The 3 Ds of Lateral Movement

Premium Video Preview: Log in or become a member to get full access.
Duration: 5:07

Membership Options


Sign up for premium membership and get access to our best personal defense videos. Learn no-nonsense training tips and techniques from personal defense and firearm experts. Anytime. Anywhere.
Monthly $8.00
Annually $69.00


Upgrade to GOLD membership and get unlimited access to our entire library of premium personal defense videos, receive discounts on DVDs, video downloads, and classes in the shop. In addition, you’ll receive nine video downloads, two full-length classes, two skill development presentations, access to GOLD member LIVE events, and so much more!
Annually $135.00

Lateral movement is moving off line from the line of attack to the threat or the target we’re using to simulate the threat. The reason we do lateral movement is to get used to moving while we’re doing our gun handling. As Rob Pincus says, if the gun or some part of the gun is moving, such as the magazine or the slide, and you are not actually shooting at the target, you should be moving too.


Why? Because moving off the line of attack makes it harder for the bad guy to hurt you. It’s a basic self-defense training technique. But to be clear, we’re not talking about dodging bullets. We’re talking about the fact that the human brain tracks motion predictively. If you can make the bad guy think you’re going to keep moving in a certain direction but then you suddenly stop, that throws off the tracking mechanism of someone who is focused on you and trying to hurt you.

This works whether the person is charging at you, shooting at you, throwing knives at you, or other kinds of attack. If they’re focused on you and you move, they’re going to look for you to keep moving. This is how the human brain works. Using an example from football, if you’re going to tackle someone, you don’t run to where they are; you run to where you think they’re going to be. The sudden stop throws the other person (the attacker) off.


Incorporate movement into your handgun training and practice when you are performing any of these actions:

— on a malfunction response
— reloading the gun
— drawing from the holster
— extending from the ready position


The 3 Ds are:

Distance: You should move laterally at least one body width. Any lesser distance and the attacker will not be invested in your movement.

Direction: off line from the line of attack aka perpendicular to the line of attack.

Duration: How long should you move? The duration depends entirely on what you are doing. For example, if you’re extending from the ready position, the time is very short. But if you’re coming from a concealed carry position, the duration is longer and you’ll get a few steps in.