John Correia: Lessons Learned from Watching 20,000 Gunfights

In late July, my wife Sandy and I took her new Toyota Prius for a ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina down into Kennesaw in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Our destination was Fusion Fitness and Mixed Martial Arts, home of The Complete Combatant.

Our main course on this trip was a 1.5 day “Force Readiness” class taught by Brian and Shelley Hill on Saturday and Sunday (about which more forthcoming). But we were also provided (compliments of the chef) a delicious appetizer called “Lessons Learned from Watching 20,000 Gunfights.”

The course is a 3 hour lecture by John Correia and attempts to cumulate the knowledge contained in the 1,600 videos he has analyzed and narrated on his hugely successful (1.5 million subscriber) Active Self Protection YouTube channel plus the other 18,000 videos he has viewed but not narrated.

John Correia presenting at Fusion Fitness and MMA, Kennesaw, GA, July 2019. Photo by David Yamane

I first met Correia back in November 2017 when he had “only” 600,00 subscribers, and before he was profiled in The Atlantic Monthly and became a spokesmodel for HK. In fact, the day I visited him in his home studio he was doing the video, “VP9: You Suck and They Hate You,” which was instrumental in securing him the HK gig. Small world.

The animating principle behind the ASP narrated videos is evidence-based self-defense. Training for self-defense should be recent, relevant, and realistic. Relevant means that the actual world as it exists today is the context, and realistic means that it should solve problems that actually exist.

Some of the 22 lessons Correia covers in his presentation combat what The Tactical Professor Claude Werner recently called (on Ballistic Radio) “fig bars of the imagination.”

To get all 22 lessons, take the class. Here let me just mention a few that I found particularly insightful.

1. Carry your gun. Some gun. Any gun is better than no gun. The first rule of gunfighting.

6. The person who puts the first shot on target (usually) wins. Therefore, a fast and reliable draw to first shot is most important. For the average armed citizen that means sub-2.0 seconds.

9. Most armed civilian gunfights take place between 3 and 7 yards.

13. You will not stand still when someone wants to kill you in close proximity. Learn to move dynamically while shooting.

18. Combat reloads are a non-issue in CCW gunfights (perhaps 8 or 20,000 examples viewed). Carry reloads if you want, but not instead of a flashlight or medical gear.

20. He has seen only 1 instance on video in which a weapon-mounted light might have mattered, and none outside the home among non-LEOs.

21. Other things that he has never seen in a videorecorded gunfight: (a) using a knife to fight one’s way to a gun; (b) one-handed manipulation of pistol controls; (c) transition from strong to support hand in a CCW gunfight.

These and the other lessons Correia covers in his presentation have clear implications for what armed citizens should be training and training for if they want to be realistic.

Of course, Correia makes clear he is not saying that people should not be able to perform a 1 second draw, make a head shot at 25 yards, carry knives, have weapon mounted lights, learn one handed manipulations, etc. But given the realistic limitations on what average people can carry and train, the videos he has analyzed do offer some clear lessons for personal protection by average armed citizens.

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