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Lateral Movement

By Rob Pincus

Back To Personal Defense Home PageThe first response to any attack needs to be the recognition of that attack. From that instant, the race is on to respond as efficiently as possible to end the attack and survive. When the attack is a charging or armed person that justifies a lethal response, the time it takes to draw, present and fire your pistol could become an eternity if you don’t do something else to disrupt the incoming attack.

Lateral Movement - Rob PincusIn some cases, you might be close enough to physically interfere with the attack — trapping a knife, blocking a strike or grappling or moving the muzzle of a gun. In most other situations, the best (and maybe only) thing you can do is move offline from the attack. This lateral movement could save your life and will certainly make you a harder target to injure.

The concept of lateral movement is not to create distance, but to shift your body 90 degrees offline from the attack. This causes your threat to have to shift his movement and/or aim in order to hit you. While this is a very simple concept, it is often overlooked during both square-range and force-on-force training.

The mantra “create distance” has been repeated so often that many have overlooked the fact that moving backward really does nothing to affect the likelihood of someone hitting you with a firearm at realistic ranges, nor does backward movement outpace a charging opponent under most circumstances. Integrating a rapid shift of your body to the right or left while drawing your firearm during square-range training, force-on-force activities or even competitive shooting will help to ingrain this potentially life-saving response so it occurs more efficiently during a critical incident.

It is also important to remember that, just like the bad guy might not expect you to move rapidly offline, he probably won’t be expecting you to stop suddenly as you reach your shooting position. This means lateral movement, done properly, tricks the bad guy twice. This is one of the fundamentals of an efficient armed response. Adapt it to the context of your environment and practice it as often as you can.

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