Friday, November 6, 2009

Michigan CCW Class: The Tueller Drill

Today it was reported in the news media that a local police officer was attacked by an apparently disturbed person via two blows to the head with a butcher knife. It is not known at this current time the severity of the officer's injuries, but he has been transported to a local hospital for treatment. This incident, despite how many times in the past police officers have defended their safety against threats, illustrates that a knife wielding person can prevail in an encounter with a person who is armed with a firearm.

The Tueller Drill
The Tueller Drill is a personal protection exercise designed to raise awareness as to how close a potential threat must be to create a dangerous situation to a defender. The drill was named after Sgt. Dennis Tueller of the Salt Lake City, Utah, Police Department who conducted some experiments and published his observations in an 1983 Swat Magazine article entitled "How Close Is Too Close?"

Since 21 feet is a common distance at which many law enforcement officers are trained to shoot targets with handguns, Tueller wondered if a knife wielding assailant could physically close that distance between himself and a defending officer before a couple of shots could be fired. For purposes of this experiment, Tueller estimates that it takes a trained shooter about 1.4 seconds to unholster and "double-tap" a target.

In a separate exercise, Tueller then timed how long it would take for a person to sprint 21 feet. He estimates that it takes the average person about 1.5 seconds to complete the race. The apparent conclusion is that a defender has on average about a tenth of a second to spare. In practical terms, a person armed with a knife at 21 feet away can present a very real and dangerous threat to a person with a handgun. Furthermore, the drill doesn't account for the amount of time that it takes for a defender to even recognize that a threat has started to advance in his direction.

Bottom Line:
Viewing a Tueller Drill demonstration can be a very sobering event for spectators. Many people blindly assume that a person armed with a knife will lose in an altercation with a person armed with a handgun. This assumption can get a lot of people hurt. Make no mistake about it - A person armed with a knife who is charging a defender within 21 feet is a very real threat.

Individuals desiring to protect themselves against charging threats would be well advised to maintain a state of awareness to allow fast threat identification, be completely familiar with their firearm, and to cultivate the practice drawing their handgun while on the move.

At the time of this writing, I did not have the actual facts with respect to the distance between the alleged assailant and the police officer. However, this incident did remind me of the Tueller Drill and the lessons it imparts to those who have seen it demonstrated.
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