Today was another great day at the range but the truth of the matter is any day is a great day spent at the range. Today I had taken out an Arsenal AK47 styled rifle, Colt AR15A4 and an acquittance of mine had taken out a Springfield Armory SOCOM II in order to sight it in. It was a great time to catchup with friends and reaquint myself with both the AK and AR platforms. However a thought did dawn on me as I was cleaning my rifles and putting them back in the safe, that being. Are these rifles actually suited to operating in a civic environment?
I don’t mean to question whether or not a civilian should own these rifles but whether or not they are best suited for the realities of living a suburban environment. Let’s face it, the majority of citizens within the United States live within a suburban reality complete with two lane roads, buildings, vehicles and freeway systems. We spend the majority of our time at our jobs, our homes or in our cars. So the question is, why are we training with rifles designed to engage threats out to 600 meters if the reality is we would never find ourselves in such a situation. We seldom even consider the terminal ballistics or performance of these systems in dealing with intermediate barriers such as auto glass nor residential home construction materials. Let’s break this down a bit further.
The average American citizen wakes up around 6am. From 6am to 8am they are preparing breakfast, getting their children ready for school and getting ready for the day. So they spend roughly 2 hours in a confined space that has an engagement distance of 7 to 20 yards. Next they commute to their jobs which is roughly 15 minutes away. While in their cars their average engagement distance is 25 to 50 yards given the distance across a street or a freeway. After their 15 minute commute they spend roughly 8 to 9 hours at an office which an average engagement distance of 7 to 25 yards. Upon the completion of work they then depart back to their homes with a previously stated engagement distance of 7 to 20 yards.
The average police officer usually expends 1.3 rounds per firearm related incident with most incidents being resolves with 1 to 2 shots fired. The average engagement distance of both civilian and law enforcement engagements is less than 7 yards or “conversation distance”. Incidents in which more than one assailant attack a victim usually involve parties of people that know each other and often are gang related. With that being said, why are so many Americans training at engagement distance of 300 yards and beyond with high capacity weapon systems? One would think that with the max engagement distance for an average an american a short barreled shotgun or short barrels rifle with a suppressor would be a much better suited.
Think about then. Measure the longest hallway or distance between two points at your job or your home. Chances are it is not more than 15 yards. Now go to the range and practice engaging targets at 15 yards as quickly as you can. It will probably take you roughly 3.5 to 5.1 seconds to empty an AR15 with a 30 round magazine. At the end of the exercise you should have 30 twenty two caliber holes in the threat. Now do the same with a semi-automatic or pump action shotgun. How long did the engagement take you and how many holes have you left in the target? Of course some will argue that shotguns are irrelevant due to their heavy recoil and slow reload time but again, look at the Department of Justice and Federal Buera of Investigations statics on engagement distances and number of assailants per incidents. If your training for an 1980’s action movie scenario, then by all means continue doing “tactical reloads” and engagement targets from your sweet 1969 Dodge Challenger but for the rest of us living in reality the numbers don’t lie.
The reality is that the average Americans non-familiarity with NFA items and the process of acquiring them has lead them to believe it is not a viable option. Furthermore many Americans feel that employing an NFA weapon in a self defense shooting will make them an easy target for legal protection. On top of that many gun owners are a bit paranoid and think that by simply acquiring NFA items they will be but on some type of “list” and under increased scrutiny by the federal government. The truth is that a good legal shoot is a good legal shoot and whatever weapon you use will be of secondary concern based upon the legality of your actions. Secondly, the BATFE has streamlined the process of acquiring NFA items as simple as possible and despite the old-wive tales of being added on a “list”, such fears are completely unwarranted. The fact is that we as Americans have the opportunity to acquire just about any weapon we can afford even with a non-constitutional tax. If you were to ask a citizen living in any other country if it was “worth it” to jump through the legal loopholes and necessary taxes they would respond with a resounding “yes”.
With engagement distances of 50 yards there is no reason not to own a short barred shotgun or rifle if it is legal to do so where you live. Granted, decreased barrel length equates to decreased velocity but with average engagement distance below 15 yards and a maximum of 50 yards it is a non-issue. This isn’t to say that personal weapon systems capable of target engagement of 600 yards and above is without merit as they do fit a very well defined role of recreation and contingency operations should a foreign power invade or the current government system was to temporarily collapse.
As always, any time spent at the range is a good time. Next week, I hope to return with some handholds and stretch the legs of my bolt action out to 800 yards, just for fun. Until then – Mark