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Yes, that’s right… an online expert has declared the lateral pelvis as the “best worst option” for the tactical shooter, whatever that means.
I’ve read a number of online blurbs & blogs about this topic, and have mostly dismissed them as unworthy of response. But this one got my attention. Not just for the confusing title, but for the surprising amount of verbiage in the article that appears to have been lifted directly from my book, Tactical Anatomy Instructor Manual (TAIM; copyright 2006). I’m not saying it’s plagiarism, because you can’t say that when someone has copied a term or a phrase or even a partial sentence. But it’s clear enough to me that either the author, or someone the author knows, has read my book and copied some of my words directly.
Which is not a big deal, as long as the author(s) use my words to promote tactical advice I endorse. That happens a LOT (which tells me a lot more people have read my book or my magazine articles than I thought). But when someone turns around and says the opposite of what I teach using my terminology, that sticks in my craw more than a litte.
Let’s put it this way… prior to the publication of the TAIM, I had found nothing in the laymen’s press stating that “there are only two reliable means of incapacitation by GSW: CNS disruption, or rapid, incapacitating disruption of blood flow to the CNS.” This is a phrase I’ve been using in my lectures and in my SXRV training since 2002, and I’ve seen it repeated in multiple sources both online and in print since my book came out in 2006. So when someone uses this exact same phrase in their writing, and uses it to supposedly prove a point that contradicts my position on the matter, I get a little bit miffed.
(Author’s note, added Dec. 11, 2016: Please let me emphasize: I wrote the above phrase and used it in my book, but the concept is not my intellectual property nor my own invention… it is an axiom of wound ballistics and terminal effects, going back to Dr. Martin Fackler’s work in the 1970’s and Dr. Gary Roberts’ work in the 1980’s, the numerous contributors to the IWBA Journal, and beyond; I do not mean to give the impression that this is anything I discovered or promulgated on my own! I read the wound ballistics literature of these, my predecessors, and assure you that nothing I have done through my training or through TAS could have been accomplished without the foundation works of these authors.)
However, I made it clear in the TAIM and I make it clear in all my talks & classes that there are exceptions to this rule. And ONE of those is a lateral pelvis shot that fractures the bony structures of that region (the “weight-bearing triangle”, an orthopedic surgical term), WHEN the subject is armed with a contact weapon. A contact weapon is an edged weapon or a bludgeon.
Some authors, such as the “best-worst” guy, point out that a bad guy lying on the ground with a shattered fem, aur can still fight. Well, duh. I wish I’d thought of that… oh, wait, I already did!! Read the book, Sherlock!
I covered this in detail in the first 2 pages of the chapter on lateral pelvis shots. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that a bad guy with a firearm who’s got a busted leg can still shoot you, and he can still fight you if you close with him. But we’re not talking about bad guys with guns, for the most part. We’re talking about bad guys with contact weapons. The POINT of shooting a contact-weapon-armed adversary in the lateral pelvis is to KEEP HIM FROM COMING INTO CONTACT WITH YOU. He can’t stab you if you’re 2 steps away. He can’t hit you with his tire iron if you’re 10 feet away. And if your adversary can no longer offer you harm with his contact weapon, you don’t have to shoot him again. You can wait for backup to arrive to help subdue him… he sure as hell isn’t going to run away from you!
The plain fact is that police (and righteous armed citizens) are FAR more likely to encounter a criminal attacker armed with contact weapons than they are with a bad guy carrying a gun. The statistics are pretty clear on this. Being able to stop a potentially deadly attack by a guy with an edged weapon without killing him is a nice tool to have in your toolbox, most of us good guys agree!
Curiously, the critics don’t talk much about this. And the author of the “best-worst” piece certainly didn’t offer any cases where a lateral pelvis shot failed.
But, being the nice guy that I am, I will offer you not one, but TWO real-world cases where a lateral pelvis shot stopped the attack and saved at least one life. These are not hypothetical cases. These aren’t internet rumors. These are real life cases, not something I heard from a guy who heard it from another guy. I spoke directly with the officers involved in these shootings, and I have verified the pertinent facts through corroborating evidence. I could cite upwards of a dozen more cases, but these two stand out in my mind because they were two of the earliest successful lateral pelvis shootings by some of my SXRV students.
Multiple officers in a mid-size Midwestern city responded to a call to an angry man with a knife. One of the responding officers, who had taken my Shooting With Xray Vision class (SXRV), retrieved his department-issue shotgun from his squad car as he exited the vehicle. He saw that the subject had a large knife in his hand. The subject was shouting and cursing at the responding officers, threatening to attack. The officer in question took aim at the subject’s lateral pelvis and fired one round of 00 buckshot (this was Federal ammunition, with the Flite-Control wad). The buckshot entered the subject’s pelvis and shattered the head of the femur and the acetabulum. The subject fell to the ground immediately, and offered no further violence. He subsequently had to have the leg amputated at the hip.
A police firearms instructor in a large Midwestern city was off duty, visiting his girlfriend in her home, when he heard a vehicle alarm. He looked out the window and saw a man trying to break into his personal vehicle with a large screwdriver. The officer, who is a nationally-ranked champion shooter, ran out and confronted the felon. The subject responded by advancing on the officer with the screwdriver as his weapon and threatening his life. The officer, who has not only taken SXRV but teaches it to his department’s personnel as part of their firearms training program, recognized the possibility of stopping the attack without killing the subject, and shot him in the lateral pelvis (double-tap) with his service pistol. The subject’s pelvis was fractured (the right ileum, as I understand) which was both very painful and made standing on the right leg structurally impossible. The subject fell to the ground immediately and ceased the attack. He was taken to hospital and survived his GSW.
Notice that in both the above cases nobody was hurt except the bad guy. And as the second officer told me, it was a huge relief to him to know he could shoot the bad guy without having to kill him. As it happens, he knew the subject to be a juvenile, and the son of a neighbor. The death of this boy at his hands would have been devastating to him.
Now, I’ll offer you a freebie. Don’t tell anyone.
This isn’t a single case. The guy I’m talking about here was a cop in a third world country, a former colony of a European power, and who went on to serve in that country’s special forces unit. After that, he worked in executive protection for another country outside the CONUS for a number of years, and eventually moved to the USA to open a shooting school. This school was very good, very hard to get into, and it wasn’t around very long because some people who have much deeper pockets than you and I gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Since then, he’s been the full-time trainer of a group of very high-speed low-drag tip-of-the-spear guys a lot of us admire who do good work in the GWOT. This guy (I’ll call him “Harry”, not his real name) has been teaching the use of lateral pelvis shots for a lot longer than I have. Harry’s been teaching lateral pelvis shooting as part of his CQB package because he’s actually shot multiple bad guys in the lateral pelvis, multiple times over multiple years, in multiple jurisdictions; and Harry’s served alongside other guys who’ve done a lot of the same kind of stuff. And Harry is a strong proponent of this tactical expedient… because it works.
This is not a theoretical discussion, unlike the blog written by “best-worst” guy. I’m not citing a bunch of medical papers to prove my point, because as a trauma physician I know very, very, very few doctors who have any experience in shooting people… and aside from myself, I only know a handful of medical doctors in the USA who have enough tactical training and experience to even comment on this subject. I’m not offering the opinions of a bunch of supposed experts who have never actually done what they say can’t really be done…. I’m offering examples of real guys who’ve BTDT and got blood on their shirts doing it.
Shooting bad guys in the lateral pelvis is not an “entry level” tactical tool. I don’t recommend it to new shooters, and it don’t recommend it to IDPA/IPSC or other recreational shooters for their home defense planning. I only teach this tool to people who have the advanced firearms skills, anatomic knowledge, and tactical training to implement it effectively. I do cover it in my lectures and in my SXRV classes, with some significant limitations… and the only class I train people in this skill (outside of special classes for SWAT/military personnel) is my Deadly Force Decisions class, which I co-teach with my great friend and training partner David Maglio.
I don’t intend this to be the final word on lateral pelvis shots. But like I more or less said in the beginning of this blog entry, I’ll be damned if I’ll let some armchair trainer use my own words to say the opposite of what I teach.
Train with good trainers, and keep your skills sharp.