Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 3)

The second Fundamental of Pistol Shooting is:

‘Visually index the pistol on target.’

This post is NOT intended to arouse more of the point shooting versus sighted fire debate. Those arguments are loaded with fuzzy definitions and the Telephone Game. The Telephone Game and the Training Industry Rather, it is an acknowledgement that humans are visual creatures. We are much more adept at hand-eye coordination when the eye guides the hand. Try hammering a nail sometime without being able to see the nail head. It doesn’t work very well.

Even Fairbairn and Sykes tacitly acknowledged this in Shooting to Live. Notice the Firing Position that they began their Preliminary Course for Recruits with. It clearly demonstrates a visual reference to the target, even if that doesn’t include ‘aiming’ using the sights.

Another frequently overlooked concept in Shooting to Live is to “cover the aiming mark.” While not well explained in the book, it seems to imply the principle of ‘spot shooting’ Spot shooting that their contemporary Ed McGivern talked about explicitly.

The late great Jimmy Cirillo RIP Jim Cirillo developed a similar technique for teaching POlice officers. He called it the “weapon silhouette point.” With this technique, the silhouette of the gun, rather than the sights, is visually indexed on the target. Jimmy would actually tape the sights of the pistol to show that they were not required to make effective hits at close range. However, the gun itself had to be aligned on the target for the technique to be effective. Even without using the sights, there were aspects of spot shooting in classes that he conducted.

It’s worthwhile to keep in mind Tom Givens’ https://rangemaster.com/ comment about how inadequate the sights of autoloading pistols were in 1942 when Shooting to Live was written. Scott Jedlinski of the Modern Samurai Project https://www.modernsamuraiproject.com/ made a humorous quip at this year’s Rangemaster Tactical Conference. What is the Tactical Conference?

1911 sights in those days were ‘suggestions.’

The bottom line is that the most important line in pistol shooting is the eye-target line. The closer we get the gun to that line, the better our hits will be, even if TJ Hooker did teach you to keep the gun low.

https://youtu.be/UxvBPjJ6A0c?t=9

Part I of the Series Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 1)

Part II of the Series Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 2)

The next segment will cover ‘Press the trigger smoothly and straight to the rear.’

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Chicago Concealed Carry in the news

It pains me that my hometown of Chicargo has now become infamous as perhaps the murder capital of the world. The situation is so outrageous that I give thanks regularly I no longer live there.

Nearly 50 Shot During Weekend in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/11/08/nearly-50-shot-during-weekend-in-mayor-lori-lightfoots-chicago/

The good news about Chicago now is that Private Citizens have the legal capability to carry firearms for personal protection.

Elderly retired firefighter with concealed carry [License] shoots Chicago robber dead: police

https://www.foxnews.com/us/chicago-elderly-man-firefighter-shoots-kills-robber

Chicago conceal carry [License] holder guns down car thief after being shot at in the street

https://www.foxnews.com/us/chicago-licensed-carry-holder-guns-down-car-thief-response-being-shot

It’s always entertaining when the media uses the term “guns down.” Makes it sound like an unlawful killing, even when it’s not.

Those of us who wanted to carry when I lived there either had to do so illegally or go through some rigmarole such as working an unpaid shift as a Cook County bailiff each month.

The story about the elderly firefighter defending himself pleases me so much that I’m offering Concealed Carry Skills and Drills and Indoor Range Practice Sessions along with a face target of the notorious BTK murderer for only $7.99. As always, my most important work, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included at no extra cost.

Link to package:

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3384555

The custom face target, included as a PDF in the package.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is:

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Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 2)

#fridayfundamentals

Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 1)

The first Fundamental of Pistol Shooting is:

  • Grip the pistol firmly.

The proper grip for any handgun should accomplish several objectives:

  1. Maximize our hand friction on the handgun. The way we prevent the handgun from moving around in our hand(s) is simply via friction. Therefore, the more hand surface we have in contact with the gun, the more friction we can achieve.
  2. Minimize the gun’s motion during recoil by stabilizing the supporting joints, principally the wrists, when the gun fires.
  3. Reduce the distance between the line of the handgun’s bore and our hands to the smallest amount possible. This diminishes the rotational torque generated by the handgun upon firing.

After establishing the appropriate grip, a series of index points can be used to feel when the grip has been properly achieved. Especially in defensive encounters, there is no time for visually checking whether the proper grip is in place. Having a set of index points allows a shooter to establish a proper firing grip in the holster and during the drawstroke to know that the grip is as it should be.

A previous blog post covered the grip in detail with illustrations. Click the image below to go to that post.

There have been endless discussions and opinions about how tightly to grip the pistol. These range from the ‘convulsive’ grip of the Fairbairn-Sykes-Applegate technique to the percentages of grip with both hands as explained by the Modern Technique/IPSC/USPSA school of thought.

Probably the easiest way to think about it is to grip the pistol as tightly as you would a hammer or baseball bat. Both hammers and baseball bats require you to grip the tool tightly enough to prevent it from moving in your hand before, during, and after an impact. That’s the same thing we’re trying to accomplish with the pistol.

The next segment will cover ‘Visually index the pistol on target.’

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Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is: https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Points of Likely Contact

Sometimes we can be aware of danger zones and other times we can be on the lookout for specific spots where a predator might lay in ambush for the unsuspecting. The latter can be described as Points of Likely Contact. Recessed doorways, pillars inside parking garages, and dumpsters are examples of PoLC.

Today as I was on my daily walk, I noticed a suspicious individual hanging out behind a dumpster I pass by. There’s not really any good reason for someone to be hanging around a dumpster at noon that I can think of. So I made a detour through another pathway and walked around the front of the building instead of behind it.

This situation is a good example of Area of Interest and Area of Influence.

I’m interested in an Area that far exceeds the range of my weapons or a predator’s weapons. In this case, I saw him at least 35 yards away, so I had plenty of time and space to make a detour. No need to make any contact with lowlifes at all, if I can Avoid them. Avoid is the first, and most desirable, element of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist paradigm.

When the terrain permits, my Area of Interest is 100 yards or more. For example, the distance from the turn lane guidepoles to the traffic light is about 130 yards. I’m actively watching distances that far away when I can.

I keep my eyes on the horizon whenever I can. That maximizes my view of my Area of Interest. This is also a good technique when driving. Look past the bumper of the car in front of you and as far into the traffic ahead as you can.

New Package Deal

It was suggested that I create a package of the STOPP Presentation and Advanced Pistol Practice. That package is now available at:

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3384448

As with all of my materials, purchase of the package also includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

When the time for talking is over

#mindsetmonday

When someone pulls a deadly weapon on you, the time for posturing and talking is over. Regardless of whether it’s an edged weapon, gun, or impact tool, at that point the adversary has displayed deadly intent. In terms of the Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist paradigm, you should either be Escaping or Resisting not Confronting.

You might use some De-escalation words as you move away, but that’s merely a ploy to buy time not a serious attempt to defuse the situation.

“They say running is good for your health, in my neighborhood, it can save your life.” –Chicargo humor

The need for this mindset was very clear in the Calvin ‘Mad Dog’ Gonnigan incident https://wgntv.com/news/courts-man-killed-1-wounded-2-in-south-austin-after-plea-to-stop-shooting-gun-on-july-4/. It also applied to several other incidents that have been brought to my attention recently.

Practice changing direction quickly and be ready to do it at a moment’s notice. Break Contact as soon as you can.

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Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 1)

#fridayfundamentals

Fundamentals Bookmark

During my time teaching at the elite Rogers Shooting School, I refined the Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting down to Four elements. In order of doing them, they are:

  • Grip the pistol firmly.
  • See the sights.
  • Press the trigger smoothly.
  • Follow through.

Any time a shooter missed a target before it went away, (disappearing targets do that) not performing one element on that list was the cause.

Over time, nuances of those elements have changed in my mind about how to explain them but the basic concepts remain the same. Now I break the process into two phases, ‘Preparing for the Shot’ and ‘Making the Shot.’ The reason is that between the two mechanical, i.e., physical, phases there are two decisions that have to be made; 1) the Don’t Shoot/Shoot decision and 2) whether the preparation for the shot is adequate to make a hit. The concept of making a decision about adequate preparation was developed by my colleague Brian Hill of The Complete Combatant http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/ and it’s right on target, no pun intended.

The overall process could be described as:

  • Prepare for the shot
    • Grip the pistol firmly
    • Visually index the pistol on target
  • Decide
    • Don’t Shoot/Shoot
    • Whether there is adequate preparation to make a hit
  • Make the shot
    • Press the trigger smoothly and straight to the rear
    • Follow through

The decision step is a mental process, not a physical one, so it will not be included in this series.

Training aids and Memory aids are useful tools. As a Memory aid for the Fundamentals, I’ve created the bookmark shown at the beginning of the post to provide a quick reference guide to the mechanical aspects of the Fundamentals. The PDF is attached so you can download it, print it, fold it, and use it as an everyday reminder to keep the Fundamentals fresh in your mind.

This series will have an additional four Parts on the next four Fridays. Each post will explain one element of the Fundamentals in greater detail. I hope you will find the series useful.

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Don’ts in the news

Several don’ts can be seen in this incident and the subsequent story.

  • Don’t go outside to investigate noises in the night.
  • Don’t challenge people who are not on your property.
  • Don’t shoot someone in the back when he is running away from you.
  • Don’t make comments on a public forum that you think this kind of behavior is justifiable and/or commendable.

Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life

The arrest report for the incident states that the shootee is intubated and unable to make a statement. Odds are good that Mr. Locke is going to do time in prison for Aggravated Battery with a Firearm. Think clearly about what your Mission is and what Negative Outcomes can occur to you. Do your thinking and planning ahead of time. Program yourself mentally for Positive Outcomes and avoiding Serious Mistakes.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF) — Note: bad links fixed

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STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

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Skills involved in the Oakland Incident (Part I)

#saturdayskills

An aspect of POlice Use of Deadly Force incidents is that they tend to receive more media and other coverage than successful Private Citizen incidents. Captain (Ret.) Ersie Joyner’s gas station shootout in Oakland https://www.ktvu.com/news/retired-oakland-police-captain-wounded-1-other-killed-during-gas-station-gun-battle is no exception. Given the media’s bias, if this had occurred to a lawfully carrying Private Citizen, it’s unlikely it would have received the degree of favorable coverage it has. The amount of coverage works in our favor when viewing it from the standpoint of Lessons to be Learned.

The surveillance video of the incident gives us a very definite view of the skillset Captain Joyner used. It also gives us the opportunity to wargame other skills or tactics that would have been desirable.

  1. Wait for an opportunity to escape or counterattack
  2. Create distance while maintaining visual contact with assailants
  3. Establish grip
  4. Make the Draw Decision
  5. Draw to the eye-target line
  6. Engage Mr. Red, preferably with at least two rounds
  7. Transition 60 degrees and engage Mr. Black, preferably with at least two rounds
  8. Actual Positioning – pursue into the open
  9. Alternative Positioning – pursue to a position of cover or at least concealment
  10. Desirable Positioning – create even more distance
  11. Desirable Positioning – take cover

Tasks 3, 5, 6, and 7 constitute the solution to the shooting aspects of the incident. Individually, they are very similar to the 6 and 10 foot Stages of the Louisiana Qual Course video.

Just as with the off-duty incidents chronicled in Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/, it’s not hard to picture a Private Citizen becoming involved in exactly this same scenario. If Kalifornia had a Shall Issue system for issuing licenses/permits to carry handguns, it’s probable that more such Outcomes would occur.

An interesting aspect of the incident was that despite three robbers physically searching the victim, his concealed handgun was not discovered. This seems unusual. A distinct possibility is that he carried a small pistol in his pocket. At the moment he began to access his handgun, his elbow position is much more consistent with a pocket draw than either an Appendix or Hip carry draw.

Task 3, Establish Grip, is the most time consuming part of the drawstroke. Surreptitiously being able to Establish Grip while creating distance and prior to making the Draw Decision would explain how Captain Joyner was able to Draw and Engage so quickly. The ability to Establish Grip without making the motions commonly associated with drawing a pistol is one of the strengths of pocket carry. In many cases, it’s possible to shield an attacker’s view of Establishing Grip by slightly blading one’s body, although Captain Joyner didn’t do that in this case.

Captain Joyner must be exceptionally coordinated because when executing Task 2, Create Distance, he was actually able to take three steps backward without tripping over his own feet. He was able to do this even while he was in the process of Establishing Grip. Humorously speaking, since we’ve been told that tripping over one’s feet when walking backward is almost inevitable, this was an absolutely amazing display of physical prowess. In actuality, using a dragging shuffle step probably would have been more of a giveaway to his assailants than simply walking backward.

The mother of the deceased robber made the statement to the press, “death was not the answer. many people act unruly and even commit crimes in young adulthood, but go on to lead productive lives.” Captain Joyner clearly felt that his own death was not the answer and good for him for making that decision. Even if a criminal doesn’t intend to shoot you, it doesn’t mean they won’t have an Unintentional Discharge and kill you ‘by accident.’

More about the skills involved and how to practice them will be covered in a future Part II.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF) — Note: bad links fixed

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Breaking Contact (Part 6)

#walkbackwednesday

It makes me happy that my thoughts about the explicit difference in the missions of Law Enforcement and Private Citizens are becoming mainstream. I appreciate the various members of the training community who are amplifying my concept that Breaking Contact is the fundamental mission of Private Citizens in self-defense or defense of others. My colleague John Correia has produced an excellent video about a recent incident with numerous learning points in it.

My initial takeaways from the ASP video.

  • pay attention and recognize when you’re in a transitional space
  • when your gas gets started pumping, step around to the other side of your vehicle
  • purposeful compliance until your counter-attack or escape opportunity arises
  • counter ambush (i.e., counter-attack)
  • different missions between law enforcement officers and private citizens
    • the mission for a private citizen defensive encounter is to break contact
  • only hits count (close range precision marksmanship)

The close range precision marksmanship of this incident are particularly noticeable in the video. Although Mr. Red was only double arm’s length (5 feet) away, he was also in profile. His target area in total was no larger than a sheet of paper in portrait mode.

Mr. Black was about triple arm’s length (8 feet) away. Like Mr. Red, he was also a profile target and his target area was not very large.

The ability to hit an eight inch circle or even smaller target at close range with the first shot can be essential to survival. Regardless of what one thinks about using the sights under stress, it’s obvious that Captain Joyner had his pistol in his eye-target line. He did this despite both attackers being within proxemic Social Space. An important note about Captain Joyner is that this wasn’t his first rodeo; Oakland is a tough place.

Over his career, Joyner was involved in five shootings as an officer

KTVU

Breaking Contact is one of the fundamental concepts of Thinking Clearly about Self-defense and Personal Protection https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208 It’s a strategy in the sense of doing the right things, as opposed to tactics, which are doing things right.

CCW Safe https://ccwsafe.com/ did an excellent series of blog posts about the concept of Breaking Contact. The key principle and goal is contained in the first post.

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

My article about the basic philosophy of breaking contact is here.

The Oakland POlice Department has posted a clear picture of the getaway vehicle.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

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The Baldwin Killing (Part I)

Since I’ve been asked several times my opinion about the Baldwin Killing, I’ll address those questions from the perspective of firearms safety only. The incident is a high profile example of a Serious Mistake leading to a Negative Outcome. Such a tragic event bears analysis to see what are the lessons that can be learned to prevent other such incidents, either on a movie set or in our personal lives, in the future.

For those who haven’t read the news lately, actor Alec Baldwin unintentionally discharged a revolver on a movie set last week. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/alec-baldwin-shooting-halyna-hutchins-latest-b1945263.html The film’s Cinematographer was killed by a single bullet that struck her in the torso and the Director was injured. RIP Ms. Hutchins.

Those who are interested in a legal aspects of the case can find my colleague Andrew Branca’s initial legal analysis on YouTube. https://youtu.be/upDuj8Ec Such an analysis is out of my league, so I will stay in my own lane and confine my comments to safety.

What occurred points out a very simple fact of life:

Firearms, like electricity, are relentlessly unforgiving of the slightest lapse in attention

The Tactical Professor

One of the slides in the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course states that Ignorance and Carelessness are the causes of firearms accidents.

NRA Training Department

The concept of ‘tolerance stackup’ often applies when an Unintentional Discharge occurs. By this we mean that when Ignorance and Carelessness overlap each other, the possibility of a Negative Outcome dramatically increases. Sadly for Ms. Hutchins, she was downrange when that overlap occurred.

A comment was made on an earlier version of Andrew’s video about the probability that the gun being used was a single action revolver. The commentator noted that the manual of arms of a single action is more complicated than a modern autoloading pistol. The extra steps involved in clearing a single action may have contributed to the discharge. For once, a comment was worth reading. Extra caution needs to be taken when handing firearms that have an unfamiliar and perhaps difficult manual of arms. That’s definitely a lesson that can be taken away from the incident.

There is no standard manual of arms that can be applied across all firearms, even modern ones. For instance, the Ruger LCP has a manual device for locking open the action but it does not lock open automatically. Conversely, the KelTec P-32 and P3AT do not have an external device to lock open the slide and require an empty magazine to do so. Despite the fact that the guns look very similar, they operate differently and require the operator to understand how to work them.

Another comment on the earlier Branca video came from a POlice firearms instructor who said there were at least 11 different firearms safety rules that have to be observed on any firearms range. While a case can be made for that argument, 11 or more rules constitutes a checklist that has to be written down. The need for long lists to be written down, i.e., a checklist, was learned in aviation somewhere around a century ago. While appropriate for range operators, and perhaps the film’s armorer, it’s not compatible with the way the human mind works. A memory aid has to be short, e.g., the Four Rules, or organized as an acronym, e.g., SALUTE.

The Four Rules of Safe Gunhandling are a good memory aid. However, we need to keep in mind that a memory aid is not a full explanation of the concepts being remembered, it is merely a way to jog our memories about what the base concepts are so we can apply them fully. The distinction between checklists, memory aids, and the concepts either are based on is another lesson we can take away from The Baldwin Killing.

“That could never happen to me” thinking is one reason I developed the underlying concepts contained in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com years ago. I didn’t intend it for Hollywood actors but in retrospect, I wish the entire crew of the movie had read it. I’m not trying to be facetious or unkind to Ms. Hutchins’ memory by saying that.

More thoughts about The Baldwin Killing tomorrow.

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Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

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