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Reactionary gap: A new look at an old concept

Could arms-length positioning be safer than the traditionally-accepted six-to eight-foot reactionary gap that’s been used in police training for decades?

Whether you make a consensual contact, conduct a traffic stop, or respond to a call for service, you will most likely end up talking to someone face to face. To conduct this interview, you learned a basic principle in the academy called the reactionary gap.

Just so we are on the same page, the reactionary gap is the distance between you and an “unarmed” — or not visibly armed — subject during the interview process. Most defensive tactics systems teach that you should be between six and eight feet from the subject with your hands up in a good bladed stance. The purpose of the gap is to allow you the time to react if the subject becomes violent and attacks. This appears to make sense on the surface. 

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