Some points to set forth before we begin.
1) Human beings are bigger and stronger today than at any other time in history due to advanced nutrition, the social prevalence of weight lifting and the popularity of contact and martial sports. Any casual perusal of military museums will reveal that the average male was much smaller as close as a couple of generations ago.
2) The prevalence of tactical pharmacology, both legal and illegal is far more common and refined today than in the past. Substances from methamphetamines and cocaine to excessive HGH and similar substances give rise to mental attitudes of invincibility.
3) Proliferation of body armor. While ammunition has progressed dramatically in the last decade, so has the availability of protection from that ammunition. Today the technology of body armor has developed to the point that even an assault rifle may be defeated. Armor has always been common, and even back in 1991, one of my gunfights involved armored suspects.
4) Finally, the reality of today shows that the adversary might be a Jihadist, or other terrorist, and not just the uneducated urban sloth seeking to take your watch at point of stolen pistol. At the time of this writing, ISIS is exhorting its followers around the world to carry the jihad to every western shore. As well, any cursory study of Active Shooter events around the nation reveals that in a great percentage, there are explosives on or near the terrorist, ready to be detonated when capture or defeat is at hand.
Group all of those elements and the only valid conclusion and solution is to get really good at proactive head shots. Outside of the Special Operations and SWAT worlds, the head shot has been relegated as an airbag method, only to be used when the initial body shots were inadequate to stop the threat. In the minds of those who teach that way, the head shot is defensible under those circumstances, but not otherwise. And even then, these paragons of tactical liability awareness will suggest shots to the pelvic structure as a more desirable solution.
Well, regardless of who these proponents are, or what their credentials are (or lack thereof) – they are wrong. Here is why.
A) In the case of items #2, 3, and 4 above, preliminary body shots will not solve the problem. Sure, if you are set upon unexpectedly and must react suddenly, the burst to the chest is the best default as it is faster, and easily placed at close ranges regardless of the level of shooting skills. But if you have prior understanding and information of altered mental states, armor, or it is evident that the scene unfolding before you is Active Shooter-based, or Jihad-motivated, trying to shoot them in the politically-correct chest is foolish, and may cost you your life.
B) Insofar as the Pelvic Girdle Shots go, it does not take a degree in medicine to realize that the pelvic bone is not connected to the hands, nor the brain, and that a pelvic shot – even if successful – will not stop a terrorist from continuing to fire, or setting off an explosive.
Medical explanation: The pelvis is a ring structure. It is exceedingly strong and people with broken pelvises in car accidents have in fact been ambulatory immediately afterwards. In order to break and destabilize the pelvis, it must be broken in two places. Those places are near where the two pockets would be in a man wearing Levis. They are far smaller than the area suggested for a brain shot. So a proponent of the pelvic shot wants you to hit not one, but two targets that are smaller and harder to hit than the head shot’s highest value area…and two targets that will prevent neither return gunfire nor explosives detonation. Stupid idea, do not take such advice.
Solution? Simple – shoot them in the face. If you shoot most creatures on earth in the face, they will tend to stand down from the fight. I am even aware of a case where a man brought down a bear with a magazine full of .40 S&W. Imagine that. Surely a human will require less.
Like any target discussion, we have a tiered system for desirable placement. In the best case, shoot them in the eyes. A skilled marksman, with an accurate and modern weapon can make eyeball shots at room distances of ten to fifteen feet. The way to a terrorist’s brain is right through the eyes. If you are an overachiever, go for the tear duct.
Next best placement area is bordered thus: eyebrows to moustache and inside the outer corners of the eyes. This is the “face” proper and an easy area to penetrate through into the brain. It is also much larger than the internal-affairs-approved pelvic shot.
The objective of the shot is flaccid paralysis. This is a common result when the bullet enters the "best target zone" in a terrorist's face. When the bullet enters thus, it tends to strike the medulla oblongata causing flaccid paralysis. The subject is incapacitated instantaneously preventing involuntary muscle contraction that may pull the trigger or detonate an explosive device.
Expanding from there is the head proper. Some will eschew anything outside the last targeted zone, and truly that will yield the greatest return on investment. However, let’s consider the following.
It is easy to knock someone into unconsciousness by hitting them on the forehead with a baton or a heavy metal flashlight. A boxer or MMA fighter can knock someone out with a punch to the jaw or mouth. Are we to assume that a punch to the mouth will have a solid effect, but that the 9mm or 40 round will simply be ignored? As well, anyone who has ever been punched in the throat will verify that a throat punch is not anything to be scoffed at.
So the extended target area extends from the eyebrows, down to the base of the throat, or the suprasternal notch. So we are looking at a roughly 8” X 4” box we can throw lead into. To give a better idea take a standard 8.5x11 piece of paper and fold it in half. That is about it. This is much easier to hit than the lawyer-fearing pundits would think, and easier to turn someone off most Riki-tik.
So practice your face shots boys and girls, and as your skill grows, make the face shot the default proactive response (saving the easy body shots for unexpected close range fights). The face shot is not only defensible in today’s world, but it may be the only real solution you have available.
Next time we will discuss dealing with the apparently downed adversary. Just when do you stop shooting? It is surprisingly easy to fire accurate face shots on a terrorist or active shooter that is on his back attempting to detonate an IED.