Blog of Gabe Suarez, I and the Suarez International company are dedicated to the thoughtful and real-world art of fighting, perfecting the techniques necessary to win in a gunfight.

Pistol Gunfighting


1). All fights involve one party taking the initiative and the other party responding. There are no mutually agreed upon fights. You start the ambush, react to it, or avoid the danger area altogether. Most modern gun training, takes the assumption that, due to a super developed mind-set, that the “modern operator” will never be surprised and thus always have the initiative. Very wishful thinking for anyone...ninjas included.

2). If you have good information and can trust what you see, you can take the initiative on the adversary. This may mean preemptive drawing and shooting, as well as preemptively leaving before the fight begins. Distance benefits those who wish to be preemptive which is why the insistence of certain schools in always maintaining such distance, and always being alert.

The problem is, you can’t “always” do this. If you can guarantee always being alert, 24/7/365, and will never be surprised - and can guarantee it 100%, then just work on your marksmanship and don't worry about anything else. In fact, why are you even listening to me? The rest of us will look at other solutions.

3). If the adversary also has the initiative the result will either be a “suicide drill” where each man kills the other, or a stand-off where nothing happens until one of them decides to either act or leave. We see the suicide drill a lot when training first time students from range-centric schools. They rely on a fast draw without thinking that the other man may also have a fast draw, or even get to start the fight. Its not about speed, its about timing.

4). Even in cases of unequal speed, but equal initiative, when men rely only on draw speed, unless one screws up the draw, the situation we described ends up with both men shot. The hits may be separated by 1/4 or 1/2 second, but excluding a head shot, I do not believe a pistol shot will be likely to stop the other man from pressing a trigger.

5). All gunfights are 50% shooting and 50% not being shot. I think most sane men would agree that the "not getting shot" is more important that the shooting part. Moving sharply off the line of attack drastically increases your safety from the adversary’s gunfire. Staying put in a perfect Weaver or Isosceles, increases the odds of taking a hit unless you are ambushing the other man with total surprise or are behind cover (again preemptive).

Why do you think most schools avoid any force on force at all, and those who do use it reserve it for “hunt the burglar” type scenarios that will support their particular “system”?