Look at the image above.  If you shoot that with a handgun or rifle, it will very likely detonate.  My students still "in the business", during training, have shot terrorist vests found here in the USA, and every single one detonated on impact.  Moreover, the proliferation of hard armor, that is resistant to rifle fire, also mitigates the effect of what would otherwise be "great hits".  In our new age of war, with new developments and observations of the SOP of our enemies the terrorists, new paradigms must be established, and new skills to meet the new requirements must be developed and practiced.  Times have changed and our methods must adapt or be crushed by the wheels of history.

The New Paradigm

Today we must assume any adversary is wearing body armor...and in some cases a bomb vest. We first saw this back in the 1990s with the two bank robbers in North Hollywood.  And we all recall James Holmes, the movie-theater shooter in Aurora, Colorado.  He wore, according to sources, “a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector, and a groin protector.” We also get "insider" reports from LE about the San Bernardino Terrorists wearing armor.  We know that Mateen, the Orlando Jihadist, attempted to buy armor that would defeat rifle fire.  The fortunately astute and profiling salesman refused to sell it to him. And we know that Micah Johnson, the Dallas Terrorist was wearing a full set of rifle plates.

We also know form studying the events of the past two years both at home and overseas in developed nations, that the use of bomb vests has increased.  In an FBI study on Active Shooter events (up to 2012) showed that in 5% of events, the terrorists brought crude bomb vests.  And I will bet most of you have already forgotten Joel Henry Hinrichs III.  Hinrichs was the first guy to my knowledge to have attempted a suicide bombing in the USA post 9/11.  On October 1, 2005, after having been refused entry to a football game at Oklahoma State University, Hinrichs detonated three pounds of TATP he was carrying on his body.  As the Syrian refugee invasion continues into the west, it is unavoidable that the combat knowledge possessed by the many jihadists among them will spread and the quality and stability of these improvised explosives will become more common.

So today, we see the hapless Turkish police officer running in terror at the realization the man he just brought down with a body shot is still alive and about to set off an explosive device.  We see the race terrorist Johnson, wearing a full set of plates that even a rifle could not have defeated.  And we know the prevalence of technology means that armor is not only prolific and accessible, but so is the widely published information on building a bomb vest.  We also know that just as a body shot to a set of SAPI plates will be a waste of effort, a shot from a handgun to a poorly designed bomb vest will set it off with alacrity. 

Response to the New Paradigm

All my pistol practice is to the face/neck area.  I target the area we call "Center Of Face" or COF for short.  I no longer worry about center of mass chest shots unless they are truly, completely unexpected, reactive shooting events filled with extreme surprise and close range emergency movement. And even objective is to achieve a face shot as soon as possible. If there is even a tenth of a degree of preparation or proactive process, its a face/neck shot immediately.

The argument for has been established above, but there are still many in the training field that resist my line of thinking, just as they did when I taught the first Terrorist/Active Shooter Interdiction Class back in 2005.  Now they are all emulating that class...and soon their position on head shots as I describe will change as well.  Just watch.

Their reasons for clinging to the center of mass include but are not limited to the following:

Tango1).  It is too difficult for Sally Soccer-mom and Retired Robert to pull this off. Well, yes it may be.  As I said in a previous, now viral article, we live in a time of war and adaptions must be made.  Jihad Jimmy won't hold back because your skill levels are average.  At the end of the day, people will either be up to the task, or they will not.  If they are not, they won't survive the day.  Harsh perhaps but that is reality. 

Better to tell a student the truth, and give them the opportunity to increase their skills than to mislead them about the minimum being sufficient.

Is it difficult to do what we are suggesting?  I don't think so.  Lets look at the target to the left.  I am drawing a target box around the face and upper neck, and as wide as the outer corners of the eyes. 

From sternal notch to brow line is about 8" vertically, and across the width of the face is about 4" horizontally. 

To illustrate this, take a standard 8.5x11 sheet of paper and fold it in half.  That is about the size of your target from the front, side and back.  So its not as difficult a target as the J-frame throwbacks would have you think.

Moreover, the idea that the shot to head will only work if you hit a small credit card sized "cranio-ocular cavity" is false.  Again, look at the target on the left. 

The throat area has many structures which are easily injured. The jugular veins as well as the easily reached spine and their destruction would insure a "stop". If I take a baseball bat and smash a terrorist in the face with it, I don't have to hit a credit card to get the desired effect. 

And lets also get away from the slow deliberate single surgical brain shot for this application.  Certainly, if you have the time for that from ambush do so, but if you do not, send the same burst you would normally have fired at the chest area into the face area.  Once you let go of the notion that these shots must be fired at different speeds, you will realize the damage that you can do.  The mind set has to change and get away from the idea of "scoring a target". 

Its not about scoring the target, or the is about killing the target. 

A handful of bullets will do much better.

2).  Along the complaints of difficulty for the under-achiever class is the incessant and apparently ingrained fear of legal repercussions for going to the head in the first place, and the legality of errant rounds missing and hitting someone/something else. 

Going to the head as a primary target and a preferred target can easily be justified by simply reading this article, and perhaps looking at the daily news.  It is not 1985 any more kids and the mind set of those days must change.  I was just reading a gun writer pontificating about the validity of a five shot revolver being perfect for "the average civilian defense".  He needs to wake up and realize it is no longer 1955. 

I know those that profit from the ingrained fear of the legal system will never agree, but few of them have ever actually killed anyone so theirs is more a theoretical position than a real one.  Pre-selecting the COF is not only justified, but in the world of body armor, IEDs, ISIS and urban terror, it is the only wise choice. These are things we will be discussing in our upcoming lecture series "Killing Within The Law".  For mental preparation and to start shifting your perspective check these articles.

Read - The New Threat Paradigm

Read - The Terrorist VS The Criminal

And on the fear of missing (and thus not shooting) here is an interesting fact.  Police Officers hit their targets roughly 34 percent of the time.  That means that they miss 66% of the time.  Yet we don't hear of nuns and orphans dropping like flies from errant police gunfire do we?  Why not?  Because another truth of combat is that where ever the bullets are flying, there will always be more air than meat.  But even if that were not the case, is it wise and prudent to refrain from shooting out of fear?  I submit that such a mind set will indirectly cause your death or the death of others.

What would have happened if Jeanne Assam had not shot Matthew James Murray?  Or if Donald J. Moore had not shot the man who entered the AT&T store in New York Mills, New York carrying a .357 magnum revolver in his hand and a list of employees he planned to kill in his pocket. Or if Jonathan Baer had not engaged Hjelmeland. Or if the good guys that find themselves at ground zero every time do not engage out of an unreasonable fear of being unable to meet an unreasonable expectation?  Then they die and everyone they could have saved also dies.  And in the case of the Bataclan Theater Terrorism, dying by the gunfire of the terrorists would be a merciful thing.

Holding on to old tactics and training methods from a long ago peacetime is foolish.

We live in a time of war and your perspective, armament, and skill set must match the times.