Dealing With Attackers Armed with TATP Suicide Bombs

IDF Captured Suicide Vest

I asked Joe Huffman, who runs Boomershoot and who has more explosive experience than any other gun blogger, if he would have any commentary about suicide bombers who were armed with TATP bombs, and he has responded. He’s certain that if TATP gets hit with a bullet impact it will detonate, so necessitates head shots. He goes into a lot more detail than I will, so read the whole thing.

One weakness in my own shooting is that I’ve spent very little time shooting at moving targets. I’ve done it once, and I did OK, but I’d love to spend more time with targets like this:

Of course, I should offer the standard Internet disclaimer which goes: “That kind of gamer stuff will get you killed on the street,” or something like that, but since you can’t practice shooting terrorists in the gourd, these kinds of moving targets seem like a good idea.

15 thoughts on “Dealing With Attackers Armed with TATP Suicide Bombs”

  1. Avoid those fancy rotating targets, and use a silhouette target if you want to practice headshots. Handgun range is optimally inside 7 yds for headshot, if someone has an explosive vest on I am not getting anywhere close to that so practice rifle shots.

    1. You’ll have a rifle with you in a theater? And terrorists are going to stay still so you have a chance to shoot them?

    2. I’m with sebastian. I’m not carrying a rifle with me while I shop, but I will have my Glock. I will admit to throwing my targets all the way to the back of the 25yd lane and testing headshots from time to time.

    3. In a closed theater you many not have the option to stay out of range of either the gun or the explosives.

      If you can find cover and only expose your hands and one eye around the corner 50 feet probably will give you a decent chance at a headshot and good odds for surviving the shrapnel if they have a deadman switch.

      Also consider if your choice is to risk death by shrapnel from 50 feet versus a AK-47 burst from 10 feet I would advise that you take the shrapnel option. Not only for your safety but it probably will also result in more innocents surviving as the bad guy didn’t use all his ammo in the optimal manner.

      1. This. And from what I recall shrapnel, especially improvised shrapnel like what you’d find in a suicide vest is not terribly good at penetrating intermediate barriers. The mil-std ballistic Eyewear is generally pretty thin and can stop shrapnel traveling at 950fps iirc. Even a standard theater seat might be enough cover to protect you from shrapnel.

        1. I agree, and I think here we would have a higher likelihood of dealing with vests more improvised, unless they manage to get something military-grade smuggled in from Mexico.

          One of the biggest problems with Europe is even though civilian ownership of firearms and explosives is practically nonexistent, the Soviet collapse combined with open borders has made it much easier for terrorists there to get their hands on things like full-auto AKs and grenades via the black market.

  2. Sebastian, if you learn to shoot fast enough and accurately enough then you can, for all practical purposes, treat human moving targets as stationary relative to your target acquisition speed.

    Steel shooting has been described as “drag racing for handgun shooters”. I agree with this. Watch some of the first person shooting videos of the steel matches I have put on YouTube. I’m about 20 years older than you and with some target arrays and from a low ready position I can sometimes hit five head sized targets in 2.0 seconds or less. I can hit nearly any array of five head sized targets in less than five seconds–including the draw.

    At that rate, with other shooters (bad guys or good) and people running and screaming providing distractions, unless you are in the immediate field of view of one of the shooters you will have at least two seconds before any of them will be able to respond to your counter attack.

    Five attackers? If I’m not in the first dozen of their queue I figure my odds are going to be about 50-50 of taking a hit. If there are only two attackers then my guess is my odds are 90% or better of coming out with nothing more than ear damage.

    1. I’m making progress with my club. We’re now putting out reactive targets. Getting steel matches going that would allow drawing from holster is a much tougher sell. I do hope to get there, however. But it might have to be through cowboy action shooting.

  3. Practice shooting your handgun at the longest range you are allowed on. One of the outdoor ranges near me has a 40yd tin can range. They won’t let me use the 100yd rifle range. They now have a 100yd tin can range. I’m hoping I can use my snubbies on that, next visit.

    The neat and useful thing about tin can ranges is the random movement of steel cans when hit. Don’t bother with aluminum cans, as they don’t offer enough resistance to bullets to move when hit. Practice chasing the bouncing/rolling can with followup shots. The dirt berm shows how close your misses are. It’s like steel plates without the ricochets.

    One of the interesting things I discovered is how different grips/stocks can influence longer range accuracy. This may not show up at typical handgun practice ranges, so you need to do some longer range practice to see if the hit potential changes sizes as you increase distance.
    drat, restate: Does your hit pattern size change the same as the distance? Double the range, double the size? Or, does it seem to explode when you get out beyond your comfort range?

    1. You won’t be able to hit a tin can reliably and quickly over 25 yards with a pistol. It takes time to make that kind of shot.

  4. Hunters hit moving targets all the time . So do trap and skeet shooters. Of course shooting a shotgun is different from a handgun. But the tactics are similar. So you get the feel of moving the firearm to track the target.

    1. Skeet shooting is an entirely different beast. I wouldn’t say it’s useless, but not really relevant to defending against this kind of attack. Hunting I can’t speak to, because I don’t hunt.

    2. Was shooting feral hogs in Texas last week. One morning, had a pack of two dozen run by my stand at full gallop, closest approach was 20 yards.

      Guess how many hogs I hit with an AR?

  5. I’m with Will on the long range pistol practice. You’ll be amazed on the salutatory effect it brings to your closer range game.

    That includes speed of acquisition, shot-making and follow up shots, too.

    For me, and for what you’re paying for the advice, I’ve found that precision accuracy is the bedrock upon which all my other skills rest.

    I know what the sight picture looks like for X ring hits, and I know it when the shot breaks. Building that into the muscle memory, I only then have to work on increasing the rate of repetition on that cycle, in other words, speed.

    And my best rife shot to date, was on a loping coyote at 150 yards, crossing left to right. Held the vertical crosshair about 1/2 dog-length ahead of the front edge of the chest, and held that picture through the squeeze.

    Hit on the last rib towards the gut, put him down instantly in a cloud of South Texas dust.

    If you can track and lead with a rifle, your odds of doing so with a pistol….improve.

    Besides, the practice on moving targets is challenging, fun and rewarding.

    You’ve got everything to gain in the practice, and nothing to lose but some ammo, pride and momentary loss of confidence. All of which are fairly quickly restored within a mere few hundred rounds of practice and improvement.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

    1. I shoot handgun silhouette competitively from time to time. I’ll have to take your word for it that it helps the close game. It did certainly make me a better pistol shot. But I’ve never really put my close game to the test, and my hold is different shooting at those distances than it is up close.

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