposite direction. Now, should we enter into a life or death situation where knowing what will happen when we fire our weapon is absolutely critical, this is a problem. If we expect our attacker to be thrown back violently, we may not be prepared for what actually happens.
Let’s discuss the downsides to firing a high caliber, high velocity round.
First thing’s first- the noise will almost certainly stun you. Even experienced shooters practice with good ear protection are liable to be thrown off by the immense noise that a powerful gun produces. Gunshots are among the loudest noises human beings are ever exposed to, louder than rock concerts, or race cars. Much louder. If you’re shooting from a vehicle or an indoor space, the noise will be even more concentrated.
If you do not kill or incapacitate your attacker with the first shot, noise can be a major problem. Second, if your gun and ammunition are powerful enough, it can actually hurt your hand to shoot it. If you are not practiced with the gun, this will certainly come as a surprise and make taking a second shot much more difficult. Also, it doesn’t matter how big or strong you are- if the gun is powerful enough, it will hurt your hand. Fortunately, guns like that are pretty unusual.
Third, the more powerful your gun is, especially if it’s a pistol, the more the barrel will jump. All of these factors make taking a second shot more difficult, and chances are, in a life or death situation you will need to take more than one shot to stop or kill your attacker.
The mistake that many people make is placing too much responsibility on the gun itself to end the confrontation. First, we believe that just having a gun will scare off an attacker. Unfortunately, hardened and confident criminals may not be deterred entirely by a gun- especially if they do not think the person holding the gun is competent in using it.
When you hold a weapon, you become a weapon platform- the very basis for your own defense. That means the power of the weapon should match your physical characteristics as well as the situation in which it is used.
As a gun owner, your job is to be as competent with your weapon as possible. Many people just buy a gun, load it, and stow it. They believe they can simply point, shoot, and end a confrontation. Unfortunately, the likelihood that a determined attacker weighing more than 150 pounds and moving forward will be instantly stopped by anything you can hold in one hand is low. That means you need a plan and a backup.
To back up your firearm, you can start either before or after the point of firing. A good example of starting before the point of firing might be the use of a tactical flashlight or a can of pepper spray. A good follow-up to firing shots might include some other self-defense tools like a bat, club, knife and the like.
The two main lessons to be learned here are; 1. a gun is not the be-all and end-all of combat. You cannot depend on a gun alone to save your life, and 2. whatever defensive action you take- you must follow through.
By follow through we mean, don’t assume the fight is over because you shot, sprayed, struck… your attacker. If you use mace to remove the attacker’s ability to see, do not hang around and wait for them to recover. Either finish the fight and incapacitate them or use your moment of opportunity to evade further combat.
We do not mean to say that a high caliber firearm might not be the best weapon for you and your situation- it may be. What we’re saying is, don’t assume one powerful bullet will save your life- or your family’s lives.
~ American Gun News