Which Way Do I Go? Chapter 13

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

As we look at the movement concept, we are constantly asked this same question over and over again. The only answer that covers all of the bases is that we need to be able to fight in every direction on the clock. Even within this versatility, we need to prioritize our movement to “the most likely” and “the most efficient and effective.” This all has to be looked at through “the balance to hit and not be hit.” Everyone wants a bumper sticker size answer to all things tactical, but the only way that is possible is when the bumper sticker says “It depends.”

There are many factors to consider when you look at the best direction to go for any specific situation.

  • The distance
  • The urgency
  • The environment (including obstacles)
  • The type of threat and weapon being deployed against you
  • The available cover
  • The exit of the fight
  • The retention issue
  • Your mission
  • You personal attributes
  • Your personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Your subconscious level “fight or flight” response
  • Your mindset

As you can see, setting any limitations on the direction that you train to move could be a very bad idea. We need to train in all directions, all while using our prioritization.

As for a common sense prioritization, Fight Focused Concept (FFC) really prefers the movement toward the forward oblique’s (10:30 and 1:30.) This gives us the very most angular displacement that we are giving our adversary to deal with, which makes it harder for the adversary to hit us, while giving us a direction that makes it very easy for us to make the hits on them. Another priority direction that has been brought back from the combat proven skill sets of the “old timers” is aggressively advancing (12:00.) This direction has a very long history of success. These successes are being rediscovered now that we are back at war. This direction really gets inside of the adversary’s head, it messes with his OODA loop, and often puts him in a panic mode. This all comes down to doing the unexpected and the application of increasing pressure. Most of the forward movement skill sets give us the ability to perform the “increasingly accurate marksmanship” phenomenon, as we close the distance.

Rearward oblique movement (4:30 and 7:30) is a slightly lower priority direction, yet is still an essential skill set, especially against edge and blunt weapons. Rearward oblique movement can be a very dynamic as long as you get your hips around and point your toes (as much as is comfortable) the direction that you are headed. Back peddling is something that you should try to mitigate as much as possible, when it is up close and down and dirty. Back peddling is slow and does not facilitate the use of directional changes as well as “turret of the tank” concepts. Back peddling can take on a more prevalent role when the immediate threat is low and the distance and the difficulty of the shot demands a more stable/squared up shooting platform. Quality rearward movement skills are dependent on quality one-handed shooting skills or the knowledge to never become a slave to your two-handed grip through the use of a modified grip. You must be fluid with your two-handed grip while moving rearward, towards your 4:30 (if you are right-handed).

Lateral movement (9:00 and 3:00) is a decent direction and needs to be trained. But, we must remember that the angular displacement is not of the comparable degree as the forward obliques. It also does not give us the “increasingly accurate marksmanship” phenomenon. This direction of movement is much more about being able to fight to cover or the exit of the fight.

Rearward movement (6:00) is a very low priority direction because it never gets you off of the line of attack and does very little to help you inside of “the balance to hit and to not be hit.”

As the “which way do I go” questions get answered, one more question that is always bound to be asked. “Which direction makes it harder for the adversary to track me?” The common answer is that moving to the back side of his gun hand, makes it harder for him to track you. I am of the mind that I do not know for sure……nor do I care what the adversary is capable of. All I know…..or care about is what I am capable of. My goal is to make the adversary fight my fight, to leave him in the position where he is responding to my strengths…..not me guessing about his strengths. If I am working the forward oblique’s and the distance leads to a retention problem, I am going to my right. The cross body aiming of my modified grip, out of moving to my right gives me excellent retention properties. If I have some distance while working the same forward oblique’s, I going to move to my left. The visual input out of the “point shoulder” aiming method is something that my body just loves. I know that I am fast and accurate and the solid body mechanics facilitates extreme dynamic movement. I am going to work with what is known, as fact. I am not going to guess what someone else is capable of. I want to make them fight my fight.

The bottom line is that it is a very good idea to “train for the worst and hope for the best.” You never know what the dynamics of the fight are going to be. It is the wise man who trains himself to be well-rounded as possible in order to cover as many bases as he can. Training in just one response will make you a “flat sided” fighter. Flat sided fighters can not adapt to varying tactics, if you can not adapt, you will not overcome. But, to the very same degree, movement must have purpose. Moving for the sake of moving is not wise at all. Movement must give you a tactical advantage. If you can dominant the encounter with fast and accurate stand and deliver skills, then that may just be the very best way to go.

Eye/Hand Coordination, Confidence, and the Path to its Discovery and Refinement

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Whatever you prefer to call it….. point shooting, instinctive shooting, index shooting, reactive shooting, threat focused shooting, contact shooting, blah, blah, blah……it really does not matter. The bottom line is that it is the use of ones natural eye/hand coordination to puts hits onto a targeted area. It is the ability to make the bullets go to the exact point that your eyes are focused on, from any angle or any position. Eye/hand coordination is simply a teaming up of the eyes, the mind, and the body. The mind simply directs the body to align the gun so that the point of aim intersects the line of sight at the focal point. This is easy to understand, but not all that easy to make happen on your own.

We all know that the basics of point shooting has been broken down and taught into specific positions and stances (much like the four count draw stroke.) These specifics help facilitate in the teaching of basic point shooting and are a very important key to unlocking the door to your eye/hand coordination. But, we need to understand that these are only the basics. It is my opinion, that if you were to stop there you have only glanced at 10% of this piece of the puzzle. To get the most out of point shooting you need to break away from this basic breakdown. Point shooting is not a stance, grip, position, or angle dependent skill set. It is a fluid, well-rounded, and completely versatile concept.

But, the basics are the basics and they are a necessary part of the learning progression. When we look at the basics, we usually look at the basic geometry of the body position. We teach to square up to the target with the nose and toes pointed at it. We teach to put the gun on our center-line and to hold the gun parallel to the ground. This basic geometry is virtually fool-proof and it is nearly impossible to not get hits when the basic body geometry is put into place.

It is my opinion, that there is another part of the basics that have been ignored by some of the old timers. I believe that this is done because most of the older books just deal with the absolute basics. Once you move outside of the basic body geometry and take the skills into fluid and dynamic FOF, you find that another very important basic piece of the puzzle comes into play. This would be the visual input of the eye/hand coordination equation. Brian Enos and many other firearm instructors saw the importance of visual input to facilitate making the shot at varying distances, difficulty levels, and under time constraints. I firmly believe in the concept of integrating the old with the new, in order  to become the very best that you can be.

With that said, I firmly believe in the teaching of alternative sighting methods. These methods fall squarely into the “see what you need to see” concepts. By using gun focused skills such as hard focus on the front sight, flash sight picture, front sight only, along with threat focused skills such as type two focus, aligning down the slide, and metal and meat you are teaching your brain to see what it needs to see and laying a solid foundation for your eye/hand coordination and the seamless integration between eye/hand coordination shooting and sighted fire. As I have said many times, just having the knowledge of these alternative sighting methods, your brain will know which part of this information it will need to make the hits. That is what eye/hand coordination is all about.

Once we drop the gun to below line of sight, the visual input of the shot takes on a whole new meaning. We are now working with our peripheral vision outside of our line of sight. Once again, this is something that is completely ignored by some of the old timers, but let us face the facts. When it comes to eye/hand coordination, when your mind takes in the peripheral vision information from the eyes, the mind will attempt to align the body, hand, and focal point off of that information…… whether we want it to or not. That is simply the way that the human machine works. To understand and accept this peripheral vision verification, as fact, is not a bad thing. It is a very good thing. This understanding and acceptance just leads to more confidence.

When it comes to eye/hand coordination shooting…..confidence is the king!

As we push the movement continuum with our point shooting skills, we eliminate more and more of the basic body geometry, to the point that it is almost non-existent. We can no longer rely on our center-line due to the fact that it is just too limiting to our movement options. We now have to work off our visual center-line with our eye/hand coordination. Therefore, any direction that we look gives us our basic geometry. Add to this our line of sight alternative indexing methods and our use of peripheral vision verification below line of sight and we have an amazingly versatile eye/hand coordination aiming system. This system is as simple as can be, works off of the subconscious mind under the typical physiological reactions to a life threatening encounter, and also has the advantages of absolutely excelling with dynamic movement.

A few hours of conscious thought and discovery will lead to a level of confidence, in the subconscious minds ability, that will truly amaze most people. Once you have put in the requisite amount of work at the conscious level, you may never have to visit this level again. You will have a good understanding of your eye/hand coordination and you may never again have to ask yourself what you need to see to get the hits. You will just instinctively get the hits that you need, within the correct context of the fight.

And things will never be the same!

A Blast From the Past

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Since I am being called out by name, I think that gives me the right to address some of the issues brought up in this piece. I have no idea who wrote it, it was just sent to me.

My responses will be in bold.

Aimed-Fire versus Point-Shooting

Oh, great! I have not read a silly point shooting -vs- debate in nearly a decade. The title alone sets the stage for what follows.

There’s really no argument here, among learned shooters. While there are certainly times that preclude visually using your sights (like, shooting from retention at contact distances in a “wrasslin’” match), there can be no legitimate debate that using your sights is better than not. I’ve read a lot of Roger Phillips’s arguments, and at first glance, they make some sense. Unfortunately, in the real world, they fall flat.

“Learned shooters” I wonder who they are. Are we talking about the best pure shooters in the world……the competitors? It has been long-established that the very best shooters in the world do point shoot. The form of point shooting that they use is commonly referred to as “Type One Focus” and “Type Two Focus.” Are these “learned shooters” the special units and squads that often hire the competitors to teach them the tricks of point shooting, all taught under manipulated names other than point shooting?

“There can be no legitimate debate that using your sights is better than not.”

This would only be true if you think that projecting your gun into a retention problem is a good idea. In my opinion, projecting the gun into a retention problem is one of the biggest signs of a lack of acceptance of reality that there could possibly be. Why would I hand my gun over to my adversary, open myself up to an attack on my gun, gun hand, and gun arm when it is not necessary? To open myself up for such a retention problem, when it is not necessary, would border on stupidity.

I’ve read a lot of Roger Phillips’s arguments, and at first glance, they make some sense. Unfortunately, in the real world, they fall flat.

You may want to look deeper than “first glance.” It is clear that your first glance is coming from a closed-minded position. It is the depths of the material that shows the truth. I would like to understand “the real world” that you are talking about. Context is everything and your real world may be very different from me and my students real world. I have never seen a handgun projected out toward a skill knife man who did not end very badly for the gunman. But that would be “street” context and not Special Forces context.

Lest I offend anyone, I’m going to break this down into the simplest, most easily understood grammar school language I can manage….

Whether you are operating in a combat zone, as a uniformed service member, are a cop in a LEO role, or a survivalist in a TEOTWAWKI, who accepts the very real need to maintain good rapport with neighbors and community members….you are, absolutely, 100% accountable for the FINAL destination of every single fucking projectile that exits your muzzle. Period. Full-stop. End-of-story.

And sighted fire has guaranteed this 100% accountability in the past? Could you please cite your sources on this mythical percentage? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that statement sounds when the facts are that the nationally recognized hit ration of the LEO’s across this country is 15%-25% and the vast majority of them are taught just as you are advocating? It is the acceptance of the lack of reality that has left these -vs- debates in the dust of the past. If people keep clinging to the fiction of the past, the truths will never be discovered. Since distance is an unmistakable fluid concept inside of a fight, that makes retention an unmistakable reality inside of a fight. If you do not know how to point shoot you are left with no skills to handle the retention problems inside of a fight. From four yards and in, there is a fluid retention problem that simply must be taken into consideration if you are going to be as deadly as you can possible be.

Those sights, on top of your weapon, were put there for a reason. They are not an after-thought. They are not a conspiracy between gun-designers and clothing companies to rip your shirts and cost you money. The original Colt Paterson revolver; the first functional, commonly available repeating handgun, had sights (however rudimentary they were….and they were pretty primitive), for a reason.

Wow! Nice work Captain Obvious! Only a silly -vs- debate would state something so ridiculous. If you read anything from me past the “first glance” you would know that this statement means nothing since I teach the use of the sights on a handgun up to the level of 200 yard hits on demand. You may want to actually know what you are arguing against before you argue.

Will point-shooting work reasonably well at common hand-gun ranges? Sure. Absolutely. Heck, I’ve made hits on an index card at 30 feet, with my eyes closed, point-shooting. Not with regular consistency though. A trained, practiced shooter, running a modern, semi-automatic pistol, using his sights, can put four rounds per second, or more, into a 3×5 index card at 30 feet, in less than one second; every single time. When a point-shooter can do that, and prove it, I’ll start taking a second look.

Context is everything and it is clear that you do not understand the context of point shooting and where it fits inside of a fight. Ten yards inside of an index card……I would use my sights. This is known as a straw man argument. You have created an argument where there is no argument. This is designed to make your adversary look stupid, but it has no real teeth or relevance to those that are in the know on the use of such Junior High School debate tactics or those that actually know what it is that I teach.

It’s a given, amongst serious students of pistol-craft, that however tight your shot groups are with your pistol, they’re probably going to widen up considerably when the stuff gets real. Mine certainly did. The difference between my index card-sized groups on the training range, and my entire “sniper’s triangle” sized groups in real life and even in Force-on-Force training are significant. If your idea of a “good group” in training is keeping them all in the C-Zone, or even the A-Zone of a silhouette, instead of a small portion of the A-Zone, you’d better accept that a lot of your rounds, real world, are going to completely miss the intended bad guy.

Since you have never received professional instruction on point shooting due to your closed mind on the subject, you do not understand the philosophical differences between these two forms of shooting. Sighted fire is a conditioned response that works off of fine motor skills. Sighted fire is deeply affected by the adrenaline dump and activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Point shooting is a natural/reflexive/instinctive response that works off of gross motor skills and is not nearly as affected by the adrenaline dump and activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, my groups do not double in size when I am fighting……..because I am training as I would fight and fighting as I would train. But that knowledge would require more than a “first glance” at what I teach.

There’s a couple of problems with that: first off, the more rounds you miss with, the longer the fight will last. The longer the fight lasts, the more chances there are for the bad guy to get a couple into YOU. That’s bad (although the bad guy would disagree). Second, every single round that misses the bad guy has to stop somewhere. In a crowded, populated environment (the exact types of places where we CONCEAL our weapons…), there’s a GOOD chance that those stopping places will be other people, either non-combatants or even dude’s on your own team.

Sounds as if you suck at point shooting! Or it could be that you do not understand the context of point shooting and are using it incorrectly. I find it difficult to accept that point shooting does not work just because you have received no training in it. Could it be that it is your weakness in this skill set and knowledge base that has left you in a position that “you do not know what you do not know?” Could it be that you have no idea what you are talking about because you do not have the requisite training to make an informed decision?

There is not a single serious gun-fighting professional organization anywhere, that I’m aware of, that uses point-shooting as a doctrinal method, for good reason. It’s NOT accurate. Anyone that claims otherwise is trying to sell you something. That something is generally brown in color, and smells nasty. I am well aware that Eric Haney, retired from SFOD-D, claims that he used point-shooting while in the Unit. Never having served in that unit, I can’t say, but every instructor I ever had who came from that unit, used aimed fire. There are plenty of veterans of that unit walking around in the training industry for guys to ask…Delta uses aimed fire, and for good reason. It works.

Oh the lack of knowledge of the proper context! Context is everything! How many reactive gunfights does Delta plan on getting in? Isn’t their job to dominate the action while using every resource available from the US Government? How does this Spec Op context even remotely look like the context of the lone LEO suffering from complacency or the father fighting for the life of his family while walking through a Wal-Mart parking lot? Could it be that it is your lack of street experience and context that has led you to believe that your Spec Ops context is the one true context? Do you understand the realities of the fight that can show up at your door step or do you only see things through the eyes of somebody that works Spec Ops? Do you think you are the only one that fights and that your predominant type of fight is what others are going to be dealing with?

This is a very, very, very tired debate, that I can’t believe I’ve even let myself get dragged into, but what the heck. If you want to point shoot, more power to you. Don’t do it anywhere around my wife and kid though, and do the world a favor, and quit telling people how awesome it is, until you’ve shot a quantifiable course-of-fire, with accuracy and time standards, to PROVE conclusively, that it is superior.

But here you are, talking about something that you have very little knowledge and experience in. How about you learn how to test your fighting skills inside of properly conducted force on force? I guarantee you if I ran the properly conducted force on force training, I would have you point shooting over and over again, because you would simply have no choice, but to do it……or die. Once I introduced you to the reality of a reactive gunfight, I would even forgive you for this hatchet piece and teach you how to do it at the highest levels possible.

I am aware of course, that numerous “studies” have demonstrated the even “highly trained” shooters don’t use their sights in real-world gunfights. All I can say is, I remember always seeing mine, and so does every single other guy I’ve talked to from serious backgrounds who’s used their weapons in real fights.

Context is everything! What was the context of the gunfight? Was it reactive or proactive? What was the context of the fighter? Were they the elite units that train and fight for a living or were they people who have regular lives, jobs, responsibilities, hobbies, and friends. If you cannot see the contextual differences between these simple things you will always be speaking from a position of “you do not know what you do not know.”

As far as the old West gunslingers…yeah…number one, when you actually start seriously studying the history of those gunfights that did occur, rather than taking the word of “experts” like John Ford and Louis L’Amour, most were not the noble, stand-up in the street, and face the ne’er-do-well like a real man sorts of events. Most were drunken brawls and bar fights at or near contact distance, with little or no concern for non-combatant bystanders in the room.

I’m also aware that seriously qualified old-timers like Bill Jordan used a point-shooting variant. Same thing…a shooting at “arrest” distances may very well be pulled off with point-shooting. I’d also point out however, that Mr. Jordan also despised the 1911 and other auto-loading pistols in preference to the revolver for social purposes. How many guys who espouse point shooting are going to give up their modern sidearms too?

What? What does this have to do with anything?

Guys, just aim your guns. It does NOT take any longer, at the 1-10M distances we’re talking about for tactical applications of the defensive sidearm (seriously, most guys I’ve seen who use “point shooting” actually end up being slower than dedicated craftsmen who use their sights, just getting their first hit on the target, let alone actually putting multiple rounds into a target.

How about you learn that point shooting is aiming your gun. It is another form of aiming your gun rather than using your sights, but it is aiming, just as you aim a three-point shot, a pitched baseball, and a long bow. But that would require knowledge, training, and actual study. You may also want to learn a little something about the irrefutable law of physics called “economy of motion” that states that the further you have to move the longer it takes. I will always be faster off the top on my holster that I will be at line of sight. It is simply irrefutable science…….not uninformed opinion.

Your lack of knowledge, training, and experience in what you speak of is showing……..brightly and loudly. Either that or you are so closed-minded that you refuse to see the obvious facts that are staring you right in the face.

How about you open your mind and get some training in point shooting from an expert so you can actually speak from a credible position.