Category Archives: marksmanship

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

Friday Fundamentals – Ball and Dummy

My last post about shooting Dots https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/09/24/marksmanship-practice-shooting-dots/ generated a few questions about whether my ammo was bad. No, I incorporated random Ball and Dummy into the Dot Drill, just as I do in most of my practice sessions. Ball and Dummy, both random and alternating, is an excellent method for evaluating how smooth your trigger press is and if you are refining your sight picture adequately. This is not the same as practicing malfunction clearance, as mentioned in the article.

Highly recommended. My favorite dummies are from ST ACTION PRO. They are inexpensive, highly visible, and don’t get lost on the range as much as others do.

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STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference
https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/stopp-presentation-now-available/

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Books (all PDF)

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What is ball and dummy?

Sometimes, we instructors take our subject matter knowledge for granted. A friend posted that she was pulling a few of her shots low and left. She’s right handed. My reply was ‘ball and dummy.’ She then asked me what that meant.

Ball and dummy means interspersing dummy (inert) ammunition among your live ammunition during a practice session. It’s a key training tool at the elite Rogers Shooting School. The dummies can be random, e.g., three or four dummies in a 15-17 round magazine. They can also be alternating; i.e., live, dummy, live, dummy, live, dummy, etc. for the entire magazine.

The purpose of ball and dummy is to watch the sights when the dummy round is clicked on to learn how smoothly, or not, you are pressing the trigger. Ball and dummy for marksmanship training is NOT the same as an Immediate Action Drill…

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The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis)

Body Worn Video (BWV) not only has value for analysis of Use of Force, it also can be used as a shooting analysis tool. By looking at a BWV in conjunction the results of a subsequent investigation, we can arrive at a more complete picture of the shooting incident.

On May 31, 2020, LAPD officers responded to a radio call of a “murder suspect there now.” Upon arrival, the officers observed the suspect cutting the victim’s throat and an Officer-Involved Shooting (OIS) occurred. The BWV of both officers present was later released by the LAPD. The incident was adjudicated by the LAPD Board of Police Commissioners on May 4, 2021. The shooting was ruled objectively reasonable, necessary, and In Policy. https://www.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/023-20-ois-pr.pdf

A short edited and annotated video of the shooting portion of the incident is available on my YouTube Channel.

Several points can be derived from the BWV and the subsequent investigation and rulings. The first is that there is a significant difference between a shooting and gunfight. Noted firearms authority Ken Hackathorn mentioned years ago that a Private Citizen is just as likely to be involved in a ‘shooting’ as in a ‘gunfight,’ if not more so. In a shooting, there is sufficient cause to use a firearm (deadly force) in defense against an assailant who is armed with a contact weapon or personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.). This incident is a good example. The assailant was armed with a pair of scissors and succeeded in murdering her victim with those scissors.

The cadence of shooting by Officer A is another item we can analyze. The LAPD Force Investigation Division quantified the officer’s splits (time between shots) as follows:

  • Shot 2 – 0.340
  • Shot 3 – 0.286
  • Shot 4 – 0.232
  • Shot 5 – 0.247

The average of those splits was 0.276 seconds, with a total time for the first 5 shots of 1.105. The officer was shooting at a cyclic rate for the first five shots. Although he said he ‘assessed’ between those shots, it’s unlikely there was any assessment between shots 1 through 5. Shot number 6 had a split time of 0.711. That’s the more likely point of there being an assessment of bullet damage, i.e., target effect.

Just like Sergeant Tim Gramins in 2013 https://www.police1.com/officer-shootings/articles/why-one-cop-carries-145-rounds-of-ammo-on-the-job-clGBbLYpnqqHxwMq/ , he may have said to himself, “Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.” I.e., shoot better – meaning, achieve an adequate sight picture and perform a smoother trigger press. What likely occurred by the officer was a ‘Bullet damage assessment’ after 5 shots, followed by a marksmanship improvement and a more accurate 6th shot.

Of the 6 shots fired, 2 were hits. There’s no way to say for sure but the likelihood is that of the first 5 shots, 1 was a hit. The 6th shot was likely a hit and perhaps a better hit that got the message across. Viewed this way, there were actually 2 sequences of fire. Sequence 1 consisted of 5 shots resulting in 1 hit, a 20% hit ratio. Sequence 2 consisted of 1 shot, which resulted in 1 hit, a 100% hit ratio.

Nothing in this analysis is intended as a criticism of the officer. Shooting someone who isn’t immediately adjacent to a victim is difficult enough. Shooting with an innocent downrange and right next to the assailant is a very difficult task that is seldom practiced for.

Although the victim in this case died, there’s a good chance she had been fatally wounded prior to the shooting. The officer did the best he could under the circumstances. Not all situations have a Positive Outcome.

Other items of note were that, as is frequently the case, the officer under-estimated the number of shots he fired. There’s nothing uncommon about that. In most of the Categorical Use of Force reports, when more than two shots are fired, the officer undercounts. On the other hand, the officer estimated the distance of the shot quite accurately. He thought it was 20 to 25 feet and the actual distance was 18 feet. Very few people’s eyeballs are calibrated to better than 10% margin of error for distance.

The full LAPD news release video (NRF023-20) is posted on the LAPD YouTube Channel.

Incidents like these, but involving off duty officer incidents, is why I found my work on Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/ so worthwhile. The off duty Officer Involved Shootings very much mirrored the thousands of Private Citizen Armed Encountered I have studied. However, there was a great deal more detail available about what led up to the encounter and how it unfolded.

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Weight transfer and stance

A good stance helps us minimize the effect of recoil on our ability to deliver multiple shots quickly. It also prepares us to rapidly move to another position, should that be necessary.

The entire post and YouTube link is available on my Patreon page.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/52312807

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Training during uncertain times

My friend David Yamane has an interesting blog post about training last year.

https://gunculture2point0.wordpress.com/2021/05/14/shooting-lessons-during-and-from-covid-times/

The NRA Pistol Marksmanship Simulator Training is a really good course. I’ve taught it several times as private lessons and found the results to be very worthwhile. I’m glad David and Sandy got something out of it.

Tactical Conference 2021 Shootoff

The Shootoff at the Tactical Conference saw some great shooters competing on a simple but challenging Course of Fire. It was well worth watching.

Most people, including gunowners, really don’t understand the capabilities of the handgun. The Shootoff is a good demonstration of what can be done when you know how.

If you would like to read about some real shootouts and learn from them, please click the image below to purchase my book.

What is the Tactical Conference?

The Rangemaster Tactical Conference started as an International Defensive Pistol Association Major Match in the late 1990s. The IDPA Indoor Winter Championship, as it was then called, was held at Rangemaster’s facility at that time in Memphis, Tennessee. The organizer was Tom Givens, the owner of Rangemaster, a long time pistol competitor, and the leading trainer for Tennessee Concealed Pistol Licenses in Memphis. It was a large enough event to be featured as a segment on Shooting USA.

Typically, a shooting match consists of a few minutes of shooting and hours or days of idle time. However, the Winter Indoor Championship presented a unique opportunity because it was held at an indoor range with classrooms. Tom Givens’ relationship with the training industry meant that he was able to host various trainers who could present concurrent lectures about Self-Defense and Personal Protection. Some of the earliest presenters were well known names such as Massad Ayoob, Marty Hayes, and John Farnam.

The Pistol Match is still an integral part of the Conference. All attendees are invited to shoot the Match to get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of their skills. Not everyone shoots it, though, because of the wide variety of other training opportunities that are also available during the three days.

Eventually, the demand for the tactical lectures and training necessitated moving to larger venues. The Memphis Police Academy, US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, and DARC in Little Rock have all been sites over the years. The larger venues allowed a wide variety of instructional blocks, including lectures, live fire shooting classes, and unarmed hands-on training. As the Conference grew, trainers held classes such as Managing Post-Shooting Stress and Trauma, Snub Nose Revolver Skills, Tactical Medicine for the Prepared Citizen, and Home Defense Shotgun Skills.The 2021 Conference was held at the excellent Dallas Pistol Club.

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make was inspired by lessons learned in an Experiential Learning Laboratory session conducted by Craig Douglas of Shivworks at one year’s Conference. The Experiential Learning Laboratory has become a staple each year as a well-structured Force on Force exercise specifically for Armed Private Citizens.

Starting from just a few lectures at its inception, the Conference has grown to an extravaganza of educational offerings attended by hundreds of people over a period of three days. A vast number of training opportunities are made available for the prepared individual. The 2021 Conference featured 54 different blocks of instruction by dozens of different trainers. Some of the sessions repeated to allow attendees access to them because there is so much going on at the Conference.

There is no other opportunity like it available for the Armed Citizen who wishes to be prepared to prevent criminal violence against themselves and their families. The Conference is held in late March each year. The 2022 Conference will be held at the Dallas Pistol Club in Dallas, Texas. Registration opens in May and sells out by October every year.

TacCon 2021 Match

The Rangemaster 2021 Tactical Conference is in the books. A small part of the Conference is the shooting match. Of the over 200 attendees, 161 elected to shoot the match. I didn’t bring a gun because of my flight situation, so I borrowed a 642 from a friend and shot with it. Only three of us shot with revolvers.

All shooters have the opportunity to shoot the first two parts of the Course of Fire.

The first part of the match is shot as a standard exercise using turning targets. This was my target for the Standards. My score was 198. The 99 percent score meant I was able to shoot the tiebreaker.

For those who score 95 percent on the standards, a five round tiebreaker is shot on a B-8 target using Comstock scoring (points divided by time). I shot this well, scoring a 49 but using a lightweight snub nose revolver meant I was slower than I needed to be to get into the shootoffs on Sunday.

The top 16 shooters then enter a man v. man shootoff using a double elimination ladder. The shootoff format uses falling steel targets. Each shooter has an array of three clothed steel target with an eight inch steel circle [Correction about the target: The plate is a vertical rectangle, 5.5″ X 6″. If you run a vertical centerline down the mannequin, and a line across at armpit level, the intersection of those lines is the center of the 5.5″X6″ plate] that has to be hit to make the target fall. After knocking down all the shirt targets, the shooter must knock down the mini-popper in back. The popper that ends up on the bottom determines the winner.

It was a fun match and I’m glad I was able to shoot it.

I’ll be recapping the Conference in the next few posts.

Rangemaster Course of Fire

This is the Course of Fire for the Rangemaster Tactical Conference 2018. It’ somewhat different each year but usually has similar elements to this.

It’s not complicated yet is a good test of marksmanship ability.

Skills conversation about LAPD Shootouts

#fridayfundamentals

I was talking with a friend of mine, who has Been There and Done That (BTDT), about Real Shootouts of the LAPD. He asked:

What was your biggest conclusion after writing the book?

DIA Guy

“When Frank McGee (head of NYPD firearms training in the 70s) said ‘three shots, three yards, three seconds,’ he wasn’t far off the mark” was my response. I still think that on-duty POlice shootouts may be a different story but the off-duty shooting situations are much like those of an Armed Citizen.

We then started talking about the difference between ‘when to shoot’ vis-à-vis ‘how to shoot’ training / practice. He had an interesting take on targets in terms of ‘how to shoot.’

What he tells his students is,

Use a sheet of paper. When you can consistently hit that, fold it in half. When you can consistently hit that, fold it in half again.

How do we combine that concept with ‘three, three, three?’ Since I am a firm believer in consistency, let’s do it three times in a row. That would make it 3X4. I also think context is important, so let’s put the sheet of paper on a silhouette. Place the silhouette at three yards. Fire three shots at the target. Repeat twice for a total of nine rounds fired in three strings of three. Since it’s a three second Par time exercise, you can use a Par timer app on your phone with your earbuds underneath your hearing protection. I like ‘Dry Fire Par Time Tracker’ but there are others.

If all three strings of three shots hit it, fold another sheet of paper in half. You’ll end up with a target 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Repeat the three strings. You should have nine hits on the half sheet of paper.

Assuming you have all nine hits on the half sheet, fold another sheet of paper in half twice. This time your target will be 4.25 x 5.5 inches. Shoot the three strings again.

Now you’ve done a good 27 round workout that is ‘Reality Based.’

When you get home, put your gun away. Get out your Blue Gun, Nerf gun, or water pistol and do some ‘when to shoot’ exercises.

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