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On the subject of face-shooting

Face-shooting: it's a common enough phrase, particularly among military veterans and PSC combat veterans,common enough that it's begun to enter the everyday vernacular. Face shoot them. “Face shooting” as a term is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. “Face shooter” may soon become a synonym for “pipe-hitter”, “door-kicker”, “meat-eater”, and other euphemisms for the gunfighting warrior archetype.

I've heard it any number of times since the gunbattle in Dallas began last night. We'll address those events, and the related shootings today in other states, but I don't have it in me to tackle that yet. I'll address the phrase “face shooting” in the interim.

Visceral feel-good quality aside, what is the reality of it? Is there a time and a place for it? I think so. In fact, my first inclination was to type damn right there is. I certainly harbor no problem whatsoever with the phrase. Some bleeding hearts might dislike it or regard it as too violent, but they're probably the type who don't understand the viability and occasional necessity for violence as an option in the first place. Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics has long advocated head shots as an introductory round rather than a secondary or tertiary option (such as the result of a “failure drill” adjustment). He is not alone in that opinion, though he is certainly not the first to hold it, but neither he nor those who came before him are in the majority. The so-called “off switch” does indeed reside in the skull, but there are reasons most of us are taught to shoot center mass when lethal force is called for (many of them also reasons why no one in their right mind “shoots to wound”). Among those reasons, the most significant is accuracy under stress. The torso is easier to hit than the brain housing group.

Dallas officers under fire

Dallas officers under fire on July 7, no photo credit available. Cover image courtesy of

That said, there is a time and place for face-shooting. One of them is in a hostage situation. Virtually any time someone has used the threat of deadly force to take a hostage that event has become one in which deadly force is justified. The surest way to keep that hostage taking from becoming a murder is to hit the bad guy's off switch. Another reason? Bombs and IEDs. If an attacker is wearing a bomb vest, that attacker requires an immediate shutoff. Dead man switch fantasies aside (those occur mostly in movies), he will need to trigger that device. This will not change whether he's also armed with a long gun (the better with which to create carnage and chaos before detonating himself) or not.

Yet another reason? Armed and armored bad guys. Some reports emerging from last nights gunfight indicate that at least one of the officers killed was able to put center mass hits on his attacker, but that he or she was subsequently murdered because the attacker was wearing plates and survived the officer's accurately delivered fire. Do I know this to be true? No, initial reports are always wrong, but it's well within the realm of possibility, and it wouldn't be the first time it happened. Just a few days ago two armed men in St. Louis opened fire in a market area, killing two men, and one of them appeared to be wearing body armor — soft armor, from the pictures, but body armor nonetheless. A robbery suspect in a gunfight with officers in Michigan last month was also wearing body armor.

What does that mean to you reading this, whether military, LEO or responsible armed citizen? Just this — you better become comfortable with the concept of face-shooting, and you need to know your limits. At what distance can you reliably put one in your target's skull if his actions demand it? Are you mentally prepared for what you're going to see afterward, for the grey and pink matter you could very well end up wearing? Psychological preparation is as important as the physical side.


I've always liked this quote, which is why I made this “poster” after I read the message in which he posted it. Don't just carry it though. Be proficient in its use.

What we saw last night was something new. We haven't seen anything like this attack in over half a century, and while this one targeted LEOs exclusively and effectively, there's no guarantee that will be the case next time.

For more information, read Prepared Gun Owners on Practicing Head Shots and Zeroing the Pistol (How to Shoot Them in the Face) from Gabe Suarez; make sure you also check out Greg Ellifritz on civilian response to the terrorist bomberNo One is Coming to Save You by Matt Graham and, because maintaining mental acuity under stress — and the ability to engage the right target — is paramount, Shoot/No-Shoot from Jeff Gonzales..

You can also take part in one of the several pertinent discussions on Primary & Secondary and of course there's one other very significant thing you can do — you can not be complacent or a lazy ass. You can get out, train, push yourself and know your wrenches.


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One response to “On the subject of face-shooting”

  1. JoeyP says:

    Blow the attacker’s HEAD OFF if your aim is good . . . And use POWERFUL, quality ammo – make it PERMANENT.

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  • Blow the attacker's HEAD OFF if your aim is good . . . And use POWERFUL, quality ammo - make it PERMANENT.

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