Here's an interesting exercise to try the next time you take your defensive pistol to the range. Load the pistol with the same number of rounds you would for concealed carry, along with the same number of reloads you usually keep on hand. When you're ready, shoot and reload the gun as fast as you can. Two realities will become clear right away. First, shooting at movie-style trigger speeds destroys accuracy. Second, becoming ammunition-free can happen in a matter of seconds. For practical self-defense applications, follow this sage advice: “Don't shoot fast, shoot good!”
Stretching the Action
Movie directors want to produce films that elicit an emotional response from the audience. In order to increase the sense of tension, they often slow down the action in various ways. One of the most popular conventions is the slow-motion sequence. We can actually see the bullet leave the barrel of the gun as it travels to the target. Other action-stretching tools include narcissistic monologues, running gun fights and bad guys who take their time doing what they do best. It's important to note here that characters never get hit by a bullet until it’s beneficial to the plot of the film.
Movies do us the disfavor of giving the illusion that there may be more time to deal with a threat than is actually available. The Tueller Drill demonstrates that an attacker with an edged or blunt item can cross a distance of 7 yards to deliver a lethal blow in as little as 1.5 seconds. This is less time than it takes a trained officer to draw a gun from a hip holster. An important part of preparing a self-defense plan is having an understanding of how long it will take you to bring your defensive tools into action.
Cue the Scary Music
Movie makers are story tellers. And just like any other kind of story telling process, they use a stylized set of cues to let the audience know what is about to happen. One of the most famous examples of this is the two-note music warning of imminent attack in the movie “Jaws.” Along with music, directors use lighting, costuming and certain kinds of body language to hang a flashing neon sign over the head of a character to say: “This is the Bad Guy!”
Off of the big screen, assailants are not always clearly labeled. Proper use of situational awareness can make a big difference in staying safe. Keep away from the people, places and situations you know could be dangerous. When going about your daily routine, pay attention to the environment and watch for potential threats. For an excellent explanation of situational awareness, it's hard to beat Jeff Cooper's description of the combat mindset using his famous Color Code system.
Black Hat Bart draws his six-gun but the Sheriff shoots first! As the bullet strikes, Bart's body freezes with his face in a rictus scowl. Bart's revolver slips from his fingers as he clutches at his chest. With one last hate-filled gurgle, the evil land baron drops to the ground, never to swindle another widow out of her silver mine again.
Before the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) instituted a rating system, American movie makers followed a strict set of production standards in order to keep their films more or less family friendly. As a result, the cowboy style swift-and-bloodless gunfights became a movie-making convention. It was this need for squeaky-clean conflict resolution that inspired the use of Phasers in the original Star Trek television series. A flash of light and the bad guy just disappeared. What could be better?
Unfortunately, the movie model of the one-shot-stop is so firmly engrained in people's minds that it's often sought after as a real-world solution. Most defensive gun and caliber arguments are driven by the contention that a particular option is more likely to stop an attacker with a single blow than some other choice. Thinking in terms of one-shot-stops overlooks a critical tactical factor: All gun and ammunition combination can fail to stop with just one shot under certain circumstances. Shooters should be mentally and physically prepared to fire multiple shots accurately in order to successfully defend themselves.
Who needs Harry Potter's wizard wand or a Jedi Lightsaber when Hollywood magic can turn any ordinary firearm into a Wonder Gun? With a little help from our friends in the FX department, a shot fired from a rifle will send an assailant flying through the air like a punted football, and a single round of buckshot will clear an entire room full of villains.
Are you the good cop facing off against an entrenched enemy sniper firing at you with a scoped rifle from 250-yards away? Just draw your Hollywood-enhanced Wonder Snubby .38 Spl. revolver. While running across an open space in a serpentine fashion, your single revolver shot will stop the sniper and win the day. Possibly the very coolest Wonder Gun technique is demonstrated in the movie “Wanted." Angelina Jolie's character is able to curve bullets so they swerve around corners mid flight. This particular stunt breaks so many of the laws of physics it's simply astounding the movie didn't win an Academy Award.
Fighting on Empty
With his pump-action shotgun leveled at his former accomplice, the hardened criminal growls, "Where's the gold, Luke?" Holding his hands up shaking his head side to side, the ex-bank robber cries, "I don't know what you're talking about Hank!" With hatred shining in his steely eyes, Hank briskly racks the slide on his shotgun and asks again, "Where's the gold, Luke?!"