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How close for comfort?

Submitted by Rich Von Voigt
Riverhead, New York

We’ve all heard the expression, “That was too close for comfort.”

Well, in police work how close are we referring to? We know about the 21-foot rule... a subject with a knife can close that distance in less time than you can draw, get on target, and discharge a round.

A man with knife... you see him... you take action before he gets to you.

All good.


Okay now, what about that man or woman who we deal with at arms reach? The one we ask for ID from, the one we stop on suspicion of doing something we need to investigate, those people we stand almost close enough to feel their breath? We ask for ID and they reach for it, and we wait for ID to appear... all good if what we get is just an ID.

What if this person brings that knife or gun or other object up and they are now too close for comfort? 

What do you do? What are you trained to do? What will you remember to do? Will you do it with the speed, timing, focus, and power to disarm, disengage, or seek cover to defend and win?

When ever you come into that reachable area of another subject, always attempt to have the subject reach to you rather than you reaching for them. Avoid reaching into their space.


Because you want to be able to have room to defend — you want to be able to pull the subject off balance and then use other tactical techniques. You want room to disengage, protect your sidearm or avoid being hit or grabbed.

My preference is a bladed stance side arm back hands above your gun belt, slightly bent at knees avoid being flat footed little further back than arms reach and always try to scan for a second subject at your back or approaching the scene. There are no perfect rules for getting “too close for comfort” but I always wanted to let THEM be the ones who are uncomfortable, not me—and not YOU!

If you’re prepared for an attack, you won’t be surprised when one comes your way. You deal with it as best as your training will allow.

OH! You say you’re training?  Well, sorry, that my friend is on you.

Be safe. Be tactical. Be prepared.

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