What’s your angle?

  • Angle

Everything has angles, it’s just a part of life and while we don’t need to be a mathematician or a salesman to know this, a lot of gun owners don’t understand their angles. And what I mean by angles are the projected trajectory of the bullet they fire or could potentially fire. This is how a lot of gun owners, cops, and people who have let safety go right out the window get themselves into trouble. Ever see a story about someone shooting themselves while “cleaning” their gun? Yeah, they weren’t cleaning the gun, they were pulling the trigger with the muzzle pointed at themselves.

Stupid, right? Absolutely. We all, or most of us anyway, learn to never point a firearm at something you aren’t willing to destroy. The good thing about these rules (there’s more than one) is if you violate one of them, the others are there to save your butt, literally. The issue comes from violating two or more of the golden safety rules. Point the gun at yourself? Ok, that in and of itself is very stupid but harmless unless something else happens, like violating the next rule. Pull the trigger? Harmless unless you’ve violated one of the other rules. Combine two of these together and you’ve just either become a Darwin award winner, or possibly wish you had.

I didn’t start writing this article with the intent of talking about all of the bad people out there who can’t count to two. My intent was to talk about self defense and home defense, so lets move on over to that topic now. Most people I know keep a firearm within reach while they’re at home. This is great, but have you gone through all of the angles? What I mean is, if you need to grab your gun and engage someone who entered your home, what’s beyond that person? If someone is coming through your front door and you’re “slicing the pie” to get them in view with your firearm, what did you just cover? Just a wall? What was behind the wall?

Most of us will train in a shoot house when doing these types of drills. This is great, and will teach you a lot about working in narrow hallways and moving through choke points. But what it doesn’t always teach you is projected trajectory. If you have a child sleeping in the room adjacent to the living room, and someone enters your backdoor, which puts the intruder between you and the wall that separates your child’s room, what do you do? The answer is to move and change the angle, at least it is for me. If I hear someone trying to gain entry via the front or the back of the house I already know in my mind where I must be if I want or need to engage that person.

Mental preparedness goes much further than accepting that you may need to shoot another human being. As a parent, I already know that I would do anything to keep my kids safe. That’s not an issue for me, and it’s not an issue for most parents. But being mentally prepared is much more. You should be going through scenarios in your head working out problems before they occur. Knowing where you can and cannot shoot from inside of your home is critical. Knowing that if your home alarm goes off and you need to engage someone in the hallway, but there are entry points into the hallway from other bedrooms is critical. These small items are often overlooked, and are huge game changers on how you act.

Alarm goes off, you get your pistol with light, you enter the hallway and see a figure standing at the opposite end. You bring the gun up, switch on the mounted light and see it’s an intruder. You start yelling for them to get their hands up, they just stand there looking at you. Alarms blasting, you’re yelling aggressively in a way your family has never heard before, and your light is blindingly bright. This wakes up your 4 year old who stumbles out into the hallway, and is now between you and your threat.

In the above scenario you’ve allowed a dangerous situation to develop because you didn’t control all aspects of the encounter and you didn’t place yourself properly. Depending on your setup in your home you’ll need to figure out what works and what does not work. You MUST do this before an incident occurs. Trying to figure this out as things are unfolding is dangerous and just stupid. In our home, I’ve told my wife that if the alarm goes off she’s to follow me down the hallway, get the kids, and then move back to our bedroom with the kids. What I’ll be doing is providing cover and will act as a shield for them while they’re moving. I will also be between them and where ever the perceived threat is. This allows me to control the situation.

Now, when I say I’ll put myself between them and the threat, that’s only for the hallway scenario. For everything else I want neither them nor me inline with my family (remember, gun fights go two ways normally). And this is where the angles come in. I must know where they are, where my projected trajectory is, and what my attackers projected trajectory is as well. There’s a lot here, and it may take some time figuring out what your best course of action is. In fact, maybe a firearm isn’t the best tool for a particular scenario. If it’s not, then you had better practice with the right tool and plan to use that.


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Greg Ryman is a certified NRA instructor and RSO. He is also a California DOJ Certified Handgun Safety Instructor and a Certified Glock Armorer. Greg has been shooting for over 20 years and is the owner of Ryman Tactical.

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