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Foreseen and Spontanious Threats

This may be a controversial article to some. Prior to publishing it I shared it with a former law enforcement friend who had worked some of the toughest assignments as a cop. He e-mailed me back saying “This is so true”. Knowing that I’m a trainer who has left the club house and gone rogue, he added the caveat, be careful, a lot of the establishment types will disagree and will dismiss you. They’re vested in the status quo.

A Brief summary of Threats: Foreseen vs. Spontaneous

Understanding the two threats, foreseen and spontaneous, is one of the first situational concepts that someone who trains in the martial art of the firearm must understand. Yet, almost all firearms training today operates on the idea that you the weapon operator will be largely stationary, aware of the threat and waiting; that marksmanship and weapon handling combined with a keen situational awareness will carry you through the day. If one practices situational awareness, they will never be taken by surprise and that almost every threat can be addressed through the tactical advantage of being at the situationallyaware, maintaining cover and establishing appropriate distance.

The Foreseen Threat

The foreseen threat is the one that you become aware of before the fireworks actually begin. An example of this is the police high risk traffic stop or the clearing of a building by a specialized team, usually this is done in a law enforcement setting. In this event, the police will do everything possible to employ the tactics that will as best as possible eliminate risk to the officer or the team. Essentially, they’re setting up an ambush. When confronted by police the bad guy will have the opportunity to surrender, but if he comes out shooting, the trap will be sprung. Law enforcement does a wonderful job in training for the foreseen or anticipated use of force. Training for these events is the bed rock of law enforcement and military weapons training and is very suitable for the traditional square range. Law enforcement has mastered the tactics of the anticipated use of force and why not? When called upon, it’s their duty to put themselves in harms way to protect the public, but prior to doing so, they will seek full tactical advantage; whether it’s maintaining distance behind a covered position or stacking up into a team to form a human battleship. They are societies’ “Sheep Dogs” They protect those who cannot protect themselves; they maintain order. This is what they train for and they’re superb at it.

Sadly most police are not killed in these foreseen events, they’re killed when they, the hunters become the hunted and find themselves the victim of the ambush or spontaneous fight. Recent events have seen more and more these police ambushes.

The Spontaneous Threat

A spontaneous threat is one that you don’t see coming; basically, you’re the target of a set-up; you’re the elephant that walked into the pit.

A 19 year old on a motorcycle accosts you from behind as you’re getting into your car, he sticks a gun in your face demanding your wallet and watch. He’s up close, so close that you can smell his breath and see the acne on his face. Unless you’re going to live life walking with your back to the wall, head constantly pivoting right and left, situational awareness could not have prevented this situation. This is the spontaneous or reactive event.

When we say spontaneous, we mean spontaneous to you, not the bad guy. This is a fight that he brought to you and is the most common outside of law enforcement. In our example above, the whole thing was a set-up from the very beginning. This is his neighborhood, he was positioned where he could see you, where you would be vulnerable and where a quick exit was assured.

In the spontaneous/reactive assault, you have several options, you can run, submit or fight. Because the set-up was pre-arranged by your assailant, he assured that it would be, not like we see in Hollywood, but a one sided set-up from the beginning. The fight option doesn’t sound good. The others, depending on the circumstances, may seem worse. If you’re carrying concealed for self defense and fight seems to be the only option, you need to know how to seize the initiative, how to set your assailant’s information cycle back, move off the line of attack and deliver sustained hits. You have to learn how to prevail in your chosen martial skill.

There are very few who train for the spontaneous threat

Two decades ago when laws changed and concealed carry permits became available to qualified citizens, legislators looked to the guys in blue to oversee the civilian training process. In almost every concealed carry training program, we saw that the citizen training program was simply a watered down version of our law enforcement’s pro-active service pistol course of qualification; that is, training from comfortably safe distances, squared off in front of your target, eyes down range, at the “ready’ position. When the whistle sounds…stand and deliver, scan and holster. Most civilian firearms training evolved from the law enforcement end of the house as an after thought; as a result, most private sector firearms training today operates on the same process. You the weapon operator will be comfortably stationary (or moving from one stationary position to another at best) and are in unchallenging scenarios, your instructions have been given. You simply await the sound of the whistle.

Training for the Spontaneous Threat

High Desert Training Group’s Advanced Close Quarters Handgun series classes teaches tactics that address the worst of all possible situations, the spontaneous threat. We’ve developed tactics that combine tactical movement in fight that can rapidly expand, contract or one that can come to from any position on the clock . We teach tactics that seize the initiative from a criminal assailant, setting them backinto the react mode! We teach survival tactics.

“What is essential is to suddenly make a move totally unexpected by your opponent, pick up the advantage and seize victory right then and there”

Miyamoto Musashi



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Ken Williams, Instructor
(928) 241-4397
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