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Author Topic: Shooting and Moving in Russia  (Read 1183 times)


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Shooting and Moving in Russia
« on: December 11, 2006, 12:25:51 PM »

by Konstantin Komarov

In my military service, a handgun – a personal weapon of an officer, was always considered a back up weapon, something like the final argument or the last chance. In combat situations, I only used it a few times. The distance was never over 15 meters; I was never stationary, but always in movement, there was never sufficient aiming time and the visibility was always poor.

There was once a wise man that explained to me an undisputable truth: “at close confrontation, you are alive while you are moving. If you stop – you die.” Keeping this rule in mind, I went through my combat training. I probably did learn, and that is why I am now writing this story.

Here is an example of an unexpected and rather amusing confrontation with a handgun…

December 1991. The city of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (a former republic in the Soviet Union). A military coup is taking place in the republic. For the fourth day in a row, severe battles are going on between the rebels and the troops loyal to Zviad Gamsachurdia to capture the “President’s Palace” – the Parliament Building. Anarchy rules the city. Electricity, water, heat and phone connections are constantly disrupted. Under the excuse of ‘forming a national army’, large numbers of armed criminals are released from jails. The population has a lot of weapons on hand. The streets are full of wandering groups of unshaved half-drunken men armed with handguns, rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers. Criminals are constantly attacking our riot troops, and the families of military personal serving in the region. High military alert is announced in all parts of Tbilisi and the surroundings, all officers are relocated to the barracks and all military personnel are ordered to carry their weapons.

Our unit is collecting operative information for the Headquarters. We take turns, dressed as civilians, and 24 hours a day we patrol the city on foot and by cars with local license plates. We engage in conversations with the local agencies and population, we observe, listen, take pictures, and take written notes. In the meantime, we recapture cars and transport trucks of various makes and sizes from the “national army” and the criminal element. In other words, we are working tirelessly sweating our guts out.

I finished up one of such “work” days; and was walking from the subway station “Isani” to the unit’s command/patrol centre. It was late evening, the streets were not lit, there was no light from the buildings, and it was pitch dark. The wind was piercing, rain mixed with snow and dirty slush under the feet. All that I was wearing was a short black jacket, jeans and a knit hat. I was freezing to my bones. In order to warm-up, every once in a while, instead of walking, I jogged. My only weapons were a knife on my left side, strapped across the chest, a grenade RGD-5 in the left pocket of the jacket and a handgun on my right side, in the cut holster. We used to cut the holsters so that the handgun handle would stick out. I was grasping the handgun handle, through the cut-out pocket of my jacket in order to somehow keep my fingers warm and bendable. My gun was Makarov with 8 bullets in the clip and the ninth in the chamber. The safety device was switched off; I had three additional spare bullet clips in my pant pockets.
Thus I was trotting my way down the dark street, only dreaming of making it to the command centre to get some sleep. And then, absolutely unexpectedly, an extremely intense shooting began just around the corner of the building closest to me. Before I had a chance to blink, a man holding a machine gun jumped towards me from that scene. He was 8 to 10 meters away, and all I saw was the barrel turning to face my chest…

I did not even notice how I fell on my back into the splashing mud. I was only preoccupied with one thing at the moment – my gun got hooked onto my pocket and I did not have time to pull it out fully, and as I was falling I made two shots through my jacket. The spray of bullets from the machine gun, fired simultaneously with my shots, passed somewhere above my head. Having fallen, my legs remained bent. As I sharply straightened them, digging my heels into the ground, I slid along the mud slush about a meter back and fell onto the road with my back hanging over the curb. I was then finally able to rip the gun that gut stuck in the pocket fabric.

Lying behind the curb, I no longer saw the attacker. However the severe shooting around the corner stopped instantly and I heard heart-wrenching screaming in Georgian language. I realized that all the anger of those around the corner will now be directed at me.

There was no retreat. Behind me was a bare street without a single cover. To the right of me - a solid brick wall of a 5 story building, to the left of me - about 20 meters across the road, a similar building. Ahead of me - about 15 meters away, there was a cement street lantern. The lantern was across the intersection and the only way to get to it, was passing by that vicious corner. Even further on ahead, about 50 meters away, I could see the all-so-desirable fence of the command centre that I was so anxious to get to.

My deliberations lasted less than one second…

Running from machine gun fire across an open field – is sure death. I jumped up and rushed forward with all the strength I had towards the cement pole, ready for a head-on burst of fire. But I was lucky; apparently no one expected such swiftness of me. Only on my fifth step someone had started to move out from behind the corner. Not waiting for the weapon to appear, I fired two shots into the appearing silhouette, and with a huge jump landed behind the pole. I fell onto my left side and fired two more shots along the movement in the space that opened up for me. Some more machine gun fire blasted from around the corner, but it was the “scared”, unaimed type, I could tell because glass splattered broken from the top floor windows. Based on the flashes, the distance between me and the gunmen was about 15 meters. I did not want to shoot again and thus get involved in cross fire. Now there were 30 to 40 meters left between me and the saving fence. A large metal garbage container was exactly half way over.

I pulled my legs in, turned over onto the stomach and as smooth as possible without any jerky movements, I prepared for the next dash. Except it was not a straight sprint to the fence, but I made my lifting up from the ground and the first three steps so that the pole covered me up from the gun men. Then I sharply turned to the fence and spent the last three rounds while running to the garbage container. I aimed lower, hoping for the psychological effect of the ricochets form the pavement to the building wall. I softly fell into the pile of garbage (there was no garbage removal in town for over a month) and quickly rolled myself into it.

For some reason, there was no more shooting form that side, just some commotion. Therefore, not wasting any time for reloading, I dashed to the fence with all my might. I flew over the 2-meter fence that was topped with barbed wire without even touching it. I landed in a puddle on the other side, feverishly reloaded, and only then realized that it was all over.

I sat there in the puddle under the fence for about a minute - soaked, dirty, stinking, and awfully happy. Then the group on duty along with our commanding officer ran up to me. Right away we all rushed to my “battle place” this time through the gates. Of course, everyone was already gone. Based on the empty shells, empty bottles and blood stains we found, we discovered that I accidentally stumbled upon a drunken squabble involving at least three machine guns. We also saw a long blood trail of someone being dragged from that nasty corner. Evidently, not all my shots missed the bull’s eye.

Not just once or twice, later I repeatedly thought of this incident. The total time between my first shot and landing behind the fence was less than 10 seconds. The thing that really saved me was the fact that my mind was working clearly, sharply and calmly. Not once did I have doubt – to run or to shoot. The habit of doing everything simultaneously worked out – firing while moving without concentrating on the process of shooting. It is next to impossible to overcome two or three machine guns in the dark. The incident was rather peculiar, but very informative for me. I got another confirmation that the skill of movements saves lives.