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.

Why did the Fairbairn and Sykes Method Fall Out of Favor?

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

To answer this question we really need to look at the historical context of it all. The Fairbairn and Sykes method (FAS) was the predominate fighting system of WWII. It had a long history as a very successful fighting system from the very early 1920’s and was used by some of the very best gunfighter’s to ever live. This was a very well-rounded fight focused system that was built around the typical physiological responses of a life threatening confrontation. It took many aspects of fighting into consideration and led to a very well-rounded and versatile fighter. This system was adopted, adjusted, and copied by other Instructors such as Rex Applegate, who brought its use to America.

At the end WWII, the men that saved the world put away their guns and came home. The vast majority had zero interest in using their weapons any longer and simply wanted to start families and reap the benefits of their sacrifices. The information from the use of the FAS system and the experience that was gained from the successful application of the methodology was something that was simply dropped and nearly lost.

In the early 1950’s, Western television shows began to dominate the entertainment scene. Men began to be fascinated by the whole “quick draw” aspect of the shows…..which naturally led to the men beginning to pick their guns back up as a form of entertainment and competition. In the 1950’s Col. Cooper began to run “leather slap” contests out of Big Bear, California. The competitions were a man-vs-man contest of speed and accuracy. The context of the competition was typically seven yards on 9 inch plates or balloons. Hip shooting as taught inside of the FAS system, within the “quick draw” context of the western TV shows were the main focus inside of these competitions. Speed was often prioritized above accuracy, because of the coolness factor inside of the “quick draw” aspect of the competition. Of course this led to less than stellar performances, because the context of the competition was not really correct for the necessary accuracy at the distances that the competitions were taking place.

Jack Weaver was one of these competitors. One day he wondered if, if he took the time, bought the gun up to the line of sight, and got on his sight whether he could improve on his performance inside of these competitions. As he dedicated himself to this new strategy to win the competitions, he steadily rose to the top-tier of the shooters. As always, Col. Cooper noticed this successful change in strategy and included it in his codifying of “The Modern Techniques.”

This form of shooting became the direction that the vast majority of the competitors went and became the status quo.

As we sit back here in 2014 and Monday morning quarterback this change in strategy, it is clear to us that the FAS system and its “hip shooting” was the incorrect application of skills inside of the context of the competition. It was not the system that failed, it simply was not the best way to achieve success inside of the context of the competition.

For a good 50 years “The Modern Techniques ruled the roost inside of firearms training and competition shooting. As in most things that involve men and their egos a certain dogma became attached to the methodology. This dogma took on a life of its own and nearly wiped the FAS system off the face of the map. But there were still a few men out there that understood “the context of the fight” and took on the dogma to make sure that this combat proven system was not lost to the world.

On 9/11/2001 the world changed and we were thrust into a time period of war that surpassed all other wars fought by Americans. Soon we were kicking in doors and fighting from house to house……just like we did in WWII. All of the lessons from the past came flooding back. The younger men were thinking that they had discovered something new about fighting inside of this context, but the old timers understood that they had seen this before and that in reality, there is nothing new under the sun.

The men that were fighting the dogma were now joined by the men that were fighting “house to house.”

It is clear to me that the FAS system fell out of favor due to the fact that competition had become the focus and that the context of the FAS system had not been needed in the Korean and Vietnam wars at the levels of “the global war on terrorism.”

“What is old is new again!”

Sure, the technology has changed, but the concepts established inside of the FAS methodology are now seen as what they are…..a very well-rounded, combat proven fighting system, that takes the physiological effects of a life threatening encounter into consideration. The integration of the old and the new has taken on a much more significant role in regards to fighting,

It is good that the attempt to wipe the FAS system off of the face of the earth was not successful…….but man were they close! The world has changed dramatically. What I specialize in used to be seen as heresy, now it is much more accepted, and quite often copied.

The Learning Progression

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts


As in anything there is a learning progression, it is no different in regards to firearm skill sets. Many of us started shooting, plinking, and hunting when we very young and were taught the fundamentals of safety and marksmanship by our fathers and grandfathers. This got us by for many years and we were able to hit whatever we wanted to hit. Many Americans have done very well with these types of skills while protecting themselves inside of their homes and businesses, as is demonstrated in the NRA “Armed Citizen.” This is often done with nothing more than an old shotgun or revolver that has seen very little range time. This entry-level skill set would cover the vast majority of the American gun owning public.


The next level of the learning progression usually comes due to an “event”. This event can be a million different things. It could be something that happens to you personally, to a loved one, to an acquaintance, to a fellow countryman, something you simply read about, or a lone decision due to changes in your life style or responsibilities. My event was as simple as a realization of the hazards of being out in the wilderness with a beautiful wife and three young children. Whatever the event is, there was a conscious decision that you just do not know as much as you should about the use of a firearm to protect yourself or your loved ones. This realization is usually followed by some sort of training. Many people will seek out basic firearm self-defense training, as is offered by the NRA or the local range. This moves us past the “plinking or hunting” concept and gets us thinking about the possibility of using a gun against a two-legged predator. Often this leads to some form of “Concealed Carry Permit.” For many, this is a huge step…. so huge that this is where they stop. They now have the same basic fundamentals and safety as the entry-level group, but they have taken on the decision that they “may” be willing to use their firearms against a human being. The legal discussions during this type of training, usually leads to two distinct groups. The first, being the group that is scared to death about ever having to use these new-found skills. The second is the group that realizes that they have a whole lot more to learn.

The instruction required to reach this level is very important, yet at the same time extremely limited.


For some people, while they are learning the fundamentals of self-defense, they find that there are many unanswered questions. The realization that they have only scratched the surface becomes more and more apparent. They can see the growth in themselves and the fact that there is still so much more information out there. The legal discussions have raised many concerns. The realization that they do not know what they do not know has led them to the decision to get more training. As they search and question, they discover that there are people out there that will teach them everything that they would like to know. They begin to hear about and learn of businesses that specialize in “Tactical Training.” These courses are set up in a manner where you progress through the curriculum as your skill/knowledge level progresses. These courses cover a wide variety of topics and it becomes a virtual smorgasbord of what you want to know and what you feel that you need to know. This is the point in your learning where you have the most options available to you. This is the place where you pick up the majority of your skills/techniques and spend the most money. This is where you find out if you are a training junkie or just a casual learner.


”Force on Force!” This is where the rubber meets the road! This is where the skills that you have picked up either fail of succeed in the crucible of FOF. This is where you find out exactly what needs to be discarded and what heeds to be honed. This is the point where you decide what is best for you and your particular situation. Here is where you find that the situation dictates strategy, strategy dictates tactics, tactics dictate techniques, and techniques should never dictate anything. Here is where you find out if you are well-rounded, versatile, and have your bases covered. This is the point where you discover that nothing will ever be the same. Your thinking moves from techniques to concepts. This is an absolute vital portion of your learning that can not be passed up on if you ever want to reach the next level of the learning progression.


To be a master is very different from being an expert. Experts know everything…..masters know the same things but only uses what is necessary. By mastery, you have now trimmed down your self-defense plan to only the most useful and successful concepts. All other techniques or skills that did not hold up in the crucible of FOF have been dropped. You have tailored your self-defense plan to your exact situation, with full knowledge of your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. Mastery now becomes a living, breathing, growing entity. It must be fed, played with, nurtured, and grown. New concepts need to be added and tested. Mastery should never become stagnant.

Mastery will continue to evolve due to the fact that our situation will continue to change. As we begin to age our strengths, weaknesses, and limitations will change. Our strategy and tactics will have to adapt to these situations. These changes will be constant and adjustments will need to be continually made.

An Inclusive Approach to Movement, Chapter 9

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Inside the fight continuum there are a number of other continuum’s or concepts. There is a reactionary concept, the take off concept, the movement concept, the retention concept, the draw stroke concept, the sight concept, and the grip and trigger concept.

React as you need to react, take off as the need to take off, move as you need to move, draw as you need to draw, deal with the retention problem as you need to deal with the retention problem, see what you need to see, and work your grip and trigger as you need to work them……. within the context of the specifics of the fight. This is very straight forward and simple, yet each of these are intertwined. Each works in conjunction with the other and each has an effect on the other. The dynamics of the fight will be dictated by your position in the reactionary curve, the proximity of the threat, and the urgency of the situation. How you deal with the specifics of the fight will depend on your mindset, experience, training, and skill level.

When it comes to training and skill level, I believe that we should strive to be as well-rounded and versatile as possible, to understand the fight continuum thoroughly and to cover as many bases as possible within that continuum. There needs to be a priority set on “the most likely situations.” But training should not stop there. We have already discussed the reactionary concept in great lengths. The next concept that we are going to look at is the movement concept. Necessary movement is all about the perfect balance of “to hit and to not be hit.” The higher the chances are of being hit, the more you should move. On the other hand, the lower the chances are of being hit, the less you should move. I have broken the skill sets into five categories.IMG_1113

Stand and Deliver is the entry-level skill set, this is where you nail down your fundamentals. You should have “stand and deliver” skills down cold to truly excel in the skill sets that follow. This form of movement works very well inside of the proactive gun fight and  from the dominant position. Stand and deliver can also be a very advanced tactic, employed by truly exceptional men. Many very good men have made it home after some very tough nights using a stand and deliver skill set…. a few of them I know personally. One should not discount this skill set when it is used within the correct context of the fight. Knowing exactly who you are within that context of the fight may allow for you to accomplish things that are simply not possibly for the majority of people who carry guns on a daily basis. There is no doubt about the importance of “stand and deliver” skills. I have spent thousands and thousands of hours on this skill with hundreds of thousands of draw strokes. If I chose this solution to the problem, that skill will be there. If you are in ahead in the reactionary curve inside of a fight, focus on your marksmanship and dominate the fight with well paced shots with solid ballistic effect. Movement degrades accuracy ,only move when the perfect balance “to hit and to not be hit” dictates that you move.


Controlled movement is an intermediate skill set, which would include many of the skill sets that are commonly taught inside of the Modern Techniques. They include “just walk,” “the side step,” (crab walk) and “the Groucho” (duck walk.) Controlled movement has it place when the urgency is not very high and the proximity/distance requires more precise shooting (sighted fire.) Controlled movement is designed to allow for the use of the sights, everything is smoothed out as much as possible in order to be able to achieve a sight picture. This smoothing out process leads to a very slow form of movement and these slow speeds need to be accepted for what they are. Inside “the balance, to hit and not be hit” controlled movement priority is more toward making the hit. The ability for an adversary to track you and put hits on you does not require a high skill level. It is my opinion that controlled movement is best when used outside of seven yards or when the difficulty of the shot requires some form of precision.

The “just walk” concept is an entry-level movement concept in my opinion. While it does work well marksmanship wise, the speed potential is extremely lacking. Due to the upright nature of the movement, there is very little “smoothing out” potential, so the ability to use the sights is very much dictated by the slow pace of the movement. I have real concerns about this upright nature. It does not take into consideration the physiological effects of incoming rounds and the body’s natural desire to make itself a smaller target.

The “side step” is a decent form of movement that is designed for specific situations. The number one situation would be geared towards the use of a ballistic vest. By staying squared up to the adversary, one is able to get the ballistic plate in the front of your body. The second situation is for the use of a stable two-handed shooting platform. We must accept the fact that many people have very limited skill sets. They only know how to shoot in this single manner. It is my opinion, that without the use of a ballistic vest, the side step is a “lowest common denominator” type of movement.

The “Groucho” is a very high quality form of controlled movement. The application of the lowered base, the bent knees, the rolling off of the heel/toe, in conjunction with the turret of the tank concept leads to a very nice skill set that dove tails perfectly with the dynamic movement concepts. It puts to use the exact same concepts, with the ability to give outstanding precision. This type of movement has your upper body working independent from your lower body, “like a turret of a tank.” Toes point the direction you are headed, body turreted the direction that you are shooting. This type of movement brings your ambidextrous skills into play. Shooting to the firing side can be done two-handed to a certain point, eventually you need to go one-handed. The possible speed out of this type movement can cover the full spectrum, but the faster you move the less ability you are going to have getting to your sights. This form of movement also works perfectly with the physiological desire to make yourself a smaller target when you are taking incoming rounds.

ARG Feb 26-27_2011 054

Move/stop/shoot/move is another form of movement that can be use outside of seven yards and when cover is not readily available. I see this as low priority skill set, but one that can be employed effectively if used in conjunction within “the rifleman rule of three” (I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.) This skill set is often advocated by those that simply do not own “point shooting with dynamic movement” skill sets. Since they are limited in their knowledge base and skill level, this is the very best that they can do. If you find yourself to be a limited to a squared up, two-handed shooting platform, this may be one of your limited options. If this applies to you, I would highly recommend that you seek out some form of training that releases you from the confines of that tight little box. This form of movement does not do well inside of a reactive gunfight inside of seven yards.

Dynamic movement is a high quality and high priority movement skill set. This is where you will most likely find yourself when you are behind in the reactionary curve, the proximity is close and the urgency is high. This type of movement really works well when you are behind in the reactionary curve, in conjunction with your point shooting skill sets. The use of high level point shooting skills takes this skill set well beyond what has been considered possible in the recent past. The body mechanics of this form of movement is nearly identical to the Groucho, the combat crouch, the PekitiARG Feb 26-27_2011 026  take off, and huge number of extremely athletic base movement principles. The lowered base, the bent knees, the rolling heel/toe, and the toes pointed the direction that you are headed, in conjunction with an extremely fast turn over takes the dynamic movement skill set to an extremely advanced level. Since 2001, the advancement of this skill set has been one of my primary focuses. My student base now, makes what most people believe to be impossible, seem ordinary.

“Get the heck out of Dodge” movement is simply sprinting to cover without engaging until you are behind cover. This has its place, especially inside military applications where distances are usually greater and long guns are the primary weapons. Its use by a civilian defender is becoming less and less desirable due to the huge advancements in the art inside of the dynamic movement skill, sets since 2001. If cover is a couple of yards away… all means get to it! But do not die trying to get to something that is just too far away, without making your adversary consider their own mortality.