Target Identification: Kill or be Killed and living with it

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silhouette target id

 

So you hear something in the middle of the night and you grab your gun and then the door begins to open and you see a silhouette of a figure in your doorway, you take aim and fire…the target goes down….Celebration? No, not at all. In the case of Oscar Pistorious he shot and killed his girlfriend killing her instantly and now stands trial for murder in South Africa.

This shows how important it is for you to have proper, in-depth and quality training when you own a firearm.

I was lucky enough to have a lot of it over the years between my time in the Marine Corps and working as a security contractor, i had endless hours on the range practicing what is called “Target ID” or Target Identification.  This is extremely important; as important as it is to be able to accurately and efficiently put fire on a hostile threat it you must also be able to in a split second recognize whether or not your target is a ‘hostile’ or a ‘friendly’.

It goes without saying, but accidently shooting a loved one or innocent person would be just as damaging as not shooting a hostile, more so in your mind.  I have seen what killing an innocent person can do to people, it tears them up and forever scars them, some never let it go and some take their own life, thus two people were killed that day, the innocent and years later the man who made the mistake.

I have been caught in complacency, in training a few times and shot an innocent.  We would be going through room clearing time after time after time, and being in a good rhythm you start to just go on auto pilot, this isnt necessarily a bad thing, however in my case i turned off my internal target ID and learned my lesson.  After one of the run throughs of the scenario, instructors went in and pasted a few Hands over where the weapon was on the target, I came in as number two man through the door, saw a target, fired and moved on to the next threat.  However at the end of the scenario, the instructors brought us back through and asked me If i had shot the target (pointing at it), I looked and confirmed and saw what I had done…I did not look for a threat, I assumed all ‘targets’ were threats; This was a dangerous and deadly mistake, one that would have ramifications beyond just my own psyche, but would put every brother in arms i served with over there in danger.  Every innocent killed was a recruiting tool for our enemy and often family members of innocents join up for revenge.  I learned my lesson and never repeated it.

So how can you train for his scenario?  Well you wont be worrying about clearing rooms full of hostile insurgents, however a scenario where you are creeping around your house weapon ready is a very likely scenario (not in general but as far as scenarios go where you will be using your gun, it is much more likely than going into a home full of hostile Al Qaeda members!).

Remember the story about Oscar Pistorious I mentioned above.  South Africa has a very high rate of burglaries and Mr. Pistorious was very worried about this, which is why he had multiple weapons, however even with the right mindset of protecting himself and his property he still made a mistake…a life changing/destroying one.  Learn that lesson.

When you go to the range or wherever you shoot, most likely you will be shooting with friends, make up scenarios for each other.  I recommend that you bring 5-6 standing target stands and past targets on them, however a few of them past hands over the gun to simulate “innocents” (You could buy targets of non shooters for this, they make them, but the point is to have yourself be faced with extremely similar targets, exactly the same, but not all have a gun).  Have your friends set them up at varying distances if you want and mix the hostiles and friendlies up.  Have your back to them as they do this.

Disclaimer*

Always have your pistol unloaded and holstered (in the case of the rifle unloaded and pointing downward or on a table, our rule was alway no hands on a weapon when people were downrange setting up targets, do not touch them to clean them or check them, do that when everyone is behind the firing line!!!!)

 

Once they set it up, load your weapon, return to holster then turn and face your targets and unholster and “present” your weapon (that is bring it out of its holster and aim) and begin to fire.  Do this slow at first take a second or two to recognize the target as a threat or not.  Over time speed it up, and you will get very proficient at this.  After many many many hours you will automatically be looking for a threat in the target and firing immediately if there is one, and not if there isn’t.

Remember that you are the always responsible for what you do with a firearm, even if you think you were under a threat and it turns out you were not your are still and should be held responsible.

Always have positive Target ID before you fire, the second you pull the trigger there is not take backs or do overs, this is a very serious situation where life and death hang in the balance.

 

 

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