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Backstops in the Real World

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by Kleanbore, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    This may not occur to everyone, but backstops are not only for the range.

    Around a decade ago, I stumbled into a robbery just about to unfold in a store. I suddenly realized that my only available path of retreat would take me right past the getaway driver.

    I was where I was.

    I had little realistic choice but to intervene.

    There were innocents milling round ahead of me who might at any moment move into my line of fire.

    There were people who might have walked behind the perp.

    My first thought was "backstop!" I quickly move to ensure a clean shot--with coolers behind the perp.

    He saw that and ran for the door.

    Shortly afterwards Kathy Jackson related a similar account.

    In a recent after action review of a robbery video, it was pointed out that he defender may have harmed persons and been found liable when she fired shots without knowing what was outside.

    And now this: we know that a shotgun fired at close range has a very tight pattern, and requires aiming. But further out, it really spreads. The shot can injure several people.

    In my case, were i to choose a shotgun, I would mitigate some of that risk by using slugs.
     
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  2. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    There are 2 schools of thought. I see both regularly as my job as a safety manager is in large part dealing with risk. The schools of thought tend to follow a persons belief system in that an experienced event is either imminent over time or is immediately potential. Likewise, preference for the result of the event is either unlikely but severe, or likely but minimal. Your conclusion and decision of using slugs seems to be of a different school of thought than mine.

    The two parts of risk are exposure and severity. You limit exposure by having 1 projectile. That 1 projectile carries a lot of energy and does not dissipate energy quickly by any means. That single projectile is potentially lethal for a long distance, perhaps as much as 250 yards. The alternative extreme of using bird shot means that exposure is increased as now there are over 100 projectiles but those projectiles lose energy quickly and are not human lethal beyond roughly 40 yards. The middle ground approach would be something akin to buckshot where there are still a dozen or so projectiles but they are potentially human lethal to 75 yards or so. So, what is your pick and where do you bet your life (in prison, broke from legal fees and civil suits, or with a tainted image from media badgering and public shaming)? Do you risk killing a person 250 yards away, or do you risk significantly injuring multiple people?

    In other words, where is your focus, on reducing the chance it happens (someone gets hit by the projectile) or by minimizing the effect (death, injury, lawsuit, life long shame). It’s a very personal decision, and there are no right or wrong answers until after the fact in which case if a bystander is injured then whatever your answer was is wrong by default. Mark me down for bird shot, frangible, or light buckshot because I can deal with injuring a bystander more easily than killing a bystander.
     
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  3. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    But then the over-penetration of slugs comes into play and you are back into a separate risk to others function. With a shotgun there may be a very narrow set of circumstances to limit risk to bystanders from pattern and penetration while still making the shot "count". Perhaps selecting #6 or #7 shot and a choke for engagement range may be the solution.
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    Do we want to have a rapid or narrow spread? You may argue that the cylinder choke allows the pattern to open too rapidly, but at house distances where 10 yards may be your expected range a 15" pattern may be effective and reduce penetration of building materials. Lighter shot would have less penetration of both attacker and the wall so a full choke would pack more shot into the 9" circle at 10 yards and #8 shot might be effective and less penetrating of building material. Outside the ability to make the pattern and shot weight less lethal beyond engagement range may be what you'd want (depending upon engagement range). No other weapon seems to give you the ability to "tune" for engagement range and reduce lethality beyond it.
     
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  4. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent points.

    I do not foresee many circumstances in which I would use a shotgun indoors.

    I have had in mind what to do in the event of the extremely rare situation in which it is necessary to prevent arson offered from outside.

    Cant find one now, but the Stoeger-Benelli semi-auto 20 looks like a good buy. More precision at range tha nmy 9mm or a shotgun with shot--I think
     
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  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the techniques taught to me by a prison guard was to bounce double aught off the pavement so it rises just under a foot above the pavement to take out the legs. Similar phenomena is seen off a wall.
     
  6. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    You can skip shoot with any round not just buckshot.
     
  7. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey member

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    Even if it's not the main thing you were trying to communicate I think it's a really important to draw attention to the fact that the guy saw what you were doing and correctly identified your motives.

    Don't ever think criminals AREN'T paying attention to what's going on around them
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
  8. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    You got it!
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Yep, it’s dove season, likely thousands of people and these days homes are “peppered” every day.
     
  10. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Also, remember that, while there might be two or more people shooting, only one (you) is thinking about backstops.

    I read of a heartbreaking story in which an off-duty detective engaged an armed robber in a store. The suspect was shot and incapacitated (I cannot remember if he was killed.) As the smoke was still hanging, the officer also found a nine-year old girl dead behind him.

    That would destroy me.
     
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  11. Navy87Guy

    Navy87Guy Member

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    The basic rules apply all the time...Know your target and what lies beyond it. There’s no value in stopping a crime if it results in the loss of an innocent life.
     
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  12. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Skip shooting (bouncing or using ricochet to get to your target) is a deadly skill that takes some practice to become proficient at...

    In fact, the round, whether using shot or even an ordinary bullet does not rebound off the surface the way a cue ball does on a pool table - it tends to slide along that secondary surface depending on how hard it is and your actual angle to it as the shooter.

    I’ll stop here and just say to get some serious training if you want to learn the art... since the actual results might not be what you’re expecting. Knowing how to use this tactic might be a life saver in that one awful moment...
     
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  13. shafter

    shafter Member

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    If backstop was my concern I would rather have buckshot than slugs. A slug is going to over penetrate in a huge way. Granted the concern about having to account for each buckshot pellet is a valid and often overlooked concern, I still think I'd rather take my chances with if there was a crowd.
     
  14. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Backstop is a very valid concern (mostly for good citizens... the bad kind don't even consider it unfortunately....). Here's a real life situation that I was the first responder to arrive on many years ago.... An off duty officer on a business day morning came to a local jewelry store that was part of a modest storefront row of stores - all with nice glass fronts and vehicles parked in front of every one on the angle... He was intending a purchase for his wife.

    My officers had been dispatched to an alarm call there - and while none of them could clear quickly we got a second call of men pointing guns at each other. I was nearby and showed up first... As I arrived I was met by the off-duty individual (dressed as most of us down here in south Florida casually - shorts, shirt not tucked in), and very carefully holding his badge high in the air for me to see as I arrived - no gun in hand (very smart - and I'll explain why later...). It was in fact a robbery that had just occurred -here's what the off-duty officer related...

    As he walked into the entrance of the jewelry store he saw two men tying up the store owner - one of them pointed a gun at him and said, "Come on in, sucker". His response was instinctive as he dropped down then rolled back out of the doorway while drawing his off duty piece - a five shot snub nosed revolver... He took cover behind the nearest car and when the robbers exited the jewelry store he realized that he couldn't fire a shot since they were in front of the windows of every store as they departed on foot... Three men with guns pointing at each other - no one fired a single shot (thank heavens, since there were lots of people on foot, cars driving by and every storefront completely vulnerable to gun fire...). In fact the robbers got away - and we never found them...

    Now for the rest of the story... The off duty officer that day was a ranking member of another department - a police captain in fact. Both the robbers and the officer were black men - the robbers were wearing suits and ties, the officer was dressed casually and thank heavens that day he had the presence of mind to put away his sidearm before I arrived and very carefully had his badge displayed where it was the first thing I saw as I drove up... Thinking about that incident was one of the the things that motivated me to never carry a small off duty gun again... In later years if I was carrying a sidearm off duty - it was always the same 40cal Sig Sauer that I carried on duty... I also made a point of remembering just how easily that incident could have ended badly except for the level headed actions of that off-duty police captain that day...
     
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  15. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The reference to "backstop" in the OP was simply to point out that rounds fired at someone can strike people further away, and that the defender must take that into account by moving, and by shot timing. It refers to knowing whatever may be behind the target.

    If there is a solid wall, great.

    The important thing is to not hit an innocent, not to perform penetration testing.

    The issue with buckshot in a defensive situation out doors is that it will hit wherever it spreads. The slug provides much more precision.

    Not sure what "it" is, but I do not think it prudent at all to use buckshot in a crowd..

    Someone recently posted a police training video that emphasized that officers (using buckshot) should leave their shotguns in the car, and rely on their handguns, when there are innocents in the area.

    Always, unless they have a partner to whom to hand the shotgun if necessary.



    The civilian will very rarely have any lawful or practical business employing a shotgun for defense against humans out doors. I was thinking of slugs for the very remote chance of having to defend against arson.
     
  16. Darkhorse

    Darkhorse Member

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    Maybe that's not such a remote chance now...
     
  17. Craig_VA
    • Contributing Member

    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    I sincerely hope that no one reads this and thinks it justifies use of those stupid "Concealed Carrier" badges. LEOs and private citizens need to deal with situations differently. However, the "no gun in hand" part is wise for everyone.
     
  18. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Thanks for mentioning that... as you can guess even though long retired, all of my experience and training was always LE oriented and I do pre-date the armed citizen movement...

    For an armed citizen.. when you know officers are about to arrive, holster your weapon if at all possible then raise your hands and cross them back and forth overhead to attract their attention, making sure they can see you’re not a threat and you’re probably a witness or someone needing assistance.

    Can’t tell you how reassuring it is to arrive on a hot call and clearly see someone wanting to assist or at least provide info so you can quickly get up to speed... Many times the first calls about a critical incident don’t exactly get it right (understatement...).
     
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