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    Justifiable Homicide

    Reflections On Killing In The Line Of Duty,
    Mindset And Multiple Shot
    Bob Pilgrim

    What follows is part of a correspondence between two former federal agents, two veteran gunfighters.

    DEAR BOB: It was interesting your mentioning that many shooters, when they know they will fire two or three shots, their time for the first shot is slower. You had the answer many years ago when you would emphasize that the most important shot an officer will fire is the round presently in the chamber. Thus, no need to worry about rushing or being preoccupied with follow up shots.

    The 33 bullets that I put into bad guys, I think I normally fired in slow sequence. I never concerned myself with thinking about the next shot because I never knew if I had to shoot another one until that shot was gone. Also, if it became necessary to shoot the guy's partner, I got to him but never worried about the second assailant until the time came to shoot him. I sort of came to the mindset that the most critical aspect of shooting a bad guy was being WILLING to put a bullet into him without hesitation. The way I judged speed was as soon as the subconscious said "shoot him," I shot him. I saw others in gunfights just stand frozen, unable to shoot, not knowing what to do.

    "I thought being WILLING to shoot your attacker and secondly, being very accurate in putting the bullet into the part of his body that I saw, were the keys to living or dying. The few times that I missed my subconscious forced me to energetically focus on the front sight and the follow-up shot went true."

    "The last three people I shot were all head shots. I concluded from my previous shootings, putting bullets into vital body areas was problematic, so I programmed my subconscious to go for the head. For me in my shootings, I could always see the head more easily than the body and the head-shot immediately stopped the attack. That attitude and shot placement kept my men and me alive."

    The majority of Frank White's confrontations were not action versus reaction, draw and shoot, surprise encounters. My former boss had time to ready himself for the strong possibility of gunplay and had the fastest draw of all, that is: gun in hand.

    "While our tactical intent is to apprehend the predator without incident, we must still prepare our subconscious for that sudden attack by an assailant who has psychologically prepared himself, no matter what, to violently resist. Trust your instincts; when my subconscious flagged danger, the pistol was in my hand nanoseconds before the gunfight. F.E.W."

    As a result, he did not point shoot and placed his shots where they would be the most effective, shutting down the threat quickly and decisively. The distances were typical handgun ranges from arm's length to approximately 15 feet. His longest shot was 20 yards across a backyard and the shot that missed was in defense of a SWAT officer who was in a firefight with a hired killer.

    However, beyond pre-programming his mechanics through frequent training, the most important thing he did to assist in his survival was to develop the proper mindset well in advance of any fight. Everyone who carries a firearm professionally in harm's way must engage in mental rehearsals and thorough soul searching. The criminals do it, and through predisposition or cold calculating reason, have made the decision to "cap you" the moment you are in range. I believe that there must be a conditioning process as there is in the military combat arms, to facilitate the use of deadly force by police should it become necessary. This is because we are civilized and taught to value life, whereas the criminal despises everyone else's right to live, except his own. Furthermore, through New Age influence, the natural combativeness and competitiveness of many of our youth has been stifled and candidates arriving for police training have never been in a physical fight. Peaceful resolution h! as its place in society, but in the age of the Taliban and al Qaeda, there is no second place.

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