Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flipping Tables and Shooting

 by W. Hock Hochheim

     I was kicked back at a restaurant in Alabama one afternoon reading some gun magazines and waiting for my order. I read one article about a shooting range training company bragging on how rough, tough, and real-deal its training was. To demo this point, they showed a series of photographs. The theme? Some sit-down situations seated on chairs, at tables, and, well, not unlike the very table and chair I was in at that very moment at the steak joint. The purpose was to teach folks how to draw and shoot under stress while first seated at a table.

     The photo series started out with a classic outdoor “square” shooting range. Sunny day. About eight guys were seated in chairs on the firing line. Each one had a table in front of him.  Both the tables and the chairs appeared to be cheap and old. The best I could see they were folding tables and folding chairs. Throwdowns. It was a regular range with a surrounding berm.

     In the series, it became “shootin' time” at about Frame 2. Obviously upon some signal, the men stood up from their seated positions and with poster-boy perfection formed into two-handed grips and shot the hell out of the targets.

     I could see in the photos that one of the chairs had tipped over. All the tables were still standing, and all the men loomed over the tables like giant targets themselves, full-frontal to the imagined “threat” they were in a gunfight with. I instantly thought these final frames in the series were wrong, wrong, wrong.

     Why not consider flipping the table up and drop behind it for cover while drawing and shooting as a part of the training day on this subject? How’s that for some muscle memory? Instead of ignoring the whole idea completely?


     Daring to write this here now, I will now add the usually anticipated banter of the “Gun World” tribe/consortium to anticipate some armchair expertise comments about bothering to flip a table. (And I admit, I added some actual comments here after the fact, too.)

    “... the ‘threat’s’ handgun ammo will tear through every table.”

    “... there won’t be time,”

    “... my first perfectly placed round from _____ (insert handgun and ammo) and ten years of
      _______ (insert gun course or school) training will make all that extra mumbo jumbo

    "... you can’t tip over every table, so why learn to do it at all?”

    "... all tables are not bulletproof."

    "... wood won't stop or deflect bullets."  (not all tables are wood, and wood can sometimes)

    "... drop to a knee below the table. From the attacker's point of view, it will offer just about as       much concealment as flipping it on its side ... and gives you a direct line of sight to his pelvic       girdle and lower extremities."

    "... draw and shoot. The table is a false problem."

    "... I will just run off to cover and shoot!"  (and ... that is ALWAYS an option? If the table is 
      solid, cover is right there.) 

    "... flipping a table means I won't have a two-handed grip or be able to clear malfunctions!"
     (and ... how long will it take to flip a table?)

    "... throw the chair!"  (well, maybe sometimes, huh?)

     And a quick tip of the hat to people who are so obsessed with gun parts, actually using a firearm to shoot criminals becomes an abstract distraction....

    "... how long should the spring be in my ammo magazine?"

    "... some AA1680 powder that I could buy to try in .300 blackout subsonic loads? Some 4198        might also do in a pinch. I'm not having much luck with W296."

    "... how many grains of powder could a powder-grainer chuck if a powder-grainer could chuck        powder?"

     The problem here in the comments is that many folks immediately envision what their shootout is going to look like. Then they solve that very singular scenario in their head. Some think of it as a western cowboy shootout. Others think of an active shooting deal. Some might envision a house-to-house search in Iraq. Or a scene in a movie they saw?

     "I'll jump!" 

     "I 'll move!"

     "I'll dash to the side to cover while shooting" (and run from the stone table in front of you?)

     "What I always do is...."

     "Why, if that happens, I'll...." 

     Right! Most of these people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about because in their minds they have set the stage of their gunfight and have little idea about the real chaos of real life. Others never consider the physical constraints of where they will be. Here in this essay, I am taking a more generic look and examining the possible use of some types of tables when they are nearby, because it is all very situational, you know?

     Many of the table-naysayers adopt the classic police idea of sitting with their backs to the wall in restaurants, thinking that is, oh, such a cool tactic. Yet they won't consider dropping down behind their flipped table in a gunfight? Even though it has been done successfully?

     Not sure about just dropping down to one knee idea? Can you ALWAYS just drop down like that? What about the chair? Now you will have to move the chair back to drop down. Will the chair just scoot back? Can it scoot back far enough for you to just drop down to one knee? And a flat table, even wooden tables, may be open fields for ricochets, bouncing just like off the top of a car or many surfaces at certain angles. (One reader argued with me that bullets will not bounce off of wood! I told him bullets will even bounce off of water. Stubborn or ignorant - he still doesn't get it.) Anyway, it is all very, very situational.

     What might a flipped-over table do for you? How about some possible cover? Or at the very least, some confusing concealment? What about stopping and/or deflecting various types of bullets? Lots of people argue about “stopping power” and “knockdown power” on humans. I myself have seen big rounds not kill people and small rounds kill people. But these "big and small" bullet arguments never seem to include shooting into, through, and bouncing off and around things in the environment. These "pop" ammo debates are rarely mixed in with cover and concealment issues. Ballistics is not always about just knockdown and stopping power upon humans.

     Will every caliber bullet go through every table on the planet? Every wall? What is the bad guy carrying anyway? That is your best prediction, a bad guy in your predictable world?  Will your table offer you some cover?  Even some concealment? Would some upturned tables stop some rounds? Slow them down? Would tilted tables, tilted at least from the bad guy’s perspective, cause his bullets to deflect/bounce rather than pierce straight into you? Think of all the kinds of tables. Or would we, should we just completely forget the flipping idea and stand up there all tall and all looming over an upright table like a giant silhouette target?

     Tables and flipping them over. There are all kinds of tables if you think about it. There are wooden ones and sometimes very thick wooden ones. Stone ones. Yes! Stone. Metal. Metal on wood. Tile on wood. Stone on wood.... Round. Square. Triangles. Some are a single-center leg with big center-leg podiums. Four legs. Six.
     Some are lighter than others. I remember a story from my friend, U.K.'s Mick Coup, told me about being in a fight in a pub. The guy stood before him across a table. Mick was prepared to flip the table up between them. BUT, he reported, when he tried? He discovered the table was extremely heavy. And while he was trying to "curl" up the almost unmovable table for a second or two, he took the first blow to his face. Mick warns – “check your table!”  (And sometimes, by the way, the tables are actually bolted to the floor.)

     A lot of fast-food places have a little table and are seat-braced traps if you think about it. There have been some sad shootings of officers recently with them more or less trapped in heavy booths.

     What about your dining room and kitchen table at home? Your poker table? I thought about these things at the steakhouse that day when I was reading the article and looking over the photos. I feel as though the author and the editor/publisher of the article were a bit lamebrained on this one. They missed a lot of notes in their song. The simple idea of flipping up and dropping down wasn’t even remotely mentioned.  I looked down at the table before me at the restaurant. All the tables in the steakhouse were big, thick, metal, and certainly able to be flipped! Bullet deflectable. Bullet-slow-down-able. And it would/could offer some cover and help against the common guns of many thugs.

     Logistics. I know the possible back story on this type of training, too. In the gun article, the author owned the range, and he had to supply all the chairs and the tables himself. Eight of them. Or 12, whatever, at each class. He stored them in his building on the range. No big deal for “Mega Gun Range,” but for most of us, it’s a hassle. They will be flipped, and flipped, and soon busted up pretty good. So the instructor must supply the furniture. If it is not his shooting range, he also has to both supply and cart the appropriate amount of chairs and tables to and from the shooting range that day. Is the whole idea too much of a hassle?

     I say, “Flip up and drop down,” while drawing and shooting from the seated "table-and-chair" scenario as a lesson inside a package on this subject. It certainly gets people to thinking about what's around them and what they can use. Mess around with the idea.

     In the "who, what, where, when, how, and why of life? Next time you are in a restaurant? Take a quick look at your table.


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