Ismael G. is a former trooper with the Idaho State Police.
One evening, Ismael was on patrol near Ashton, ID when he was notified about a Jeep with Florida plates driving erratically.
He soon spotted the Jeep and initiated a traffic stop on the highway. As the Jeep pulled to the side of the road Ismael noticed the driver and passenger moving around.
He believed they were looking for vehicle paperwork. The trooper said, “It looked like a really nice car. They both looked clean-cut, like normal tourists.”
The trooper noticed the couple appeared nervous. Yet, this was common during a traffic stop.
When he got to the driver’s window, he couldn’t see the driver’s right hand because it was concealed in the vehicle.
Suddenly, the driver threw his right hand through the open window and fired two rounds from a .380 semi-auto pistol point-blank into Ismael’s chest.
Thankfully, the two rounds were stopped by the trooper’s bulletproof vest.
As Ismael turned away from the gunfire, he drew his .45 caliber service pistol. He moved to his patrol vehicle for cover and fired two rounds at the suspect.
One round hit the Jeep’s rear window and the other barely missed the suspect. The suspect continued to fire at the trooper.
Ismael said, “I know he would have hit me if he hadn’t been so rattled by my return fire.”
Unfortunately, while Ismael was returning fire his weapon malfunctioned – or so he thought…
Turns out that after firing his service pistol, which was a double-action semi-auto, he didn’t fully release the trigger and allow it to go all the way forward before firing again.
In other words, he short-stroked the trigger.
Ismael said, “I thought I had a bad gun.”
“Actually, trying to squeeze the trigger fast under stress, I just wasn’t releasing it properly. I looked at my gun and I just hoped to God that the suspect wouldn’t jump out and keep shooting at me.”
But after exchanging gunfire, the Jeep sped off.
The trooper followed in pursuit radioing to dispatch, “I need some backup here! I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot point-blank! Now!!”
The suspects soon turned off the highway and abandoned their car.
The next morning a police helicopter spotted the couple near a barn about five miles from the crime scene.
As police closed in, the female suspect was taken into custody. But the male suspect fired at police, then went inside the barn and shot himself.
It turns out the male suspect had escaped prison in Florida. The man and his girlfriend had been driving around the country stealing cars.
Ismael was hospitalized after the shooting but recovered from his injuries. His bulletproof vest saved his life.
The fact is, Ismael experienced something that many shooters unknowingly do…
He didn’t allow the trigger to reset after firing his second round.
Considering this, here are a few things you can practice to overcome short-stroking during a self-defense shooting.
Panic shooting is one of the reasons that people short stroke the trigger. Scenario training can help people prepare for this.
Scenario-based training adds an element of stress that you don’t get at a normal shooting range.
Real-life shootings don’t happen in a controlled environment where you have time to get the perfect stance and grip.
This is why I suggest attending scenario-based training where simunition or airsoft rounds are used.
This not only adds the element of surprise, but it also combines threats that can shoot simunition rounds back at you, lending a realism that other methods can’t.
Train to fix malfunctions:
Hardly anyone trains enough to fix malfunctions.
Training to clear malfunctions is boring, so it’s the last thing most people want to do when they are at the gun range.
Fixing malfunctions should be second nature.
The good news is this is something you can do at home with a safe and empty weapon.
While it’s not the most exciting training, it could save your life.
The gun is not jammed:
Sometimes, when a shooter short strokes the trigger they assume the gun is dead or worthless.
This is exactly what Ismael thought. He said he believed the “gun was bad.”
This could lead shooters to drop or abandon their guns and try to find another weapon.
If the weapon was short-stroked a bad guy could pick it up and use it without having to fix any malfunction.
If your weapon won’t fire it doesn’t mean you should abandon it. Keep it with you or at least next to you so the criminal doesn’t use it.
The next time you go to the shooting range take a minute to short stroke the trigger. It’s a feeling you should be familiar with in case it ever happens in a real-life shooting.