Just Shoot ‘Em In the Leg – Bad Self-Defense Advice

There seems to be a huge misunderstanding within the general public about the proper use of force. I blame TV and movies. How many times does the hero just shoot them in the leg to stop the bad guy and take them in alive? Even worse, how many times is our hero wounded in the leg, shoulder, or elsewhere and it’s nothing but a flesh wound? Unfortunately, this pop culture phenom has spread into real life.

These days there seems to be this idea that just shooting them in the leg (or hand, shoulders, etc.) is a viable option. It’s not just an idea used by the general population but one touted by politicians and even gun owners when asked what they’ll do in a lethal situation. I’m fine with letting politicians be wrong because you trade your brain in when you get elected, but our fellow gun owners need to know better.

Why Shooting Them In the Leg Just Doesn’t Work

Anytime you utilize a firearm to defend yourself, you are using lethal force. The idea that just shooting them in the leg is somehow a nonlethal option is downright silly. Shooting someone in the leg can still very much kill them. While the difference between a shot to the head and a shot to the leg is obvious, they also share in the fact that both can be lethal.

The legs and arms contain major arteries, and striking any of these will result in a quick loss of blood. In fact, the blood loss might be too fast for anyone to do anything about it. This quickly makes an intended nonlethal shoot very fatal very fast.

The main reason we shouldn’t plan to shoot them in the leg is simply that it doesn’t satisfy the intended goal of being nonlethal. Should you be in a situation where you might be wrestling or fighting, and the only shot is a leg shot, then yes, it’s an option. However, if you are using lethal force, you should focus on the torso. If you are in a situation where you are legally, ethically, or morally prohibited from using lethal force, then you shouldn’t try and shoot someone in the leg.

Beyond a Bad Idea

Beyond the idea that a leg shot is somehow nonlethal is the fact that it’s dangerous for everyone else. Modern defensive ammunition is designed to engage the meaty portion of the torso. When a round hits the leg, arm, or thinner body part, it’s more likely to over-penetrate and continue at a high velocity. If you’re lucky, it will hit the dirt. If not, it will continue on its journey and hurt or kill someone else.

There is another major issue with leg shots…they are hard to make. Legs are smaller than the torso and more likely to be moving. Hitting a smaller, moving target under stress can be downright difficult. The same could be said for hands and arms. Trying to hit these smaller targets can be foolhardy, and we have a problem with a miss. You are responsible for every miss, and if that miss harms another, that’s on you.

Let’s say you are ina s situation that’s deadly, and you still decide to shoot the threat in the leg. You hit the leg, and the threat is hurt, but you didn’t strike anything vital. Well, guess what? Their leg might be hurt, but their hands can still pull the trigger of their firearm or slash with a knife or baton with a club.

Don’t Take My Word for It

Listen, I’m just a guy running his mouth on the internet. Luckily you don’t have to take my word for it. The Force Science Research Center agrees. They harshly disagree with the idea of shooting someone in the leg as a nonlethal or less lethal means to stop an attacker. They’ve resisted legislation mandating the idea of leg and arm shots as minimum force application. They are the preeminent authority on successful and smart tactics applied by police and civilian shootings.

It’s just a bad idea to rely on a leg shot to stop the threat and magically not cause any serious harm. Lethal force is always lethal, and there is a big difference between lethal and non-lethal force. If you want a nonlethal option, then try Pepper spray. I’m serious. I carry a can of Pom with my gun for a reason. Keep your use-of-force options separate and engage the best weapon you have, the six inches between your ears.

medical gear, med kit, SIG P365, air gun, Accomplice Mag Carrier, concealed carrier, concealed carry, responsibly armed, home security, home defense, weapon-mounted light, Streamlight, tlr-7, Streamlight tlr-7, self-defense, lds, light defender series, home defense firearms, tlr-1, tlr-6, Streamlight products

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.

You may also enjoy these popular articles:
SIG, P365, P320, CrossBreed Holsters, IWB, OWB, concealed carry, SIG SAUER, SIG P365   Home Security, Self-Defense, CrossBreed Holsters, security, protection    IWB, OWB, Holsters, CrossBreed Holsters, cool weather, concealed carry, open carry, IWB Holsters, OWB Holsters

Follow us on Social Media:
Facebook, share, article, crossbreed holsters, handguns, concealed carry, hybrid holsters, blog    Twitter, share article, share, article, crossbreed holsters, handguns, concealed carry, hybrid holsters, blog  

CrossBreed Holsters, concealed carry, IWB, OWB, best holster, hybrid holsters, holster, IWB Holster, OWB Holster, CrossBreed, holsters made in America, made in the USA,
©MTC Holsters, LLC and CrossBreed Holsters Blog, 2022.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Travis Pike and the CrossBreed Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

6 thoughts on “Just Shoot ‘Em In the Leg – Bad Self-Defense Advice”

  1. I remember taking the Police Officer Standards and Training course (granted, 25 years ago) and at the time three different instructors who were also supervisors on local forces noted that if we were in the filld and fired our weapon we would be in more trouble admitting we were going for a non-lethal shot rather than a torso shot. The “non lethal shot still involves a high risk of lethality if it connects. In court the officer’s marksmanship is likely to be questioned and the risk of hitting an unintended object (especially a person) is much higher. Our range master said that if he saw that the intent to use a gun for non-lethal force was intentional he would recommend dismissal from the force.

  2. Mr. pike left out the obvious; if applying lethal force fails, your attacker becomes the victim who will testify in court that he never attacked you.

    1. You’re forgetting the law. Defensive shooting in a deadly force situation is a deadly force option conducted with a deadly force weapon, the firearm. You are facing deadly force which makes you believe you are about to be killed. You rightfully believe you must use deadly force to repel or stop the deadly force attack on you. If you use a deadly force option to wound someone, you are letting the law, the courts, the jury know that you felt a need to use less lethal force by the means of a deadly force weapon. Therefore you really believed (they will deduce) you were not facing a true deadly force attack since you found it necessary to respond in less force.

      1. In essence, deadly force is deadly force. So if we carry only a firearm we’ve limited ourselves to how we can respond if retreat or complete avoidance are not options. Pepper spray is a good lesser option. What are other responses exist that are non-lethal, and of greater force than pepper spray?

        1. Tasers keep improving all the time. Maybe futuristic tasers with darts etc. will fill the bill for a middle ground.

        2. Lawrence Brady

          The stupid fact that places like NYC, and others, prevent the use of pepper spray, deeming it a concealed weapon.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *