Shooting in the hole

Different firearms instructors have different opinions about the most efficient way to train for shooting in the hole. In fact, many of us have different names for contact and near-contact shooting. Me, I like “in the hole.” I have heard, “in the...

The close quarters factor means the officer is also precluded from keying the radio; his hands are full.

Putting away one tool to pick up another is also precluded because it severely increases the risk to the officer.

I had a chance to talk to Dr. Ron Martinelli about this. Martinelli developed Unarmed Defensive Tactics (UDT) and Arrest & Control Tactics (ACT) systems used by a number of agencies. His data (and training) agrees with the preference to avoid going to the ground with a suspect.

Martinelli’s recommendations:

Keep it simple. Never use complex moves.

Work to make any fine or complex motor skill into a gross motor skill.

Nothing will be retained without lots of practice and development of confidence through competency and comfort doing the skills.

It takes a minimum of 10,000 repetitions of any physical skill to move that memory from forebrain to midbrain subconscious mind where it is retained.

Officers need to have a combat mind-set where they think outside the box when things get rough.

It will be impossible to go to your gun at close quarters. Prioritize: Attack the aggressor swiftly, directly and end it fast. Then create distance and access your weapon.

Don’t waste time blocking when you can better use your speed, energy and power to strike and disable your assailant.

Studies show that in-shape officers tire at about the same time as out of shape people.

Any fight that lasts more than 10 seconds is not a fight; it’s a struggle.

End it quickly. The longer you struggle with an assailant, the higher your odds are of being seriously injured or killed.

86 percent of all officers who struggle with resistive suspects land on the ground. 25 percent are seriously injured or killed on the ground, 12 percent by their own weapons.

There is no second place winner in any fight. We call second place the “victim.”

For a very realistic illustration of fighting with a gun at close quarters, the video with Richard Nance and Frank Borrelli says it better than I can write it.





Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. He welcomes comments at