Becoming Completely Ambidextrous and Dry Practice (Revised)

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

I will be teaching people how to become “completely ambidextrous” on October 19-20, 2019 in Vegas.

I remember back in 2002 when I made the decision to work to become ambidextrous. At first, I felt “inept!” I was slow, clumsy, weak, and inconsistent. I refused to accept that feeling as my reality!

Right off of the bat, I knew that I was going to have to get squared away on my own, through dry practice. The reason for this was not just about getting over my ineptitude but to get past the significant safety concerns. I had an ignorant left-handed trigger finger and an ignorant right-handed thumb. In comparison to my educated right hand trigger finger and my left hand thumb, the differences were astronomical.

I did not want to show up to a live fire course feeling inept and having major safety concerns. I did not want to be “that guy!” When I did show up to the live fire course, the instructors watched me like a hawk to make sure that I was ready…..and I was.

The time that I spent on my left-handed dry practice may have been the most valuable dry practice that I had ever put in. My right-handed skill set were never “inept,” They were just ignorant. But my left-handed skill sets did start off at “inept.”

The Stupid Trigger Finger

Make no mistake about it, until you have educated your secondary hand trigger finger……it is stupid……and stupidity can get you killed! You need to bring the level of “educated trigger finger” to the point that it is ingrained at a purely automatic level. This is an absolute “must have down cold” portion of your dry practice.

The Stupid Thumb

This is not so much a “life and death issue as it is a “don’t hurt yourself” issue. The thumb of your primary hand must learn its place when it becomes the support hand during your two-handed shooting. It must learn its “thumbs forward grip” position to keep you safe from the slide coming back and smacking the stupid appendage. That thumb is used to “wrapping” around the back strap and that is what it is going to want to do unless you train it to do something else.

Why Am I So Inept?!

This is temporary and can be moved past very quickly with dedication. “This too will pass” is the mindset that you must have. Once you get past this period of ineptitude…..it will never come back. I went away from my “mirrored set up” for a good six years. When I came back to it, it was as if I had never left it. Right now I am at about 90% of completely ambidextrous. If I did not have significant problems with my left wrist. I would be at 98%. This was not a hard level to reach. But, it had to be reached initially, through dry practice.

The Learning Progression

Dry practice until you are past being inept and unsafe. Unfortunately, the majority of “students of the gun” do not dry practice near as much as they should. This is a fact that is often hidden from the Instructor. Due to that, I no longer accept a student telling me that they have put in the time, I make them show me. In all of my courses, there is a good good deal of dry practice, more so in courses that attempt to facilitate “completely ambidextrous.” Dry practice under the watchful eye of a qualified Instructor is invaluable. That is the point where the Instructor transitions to being the Coach. A good Coach is the person who will facilitate safe and proper “completely ambidextrous” skill sets.

Dry practice to the point that you acquire the skill level that will facilitate not making a mistake that could be painful or deadly.

Step back down to the fundamentals and run them secondary hand only.

Acquire the confidence in your well-earned completely ambidextrous skill sets through live fire.

Step back into dry practice and practice your intermediate skill level skill sets.

Begin to work past the fundamentals and start working fluid, well-rounded, and versatile skill sets.

Take these skill sets into the intermediate live fire.

Step back into dry practice and work your advanced skill sets.

Take those skill sets into the advanced live fire.

This is the progression that I took and it is the progression that I would recommend to all of my students. Do not be “that guy!” You know what I say about “that guy”…….he can get somebody hurt or dead real quick!

In nearly all of my FFH5 the student base safely reached a completely ambidextrous skill level that was simply amazing. We did this in a very safe and methodical manner through dry practice and repetition. The experience from those courses and those groups of students, has solidified my resolve to continue on this path of excellence. It had such a profound effect on me that I have now introduced a new course called Fight Focused Handgun VII – Advanced Fight Focused Drills. This course is going to pick up right where we left off in the FFH5 course. It is going to be heavy on completely ambidextrous while running the most advanced of the drills that have ever been seen inside of any of the Fight Focused Concepts courses.

If this is a skill that you would like to improve on, come on out to Vegas October 19-20, 2019

Got Completely Ambidextrous?

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

From Fight Focused Handgun III, to Fight Focused Handgun V, and Beyond

I will be teaching people how to become “completely ambidextrous” on October 19-20, 2019 in Vegas.

To the vast majority of trainers and students out there, my flagship Fight Focused Handgun III – The Reactive Gunfight (FFH3) course would be seen as an advanced course. Those that train with me know that in reality, it is actually nothing more than an introductory course to the true realities of fighting with your handgun. The course is perceived as being advanced due to the fact that we do not accept that the fundamentals of marksmanship are the “end all be all” to fighting. While they are very important, they are just one piece of the overall puzzle. To be as deadly as you can possibly be, while fighting for your life with a handgun, there are many more pieces that need to be added to the puzzle.

I remember the very first FFH3 course that I taught and how before it was even over, the students were asking me “where do I go from here……what is next?” This is a very important question and one that needs to be answered. I could have just created another course that had a few more advanced drills in it and continued to ride the wave of success…….or I could do what I believe to be right and create a course that actually is more advanced and does prepare my student base at a higher level, inside of the matters of “life and death.” The easy route for my students and I, would be the first option. The problem with the second option is how it required me taking a good number of my students and pushing them outside of their comfort level and their belief system.

From the very first, I felt that the Fight Focused Handgun V – Advanced Reactive Gunfighting (FFH5) should be heavily focused on becoming completely ambidextrous. I still vehemently feel that way today!

To become completely ambidextrous, the most efficient and effective training requires mirrored set ups, consisting of a holster on each side of the body and a magazine pouch on each side of the body. We are not talking about becoming partially ambidextrous. Handing the gun over to the non-primary hand is entry-level as far as being ambidextrous. To become completely ambidextrous means, that you can and that you do, everything on the non-primary side that you do on the primary side. About 50% of my student base shows up to the FFH5 course with mirrored set ups. I would say that another 25% wished that they did and end up showing up the second day with a mirrored set up. It is the remaining 25% that this article is aimed at.

The most common reason that I hear for not wanting to train with a mirrored set is “I do not carry that way, so I do not believe that I should train that way.” Guess what? I do not carry that way either! For me, this is not about training for carrying in a mirrored set up. Sure, I could do it at a very high level if I wanted to and if I was planning on just hanging out in Detroit or some other God forsaken part of the country . But I do not hang out in Detroit, so I do not carry in a mirrored setup. Training with a mirrored set up is about much more important things than carrying in that manner. It is about training to be completely ambidextrous, totally well-rounded, thoroughly fluid, and without any weaknesses or chinks in my armor. It is about training to have all of my “most likely” covered to the very best of my ability. You see, needing to be very good with your non-primary hand is not a luxury…….it is a necessity.

For those that have taken force on force (FOF), how many times were you shot in your primary hand or arm? How many times have you heard about people in gun fights being shot in the primary hand or arm? This is a reality that we have to face, but it is not even the most likely reason that you need to be good with your non-primary hand. How many times have you heard of shooters who injury their primary hand or arm in completely unrelated (to guns) accidents? How many times have you heard people admit in despair, when they realize that they have not taken the time or put in the work and now they have to carry a gun without the proper skill level. On the other hand, how many times have you heard the glee in a person’s voice when they find themselves injured and find themselves prepared for that injury due to having the skills to overcome their problem. Now this is the most common of situations where you are going to wish that you had trained with a mirrored set up!

Being completely ambidextrous is like knowing how to point shoot. You all have heard me say this hundreds of times…..”It is not about point shooting, it is about what point shooting allows you to do.” On the same token……..”It is not about being completely ambidextrous, it is about what being completely ambidextrous allows you to do!” Overcoming injuries is marginally interesting! The real benefits to being completely ambidextrous do not even show themselves until you are at the upper echelon of your advanced training. We have the obvious skill sets where you benefit such as shooting around cover and shooting on the move, but that is nothing compared to your abilities inside of CQB and structure clearing. In my opinion, this reason and this reason alone, is not only the number one reason to own completely ambidextrous skill sets, but the most important reason to own ambidextrous skill sets at an exponential level. If you are clearing structures using your primary hand only, you may as well tie the other one behind your back. It is my opinion that you are handicapping yourself to a level that borders on insanity.

Clearing structures should flow like water. A right-handed corner needs right-handed skill sets and a left-handed corner requires left-handed skill sets. The transfers should flow without any thought and the ambidextrous retention concept should be as fluid as your movement. All of the things that you need to do to keep from being seen and shot, while fluidly keeping the handgun in the most advantageous positions as possible is not going to take place unless you have taken the time and put in the work to acquire completely ambidextrous skill sets. Training with a mirrored set up is the beginning of this path.

I do not sell holsters, magazine pouches, or handguns. I am not telling you all this to sell gear. I am telling you all this because it is what I believe, what I have experiences, what I have seen, and what I know to be the very best information that I can find for my student base. If you trust me to teach you the very best information that I can find…….trust me on this!

In nearly all of my FFH5 the student base safely reached a completely ambidextrous skill level that was simply amazing. We did this in a very safe and methodical manner through dry practice and repetition. The experience from those courses and those groups of students, has solidified my resolve to continue on this path of excellence. It had such a profound effect on me that I have now introduced a new course called Fight Focused Handgun VII – Advanced Fight Focused Drills. This course is going to pick up right where we left off in the FFH5 course. It is going to be heavy on completely ambidextrous while running the most advanced of the drills that have ever been seen inside of any of the Fight Focused Concepts courses.

If this is a skill that you would like to improve on, come on out to Vegas October 19-20, 2019

October 19-20, 2019 – Fight Focused Handgun V – Advanced Reactive Gunfighting – $250 – 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club

Fight Focused Handgun V – Advanced Reactive Gunfighting

Fight Focused Handgun V picks up right where Fight Focused Handgun III left off. The main focus inside of this course is to become completely ambidextrous. When we talk of the most advanced levels of the handgun, the need for completely ambidextrous skill sets simply cannot be understated. Whether the need for these skills is due to being injured inside of the fight, being injured outside of the fight, for shooting around cover, or having the ability to shoot to any angle on the clock while moving dynamically, when you need these skills, you are going to need them as bad as you have ever needed anything. Another arena where you are going to need to be completely ambidextrous, if you want to be as prepared as you can possible be is the arena of CQB and clearing of structures. Learning to apply ambidextrous skills to your “clearing” tool box will make you a safer and more dangerous fighter.

What you will learn inside of this course is the essentials to being able to fight with your handguns, at the highest levels possible.

Mirrored set ups are strongly recommended inside of this course, but not absolutely necessary.

Approximately 750 rounds (minimum):
As always “Bring more if you want to shoot more”

  • Injured shooters drills
  • The importance of the thumbs forward/locked wrist grip
  • Injured shooters malfunction clearances
  • A look at back up guns and the varying carry options
  • Transfers and transitions
  • The benefits of mirrored set ups
  • Repetition to get your non-primary hand up to speed
  • The retention concept applied to the non-primary hand
  • Ambidextrous completely versatile draw stroke
  • Ambidextrous movement matrix

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