Skin that Smokewagon (…and Evade?) | The Evasive Step

Should you take an evasive step when you draw your weapon in response to a threat?
| September 18, 2018
Categories: Learnin'

Context is pretty damn significant in virtually all walks of life, not least in how you train for a gunfight.

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This is the first of what we hope to be many articles from new contributor Daniel Bales (@balesdaniel) of LMS Defense. 

Have you heard this statement?

“You’re going to fucking die if you don’t take that evasive step bro.”

From Day One at the academy range, I was taught the evasive step. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s a TTP wherein the shooter is supposed to move to the left or right to get out of the line of fire when responding to a threat. This could be at the range during training, or in real life in responding to a deadly force encounter.

While watching individuals complete the evasive step over the years I have observed the following:

  1. Shooters will draw, then move.
  2. Shooters will move, then draw.
  3. Shooters move back to a previous location due when reloading or handling a malfunction.
  4. Shooters yell Gun!, then move and draw (or vice-versa).

All of which this takes time.

I have completed timed testing on first shot hits using both evasive steps vs. no evasive step. Which one is faster every time? You guessed it — the one without the evasive step. It’s understandable as to why. In the one instance, you are moving while simultaneously attempting to draw your weapon. Most are also trying to give verbal commands at the same time.

If you look at police shootings on YouTube, Vimeo, LiveLeak, etc. you will see a common theme.

Nobody stands fucking still.

Why is this? I’d say it’s simple — no human, good or bad, wants to be fucking shot. We all want to live. Our instincts drive us accordingly.

Now, I am not saying that teaching the evasive step is wrong, but teaching the evasive step without the correct context is wrong. If you’re just standing on the range telling Shooters A and B to move one step left and one step right, “…and that is going to save your life,” you might need to think about your current methods of training.

Taking an evasive step when drawing a weapon in response to a threat - this is not the way to do it.

This is not the right way to take an evasive step either.

So let’s talk about some training that might work a little more effective. Using any form of range prop (barrels, wood barricade, or whatever), make your shooters move to either side of the prop for cover. This drill would begin with a verbal command or presentation of a threat, to which the shooter would respond by moving to cover and engaging the threat. This becomes a contextually correct evasive step.

This is a good drill, but you still must be aware of possible issues as your students respond.  I have made the following observations using this type of training:

  1. Shooters will move to cover slowly and without urgency.
  2. Shooters will move to cover but do not use cover appropriately.
  3. Shooters will move to cover, lose sight of the threat, then move to the incorrect side of cover.

Work with students until they satisfactorily address these issues.

Use of this method, properly instructed under with the correct context, will teach students the proper method of using the evasive step. This will save good guys’ lives.

Whether you are coordinating training for your department or setting it up for yourself, always remember to consider what you are doing and why you are doing.

Question everything and be willing to challenge the norm. Just because someone says “this is the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean it’s right.

– Bales –

Dan Bales is a veteran LEO, a seasoned firearms instructor, and part of the LMS Defense cadre.

About the Author: Daniel has been in law enforcement for over 13 years. During his career he has worked for a large Sheriff’s department in Nevada. Past assignments include detention, courts, court transport, patrol, S.W.A.T. and is currently a full-time rangemaster. Daniel has numerous firearms, tactics and instructor certifications, to include: handgun, shotgun, carbine, less lethal, force on force, low light, certified armorer, basic and advanced S.W.A.T. schools. He also instructs for LMS Defense. And he’s really tall. And he’s left-handed. That won’t bother you unless you’re gigaphobic, suffer sinistrophobia, or are a homicidal midget, but we thought we ought to warn you anyway.

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