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Theater Shooting Scenario: What Would You Do? (Part 2)



theater shooting

A theater shooting seems to be a popular method for crazy people to take their aggression out on others. So, I figured it would be a good idea to do a scenario on this. Because, you never know what could happen, right?

If you haven't read the story yet, do so now.

This poor sap seems to have done everything to the best of his ability. However, there is something else he could have done, that goes against a lot of the modern day teaching and thinking of the gun community at large.

Theater Shooting Scenario: What Would You Do? (Part 2)

First, let's talk about what we do know. He was well trained with a pistol and goes to the range on a regular basis. Good for him. That is more than most people are willing to do. Next, he seems to have a level-enough head to keep his cool, protect his wife and formulate a plan. Finally, he has a pistol of his own that is chambered in .380 ACP.

A lot of gun enthusiasts will scoff at the power of the .380 round, to which I say: You obviously haven't been around firearms long enough if the only thing you're thinking about is the knock-down power of a single bullet. What is truly better from a self defense POV: several well placed rounds with a smaller bullet? Or, one okay shot with two more that never even hit? (obviously there is more that goes into it, like ballistics, type of bullet, etc…but just go with me here, okay?)

Anyway, I digress.

His .380 is a pocket pistol that holds somewhere between 6-9 rounds, meaning that he's got at least three shots left. He's done everything to the best of his ability to this point, and hasn't made any major mistakes. He shot center mass with his pistol, but the criminal had protection.

A majority of gun enthusiasts will tell you to go for the head shot.

shooting rifle

This is wrong, and I'm going to tell you why. But before I do, there is a reason why firearms instructors tell you to shoot center mass. First, there are vital organs all over the place. Second, it is the easiest place to hit when your brain and body are an exhausted pile of Jell-o.

So, if you originally thought head shot, you'd be wrong. It is just too small of an area. Plus, our hero in this story has been shot in the shoulder, forcing him to use one hand for the rest of his defense. The only time you'd ever go for a head shot, is as a last resort when every other part of the body is fully protected in armor.

The next biggest mass area that should be targeted in a situation where an attacker is wearing a bullet proof vest is the groin. The groin area (as a whole) is large enough that it doesn't take a tremendous amount of concentration to hit, and is filled with soft tissue and bone. I can all but guarantee that if our hero used his next 3 shots to target the attacker's groin, he will go down.

Can you imagine a bullet of any size coming into contact with your pelvic bone at close to 1,000 feet per second? Or, ya know, the (gulp) other part that is also located there which is very, very fragile?

Either way, if the perp doesn't have a protected groin (from a bullet proof plate which would you would be able to see), a few rounds to that area should suffice to do a couple of different things:

1. He will likely be in so much pain that he'll forget all about the person who just shot him.

2. He won't be having kids any time soon. Which is good, because we don't any more fools like him running around shooting up movie theaters.

Do you agree with me? Or, are you a head shot taker?

What would you do in this theater shooting scenario? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Craig Karren

    May 31, 2017 at 12:50 PM

    Yes center mass is the best spot to shoot at first ,then move to a lower spot if he’s wearing protection.
    You have to be really trained well for a head shot for your first shot.

  2. Jerry S.

    April 21, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    Great scenerio! Knees, groin, head, center mass with two rounds left over.

  3. Jerry S.

    April 21, 2016 at 5:23 PM

    Knees, Groin, Head, Center Mass. …and you have two rounds left.

  4. Roger

    September 6, 2015 at 1:53 AM

    Great scenario. I agree, go for the groin. Since the good guy is down already anyway, it may even be an easier aim point.
    I look at it from a different point of view as well. I do part time armed security in a theatre. So far everything has been quiet and we’re simply a deterrent as it should be. My partner and I have talked about the ‘what if’ thing though, paced off the distance from the entry way to the exit door in each theatre (average is 18 yards), talked about the challenges of getting past the fleeing chaos in the entry hall to even get into the theatre, and the extremely low possibility of having a clear shot once we do get there. It seems to us though, whether it’s with our flashlights, voices, weapons, combination thereof, if we can make it to the entry way and stay alive, we may at least be successful in causing the murderer to depart the area. We’ve also discussed the different objectives the murderer may have, does he want to escape or does he want to die in place? These appear to dictate where he will sit. While it’s not a given we both seem to feel given our particular theatre’s layout the bad guy will want to fight from the high ground and then down hill. That gives him the most direct access to the exits, and anyone attempting to intervene the most difficulty in doing so. Each week we look at it and talk through it from different points of view. A couple things we’ve settled on: be as visible/professional as possible up front and maybe they’ll pick another target, if God forbid it ever is us, it’s going to be long night.

  5. Allen Vestal

    September 5, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    A couple of sucking chest wounds will likely turn his attention to worrying about something else.

  6. jay

    September 4, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    Simple, 2 to the center of mass. then 2 to the groin. If the perp is still a threat, then the T (eyes and nose), with the last 2. Then you’ve covered all the bases. And thats with only six rounds. Most firearms nowadays (except sub compacts) have more rounds. And of course you must practice, practice, and then run a 50 yard dash and shoot some more (yeah it would have to be a private range). But we are talking about your life, and possibly someone you love enough to either give your life protecting, or take another life to protect. Also, there is a saying, “you can be judged by 12 of your peers, or carried by six”, which would you prefer?

    • guncarrier

      September 4, 2015 at 10:18 PM

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  7. Nunyadambizness

    September 4, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    I’ve had a fair amount of handgun training, and have been told both the pelvis/groin area and/or headshot are good alternatives, have trained for both, and have had strong-hand and weak-hand training for accuracy. The truth is, I think in this situation the larger target of the pelvis area is the higher percentage shot and the one that should be taken–ESPECIALLY when one is hit and is using their weak hand to aim. Adrenaline, darkness, noise, etc., all taken into consideration, PLUS the fact that when one is under pressure the ability to put a shot into an 8″ target at ANY distance is unlikely, the larger target is the better one. If the person misses the groin but still hits the pelvis, the shooter is going down and will be in tremendous pain with the inability to stand. At that point, if the shooter is still shooting, target the head to end the situation. (just my 2 cents)

  8. Patrick M Connors

    September 4, 2015 at 1:11 PM

    Great article and very good, reasoned discussion points. Avoidance and preparation are all part of the game (though taking a life is no game). I carry concealed in a theater, but rarely go out to one these days for practical reasons, a crazy duty schedule for one and the expense; to be honest, it is just not a fun experience any longer.

  9. Sharon Walker

    September 4, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    I agree, pelvic area is larger and you may also shatter the hip joint which would bring him down!

  10. Moonpup

    September 4, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    Excellent advice but I can see one problem: Since theater shooting has become “en vogue,” the gutless wonders who like to appear in camouflage or military uniform with an “assault rifle” (the MSM would call a 10/22 that if it had a black stock) are fond of targeting – pardon the pun – those areas that are Gun Free Zones. Since most real gun owners are law-abiding, they leave their little friend in the car/truck; your first recommendation should be to not frequent any business that chooses to disarm its patrons.

    • Jim

      September 4, 2015 at 10:07 AM

      No, I am law-aiding BUT I will carry my firearm at all times. As it is concealed they will never know unless something like this happens. If they wish to call me a bad boy after that, so be it, I will at least be a live bad boy. If my body shots, (2), did nothing I too would have to think that the shooter was wearing some type of body armor. The groin area is a great target but it may not be an option due to being covered by seats so I would have to take deliberate aim and go for the head. I feel like I could still hit my target. The reason is I am an expert shot and retired Police Officer with training in this area.

      • Moonpup

        September 4, 2015 at 11:33 AM

        Not to dispute you, just saying the best way to avoid such a situation is – to avoid such a situation. If a business doesn’t want my firearm, they don’t want my business. I’m sure you’re an expert shot, but ” According to a 2008 RAND Corporation study
        evaluating the New York Police Department’s firearm training, between
        1998 and 2006, the average hit rate during gunfights was just 18
        percent.” Being a US Army and NATO Forces vet, I can usually hit what I aim at but would prefer to not have to if it is human (or a sub-species thereof) and moving and especially if it has a 5.56 and is over 25 feet away.

        • Jim

          September 4, 2015 at 11:46 AM

          Understand perfectly what you are saying about police training today BUT, I am a product of Police Training from the 70’s where we carried a S&W Mdl. 10 .38special with 6 rounds. During my time in the Department in the first five years we only had 5 Officer involved shooting, 4 of which the suspect died on the scene and the fifth survived but actually had a round pierce his heart. In each case the officer fired one or two rounds, period. We did not spray and pray back then but chose our target carefully. The reason we had so few shooting is that the bad guys there knew if we pulled our weapons and pointed them at them they would die unless they immediately stopped what they were doing. I think that is a good thing for everyone a we had to shoot less people in the long run.

          • Moonpup

            September 4, 2015 at 11:56 AM

            I agree that those who carried a wheel gun knew that each shot had to count; I’ve never been a fan of the 9mm Glock (or the .40 either when I had one) and feel like I see far too many rounds fired in instances when a well-placed shot or two would have done. Realize that under stress it’s not always possible but to empty a magazine often seems excessive to me too. Thanks for your service both military and civilian, my service was from ’69 to ’77.

          • guncarrier

            September 4, 2015 at 8:53 PM

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    • DEFENDER88

      September 4, 2015 at 10:33 AM

      I just wear mine in, concealed.
      F them.
      Now if they check me and find it, then I will just go elsewhere.
      They have their rules, I have mine.

      • Zexetor

        September 4, 2015 at 6:09 PM

        I totally agree. Want me to leave mine in the truck? Then I demand that the theater owner write me a guarantee that he will be held solely responsible for my safety and the safety of my family. That if a maniac comes in and starts shooting, even if it is not in the viewing room we are in, I have the right to sue him for everything he has. When the theater owner signs that, THEN I might agree to leave my weapon in the truck.
        Thing is, he would never sign it, and I would never leave it.
        Case closed. I agree with Defender.

        • DEFENDER88

          September 4, 2015 at 6:37 PM

          I would go further than that.

          I would insist he “show/prove” to me that competent (at least “Armed” Police level) security is and will be provided “where I will be”.


          No thanks. F Y. Good by.

          • guncarrier

            September 4, 2015 at 6:56 PM

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            Thank you for your email! We always appreciate it when our readers take the time to email us with their comments. If you have any further questions or issues we would be happy to assist you. Thank you and have a great day!

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        • guncarrier

          September 4, 2015 at 6:56 PM

          — Please reply above this line —


          Thank you for your email! We always appreciate it when our readers take the time to email us with their comments. If you have any further questions or issues we would be happy to assist you. Thank you and have a great day!

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      • Gil

        September 7, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        Me too.

  11. Michael Koenig

    September 4, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    I agree – the pelvic and upper thigh region is the best bet, especially when one considers the number of major blood vessels in that area.

    Great story, and a well-thought conclusion. Thank you for sharing!!!

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