Category Archives: skills

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

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

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.

Practicing the First Shot

This really should be #fridayfundamentals but I feel compelled by some recent conversations to send it.

As I mentioned previously https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/04/09/the-importance-of-the-first-shot/, the importance of the first shot shouldn’t be underestimated. How to practice that remains a bit of mystery when people are shooting. Shooting multiple shot, often full magazine, strings of fire is the most common way people practice. Unfortunately, that masks the result of the first sight picture and trigger press.

For new shooters, we also need to keep in mind the concept of ‘progression,’ which is a fundamental concept of two of the world’s elite shooting schools, the Rogers Shooting School https://rogersshootingschool.com/ and the Mid-South Institute of Self-Defense Shooting https://weaponstraining.com/ .

The concepts of First Shot Drill and progression can be easily combined. Consider a series of Levels for hitting with the first shot. Start out at the 3 yard distance.

  • Level 1 – hit a silhouette consistently
  • Level 2 – hit a sheet of paper consistently
  • Level 3 – hit a half sheet of paper consistently
  • Level 4 – hit a quarter sheet of paper consistently

Shoot each Level using a progressively difficult start position; Low Ready, Midpoint of the drawstroke, and from the Holster.

You can use any silhouette you like. Having a face, a weapon, and an aiming point is more important than the type of silhouette used.

For those who don’t have access to or don’t wish to purchase a silhouette, a perfectly acceptable substitute can be made out of posterboard.

Start by doing dry practice. Level 1 would look like this.

My colleague Lee Weems https://thatweemsguy.com/ made an incisive comment at the Tactical Conference.

Enough Force used soon enough means less force used later.

Lee Weems

That could also be paraphrased as ‘a good enough hit with the first shot means less shooting later.’

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.

Every Day Skills

While there are plenty of posts about ‘Every Day Carry’ for personal protection, there are very few about Every Day Skills for personal protection. Tools are only useful if they are used with some degree of skill. Also many of the skills we use for personal protection don’t involve tools at all, other than the one between our ears.

I am now undertaking a long term project for a Fortune 500 retailer that involves being in their stores. So, I’ve taken my own advice and ‘gotten a real job.’ Dear Instructors, Get a Real Job Being back in ‘The Real World’ is an interesting experience, especially because I’m on the road, working different hours, and staying in motels.

A few of the things I’ve had to work on are:

  • Surveillance Detection
  • Situational Awareness (consider it in the context of changing a tire in the rain, for instance)
  • Securing my tools repetitively
  • Camouflage
  • and numerous more

Chronicling my experiences with what personal protection for normal people really involves will be quite interesting. I am quite looking forward to it. It will be an adventure.

Breaking Contact (Part I)

CCW Safe is doing a series about our ultimate goal in Personal Protection. I am happy that I have been able to make a contribution to the literature of our Art.

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

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-1

This philosophical fundamental is the true meaning of “Get off the X” for the Private Citizen. Sidestepping or whatever method is taught to get off the X isn’t the end or even the important part of the process. Forcing the attacker to withdraw or making our escape is the end objective.

It’s nothing new. Military units have probably been doing this since before the Roman Empire existed. It’s easily overlooked at the moment of an incident, though. For some folks, escaping is a natural response but for others it is counter-intuitive and needs to be practiced.

In some cases, what we’ve learned needs to be unlearned and replaced with a more appropriate tactic. Assaulting through the kill zone of an ambush toward the enemy is a prime example. Infantrymen are taught this from Day 1 of their military training. However, it’s often not a viable response in civilian life. Sadly, the LT Dwain Williams incident https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/02/26/using-cover-effectively/ is an example of how wrong this tactic can go.

As Shawn points out in the Breaking Contact article https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-1, POlice officers are especially vulnerable to falling prey to the subconscious instinct to chase when they are off-duty. Several incidents in Real Shootouts of the LAPD https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com demonstrate this. However, private citizens are vulnerable too and he cites several cases where this occurred.

Practicing, using an inert replica of your tool, a simple Battle Drill of Breaking Contact with an attacker is worth actually doing rather than just thinking about. We learn physical skills through repetition.

If you would like to purchase Real Shootouts of the LAPD, click on the image below.

The Importance of the First Shot

#fridayfundamentals

Some principles are just as fundamental as is technique. One of the unintentional themes of the 2021 Tactical Conference was the importance of the first shot. One class even had that as its title. Several other instructors touched on it as part of their classes and presentations.

Rolf Penzel and Mike Treat titled their class Making the First Shot Count.

John Murphy made the comment “It’s not a ‘one shot drill,’ it’s a ‘first shot drill’” in his class.

During his presentation Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters, Darryl Bolke stated “training efficiency means using the sights.”

Chuck Haggard used the term “Target Picture” to illustrate the concept of placing the sight picture on the part of the target we want to hit initially.

In his AIWB Skills class, John Daub instructed his clients to “think about where you want the muzzle to end up” at the conclusion of the draw.

Scott Jedlinski’s comment “The original 1911 sights were suggestions” in his class was a humorous illustration of why point shooting was so common in days gone by. Tom Givens has also written about the dismal quality of factory sights on pistols and revolvers of yesteryear and how that affected technique training of a century ago.

One of trends that is apparent in the Categorical Use of Force Reports by the LAPD is how often one or two shots solve the problem. This is true through the entire database of over 1,000 incidents, not just the off-duty incidents chronicled in my first book about LAPD Shootouts. LAPD’s emphasis on marksmanship and frequent scored qualification is no doubt responsible for this difference from other large departments that have minimal standards.

In a gunfight, the shooter who first scores a hit above the diaphragm of his opponent is the one who seizes the initiative in the incident. Making a good hit with the FIRST SHOT fired is key to seizing the initiative and then retaining it until the incident is over. No one’s performance improves after he gets shot in a vital area.

In terms of operationalizing this principle, the fact that most common autoloaders don’t have a second strike capability during dry practice becomes irrelevant to the fundamental of making a good hit with the first shot. Your dry practice should mostly focus on the first shot anyway.

During live fire, the majority of our practice should be ‘first shot drills.’ Do a little recoil management practice but don’t overestimate its priority relative to the first shot in the real world. As John Farnam put it, “Our desired range product is victory.”

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below.