Being a Slave Too Your Grip Chapter 15

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Back in 2005, when I first started teaching dynamic movement to every direction on the clock, I would often witness the same thing over and over again, within a certain cross-section of the students. We would be moving to the right rearward oblique (the 5:00) and the right-handed students would inevitable end up in a back pedal. It was odd, I simply could not figure out why they kept doing it, and no matter how many times I would demo it easily and successfully, they would still end up back peddling.

I was teaching a course in Georgia and a very squared away student and friend was running the drill and he kept back peddling. Since he was also an Instructor, I felt as if this was the point that I had to figure out why this phenomenon kept happening. I had him run it over and over again trying to see what he was doing. Finally, it dawned on me that I was analyzing the wrong person. The correct question is not “what is he doing?” The correct question is “what am I doing that he is not doing?”  So, I had the class gather around to analyze what I was doing. As so as I put the training gun in my hands to walk through the drill, it dawned on me like a bolt of lightning. There I was staring at this grip on my handgun that I had never even realized that I was using. Here we were, thinking the back peddling problem was a footwork problem and all along it was a grip problem.

Finally, I figured out what the difference between what I was doing and what they were doing.

I tend to be very fluid, I accept very few hard rules, and I am very comfortable just doing whatever needs to be done to get the job done. Within this fluidity, I found that I would alter my grip on the gun to relieve tension in my body. By relieving this tension, I never felt the need to unwind from it and back pedal. I found that the students that were having a problem with back peddling did not know that they could alter their grip. They had one grip and they were slaves to that one grip. This left them in a position where they had no choice but to unwind the body and back peddle inside of the designed drill.

As soon as I figured out the problem I started looking at what I was doing. I was adjusting the support side hand into a Center Axis Relock (CAR) like grip. I had never been trained in CAR. but I had seen demos on the internet before. As soon as I diagnosed the problem and began teaching this modified grip, the back peddling went away. This epiphany came out of no where in Georgia and is now a permanent part of the curriculum. I also teach it as a “defense against car jacking grip” from the driver’s seat to the 9:00 through the 7:00.

Do not be a slave to your grip. You can make the hits with some pretty major adjustments on the support side hand.

Understanding the Fluidity of the Grip

We can post videos and pictures, but they do not portray the fluidity of the grip that I am talking about. Once again it is not a “this or that” type of technique it is one fluid concept. If you would like to understand what I am trying to convey, check this out “dry.”

1) Unload your handgun and verify unloaded.

2) For a right-handed shooter, point in to your 12:00 with a standard two-handed grip.

3) Now with as little pivot of the feet or the waist as possible slowly start bringing the gun around counter clock wise towards the 7:00.

4) Keep you support side hand fluid and let it slip around the firing side fingers that are on the front strap.

5) As you do this, the gun will continually move close and closer to your face, until you are in a full CAR like modified grip, with the gun about six inches from your face, pointed in at your 7:00.

On the Trigger Reset

By ninpo_student from The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

The problem isn’t trigger reset as much as how it’s taught. Done properly, the end goal is the trigger resets under recoil, allowing you to pick up the sighting system and press off the next round as soon as the sights settle to an acceptable picture. We as an industry in general do a piss poor job teaching that, same with the draw stroke. Both, the way they are taught, are done so the student learns the proper motions in the proper order. We fail to explain to them that the end goal ( for trigger reset ) is to reset the trigger as the slide cycles so the followup shot ( if necessary ) can be taken immediately, without the extra step of resetting the trigger prior.

Both trigger reset, properly executed and slapping, for lack of a better term, the trigger both work to shoot fast. The key with both of them is a firm grasp of the fundamentals ( specifically grip ) and the ability to apply them at speed. To successfully “slap” the trigger and make good hits, you need to grip that gun like a 14 year old discovering masturbation for the first time or the sights will bounce all over hell and back. To reset the trigger at speed, the gun almost needs to float in your hand a bit and reset off a firm trigger finger if that makes sense. It’s easier to show than explain. The guys who came to Roger and I’s carbine class last year got a demonstration of what I’m talking about, albeit with a carbine vs a pistol.

All of which begs the question, how fast is fast enough ? The answer, like nearly everything in the application side of training, is it depends. The speed I need to successfully win a match is not the speed I need to win a gunfight. While the two are similar in that I need to engage a target under stress against the clock ( the bad guy in a fight and competitors in a match ), the other variables are vastly different. In a match I know I’m firing a certain number of rounds from this position at theses targets, and barring a miss or malfunction I’m off to the next firing position. In a gunfight I’m constantly evaluating the environment, the effects or lack thereof my rounds are having on target, the relative positions of my teammates or other bad guys, non-combatants in the mix, etc. those additional environmental details require time, however minuscule an amount, to process and act upon. Those factors control the speed you can engage at.

The shooting part of gunfighting is only 10% of the game. It’s a foundational 10%, obviously, but only 10%. Those other factors I mentioned above and a thousand things I didn’t are all in play too. If it’s your first gunfight you’ll have the added stress of that. That’s why we should be continually building up our foundation. Now, as a shooter, I’m never satisfied with where I’m at, I’m always looking to improve my game. I’m never as fast as I want to be, never as accurate as I want to be, etc., simply because I don’t know what particular sub-skill will be required to win my next gunfight ( my wife says no more, but I’m not too old yet…… ).

The other part of the problem is that we tend to isolate speed and precision when in reality they exist together as two sides of the same coin. Part of the issue is the YouTube and Instagram heroes who spend an afternoon shooting so they can post the one good run they had that day, or speed up the runs they did to make them appear faster. If you notice, most of them rarely show the target they are shooting at, for the simple reason at it either looks like a shotgun patterning at 25m or they flat-out missed. Speed is the byproduct of smoothness and accuracy. It’s the end result of eliminating excessive motion and ingraining a solid neural pathway for the skill in question. When speed is our end goal, we sacrifice smoothness and the elimination of excess motion to do it fast.

Watch dudes trying to go fast who don’t have it down and they look like they are having a fucking seizure. Now watch Leatham, Defoor, Chapman, etc shoot and it looks slow as fuck until you check out the timer. That’s what the proper combination of speed AND accuracy looks like. It’s what we should be striving for. Unfortunately it’s hard work and past a certain point gains are increasingly incremental and harder to come by. It’s so much easier to just rip it out of the holster and slap the shit out of the trigger and explain away the shit show the target is displaying…….

Some Things in the Works for 2018 with Deus Ex Machina

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

I just finished my last few courses for 2017 and have begun looking at 2018.

I ran a pretty light schedule in 2016 and 2017 due to having some family issues that needed my attention. Those things have fallen into place and I am looking to pick up some lost momentum. I have been looking at the market and trying to figure out what moves need to be made to regain that momentum. I just kept coming back to the same thing over and over again……the basics, marketing, and creating a new student base. The market is flooded with the guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and selling out courses across the nation is a thing in my past. I’m not saying that I can never get back to that, what I am saying is that it will take a lot of hard work, a really good plan of action, some definite adjustments, and a strong relationship with really good people.

The basic courses and the building of a new student base has always been an obstacle that I had trouble with. The biggest problem was actually having a facility to make that happen. On the most part, my range has always been good to me, but that is not the facility that I am speaking of. What I am talking about is a place with a classroom, an indoor training area, and a place that is professional and functional. What I am talking about is a place to get out of the extreme weather conditions of Las Vegas, where the newer students can be comfortable enough to invest the time to get a proper introduction and for older students to gather, network, train, and build a community.

This one issue has dogged me for years. This one issue is an obstacle that has held me back from being able to do what I know needs to be done.

Tonight I went to check out Deus Ex Machina’s new gun smith shop and met with a couple of the founding business owners Ben and Kerry . While being showed around, it became clear that a mutually beneficial relationship between us could be very good for all parties involved. Small classes can be held in the conference room, large classes can be held in the large shop. Gun smith service, armorer courses, training groups, knife courses, CCW courses, seminars, lectures, women’s introductory courses, medical courses and UTM training, can all be done here.

This is something that we have talked about for over a year, but all parties involved have been very busy. It look as if things may finally be falling into place.

Here are a few photo’s showing the facility. The one photo that is missing would be the 2 large roll up doors and the spacious training area.

We are in the beginning stages of coming up with a plan on how to make a huge impact on the Las Vegas Market. I will keep you apprised as we hopefully nail it down.

The Ultimate Goal Inside of a Gun Fight

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

As an Instructor that made a name for himself by focusing on the advancement of the art, inside of the reality of the reactive gun fight, I find that I am often misunderstood or misquoted about what I believe to be the ultimate goal inside of a gun fight. Due to the fact that I teach people what to do in the very worse of situations, what I am truly teaching is often marginalized or straight out ignored.

In every reactive gun fighting course that I teach, I emphasis this one aspect of the fight with these statements.

“If I am fighting for my life with a firearm, there is nothing more that I would like to see than a perfect sight alignment on a perfect sight picture. Always get the maximum visual input on the gun that the situation will allow, but realize that you can not always get to your sights. Therefore, we must have other tools to fall back on. But, if you can get to your sights……GET TO YOUR SIGHTS!”

The ultimate goal inside of a gun fight is to stay calm, to get to your training, and to get to the most efficient and effective tool for the job. Hands down, the most efficient and effective way to aim your gun is with a high quality sighted fire skills.

There are no hard rules to gun fighting, but there are some very important general guidelines.

  • The more (or finer) visual input that I can get on the handgun, the more accurate I can be.
  • The higher I bring the handgun to line of sight, the more accurate I can be.
  • The further I extend the handgun out, the more accurate I can be.

Each of the statements above do have some cons, but that is not the focus of this article. The statements above are all about getting to your most optimal accuracy positions and if the situation allows you to get to these optimal positions, then EVERY effort needs to be made to get there.

“Staying calm” of course is not as easy as it sounds. The encounter not being truly reactive will help facilitate you remaining calm. Quality training and education will  help facilitate you remaining calm. Experience in violent encounters will help facilitate you remaining calm. It is the experience and the stress inoculation that comes from it that will have the most dramatic effect on your ability to remain calm. But, most people who carry a gun, as a way of life, do not have the experience and the stress inoculation to remain calm and that is a reality that we have to face, without ego and arrogance getting in the way.

The reality is that we may not be able to remain calm in a truly reactive situation. But, that does not mean the we should not strive to calm down. The ultimate goal of staying calm/calming down, in order to get to our training allows us to get to the most optimal tools for the job at hand. Even if you are attacked out of the blue, totally blind sided, and way behind in the reactionary curve the goal is to take back that lost initiative, as needed, then to calm down and get to the most efficient and effective way to stop the threat, which is to get to your high level sighted fire skills, if the situation will allow it.

I know there are going to be some people who read this and think that I have changed my mind about the skills that I have been teaching for the reactive gun fight and that would be incorrect. I have always preached this! We should always strive to use the most optimal skills that the situation will allow. But the reality is that extremely sub-optimal situations may not allow us to get to our most optimal skills, until we have made the situation more optimal.

Every fight should be both physical and mental. The mental aspect should always be about accessing that inner voice telling you exactly what to do……telling you one of two things.

Stay calm and get to those sights.

Calm down and get to those sights!

 

2x2x2x Drill The Way That I Run It

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Man on man, two students in front of three targets each, at seven yards. Target area is 3×5 index card in the center of thoracic cavity on each target.

Set up is from the holster, three magazines with six rounds in each. Each targets (of three) gets two rounds each, reload, two rounds each, reload, two rounds each.

First shooter that runs it clean moves on. Only clean runs move on to the next round (nothing outside of the index cards.)

I’ve run this in a few courses and nobody ran it clean, throughout the competition, therefore nobody won the competition. This PA. group of guys were informed of this fact and they assured me that would end inside of this course.

Everyone ran it well, but only two could advance to the final. It was Big Sam and Sgt. Psycho. They were shot for shot all the way through, right up to the last shot. The last two shots sounded like one. It all came down to who ran it clean and Big Sam did and Sgt. Psycho had one shot out by a millimeter.

It was a very good competition.

In the course before this one, the guys could not believe that their would be no final, since nobody ran it clean. They all just stared at me in disbelief. I informed them that the standard had not been met and that this course was very much a “standards” type of course.

When it comes to top quality sighted fire skill level, the standard should be very high and very difficult to achieve.

Both of the guys in this final can really shoot accurately, going up against each other forced them out of their comfort zone, and the were forced to shoot faster than they were used to.

Lesson taught and learned! You can shoot accurately, at a faster pace, if you just know how it is done.

The Sequence of Shooting

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts
 I have lectured and demonstrated this concept hundreds of times, knowing perfectly well that I may have missed something. I finally decided to get it written out so it can be put into a handout inside of my courses.

 

(Mental Prep, Brain Leads Body Follows)

  • Eye hand coordination draw stroke
  • Lock in on the focal point
  • Perfect body mechanics

(Perfect Count One)

  • Clear the cover garment
  • Acquire perfect master grip
  • Stage support side hand for the thumbs forward camming grip
  • Begin to bring focus off of the identified threat and back to where the front sight is going to land, focal transition

(Perfect Count Two)

  • Elbow up to high pectoral
  • Elbow down to parallel to the ground
  • Finger goes to the trigger and slack is removed
  • Focal transition still in progress
  • Begin to drive gun in a straight line to the point of aim

(Perfect Count Three)

  • Hands come together in the staged thumbs forward camming grip
  • Pressure is beginning to be added to the trigger
  • Focal transition is being completed

(Perfect Count Four)

  • Perfect balance of speed and control
  • Drive the gun out to a perfectly locked in thumbs forward camming grip
  • Trigger is stage to break off the shot
  • Press out to extension with zero disruption
  • Hard focus on a perfect sight alignment on a perfect sight picture achieved by the focal transition

(Engage)

  • Press off the shot
  • Follow the front sight during recoil
  • Verify recoil recovery with post landing back in the notch
  • Trigger reset
  • Asses the threat through the sights
  • Press off subsequent shots as needed, verifying recoil recovery, and the post landing back in the notch

Why the Change in Focus?

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

This question was asked of me by a student, who sought me out to learn from the “point shooting/dynamic movement specialist.”

 My answer to his question was that my focus had always been on creating well-rounded and completely versatile fighters, but it was the truly reactive gun fight that had not been brought to its full potential. This substantial lack of study in this important piece of the puzzle left me in a very good position to make a name for myself while advancing  the art in a portion of the fight continuum that very few people knew well.

 I have done very well with being the “reactive gunfight/point shooting/dynamic movement specialist”………but I have never preached anything but a seamless integration of the reactive and proactive gunfight. My focus may have once been on the advancement of the art of the reactive gunfight, but it is now time to bring that same laser sharp focus to the proactive gunfight and the seamless integration of the two, into just one high quality system. The integration has always been there, but now we are looking to seamlessly combine our very high level reactive skill sets with a very high level proactive skill sets.

 When we look at the priorities of a typical civilian gun fight, the reactive skill sets are the most likely skills needed, that is if the bad guy does his job well. Concentrating on bringing these skills as far as we could take them made really good sense.

 But, times change and our situation has change.

 With the rise in terrorist attacks taking place in America and the definite reality of it simply getting worse, the need for high level proactive gunfight skills has never been as necessary as they are right now. I know…….I know the chances of one of us being there when an active shooter starts shooting up innocence is very small, but so is the need for reactive gunfight skills. Preparing for the worse, while hoping for the best is what training for self-defense has always been about. If we seriously looked at the odds of a law-abiding civilian needing high level gun fighting skills and worked our training off of those odds, we would not even need to own a gun, let alone know how to use one at a very high level. But, when your number is called and your flag goes up, the odds simply do not matter because your odds at that particular time is 100%. You are going to need these high level skills as much as you have ever needed anything in your life.

It is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

 When we talk about an active shooter situation, we are most likely not going to be the sole individual targeted and if we are not being directly targeted our proactive skills are going to need to be at the highest levels possible.

 Fight Focused Handgun IV-Fight Focused Marksmanship (FFHIV) and Fight Focused Handgun VI-Advanced Fight Focused Marksmanship (FFHVI) are not just about creating courses that I have always wanted to create, it was also about creating a course that fits in with the circumstances that we face today. Sure the need for the reactive gunfight is not going to go away any time soon. But, in my opinion the proactive gunfight has begun to take on a much more predominant role than it has in the past, in regards to active shooters and terrorist attacks. That is what the FFHIV and FFHVI is all about. Fast and accurate sighted fire, surgical precision, positional shooting, use of cover and concealment, extremely high level controlled movement at distance, comparisons in your precision during controlled movement between the varying forms of controlled movement, and the complete study of movement in order to make the best decisions, on the best form of movement

 Everything has its place and if you do not get deep into the study, you really do not know what makes you as safe and as deadly as you can possible be. The time that I have spent of this study has shown me some very surprising things. Who would have known that I would be better shooting the “turret of the tank”, at 25 yards, with a non-dominant side two-handed grip, over that of the primary side one-handed grip? Who would have known that I was better at fast an accurate shooting at 30 yards using side stepping over the “turret of the tank” concept? Who would have know that “move-stop-shoot” at 30 yards, using the rifleman rule of three, was far better inside of FOF, than both of the last two options?

 There are still so many pieces of the puzzle that have not been explored to their full potential……so many situations where we have not nailed down what we need to do to be as deadly and safe as we possibly can. That is why the focus has changed! But, it has always been about creating the most versatile fighters that we can possible be. Being well-rounded means that you have an answer for whatever fight that shows up at your door step and only focusing on one portion of the fight continuum leaves you flat sided.