When it comes to facing an attacker up close, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. Compared to firing at a standoff range of a dozen yards, close-quarters combat can be much more dangerous and demanding. With a little bit of practice, plenty of common sense and good instincts, there’s no reason why you can’t come out on top every time.
Distance And Spacing
It’s important for anyone defending themselves in a tight spot to keep in mind that your attacker is closer than they appear. When you consider the fact that most pistol training is done with your arms extended, and take into account your assailant’s own reach, it’s likely that a few feet isn’t nearly enough room. If you draw your weapon within arm’s distance you can open yourself up for your attacker to use leverage against you, grabbing the barrel of your weapon and twisting it from your hands.
One of the best tips for personal defense up close is to create room between you and the bad guy. If possible, practice aiming and firing your weapon as you step backward or to the side. Try to envision your target with a reach at least as great as your own, and try get clear of the danger zone before you level your pistol. Many forms of self-defense teach that, when you’re unarmed and your attacker is holding a weapon, the best strategy is to try to slap and grab the barrel of the weapon, twisting it out of their hands. Don’t open yourself up for a counterattack, make as much room between yourself and your assailant as possible, and keep in mind that they may have a few tricks of their own.
Positioning Your Weapon
Whether you’re using an AR-15 or a pistol, practice handling your weapon in the retention position. That is, with your gun held close to your side and just above the hip. With a pistol the retention position is typically a one-handed stance, but with a carbine or rifle you’ll want to hold your off-hand further up the barrel than usual. A pistol-grip or extendable stock can make a carbine much easier to handle in close quarters, in part because it makes it easier and faster to fall-back into the retention position.
Firing from the retention position is absolutely possible, but it does take quite a bit of practice. Your accuracy is sure to suffer, and without a fair amount of drilling even pulling the trigger will feel awkward. If you’re going to practice firing from the retention position do it dry at first, since it can be easy to graze your side or tangle your weapon in your clothing when you first start. If you’ve never practiced firing from the retention position then you should only attempt it as a last resort.
Responding To A Jam
Taking the time to clear a jam in a close-range self-defense situation is the surest way to make you end up the loser — whether it’s your wallet or your life. The safest course of action when a weapon jams is to discard it and draw another if possible. With your adrenaline pumping and every second crucial, a jammed weapon is no better than an unloaded one.
If you aren’t carrying a holdout, and your life is in danger, consider reversing your weapon and using it to pistol-whip your attacker. If you happen to have a carbine or rifle instead of a pistol and you face a jam, use the butt of the gun to pummel your opponent’s head, neck, and chest. Don’t hold back, since the situation has already escalated to deadly force there’s no room for hesitation.