The Red Zone

The basic premise for The Red Zone, a one day class I recently attended in Camden, Tennessee was that during an actual life or death encounter there are far more things that should not be shot than those than should be.

During a following drill shooters had to move into a position to shoot and negotiate around friendly/no shoot targets without covering them with the muzzles of their guns.  Imagine that you and several other officers are on scene.  You need to get a shot on the bad guy but your partner is unknowingly in the way.  It’s poor form and dangerous to simply sweep them with your muzzle.  Muzzle aversion is the fancy term for pointing your gun either up or down to avoid negligently shooting a good guy.  The trick with practicing muzzle aversion is to avert and come right back up on target and make the shot.  If you’ve never practiced this on the training range you are setting yourself for failure on the street.  Remember, we don’t “rise to the occasion” under life and death stress.  Instead we will default to the level of skill that we have mastered during training and practice.

The Ubiquitous Head Shot

We talk about it a lot and practice on cardboard and paper silhouettes but the head shot is tougher than most officers imagine.  Humans are not made of cardboard.  When God made you he protected the important stuff with bone.  Ask a veteran street cop and he’ll regale you with tales of street people who were shot in the head and walked away from it.  

For this drill Dave tapped into the local beauty college and picked up their used “heads” at a discount price.  These rubber manikin heads absorbed FMJ bullets very well.  That is the bullets passed right through them doing minimum damage.

For the last few drills target bodies were topped with the human looking heads.   From varied distances and angles shooters had to move on the targets and make a fight stopping head shot.  The graduation exercise of sorts was the “suicide bomber”.   Students were tasked with putting a single round through the ocular cavity from seven yards to “shut down” the bomber. Again, it was a tough shot.

Parting Thoughts

If your firearms training goes no farther than simple marksmanship or completing a semi-annual qualification course you are cheating yourself.  Those who must rely on firearms to save their lives and those of the innocent should possess more than the fundamentals.  The square range is not the real world.  In the real world there are far more things that should not be shot than should be.  Reality can be harsh, get some training and learn to deal with it.


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About The Author:

Mr. Markel is a former United States Marine, Police Officer, and has worked as a professional bodyguard both in the U.S. and overseas. A Subject Matter Expert on Small Arms and Tactics, Markel has provided instruction to law enforcement and U.S. Military troops.

As a recognized author and writer, Paul has penned several hundred articles published in numerous professional journals and trade periodicals. Topics include firearms training, use of force, marksmanship, less-than-lethal force options, product reviews and evaluations, emergency medical care, and much more. Sought after as a public speaker, Mr. Markel is at home in front of an audience large or small.

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