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The 7 yard rule

Discussion in 'Tactics and Training' started by Glock39Pirate, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. Glock39Pirate


    Nov 17, 2009
    Anyone know why people practice a lot with the 7 yard or 21 feet target? I've been told a few reasons why and some have been legal issues where you have to prove that you were justified to shoot within 21 feet. Anyone know?
  2. Dalton Wayne

    Dalton Wayne Epic mustache Millennium Member

    Apr 5, 1999
    Central Florida
    Because most self defense shootings are at 21' or less

  3. Actually we practice at 7 yards alot cause it's the 'average' range, or used to be, for gunfights.

    Yes the Tuller drill did find that people with 'average' reflexes are in danger at 7 yards from a knife welding assailant.

    But guys, I hate that word 'average'. After all, that implies alot of them are above and below that.

    Most civilian gunfights are below 7 yards, and people with very good reflexes and training might stop a knife welding assailant well inside 7 yards while those with real crappy reflexes and training might be in danger at 20 yards!

    Practice at many varied ranges. Practice one, strong or weak, handed shooting. Practice low light shooting. Do all that and more and don't put too much stock in the word 'average'.

  4. Marky Mark

    Marky Mark Curmudgeon

    Dec 3, 2004
    Legend has it that back in the 30's the FBI did a study of their agent involved shootings, and the average was 7 yards. Thus, that became a "standard". I suspect that distances for street officers were probably a lot closer at that time, bu that was the average for their agency. Since then, the average has gotten considerably closer. My old dept. did a review, and our average was 5.9 feet.
  5. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    Don't know about the 30s, but the average is 7 feet. 7 yards marks about the 95th percentile.
  6. English


    Dec 24, 2005
    I think that the 7 yard rule comes from the Tueller principle. 25 years ago Dennis Tueller discovered that the great majority of reasonably fit people could make an attack with a knife or club from 7 yards and strike about half the time before an officer with an open carry holster could draw and shoot. That is, the attacker decided when to initiate the attack and the defender could not draw until the charge commenced.

    More recent work shows that someone who is good at getting off the X can avoid the attack about half the time from 11 to 12 feet but 25 years ago it was all about draw and shoot from a fixed position.

    As Tueller points out, that is not the end of the matter because even if you manage to make a hit your attacker can continue a lethal attack for some time. Since, at the time, there were cases of people absorbing 12 hits of .38Sp, blugeoning a LEO to death and running 200 yards before expiring, it was clear that 7 yards was not actually a safe distance but the converse became generally recognized. That is, shooting someone with a knife or club who was within 7 yards was justified.

  7. HK Dan

    HK Dan

    Mar 27, 2008
    Now, I had heard that the "Tueller Drill" was done at 7 yards because that's the range that Tueller shot the guy at. I don't think they did extensive testing at different ranges, I thought they ran the drill a 7 because that's what they were defending in court.

    I've been wrong before, but that was my impression.
  8. Dragoon44

    Dragoon44 Unfair Facist Lifetime Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    The point of the Tueller Drill was to show trainee's that the average person 21' away could reach you in an average of 1.5 seconds or less.

    This is contrasted with the "average" trainee's time of around 2 seconds to draw and accurately fire a shot.

    This reinforces for the student that an individual armed with a knife or blunt instrument within 21' poses a deadly threat to them.
  9. For civilian self defense 7 yards is a LONG way.The bad guys typically do not pull out a bullhorn and tell you from across the parking lot that they are coming to rob you.... The overwhelming majority of civilian SD shootings actually take place 15 FEET (5yards) and CLOSER.

    How close do you have to be to take someone's wallet or to take physical control of them to beat them or rape them? If they can do that from 7 yards then you are being mugged by Plastic Man.

    So if they NEED to get close enough to rape, rob or pillage, then MAYBE 7 yards is a little unrealistic.....

    Now,think about going about your daily business. If someone approaches you on the street what distance do you REALLY let them get to before you tell them to not come closer? If you are like MOST people that distance is about 2 to 3 yards.

    So why are you training primarily for 7 yards?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  10. Jedburgh


    Sep 2, 2009
    North Georgia
    Based on the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) from the last ten years, 70% of all Law Enforcement assaults occurred inside 10 feet.

    You can read more about it here:gunfighting distance

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  11. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

    Mar 26, 2003

    Then there's the rule of threes.

    3 rounds, 3 seconds, 3 yards.
  12. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    By the time I had the chance to meet Dennis Tueller he had long since gotten used to being asked about his original reason for developing his thoughts which became widely known as the "21 Foot Rule" (it's not a rule). Nice guy, too. Gentleman.

    He basically said that when he was involved in teaching an academy class many years ago that one of his cadets asked him how close was too close when it came to a knife v. handgun encounter in LE work. He said he thought that the question was a good one and he went home and tried to start writing about it. He explained how he tested different cadets of different age, physical abilities, shooting skills, etc when trying to learn how speed and reaction could affect this sort of hypothetical encounter (but which could become very real during LE work and encounters with armed suspects carrying knives). When I listened to him explain it, it sort of seems that what he wrote ended up taking on a life of its own and surprised him. ;)

    As I recall, he made the comment at one point that if he were going to do the same thing all over again that he might look at it from the perspective of taking place within 30 feet, instead of 21 feet. Some of the important lessons gained from this sort of thing are often considered to be that distance from someone armed with an edged/impact weapon is a good thing, movement is a good thing to create that distance and maintain it until the threat has been safely resolved, and that armed suspects can move faster than you might be able to react and act in a manner needed to reduce the chance of you being seriously injured or killed during the encounter.

    The world isn't made up of a nice level, wide open, easily navigable surface with good illumination and lacking distraction and physical obstructions, though.

    Here's a link where you can listen to an interview of him about it.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  13. Exactly.
  14. TwinFourFives


    Jan 13, 2010
    I think 5-7 yards is just about right, for home defense purposes.

    I've been in several altercations on the street and in public, and in places that are not my own property. Drawing a gun would have worked against me in all of these situations, it would have gotten me killed in at least two of them.

    When you draw a gun out, either the agressor flees or someone has to die. In the public arena, this kind of situation will usually blossom within arms reach of one another. Cops are using radios, and informed of situations prior to entering them. They have intel. Civilians can be random targets, no intel beforehand.

    If you work at a gas station or a robbery prone store, 5 to 20 feet would probably be a choice distance for practice.

    Another thing i personally have noticed, is when people are being aggressive at you from 21 feet there's usually no reason to kill them. It would be wrong. Guns are not a joke, they are not funny. I've never been in a situation where it would be worth it to take someone's life. I'd much rather just fight it out, unless someone is honestly trying to kill me i wouldn't use a gun.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2010
  15. BamaTrooper

    BamaTrooper Almost Done

    Sep 12, 2006
    Rocking Chair
    Do you do a lot of practicing from prone, supine and seated positions? wronghanded and laying on the gun side? In a clinch or with clothes too small to simulate a clinch? Drawing might be more important than sight picture at bad breath distance.
  16. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Read that again. It's distances officers killed, not involved in a gunfight. The average gunfight distance trained for decades has been 21ft. Your fight may start closer but could easily go the length of a car in a parking lot, a bit more than 21ft. Practicing only for close range encounters is like only practicing your putting on the golf course. The game is more than contact shooting & if you carry, LE or ccw. you should practice so you can get fast hits from contact to even 50yds if need be.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  17. swotivated


    Apr 14, 2009
    This is what I've heard too. The 21' "security bubble" is obviously arbitrary as no two assailants are going to be able to get to you in the same amount of time and no two shooters are going to be able to draw and engage in the same amount of time.

    If you're a **** hot shooter going against a fat moron, maybe you need just 10'; if you're a useless shooter going against a trained assassin perhaps you'd want to keep a 35' bubble.

    A CCW'er shooting 21 feet would require some extraordinary circumstances.
    This doesn't mean you should never train to it (same goes for 21 never know). I'm all about realistic training though.
  18. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

    Mar 26, 2003

    I agree completely :whistling: . Those circumstances are typically -

    • a clear threat of deadly force against you, or a loved one or some other third party
    • Forcible felonious invasion against your place of business or domicile
    • Arson against your domicile or place of business, with human occupants
    • Car jacking, rape, kidnapping, etc
    21ft, 21 yards, 50 yards, 2ft it really does not matter - EXCEPT if you are in such a place where evasion is required, feasible and/or practical.


  19. Never shot a man and hope I never have to, but I have seen a small whitetailed deer run nearly 200 feet before dropping after a half dozen guys armed with .30-30s, shotguns and .30,06s began filling him full of lead. I would expect a man pumped with adrenalin would be a little tougher to bring down with a pistol.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>