Tactical Shooting: Street Kings

You want to be a gunfighter, huh?

– LAPD Detective Tom Ludlow in Street Kings (2008)

 

Street Kings (2008) is about LAPD Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), a member of the Vice Special unit that seems to be inspired by the real LAPD’s controversial Special Investigations Section (SIS), a unit that got a reputation as a “gunfighting” outfit in the late 1980s. Ludlow is a renegade “gunfighter” caught up both in his own post-traumatic stress disorder and in larger issues having to do with in-service corruption and power struggles.

sd_ts_street-kings

Owing to the theme of the film, there are several well-executed shootouts. I will examine one of these here in detail using the rules in GURPS Tactical Shooting. To make things manageable, I am concentrating on the tail end of the fight.

Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS.

Round per Round

Prelude: Ludlow is a shooter (GURPS Action 1: Heroes, p. 14) proficient in the Modern Pistol shooting style (Tactical Shooting, pp. 48-49). Ludlow and an associate, Detective Paul Diskant, have taken matters into their own hands to bring down two dangerous criminals known as “Coates” and “Fremont.” Their reluctant informant “Scribbles” has led them to a rundown apartment where a meet had been arranged. Things quickly escalated and both Diskant and “Scribbles” have been killed. Ludlow is trapped behind a bullet-riddled sofa, his personal Colt Government MK IV Series 80 semiautomatic pistol in .45 ACP (GURPS High-Tech, p. 98) in the right hand, a SureFire 6P small tactical light in the left (High-Tech, p. 52, and Tactical Shooting, p. 19). The pistol has been heavily gunsmithed and boasts adjustable sights and a trigger job (making it Fine (Accurate) for +1 Acc, High-Tech, p. 79), polished components and new springs (making it Fine (Reliable), High-Tech, p. 79), and an extended slide release and bevelled magazine well (+1 Fast-Draw (Ammo), Tactical Shooting, p. 74). Ludlow almost certainly has the Weapon Bond perk for this (High-Tech, p. 250, and Tactical Shooting, p. 41). The 7-round magazine is full. It is loaded with hollow-points (High-Tech, pp. 166-167, and Tactical Shooting, p. 78) ‒ “serious manstoppers.” Ludlow is slightly wounded, having received a flesh wound from a 9×19mm Parabellum round in his left arm. The injury does not penalize him. “Coates” has an empty SIG-Sauer P239 semiautomatic pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum, “Fremont” has just emptied his S&W Model 76 submachine gun in 9×19mm Parabellum (GURPS SEALs in Vietnam, p. 27). It is night-time and the apartment is lit by several interior lights, for -2 Vision (Tactical Shooting, p. 18). Outnumbered and outgunned, Ludlow decides to hit the lights

1st Second: At his turn, Ludlow takes a Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from prone to kneeling. At his turn, “Coates” takes a Move manoeuvre and retreats deeper into the apartment, being out of ammunition. At his turn, “Fremont” takes a Move manoeuvre and retreats deeper into the apartment.

2nd Second: At his turn, Ludlow takes a Change Posture manoeuvre and gets up from kneeling to standing. He assumes the Harries Stance, a two-handed handgun stance (Tactical Shooting, pp. 11-12) that allows him to use the pistol and tactical light simultaneously (Tactical Shooting, p. 19); he had already brought the hands together before he got up. At his turn, “Coates” takes a Move manoeuvre and retreats deeper into the apartment. At his turn, “Fremont” takes a Move manoeuvre and retreats deeper into the apartment.

3rd Second: At his turn, Ludlow takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires one two-handed sighted (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) shot at a green light panel; -1 (size) -1 (range) -2 (darkness) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (Weapon Bond) = -2 to Guns (Pistol). Ludlow succeeds and the light is destroyed. [The darkness penalty is now -4.] “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. “Fremont” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

4th Second: Ludlow takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires one two-handed sighted shot at a telly; -1 (size) -1 (range) -4 (darkness) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (Weapon Bond) = -4 to Guns (Pistol). Ludlow succeeds and the light is destroyed. [The darkness penalty is now -5.] “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. “Fremont” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

5th Second: Ludlow takes a Move manoeuvre and moves several steps inside the apartment. “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. “Fremont” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

6th Second: Ludlow takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires one two-handed sighted shot at a white light; -6 (size) +0 (range) -5 (darkness) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (Weapon Bond) = -9 to Guns (Pistol). Ludlow succeeds and the light is destroyed. [The darkness penalty is now -8.] “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. “Fremont” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre and drops the submachine gun.

6th Second: Ludlow takes a Move manoeuvre. “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. “Fremont” takes a Ready manoeuvre and draws his Glock 17 semiautomatic pistol in 9×19mm Parabellum (High-Tech, p. 100).

7th Second: Ludlow takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre, “dazzling” “Fremont” with his tactical light (Tactical Shooting, p. 18). “Fremont” must make a HT-4 roll, which he fails critically and is suddenly blinded (p. B124) for as many seconds as the margin of his failure. “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre and drops his empty pistol. “Fremont” takes a Ready manoeuvre and changes to a two-handed grip on his pistol.

8th Second: Ludlow fires one two-handed sighted shot at “Fremont”; +0 (range) -1 (darkness due to tactical light) -3 (vitals hit location) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (Weapon Bond) = -2 to Guns (Pistol). Ludlow possibly has the Targeted Attack (Pistol/Vitals) technique (Tactical Shooting, p. 45) to buy off half of the hit location penalty, which would improve this to +0 to Guns (Pistol). Ludlow succeeds and “Fremont” fails his Dodge roll; -10 (suddenly blind). The shot hits “Fremont” in the vitals for three times 2d pi++ (average 21 points) damage; “Fremont” is at -1×HP or less (p. B419). This major wound (p. B420) to the vitals forces an immediate HT-5 roll to avoid knockdown and another immediate HT roll to avoid dying. “Fremont” fails either or both of these and collapses. “Coates” takes a Ready manoeuvre and picks up a Mossberg Model 500ATP6 pump-action shotgun in 12-gauge 3” with 5-round side carrier (Tactical Shooting, p. 73).

9th Second: Ludlow takes a Move manoeuvre. “Coates” takes a Move manoeuvre.

10th Second: Ludlow takes a Move manoeuvre and hides behind a refrigerator/freezer combination. “Coates” takes a Move manoeuvre.

11th Second: Ludlow takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre. “Coates” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires one shot of buckshot at Ludlow behind the fridge (p. B408): +0 (range) -8 (darkness) -5 (completely behind cover) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (RoF of the 9-pellet load) = -10 to Guns (Shotgun). [Ordinarily, the penalty for shooting at someone completely behind cover is -10. However, the fridge is not much larger than the man behind it, so it makes sense to considerably reduce the penalty.] “Coates” misses Ludlow but hits the fridge. The fridge provides only DR 2* or so as cover (compare Tactical Shooting, p. 30) and the buckshot goes straight through it.

12th Second:  Ludlow takes an All-Out Defence manoeuvre and flattens against the wall. “Coates” takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires one shot of buckshot at Ludlow behind the fridge: +0 (range) -8 (darkness) -5 (completely behind cover) +1 (All-Out Attack) +2 (RoF of the 9-pellet load) = -10 to Guns (Shotgun). “Coates” misses Ludlow but hits the fridge. The shot again goes through.

13th Second: Ludlow takes an Attack manoeuvre and pushes the fridge with both hands one step towards “Coates.” He can move 12×BL (p. B353). Even with ST 10, Ludlow could move 240 lbs. [Actually he probably has higher ST.] The fridge looks like it weighs less than 200 lbs, easily allowing this feat. “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

14th Second: Ludlow takes an Attack manoeuvre and pushes the fridge with both hands another step towards “Coates.” “Coates” takes a Do Nothing manoeuvre.

15th Second: Ludlow takes an Attack manoeuvre and pushes the fridge with both hands another step towards “Coates” and tries to grapple (p. B370) him between the fridge and the wall; DX roll. Ludlow succeeds and “Coates” fails his Dodge roll. He is grappled. “Coates” takes an Attack manoeuvre to Break Free (p. B371). This requires a Quick Contest of Ludlow’s ST+10 against “Coates” ST. Ludlow wins and “Coates” remains grappled.

16th Second: Ludlow takes an All-Out Attack (Determined) manoeuvre and fires one one-handed (Tactical Shooting, p. 11) unsighted (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) close-contact shot (Tactical Shooting, p. 13) using a Pop-Up Attack (p. B390) at “Coates”: +0 (range) -8 (darkness) +4 (All-Out Attack) -2 (Pop-Up Attack) -4 (skull hit location) +1 (All-Out Attack) +1 (Weapon Bond) = -8 to Guns (Pistol). [Ordinarily, the penalty for the skull hit location is -7 (p. B399), but since there is really nothing else visible from Ludlow’s position, it has been halved.] Ludlow succeeds. “Coates” is at  -1 (grappled) to Dodge. He fails. The shot hits “Coates” in the skull for four times 2d pi++ (average 28 points) damage; “Coates” is at -1×HP or less. This major wound to the skull forces an immediate HT-10 roll to avoid knockdown and another immediate HT roll to avoid dying. “Coates” fails either or both of these and collapses.

 

In the film, the scene is 29 seconds long, as it cuts between showing the different characters, although much of the action evolves simultaneously.

Results

If you have a low-capacity weapon, it pays to be an accurate, economic shooter.

In a gunfight, it will not do to simply wave your flashlight around. You need proper technique and light discipline to take full advantage of your light. If you do, it may well decide the fight.

Furniture such as a fridge or sofa is not bullet-proof (Tactical Shooting, pp. 29-30), regardless of what decades of cinema and telly have taught you. Unless, of course, you are Sarah Connor and have lined your recliner with Kevlar, as seen in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles #1.1 (2008).

Note how “Coates” and “Fremont” spend a lot of turns with Do Nothing manoeuvres. While this can be explained with the shift of viewpoints and the fact that we often actually do not see what they are doing, that they have both emptied their weapons, and that, not unrealistically, they wait for Ludlow to come to them, PCs cannot be expected to act like this.

Also note how “slow” the scene feels due to the fact that everybody deliberately fires single shots. A shooter armed with a pistol with a higher capacity would probably fire more shots than Ludlow does here. Similarly, a proficient shotgunner would probably fire considerably faster than “Coates.” BOOM-pause-rack-pause-BOOM-pause-rack is the mark of the inexperienced – or showy – shooter. Shotgunners meaning business sound more like BOOMrack-BOOMrack.

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