I recall one of my instructors at the old Police Counter-Insurgency Training Base at Maleoskop saying the above to us trainees forming a circle around him so many years past: “Double tap first or die.” Since then I became a great believer in double tap shooting. So it was odd to me to find out that not one US Special Forces member, nor any US civilian, nor any US SWAT member, knows what the “double tap” method is. I found the lack of knowledge astonishing.
So let me explain. It was first used by the British Special Air Service, SAS, in the 1970s when they became interested in counterterrorism, hostage rescues, after the Munich Massacre. They realised that the standard full metal jacket 9mm Parabellum round is crap, it does not kill fast enough and thus they adjusted by adding Special Forces ammunition, nice hollow points, and shooting two rounds so fast it sounds like one shot. We did the same, even on our assault rifles and to me, it is the mark of a professional. Fully automatic fire is the mark of ill-discipline and of run of the mill soldiers not worthy of Special Forces (or anywhere else) where you often carry the ammunition to and from the target without guaranteed resupply. During Vietnam, at one stage, it took US troops 100,000 rounds to obtain one kill. Later statistics said 250,000, then 500,000 bullets. Today, with the modern optical aiming devices being used in Afghanistan and Iraq, 300,000 according to some reports. Why more bullets when you have better optics? Low standards, what else but also, the M4 has a pathetic first-kill ratio, worse than the M16 because of barrel length. Except for covering fire and the first few crazy seconds of an ambush, fully automatic fire was a luxury we could not afford and looked down upon. Nothing has changed.
When engaging with a pistol, it is always the two-handed grip, Weaver stance, double tapping and get the job done. You shoot the wrong person during operations and you are arrested for murder. A body without an assault rifle meant being arrested for murder. That is the standard and it is apparently way too high for most. Killing innocents is easy and creates terrorists, future problems. Counterterrorism, counterinsurgency is hard, not for mediocre troops. When I wrote the sniper book, Code Name Butterfly, I found out that the average (but trained) US Army infantryman will hit a man-sized target 10 percent of the time at 328 yards. You cannot tell me that is good enough, God knows, that is bad shooting, it means they miss 90% of the time and now the dreadful ammunition expenditure starts to make sense, it is not about fire suppression but simply low training standards. It gets worse, the graduates of the US Army Sniper School must achieve a 90% first-round hit at 656 yards, using the M24 Sniper Weapon System, a proper sniper rifle firing either the 7.62 NATO or .338 Lapua round. I am sorry, but that is Mickey Mouse. Not one such shooter will graduate under our standards. I will not trust that kind of inaccurate shooting where hostages are involved.
Do you know where I found the double tap shooting as a matter of course? Spetsnaz and Chinese Special Forces. Do you know who wins the most sniper competitions? Yes, not the US teams. If interested, see Code Name Unbutton where we discuss Chinese Special Forces, they are rated highly. These standards can be obtained, by the way, it is a matter of becoming professional and having fire discipline. You may also like Code Name Butterfly, the sniper book, where a lot more is revealled.