Lessons Learned - Pinch Pharmacy Shooting

A Case Study by Apex Shooting and Tactics on the Pinch Pharmacy Shooting. Using Social Media videos to teach self defense.

Lefty Gomez, a five-time World Series champion with the Yankees once said, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” In addition to the five-time World Series championships, Lefty also achieved pitching’s Triple Crown, he was an All Star every year from 1933-1939 and he was a three time league leader in shutouts and strikeouts. The list goes on and I think we can agree that Lefty Gomez did not rely on luck. I’d be willing to bet that Lefty Gomez was born with some talent but I am sure he also had skill that he acquired and honed over years of practice and playing the game. Lefty Gomez was successful for a lot of reasons but I don’t think luck had much to do with it. Luck is about chance, it is a roll of the dice and the reality is you always run out of luck but skill is a resource that can be built and improved on. The arena could be sports, business or combat. We apply the fundamentals, utilize appropriate tactics and exploit the mistakes of our adversary. When we do those three things better than our adversary, we win.

When I teach people to fight, I want my students to be concerned about their ability to perform in critical incidents, because you will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training. When a student can understand why something is important they begin to see the big picture and are able to apply the fundamentals or tactics appropriately. When I teach combat shooting, I like to reference combat incidents and break down the incident to the point we can identify the good, the bad and the ugly. In many of these incidents we can easily spot the break down in fundamentals, tactics and the parties who failed to exploit the mistakes made by their adversary. This is nothing new, sports teams have been doing this for decades but when we do it with Civilians, LEOs and Military incidents people get offended as though we are bashing the good guy or praising the bad guy. The goal is to learn from the mistakes of others so we won’t repeat them and that doesn’t happen by praising a poor performance that just so happened to eke out a win.

For combat handgun shooters a recent incident occurred on February 18, 2015 in a West Virginia pharmacy and I think it is a great example to break down. At 1030 am, 25 year old Terry Gillenwater walked into the Good Family Pharmacy and pointed a gun at employees in an effort to rob them. That’s when Pharmacist Don Ratcliff drew his concealed handgun, defended himself and his co-workers. In the end, the suspect dies and no one else is injured. There is nothing wrong with the end result but how Mr. Ratcliff came out on top was far from efficient and we can learn a lot from the video.

Mr. Ratcliff’s short falls are the fundamentals of marksmanship, specifically; Grip, Sights and Trigger. I watched the video almost frame by frame and made the following observations regarding the fundamentals.

### Video Analysis
42 seconds into the video- Don Radcliff (good guy) fires his first shot and his left hand pops off the gun. This is common and is caused by a poor support-hand grip.

43 seconds into the video- Don Ratcliff lowers his weapon. I see this far too often during training. Shooters looking at where their shot went. I would be l willing to bet Don is reflexively looking for his shot placement because he has done it thousands of times before.

43 seconds a few frames- Don reacquires his support-hand (left hand) grip and you can see his left thumb wraps behind the slide. Not good for grip, function of the weapon or your thumb.

45 seconds into the video- Don fires his second shot and the left hand flies off the weapon. I am guessing the slide hit Don’s thumb. You also see the gun lower again and it is my opinion that Don is looking at the target again. It also looks like Don may have glanced at his thumb because the slide hit it. Either way he is not focused on the threat.

47 seconds into the video- Don fires his third and final round. This time the head/gun separation or Don looking at his target over the sights is very obvious.

Don Ratcliff fired 3 rounds in roughly 5 seconds. In my most basic 4 hour class the final objective is for students to fire 5 rounds in 3.5 seconds at 15 feet in a 7x7 inch box. In any of my handgun classes that are 8 hours or more, we accomplish 5 rounds in 3.5 seconds at 15 feet in a 3x6 inch box. We do this because “double taps” are not reliable or realistic for an individual in a gunfight. We know that a vast majority of law enforcement officers and law abiding citizens will fire 3-8 rounds when using a handgun to defend themselves. Don Ratcliff made the decision to shoot and anyone in his shoes needs to commit to eliminating the threat as fast and as efficient as possible. It all comes down to proper grip, making the sights your mission and committing to proper trigger control.

Apex Shooting & Tactics

Apex Shooting and Tactics LLC is owned and operated by Andrew Blubaugh. Andrew has over 15 years of Military, Private Security and Law Enforcement experience. Andrew is a fulltime police officer, member of a county wide SWAT team and the primary firearm, tactics and use of force trainer for his agency. Additionally, Andrew spent 4 years as an adjunct instructor for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and continues to instruct with Chris Cerino Training Group and Rifle’s Only.

The cadre at Apex Shooting and Tactics are selected based on real world experience, ability to perform and instruct. We pride ourselves with being students first and instructors second.

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