If Cops Can’t Hit in a Gunfight, How Good Are You Going to Be?

Last week, I shared a video with you that demonstrated what happens when you don’t focus on the front sight and allow fear to creep into your mind during a gunfight.

I also shared with you the no B.S. secret to having courage under fire.

This week, I have an article that may shock you. It illustrates how poor your performance in a gun fight will be if you do not adopt the Color Code of Mental Awareness as your own, develop the Combat Mindset, and secure the level of training we provide at Front Sight …

Here is an excerpt from the article written by Richard Fairburn:

Law Enforcement Firearms

with Richard Fairburn

Where did all the bullets go?

Not long ago, the New York Times carried an article that revealed one of law enforcement’s deepest, darkest secrets. Though most agencies are loathe to admit it (and some do not even track it), the vast majority of the bullets police officers fire in the line of duty miss their intended target.

I was not surprised to find striking similarity in the results reported by Los Angeles on the left coast and New York City on the right. I found almost identical numbers ten years ago when analyzing the shooting results of a large mid-western agency. And to prove that the situation is apparently little changed from a hundred years ago, consider this Theodore Roosevelt quote from when he was the New York City Police Commissioner: It is wonderful, in the event of a street fight, how few bullets seem to hit the men they are aimed at.

How bad is it? Well, both NYPD and LAPD give hit-rates that hover around 30 percent. In the article, New York claimed a 34 percent hit rate, while LA listed a 31 percent hit rate last year. But, upon a closer read, you will find that even these low numbers misstate the real facts. You see, these 30 percent hit rates include shots fired at dogs, cars, and even police suicides, which tragically run about 100 percent hits. During 1999 in New York, only 13 percent of the bullets fired during police gunfights struck home. During 2006, NYPD’s gunfight hit rate was a much better 30 percent, but we don’t have enough information to know if this was a maintainable improvement or just a statistical variation.

So, even when we take the best spin on the best numbers, about 70 percent of the bullets police officers fire strike something they didn’t want to shoot. Luckily, there is an awful lot of stuff in our jurisdictions that can catch errant bullets with minimal bad consequences. While NYPD no longer tabulates information on things unintentionally shot, in 1996 five innocent bystanders were wounded there by police gunfire.

Realistically, we cannot expect street officers armed with handguns to approach the sniper’s goal of one shot, one kill. But, when you consider that the average distance of a police gunfight is well under 7 yards, often less than 10 feet, we must ask ourselves what the hell is going on?

I’d be willing to bet most of these officers could easily hit a man-sized target 100 percent of the time at 10 feet on the firing range. The answer is both simple and complex. The difference between the 100 percent hit-rate on the training range and the 13 percent gunfight hit-rate can be boiled down to one easy statement: Nobody’s shooting at you on the training range …

Correct! In a real gunfight, you are only going to be about half as good as you are on your best day on the training range, simply from the stress of a lethal encounter.

This means that if you shoot a hand size group to the thoracic cavity, it will grow in a real gunfight to at least twice as large a group. If you are barely qualifying with a 70% score, in a real gunfight, you are going to drop to less than 35% which means you are going to miss the majority of your shots at the person who is trying to kill you.

And don’t think that the 13 hits out of 100 rounds fired from law enforcement officers in lethal confrontations are fight-stopping "center hits." Most of the 13 are peripheral hits in the arms or below the waist due to the officers not focusing on the front sight and mashing the hell out of the trigger.

YOU BETTER TRAIN FOR PERFECTION so when you are fighting for your life, and you aren’t quite as good as you were on the shooting range last week, you are still good enough to win the gunfight.

If you have not yet adopted the Color Code of Mental Awareness as your own, developed the Combat Mindset, and secured the level of training we provide at Front Sight, we are here to help you.

Again, the choice to win or lose, be the victor or the victim, live or die is up to you …


Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Front Sight Founder and Director
Four-Weapons Combat Master
Your host of Front Sight Challenge Reality TV Series

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