Shots Fired in Gun Battle


March 31, 2004, 09:14 AM
I've have read numerous times and was taught in my CCW class that the number of shots fired in gun battles in which the participants were the general public averages 2.7.

Yet I continuously read where the number of shots fired by LEO's in gun battles in which they are participants is way higher. I believe I read somewhere that the average number of shots fired by them is upwards of 20.


Why the difference if in fact there is a difference?

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Ukraine Train
March 31, 2004, 09:44 AM
Maybe us non-LEO's have better aim?:p Don't know if that's true but I'm willing to bet that non-LEO's that carry get more practice than most cops.

March 31, 2004, 09:44 AM
The old FBI "mantra" was that the typical defensive gunfight took place at an average range of three yards; required the firing of an average of three shots; and took an average of three seconds from start to finish. It came to be known as the "Rule Of Threes" in some circles. (Of course, this "rule" was formulated in the days when most handguns in use were 5- or 6-shot revolvers.)

The only thing that's changed is the number of shots fired. The range and time remain pretty accurate: but now many people (and most police) are equipped with high-capacity semi-auto pistols, and any reasonably competent shooter can fire five to six rounds per second with one of these weapons. Unfortunately, far too many people have adopted the "spray-and-pray" approach, and will fire until slide lock (and at that rate of fire, you'll empty a high-capacity 9mm. pistol in less than three seconds). It doesn't mean the shots are more effective - rather less so!

I still carry (and feel very comfortable carrying) a 5- or 6-shot revolver on many occasions. I'm comfortable because I've trained in techniques that avoid emphasis on "spray-and-pray" and instead concentrate on sight picture, trigger control, and good COM hits with every round. I'm fully confident in my ability to stop any two attackers with four to five rounds at a range of three yards or less - heck, at a range of 25 yards or less! With enough practice, CNS shots become a reasonable probability, rather than a hoped-for and dreamed-of possibility. Ask any competent, well-trained shooter, particularly those who've been to the good schools like Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, LFI, etc., and they'll confirm this.

Eskimo Jim
March 31, 2004, 10:24 AM
Preacherman nailed it.


March 31, 2004, 10:31 AM
I think I should do more practicing at 3 yards, and maybe more practice drawing and firing at 3 yards.

March 31, 2004, 10:51 AM
I believe the standard of marksmanship for LEOs has, if anything gone down with the rising popularity of semi auto pistols.

I remember when Minneapolis cops first began switching to auto pistols, one of the first shootings involved two cops firing a total of 18 rounds at a fleeing suspect. One bystander was hit, another had the windows of her passing car shot out, and the rest of the rounds were recovered from parked cars, buildings, etc. (For all we know, the suspect is still running.)

And there was the team of cops who unloaded over 40 rounds on an unarmed suspect in NYC, missing at least as often as they hit . . . at point blank range.

Yes, there are a few LEOs who are VERY good shots, but IMHO many, probably most, of the "new" class follow a "spray and pray" philosophy.

With predictable results.

Invisible Swordsman
March 31, 2004, 10:52 AM
Another factor is that there are often multiple officers at the scene of an armed encounter. If multiple officers fire the round count goes up. In contrast, a CCW holder is more likely to be by himself, or at least the only one armed. Fewer shooters, fewer shots.

March 31, 2004, 10:57 AM
A couple of years ago in St. Louis, a female officer emptied her Glock at a suspect, then proceeded to empty her two back-up magazines. She shouted for her partner to give her one of his and he said NO WAY!. She sued charging racial prejudice, and lost.

Why give her more ammo, maybe his last, just for her to throw away?

I have started carrying a Taurus 650, my first wheel gun, and I need to step up my practice at drawing and firing at 3 / 7 yard B27's. Hopefully this weekend if our schedule maintenance goes as planned. I still plan to carry my Beretta 92FS when I go to the big city :D

March 31, 2004, 12:40 PM
I believe the standard of marksmanship for LEOs has, if anything gone down with the rising popularity of semi auto pistols.

I agree the standard of marksmanship for LEOs has gone down, but it has nothing to do with semi auto pistols.

It has to do with 3 things;

1. Lowering of standards across the board (from marksmanship to size to physical condition).

2. Many chiefs believe marksmanship training isn't PC ... its either seen as "training killers" or as "Elitism". Most large police departments across the country have done away with marksmanship badges and have reduced qualifying standards from something like "put all five shots in a 6" circle at 15 yards" to "just put all 5 of your shots on this 11x17 sheet of paper from 15 feet and you pass ... oops that's only 3 ... oh well, here's your cert anyway".

3. Police engage targets at greater range then self defense shooters. They often engage targets that are behind cover. If you're shooting at someone 25 yards away who's behind cover in "self defense" you're likely to end up in jail ... a police officer is not shooting to defend himself and doesn't have the option of retreat (whereas in some areas as a no LEO you have the duty to retreat if possible).

March 31, 2004, 01:42 PM
A couple of years ago in St. Louis, a female officer emptied her Glock at a suspect, then proceeded to empty her two back-up magazines. She shouted for her partner to give her one of his and he said NO WAY!. She sued charging racial prejudice, and lost.
VERY similar thing happened in MN. It was on the MN/ND border (Moorhead/Fargo) Couple of BGS were stopped on bridge and Police from each state on their respective ends. She opens up and fires her 18rds IIRC (revolver/2 reloads) then tells her partner to give her more ammo. He has NOT fired. He refuses so she grabs shotgun empties it. Well when all was said and done she had put bunch of holes in a ND squad. And got a MEDAL for it.

March 31, 2004, 02:05 PM
A CCW holder only fires in self defense when they don't have the oppertunity to retreat.

A police officer has a duty to pursue criminals. Their situations have a greater chance of occurring at longer range, and my last longer due to pursuit.

While the average gun enthusist probably spends more time on the range than the average police officer, I'm not sure the same can be said about the average public citizen invloved in a shooting. There are a lot of people out there that own guns that have shot them very, very little.

I don't have a lot of faith in the shooting ability of the average person, especially in a stressful situation. I think it's more likely that there were a lot of people who were so surprised by the loud band when they squeezed the trigger that they dropped the gun instead of firing additional shots.

March 31, 2004, 02:41 PM
If I'm not mistaken, the FBI mantra of 2.7 rounds per fight was based on the annual FBI Officer Killed Summaries. According to Handgun Combatives by Dave Spaulding, the number of shots fired was higher in situations in which the officer was not killed, especially in situations where the officer was armed with a semi-automatic.

March 31, 2004, 03:39 PM
2.7 rounds was the figure mantioned in the NYPD Firearms training handbook circa 1970. If I can find mine, I'll check further, but I do remember that number as being taught by Frank McGee (RIP) at the Camp Perry Police Firearms School about that time. Quantrill

March 31, 2004, 04:02 PM
If we fail qualification, we don't handle firearms until we do qualify, period. Also, we will be adding another full week in the academy addressing firearm usage, and much more self defense, soon.

March 31, 2004, 06:23 PM
An approximate summary of the NJ state police qualification:

(I've shot and passed it for grins)

It's 60 shots at a Q target, 80%+ needed to qualify.

IIRC, you get 20 seconds to fire 4 shots from the left of cover @ 25 yards, another 4 @ 20 secs from the right of cover, another 4 @ 20 over the top of cover.

After that, it's various decreasing numbers of seconds to draw and shoot various #'s of shots at 15, 7, 5 and 1 yard.

The final 1 yard stage is basically a "gut shot" stage, 2 shots in 2 seconds from a draw.

My observation is that the police don't show up at the range all that often, and when they do, they shoot slowly and carefully. I'm not going to fault them for that.

March 31, 2004, 07:16 PM
Zuundfolge said: a police officer is not shooting to defend himself and doesn't have the option of retreat

The first idea better not be true...... and the second is BS

March 31, 2004, 07:30 PM
Of course we are presuming that the term "gun battle" does NOT include the instances where one person walks up to another person and shoots once and it's over.

If the term "gun battle" implies that more than one person is armed then the vast majority of "gun battles" occur where one person upon seeing another person with a gun shoots once and it's all over. Either because shootee is down or drops gun/surrenders/flees.

It doesn't take very many of these to offset the "gun battles" where lots of rounds are fired.

Sort of like the census example of in a neighborhood where 8 couples have no children while 2 couples have 5 children each. The average of the neighborhood is 1 child per couple even though the majority have no children.

March 31, 2004, 07:46 PM
It would be hard to find a PD that has as much money as they should have for training.

Add to that the attitude problem: I've heard this from every qualified person I've asked about it:

About 10% of LEOs actually CARE about shooting well, the rest carry as a requirement of their job. They qualify when they MUST, and practice no more than they MUST.

And for most departments, qualification is not difficult at all.

Then there's the KIND of training that police get, vs. what the average Joe Gunowner gets. Average Joe Gunowner still thinks that double taps are the hot thing. Just read the threads on this board - Mozambique and double taps and hammers are still seriously discussed as The Great Technique. Yes, some of us have had better training, but most have not.

Few PDs are still teaching that. Most are teaching "shoot til the threat is over". That automatically leads to more rounds being fired.

I'm not really concerned about the number of rounds fired. I think a more important metric is percentage of hits. If it's 18 rounds COM, the danger to bystanders (and the officer) is less than 3 rounds missing the target.

Oscar Orum
March 31, 2004, 07:56 PM
I am a notive at you board but have 30+ years as a FFL holder and find the your membership is very knowledgeable. I have just commented to a very long term friend and entrusted him to your care. Words of great wisom are coming from The Preacherman, (I think he has been influenced by that SBC preacher know to his family as Billy Frank, the rest of the work knows him as Dr. Graham and he is truly my hero), 1911 Tuner, Paul Jones whom I have learned from for well over 30 years, p95Carry, and of course the enjoyment of Tamara who has to be one very knowledgeable lady.
Paul linked me to you from and I find much in the postings of TFL. You'll keep up the good work. So mote it be! Oscar

March 31, 2004, 09:58 PM
I took a CCW course years ago that was offered by my county sherrifs dept. The deputy teaching the course was being penalized for a ND where he shot his TV.

The first firing was at 3 yards against a silouette target. I could see many people completely missing the targets judging from the dirt flying behind the target on the berm. There were sherrifs deputies behind all of us and I could hear the ones behind me talking. The ones behind me were saying "hey, he is shooting a smiley face on his target". And I almost shot a perfect smiley face. I just got bored and made a squiggily smile on the last shot.

We had a classroom session about proper safety and cleaning, then went out for the second firing session. We were first placed at the 25 yard line for a few shots to demonstrate the futility of shooting at that distance. I put all rounds COM in a tight group. The same deputies were watching me. I heard one say "I used to shoot like that before my eyes got bad". I wasn't so young and actually hadn't fired that gun in about 6 months. The gun was a Colt Series 70 National Match Gold Cup .45ACP which probably helped. But, I demand accuracy of any gun I carry.

Not to say that all COPS are bad shots. Just that on that day I seemed to shoot better than they thought they could. In extreme danger it could be a different story because you can't practice that!

April 1, 2004, 12:02 AM
I would hypothesize that police shoot more rounds than lawful civilians because:

1. A LEO is less likely to be prosecuted by an ambitious DA for "firing too many shots"; if a lack of restraint goes unpunished, them why restrain oneself?

2. A civilian is much more likely to be using a magazine/load of less than ten rounds, and to have far fewer reloads, than a LEO. I have a revolver-how many LEOs carry one anymore?

3. Fewer BGs choose suicide by armed civilian than by suicide by cop.

4. LEOs, overall, more likely to face "hopped up" BGs, who almost always need to be "hosed" to stop.

5. Civilians are expected to retreat to safety when possible. Shoot, then run.

Take yer pick(s).

April 1, 2004, 12:35 AM
A few comments, mostly off on a tangent:

"Lowering of standards across the board (from marksmanship to size to physical condition)."

I would be surprised if this was the case, or maybe it is regional. I would be willing to bet that here where I live, the standards are higher than they ever have been in the past. Education, physical fitness, test scores; and I bet it is easier to fail the acedemy or probation.

" A LEO is less likely to be prosecuted by an ambitious DA for "firing too many shots"; if a lack of restraint goes unpunished, them why restrain oneself?"
Again, I have no first hand knowlege of this but recently spent some time with an LAPD patrol officer while we both were attending a class at Gunsite. He told me a story of a gunfight he got in to and the conversation veered off into how they investigate such an incident. I was surprised to learn that every single shot is closely examined. For example, he told me several stories where an officer was fully justified in shooting but was terminated because shots three and seven were against policy (an example) but shots one, two, four, five, and six were within policy. They use witnesses, physical evidence, your testimony, and other officers statements to find out exactly where you were standing when each round was fired and what was going on at the time. If any single shot you fired was not within their use of force policy, you are history. It isn't just a matter of being justified in the use of deadly force, but each shot you fire is in itself a seperate use of deadly force and each one is studied to see if it was justified seperately from the others.

Practicing at three yards.
Keep in mind that at three yards, you should not be standing flat footed with your arms extended out in front of you in a classic shooting stance. You need to be firing from a retention position as you move away from the threat possibly using your non firing hand and arm to protect yourself. Remember the Tueller drill and the fact that an average person can cover 21 feet in the time it takes you to draw your gun and fire ?

April 1, 2004, 05:26 PM
444, I'd be surprised if your local PD is the norm. Most places, Policital Correctness has lowered the standards considerably.

Your point about the LAPD stringecy is probably more usual, from conversations I've had with LEOs, but I don't think that level of scrutiny is universal.

For example, I can't see small departments being able to afford the man-hours required for such a detailed investigation.

April 1, 2004, 05:50 PM
Based on my personal observations I've noticed that at qualification time those officers that carry 45 singles stacks (1911's and Sig 220) usually qualify on the first go around. Those officers that carry Hi-Caps (9mm and 40) usually need a second go-around or come back for retraining. I carry a 220 and usually qualify the first time -though there have beentimes that I need a second try. I've never had to come in on my day off though. And there are those officers with Hi-Cap models who are excellent shots. Sorry no stats.

April 1, 2004, 09:20 PM
Keep in mind that I have no personal experience with this, I am just guessing. I am basing this on what I know from being a firefighter. We both work for the county and I am sure the legal angles are pretty much the same. I think one factor involved is that being a firefighter or a police officer here is a good job. We make far above average income for where we live. I know the people we hire on the fire department are the cream of the crop. We start with a few thousand applicants and in the end only hire maybe 20-40 people. These people have been through all kinds of physical and mental testing before they start the academy. When I went through I was one of the only ones that didn't have a college degree. The guy sitting next to me quit his job as a mechanical engineer to take this job and he wasn't out of the ordinary. Even after all that maybe 20% or so of the chosen few don't finish the academy and even then it isn't out of the question for them to not complete their probationary year. I feel fairly certain that the police department is very similar and possibly even more strict than we are.

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