The Reactive Gunfight

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Let’s first start with the definition of a reactive gunfight that I am working under;

A gunfight where you are in immediate danger of death or grave bodily harm and you are responding to the attack while being behind it the reactionary curve.

Let’s look at the definition that I am working within the proactive gunfight;

I gunfight where you are in immediate danger of death or grave bodily harm and you are responding to the attack while being ahead in the reactionary curve.

This article is not discussing “shootings” where the danger is not immediate.

There are very few things worse than being attacked, thrown into a life threatening encounter, when you were not expecting it, and did not see it coming. We all know that we need to make every effort to mitigate the possibility of this happening as much as we can. But, being aware 100% of the time is simply not humanly possible. Simply stated, being involved in a proactive gunfight is a luxury that is not always available. In reality, the proactive gunfight is a much more manageable situation, while the reactive gunfight is far more difficult to manage and triumph in. The reactive gunfight is where you find yourself in the very deepest level of trouble.

Training in conditioned responses will often give you necessary tools to succeed in the proactive gunfight. These conditioned responses are absolutely essential skill sets and need to be trained to a very high level. The higher the level of your proactive gunfighting skills, the less you will need your reactive gunfighting skills. But, the reality is that very few people will ever train to the extremely high level necessary to essentially eliminate the need for reactive gunfighting skill sets.

This is not just about training and skill level, it is also about experience in life threatening encounters and stress inoculation. The fact is that if you have not had significant experience in life threatening encounters and the stress inoculation that eventually comes through those experience, the ability to stay calm and get to the conditioned responses of your proactive gunfighting skill is going to be very difficult, inside of a truly reactive attack. It may take time to get to this proactive gunfighting  training…..time that you may not have.

I have been a firearms training junkie since 1999, I have been teaching self-defense with a firearm since 2005, and I have trained countless student from all walks of life. So far, I have not met one person that admits to getting directly to their proactive gunfight training, in their very first proactive gunfight. To a man, they tell me of their panic, their fear, and their inability to instantly get to their training.  The time period necessary to calm down and get to their proactive gunfight training, in their first gunfight varies from seconds to minutes. This is a time period you may not have when you are in a truly reactionary position. The time period necessary to acquire the all important stress inoculation, to be calm enough to instantly access the optimal skill sets of the proactive gunfight skills, takes much longer and is not measure in seconds or minutes. They are measured in number of gunfights or numbers of life threatening encounters .

Proactive gunfighting skills should be highly trained optimal skill sets, designed for the optimal situation of being ahead in the reactionary curve. Reactive gunfighting skills are sub-optimal  skills designed for the sub-optimal situation of being behind in the reactionary curve. These two varying skill sets are similar, but differ due to the understanding of the varying  physiological effects of a life threatening encounter, dependent on the stress and urgency levels of the two varying situations. This is something that many people do not accept or refuse to look at. There are many reasons for this and those reasons have been discussed extensively throughout my body of work over the last 20 years.

While the proactive gunfight skills are taught through highly conditioned responses, the reactive gunfight skills work at much more of a reflexive, instinctive, and natural level. They are designed to take into consideration the physiological responses of the extremely stressful, high urgency nightmare of being behind in the reactionary curve.

The way that I look at this is, if I am going to train to protect myself and my loved ones, I am going to accept the information that I have received from numerous source, who have extensive gunfighting experience, and I am going to train off of that information. That means that I am going to train to be the very best that I can in the proactive gunfight for the optimal gunfights, and train to be the very best that I can be in the reactive gunfight for the sub-optimal gunfights. Then I am going to train to seamlessly integrate the two. That is what I have done and what I have taught my students to do since 2005.

Very few Instructors teach the reactive gunfight. If you would like to understand where I am coming from, I have a huge body of work on the subject on my blog. If you would like to train in the reactive gunfight, I am teaching a course that focuses on it on May 18th-19th, 2019

“I know you can shoot, but can you fight?”

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