Category Archives: skills

Intended Victim not ‘Subject’

The man did not know he was being followed according to police and once at the man’s home, [the shootee] allegedly produced a firearm and confronted the subject [sic] as he was trying to get out of his vehicle and go into his home.

https://wfxl.com/news/local/valdosta-shooting-ruled-self-defense

‘Subject,’ in POlice terms, is almost always used in the context of a wrong doer. In current times, the default treatment of anyone who shoots someone else is that the shooter is a criminal who must then prove his or her innocence. While some States provide some legal protection for self-defense, unless you never travel outside the county you live in, those protections cannot be relied on. ‘Stand Your Ground’ should always be viewed as a courtroom strategy not a tactical option. Keep that in mind. Do your best to AVOID or ESCAPE prior to being forced into CONFRONT or RESIST.

Surveillance Detection is a useful skill. Your car mirrors are a tool for you to use frequently, especially at 5AM. It’s beneficial to always take a few turns for Surveillance Detection purposes prior to committing yourself to turning into your driveway or other place you cannot escape from. Once you are Decisively Engaged https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/situational-awareness-and-positioning-part-i/ because your path is blocked, you are forced to CONFRONT or RESIST.

Note also that “the man was able to retrieve a handgun of his own.” ‘Retrieve’ most likely means that the gun was in the car not on his person. This mention is not intended as commentary about leaving unsecured guns in cars. Rather, it is an observation that many of the incidents in my database involve successfully accessing guns that are stored off-body.

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Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Trigger Press or Alignment on Target?

#fridayfundamentals

In the context of Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/05/08/3x3x3-level-one/, which is more important, trigger press or alignment on target? The conventional wisdom is that trigger press is the important factor in making hit in a self-defense situation. I’m always cautious about the metrics that underlie assumptions and doctrine, though.

Certainly, when shooting a B-8 target, trigger press is an important skill. However, if the gun isn’t in line with the target, does a smooth trigger press have any value? While this may seem like an advocacy of point shooting, it’s not, but that discussion is for another post.

This video is a preliminary experiment of aligning the gun on the target and then yanking/jerking the trigger. The pistol used is the gun with the trigger everyone loves to hate, a KelTec P32.

At this point, it’s just an experiment to me. What I’d like to have is more input from other shooters because I’m no longer neurologically equipped to yank/jerk the trigger.

Doing the experiment is fairly simple and only requires five rounds. A target is attached to this post.

At 3 yards, aim at the heart on the target, touch the trigger face, and then fire 1 shot with a trigger jerk. Repeat 4 times for 5 shots total. Email me, tacticalprofessor@gmail.com, a picture of your results. I’ll randomly award a package of my books to one person who sends me their results.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

The Sandra Ochoa Incident (Shooting Analysis II)

In a previous post https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/08/17/the-sandra-ochoa-incident-shooting-analysis/, I discussed Officer A’s shooting performance during the incident. The weapon system manipulation aspects also bear discussion.

This incident forced Officer A to manipulate two different flashlights in rapid succession. He approached the scene with a hand held light, which most industry professionals would consider a best practice. At the gate, he immediately had to make a SHOOT decision and held onto his handheld light while shooting using his weapon mounted light. His shooting grip was compromised as a result. This image capture is from immediately after his sixth shot.

It’s apparent he is holding onto his handheld light with the ring and little fingers of his Support (left) Hand and trying to wrap his index and middle fingers around his pistol. The compromised grip may have been part of the reason for his low hit rate with the first five shots. This observation is not a criticism of Officer A, rather it’s a recognition of the complexity of the manipulation problem he encountered. Having and rapidly using two different types of flashlight in succession is not a training drill we often practice, myself included.

As is often the case, technology has advanced more rapidly than practical doctrine for using it. Several possibilities arise for using the two lights.

  1. Simply do the best you can with what you’ve got, as Officer A was forced to do.
  2. Shoot one handed, while maintaining control of the handheld light in the Support Hand.
  3. Drop the handheld, shoot with the weapon mounted light, and then retrieve the handheld light when necessary or feasible.
  4. Have the handheld on a large flexible ring that allows it to be dropped without losing total control of it. This is the approach I am currently experimenting with.

It’s worth noting that one incident in Real Shootouts of the LAPD involved the use of a flashlight. Also, some of the tragedies referenced in Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make could have been averted by the use of a flashlight. The Ochoa Incident gives us some food for thought about the need for doctrine and practice with flashlights.

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How useful are sights on a pistol?

Since I’ve gathered some data on the topic in the past, I am going to link to a Lucky Gunner article about using the sights on a pistol.

https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/are-pistol-sights-actually-useful-for-self-defense/

I did an experiment years ago in which 10 different experienced shooters tried point shooting a single round at a silhouette starting at one yard. Then the distance was increased one yard at a time for the group. To test whether some form of visual indexing to the pistol was necessary, each shooter had a piece of cardboard placed horizontally in front of him at neck level so there was absolutely no visual reference to the pistol’s orientation. There was no time limit, the shooters were free to adjust their pointing until they thought they were on target.

The bullets starting hitting the ground at two yards. Only one shooter was able to make a hit anywhere on the silhouette at 5 yards and that was a peripheral hit. I discontinued the experiment at that point.

I figured out everything I needed to know about hitting a target without visual reference to the gun and with the gun below the eye-target line from that experiment.

Using the sights (i.e., getting the pistol into the eye-target line) is how we learn to kinesthetically index the handgun. Ask someone to point their finger at any object. Notice they don’t do it outside of their ‘workspace’ the more or less basketball sized space in front of the chest, properly called the ‘ipsilateral visual field.’

We may not always use the sights in a fight but training with them is how we learn to correctly index the pistol kinesthetically.

Training the trigger finger

#fridayfundamentals

The trigger finger should move back as parallel to the bore as possible when pressing the trigger. Here’s a little exercise I designed at the elite Rogers Shooting School to help our clients practice moving the finger correctly. It requires no equipment and gives biofeedback on your performance. It is also the safest form of dry practice, other than from quizzical looks by others.

For revolver shooters, this is a powerful learning exercise.

I enjoy wearing my NRA Certified Instructor cap when I’m teaching, even when it’s not an NRA class. 🙂

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.

Downrange Incident in Rock Hill

This story is about what I call a “downrange incident,” meaning that innocent parties are downrange and in close proximity to the criminal when the shot needs to be fired.

During the initial investigation process, officials learned the 19-year-old allegedly initiated a verbal altercation with others in the apartment. Authorities said the altercation then escalated when the 19-year-old began assaulting those in the apartment and threatened to kill them. The 19-year-old strangled a male who[m] he assaulted, officials said, and was then shot by another person in the apartment in an attempt to stop the attack. Officers said the 19-year-old then turned and started strangling a female in the apartment. He was then shot a second time, then collapsed.

https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/crime/19-year-old-shot-in-rock-hill/275-32c631c0-bb0c-415e-98c2-e8db8a9cd2a9

These types of situations happen more often than is commonly thought. Having it happen twice in one incident, such as this one, is rare however. Making a clean close range precision shot should be part of our practice regimen.

From my old YouTube Channel that I can’t access anymore.

The Magic of Knowing that You Can Shoot Quick and Straight

#mindsetmonday

J. Henry Fitzgerald’s book Shooting was published in 1930. Some things in it are dated but most of the book is still very worthwhile. The entire book is available online, courtesy of Sportsman’s Vintage Press.

http://sportsmansvintagepress.com/read-free/shooting-table-contents/

The chapter on The Magic of Knowing that You Can Shoot Quick and Straight is an example of practical mindset. Many times, explanations of ‘mindset’ are vague and nebulous but Fitzgerald’s is straightforward and actionable.

http://sportsmansvintagepress.com/read-free/shooting-table-contents/shoot-quick-and-straight/

Some things related to human nature and performance haven’t changed one bit. Fitzgerald’s commentary on the Dunning-Kruger Effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect is a hilarious example.

I have listened to many officers explaining how good they could shoot and when they got on the firing line they couldn’t hit a cow in the head with a snow shovel.

J. Henry Fitzgerald

It’s not necessary to be a great shot to defend yourself but having a degree of demonstrated competence is a valuable asset to your mindset. Drills like 3x3x3 are one way to demonstrate your competence to yourself. Shooting some of the drills from Indoor Range Practice Sessions and Concealed Carry Skills and Drills are another. Click on the images to purchase either or both books.

FTC notice: I am not affiliated with Sportsman’s Vintage Press and receive no commissions from them.

3X3X3 – Level One

Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards has been discussed in the context of gunfights since the 1970s. It is the most commonly cited statistic about gunfights.

Practicing to hit the silhouette every time using the 3X3X3 basis is Level One of learning to shoot the drill well. It is a good baseline for entry level shooters and those who have never measured their performance.

Level One – hit a silhouette consistently

Level Two – hit a sheet of paper consistently

Level Three – hit a half sheet of paper consistently

Level Four – hit a quarter sheet of paper consistently

The dry practice drill was discussed in a previous post.

Here’s the live fire version.

When I wrote Real Shootouts of the LAPD, I wasn’t surprised that NYPD Lt. Frank McGee was pretty much on the mark when he first described it. Almost all of the off-duty shootouts fit into that statistic.

A related note is that I fired about 100 .22 Long Rifle rounds through my 317 snub with a standard (8.5 lb) mainspring. There was not one Failure to Fire during the session. Ammunition for my .38 is precious and hard to come by so I used the .22 for demo purposes. For those who think that was cheating, I also shot with my SCCY CPX-2 9mm.

If you would like to purchase my book about actual shootouts that are not a figbar of someone’s imagination, click on the image below.