Evan Marshall's Ammunition Stopping Power Site
Stopping Power


I joined the Detroit Police Department in 1969 and graduated from the Academy in spring of 1970. I soon found myself involved the hectic routine of an inner-city precinct. We often got embroiled in what were then called, “Family Trouble” runs. The men present often claimed to have Black Belts in Karate and attempted to demonstrate their oriental skills on me and my partner.

The result was always the same: the martial arts “expert” would end up in the emergency room, while my partner and I might require some minor first aid or an occasional stitch or two. At first I thought such claims of martial arts training where bogus, but after awhile I inquired further and found many of these men who had lost the fight with us had spent considerable amounts of time and money learning skills that had little, if any, street value.

Today we have people who invest considerable amounts of time, money, and effort to acquire gun fighting skills. Unfortunately, I think all too many of them are being ripped off, while others are more content to acquire certificates without realizing the consequence of their actions.

While I certainly admire the skill and perseverance of those who are national or even world champions in various shooting disciplines they are rarely if ever qualified to teach and/or pontificate on defensive, street-relevant shooting skills. Can they shoot dramatically faster than me and with greater accuracy? Yes, but against metal or paper targets. However, those who excel in competition alone are not the people I invest in to teach me. Being involved in a gunfight is often a matter of luck (mostly bad!), but I can spot those tactics and techniques that will stand the test of the real world.

Others teach competent stuff but they copied it from someone else. That’s not a bad thing, because if I want to learn Rex Applegate’s approach to CQB, I can hardly learn it from Rex since he’s deceased! Jeff Cooper is at least semi-retired, though Gun Site is in business and operated by people who share and teach his approach to this critical subject.

Now those of us who came after Jeff have borrowed from him to one degree or another. We certainly all owe him a deep debt of gratitude and he deserves all the credit he has received and much more.

There’s danger, however, in becoming a blind disciple of any approach. We need to examine other approaches and give new disciplines serious consideration. The older I get, the easier it becomes to dismiss new stuff as useless. For instance, I need to remember being in the company of very well-admired firearms instructors who never heard of some upstart named “Jack Weaver,” or how John Pepper was run off the ranges of a well known Federal Agency for suggesting that reactive steel targets be used. Today, this same Federal Agency uses both the “Weaver Stance” and “Pepper Poppers!”

This does not, of course, mean that just because something new pops up it is worth a darn. I ran into some Eastern European Special Operations folk at a classified U.S. facility. Their range techniques were something really weird. When I met them in the dining room I asked them through their interpreter where they had learned their techniques from. They replied they were “Delta Force” CQB tactics. Now, I’ve worked with some former Delta guys and I can assure you that they do not do silly stuff like these guys were practicing on the range.

We also need to remember that people can become ex-Delta’s or ex-Seals for a variety of reasons. They may have decided to go on to bigger and better things, or they may have been asked to leave. There are, of course, those who claim false credentials. Both the Seal Teams and U.S. Rangers keep meticulous records and such claims can be easily verified.

Even if such special ops credentials are real, they may not be the best trained person for our weapons training needs. Military rules of engagement vary radically from domestic law enforcement, and especially from a civilian’s right to self defense.

There is nothing wrong with formal training but we need to ensure we get our money’s worth. Some operate out of fixed sites while other like John Farnam and Mas Ayoob bring their stuff to local venues. This means, of course, you can receive quality training without the added cost of air fare, rental car, and often a motel. You should take advantage of both, and attending Gun Site or Thunder Ranch should be something you should seriously consider if you are serious about survival.

The “Hoot & Shoot” we’re putting on the 1st weekend in August in Southwestern MI will be a unique opportunity. The cost of the event will be $185, which will include meals for both days, and world class training from: Tom Givens, Jim Higgenbotham, Keith Jones, and Pat Eddinger. I’ll try and hold up my end of the bargain by talking about the aftermath of a shooting.

While training can be valuable we need to get the maximum bang for our buck, AND ensure that our focus is on survival not so much on hanging certificates on the wall. Let’s not be afraid to ask ourselves “Does this really make any sense?” I’ve walked out on very well known, big name instructors, because they were advocating tactical apple sauce, not street relevant tactics or shooting skills.


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