“Which One First, Sighted Fire or Point Shooting?”

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

From the archives of the heretic……

Here is my thinking as the heretic that I am. This is not mainstream thinking, but that has never stopped me before.

When we get down to the very core of sighted fire and point shooting, each of them have their own very distinct mantra. The sighted fire mantra is “front sight, front sight, press.” The point shooters mantra is “focal point, focal point, drive that gun to the focal point.”

When we look at the very core thinking behind the mantras, which mantra emphasizes being perfect before we even touch our gun?

That would be the point shooters mantra.

Which mantra emphasizes the very last thing that we actually do right before we shoot the gun?

That would be the sighted fire mantra.

Back in the day of the sighted fire-vs-point shooting debates, the sighted fire guys use to love stating this one phrase. “Sighted fire can degrade to quality point shooting, but point shooting can never upgrade to quality sighted fire.” While this statement sounds good to those that do not know what they do not know, there is actually no truth to it. The reason that there is no truth to it is because the point shooter is focusing on the perfection of his body mechanics to facilitate the perfection of eye/hand coordination before he has even touched is gun. This act alone, from the very start, will make him a higher quality sighted fire shooter when the need/ability to gets to the sights is actually needed/possible.

In comparison, the sighted fire shooter is focusing on what he does at the very end of the draw stoke. In reality, he is allowing the sights to lead him around by the nose instead of using them as the final confirmation of an already accurate aim that came out of is perfect body mechanics facilitated by his perfect eye/hand coordination.

While this may seem like a small issue, in reality it is not because there is much less “sight adjustment and confirmation” needed when the perfection of the body mechanics and eye/hand coordination are focused on from the very start.

Inside of the Fight Focused Handgun course that I teach, sighted fire and point shooting at the very same time. Because it is all just about getting the hits inside of the situation that you are dealing with. I talk non-stop about the correlations between the two forms of shooting. But, the bottom line is that the first few live fire drills run inside of this course are run before we have even covered the fundamentals of marksmanship and the use of the sights. The first few drills are all about the “eye/hand coordination draw stroke” and driving the gun to the focal point. This approach sets the stage because it covers what we do at the beginning of the fight……not what we do towards the end of the fight.

Once the “eye/hand coordination draw stroke” is put in place, teaching somebody the fundamentals of sight fire is actually much easier because the use of the sights is just something done and the end of the perfection of the body mechanics and the eye/hand coordination.

Let me ask all of you a couple of questions.

What percentage does your body mechanics and eye/hand coordination get you on the targeted area?

Mine gets me about 98% of the way there.

If this is so, why would it not be best to start the training with what we do at the beginning of the fight instead of what we do towards the end of the fight?

The Mantra…….

We have heard it over and over “front sight, front sight……press.” Then guys like me come along and teach you a new mantra “focal point, focal point………drive the gun to the focal point”

But who is right? What is the best mantra? Does one cover it all to the highest levels possible?

The best mantra is actually a combination of the two. The very best mantra would go like this. “Focal point, focal point……drive the gun to the focal point……front sight, press”

It is the combination of eye/hand coordination and perfect body mechanics that get you on target in the most efficient and effective manner as possible. The sights are nothing more than  a 2-5% verification of an already accurate aim. If you can nail down this mantra and combine it with a very nice focal point transition during the draw stroke……..you are at the starting point to hit the highest of levels.

Think like a point shooter before you ever even touch  your gun. Nail done the perfect body mechanics that come out of the your eye/hand coordination draw stroke. Get to your sights whenever you can or if they are needed. Find the perfect balance of speed and control  so there is no disruption at the end of your draw. Make sure there is no wasted movement……… economy of motion is key.

That is the optimal draw stroke, the paragon of draw strokes! This is the foundation for everything that follows.

More from the archives of the heretic…..

If looked at this subject with an open mind and a solid understanding of how each is taught, sighted fire and point shooting can be taught at the same time. Since they are not separate skill sets, they do not need to be taught separately.

Context is everything! If the context of the fight is kept at the forefront, the ability to see the need for a conceptual approach is evident. Many trainers of the recent past considered their students to not be sharp enough to understand the context and dynamics of a fight……all while learning how to shoot.

Over the last five years of instructing, I can say that that is a pure misconception. Many people want to believe that “common sense is not common.” I believe that is an elitist attitude that has very little reality attached to it. The students that I have trained with since 2010 seem to recognize and understand common sense very quickly.

What we are talking about here is teaching “the mental aspect of the fight” from the very first minute of training. When teaching the fundamentals, if they are addressed in this manner, it is very easy to teach the continuum of shooting right off of the bat. When addressed correctly the students understand that the situation is the dictating factor and that there is a need to be well-rounded and versatile.

When you give the student an open-minded perspective to start with, the barriers that are created by the closed-minded instructors are simply nonexistent. When the student has never been subjected to closed-minded teaching, they are in a much better position to learn at a pace that is more in line with their real ability.

To inform a student that he “needs” his sights is a blatant lie and perpetuates the closed-minded training that we have seen between 1950 and 2000. I have found that it is very beneficial to teach a more open-minded approach from the very start, an approach that teaches sight fire and point shooting as nothing more than pieces of the puzzle that must be connected.

Very few people actually know how to teach point shooting. Even fewer know how to teach sighted fire and point shooting as one fluid concept. Until you have actually seen the two taught conceptually…….you may not know what you may not know.

It is hard to judge something that you may have never even seen before. But that may be why the terms “open-minded” and “closed-minded” are used so many times.

Just because people say “That’s the way we have always done it” does not mean that is the best way.

Heretic on a roll………

I’ve given thousands of tips as an instructor, here is one that is worth as much or more than any tip that I have ever given.

Whether your entry-level course is fundamentals of marksmanship, or fundamentals of point shooting, make the mental connection between the two from the very start. That is what this thread is about. Do not compartmentalized the information as a “sighted fire course” or a “point shooting course.” Begin to identify the correlations between the two skill set from the very first minute!

What this does, is it allows you to be a better point shooter as you learn the fundamentals of marksmanship. In return, you will become a better marksman as you learn the fundamentals of point shooting. The two go hand in hand. They complement each other. They are just points inside of the “just shoot the dirt bag” concept.

It is all about making the hit! Eye/hand coordination and the corresponding body mechanics is what allows this. The sights only refine the precision an additional 2%-5%.

Once we begin to understand the applications of eye/hand coordination, solid body mechanics, and the concept of “economy of motion”, we can begin to start taking short cuts.

It is the short cuts that facilitate the differences between the “one-handed combat draw stoke” and the “two hand high pectoral draw stroke.” Both of these draw strokes are linear. Both work off of eye/hand coordination. Both use solid body mechanics. Both work within the concept of economy of motion. The difference is just a natural progression in your short cuts. The height out of the holster that I “turn the corner” and drop that elbow is dictated by the situation. One handed combat shooting is all about speed so I turn the corner as soon as I have cleared the holster. This is just a natural progression in your skill level and your ability to implement short cuts.

These are not separate skill sets. They are just points inside of the continuum.

Back to the Present…..

Most of you guys know me, what I think, and what I believe to be important. I have always been concerned with how long it takes to bring somebody up to a decent skill level, to actually be able to fight with their handgun. Fight Focused Handgun I – Introduction and Fight Focused Handgun II – Fundamentals are courses that I have been teaching since 2010 and are designed to combat the specific problem of there not being enough fight focused material taught inside of basic courses.

I seriously have an issue with people not being as ready to defend themselves or their loved ones, as well as they should be able to, after one or two days of training.

We all know that the fundamentals of marksmanship are “most own” skill sets! But, the reality is that they are too intricate to be the primary focus inside of the first couple of days, inside of self-defense courses. If we are going to call our classes “self-defense” then “the reality of the fight” has to be the primary focus. As we focus on the reality of the fight, we need to accept the most likely way that the fight will come down and the most likely effects that they will have on us. That means that there is a very high chance that our new students to self-defense may not be able to get to their sights.

“Spray and pray” is what happens when a new shooter can not get to their sights due to their lack of knowledge on the mental aspect of the fight and when they have no other skills to fall back on.

This is progression on how I think that a basic “self-defense “course should be run.

1) The reality of the fight
2) The mental aspect of the fight
3) The hits that can be made using your natural abilities (point shooting)
4) Loading and unloading
5) The eye/hand coordination draw stroke, including grip and stance (point shooting)
6) The understanding of good body mechanics
7) The fundamentals of marksmanship
8) Malfunction clearances
9) The seamless integration of sighted and unsighted fire
10) The retention concept
11) One handed shooting and the seamless integration of sighted and unsighted fire
11) Making the hits on the move

This is what I teach in my eight-hour “Introduction” course. Seeing students that actually own fight focused skill sets, after one day of training, gives me a great sense of pride. I will never teach a one day course that does not reach that same level of pride.

In my opinion, I owe my students a fighting chance after the very first day that we spend together.

After they have a decent understanding on how to fight, then we can take the time to nail down the intricacies of high level sighted fire.

“That Guy!”

By Roger Philips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

In this case….. for this article, “that guy” is loosely defined as the guy that slows down the firing line due to needing to do things a little slower for safety reasons, is a little behind the rest of the class skill/speed wise, and who needs a little extra attention from the Instructor. This article is not geared towards the people who are simply unsafe and who refuse to change their ways. That is a whole other issue.

If you have ever found yourself being overly judgmental of somebody that you considered to be “that guy,” do yourself a favor and take a look at it from this angle.

Imagine that you have a loved one that has had a recent event in their life that has now made them very afraid and in need of quality help and training RIGHT NOW!

Imagine “that guy” being your mother, your son, your sister, your father, your wife….etc etc. Now imagine your loved ones in our classes doing whatever they need to do to make sure that they (and their loved ones) have a fighting chance against this new evil in their lives. Now imagine your loved ones being treated like second class citizens in their hour of deepest need.

I get people in my classes all of the time that have a story that only they and I know about. They are there for a very urgent reason and it is my job to bring them to a level of confidence, with an immediate ability to gunfight, as quickly as I can……..all while taking care of everyone else’s needs, the very best that I can. They may be a little behind the rest of the class, they may need a little extra attention. But if you are waiting on me or waiting on them, then you are not using your time wisely. You have your own stuff to work on! Don’t wait! Dig deep and work what you need to be working on! The mental aspect of the fight is deep, efficient body mechanics take work, and visualization helps solves problems. At the end of every firing drill we should all have something new that we want to work on and improve at. A lull on the firing line is a great place/time to get your head straight and take advantage of the next learning opportunity.

“Gun fighting is a thinking man’s game.” In the lectures before the drills we give you the mental aspect of the fight to work on inside of every drill. If you are sitting there waiting for a drill to start, you did not learn anything from the lecture. It is my belief that the true value of the courses occurs during the lectures and the subsequent drills are nothing more than putting the lectures to use inside of your live fire.

“This is not just about practicing skill sets, it is about ingraining the perfection of ruthless violence!”

When I am spending a couple of moments bringing somebody up to speed, work on getting your head right. The brain is the ultimate weapon, everything else is just a tool. Train the brain and the body will follow. If you are on the firing line and you feel that you are waiting on somebody……..the problem is not with the person who is getting a little extra attention…….the problem is with your lack of understanding on how to learn efficiently and effectively and with your lack of motivation to be working on what you should be working on.

The next time you are in a class and you begin to look around to try to figure out who is “that guy” be very careful about judging people who you know nothing about. I have a good friend that trains with me who is over 80 years old and his reason for training is the most honorable story you could ever hear. If you did not know his story and you were a little self-centered, you could easily label him incorrectly. The reality is that “as a man” you probably could not even hold a candle to him.

My job is to make each individual as deadly as they can possibly be. Inside of my courses you will learn a lot, shoot a lot, and work at a very good pace. If out of ignorance and arrogance, you cannot accept me treating each individual with the importance that it deserves…….then the problem just might be you.

Friends taking care of friends!

This is the very core of my safety philosophy and lecture. It is also the very core of making sure that there are no “that guy” attitudes inside of my courses. I put everyone in charge of making sure that their friends are safe. They look out for their friends (including me) and their friends look out for them. It is the ultimate of “The Pride” attitude. Every Pride member is informed what is expected from them. Every Pride member is informed what is the quickest way to be an outcast. Every Pride member knows exactly what it takes to be part of The Pride.

Let’s face it……..the biggest aspect of “that guy” comes down to safety. If you care enough about your friends, then your safety will be good. Once the safety portion of the “that guy” attitude is handled, it is much easier to pull together as a Pride that mutually supports each other. You all know me, I’m not talking about some kumbaya BS……..I am talking about fighters teaching fighters and fighters learning from fighters.

It is “The Pride” atmosphere that will allow the squared away, high-speed, low drag professional to learn the story of the newest/least experienced member of “The Pride.” That is the point where the negative connotation of “that guy” becomes the respect and admiration for “that guy.”

The Fundamentals of Fight Focused Handgun Part Four

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The Eye/Hand Coordination Draw Stroke

When everything else mentioned before is put in place, it is your draw stroke that gets you onto the targeted area. The sights are nothing more than a final 2%-5% verification of an already accurate aim, that came out of your draw stoke. The concept behind the eye/hand coordination draw stroke (EHCDS) is to lock in on a dime size focal point, right on the targeted area and use the very best eye/hand coordination and body mechanics to “drive the gun to the focal point.” The body goes where the eyes go and the bullet goes where the eyes go. Lock in hard on the focal point and use straight lines to drive the gun, in the most efficient and effective manner possible, directly to the focal point.

The EHCDS is a study of the perfection of the body mechanics in correlation to the perfection of your eye/hand coordination. We are looking at “the perfect balance of speed and control” out of the irrefutable law of physics call “economy of motion.” What this means is that we are looking to mitigate any wasted movement or disruption, while remaining as efficient and effective as we can.

Many people love to make a big deal out of “muscle memory.” But the reality is that muscle memory is an entry-level concept that will eventually need to be moved past, for the more advance concept of eye/coordination. Eye/hand coordination is how we do things in our every-day world and it is much more valuable than muscle memory because it makes us much more well-rounded and versatile. This versatility allows us to improvise, adapt, and overcome inside of the fluid dynamics of a fight. It also allows us to take our God-given abilities into the most advanced possibilities. Muscle memory is mildly interesting…….but eye/hand coordination is King!

Eye/hand coordination allows us to make a free throw, throw a pitch, make a three-point shot, pass a football, shoot a long bow, drive a car, and countless other endeavors. It is how the amazing human machine works! This is why that it is a fact that it is your EHCDS that gets you on target at logical distances.

Whether we are able to get to the sights or not, due to the dynamics of the fight, we all need to understand and accept the correlations between sighted fire and point shooting. It is all “just shooting” and the only thing that matters is if we win and no innocents get hurt. The EHCDS facilitates this at logical distances.

Inside of the Fight Focused Handgun courses that I teach, sighted fire and point shooting are taught at the very same time. Because it is all just about getting the hits inside of the situation that you are dealing with. I talk non-stop about the correlations between the two forms of shooting. They are taught these four fundamentals, all while discussing the realities of the fight, and the correct context of the fight. But, the bottom line is that the first few live fire drills run inside of this course are run before we have even covered the fundamentals of marksmanship and the use of the sights. The first few drills are all about the EHCDS and driving the gun to the focal point. This approach sets the stage because it covers what we do at the beginning of the draw stroke……not what we do towards the end of the draw stroke.

Once the EHCDS is put in place, teaching somebody the fundamentals of sighted fire is actually much easier because the use of the sights is just something done at the end of the perfection of the body mechanics and the eye/hand coordination.

Let me ask all of you a couple of questions.

What percentage does your body mechanics and eye/hand coordination get you on the targeted area?

Mine gets me about 98% of the way there.

If this is so, why would it not be best to start the training with what we do at the beginning of the draw stroke instead of what we do towards the end of the draw stroke?

Putting in the Work

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Bruce Lee is quoted as saying;

“Before I learned martial arts, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I studied martial arts, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick. Now I understand martial arts, and a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”

This quote is a quote from the perspective of a student attempting to reach the levels of mastery of his art.

The student is explaining the progression that he went through to reach the master level of being able to work at the subconscious level. He admits to a level of ignorance at the beginning where he did not understand that every different punch and every different kick actually has a time and a place. You notice that there was a time period in Bruce Lee’s study of the arts, where he actually had to break everything down to its component parts in order to progress to the next step of understanding at the mastery level. Once he understood all of the different punches and all of the different kicks, he could now apply them all, inside the correct context of the fight, at the subconscious level.

There is no understanding without the study!

You cannot progress from “before I learned” directly to “now I understand.”

I am an Instructor that will always be a student. I took the exact same path, along the exact same progression as Bruce Lee. As an Instructor that deals in matters of life and death, I see it as being my responsibility to instill “the understanding” in my students as quickly as I possibly can. That means that the study has to be focused, in-depth, and all-encompassing. I do not hold back information in order to extend out the necessary length of study, like so many other Instructors do. We (the student and I) jump into the deep end and work feverishly to reach the mastery level of understanding as quickly as we can……..but there can be no short cuts……there can be no watering down of the product……..there can be no skimming over of the necessary study material. It has to be set up in a manner where the Instructor is working just as hard to advance through the requisite study material as the extremely motivated student is.

The student should be working as hard as he can to reach “the understanding” and the Instructor should be doing everything he can to facilitate the reaching of that goal.

Any Instructor that does not do this needs to be looked at with a critical eye. Any Instructor that claims that you do not need to put in the requisite work, inside of the study, is lying to you.

There is no better way to learn than through direct experience. As a student, it is one thing to be told the best way to do something, but it is an entirely different level of understanding when you discover the best way to do something by putting in the work. Pressure testing your strategies, your tactics, and your techniques solidifies the understanding at a mastery level. Owning the understanding…….owning your very personal understanding is what the mastery levels are all about.

You simply cannot get there without putting in the work.

The Fallacy of Hicks Law in Regards to Fighting For Your Life

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Hicks law states that the more choices you have the longer it will take to make a decision.

Many people get all wrapped around the axle when it comes to being fluid, well-rounded, and versatile on matters of fighting for your life. They often believe that if you posses these abilities that Hicks Law will make you too slow in your decision-making ability. I want to break this down in a manner that is simple to understand and that many people will be able to relate to. Let’s take a look at something as simple as fist fighting or boxing.

There are basically five punches in boxing that make up the concept of throwing a punch. This is going to be discussed from the point of a dominant right-handed fighter.

• Left jab
• Straight right hand or cross
• Overhand right hand
• Hook
• Uppercut

With these five basic punches we are able to punch in an extremely wide range of different punches. When we look at distance, angle, and targeted area. These five punches can be thrown hundreds of different ways……which is hundreds of different techniques. Just because we have hundreds of different options on throwing a punch, that does not mean that it takes a lot of time to decide what punch you are going to throw. The specifics of the situation that you are in, in relationship with your adversary is going to limit these hundreds of different punches down to only a few rational choices. Distance, angle, and targeted area is now joined with what is actually an opening and the number of options drops even furthermore. So, even if we have hundreds of techniques, that make up our fluid concepts, we are still limited in a very small number of rational possibilities.

Nobody is going to throw a hook or uppercut from way too far outside, because they will not be able to reach. Nobody is going to throw an overhand right or jab from a clinch, because there simply is not enough room.

While this is a very simplified explanation, it really is no different from all of your self-defense skill sets. When we talk about training in fluid concepts, that are made up of hundreds of techniques, the specifics of the situation that you are in is going to limited your choices to a few rational possibilities.

By training in fluid concepts, while using pattern recognition training, these “few rational possibilities” will be put into play at the subconscious level…….with no need for conscious thought or a drawn out decision-making processes. You will see the opening and respond as you have trained yourself to respond.

This is not 31 Flavors and I am not choosing between Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip, or Pistachio…….I am in a fight for my life and my brain is going to be working at hyper speed at the subconscious level. Hicks law has zero effect on me as long as I train in a manner where it has zero effect on me. The human machine is an amazing thing and can do things well beyond what most people think is possible.

“Never accept limitations set down by another man. Only you know what you are capable of and you will only know it after you have gained the knowledge and put in the work.”

Your Line In the Sand Part 4

The Litmus Test

I learned this from an old friend that I used to correspond with, he goes by “Guantes.”

 

If I think that I may have to get myself involved again, I ask myself one very simple question;

 

“Is this persons bad behavior worth me having to kill them over?”

 

This question gets right to the very heart of the matter. If they are doing something that shocks the consciousness of humanity then it is perfectly clear that it is worth me having to kill them over.

 

But, If it is not worth me having to kill them over……then I probably will not get involved.

 

I know that some people are going to say that I can get involved, but that I do not have to kill them. Let’s make this crystal clear, if I decide to get involved in a situation that does not directly affect me…….I am escalating the situation! Once I’ve made the decision to escalate, I am no longer in full control on how far that escalation can go. My adversary may escalate the situation to the point that I have no choice but to kill him

 

If you interject yourself into a situation that is none of your business, you may have very well jumped in the middle of something that forces you to kill a man. (I’ve been preaching this for years before Zimmerman, he is just the latest highly publicized example.)

 

If you do not want to be another “that guy” like Zimmerman, run the litmus test and ask the question. You will be amazed on how many of  “the three stupids” you will avoid.

 

I have my “primary mission,” I have my “righteous indignation,” and I also have my “this is not worth my time.” I do not need to be the “bad behavior police,” I do not need to be a hero!

 

All I need to be is a great provider for my family, a solid and decent man, and an absolutely ruthless fighter when it is time to answer the call again.

 

“Is this persons bad behavior worth me having to kill them over?”