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      War On Narcotics

      Bob Pilgrim

    In the previous article The Making of a Gunfighter" we saw how Frank White received an early baptism of fire in Vietnam and survived by attacking two enemy soldiers with his rifle and pistol. For a subsequent action he received the nation's Silver Star. Not long afterwards Frank was back in the USA serving with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

    As a narc, Frank was teamed with one of the best. "OB" consistently made phenomenal arrests and dope seizures and they became a close and cohesive threat to the drug trade. On one of his first arrests with OB, a drug dealer put up a violent struggle and Frank's right forearm was shattered. A stash of heroin was found under the mattress of the dealer's baby's crib.

    With his dominant arm encased in a bulky cast they got into a shootout and high speed chase with another heroin honcho in a snowstorm. Reaching speeds of up to 80 miles an hour, they skidded and slid across the slick roads. OB had the reputation of being the best "wheel man" in the office, so Frank busied himself with trying to get a disabling shot. An icy curve spelled disaster for the bad guy's Buick and he lost control, blasting through a fence surrounding a rural house. Frank and OB did not fair too well either and after sliding across the property's lawn they came to an abrupt halt after slamming into a tree. However, the bad guy was out first and he disappeared around the house's corner. Fully anticipating that he was going to try to hide or that a gun battle would take place between them in the backyard, Frank charged around the corner and his world exploded.

    Ambush-Blam! Frank, like a Giant Slalom racer who tightly cut the corner eager to make the collar. Unexpectedly, a cavernous looking gun muzzle a foot from his head greeted him. Just before his new acquaintance fired, he flung himself backwards and just avoided having his priorities rearranged forever. His first sensations were muzzle blast and bullet shock wave, followed by a searing and intense pain. Hurt has a way of driving home many of life's vital lessons and making them indelible. For his incredible luck and unbelievable reflexes, he nevertheless paid a price by landing hard on his broken arm. The pain was the most intense he'd ever experienced and it momentarily took his mind off the danger of being shot at again. Fortunately, the subject took the opportunity and fled. As he lay writhing on the snow, his training took over and he remembered the sage advice from Vietnam, "that no matter how badly you are hurt you have to get back into the fight." Suddenly he! was on his feet and the pain had gone. He was perfectly calm, everything was crystal clear and he felt he was in "the zone." However, instead of using "visual leverage/slicing the pie," he again punched around the corner ready to shoot it out. The lesson had not taken hold yet. Instead, OB and numerous NY State Troopers, who already had a search underway, met him.


  • Always have two weapons available and be master of both.

  • In a firefight do not spend too much time attempting to clear a stoppage. Instead, transition to a secondary weapon and stay in the fight.

  • Sometimes the best defense is an aggressive offense and it may be better to launch a limited attack before attempting a tactical withdrawal. The enemy would not expect this audacious response or be ready for it.

  • Never underestimate your opponent even if you have a manpower and firepower advantage.

  • It is important to discern the location and level of threat immediately and you must train your senses to detect it accurately and quickly. Your life and others will depend on it.

  • Give it 100% during all training and retain what you learn. During a firefight your mind is receiving a myriad of competing stimuli that you have to sort out in seconds and adjust to the evolving situation. The more firearms and tactical skills you have stored in your personal fire direction center, the more lifesaving options will be available to you.

  • Don't second-guess yourself, but decisions must be implemented with total resolve. In combat and in the justified use of deadly force, there is no room for hesitation or half-hearted efforts.


  • Remain flexible in a materializing firefight. You may have a fragmentary plan, but so will your opponent and expect him to do the unexpected. Remember, when you pursue your attacker, he is in control of the situation. Once you lose sight of the object of your pursuit, the pursued can turn this into an action versus reaction advantage.

  • Hone your reflexes by being fit and engaging in sports. It may be your best defense.

  • Slow down. Do not blindly charge into a situation where you are at a tactical disadvantage. Speed can be a tactic when it prevents the subject from making "fight or flight" decisions, but going too fast for the situation or skill levels has gotten more officers in trouble.

  • With muzzle covering the threat area, go wide at external corners to detect and counter the threat as early as possible.

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