• Brad Parker

Just Because You're Shot Doesn't Mean You're Dead: Fight Back!


You're shot. You're not dead.
Advice from those with experience says our best chance is to continue to fight and win.

It's true. Especially if you have been shot with a handgun.[1]


This topic about self-defense and the issue of being shot has a couple of interesting takes that I wanted to share.


The first one is a previous article from 2011 by Robert Farago. It has the important reminder about this issue being one of two sides of the same coin: just because you have been shot, you are not dead AND just because you have shot the adversary, it doesn't mean he's dead.


Here's some of the most salient points he makes:


If you’re in a gunfight, assuming the fetal position is not really your best option. I would recommend continuing to fight: shoot, move, throw things, attack! I’m not saying it’s easy.


This is an extremely critical point to keep in mind BEFORE you get shot. If you know you have a good chance of surviving a non-head gunshot, you give yourself more aggressive options. Remember: most bad guys expect their gun to instill instant and complete compliance.


As combat vet Adam Deciccio says, the key to survival in a firefight is speed, surprise and violence of action. Don’t stand there and let a stranger (or acquaintance) slaughter you like a sheep. Truth be told, there are worse things than being shot, even if you die. Watching a bad guy kill your family’s right at the top of that list. Don’t fear the reaper. [My emphasis].


Along the lines of my emphasis above, I had a woman who survived of a long period of sexual abuse as a child tell me, "There are things that are worse than dying."


What's it like to be shot?


For a first-person account that connects with the above article, take a look at comments from Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man about his experience with being shot. He leads off by saying he's been:

  • Shot twice

  • Hit by grenade fragments three times

  • Stabbed once

  • And beaten up a few times.

Here's his experience:


  • Yes, being shot did indeed hurt like hell sometimes: however, at other times, it didn't. Once I only realized I'd been hit when others pointed out that I was bleeding. I guess it all depends on the circumstances, what you're hit with or by, and your own mental state. (I'm here to tell you, getting clobbered by a 7.62x39mm round from an AK-47 hurts like a bleep*bzzt*crackle*zzzz*grrr!)

  • There are, indeed, worse things than dying. I've seen several of them at first hand, and I never want to see them again.

  • You can, indeed, go on fighting after you've been shot. That's why I'm still alive to write these words.

  • Bad guys can, indeed, go on fighting after they've been shot. The field of wound ballistics is a very complex one. Briefly, the only wound guaranteed to instantly shut someone down is a central-nervous-system hit, either in the motor control center of the brain or in the spinal cord. Those are very small targets, and hard to hit when your target is moving at high speed. The more common torso hit will puncture blood vessels, and perhaps (if you're lucky, and a good shot) the heart and/or lungs; but even a ruptured aorta will take a minimum of 15-20 seconds to cause enough blood loss to stop someone. The rule is, if someone is still armed, and/or still advancing, and/or is still on his feet but is not retreating . . . he's still a threat. Shoot him again.

  • Yes, bad guys can have friends handy. If you stop the threat, keep your eyes open and look around frequently. Unpleasant surprises might be coming up behind you. (How do I know this, you ask? Trust me. I know this. I have the scars to prove it.)

We'll explore this area more with some interesting stories of people who have survived crazy wounds and triumphed over their attacker.


Stay tuned.


[1] Pathologist Peter H. Proctor writes that the mortality rate for handguns is 15-20% (meaning an 80-85% survival rate). The “Journal of Trauma” (36:4 pp516-524) looked at all injury admissions to a Seattle hospital over a six-year period. The mortality rate for gunshot wounds was 22% (a 78% survival rate).

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