Attack or Attack? My thoughts on Tueller Drill Situations.


You are standing alone in a dark area, I’d say an alley but honestly if your standing in a Dark Alley by yourself your more then likely there on purpose and not worried or B. your looking for trouble which leads me back to the beginning of this conversation.

Either way its dark, your alone, and there is an individual standing close to 21 feet away from you. Of course your armed, I doubt there are very few people who actually read my random spilling of words in this virtual brain dump who arent armed in some manner.

How your armed is your choice. My Choice? Well since you asked, Beretta 92FS 9mm. My old faithful. Its been with me a long time. But I digress.

This individual is showing aggressive tendencies. Aggressive you say! Well what do you mean by Aggressive. I don’t know I’m not standing in the dark facing an individual 21 feet away now am I! but for the sake of this discussion, they are posturing, shoulders thrown forward, leaning forward, just presenting an image of agression.

Now.  With that in mind, you stand there, its dark so you don’t know if there are other individuals with this individual, are you truly alone? Is there some one coming up behind you? You’ve got that feeling don’t you. Yes You know what I’m talking about that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach like something doesn’t jive right. This just isnt kosher dill pickles.

And now the individual has pulled a knife. Great. Well at least you know your “oh shit” meter is working.

We’ve gotten this far and now lets look at some facts.

– Its dark.

– Your alone

-Yes you are armed with a firearm

– You don’t know if this individual has friends.

– They have a Knife

– They are 21 Feet from you.

– They are Aggressive, No question about it they intend to hurt or kill you.

This Ladies and Gents is what is commonly refered to as the Tueller Drill . Some of you knew/know what I’m talking about right?

Those not familiar with this Drill the easiest concept is training to draw a firearm from your holster in response to an aggressor closing on you from 21 feet away.

Now with that in mind lets go over a few things.


Sergeant Dennis Tueller, of the Salt Lake City Police Department wondered how quickly an attacker with a knife could cover 21 feet (6.4 m), so he timed volunteers as they raced to stab the target. He determined that it could be done in 1.5 seconds.

21 feet in 1.5 Seconds. How fast is 1.5 seconds you ask? Did you just blinks? That is how fast folks. Now do you think you can honestly draw your weapon and engage that moving target in that set amount of time? Can I? HELL No. And thats being brutally honest on my part.

So whats the point you ask? Well thats what got me thinking about this particular drill. See when I was learning Hand to Hand combat in the Marine Corps specifically during a period of drill in Knife Combat conducting MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) Training, my instructors told me in no uncertain terms.

You will get cut when fighting another assailant with a knife.

Ok.. let me get this straight. So if I close with engage the enemy with my knife/bayonet/sharp pointy spoon It is guarnteed I am going to get cut/stuck?


So why.. don’t I just shoot them?

You can’t.

Yeah.. I can.

*Stab* Holy CRAP how the heck did that happen.

Folks literal demonstration during the course. My instructor was 21ish feet away and literally as we where standing there discussing this as a group closed and stabbed me in the chest with the training knife. In the Blink of an Eye. That fast.

So lets fast forward a bit. Learning how to be a Police Officer on the Civilian Side of things (And yes there is a rather large difference between being a Military Police Officer and a Civilian Police Officer). Was doing some training in room clearing and prisoner securing and started into a discussion with a State Trooper who was training with us. He’d stated that he could draw his weapon before some one could close with him and stab him with a knife. We just so happened to have a training knife and I’d been playing with it most the night.

Now folks, don’t try this at home alright? specially against some one armed with a real weapon. The Trooper was armed with a Training Weapon, The knife was a training weapon, all real weapons where locked up and secured. This was a Training environment and relatively safe.

Being the individual I am. I had to test him, me, and the situation. So I was standing roughly 30 feet away from him along a counter, He was at the end of it. The Training knife was about 5 feet in front of me. I casually started walking towards the knife as he continued to talk to us, mostly just shooting the shit at this time.

I picked up the knife as I passed it and broke into a dead sprint. To his Credit, and this was spooky folks, He actually went for his weapon when I was within 2 feet of him, but by that time I was inside my extended arm reach and had stabbed him once in the chest and raised the blade as I’d been taught and was going for his throat with another jab.

He blinked looked at him. His weapon half way out of the holster I blinked and looked at him the bent end of the rubber training knife inches from his throat. He said one thing.

You Cheated. I wasn’t ready.

Well thats actually two things but either way that simple comment has stuck in my mind any time I hear of the Tueller Drill.

You Cheated. I wasn’t ready. Who’s ever ready to be stabbed by a charging individual?! I know I’m not. ever. And in his defense he didn’t expect some one in the class to do this to him, nor did I give any pre warning signs etc. And, there is always that whole “you must warn them before you draw your weapon” clause most Police Officers have drilled into their heads.

*Hold hand up palm out, strong hand on pistol grip* STOP! STOP! STOP OR I’LL SHOOT!

We timed this once and do you know how long it takes most people to say Stop two to three times and say I’ll Shoot? Yeah you probably guessed. Close to 1.5 seconds. A tab bothersome if you ask me.

So now your asking how do you train for a situation like this. Well Holster Draw drills are always a good precursor.

Work at drawing your weapon smooth and clean. Making sure  you don’t get any hang ups when your drawing. Don’t worry about speed. Worry about how smooth you are at drawing the weapon, disengaging the safety and bringing it on target. Once you have it in one smooth fluid motion you can work on speed.

Do this in a variety of clothes and light. If you are a CCW Carrier, draw your weapon from the holster how you would wear it on a normal outing. If its under a shirt, wear it under a shirt. Small of the back? Same situation, Practice how you would carry. Don’t practice how you want the situation to be. Practice how the situation will be.

Now granted, I’m a HUGE Fan of distance and engagement. If I have the ability to get distance and engage my target that way I’m going to do it 95 out of 100 Times.

Distance provides the ability and time to engage at least once, gives you room to maneuver and look for some sort of cover or even just break contact and get the hell out of dodge.

But in most Tueller Drill situations there is no way your going to break contact in under 1.5 seconds and get enough distance to make a difference. So what do you do?

I’ve read and seen some people say take a defensive position by falling back in a controlled fall on your back shooting between your legs as you lay on the ground.

Really? Controlled fall onto my back shooting between my legs as I lay there? You.. want me to lay down on my back.. spreading my legs and shooting between them at an individual that is charging at me with a knife from 21 feet or less..

Yeah. Lets just let that idea die where it lays. Pun intended. DON’T do this folks. Period. Any time you put yourself into a position where your own the ground is a bad situation. If you do find yourself on the ground your main focus should be regaining your feet.

Maneuverability is Survivability. Stay on your feet at all cost.

So we really still haven’t answered what to do about our individual 21 feet away with a knife have we.

Well, I’m no expert. I’ve had training, I’ve never been in a real Tueller Drill situation, but I can tell you what my gut tells me to do and what I’ve had some instructors of whom I hold in very high regards tell me to do.


WHAT?! You mean draw your weapon and fire right?

No. I mean close the distance and wrap the individuals arm up holding the knife and get your fight on! Beat the ever living CRAP out of them.

Remember earlier the Comment? “You Cheated, I wasn’t Ready”.  Cheat.

In most situations as a Tueller Drill you where singled out for a reason. Be it you looked like an easy target, or just the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesnt matter, the attacker thinks they have the upper hand.

Take it away from them. Attack.

If they can close 21 feet in roughly 1.5 Seconds. SO can you.

But, but.. They have a KNIFE! So. You’ve got knee’s elbows, fingers, feet, voice and eventually a weapon. Use them! You know if they close with you no matter what you do they are going to probably cut you. They don’t want to listen to you beg and talk and plead so don’t be little yourself. Charge scream and rip into them.

Wrap that knife arm up in yours. Lock that arm out as best you can. Pull your knee up into their gut, Shoulder check them, Head butt them. Do anything but be a the timid little person in the dark. Alot of cases if you can inflict any type of pain it will cause them to lose focus.

Better yet. Knock them on their ass. Once they are down. Back up get distance and Draw that Weapon.

You’ve now taken the advantage, the high ground so to speak and DONT STOP yelling. During an OC Spray course we where told to scream at our attackers as we did Baton fight through drills. I remember this one guy stood no more then 5 foot tall. Wasnt that intimidating till he opened his mouth that day.

I swear to you folks after he got done with his fight through drills he was 7 feet tall, bullet proof and could whoop Supermans ass. Just in his voice alone. Don’t forget to use that Voice.

Violence of Action is commonly what this is refereed to. Fast, Loud, Hard. Alot of times you just charging at them screaming at the top of your lungs with murder in your face will cause them to falter and even turn and run.

Doubtful yes, but you know what? your not standing timidly in the dark debating on if you can clear your holster before they close with you and stab you.

Now again, I am no expert, I can’t say that this is what YOU should do if ever confronted with a situation as we’ve discussed. I can say I’ve been instructed by some very experienced individuals both in the Corps and on the Civilian Law Enforcement side on the above discussed.

If you do this and it works great. If you attempt this and get hurt, I told you, you would and I’m not liable. But more then likely if you attempt this and even if you get hurt, Your still with us.

And yes, your wallet/money/car/groceries are not worth your life. But in a situation such as this when the individual has already committed, drawn the weapon and intends on doing you bodily harm I’m going to jack them up. And if they win, I tell you what. They earned it because I’m not going to give them one inch, and they are going to take away a ton of pain from the situation.

So folks, Tueller Drills, alot of different ways to work at them, alot of different Ideas on them, Will all of them work? Maybe. Go with what your comfortable with, then go with what your not comfortable with, train, train and train some more. Never back down, Never give up and when it comes down to it.

“You cheated, I wasn’t Ready”.  No such thing as cheating or fighting dirty. Just winning to live another day.

So with that Howdy, Semper Fi and have a wonderful Freaking day.

(Again, I am not liable or responsible for any one harmed, or other wise by following the advice presented in this blog, do your homework folks, get hands on training)


One response to “Attack or Attack? My thoughts on Tueller Drill Situations.

  1. For me it all goes back to the basics of USMC infantry. Discipline, violence, & self control.
    Before we invaded Iraq I sat in camp Shoup for a month & change training and playing fuck fuck games. Then they told us fill your mags as much ammo as you want ( shocker) then BC says everyone comes home to do the prom Queen. Wow did I digress!
    Like old Lt Col mortonson said do whatever it takes, because we are the best and we all have this moment with destiny . It’s Gunna happen so get ready!

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