Five Elements of Accurate Shooting with Dynamic Movement, Chapter 10

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

There are five elements that I have identified that helps facilitate being able to make hits with a handgun combined with dynamic movement. They are quite simple and I am very surprised that before this, they had not been identified or written out. My definition of accurate is that of the same context of combat accuracy inside of a truly reactive situation, that of being inside of the upper thoracic cavity

When you are working to accomplish something that nearly everyone else believes to be impossible, it may be best to start with a clean slate. Forget about your preconceived notions, the status quo, and clear everything off of the table, so you can start to build from the newest of foundations.

Anytime that you have two hands on the gun while you are moving dynamically, the body mechanics of this will make the handgun bounce more and move side to side more….like a big infinity symbol. With one hand, the gun can “float” better due to not being tied together at the end and there is 50% less negative shock input coming from the two separate sides of the body. You will be able to index on to the targeted area in a much more reliable fashion. The added benefit of the support side arm working as counter balance and stabilizer is another huge asset that must be identified.

To test this, give this a try. From fifteen yards with a two-handed grip, bring the handgun up to the line of sight, and focus hard on the front sight. Now run (and I mean run) towards the target and take note of the amount of movement across the targeted area (infinity pattern). Now try it with one hand with the support side arm held at the chest, note the movement across the targeted area. Try it again with one hand, with the support side arm used to facilitate a smoothing out the firing side arm. Use the support side arm as a stabilizing tool, to help with the balance and the consistent index, much like a rudder of a boat. How you use the arm is dependent on the situation, but remember this quote from Brian Enos, “just pay attention and your body will figure it out.” What we are paying attention is the consistent index. Do whatever you need to do to stay consistently on the targeted area

You will see that your handgun may have significantly less movement across the targeted area. So much so, that you are consistently indexed on to the targeted area at logical distances, all while running. This consistent index moves you past the point where you need to slow down your movement or seek constant sight alignment verification. You can now work the trigger at a speed that is relative to the distance and you will make the hits at those logical distances.IMG_2535

The five elements are as follows.

(1) Absolute confidence in your point shooting skills. You must have solid point shooting skills down to a subconsciously competent level.

(2) One handed shooting skills that rival your two-handed shooting skills. You must be able to shoot very well one-handed. Two handed shooting on the run is not nearly as effective or efficient as one-handed shooting in many circumstances. This is something that is easily proven with the testAPSPReno155[1] above.

(3) A movement based platform that is designed to let you move very quickly (much faster than any form of controlled movement that you may have learned in the past) while mitigating the amount of movement of the gun across the targeted area. The lowered base, the quick turn over, the rolling of the heel/toe, and the elimination of striding or jogging all add up to an efficient and effective movement that helps with the consistent index

(4) Elimination of negative visual input. The gun should not be in your line of sight. You should not be able to see the sight alignment. You should only be able to verify that you are indexed on to the targeted area by looking over the top and aligning down of the top of the slide. Having the negative visual input of the gun moving in front of your eyes will slow down your speed on the trigger, your speed of movement and make you hesitate. You need to trust your point shooting skills and know that you are consistently indexed and work that trigger as fast as the situation will allow.

APSPReno041[1](5) The ability to use the support side hand and arm in a natural manner to stabilize the firing side hand. The support side arm swinging in a manner that counter balances and stabilizes the handgun is a very natural ability. Concentrate on stabilizing the handgun, understand that your support side arm is a key factor in that regard, and do as Brian Enos says “Pay attention and your body will figure it out.” This works very much the same way that a cougar uses its tail to stabilize and counter balance its dynamic movement. Same exact concept!

These are the five concepts that I teach inside of all of my Point Shooting Concepts courses. The application of these concepts, over the last nine years, has allowed my student base to do what most people believe to be impossible.

The Fundamentals of Fight Focused Handgun Part Three

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The Grip

The grip is one of the most important of the fundamentals!

Without a good grip, all else suffers.

In the beginning of my training progression, I took around forty-five Modern Techniques courses and the “Weaver” is the way that I was originally taught to shoot. While there is nothing really wrong with the Weaver, it is not the way that I prefer to shoot now. As I grew in skill and knowledge, my focus changed to being fight focused. This change in focus lead me to understand the extreme importance of one-handed shooting and I found that the one-handed methodology of the Modern Techniques was not up to par with some of the combat proven methodologies of the past. As I looked at the work of Fairbairn, Sykes, and Applegate I began to see that the two-handed Modern Isosceles was much more in line with the reality based aspects of fighting with your handgun.

When it comes to my two-handed grip, I basically use what is used by most of the top competitors and operators in the world, the thumbs forward grip of the Modern Isosceles.

The Master Grip (please make sure your pistol is unloaded)

The master grip is your starting point, it is the grip of the firing side hand. It remains the same no matter what else inside of your grip needs to be adjusted to the situation. It allows for fast and accurate shooting with a full two-handed grip, a modified two-handed grip, and the one-handed grip. This is all about getting high on the handgun for recoil control, proper cycling of the slide, and aligned with the forearm to give skeletal structure behind the handgun. The web of the hand is as high up on the back strap and under the tang as possible. The middle finger as up as high as possible under the trigger guard. The thumb and the trigger finger are both pointed forward as if the handgun was nothing more than an extension of your pointed finger or thumb. The grip pressure is that of a man shaking another man’s hand.

All of these things add up to a high and firm grip, with plenty of structure behind the handgun, that will allow the handguns slide to cycle as designed, and for there to be a good level of recoil control. This is a great foundation for one-handed and two-handed shooting. If you are going to use one-handed shooting you may want to supplement your grip by tightening your grip and adding tension to the full length of your arm.

The Support Hand Grip

The support hand grip is all about achieving as much purchase on the handgun as possible. From your master grip examine the portion of the frame that is still exposed around your master grip. The concept is that of using your support side hand as a jigsaw puzzle piece to fill in the exposed portion of the frame of the gun. Remember this is all about the amount of purchase on the handgun? If we just grab the handgun with our support side hand, you see that there is still a good deal of frame exposed. The only way to get as full of a purchase as possible is to cam the support side hand, with the thumb moving significantly forward, along the frame and under the slide. When viewed from the top of the gun, the support side thumb should be extended forward near the same length as your straight trigger finger. The support side index finger should be as high as possible under the trigger guard. This is the thumbs forward grip and is very different from the high thumbs grip of the Modern Techniques or the thumbs locked down of the revolver shooters.

The strength of the support side grip is once again….”how a man shakes another man’s hand.”

The isometric tension is not the “push/pull” of the Modern Techniques (like placing the front strap and the back strap in a vise.) The isometric tension is in the full purchase of the firm grip, with nearly equal pressure on all four sides of the frame of the handgun. Along with the full purchase the support side hand in it’s cam like positioning, it is applying rearward cam like pressure to the lower portion of the front strap. The ring finger and the pinky (especially the pinky) are very important in recoil control and fast and accurate follow up shots. This cam like pressure at the lower front of the grip, combined with a the firing side web of the hand high under the tang, leads to the very best recoil control as possible. The recoil does not just snap the upper rear portion of the handgun rearward, it snaps the lower front portion of the grip forward, The cam like pressure of the support side hand mitigates the lower portion of the grip from snapping forward.

Both arms should be nearly straight with a decent level of tension. The cam like pressure may leave the support side arm actually higher than the firing side arm. Round it out with a stable fighting platform and with a good fighting structure and we are ready to move on to the draw stoke.

Questions are more than welcome.

“Question everyone and everything!”

The Fundamentals of Fight Focused Handgun Part Two

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The Fighting Structure

In the last article, we discussed the stable fighting platform. If you noticed, I did not go into The Weaver, The Isosceles, The Modern Isosceles, or the Fairbairn and Sykes Combat Crouch. The reason for this is because each of these methodologies have their place inside of the reality of the fight. I am not here to tell you that what I advocate is the only way to do something, there are many ways to skin a cat and I am just discussing the things that I prefer and why I prefer them.

As we work up the body, from the fighting platform, we need to look at the fighting structure before we begin to discuss the grip.

Inside of most self-defense applications of the handgun, there are very specific reality’s that effect our physiological responses. These responses are dictated by your position inside of the reactionary curve. You are either going to be ahead in the reactionary curve, at equal initiative, behind in the reactionary curve, or way behind in the reactionary curve. This reality on whether we are proactive or reactive is paramount. There is no more important factor than this one issue! This is the genesis from which all of our responses originate from! It leads us to something that I call “the balance to hit and to not be hit.” This balance is huge when we discuss our platform, structure, and grip. The level and direction of the pressure that you are dealing with effects your physiological response, your necessary retention considerations, and your corresponding structure.

“Nobody wants to be 6’4″ when bullets are incoming.”

This is a reality that most of the target shooting based methodologies do not consider. The physiological desire to make yourself smaller when there is incoming fire is well documented. The bending of the knees mentioned in the last article is only one method of making yourself smaller. Another method is the dropping of the head and the hunching of the shoulders in order to protect the head. This is commonly called “turtling” inside of the Modern Isosceles circles. While some people believe that this is not the most appropriate way to shoot a handgun, it does make a lot of sense when we talk about the reality of the fight and the corresponding physiological effects of not wanting to be shot.

The fight focused world is a 360 degree world and we need to have the ability to fight in every direction on the clock, while moving (controlled or dynamically) to any direction on the clock. Planting yourself in the kill zone, on the line of attack, and using a default, high pectoral, linear, two-handed draw stroke may not even be close to the best answer to the problem, especially when behind in the reactionary curve. Our fighting structure needs to be a fluid structure that allows us to be as deadly as we can possible be, all while keeping us as safe as possible. One handed skill are just as important as two-handed skills. It is your hands and your grip that limits your movement. When we are looking to dodge the adversaries attack/aim we cannot have our movement limited in any manner.

The amount that the situation allows us to project the handgun towards the adversary is something that is often missed by the pistol-vs-pistol crowd, that does not train for attacks by edged or blunt weapons. The retention concept is a fight focused concept that understands that it not always pistol-vs-pistol and that projecting a handgun toward an edged or blunt weapon attack is a fools mistake. The fluid structure of the retention concepts allows us to make the hits at whatever retention level is needed to keep us as safe as possible. This fluid retention level requires us to make changes to our structure in order to recover from recoil in the most efficient manner possible and have enough structure behind the handgun so that it functions correctly. Full extension has skeletal structure behind the gun (long straight bones) but the more we break down the skeletal support, inside of the retention concept, the more we have to bring muscular support to the fore front. A tight grip is not enough to insure good recoil control and the proper function of your handgun. This requires building a structure behind your handgun that starts from your feet, continues up through the body, and down the arms. The stable fighting platform, the aggressive forward lean, the turtling, that ability to fight in every direction on the clock, the use of the skeletal structure, the necessary tension of the muscular structure inside of the retention concept, and your grip all add up to your fighting structure.

Next article will be on the specifics of the grip.

Questions are more than welcome!

“Question everyone…..question everything!”

The Fundamentals of Fight Focused Handgun Part One

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

This is going to be a multiple part article that takes an in-depth look at the fundamentals of the art of fighting with your handgun.

We all know that the fundamentals of marksmanship (FOM) are very important, but they are not the “end all be all” that some would lead you to believe. While I teach the FOM, I teach them within their correct context, meaning I let you know the how, where, when, and why and the common sense behind these factors. I also teach much more in regards to the context of the fundamentals of fight focused handgun (FOFFH.) The FOM are relatively easy to teach and learn, but the FOFFH are much more involved, much more in-depth, and allow us to cover the reality of the fight in a much more efficient manner, due to how well-rounded the methodology is. The FOFFH leave us in the position to be extremely versatile, with the ability to improvise and adapt to the very wide spectrum of the reality of the fight. I call this wide spectrum of possibilities “The Fight Continuum.”

The reality of the fight is determined by the vast number of situations that you can possibly run into. Since the bad guys are the ones that initiate the fight, “the fight will be what the fight will be.” It is our job to take what has shown up on our door step and turn it into something that allows us to take back the lost initiative and turn the fight into the fight that we want it to be. This is of paramount of importance to the FOFFH! As good guys we do not dictate the way the fight starts, all we can do is take what is given to us and turn it into something that is as advantageous as we can possibly make it. When we look at all of the ways that we can be attack, it is very clear that the FOM are only a small part of the knowledge and skills that we need to have.

“Situations dictate strategies, strategies dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques.”

Techniques are nothing more than a very wide range of fluid concepts, that you have ingrained in through your training, that allow you to plug them into the specifics of the situation that has presented itself to you.

Versatility such as this is not simple, it requires knowledge, training, reflection, and repetition. But on the flip side of the coin, it is not complicated. When you study the reality of the fight, this versatility is as fundamental as it can possibly be. For a recent example of how fundamental this is, all you have to do is look at the Mixed Martial Arts of Ultimate Fighting. The only way you can compete is to be well-rounded, versatile, and have an answer for whatever your adversary brings to you. Believing that all you will ever need is awareness, mindset, and the FOM is nothing more than wishful thinking.

With that said, let’s get started.

The Stable Fighting Platform

Newbie’s like to talk about “stance,” but that is usually coming from the world of target shooting. Advanced students of fighting prefer to deal in terms such as stable fighting platform (SFP.) The advanced students understand that a “stance” is nothing more than a starting point from which their SFP starts. For the SFP we are looking for something athletic, (because fighting is an athletic endeavor) something that facilitates good balance, something that gives you good stability, and something that allows for and facilitates quality movement options. Balance is usually about how wide (side to side) your stationery foot placement is. I find that my best stationery balance is when my foot placement is just to the outside of my shoulders. My movement based balance comes from the study and training of quality athletic/fighting foot work. The very foundation of quality movement based balance comes down to the lowering of the base, by the bending of the knees, which lowers the center of gravity. This type of lowering of the based is also very beneficial inside of number of aspects of movement, well beyond just balance.

Stability is all about creating a robust platform that helps control recoil, helps deal with your adversaries forward drive, and helps keeps your gun lock in on the targeted area while moving. Stationary stability comes from one foot being positioned forward and one foot being positioned rearward, much like a typical boxers stance. This is also very good for movement since it is an athletic position. It is also very helpful to have an aggressive forward lean. Standing with your feet on or near the same horizontal line, standing straight up and down, or leaning back leads to very poor stability. Stability starts from the ground, but it continues up through the entire body, and out to the very grip on the handgun. This stability has a lot of influence on your recoil control and you ability for fast and accurate follow-up shots. During movement , whether controlled of dynamic, having the ability to stabilize the handguns index on the targeted area requires a perfect balance of tension and relaxation, dependent on the situation and the necessary speed of you movement.

Good athletic balance and stability, positively and directly affects your ability to facilitate quality movement. Whether you are using controlled movement, so you can get your sights or dynamic movement with your point shooting skills, having good balance and stability puts you in the best possible position to get off of the line of attack.

When extreme precision is needed, skeletal support is always better that muscular support. Straighten out the legs to take the muscles out of play and rely of the straight bones to give you the most stable fighting platform that the situation will allow. If possible, use braced positional shooting to further stabilize your fighting platform.

The Fallacy of the “Retention Position” (Revised)

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

This is something that I originally wrote in 2006 or 2007. This was a time period where people believed that they did not need to know how to point shoot and that two shooting positions (full extension with the use of the sights and a very compressed retention position) covered everything that they could ever possibly encounter. The retention concept used as a fluid concept has become much more prevalent since those closed-minded and dogmatic days.

As I move forward in the training progression and now teaming up with renown knife and combatives Instructor Tom Sotis and the study of integration of hand to hand, knife, and pistol this old article comes to mind, so it has been revised to reflect what I believe is of the utmost of importance. If you have read it before, I would suggest that you read it again because the revisions are directly related to my upcoming courses with Tom Sotis.

The Fallacy of the “Retention Position” (Revised)

The retention position is another sacred cow that simply does not stand up under the dynamics of the reality of the fight, critical thinking, or inside force on force (FOF) training. The idea that you have only one retention position that will take care of the full spectrum of retention problems, that you may come across, is simply ridiculous. If you adopt and train in only one retention position, then you are forcing a sub-optimal niche technique into a concept driven, continuum based skill set. The study of force fitting of niche techniques, in order to replace fluid concepts, is the undoing of the technique based training of the recent past.

As in almost anything that we do in regards to self-defense, there is a continuum in regards to retention. This continuum is once again based on the distance of the threat and the dynamics of the encounter. The distance aspect of this equation speaks for itself. The main goal is to protect your gun, gun hand, and gun arm by extending out only as far as is needed, dictated by the difficulty of the shot. This concept is very cut and dry….at least until we add in the variables of the dynamics of the encounter. It is the dynamics that much of the training of the recent past has completely ignored. The context of the fight dictates the amount of extension of the gun that is allowable and necessary. The weapon used and the forward drive of adversary are additional factors that must be considered. Your movement response to these factors also must be taken into consideration.

As we recognize once again, that this is not a “one size fits all” world and that the situation is the dictating factor. It is plain to see that having only one retention position ties our hands is so many ways. Retention is a concept…..not a position. It is a fluid skill set…. not a locked in positional technique. The retention positions that I have been taught in the past were geared towards very limited situations. On the most part they were stand and deliver techniques that were only good at “hands on” bad breath distances. Now this may be good for “one foot” but what about one yard, two yards, three yards, four yards, against a knife, against an impact weapon, with dynamic movement, and after you have gone “hands on” and created some distance?

From my personal experience and while watching other experienced people in combat and FOF, I feel that we all need to start considering retention at about the four yard mark. The reason for this is simple. Remember the retention main goal;

“The main goal is to protect your gun, gun hand, and gun arm by “extending out” only as far as is needed, dictated by the difficulty of the shot.”

Four yards with two men extended towards each other is really only a two yard gap. A two yard gap can be closed by a stationary adversary in around .5 of a second. Contact at .5 of a second…… and that is without a weapon that extends the adversaries reach. Factor in an adversaries forward drive and the time is considerably less. To come out to full extension on an adversary within four yards is just daring for a gun grab attempt or an attack on the gun hand and arm. By compressing the gun inward you accomplish two very distinct things, you take the gun further out of reach and you let the adversary know that you are not an idiot. Projecting the gun is a fool’s mistake. By compressing the gun you are limiting the adversary’s choices and possibly taking away his best choice.

If we accept that compressing the gun is a good tactic at four yards, well then it is obvious that compressing it even more so, is a good tactic, as the distance decreases. If all of this sounds familiar, it is because this concept has been around since the 1930’s. Fairbairn and Sykes understood the need for a fluid retention concept. Quarter hip, half hip, and three-quarter hip were designed, in part, with the main goal in mind. One thing that we need to keep in mind is that these “hip” positions are just points that you can flow to and through. They are not set positions….. they are fluid points that had to be given names so that they could be discussed.

Work the concept not the technique!

This concept of retention is so far superior to a retention position. It takes in the reality of a violent encounter…..which is all based on distance. The fluid use of kicks, punches, strikes, the use of a knife, a sword, etc, etc are all based on distance. To have only two shooting positions make as much sense as having only two ways to throw a punch. It is like only having a very short upper cut and a very long right hand……with nothing in between.

As we look to the dynamic movement skill set, it is very important to consider retention as we work the oblique angles or parallel tracking. At certain distances, with certain movement we actually close the distance. This fact must be kept in mind. Do not project the gun and open yourself to an attack on the gun, the gun hand, or the gun arm. Compress the pistol as you close in on the target and extend the pistol out as you create the distance from the target.

In my humble opinion, there are no hard rules in gun fighting, but there are plenty of general guidelines. An example of some of these guidelines are as follows.

The further you extend out, the more accurate that you can be. On the flip side of that coin is, the further you extend out the more you open yourself up to an attack on the gun, the gun hand, and the gun arm. There is a balance that must be sought out and trained in. This takes time, work, training, and testing. To compress the gun back to keep yourself safe, while still not having the ability to put fast and accurate hits on board is simply not good enough. You must have the fluid retention based skill sets of quality point shooting and dynamic movement skills, to make it all come together.

In regards to fighting against blunt weapons and edged weapons, this retention concept is of the utmost importance. We have all heard the phrase “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” but we also know that the opposite is true “don’t bring a gun to a knife fight!” Dependent on our skills, what tool we choose to use against a blunt/edge weapon attack comes down to being user dependent. If you are a gun guy and want to use your pistol as your go to tool, you are simply going to have to use you “defense against blunt/edge weapon attack” skills to get that weapon off of you and create some distance to be able to get your tools in play.

You are looking to turn a knife fight into a gun fight.

How much distance you are able to create is what the fluid retention concept is all about. Ideally, I am going to want to create seven yards. If the stars align and I do my job, I can create that much space. But, while fighting things do not always go as you would like them to go. The seven yards you wanted may be substantially less and you are going to need the combination of the retention concept, dynamic movement, and point shooting to keep the distance you created from being closed on you again.

I have seen the training where a small amount of distance is created and the knife attacker gives up as soon as he sees the pistol or is shot once. But that is not reality! They all do not quit or stop that easily. When you shoot some people with a handgun, you just piss them off more! It is not just about creating the distance and getting our tools into play, it is about taking control of the dynamics of the fight by turning a knife fight into a gun fight……and keeping it a gun fight until the fight is over.

If we look at the retention concept from an open-minded point of view, it becomes very apparent that any retention training that does not incorporate quality, fluid, combat proven point shooting, and dynamic movement skill sets is simply training to be ineffectual.

Task Oriented-vs-Goal Oriented

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

In many of the advanced courses that I run, I set up very complex drills to solidify the extremely advanced training that I give. I do not just teach complex skill sets, I teach advanced thinking that is connected to the complex skill sets. To simplify it, I teach the perfection of ruthless violence. Skill sets mean nothing if your thinking is not right.

In my advanced courses I may ask you to work on and accomplish ten to fifteen specific things inside of a three to four-second drill. Then I’ll ask for the absolute perfect after action drills.

The only way to accomplish this is by being task oriented instead of being goal oriented. Being goal oriented means that your focus is just on reaching the goal or the conclusion of the drill. The students who work in this manner tend to forget to do numerous portions of the drill and do not get the same quality of a learning experience as the student that approaches the complex drill while being task oriented. This is due to the fact that the thinking is not right, the drill becomes a ghost of what it truly is supposed to be. Everything just gets mixed up, blended together, and abbreviated.

The task oriented student visualizes the drill before it is even run. He knows each and every aspect of what he is working on, what the Instructor asked from him, and the importance of this type of training inside of his advancement. When an Instructor has trained you inside of a building block approach, it is geared to allow you to do unbelievable complex things, with very little effort. But the tasks inside of the complex building blocks must be dealt with one at a time inside of your training. You need to train yourself to be task oriented, so that you can eventually become goal oriented

For example, here is a drill that I run in the Advanced Point Shooting Concepts course (APSC). Here are the building blocks that have been laid down, and here are the tasks that must be performed to get the very most out of the drill.

From 12 yards out, forward oblique, using a fluid situational response, that turns defense into offense, incorporating a directional change to facilitate flipping that switch.

1) Neutral position of a reactive gun fight, until the threat is called

2) Perfect two footed take off to the forward oblique while clearing the garment and drawing the handgun.

3) Drive the gun to the focal point.

4) Verify that you are indexed onto the target area and guarantee the first shot to center of mass (COM) out of the dynamic movement draw stroke, while using efficient and effective movement. (First shots to COM due to the fact that drill started at twelve yards and shots to COM give me the best chance to guarantee these very difficult first hits.)

5) Work the trigger at the appropriate speed for the distance, to guarantee the hits. The cadence of fire will get faster as you settle into your movement and the distance is closed.

6) Begin to bring the hits up out of COM and into the thoracic cavity, with a focal transition, as you settle in and close distance. (I have now settled into my movement and closed some ground. Hits to the upper thoracic cavity are now very doable.)

7) Visualize the point that you have taken back the lost initiative, visualize the point that he is reacting to you.

8) Flip the switch from defense to “finisher” offense and make the directional change

9) Nail the perfect “sharp angle” cutback using the stutter step. Work “the consistent index” and guarantee the hits as you keep shooting through out your sharp angle change.

10) Step up the speed of the movement and the speed on the trigger.

11) Begin zippering the hits up from the thoracic cavity, to the neck, and then to the head as you close in, using a focal transition. (The direction change has been made, I am settled into my new speed of movement, more ground has been closed, and the hits to the neck and face are very doable.)

12) Remember your retention concept, close in as you put hits into the cranial ocular cavity, and retract the gun back as you fire using the retention concept. Do not project your gun. (If the adversary is still there, finish him with fast and accurate hits to the cranial ocular cavity because it is very doable.)

13) Shoot him all the way down and stop the threat

14) Quick check to break tunnel vision

15) Final check on primary adversary

16) Check for more adversaries to the front as you also scan for a position of tactical advantage

17) Check your 6:00 as you move to the position of tactical advantage

18) Verify that he is still done

19) Reload

20) Medical check in quadrants with color check

21) Is this really over?

If you think you can run this drill and ingrain the training that is designed into it without being tasked oriented, you may not know what you may not know. The more complex the problem, the more task oriented you should become. Being task oriented keeps you calm, it gives you a road map, and it keeps you from panicking.

Do not bite off more than you can chew! Train to be task oriented so that after enough repetition you can do all of this while being goal oriented.

Recoil Anticipation

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

When it comes down to the fundamentals of marksmanship, people make such a big deal about the four secrets, as if all you need to do is follow them and all will be good in your world. I am not saying the sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and follow through are not important, I am just saying that these are relatively easy to teach and are seldom the real cause of poor shooting.

From my experience as a student and instructor recoil anticipation is the number one cause of poor shooting. Some will say that recoil anticipation is part of trigger control. I absolutely disagree! Recoil anticipation has very little to do with pressing the trigger straight to the rear, while not disrupting the sigh alignment or sight picture. Recoil anticipation is the natural desire to “counter act” an unnatural explosion in the hands that causes muzzle flip. It is the natural desire to control muzzle flip that leads to recoil anticipation. Since it is unnatural to have an explosion in your hand, it is natural to try to counter act the energy attached to that explosion.

When you anticipate the recoil during live fire it is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. Recoil anticipation can only be diagnosed with dry fire. But it often does not manifest itself unless the shooter knows that the explosion is going to happen. This is where an instructor can prove very valuable. Drills such as “ball and dummy” can show the shooter exactly what anticipating looks like and feels like. As soon as they see the muzzle dip right before the round was supposed to fire, they understand why their shots are consistently low and to the left (for the right-handed) and low and to the right (for left-handed.)

Once the recoil anticipation is diagnosed, now comes the hard part of getting rid of it.

Most of us know that it is “the surprise break” that allows us to eliminate recoil anticipation. The surprise break is the concept of the shot breaking at a time periods that is very much a surprise to you. Since it is a surprise, there is no anticipation of the recoil. Some get past this very quickly and some people do not. The difficulty of getting past it can be attached to many outside influences. For me, I suffered an electrical explosion in my hands as a very young child. The trauma attached to this event left me recoil sensitive due to an actual and very painful explosion in my hands. I was left alone to try to figure out how to erase the reminder of that traumatic experience. Many instructors tried and many failed. In dry practice, I was steady as a rock, but as soon as I thought I was going to get another explosion in my hand the anticipation would come back. Actual trauma can have long-lasting psychological effects.

Here is what was taught to me by one of the very best diagnostician’s in the field that finally led to me getting over this problem.

Run the ball and dummy drill to diagnose the problem and let the student see the problem. Explain what they are doing (hey, it is natural) and why they are doing it (to counteract the muzzle flip.)

Explain the surprise break.

Have them show you ten “perfect” dry presses. If the muzzle dips once, have them start over. Let them rest or relax if they need to. But I need to see ten perfect dry presses in a row.

Here is where I deviate from what is commonly done. Many instructors will have the student point in and get the perfect sight alignment/sight picture, all while the instructor is pressing the trigger. While this does work I prefer to use a trade secret that actually teaches the thinking behind the trigger work. Having the instructor press the trigger without the instructor telling you what he is doing and thinking is not near as good as the student pressing the trigger while following the instructor commands and understanding the thought process. It is the thought process that allows the recoil sensitive shooter to understand the absolute importance of the surprise break.

Here is how the drill goes.

The shooter is told to follow the instructor’s commands to the letter

Shooter points in with hard focus on the front sight, with a perfect sight alignment and a perfect sight picture.

Shooter is told to begin applying a small amount of “straight to the rear” pressure on the trigger…..put don’t let the gun fire! Hard focus on the front sight and slightly more pressure……but don’t let the gun fire! A little more pressure……but don’t let the gun fire! Hard focus…..perfect sight picture…..a little more pressure……but don’t let the gun fire. A little more pressure ……but don’t let the gun fire BANG!

Now that is the definitive surprise break!

The student did not even want the shot to break and it did. This usually leads to a perfect hit instead of the “same old low and to the left.” This is the teaching of the thought process behind the surprise break. If you are extremely recoil sensitive it becomes a mental game to convince yourself that the explosion is not going to happen.

I know that it comes as a surprise to all of my PSC students when this teaching is done at the start of every PSC course. We run a “one hole drill” then we talk about recoil anticipation and the thinking behind the trigger work. We then run the “one hole drill” dry for “ten perfect presses.” We then load up and shoot the one hole drill again. In this very short lesson I usually see a 50% improvement in the student’s marksmanship ability. The recoil sensitive students usually improve as much as 80%.

The next step is to take this concept into the “compressed surprise break.” For me, this teaching is what changed my shooting skill sets exponentially. I had to find a way past my trauma, to get to the levels that I needed to be at

When I am looking for that “one perfect shot” this teaching (from ten years ago) comes right back to the forefront. I hear the Instructor in my head like a Drill Sergeant, telling me exactly what to do, telling me exactly what I should be thinking about, reminding me that if I anticipate that recoil ……I will surely miss the mark.

I hope this helps somebody as much as it helped me.