How long do you wait before shooting?

You have just issued the command, “STOP” to someone you fear. They keep advancing. How long do you wait before shooting?


“It depends”

Imminent deadly threat to which there is no safe escape/avoidance option currently available.


I agree with @Nathan57 with regards to depending on the situation and your having no other recourse.

It sounds like the scenario is describing an imminent threat advancing, but does the person have a weapon? Have you drawn or exposed your firearm - do they realize the threat you yourself represent to them? Are you able to back away or position yourself so that there is a barrier between you? Are you alone or are you protecting a family member who may be unable to escape the confrontation?


@Mike270 you may have to add more to this scenario. The other posts are bringing up good points and responses but with such little detail all I can do is retreat assuming the assailant is unarmed. I would have to look for a means of escape and evade.


Just curious if anyone will state a time; microsecond, second, etc. based on their assumptions.


If verbal commands don’t work, and there will be many words, prior to me taking deadly force action. Timing wise I won’t hesitate if my life is in danger. So if all my commands are not met, stop the threat, less than half a second!


De-escalation will have happened before you draw your pistol
The perp is the armed aggressor


There are essentially infinite possible scenarios given the amount of detail in your initial post.

I could easily make assumptions that range from firing as I am saying the S in the word STOP, to “I am not going to shoot”, and not one of those possible answers would involve a specific/quantitative number in seconds or milliseconds or minutes


Discharging a firearm at another person does not get and can not be boiled down to “how long”. It boils down to the totality of the circumstances, which tends to revolve around exactly what the other person is doing, and there is no telling what that person will do in the ___ seconds from saying the word stop, to whatever comes next.

It’s really just not answerable in a “this amount of time” format.

The decision to shoot should revolve around the reasonable belief of an imminent deadly threat that is not safely avoidable through other means


Every situation is unique.

Each individual defines, “fear of bodily injury or death” differently.

No one should second-guess you. It’s your life that’s on the line.

”I’m too weak to fight and too slow to run.”


I don’t shoot at all. I run away.


Good tactic is to know the way out, before you even draw your firearm.




Do they have a weapon?
Are they close enough to injure me/my loved ones with that weapon?

Were they a big enough threat, that I didn’t take the time to say “stop?”


My attorney said if you think you are 3 seconds away from an ambulance ride.
Keep in mind, many people can cover about 20 feet or more within 3 seconds.
It would also need to pass the “if a reasonable person” feared for their life.


Heck, many people can cover 21 feet in 1.5 seconds, from a standing start. That’s the basis of the Tueller drill…20 feet is too-close for a contact weapon wielding attacker, generally.

And excellent point. The “reasonable person” test is very real. Each individual may define fear of bodily injury or death differently, but, generally, to be a lawful use of lethal force in self defense, that belief must be reasonable and that reasonableness will be determined, possibly, by a prosecutor’s office or a jury, and it will be an objective test based on more than feelings and more than just what you as the victim felt


Distance and eminence of the threat are the key factors. If you do not have time to do a command and you have to immediately react because the threat is right beside or in front of you then there is no time like the present. Your personal abilities are another factor to be considered, can you escape? Can you stop them with CS spray? What is the threat? Is your life in Immediate danger? Then immediately, you react immediately!


It’s assumed that there is more than one threat by reference as “They keep advancing”, so you have already noticed they’ve made you their prey because you feel that fear within you and have possibly retreated away, but they keep advancing, possibly to the point of you having no other means of escape. You’re in fear for your life of great bodily harm or death, and have issued the command, “STOP”. Imminent threat is advancing despite your commands, and you are in fear, and at your last resort, you pull out your gun, finger off the trigger, point at your closest threat, and at that moment depending on the advancing threat is going to determine whether that threat retreats and hi-tails out of there, or the threat advances, and finger pressing trigger starts and stops the threat(s). Immediately call 911. That’s probably how long the wait is before shooting.


If an attacker is out to do you harm, he (or she) is the aggressor.
That’s where situational awareness comes into play as a way to avoid putting yourself at risk.
Bad guys will scope you out, size you up and select when and where to act to their advantage.
That’s how it works, (and you wonder why cops are so paranoid?----they’re targets uniform!)
Every local shooting I’m aware of was over in a matter of seconds and was nearly always gang or drug related.
Stephen Camp once said “You’ll run out of time before you’ll run out of ammo.”
I think there’s wisdom in that.


No. :slightly_smiling_face:


I forgot about that quote. A most excellent one that I reckon will apply to virtually all private citizen incidents.

Add it to John’s quote from Active Self Protection “Awareness buys you time, time buys you options”


If you’re watching your watch or cell phone, you’re too late!