Visual Input of the Encounter

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

The “see what you need to see” phrase was made famous by Brian Enos and the competition guys. It was all about their ability to make the hits inside of competitive shooting.

But “see what you need to see” has an entirely different meaning for those that are fighting for their lives. For years, I have asked this question inside of my courses, on actually “what you would like to see while fighting for your life.” The list is usually long and is very different from the competition guys list.

1) Hands, because that is what kills you
2) Waist bands, because that is where the weapons are usually hidden
3) Other bad guys, because there is usually more than one bad guy
4) Innocence, because we need to make sure that we do not hurt any innocents
5) Loved ones, friends, partners, because they are on our side or under our protection
6) Available cover, because we just may need that
7) Obstacles, because our attention is going to be focused elsewhere, but we have to be able to see it
8) Footing, because we need to be aware of any trip or slip hazards
9) The exit of the fight, because we may need to simply get out of there
10) Position of tactical advantage, because our mind is the weapon and positioning is key

I have asked hundreds of students this question and until I publicly pointed it out, not one of them said “the front sight.” Even after publicly telling people of this phenomenon, my repeat students sit back and let the first time students struggle to round out the list, to see if anyone actually says it. I have actually seen the front sight mentioned, without being told about it before hand, just a few times.

This is what I have called “the visual input of the entirety of the encounter” for years. It does require being globally aware, over being locally focused. Having the gun in your face and being focused on the front sight makes you locally focused, it facilitates tunnel vision, and there is so much more to see inside of a fight than a few bumps on the top off your gun.

This is why people often shoot for blood below line of sight and this is why people should practice shooting below line of sight. It may not be the most optimal way to get hits, but a lethal encounter is not always an optimal situation, and the encounter may not allow for your most optimal techniques.

If you can “see what you need to see” and then get to your sights, strive for that!

But, if you can not get to the sights for one of the many legitimate reasons possible, have your highly trained, supplemental skill, of shooting below line of sight readily available.

The Completely Versatile Draw Stroke Chapter 16

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

There is no doubt in my mind on the importance of the “default”, two-handed, high pectoral, linear draw stroke. I have spent tens of thousands of hours on this skill…..with every minute being well worth the time.

As I have progressed in my skill sets and knowledge base, I have also seen the importance of something more well-rounded and completely versatile. In my observations of dash camera video, lethal encounters, FOF encounters, and my experience on the streets it has always been clear to me that people may not always be able to get to their default draw stroke. As a matter of fact, that it may be a very bad idea trying to use the default draw stroke in many situations. The reason for this is that there is a need to square up to the threat. By squaring up you may have had to adjust the direction of your movement and stopped to plant yourself on the X or in the kill zone. In a reactive situation, adjusting or stopping the direction of your movement could be a very bad idea. Your displacement off of the line of attack is negatively affected by this adjustment for squaring up.

It is my opinion that accepting your momentum and continuing in the general direction of your movement, possibly in an explosive manner, and then drawing directly to the threat is a much more efficient and effective tactic. This is very much like drawing directly to the threat while seated in a car. We all know that this will cover our legs, but in a truly life threatening reactive situation, your body will choose the fastest way to align your firearm onto the threat. The very same concept should be applied to your draw stroke and the corresponding direction of movement while we engage.

It is my opinion that a completely versatile draw stroke should be added to a well ingrained default draw stroke. One should be able to draw directly to the threat no matter what “clock position” the adversary is at, without squaring up, or dramatically adjusting the direction of your movement. As we break away from the slavery of the default draw stroke, we begin to see the absolute need for a well refined one-handed draw stroke. My two-handed draw stroke (right-handed) covers my 6:00 (think modified grip from last chapter) all the way around to my approximate 2:00. My one-handed draw stroke covers the rest. That is eight positions on the clock two-handed and four positions on the clock one-handed, which is very significant and relatively closed to being of equal importance.

As we add the completely versatile draw stroke, we will immediately see the benefits to this in regards to getting off of the X, especially in a dynamic fashion. The fastest way possible to get off the X is by exploding forward, the general direction that the toes are pointed (from the 10:00 to the 2:00.) If you have “walked” into a bad situation, this is even more obvious. The continuation of your forward movement makes the explosive move out of the kill zone even more effective and efficient. To not use that momentum to your advantage could be a very bad idea.

As I have said before, the height and the extension of the gun will depend on a number of factors, proximity of the threat, urgency of the shot, position in the reactionary curve, need for retention properties, chaos of the encounter, type of terrain/obstacles, user’s skill level, and tactical considerations. The completely versatile draw stroke also takes in the consideration of these factors. Not only should you be able to engage to every position on the clock, you should be able to do it throughout the various levels of extension of your completely versatile draw stroke….one handed and two.

You have all seen me preach about “being able to make solid hits, from any position, from any angle, anywhere throughout your draw stroke, with what ever movement that is necessary.” The completely versatile draw stroke is a significant part of that concept. And from what I have seen in during my observations…. a very important part of that concept.

The completely versatile draw stroke is just one part of the “Dynamic Movement Draw Stroke.” While working with the concept of “drawing directly to the threat,” it is nice to notice that the square range training of the concept, for purely safety reasons, is actually the best way to do it in the real world. That fact does not happen very often, but it does so here. As we look at drawing directly to the threat on a firing line, we need to understand that “directly” cuts out any sort of swinging of the arm horizontally that may cover somebody that is on the firing line or outside of the direct path to the targeted area. What we do and what is best for the square range and the real world is draw directly to the threat in a direct horizontal and linear manner.

If we look at drawing directly to your 9:00, that means that the gun is pointed at the ground as it comes out of the holster and across your body. It is then rotated vertically to the 9:00 and then driven horizontally out in a linear manner. The orientation of the gun is never off of the 9:00 path and that path is from the area around your feet and directly up/out to the threat. With dynamic movement this may cover your legs, but they are covered whenever you come in or out of the holster. That is the reality of the situation whenever you draw directly to the threat (especially with dynamic movement and when you are seated.) Have solidly ingrained trigger finger discipline and it will not be an issue.

So, we obviously see that this is very good on the firing line. The question is why is it good in the real world?

Horizontal swinging of a firearm under stress is always a risky maneuver. Under stress and during an adrenaline dump you have the obvious risk of over travel past your intended targeted area. You also have the problem with the “tuning fork” effect as you try to stop the momentum of your swing. If we use our completely versatile draw stroke in the same “linear” manner as our default draw stroke, we are much more likely to hit what we are aiming at. Draw directly to the threat using straight lines, drive the gun directly to the threat on those same straight line, all while using a perfect balance of speed and control.

Being a Slave Too Your Grip Chapter 15

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Back in 2005, when I first started teaching dynamic movement to every direction on the clock, I would often witness the same thing over and over again, within a certain cross-section of the students. We would be moving to the right rearward oblique (the 5:00) and the right-handed students would inevitable end up in a back pedal. It was odd, I simply could not figure out why they kept doing it, and no matter how many times I would demo it easily and successfully, they would still end up back peddling.

I was teaching a course in Georgia and a very squared away student and friend was running the drill and he kept back peddling. Since he was also an Instructor, I felt as if this was the point that I had to figure out why this phenomenon kept happening. I had him run it over and over again trying to see what he was doing. Finally, it dawned on me that I was analyzing the wrong person. The correct question is not “what is he doing?” The correct question is “what am I doing that he is not doing?”  So, I had the class gather around to analyze what I was doing. As so as I put the training gun in my hands to walk through the drill, it dawned on me like a bolt of lightning. There I was staring at this grip on my handgun that I had never even realized that I was using. Here we were, thinking the back peddling problem was a footwork problem and all along it was a grip problem.

Finally, I figured out what the difference between what I was doing and what they were doing.

I tend to be very fluid, I accept very few hard rules, and I am very comfortable just doing whatever needs to be done to get the job done. Within this fluidity, I found that I would alter my grip on the gun to relieve tension in my body. By relieving this tension, I never felt the need to unwind from it and back pedal. I found that the students that were having a problem with back peddling did not know that they could alter their grip. They had one grip and they were slaves to that one grip. This left them in a position where they had no choice but to unwind the body and back peddle inside of the designed drill.

As soon as I figured out the problem I started looking at what I was doing. I was adjusting the support side hand into a Center Axis Relock (CAR) like grip. I had never been trained in CAR. but I had seen demos on the internet before. As soon as I diagnosed the problem and began teaching this modified grip, the back peddling went away. This epiphany came out of no where in Georgia and is now a permanent part of the curriculum. I also teach it as a “defense against car jacking grip” from the driver’s seat to the 9:00 through the 7:00.

Do not be a slave to your grip. You can make the hits with some pretty major adjustments on the support side hand.

Understanding the Fluidity of the Grip

We can post videos and pictures, but they do not portray the fluidity of the grip that I am talking about. Once again it is not a “this or that” type of technique it is one fluid concept. If you would like to understand what I am trying to convey, check this out “dry.”

1) Unload your handgun and verify unloaded.

2) For a right-handed shooter, point in to your 12:00 with a standard two-handed grip.

3) Now with as little pivot of the feet or the waist as possible slowly start bringing the gun around counter clock wise towards the 7:00.

4) Keep you support side hand fluid and let it slip around the firing side fingers that are on the front strap.

5) As you do this, the gun will continually move close and closer to your face, until you are in a full CAR like modified grip, with the gun about six inches from your face, pointed in at your 7:00.

On the Trigger Reset

By ninpo_student from The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

The problem isn’t trigger reset as much as how it’s taught. Done properly, the end goal is the trigger resets under recoil, allowing you to pick up the sighting system and press off the next round as soon as the sights settle to an acceptable picture. We as an industry in general do a piss poor job teaching that, same with the draw stroke. Both, the way they are taught, are done so the student learns the proper motions in the proper order. We fail to explain to them that the end goal ( for trigger reset ) is to reset the trigger as the slide cycles so the followup shot ( if necessary ) can be taken immediately, without the extra step of resetting the trigger prior.

Both trigger reset, properly executed and slapping, for lack of a better term, the trigger both work to shoot fast. The key with both of them is a firm grasp of the fundamentals ( specifically grip ) and the ability to apply them at speed. To successfully “slap” the trigger and make good hits, you need to grip that gun like a 14 year old discovering masturbation for the first time or the sights will bounce all over hell and back. To reset the trigger at speed, the gun almost needs to float in your hand a bit and reset off a firm trigger finger if that makes sense. It’s easier to show than explain. The guys who came to Roger and I’s carbine class last year got a demonstration of what I’m talking about, albeit with a carbine vs a pistol.

All of which begs the question, how fast is fast enough ? The answer, like nearly everything in the application side of training, is it depends. The speed I need to successfully win a match is not the speed I need to win a gunfight. While the two are similar in that I need to engage a target under stress against the clock ( the bad guy in a fight and competitors in a match ), the other variables are vastly different. In a match I know I’m firing a certain number of rounds from this position at theses targets, and barring a miss or malfunction I’m off to the next firing position. In a gunfight I’m constantly evaluating the environment, the effects or lack thereof my rounds are having on target, the relative positions of my teammates or other bad guys, non-combatants in the mix, etc. those additional environmental details require time, however minuscule an amount, to process and act upon. Those factors control the speed you can engage at.

The shooting part of gunfighting is only 10% of the game. It’s a foundational 10%, obviously, but only 10%. Those other factors I mentioned above and a thousand things I didn’t are all in play too. If it’s your first gunfight you’ll have the added stress of that. That’s why we should be continually building up our foundation. Now, as a shooter, I’m never satisfied with where I’m at, I’m always looking to improve my game. I’m never as fast as I want to be, never as accurate as I want to be, etc., simply because I don’t know what particular sub-skill will be required to win my next gunfight ( my wife says no more, but I’m not too old yet…… ).

The other part of the problem is that we tend to isolate speed and precision when in reality they exist together as two sides of the same coin. Part of the issue is the YouTube and Instagram heroes who spend an afternoon shooting so they can post the one good run they had that day, or speed up the runs they did to make them appear faster. If you notice, most of them rarely show the target they are shooting at, for the simple reason at it either looks like a shotgun patterning at 25m or they flat-out missed. Speed is the byproduct of smoothness and accuracy. It’s the end result of eliminating excessive motion and ingraining a solid neural pathway for the skill in question. When speed is our end goal, we sacrifice smoothness and the elimination of excess motion to do it fast.

Watch dudes trying to go fast who don’t have it down and they look like they are having a fucking seizure. Now watch Leatham, Defoor, Chapman, etc shoot and it looks slow as fuck until you check out the timer. That’s what the proper combination of speed AND accuracy looks like. It’s what we should be striving for. Unfortunately it’s hard work and past a certain point gains are increasingly incremental and harder to come by. It’s so much easier to just rip it out of the holster and slap the shit out of the trigger and explain away the shit show the target is displaying…….

Some Things in the Works for 2018 with Deus Ex Machina

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

I just finished my last few courses for 2017 and have begun looking at 2018.

I ran a pretty light schedule in 2016 and 2017 due to having some family issues that needed my attention. Those things have fallen into place and I am looking to pick up some lost momentum. I have been looking at the market and trying to figure out what moves need to be made to regain that momentum. I just kept coming back to the same thing over and over again……the basics, marketing, and creating a new student base. The market is flooded with the guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and selling out courses across the nation is a thing in my past. I’m not saying that I can never get back to that, what I am saying is that it will take a lot of hard work, a really good plan of action, some definite adjustments, and a strong relationship with really good people.

The basic courses and the building of a new student base has always been an obstacle that I had trouble with. The biggest problem was actually having a facility to make that happen. On the most part, my range has always been good to me, but that is not the facility that I am speaking of. What I am talking about is a place with a classroom, an indoor training area, and a place that is professional and functional. What I am talking about is a place to get out of the extreme weather conditions of Las Vegas, where the newer students can be comfortable enough to invest the time to get a proper introduction and for older students to gather, network, train, and build a community.

This one issue has dogged me for years. This one issue is an obstacle that has held me back from being able to do what I know needs to be done.

Tonight I went to check out Deus Ex Machina’s new gun smith shop and met with a couple of the founding business owners Ben and Kerry . While being showed around, it became clear that a mutually beneficial relationship between us could be very good for all parties involved. Small classes can be held in the conference room, large classes can be held in the large shop. Gun smith service, armorer courses, training groups, knife courses, CCW courses, seminars, lectures, women’s introductory courses, medical courses and UTM training, can all be done here.

This is something that we have talked about for over a year, but all parties involved have been very busy. It look as if things may finally be falling into place.

Here are a few photo’s showing the facility. The one photo that is missing would be the 2 large roll up doors and the spacious training area.

We are in the beginning stages of coming up with a plan on how to make a huge impact on the Las Vegas Market. I will keep you apprised as we hopefully nail it down.