Force on Force training: hostage scenario

| December 17, 2014 | 1 Comments

Of all the drills we do regularly while training with QSI Training, the hostage drill is the most intense for me. We have a young man in the house, and it is very easy for me to visualize him held hostage by The She-Shepherd’s ex-husband, who has prior history of domestic violence and prescription drug abuse.

This is the last of our series on recent active murderer force on force training.

The Technique

In order to stop someone with a hostage, we must completely and immediately shut down their body. This is done by destroying the medulla oblongata, or brain stem. This is a difficult shot, as the target is only a 2″x2″ square protected by the skull.

The weapon is held in a Sul position. In this case, we are in Sul to avoid presenting an immediate threat to the hostage taker. Pointing the firearm at the hostage taker would save some time, but may instigate a response before we are ready.

In order to minimize the hostage taker’s movement, a question is asked: “What do you want?” We wait two seconds, and then fire.

The technique is to fire two rounds into the brain stem. The first to defeat the skull, the second round to defeat the brain.

Doing this on paper is stressful enough. I completed this drill this February, when my wife The She-Shepherd was held hostage. I fired two bursts against her attacker, and all four hit the brain stem.

The Drill

I played the part of the hostage taker. Once the student enters the store, I abduct the child. The student has to decide what to do to stop the situation. Statistically, children who are taken hostage have an almost 0% chance of survival once they leave the immediate scene.


Several things went wrong here:

The student missed and hit me in the right arm twice. The instructor did not stop the drill, so I started my attack.

The student attempted to draw and fire at the same time. I believe this greatly contributed to missing my face.

The student stopped as soon as they fired two shots. The technique was completed, but the drill was not over. If you re-watch the footage, the instructor did not stop the drill. I attacked for so long that I wondered what was going on and stopped to look at what everyone else was doing. By the time I did this, the student had holstered their weapon.

If you commit to stopping an attacker, make sure the attacker is stopped. In my hostage drill from February, I kept engaging until the student stopped and let go of The She-Shepherd. Even with a direct hit to the heart, someone may have enough blood pressure in their body to continue to fight for 30 seconds. That’s more than enough time to do terrible things, as evidenced in the video. Don’t stop until the threat is stopped.

A highly motivated attacker with a knife can inflict an incredible amount of damage in a short period of time. I knew this conceptually, and have seen photos and videos of knife wounds. However, I was very surprised about how fast it went once I was the one attacking. Never accept “he only had a knife” as a reason to curtail your counter-attack.


The hostage rescue drill is one of the most intense and difficult things we practice. And we have to practice — a lot. My first attempt several years ago was a total disaster, and over time I’ve gotten faster and more accurate. You have to be confident, and confidence only comes with practice.



About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

1 Comment on "Force on Force training: hostage scenario"

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  1. I was trained to wait for a response from the Hostage Taker when asking questions and then fire. This way you know his brain is not 100% on hostage. In addition, I was taught to keep moving towards the Hostage Taker, have the firearm pointed at him, and to only fire 1 shot. A a second if needed. Two shots from sul into the head under duress is asking a lot, even 1 shot to the head with the firearm pointed at the target is tough.

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