By Sam Hoober
A recent incident in Texas highlights the value of improvised weapons in the right situation. It’s the craftsman and not the tool, or whatever cliché you want to use there. It’s the same old trope, but darned if there isn’t something to it.
The point isn’t just to consider that you may have to fight with whatever you have on hand, but also to consider the will to fight is more important than the means by which you do so.
A man started shooting at a backyard party in Fort Worth, injuring at least one person. Partygoers weren’t having it, and chased after the gunman.
The shooter had apparently gotten into an argument with someone and left, came back and shot the person he argued with.
The home the party was being held at (ostensibly) had some ongoing landscaping work being done and there was a supply of landscaping bricks lying about. After the shooting, partygoers gave chase and started pelting the gunman with bricks.
He was hit and fell to the ground, continuing to shoot and hitting at least two other people, but they weren’t done with him. According to the ABC news story, he was hit multiple times in the head with a brick.
Police found the gunman dead at the scene, beaten to death. They nailed him in the head, then someone (or several someones) ran him down and bashed in his head.
While you could certainly say justice was done (he tried to kill someone and got done for himself; that’s about as “just” as anything gets in this world) the incident highlights the value of improvised weapons.
It’s not the first time an active shooter has been taken down with a seemingly lesser weapon. In fact, it’s not even the first time in the last 30 days.
In the wee small hours of June 29, one Luke Stolarzyk of Portland, Ore., opened fire at the apartment building he lived at, apparently after an argument with a neighbor over noise.
After emptying two pistol magazines basically into the aether, Stolarzyk got an AR-15 from his apartment and continued to shoot. A neighbor crept up behind Stolarzyk and hit him with a stick, stunning him.
The neighbor wrestled the gun away, beat Stolarzyk unconscious and hogtied him. Police found him tied and clearly having been given what for.
Stolarzyk was – thankfully – the only person injured. He is in custody and awaiting trial for seven felonies and ten misdemeanor charges.
While it’s certainly gratifying to read about or hear about violent criminals getting their just desserts, that isn’t entirely the point. The point is to not underestimate the efficacy of seemingly commonplace objects combined with the proper motivation to use them accordingly.
Chances are you have several objects within reach that can be used as a bludgeon or a crude stabbing implement. As I’m typing this, here is a list of everything I can grab within arm’s reach that I could fight with if I had to:
- A drinking glass
- Two steel water bottles; one has a loop handle that could be used as a flail
- A belt with an AustriAlpin COBRA buckle
- My EDC flashlight, which has a castellated strike bezel
- My laptop power supply, which could also be used as a flail
Slightly further away (about six feet from me) is a small toolbox with a hammer, a utility knife and assorted screwdrivers. Two of my hunting knives are on a bookshelf about six feet up and a couple of feet to the right of that toolbox.
The chances I’ll ever have to pick up anything on that list and fight with it tonight or any other night are slim to none. But anything on this list could be devastating (if not lethal) if used offensively or defensively.
Chances are you have more potential weapons around you than you might realize besides a firearm, and it’s a good thing to occasionally think about what you could use if called upon to.
And it’s also the case that the motivation to use the weapon is more powerful than the weapon itself.
Recall the story of John Smeaton, a baggage handler at the Glasgow Airport. In 2007, Smeaton ran towards two suicide bombers in a burning Jeep to kick a suicide bomber in the balls while said suicide bomber was ON FIRE.
Others were involved too, but Smeaton (who said early and often he wasn’t the only person who was responding) was the one that the press gave the most attention to, mostly because he was eminently quotable.
Regardless of everything else (it’s certainly the most exciting thing to happen in Scotland in living memory) it’s an example of what a properly motivated person can do.
It’s not just the implement you use, it’s the will to fight and prevail that matters more. If you have the latter, the former will take care of itself.
Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.