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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’ 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 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.

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.’

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:

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

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is

The opposite of Breaking Contact

The group took the dog and began walking away, when Drake returned with a firearm and fired four shots in their direction, according to Murphy. No one was struck, and the three men tried to run away.


Attempted Dognapping Precipitated Fatal Shooting on Lower West Side: Prosecutors

A prime example of the sequential nature of ‘OODA Loops.’

  • Group of men chases man walking dog
  • He runs home and gets inside without the dog
  • Group takes dog
  • Man comes out with a gun and shoots at them
  • The group decides the dog isn’t worth getting shot for so they drop it and run away
  • One of them falls down
  • Original victim’s girlfriend comes out and gets violent with the downed malefactor
  • Original victim joins his gf in doing the Irish jig on the malefactor
  • Unsatisfied with this level of violence, he pulls out his gun and shoots the malefactor in the head
  • Original victim, now Executioner, and his gf decide to exfiltrate from the crime scene
  • A friend of the now deceased malefactor shoots and wounds both Executioner and gf
  • First responders arrive to take wounded Executioner and gf to hospital
  • Executioner charged with First Degree Murder, while still in hospital
  • Unwounded Dognappers escape, most likely never to be found

Don’t let your emotions control your actions. No one wants their dog to be napped but legally dogs are property, not people. You can only use the level of force necessary to protect property in their defense. Shooting someone who is down is also a bad idea. Review the Jerome Ersland incident for further study.

Bottom Line: If the Executioner’s lawyer is clever, the charges will get pleaded down but odds are, he’s going away for some time.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Cover is your friend

The teen ducked behind a tree. The prosecutor’s report said one of the rounds fired by the deputy was recovered later from that tree, and several other rounds were recovered from other trees between the teen and the deputy.

A deputy and a trooper mistakenly fired 8 rounds at an innocent boy.

Be aware of not only who is around you but what is around you, including things that can prevent you from getting ventilated.

Trooper 1 stated to investigators that at the time he exited his patrol vehicle he believed the gunshots he was hearing (Deputy 1’s gunshots) were actually that of LEATHERMAN towards himself. He stated he fired in self-defense at LEATHERMAN believing he was being shot at.

My Battalion Commander made the comment during Civil Disturbance training that the POlice are, at most, used to operating in pairs. Pairs generally only exist in large urban areas. When an ad hoc group of POlice come together, such as in this case, it’s very easy for things to go South quickly. The LAPD has very strict requirements for a supervisor to assume command as Incident Commander when groups of officers assemble. In cases such as this no such control mechanism is possible and things can easily get out of hand, as they did. My advice is that if you see a group of POlice from different agencies gathering, leave the area immediately.

Note also that Officer 1 was downrange of Deputy 1 and Trooper 1 while they were firing at the innocent bystander. Struggling with Subject 1 on the ground to take him into custody might have saved that Officer’s life.

BM is the innocent bystander

The full 27 page report from the State’s Attorney about the incident is available to download from the news article.

Another of my rules is that if I were to hear shots fired, I am going the other way as quickly as I can. Nothing good comes from ‘running to the sound of guns’ as a Private Citizen. Something something, curiosity killed the cat, something something.

Dry Practice Essentials – Part 1

‘Dryfire is boring AF’ is a common complaint in the firearms community. Paradoxically, Abraham Lincoln addressed that issue with his comment. Preparation is the way to make dry practice more interesting and productive. Doing some preparation for your dry practice session is the essential first step. As the late William Aprill was fond of saying:

Spontaneity is overrated.

To keep it from being boring, make your sessions into a creative endeavor. Have a plan for the session, include something other than pure dry practice, e.g., make a target, and use some outside stimuli to add to the experience. Having a specific target that you use only for dry practice and then conceal or take down also contributes to improving the safety aspect of your sessions. Dry practicing on light switches, TVs, the dog, etc. is dangerous and can lead to a Negative Outcome.

Your plan might consist of nothing more than practicing your State’s (or any State’s) Carry License qualification course. As an example, here’s what the Louisiana Qualification Course looks like.

The session itself, without the explanations in the video, takes about five minutes. Although this session looks simplistic, there are 10 different skills practiced. They’re explained in the post What does effective Dry Practice actually look like?

It also helps to keep in mind Tom Givens‘ comment about the recency of your practice; whether dry or live:

How much you last practiced isn’t as important as when you last practiced.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Real Shootouts of the LAPD        

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make

Indoor Range Practice Sessions 

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills

Shooting Your Black Rifle             

Advanced Pistol Practice             

Package deal of Serious Mistakes, Indoor Sessions, Concealed Carry, and Shooting Your Black Rifle (20% off)

Breaking Contact (Part 2)

CCW Safe continues its series about my concept of Breaking Contact as our primary goal (Mission).

The article is available here.

Understanding our Mission and thinking ahead of time about how to fulfill it are critical to our continued health and well-being. Not only are we affected by our attitudes and actions; our families and loved ones are affected just as much as we are.

Even as elite an organization as the Los Angeles Police Department discourages its officers from “taking off-duty enforcement action.” My book contains incidents where the Board of Police Commissioners criticized off-duty officers from taking action off-duty when it was hazardous and exposed the officer’s family to unnecessary danger.

Click on the image if you would like to buy my book and read some examples.

The post about Part I of Breaking Contact is here.

Stay out of trouble

My latest interview on Ballistic Radio.

“One of our very favorite guests, The Tactical Professor Claude Werner returns to the show to discuss a myriad of important topics that we should all consider. What is O.O.D.A. and how do people get it wrong? Why is it important to measure personal performance? Has everyone been pronouncing Claude’s 5x5x5 drill wrong? ALL THAT AND MORE!”

Thinking ahead during the current Insurgency

Part of dealing with the American Insurgency is thinking ahead about what to do when bad things start happening around you. There are no safe places during an insurgency.

Witnesses describe killing of Portland shooter Michael Reinoehl

This was the reaction of one person near the shooting.

“I was sitting in my backyard and all I heard was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. I was like, oh s–t. I come outside and there’s a million sheriffs out here and there’s a dude laying out here by the mailbox and he’s bleeding. They hit him.”

Note that there were at least 29 rounds fired during the incident. So far, it is unstated how many hit Reinoehl but based on general trends, we can assume that the majority did not. That means at least 15 rounds, perhaps some from rifles, were whizzing around the neighborhood.

According to Wikipedia,,_Washington “Lacey is a city in Thurston County, Washington, United States. It is a suburb of Olympia with a population of 42,393 at the 2010 census.” Lacey is 120 miles from Portland and another State away from where the original murder took place. One lesson for us in this incident is that any place within driving distance of a well-publicized shooting is a possible location for a secondary incident. Kyle Rittenhouse went back to Ill-Annoy after the Kenosha shootings.

If you hear gunfire, don’t go outside to watch or video it. Think ahead about the most bullet resistant places in your home. The bathtub, which hopefully is iron, is an example. Even if it’s not iron, it is at least surrounded and supported by structural members. Rehearse a sheltering plan ahead of time. Make sure your loved ones understand it; they might have to use it when you’re not there. It might look something like this:

  • If and when you hear shooting outside, gather your loved ones and take them to that sheltered place.
  • Take your equipment, including your phone, with you when you take shelter.
  • Don’t let strangers into your home after an incident.
  • Call the POlice and report the gunfire outside.

The most important tool you have during a crisis is the one between your ears. As with almost all tools, it’s better if you sharpen it before you need to use it.

Tactical Professor books are available from the menu at the top of the page.

Friday Fundamentals – Performance Standards

The new NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting passing standard is 5 shots into a 4 inch circle at 10 feet, no time limit. It has to be done four times, not necessarily consecutively.


Without testing, there has been no training

Greg Hamilton

Shooting a pistol is an athletic activity. Like any athletic endeavor, we need to have some performance measurement standards. Measurement is the operative word here. We need to measure our downrange performance, i.e., how well we can hit the target, if we want to become better at shooting. There are numerous variables that can be called into play for measurement.

As an example of athletic measurement, the current US Army standard for my age cohort is a minimum of 27 sit-ups in one minute. More sit-ups means more points scored. The Army Physical Fitness Test has to be taken twice a year.

In weight training, we might simply measure how many repetitions of lifting a given amount of weight we can do until we can’t lift anymore. Over time, our objective is to be able to lift more weight and/or perform…

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What is the value of training?


Firearms instructors are periodically asked the question “Why should I take training?” The answer often comes in the form of a list of skills that are taught or the reasoning behind using a certain technique. However, these do not address the underlying fundamental reasons for taking firearms training at all.

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know.
  2. Much of what you know is wrong.
  3. It’s good to have some of the answers to the test before taking it.

These issues relate to both technical competency with using a firearm (gun safety and marksmanship) and the ability to use the firearm correctly in a personal protection situation (legal and tactical).

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Shooters who only take their gun to an indoor range once a year “to sight it in” generally have a highly ‘cocooned’ knowledge of firearms. They know how to operate a firearm in a…

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