By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts
I have done my fair share of training and have been reasonably satisfied with the progressions of most of the skill sets within the fight continuum. Around July of 2003, I was in a position where my most advanced courses were being eliminated. I was pretty sick and tired of my same old tired dry practice program. So in my frustration, I asked myself “What am I really physically capable of?”
This may have been the very best question that I have ever asked myself. As I began to explore this avenue, I immediately saw some areas where the skill sets of the past were extremely lacking. The most notable of these would be shooting with dynamic movement. As I explored this avenue, it became clear to me that the possibilities of shooting with dynamic movement had not been thoroughly explored. The limitations had not been pushed and the boundaries had not been discovered. This skill set had always fascinated me because it very much fit into who I was and how I had fought in the past. Not being a very big guy, I have always had to depend on my ability “to hit and not be hit.” Dynamic movement has always been in my skill set but was constantly amazed that it was not addressed beyond what it was, in the world of the gun.
At that time, the extent of my formal training was the Modern Techniques (MT) version of the skill set. This included always using the sights, while smoothing out my movement with “controlled” steps. I was taught the side step (crab walk) and the “Groucho” (the duck walk.) I found these skills to be adequate within the context of the training. That context of that training was shooting from 15 yards. It was this context that raised red flags to me. The reality of this situation seemed extremely unlikely. The reality of things happening a lot closer and a lot faster made much more sense to me. If things were going to be closer and faster the urgency was going to be much higher, the techniques were going to have to be adapted to something more logical. This realization coincided with information that I had been pulling off of the gun forums from guys like Fred Darling, Gabe Suarez, and 7677. These guys were looking to advance the art past the MT, into something that simply had more common sense. They were posting about a number of things that rang true to me. Fred was constantly talking about movement during the draw stroke and the use of Enos’s “Five types of focus.” Gabe had just put out his excellent “See what you need to see” article and he and I were batting movement around on the Polite Society forum. 7677 had been talking about his “Sight Continuum” and movement even before I was at a level to comprehend the magnitude of what he was saying.
I went to work immediately, putting to use the “What am I really physically capable of?” I started with a heavy bag, a large empty room, and an unload DA revolver. I brought the gun up to line of sight and began to experiment on how fast I could push the controlled movement of the Groucho. Using hard focus on the front sight, I was very surprised on how fast the Groucho could actually be pushed. As I watched the amount of movement across the targeted area, I was very surprised on the “consistent index” that was possible. I pushed the Groucho further and further, I pushed it so far that I had actually moved past the basic concept of the heel/toe of the Groucho. It had become a “controlled run,” where both feet were off the ground at the same time. There was still the same lower base, the taking the shock in at the knees, along with the rolling on the feet (heel/toe) but both feet were off the ground at the same time. This was something that I had not seen before and the sight verification across the targeted area proved to me the effectiveness of the technique. I found the “below line of sight “gave me an excellent “consistent index.”
My training partner and I began to incorporate these new skills at our MT school in the advanced tactics courses. We began to challenge each other on how far we could push it and still get the hits. We had some good success and a lot of positive comments from our instructors when we used the skills within the correct context. We had some poor success and negative comments from our instructors when we pushed outside of the correct context. But it was all in great fun and an outstanding learning experience.
Right around this time Gabe began posting about airsoft guns and force on force. We immediately bought ourselves some airsoft guns and began pushing the limitations way past what would be allowed in our MT courses. This is where we really began to explore threat focused skills along with our dynamic movement. The speed of the shots and on the trigger increased, but the speed of the movement had pretty much been maxed out at the “controlled run.” Below line of sight shooting began to take on a more prevalent rule as the hits proved the consistent index more and more. The unloaded DA revolver was replaced by the airsoft gun and the work on the heavy bag took on an entirely different perspective. I would wrap butcher paper around the heavy bag to “mark” the hits and really went to work on the dynamic portion of my threat focused skill set. Below line of sight became second nature. The hits dramatically improved and the “explosion” off the X really started coming together.
Late 2003, I started training with Gabe. I took the Close Range Gun Fighting course in December. There was a lot of movement off of the X and a lot of point shooting. I only used my sights a couple of times in that whole course. I pretty much was keeping at the very same level that I had been, no real progression on the dynamic movement skill set. I was getting more and more comfortable with the “controlled run/point shooting” combination. This was a really excellent course that allowed me to live fire well past what had been allowed in any of my other courses.
A couple of months later I signed up for Gabe’s Interactive Gun Fighting course. This was the older “clearing” format. I would highly recommend training with Gabe, if this “clearing” format is ever offered again. This course was full of highly trained MT guys. Guys that have trained together many times before, but this time we were going “head to head.” All of us… to a man…..saw how “lacking” all of our past training had been. Everyone (except for maybe me, I have always been a non-conformist) was doing things in this course that they had never done before…. and certainly never trained in before. This group of guys never looked at things the same again. Even with the lack of any real room/space the dynamics and the explosiveness of the encounters really opened our eyes to the speed of an encounter and the impossibility to actually get to the sights. Point shooting with dynamic movement was an absolute must.
In this course, I made a couple of mental mistakes. So I started a thread at Warrior Talk and Polite Society to discuss my mistakes and to find the “Most Realistic and Beneficial FOF Training” tips. Both threads had a lot of great input from a lot of great guys. A world of experience and knowledge came out of those threads and helped me an awful lot on how not to make those same mental mistakes and how to run FOF sessions on my own. I felt that the world of FOF benefited greatly from those two threads…..but I had no idea just how much until I took Gabe’s next Interactive Gun Fighting in October of 2004. He came in with an entirely different format that was so far beyond my expectations that I could not even believe it.
The October 2004 Interactive Gun Fighting (IGF) course was quantum leap in my thinking/understanding of the dynamics of a gun fight. This course alone was the single most eye-opening experience in my training life. It was the dynamic movement that really blew me away. I was still using my “controlled run” with good results. But as I watched the other guys I started to see a trend towards straight out running, especially in the less experienced guys. At first I thought “there is no way that they are getting hits at a straight out run.” So I began to watch for the hits very carefully. What I saw was a very decent percentage of hits from some pretty inexperienced guys. This fact really intrigued me. Here I was thinking that I had pushed the speed of the movement about as far as it could be pushed. I had put in the work, my training partner and I were really pushing each other, and I was not seeing anyone moving as fast as we were. But here were these newbies doing things that many people consider impossible. I guess no one told them that it was not possible. Boy, did this get the little wheels in my head spinning. If inexperienced guys could do a decent job with it…. what is really possible if you focused your training on it?
Along with this observation, I also stumbled into something else out of a mistake. I blew a draw stroke and ended up with the gun out of the holster with a fist full of shirt. I could not bring the gun up or out to extension. I could bring the gun up and out to what would be a one-handed half hip. I was running and engaging an adversary that was also running. I was totally threat focused shooting from the hip and watching my white BB’s bounce off of his COM. The hits were so good that out of amazement I just kept shooting as I acquired his flanks. This “mistake” showed me a limitation that I had never even tried to reach before. This course and the experiences from it put me on a mission to find out what the limitations really were…..since the limitations set down by others in the past were obviously wrong.
As I posted on this training experience at Warrior Talk, I caught the eye of the “point shooters.” Just think, here was a true blue MTer now advocating point shooting. As I talked with 7677 and Matt Temkin it became very apparent that I was simply going to have to train with these guys if I was to ever reach the goals that I set down for myself right after my second IGF course. As I waited for my chance I began to study every point shooting system that I could get my hands on. I virtually quit going to my MT courses and went out to the desert and began to put to use everything that I was learning. Things were going really well, I was really amazed by FSA and the techniques that 7677 was advocating. I thought that I was getting pretty good at it but I simply had no idea how much I did not know. I found out how much I did not know when I finally got the opportunity to train with 7677 and Matt in October of 2005 in Tucson.
I walked into that course thinking that I was pretty good at point shooting. Guys…. let me tell you right now that reading some books, training on your own, and picking the brains of the experts is nothing like training with them. I thought I was 80% there…. the reality set in very quickly that I was not 80% there, I was 20% there and 7677 and Matt were going to have to give me the final 80%. Like I have said many times, this may not have been the best course that I have ever been in …. but it gave me the best information and skills that I have ever received in all of my forty-five plus courses. There were a few one-handed movement demos in this course that really open my eyes even further.
Now that I had a full understanding of point shooting, the next step was to begin to push movement past the “controlled run” that I had been using successfully over the last couple of years. At first I wanted to isolate the movement to JUST the movement. The goal was to push the speed of the movement while at the same time keeping that “consistent index” I wanted. I was looking to get the least amount of negative movement across the targeted area as possible, while at the same time not depend on slowing down to smooth out my movement. I started on my tread mill (don’t laugh) this way I could experiment non stop in an air condition house instead of running around in 110 degree weather. I began to see some very interesting things right in line with the demos in Tucson. As I worked with these concepts I found that the “consistent index” could be made even better with a few simple things with the support side arm. Some of the same type of things that I saw in Gabe’s IGF course in Oct. 2004.
Me and my training partner took my findings out to the desert and put the techniques to the test. It was very apparent that this was much better than the quality movement skills that we had been using over the last couple of years. I was worried whether these skills could actually be passed on. But I understood very quickly that the “progression” of the training was the key to unlocking this natural ability. The curriculum would have to be set up in a building block approach to get the students to the level that we wanted to take them.
Since then I have found that this information can definitely be passed on when done correctly. So far every student that I have trained has vastly improved in their ability to make hits with dynamic movement.
(New comments added)
And that was how the Point Shooting Concepts family of courses were born. My name on the gun forums use to be Sweatnbullets, because of all of the hard work, training, experimentation, trial and error, research and development, and the pushing of the limitations. Col. Cooper did not invent the Modern Techniques, he codified what he saw the top shooters doing.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
The true advancement of the art comes from the networking of many men.