02/20/2013

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Charles Remsberg10-8: Life on the Line
with Charles Remsberg

5 more keys to winning gunfights

Part two of a two-part series

This series is based on the presentation “Winning an Armed Encounter,” given recently at the Illinois Tactical Officers Association’s 25th annual conference by Det. Jared Reston, lead SWAT firearms instructor for the Jacksonville (Fla.) SO.

Reston has survived multiple deadly force confrontations, including a gunfight with a teenage shoplifting suspect in which he was shot seven times.

Here he concludes Reston’s list of 10 critical elements that can help you defeat a would-be killer. If you haven’t yet read part one, you can do so by clicking here.

6.) Target Your Weaknesses
When it comes to prevailing against deadly threats, Reston thinks like Bear Bryant, the legendary ’Bama football coach: “It’s not the will to win but the willingness to prepare to win that makes the difference.”

Training for “that day,” Reston believes, is everything.

“Work on the things you’re not good at,” he says, “because you never know which tool or combination from your toolbox your life will depend on. Set aside time to go to the range regularly, to work out with a balanced program to build up your strength and endurance, to practice your DT. Seek out additional training outside your agency. Spend your own money. Invest in yourself.

“We need to be better than we were 20 years ago, given today’s criminal gun culture. All the motivation you need should be the realization that there are people out there who want to kill you just because of what you are and what you represent — and you never know when you will meet one of them.”

7.) Stay Fit
In the foot pursuit that preceded the shootout with the shoplifter, Reston’s partner fell behind — not because he was wholly out of shape but because he’d concentrated only on strength building in his workouts, with scant attention to cardio fitness.

“He couldn’t run more than 40 yards,” Reston says. He was out of sight and out of shooting range when Reston took the suspect’s seven rounds.

“Having two of us there might have made a difference,” Reston says. “He didn’t eat or sleep for two days, worrying about what I’d think of him. Then he got serious and changed his workout program.

“Staying fit so you can do the job the way it needs to be done isn’t just for yourself. It’s for your partner, your family, other officers, and for the community you’ve sworn to protect.”

8.) Fight ’til the Lights Go Out
When your life is on the line, Reston stresses, “FIGHT! You can’t just lay there and hope the situation will go away. You can fight through getting shot. You may not feel pain for two or three minutes, and in that time you can win. Mentally rehearse doing it.”

Your adversary may have a will to win that’s nearly as great as yours. In the shoplifter shooting, Reston had hit his assailant with so many .40-cal. rounds that “he was a walking dead man, but he still kept coming and shooting.”

Though critically wounded, Reston’s resolve was to “keep firing until the lights went out.” When he had the opportunity to grab the suspect and pull him close enough for three contact shots to the head, he took it and finished the fight. “My last words will never be screaming into the radio for help,” he declares.

“If I go out, I’ll go out fighting.”

9.) Practice Self Aid / Buddy Aid
“Make your own wound-treatment kit if you’re not issued one,” Reston advises, “ — or be willing to watch someone die in front of you because you didn’t.”

Include four-inch square gauze pads, a tourniquet, QuickClot or similar hemostatics, and a seal for covering a sucking chest wound.

“These items can stop a lot of bleeding and can be kept in a packet small enough to carry with you,” he says. Practice using them on yourself and others so you can do so automatically under stress.

And watch what you say around a wounded colleague. When Reston was bleeding from several wounds inflicted by the homicidal shoplifter, a fellow officer knelt beside him, held his hand, and reassured him, “You’re gonna be ok.” But then he turned to another officer and said loudly, “Where’s rescue? He’s gonna die!” “Don’t ‘comfort’ anyone ‘into the Light,’ ” Reston remarks.

10.) Don’t Let the Suspect “Win from the Grave”
The determination to win may need to continue beyond the initial victory. Reston has drawn on his warrior mindset to carry him through a torturous recovery from the shoplifter shooting, including months of surgeries and rehabilitation, with 14 operations to repair his damaged face alone. “It still hurts,” he says.

But even as he rode to the hospital in the rescue wagon, he vowed to come roaring back. “I wanted to be out of bed and able to stand by the time of the suspect’s funeral,” he recalls. He consciously stretched the time between pain medications. Within two weeks, he’d designed a workout routine. In six months, he was back on full duty.

“I wasn’t going to let the shooting define me or ruin the rest of my life. I wasn’t going to let that son-of-a-bitch win from the grave.

“You may have scars,” Reston says. “I’m still not able to do all the same workouts I used to do. But every day that I push on and accomplish something is another kick in his balls. The way you win on the street and in life is to set goals, stretch yourself. When you reach one goal, set another.”

Whatever personal improvements Reston may have on his goal list, his ability to prevail in a crisis clearly remains undiminished. The shoplifter incident was the second confrontation in which Reston shot and killed a gunman. Since then, he’s had a third. He and another officer were approaching a man wanted for multiple murders when the fugitive suddenly went for a gun. The officers hit him — mortally —  with six rounds. The suspect never got off a shot.


Independent of his agency, Jared Reston offers firearms and tactical training for armed professionals. Contact him through his website at www.restongrouptraining.com

About the author

Charles Remsberg co-founded the original Street Survival Seminar and the Street Survival Newsline, authored three of the best-selling law enforcement training textbooks, and helped produce numerous award-winning training videos. His nearly three decades of work earned him the prestigious O.W. Wilson Award for outstanding contributions to law enforcement and the American Police Hall of Fame Honor Award for distinguished achievement in public service.

Buy Charles Remsberg's latest book, Blood Lessons, which takes you inside more than 20 unforgettable confrontations where officers' lives are on the line.
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