One of the techniques of professional and defence shooting is the use of firearm against a partly hidden target. This is the situation where the enemy is partly obscured by an obstacle. A variant of this target is an offender hiding behind a non-participating person – a hostage. The truth is that many users of firearms (especially the members of special police units) must sometimes use their weapons even in populated area, and they might have to eliminate an armed offender who holds an innocent victim and threatens to kill her/him. Needless to say, that in terms of maximum risk of such use of weapon it is always desirable to avoid that such dangerous shooting, if possible. However, it is in many cases impossible to choose the time and place of such a conflict as this is usually determined by the offender or a terrorist. That’s why SWAT teams must include similar situations into their intensive training. It should be noted here that this is definitely not an action sport but training of a truly "surgical cut". This means no hasty impulsive fire effected regardless of any innocent bystanders. However, this is exactly what often happens even at mere training of such situations "under pressure", due to preoccupation with the target, which is manifested by the signs of "tunnel vision".
The task of a gunman is therefore to hit rapidly and accurately the optimal zone – which gives a chance for an immediate cessation of any criminal action by the offender. But there is a hitch. In the case of a static target, the large part of which is hidden by somebody/something which must not be hit at any price, it is necessary to comply with several essential principles. It is imperative to shoot in such a way that the aiming point is approximately the central axis of what we see from the opponent. The shooter must not be simply "lured" to shoot at the central zone, usually located at the level of person in front of the offender. This would lead to increasing chances of tragic intervention, i.e. hitting an innocent and threatened person. In most cases it is certainly better compromise to hit "only" an arm of the opponent than to aim uselessly at his anatomical centre and hit the hostage.
Here, in the case of target ESP No. 8 we see an image of a “popular pair” – “target vs. non-target", ie. "Hostage and an armed offender". We have chosen precisely this rather naturalistic situation where the ruthless offender is about to cut throat of an innocent hostage. In real life this is in fact one of the most common threats at all. In this case we tried to create a specific target, where the legal reason to fire is clear and is substantiated by the mere presence of cold weapon on the scene. This target serves also for gunmen shooting from a greater distance, so it can be used both for training of model situations as well as for training of fire from a distance of dozens or hundreds of meters. It is meant as a universal aid for a similar type of training with pistols, 9mm machine gun, assault rifle, as well as for a sniper using his sniper rifle.
In this case, it is necessary to eliminate immediately the attacker, but at the same time the shooting must not hurt the hostage – for this a clear dividing line is drawn. There is nothing you can “out-talk” if you involuntarily hit the innocent lady instead of the villain. You can be assured that it is really very difficult to hit this target rapidly and precisely, especially when it is move by the machine in order to imitate a struggle of the depicted pair. This is in fact as difficult as in real situations.
The target No. 8 has, similarly as other tactical targets from the ESP series a blurred "night" background, as well as an indication of real anatomical zones, which are necessary for estimating the effect of intervention and of an optimum choice of the aiming point. Its design expresses gloomy atmosphere emanated by the critical moment that would inevitably accompany such a situation. The message to the trainees should be clear: "Shoot accurately and as quickly as possible, otherwise the woman will inevitably die."
This target should also accustom the gunman psychologically to react as routinely as possible to such delicate and highly responsible situations. It gradually adapts the trainee to the critical point, when he must not hesitate and use his gun automatically and effectively. This means overcoming the "block" of those, who might at the fateful moment tragically hesitate, or due to immense pressure completely forget their shooting skills. Although no one would probably want to get into such dangerous situation with so much responsibility, in this case too the following sayings are quite true: "He, who is ready, is not surprised" and "Luck helps to the prepared ones”.
Note: This target has been already officially implemented as a training aid in the Army of the Czech Republic.
International sniper seminar of the antiteroristic unit