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Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

It is of great interest that I note so many people that carry weapons for self defense choose their weapon and training on what they believe to be the ‘best case scenario’. Look at most law enforcement qualification courses. While some agencies have stepped up to the plate and made their ‘qualifications’ more realistic and difficult, most have designed the course of fire in the ‘qual’ to be one that Ray Charles could pass.

Likewise, look at how many CCW owners choose pistols that are easy to conceal and comfortable to carry. This often means small caliber pistols with often terrible sights, crappy triggers and very poor accuracy in their hands. They rationalize that if the need arises that they must defend themselves, the range will be so close that they can’t miss, their target will be standing still, and they will have all the time they need to present their handgun from concealment, and fire a carefully aimed accurate shot. Even the US Military is guilty of this mindset. With the exception of some Special Operations forces, most personnel fire small arms only once annually and often over courses that are totally unrealistic. The mindset of ‘Best Case Scenario’ continues to prevail in all these sectors.

If you have a choice, I highly recommend that you seek out training that will prepare you for the ‘Worse Case Scenario’. By doing so you will learn what you need to win and survive a lethal threat attack. You will also figure out, and if you have received quality training from your instructor, he will have shown you a number of skill drills to practice so you remain prepared for the moment when the ‘sh*t storm’ happens.

Lately, I have picked up on a number of students that think they must travel about in the USA ready for an ISIS attack in their neighborhood or local mall. For the most part they’re living a fantasy about whipping out their blaster and after 4 or 5 high capacity magazines saving the day. Be realistic in your needs; look at what the crime and danger elements are in your daily life. Once you have gained some basis for what you are likely to face, you can prepare for the task at hand. As I have tired to teach my students over the years, guns don’t win fights, it’s the guy behind the trigger that makes the difference. A cool, calm, skilled guy with a S&W Model 10 .38 spec will do far better that a panic stricken bozo with a Glock 17 and 33 round magazine.

Think about what your ‘Worse Case Senario’ might be. Seek out good training. PRACTICE. Have a plan. Don’t be the guy running around with his hair on fire when the sh*t hits the fan.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

To see Ken’s Training Class Schedule visit aliastraining.com.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer SSD readers hard earned words of wisdom.

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13 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

  1. Dellis says:

    Thank you Mr. Hackathorn, for a timely article.

    I carry full size guns and this means I must dress around the gun, even here in hot South Texas!

    This allows me to get a good purchase on the gun and as you noted my sights are of good size and not tiny little specks.

    I also wear to all my training classes exactly what I would wear on the streets. The greatest advantage or outcome of this is it lets me know what does and does not work. It provides a fail point, allows me to address things such as magazine placement, cant of holster, position of carry, etc.

    If it works on the range under hot Texas sun while I am sweating my arse off I know it works on the street.

    Thanks again

  2. steve cassell says:

    Excellent post. 90% of CCW holders could not put 3 hits on a pie plate at 5 yards…under stress…from concealment in under 5 seconds. It is disturbing to realize the level of incompetence of most CCW holders. Gun ownership is our constitutional right…but the vast majority of CCW holders must understand there is a moral and ethical component too. If you choose to pack…TRAIN for awesome responsibility that carrying a weapon brings.

    • Dellis says:

      Steve, very true words and very worrisome as I see many people on the range who should most likely stick with pepper spray. I talk with people and they have the mindset of….’When the home invader hears the racking of my shotgun they won’t stick around!”

      Here in Texas they shortened the CHL classes to only 5 hours. Most of that being the legal oral stuff and about 30 minutes behind the actual gun. To me this gives people a false sense of “Ya, I went to class. I can handle myself now.”

      I remember taking my class and 15 minutes into the legal stuff I thought, “Do I even want the responsibility of carrying this weapon?” So I agree 100% with you Steve….it’s a huge responsibility and far too many people take it as trivial.

      There should be a mandatory class that trains CHL folks in scenario based shootings. Like several “WHAT IF” scenarios.

      • Ajax says:

        Highly recommended-yes. Mandatory, no. Let’s not get more regulated than we already are. Aside from this, you definitely bring up some good points.

        • Dellis says:

          Thank you, and yes I agree….it should be highly suggested but not mandatory. I jumped the gun (I made a pun!) so to speak on that.

    • Craig says:

      Yet (and this is by no means meant as cop bashing) studies have shown that compared to Police Officers, CCW holders fire less rounds, have a better hit % with those hits being better placed, and thus have less rounds miss and potentially hit innocent bystanders.

      I absolutely believe anyone (and that includes police officers) who carry a gun should seek out additional training and constantly practice and hone those skills learned.

  3. Mandaloin says:

    There’s always a way to carry a full size pistol, even when you have to face Arizona summer heat. I can make my SP-01 disappear under a lightweight form fitting T-shirt. I use a Comp Tac Minotaur at 4 o’clock behind my hip and a flush fit mag in the gun.

    Sitting down with that is another issue entire though.

  4. Lex says:

    “Look at most law enforcement qualification courses….[M]ost have designed the course of fire in the ‘qual’ to be one that Ray Charles could pass.”

    It’s not an accident: Quals are based on policy, i.e., the shots they want the average officer to take, or not take, in real life. What worse are “realistic and difficult” quals where officers load-up on the Ray Charles stuff, shoot for shit on everything else, and are thus “qualified” shooting beyond 12 yards or whatever.

  5. Bernard Rizzo says:

    I understand fully the rationale behind what Mr. Hackathorn is saying. However, read the article at depth… it is not large caliber/full-sized handgun vs. small caliber/compact hangund. it is about training. Training relentlessly for a stressful, rapid situation that your conscious mind will not even allow you to believe it is actually happening when it does happen.

    it is about training for the worst case, real life scenario. In that scenario the best trained, regardless of how they are armed will prevail over the least.

    The reality is that we all go thru the phase of carrying our 1911’s on a daily basis till we rapidly tire of having our suits recut, pants bought a full size bigger than we need, being hot, uncomfortable and unable to remove one’s jacket. That is when reality hits.

    it did for me and I promptly went out and purchased a S and W model 60 .38 in stainless steel. I left on the original, small wood grips… and then I trained and trained on how to use it most effectively. How to fire and move at the same time (no battle is static), how to aim under pressure, how to use the .38 to it’s and my fullest potential.

    I carried that for years… because it was easy to carry and I would not think of leaving it behind “just this time” because of how I was dressed.

    There is nothing wrong with a small capacity subcompact 9mm. There is much wrong with our training. Perhaps we do not have the time or resources to train at Gunsite (a long time dream of mine) but there are fine videos at our disposal that we can use as a basis to drill at the range. If your range has an action section then use it. Study, view videos and put rounds down range.

    However, a word of caution… your very best weapon is your eyes, your brain and your feet. See the threat, assess the threat and then move away from the threat. Put on your “boogie shoes” and run. If you can extract yourself from the situation you save yourself years of grief and tens of thousands in legal fees. Awareness is your greatest weapon. Hone that long before you hone your firearm skills. Those are to be used as a last resort.

    Read Mas Ayoobs seminal work, “In the Gravest Extreme”. When you splatter someone’s brains across your kitchen wall there is a price to be paid. No the least of which is the look of horror on your wife’s (or husband’s) face, the trauma of your children, the destruction of the happy memories in your home. Best have a plan to gather your family under cover, lock yourselves in a bedroom, announce you are armed, call the police and sit tight. You can always buy another TV. That is what insurance is for.

    You use that firearm only, “In the Gravest Extreme”. Then, when they force your hand, be well trained and be prepared. What you carry in your hand is tertiary to what you carry in your mind and in your muscle memory.

    Train. That is the message. Train properly.

    Much Luck and Best Regards,

    Bernie Rizzo
    San Leandro, CA

    • Bernard Rizzo says:

      Please forgive my typos… I always miss something.

    • majrod says:

      You know I agree with a lot of what you’ve said. I’ve even said some of it myself but not, “That is what insurance is for.”

      Not everyone has insurance (or enough of it) to return one’s life to how it was before one became a victim to some thug who decided they deserve your stuff more than you do..

      I’ve heard that attitude come from police in NYC that later refused to arrest the individual who burglarized my father’s car and destroyed his dash. If my dad were a cabbie it would have impacted his livelihood, his family, maybe where/how they lived etc.

      I’ve seen pundits comment like this in response to the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. The problem is even with insurance some of those businesses are done never to be restarted because they were given to the mob and all the sacrifice and effort the business owner contributed is for naught.

      This is why I really support states that allow their citizens to use their firearms to protect mere property. While taking a life is the ultimate sanction not enough thought is given to the 2nd & 3rd order effects of allowing insurance to be the guarantor of our property. Many a criminal justifies his actions by saying insurance will cover it.

      (You may agree and have spoken without thinking it through. I’m just addressing the too often unaddressed costs of that mindset.)

  6. Hodor says:

    “Be realistic in your needs; look at what the crime and danger elements are in your daily life.” Ehhh… if I knew I was likely to face danger, I wouldn’t leave the house. That’s the point of carrying a gun. Any crime can strike anywhere. Preparing for the unknown is a much better idea than looking at stats.. look at the stakes instead.

    A six shot revolver is perfect, until it isn’t. There are plenty of incidents involving CC’ers in which the oft-quoted 2 or 3 or 4 rounds per gunfight was waaaay off… personally, I’m interested in carrying the gun that I can shoot the fastest, the most accurately, for the longest time, and have minimal downtime during reloading. That typically means a compact or full size semi auto with at least 15 round capacity.

  7. John Smith says:

    I have never heard someone coming out of a gunfight saying-“man, I’m glad that gun was so small….”

    I’m with Ken here. When carrying a firearm for defense, compromise where it will kill you less.