MN Terrorist Stabbing Shows Reality vs. Paper Training


The relative ineffectiveness of defensive handgun rounds at stopping threats means that “stopping power” and “one shot stops” aren’t impossible, but incredibly unlikely with a determined attacker.

As an example, take a look at the mass stabbing last fall by the radicalized Somali refugee at the St. Cloud mall in St. Cloud Minnesota.

He was stopped by a firearms instructor and competitive shooter named Jason Falconer who was carrying concealed at the time.

(The press is overstating his status as an “off-duty police officer” because it sounds better than implying that non-law enforcement can ever do good with a gun.  I don’t know Falconer, but we have common friends.  He IS a peace officer.  He’s a former police chief and is currently a reserve officer for the town of Aden, MN—population 1,396 and wasn’t scheduled to work for the next 2 months, so he’s hardly what you would typically think of as “off-duty” when he was at the mall.

His reserve status and current standing as a peace officer allowed him to have a badge and legally carry in the mall, which was a “gun free” zone–thank God.  His training, proficiency, and expertise were a result of his personal commitment to firearms training that went WAY beyond what typical law enforcement personnel receive.

Back to the shooting…after stabbing 10 people, the terrorist ran into Falconer.

Falconer told the terrorist at gunpoint to get on the ground.  He did initially, but then got up and rushed towards Falconer.  Falconer shot him and the terrorist dropped to the ground & got back up & advanced again.  Falconer shot him again and he fell to the ground and got up and advanced again.

Falconer hit the terrorist with at least 6 rounds of Winchester SXT in his torso—solid hits with a proven round—but the terrorist was still able to keep getting up and advancing on Falconer (3 separate times) and finally crawled towards him, knife still in his hand.

This isn’t unusual.  Another relatively famous example that comes to mind is a close range shooting that Sgt. Gramins from Skokie Il was involved in where he hit an attacker/armed suspect 14 times with .45 hollowpoints in the torso…6 of which were considered fatal…but the attacker didn’t stop shooting until Gramins was able to deliver a round to the head.  (This is one of many real life incidents that dispels the myth of the .45 being a one-shot-man-stopper.)

Again, it just shows how ineffective defensive handgun ammo is.  It works…eventually…but not nearly as well as a rifle or shotgun and just because someone has fatal (eventually) wounds doesn’t mean that they’re not still a threat.

Falconer shot the terrorist while advancing, while backing away, while on the ground after falling, while getting up, and turning corners.  At one point, he maneuvered so that clothes racks were between him and the terrorist.  He did an incredible job and his commitment to training is evident.

Does that sound like anything you can train for on paper at your local range?

So what’s the takeaway here?

First off, to the extent that you can, shoot targets that give you a visual indicator when you’ve neutralized them.

Steel, polymer reactive targets (from Caldwell & Cabelas), balloons, force-on-force, or balls like the video I shared with you a few weeks ago are all good options:

If you always shoot a prescribed course of fire on a target without training yourself to assess whether or not the rounds were effective, how will you magically create the habit/ability of visually assessing in a self-defense situation?

In short, it’s very difficult with paper targets.  Paper targets are VITAL for developing fundamentals of marksmanship, but defending yourself with a gun also requires that you execute those fundamentals while simultaneously assessing the effects of the rounds that you fire.

Shoot too few rounds to stop the threat, and you endanger yourself physically.  Shoot beyond when the threat has been stopped and you endanger yourself legally.

Second, make sure that you’re not developing linear range training scars when you’re practicing…

A contractor friend of mine and I were talking today and he was sharing a lesson he learned from a class with Pat McNamara.  Pat said…roughly…when you’ve got your gun out in front of you after shooting a bad guy, don’t be in too big of a hurry to bring it back to your chest.  You’ve got all day to bring it back after you make sure that the threat has been eliminated, but if the bad guy gets back in the fight, you’ll be able to respond faster if your gun is already out in front of you.

Pat’s point is very similar to the scar that some competitive shooters develop where they shoot a course of fire and immediately drop the mag, rack the slide, and lock it back.  This is a good habit for competition, but it looks REALLY silly in a force on force scenario and could be a deadly habit in a self-defense shooting.

You want to make darn sure that everything that you’re doing when you’re shooting has a defined purpose.  Sometimes it’s fundamentals, sometimes it’s reality based, sometimes it’s focusing on individual components of your technique.  No matter what, it should be purposeful.

A lot of this practical training is hard to do down at your local range.  There are safety considerations when you’re learning to shoot and move and there are safety considerations with the guy in the next bay wanting to try the same stuff you are doing.  As a result, most ranges don’t allow much in the way of realistic training.

That’s why it’s SO vital to train with dry fire.  My recommendation and preference is that you use an inert training platform like the .  If you don’t have one yet, I recommend using an airsoft pistol that you’ve rendered incapable of firing projectiles.  If you don’t have either of those, I recommend using a barrel plug with your real pistol (after all ammo has been removed from the training area) so that there is no way that a live round can be negligently introduced.

Once you’ve got that figured out, the next thing you’re going to want is pistol training curriculum that will let you get away from the limitations of square range training and get you prepared for a real-world 360 degree gunfight.

These are things that you want to master NOW…not things you want to try to figure out on the fly when your life’s on the line.

I want to strongly suggest that you check out  It’s firearms training, and results, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before…there’s even an option to get the training PLUS a SIRT laser trainer.

What have others who have gone through the course said?

“This has improved my shooting and techniques dramatically. Just when you thought you knew what your doing a great video compilation comes along and makes it better”

“Since beginning working on fundamentals and dry fire drills, my accuracy at the range has markedly improved.”

“My performance has become markedly better and continues to improve.”

And here’s what Eric Davis, former Master Training Specialist for the SEAL Sniper program, has to say about Larry’s Concealed Carry Masters Course:

“When acting as a lead SEAL sniper instructor we had to leverage every technique we could to optimize human performance. 

We were successful as seen by the effectiveness of our students like Chris Kyle and Marcus Luttrell.

Larry has broken down and accelerated the process of teaching and learning defensive combat shooting utilizing many of these same structures in the Concealed Carry Masters Course.

If you care about learning to defend yourself and your family in the most effective manner possible you have no other choice than Sealed Mindset’s Concealed Carry Masters Course.”

Eric Davis, former Master Training Specialist for the SEAL Sniper program

When you go there, make sure you read about the 4 officers who are alive, in part, due to the training as well as the 3 big reasons why their training methods are so much more effective than traditional firearms training.  Learn more now by clicking >HERE<





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  • Ed

    Reply Reply October 23, 2016

    how are the balls attached to the paper target

    • Ox

      Reply Reply October 23, 2016

      Friction. SOMETIMES I use tape, but not very much.

  • Chuck S

    Reply Reply October 16, 2016

    I drove past Crossroads Mall the next and didn’t see any “No guns allowed” signs. So this one may not have been gun free.

  • TG

    Reply Reply October 14, 2016

    Q: What do you call an “off duty” reserve officer?
    A: A citizen.

    Many jusisdictions do not grant authority to carry firearms to reserve officers/deputies except for the few hours they are on duty each month AND ONLY when accompanied(supervised) by a full-time officer/deputy.

    This MN mall attack and the Vaughan Foods beheading are two acts of jihad that appear to have been ended by citizens with their own firearms — reserve officers widely reported to be “off duty police officers”.

    Great work by both guys in both cases, but this appears to be more reporting designed to push a misleading understanding. I believe these guy’s were armed as CCW citizens, not in accordance with some sort of LE powers. They appear to have been armed with personal weapons and they had the skill to perform well because of the personal initiative they exercised in pursuing training outside what is required of/provided to reserve and full-time officers.

  • Don

    Reply Reply October 14, 2016

    All the above good lessons and pointers aside, I’m betting the “officer” was carrying 9mm.
    Most common, most SC frame caliber availability, most LE use.
    Say whatever you want, the shear impact of 230 grain Critical Defense would NOT require six rounds to stop ANY unarmored assailant if they were properly placed, and I don’t mean head shots.

    • Ox

      Reply Reply October 14, 2016

      Hey Don…I don’t think that you meant to, but your comment was very tricky 🙂 You said, “the shear impact of 230 grain Critical Defense would NOT require six rounds to stop ANY unarmored assailant if they were properly placed.” That’s obviously correct, but it’s also correct for 9mm. It’s even correct in most cases for .380 and .22. Placement beats caliber 99% of the time. Remember that a .45 is only 2mm bigger than a 9mm. Expanded, it’s about 4-5mm bigger. It does buy you a little grace in shot placement, but not much.

      Shoot someone in the center of the neck with either a 9mm or .45 and you’re going to get roughly the same results. Hit them in the heart with either round and you’re going to get roughly the same results. Wing them in the arm or hit them in the intestines with either round and you’re going to get the same results…both suck and are entirely inadequate when compared to a rifle or shotgun, and performance is going to depend largely on placement.

      The level of suckitude of both the 9mm and .45 are so high that any minor differences don’t really make that much of a difference. FBI stats say it takes an average of 2.1-2.8 hits with both a .45 and a 9mm to stop a threat. Since my guns don’t shoot fractions, that means 3 hits, either way…the .45 just doesn’t perform that much better in terms of real world terminal ballistics anymore.

      So, since they both suck, many people ask themselves which they can easily carry more of. They ask which will allow them to put more accurate rounds on target faster. They ask which will be more affordable and more enjoyable to practice with and many people ask which will be easier on their hands. It’s these human factors that drive a lot of people to the 9mm. The fact that it pretty much only sucks as bad as the .45 is just a bonus.

      But I’m a firm believer that if you like your .45, you can keep your .45. It’s a great caliber. It just doesn’t run circles around the 9mm like it did 15-30 years ago.

      • David Eberhardt

        Reply Reply February 24, 2017

        After several years of reading about the topic of 45ACP vs 9MM, I have switched to carrying 9MM exclusively. I finally had to get honest with myself and accept that I really couldn’t handle the recoil of a G27(40S&W) or a G36(45ACP) as well as I could handle the G19 or M&P Shield (both 9MM). Since I cannot practice live fire as mush as I would like to, the 9MM makes much more sense to me. The research on the effectiveness of various rounds and Ox’s examples help confirm that I have not made a terrible choice. Thanks Ox.

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