Point Shooting and Fighting at Night (Revised)

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

It is a well documented fact that the vast majority of gun fights (70%-80%) happen in low light situations. Obviously, the criminal element prefers to operate under the cloak of darkness. It is also pretty well documented on how much more difficult it is to make the hits in reduced light. The documented drop in hit percentage during well-lit gun fights compared to reduced light gunfight is 20%-25%. This could be for two very distinct reasons, difficulty in getting to your sights while fighting at night, and the brain starving for the reduced visual input of the entirety of the encounter due to lack of light. Even with the advent of night sights and the usage of a flashlight, having the ability to point shoot is an absolute must own skill set for advanced level fighting at night.

It is my opinion that night sights have severe limitations. The most obvious (at least to me) is your ability to actually be able get to them during a reactive encounter. If we can agree that the ability to get to the sights is very difficult in a reactive day light encounter, then it is clear that the ability to get to them in low light is going to be even more difficult. Another obvious limitation comes down to speed. Sights take time to line up and from my experience night sights take even longer. Lining up night sights also require the gun to be at line of sight, which does not work well within the fluid reality of the retention concept. If 50% of all gun fight occur inside of 3 yards that means that well over 50% of all gun fights have a retention problem that must be dealt with. Another “line of sight” problem comes down the necessary visual input of the entirety of the encounter. This is a very important point! The necessity to be at line of sight while the brain is starving for the visual input of the entire encounter, due to darkness, can be very detrimental. Having the ability to work “below line of sight” becomes even more important during low light situations, than during the day. This is obvious due the lack of visual input that can be taken in during low light situations. To further hinder this lack of visual input by having the gun up in your face can be very counterproductive.

Another dramatic limitation of night sights is the fact that their niche is when you have enough light to ID the threat but not enough light to see your standard sights. In an outdoor environment with no artificial light, night sights are really only good during the waning light right after the sun goes down or as it is about to come up. So the reality is that night sights are only good for a small period of time or under a small percentage of lighting levels. To think that all you need is “sighted fire” skills and night sights is a huge mistake. Night sights have their place! Night sights and their usage are just another tool to own inside of your tactical war bag. There are places what you can significantly benefit from night sights, but they are not nearly as valuable as the marketing will lead you to believe. They are by no means the “be all, end all” that some companies will lead you to believe.

Do I have night sights on my “go to” self-defense handguns……..you bet I do! But they are only pieces of the puzzle in my night fighting strategies and tactics.

I have had night sights on my self-defense guns for years. I have trained with them at night extensively. I have never been very happy with my performance with the night sights. I am not sure what the problem is, whether it was me, my eye sight, or the sights, I was just never satisfied with my performance while training to fight at night, even with over 200 hours of formal “sighted” low light training. Learning and refining my point shooting skills changed all of this…. and changed it dramatically. I found that I did not have to line my night sights up, I could use them as aids for both my sighted and unsighted fire.

As a civilian and predominantly as a civilian trainer, I am a firm believer of “only use the flash light when you have to use the flashlight” school of thought. For me this is primarily for making the ID. There are some other uses of course, such as being able to see the terrain, additional threats, finding cover, lighting up the sights, and adversely affecting the adversary’s vision. But all of these have to be weighed carefully with the fact that your flash light is a target indicator which can make it (and you) a bullet magnet. This weighing of the pro’s and con’s is something that has to be considered and worked in your training and not something that you find out while you are fighting for your life. You need to know the difference between the performance and effects of your flashlight while fighting against a gun or fighting against an edged/blunt weapon attack. This knowledge and information is absolutely critical because there is a huge difference between the realities of these differing encounters.

The combination of the use of night sights and a flash light is better than either of them alone, but still does not cover all of the bases that need to be covered. The trifecta of night fighting is the combination of point shooting skill, flashlight skills, and night sight skills (in that order.) This is the only way to have all of your bases covered. This is the only way to have all of the skills/techniques to be able to have the tactics that you will need to prevail while fighting at night. Without all three of these skills, your techniques will dictate your tactics. This is never a wise idea! You must have the skills and techniques that allow you to use the very best tactic to make your strategy work for your specific situation. It is my firm belief that fighting at night without sound point shooting skill or flash light techniques or night sight skills is like fighting with one arm.

It is my opinion that point shooting really shines in five separate arenas.
1) When behind in the reactionary curve
2) Low light
3) Dynamic movement
4) Integration of H2H
5) For those with physical limitations

It is my firm opinion that without quality point shooting skills you will never take these five separate arenas to their full potential. When we look at the extreme possibility of the fight happening when behind in the reactionary curve, in low light, while needing dynamic movement, during the integration of H2H, and while dealing with physical limitations that affect a significant number of us, point shooting is an absolute must own skill set.

“It is not about point shooting, it is about what point shooting allows us to do.”

When we look at the true dynamics of night fighting it becomes very clear that point shooting must be taught to the highest levels possible. High quality point shooting skill sets are even more necessary than a good flashlight and good flashlight skills. They are even more necessary than good night sights and good nights sight skills. The three together is the trifecta for the civilian defender and fighting at night.

Come on out to Las Vegas on August 17-18,2019 and meet me at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club and I will show you that this is not about point shooting…..this is about what is possible because of point shooting. Come on out and pick up some of the most important skill sets, techniques, and concepts and you may ever need. Come on out and learn how to win while fighting at night.

Flashlight in the Hand

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

Avoiding the Profile Individual/Deterring the Profile Individual/Dominating the Profile Individual

“The flashlight in the hand” philosophy is the tactic of carrying a small, powerful, tactical flashlight in your non-dominant hand whenever you are in a risky area after the sun has gone down. Whether you are walking the dog, exercising, or making a run down to the grocery store/Wal-Mart, if you are going to be in a public place after sundown, it is the tactic of always carrying your flashlight in your hand.

The main reason for you to do this is because the vast majority of the times that you may need your flashlight, in a self-defense situation, if it is not already in your hand you will most likely never get it into your hand. The number one reason for carrying a flashlight is for making the identification (ID) of the hands and the waistbands for weapons, since our visual acuity is cut in half in low light. It is the hands that kill and the waistband is where bad guys (BG) usually keep their weapons. The number two reason for carrying a flashlight is to disrupt the vision of the adversary. A bright light in the eyes not only disrupts the adversaries vision but it allows the good guy (GG) to work behind a wall of light. When the adversary can no longer see you, that causes doubt and uncertainty. This uncertainty may be all that you need to deter an attack.

A flashlight is not necessarily a fighting tool. I do not need the flashlight to make the hits. It is much more valuable as a physical deterrent (BG cannot see GG) and a visual disruption (BG’s vision is 5% of what it was just a second before.) If you need to fight with the light on you are creating a constant focal point to attack. If you can disrupt that adversaries vision, turn the light out and move, there is no focal point to follow, there is only blinded bewilderment! Even if they recover, you can take their vision again. We have all heard “A flashlight is a bullet magnet” but this does not have to be the case if you “see what you need to see” and “blind as you need to blind” then turn the flashlight out. If you remove the constant focal point the liabilities of the bullet/knife/club magnet decrease. It is the lessons of when to use the flashlight and when not to use the flashlight that are the most valuable of the lessons. Being able to shoot with the flashlight in conjunction with the gun is mildly interesting, that is entry-level knowledge. Knowing when to blind, when to turn the flashlight off, when and where to move, and when to turn the light back on is the advanced knowledge. This knowledge is not possible without thorough testing inside of low light FOF and from both sides of the coin. You have to be both the GG and the BG to learn the lessons as they need to be learned. The reality is that all of this knowledge is useless if your flashlight is at home, in your car, or even in your pocket. If it is not in your hand when you spot the profile individual, it will probably never make it into your hand.

The term “profile individual” (PI) speak for itself. This has nothing to do with race or sex. Trouble and danger comes in all races and in both sex. Trouble and danger has a very distinct look and feel, if you have been around the block a couple of times, you know what I am talking about. If you cannot recognize trouble and danger you may just need to be removed from the gene pool. Recognizing trouble and danger starts with profiling. Forget about all of those politically correct idiots out there and let’s get down to the bottom line. If you do not profile you are a fool! There is a very low danger level from a well-groomed man in an expensive business suit or an elderly couple taking a walk in a park. But there is a higher danger level from groups of urban youths, especially in bad parts of town or where poverty is rampant. This is all just common sense here.

If you are out at night, doing whatever it is that you have to do, and you see a PI that is going to cross your path here is a very quick overview of how to handle the PI.

Profile; It always starts with profiling!We must profile who is in our general vicinity while we are out after sun down. BG use the cloak of darkness to hide themselves and to hide their intent. Without profiling everything else that follows is worthless. Making the ID on a PI is the first piece of your back story. Back story is very important stuff, nothing happens inside of a vacuum. Collecting and building good pieces of back story allows you to build the information to facilitate making the decisions that you are going to have to make. The more pieces, the better the back story, the better the back story the quicker you will be able to work through your OODA loop. If you make a PI and he has orientated to you, the next thing that you need to do is as follows.

Avoid; Make a directional change to your movement and begin looking for other players. Choose a direction that will require the PI to reorient to you. If there is no re-orientation, that is a good thing, but keep your eye out for any other players/accomplice’s along with the original PI. If the PI reorients to you, you have just succeeded in forcing the BG to show you his hand. You have created the second piece of the back story to further facilitate your decision-making process. You now know the BG is keying on you. There are not coincidences! In low light you cannot allow the BG to close ground on you. You must stop his ingress! Here are some basic concepts to help stop the BG from closing ground you. The next two thing listed may need to be put into action simultaneously, but they are set down in order of importance.

Command; With a commanding voice and in conjunction with a flashlight in the PI eye’s order them to “Back off!” In low light, with a quality flashlight the PI will see nothing but the light. You will have disappeared to him and all he will see is the source of the light and you will be cloaked behind a wall of light. If the first “Back off!” and blinding does not work, that is the third and another huge piece of the back story. Give them one last chance (the fourth piece of the back story) and get louder and more “street.” Sometimes the street only understands “street”………“BACK THE F**K OFF! While the commands and flashlights are being used you will most likely want to doing two other things simultaneously.

Move/Monitor; It is my opinion that you should mitigate the urge to stop and square up to your adversary. I feel that you should keep moving in order to disrupt the adversaries ability to begin working through his OODA loop. By continuing to move you take away the adversaries ability to take a snap shot of the battlefield which is very important to developing a plan of attack. As you command/blind/move you should again monitor the area for any other accomplices. Since you are hidden behind a wall of light to your primary adversary, you should be able to look around quickly for other players, without the primary adversary even knowing that you have taken your eyes off of him. If the PI is still reorienting to you, you probably have enough back story (fifth piece) to articulate reasonable fear. Some people feel that they need to ID the weapon, but FOF training has proven that action beats reaction. If you are unable to ID that something is very wrong, with all of the back story that has taken place, you may be deep into the very worse of positions…….denial! This is where all of your training comes to the forefront. This is where you find out if “your line in the sand” has been thought through well enough. This is where all of your “what if” mental preparation has really prepared you well enough. This is where you find out about the reliability of your gut feeling, and your ability to act on it. This is where it gets as personal as anything that you have ever dealt with.

If in your mind you can articulate that it is go time, then it is on.

If the threat or weapon has been identified that leads us to the next phase of the fight.

Access; When the line in the sand has been crossed, keep moving, access your weapon, and get to work. It is time to fight with everything you have. Accessing your weapon, from concealed carry, with a flashlight in your hand is a skill set that you must own. There are two methods that you need to know, the one hand draw stroke (circular flagged thumb) and the clearing of the garment with the flashlight hand (three digit crab claw.) Which one you use is situational and user dependent. This draw stoke from concealment is the most likely thing that you are going to blow, your “flashlight in the hand” draw stroke needs to be to the point that you have it down cold while moving. With these two draw stroke methods you have the option of keeping the flashlight in the eyes or turning if off. Either way, the adversaries vision is going to be extremely limited. If you keep the light on and draw, everything that you do is cloaked by the wall of light, but the direction and pace of your movement can be tracked through the visual connection to the light source. If you turn the light out, you cannot be tracked periodically, but the adversaries vision will eventually return. Of course you can always give him another blast of light and take it away again. Once you have accessed the weapon and driven it to the focal point it is time to take care of business.

Negate; Negate the threat with fast and accurate hits while either hiding behind the wall of light or under the cloak of blinded darkness. I cannot possibly express how important it is to have the “double edge sword” knowledge and experience of fighting from both sides of this confrontation. Without this firsthand knowledge and experience, you have no clue of the true dynamics of the fight and the power and the limitations of the “flashlight in the hand” philosophy. Experience leads to confidence, confidence leads to absolute knowledge, absolute knowledge leads to total domination. This is where you want to be, anything short of that means that you have not put in the work and you are not as ready as you think are. Fighting at night is a skill set that can only be obtained through proper preparation to prevent piss poor performance. If you have not put in the time……face that fact for the fact that it is. Reading this article is simply not going to get it done!

Once the primary adversary has been negated and determined out of the fight it is time to move on to the next progression.

Scan; BG’s tend to travel in packs. Just because you did not make any accomplices early on does not mean that there are none. You are going to need to scan 360 degrees to make sure that there are no other players that may need your attention. Scanning may best be done while moving to a place of cover or tactical advantage. Whether you scan with your flashlight or not depends on the ambient light and the presence of darkened areas. Remember the rule of thumb, “if you are in the dark, stay in the dark, if you are in the light, light up the dark.” Once you have verified that there are not other players to engage and verified that the primary has not reanimated it is time to move onto the next step of the progression.

Reload; Now that there is a lull in the fight it is time to top off your gun. If we accept the fact that “if the flashlight is not in your hand at the start of the fight, it will not make it into the hand” philosophy then it would seem wise to be able to load your gun without stowing your flashlight. The “three digit crab claw” allows for a “reload with retention” all while keeping the flashlight in your hand. If you are concerned about the effects of the adrenaline dump, you can stow the flashlight for your reload. Either way, get that gun topped off.

Evaluate; The next step is a medical evaluation of yourself. Since the fight is still not guaranteed to be over I would try to mitigate lighting yourself up or putting away the flashlight. The “three digit crab claw” can still feel the body for wet spots. Another option is to shove the flashlight in between the pinkie and ring finger of the gun hand, bezel up (consistency across categories) A quick lighting of the ground for blood droplets may be acceptable. If you find a wet spot in the groin area, you are going to have to ID the color of the fluid. If you find yourself to be ok medically, it is time to proceed to the next step.

Proceed/Police; Due to the fact that there are some places that if you do not get the heck out of there immediately , you could be fighting the whole neighborhood. It is not always as clear as “call the police and wait for them.” Sometimes you are going to have to get the heck out of there, then call the police and arrange to meet them somewhere. Unfortunately, it can be even worse than that. You may have to get out of there and never say a word to anyone. There are places in this great Country that do not allow good people to defend themselves or their loved ones from evil. In this case, since you primary mission is to get home and continue to take care of your loved ones you may just need to proceed on with your life without bringing the police in. It is a shame that there are places in America that are like this, but it is what it is! A good person needs to make it home to his/her family and not allow laws that are contrary to God’s law from keeping you of fulfilling your primary mission in life.

Much of this information has been around for a very long time. I have just put my spin on it from within the “flashlight in the hand” philosophy. If we look at these ten things that we need to do to make it through dealing with a profile individual, it may look like it is next to impossible to remember. Using a mnemonic device, to help aid this philosophy into being easier to remember, is a very good idea. Most mnemonic devices are a little cheesy, but easy to remember…..this one is no different.


Pacmans rep was, if you were smart enough and fast enough you could succeed in life and avoid all of the goblins. From the very start of the encounter……and all the way through the encounter, If you can remember this cheesy little mnemonic device, you can avoid the profile individual, deter the profile individual, and dominate the profile individule.

Come on out to Las Vegas on August 17-18,2019 and meet me at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Cluband I will show you that this is not about point shooting…..this is about what is possible because of point shooting. Come on out and pick up some of the most important skill sets, techniques, and concepts and you may ever need. Come on out and learn how to win while fighting at night.

Fundamentals of Fighting in Low Light Environments (Revised)

This is one of my very first articles and it has been recently revised to keep up with my learning/teaching progression.

Many people may not know that I had two training obsessions before I got to my point shooting/dynamic movement obsession. Low light and CQB were my focus for nearly four years before I added point shooting and dynamic movement to my tool box and specialties. I have been teaching my low light curriculum’s since 2005.

I consider my low light courses the most valuable and essential courses that I teach.

I will be teaching one August 17-18, 2019 at The Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club right outside of Las Vegas.

Fundamentals of Fighting in Low Light Environments

By Roger Phillips, Owner of Fight Focused Concepts

In my humble opinion, the basic concept for fighting at night is that “darkness is your friend.” If you are in the dark, stay in the dark. If you are in the light, light up the dark. Night vision would be of the utmost importance in this concept. As we age, our night vision may be negatively affected by the aging process. It is very important that you know your night vision limitations and that you tailor your tactics to your specific circumstance. Older eyes may also affect your ability to use night sights, keep this in mind and know your limitations.

The eyes are made up or numerous sensitive nerves called cones and rods. The cones are at the center of the retina and are best used for direct vision during lighted situations. They detect color, detail, and far away objects. The rods encircle the cones are best for peripheral vision, movement and low light situations. In low-light it is best to not use direct vision, but to use your peripheral vision in a slow sweeping manner to pick up shape, silhouette, and movement. Look just “off of center” to get the most out of your night vision.

Obtaining your maximum night vision takes nearly thirty minutes, but it can be lost in the blink of an eye. After approximately 5 to 10 minutes, the cones become adjusted to the dim light and the eyes become 100 times more sensitive to the light than they were before. Nearly 30 minutes is needed for the rods to become adjusted to darkness, but when they do adjust they are about 100,000 times more sensitive to light than they were in lighted areas. After the adaptation process is complete, much more can be seen, especially if the eyes are used correctly. If you have achieved your maximum night vision, protect it as much as possible. One trick to preserve night vision (if you have no choice but to go into the light that will negatively effect your night vision,) is to close your dominant shooting eye and protect your night vision in one of your eyes. The temporary blinding affects of having your night vision suddenly taken from you can cause illusions, after images, vertigo, dizziness, and loss of balance. This is something that needs to be known to understand how important protecting your night vision is. In a fast pace, chaotic, self-defense situation, dealing with any of these negative factors could be the difference between victory and defeat. But on the other hand, this is a double edge sword and can be used to your advantage against you adversary.

In most urban environments there will be ambient light sources, some brighter than others. As you are working these irregular brightness levels, keep in mind the preservation of your night vision and the use of darkness and shadows in this regard and as a form of concealment. Your movement should be dictated (in part) by theses simple concepts. The three basic rules of camouflage are very important here. The understanding that they are double-edged swords that work both ways is absolutely vital. The three rules are Shine, Shape, and Silhouette. These rules must be understood from the aspect of both the predator and the prey. Tactics such as “keeping low” and using the horizon or ambient light sources to back light the adversary’s silhouette are crucial. You also need to remember that the adversary “in the know” will be trying to do the same thing to you. You should try to use this tactical advantage to benefit yourself, while at the same time mitigate the chances of it being used to your detriment. This may require you to look/search lower than you would during lighted situations. You may want to start you’re looking/searching at about knee level first before you raise your search level. While it is important to look/search at all levels during lighted situations, keep in mind that a lower search levels are even more important during low light situations. Other tactics such as the use of your hearing can be a real asset, while working in the dark, do not under-estimate the tactic of just stopping and listening.

Shooting in low-light/ambient light

As in anything that we do in regards to self-defense, there is a continuum/progression/matrix of fighting at night. IMHO this continuum is even more prevalent and important in the dark. In my basic philosophy of “react as you need to react, see what you need to see, and move as you need to move,” the continuum is very clear. In the dark it is even more pronounced due to the loss of visual input. The lessening of visual input negatively affects all three parts of that basic philosophy. In the reaction phase, you absolutely need the visual input to understand the situation. Awareness and threat identification are both compromised in the dark. The reaction to these two things, in turn is also compromised. On the necessary visual input, this is pretty self-explanatory. Every aspect of this concept is affected in low-light due to your ability to not see as well. On the necessary movement, I have found that all of the movement is toned down due to the “safety considerations.” Since you are not able to see the terrain/footing as well, there is the huge desire to not go down. The balance shifts slightly towards insuring the hit and slightly away from “not getting hit.” I do not see this as a problem because once again we are talking about a double edge sword that both combatants are dealing with.

On pure marksmanship in low-light, the necessary visual input is affected all along the sight continuum due to the loss of light. Your limitations on each sighting technique may be affected by the loss of visual input due to darkness. Since absolute knowledge of your limitations is in direct relationship to your confidence, knowing your limitations at each lighting level is extremely important. Confidence is important due to the fact that there will be even less visual verification that your hits are good. Your ability to see the hits or call your shots will be severely hampered. Therefore you must have absolute knowledge of your limitations. Although, you can use the muzzle flash for hit verification, this is not really a sighting aid…it is an aid for verification or calling your shots. If your muzzle flash is centered on the targeted area, and the silhouette of the gun is centered inside of the muzzle flash (very much like metal and meat) you are getting the hits. This verification could be key, especially if the adversary is wearing body armor. If you have absolute knowledge of good hits and there is not the desired effect, you can transition to the head quicker for the fight ending shot.

In my teachings situations dictate strategies, strategies dictate tactics, and tactics dictate techniques. I teach my students the exact same necessary visual input techniques at night as I do during the day. It is up to the student to know which tools they prefer for each specific situation. But, I believe that in low-light situations that you should always get as much visual input on the gun as the specific situation will allow. Obviously, this may not be the best solution during the day. In low-light there is a definite need to examine the balance between speed (of the draw stroke, movement, and trigger) and accuracy. This balance may not be the same as the day due to less visual input due to darkness.

The Floating Light

I prefer to only use a flashlight when, it gives me a tactical advantage or when I absolutely need to use the light. There are times when it is absolutely necessary, so these tools should be in your skill set. Some of you may have recognized that I am a huge proponent of fluid transitions between skill sets, that are dependent upon the situation. I do not see these transitions as being overly complicated or complex. To me, they fit into the KISS principle, but more importantly, they cover all of my bases. Keeping it simple is important, but I see being well-rounded and versatile as being just as important. My basic concept for the flashlight is the versatility of what I call the floating light. I really do not have a default flashlight technique. My technique is all situational dependent. The positions that I use flows from one to another seamlessly, giving me the best tool to use on each job. The positions that are incorporated into my system are the FBI, modified FBI, neck index, center-line index, and the Harries. They all have their place and I transition through them as situations arise. I tend to keep my handgun in a one-handed compressed ready. This gives me a good retention position, one that I can fire from immediately, and a position that I can shoot accurately throughout my extension.

I like the FBI and its modified positions for searching in large areas, due to the fact that a light source is a bullet magnet. These techniques keep the light source away from the body. If someone is to shoot at the light the chances of a solid hit are reduced dramatically. I really like this for searching, while incorporating “wanding and strobing.”

Wanding is a search technique that incorporates the old “light on/light off/move” principle, using irregular stokes and arches of light, much like painting a desired area. The random strokes/arches give enough light to see an area to maneuver through or to identify a threat. They also make it harder for an adversary to determine your position or your direction of movement, if they do not have a visual on you already. Wanding works best in large areas. I strive to never have my light on for more than two seconds. Along with that, I strive to move constantly during the “light on” portion. I try to make sure that I have used the light in a manner that lets me see what I need to see, before the light goes back off.

Strobing is random, quick, bursts of light that are manipulated in both direction and angle. Strobing is best used when you are approaching a corner or a doorway that must be taken. The concept of strobing is to use the bursts in a random pattern that makes it more difficult for the adversary to know where you are or where you are going. If done correctly you can “take” the corner or make entry into the door in a manner that is much more unpredictable by your adversary. If you use the old light on/light off/move without wanding and strobing, you are telegraphing your position and your movement by setting down a recognizable pattern, where the movement of light and the shadow gives the adversary useful information.

The neck index is an outstanding position. It works great with the fourth eye principle. As you maneuver/turret your body your flashlight and your gun are pointed the exact same direction as your eyes. The flashlight is also in a very good position to be used as impact weapon. The horizontal elbow is an outstanding platform to launch an offensive impact weapon attack from and it gives some good protection to the head. There are very good retention properties in this position and a lot of very good options out of this position. Where this technique really shines is its use with dynamic movement. The body mechanics of the position just seems far superior to all of the other options. Of course there is the balance between making the hit and not being hit. The neck index brings the flashlight closer to your center-line and right next to your head. This could be problematic if the adversary is shooting at the light. But on the other hand the position facilitates excellent dynamic movement and accuracy. I am leaning to the fact that the dynamic movement and the accuracy outweigh the lights possible problematic position. This really gets deep into the study of the fight continuum, the balance of speed and accuracy, and the perfect balance to hit and to not be hit that I have mentioned, many times, prior to this.

The center-line index brings the flashlight out of the neck index and positions the flashlight on the center-line right next to the gun in the compressed ready. The exact position of the flashlight is fluid on the center-line; it can be used center ,to the right, or to the left of the gun depending on the angle of vision/lighting that is needed. This position also gives you a better field of vision than the neck index. It also brings the flashlight elbow in closer to the body, cutting down on the chances of “leading” with the elbow. This is also a very good position for taking corners and doors in conjunction with a quick and easy transition to the vertical elbow.

The Harries position is the long-established and preferred “two-handed shooting from full extension” methods for most people who have trained with a flash light. It is a very versatile position that fits into many portions of the fight continuum. There are some issues due to it being fatiguing over long periods of time. This issue can be alleviated by making slight adjustment in the concept of the isometric tension that is required in this position. Another issue that must be recognized is the phenomenon of the sympathetic response and contra-lateral contractions, that is compounded by the crossing of the hands.

For pure marksmanship, The Rogers technique has many advantages. It is about as solid a two-handed position that a flashlight will allow. This is often called “the cigar hold.”

Be versatile, flow from one response to another, have all of your bases covered, and have the best tool for the job at your disposal.

With that said, does it make sense to be bi-lateral in your flashlight system? I believe so. Here is the flashlight transition that I use. Extend the pinky of your gun hand. Place the flashlight, bezel up, in between the pinky and the ring finger. Curl the pinky around the flashlight. Acquire the back strap of your handgun with your support side hand and transition over, reacquired your flashlight grip.

Necessary use of the flashlight

I believe that the biggest asset of a good flashlight is in making the threat identification. Many aspect of the fight can be dealt with, without the use of a flashlight, but the threat identification can be the very hardest thing to achieve. As in during the day, it is the hands that kill, but that is not the only thing that needs to be identified. One of the most important things that one can stress in a low-light course is “shoot/no-shoot situations.” Of course FOF is the very best way to do this. The problem is that this type of training is not as prevalent as it should be and a full course can be a logistical nightmare due to the time limits imposed due to most people wanting to be able to sleeping at night. Often the instructors are stuck with doing the best they can on the square range. This is definitely a problem that needs to be examined and alleviated. Square range training will only take you so far, and seeing firsthand the effects of a good flashlight in the eyes is an absolute necessity.

On making the threat identification with a flashlight, there are three ways to go about this if you are in a reactive gunfight. You can keep the light on, move, and engage. You can turn the light off, move, turn the light back on, and engage. You can turn the light off, move, and engage with ambient light. This will all be situational dependent on the amount of ambient light, and the user’s skill level. If the user is dependent on a maximum amount of visual input to get the hits, they will have to use their flashlight. But, if the user needs minimal visual input, going at it in the dark can be a huge advantage.

Once again “darkness is your friend!”

Come on out to Las Vegas on August 17-18,2019 and meet me at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club and I will show you that this is not about point shooting…..this is about what is possible because of point shooting. Come on out and pick up some of the most important skill sets, techniques, and concepts and you may ever need. Come on out and learn how to win while fighting at night.

Calling Out All Fight Focused Concepts Alumni

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

You guys know who you are and you guys understand the levels that we reach. What most highly trained people believe to be impossible, is ordinary to you. There is a reason that in the past we sold “PSP Alumni, Team Infidel T-shirts” and that is because we are a group of people with a higher understanding and skill level than the vast majority of highly trained people out there. My student base has forced me to write new curriculum’s in order to continue to challenge them, because the study of “the amazing human machine” has proven that there are still no limitations in sight.

100_2355I have nothing but the deepest respect and immense pride for my Fight Focused Concepts (FFC) Alumni,   but there is one thing that bothers me. It is a simple question……straight to the heart of the matter. You know me, I say what I believe and that question is;

“Are you really as good as you think you are?”

In my honest opinion, if you have not taken your FFC skills into fighting at night you may not know what you do not know.

70% of all gun fights are in low or no light situations. The vast majority are reactionary in nature. If you think that taking the FFC courses in the day light has adequately prepared you for those situations, you may be sorely mistaken. LLPGFMarch5-62011103[1]

If you are a FFC alumni and have wondered what the next level is, I have been teaching it since 2005 in the “FFC Fighting at Night” Courses. Years ago, I added Force on Force – Fighting at Night to the mix. These two course are some of the most advanced handgun training courses available.

Until you can do in the dark, what you can do during the day, you are not as squared away as you think you are.

If you want to be the best that you can possibly be, that means that you have to make sacrifices. The night fighters that I train sacrifice by training till midnight, by taking an extra day off of work, and by doing whatever it takes to get the most valuable training that the training world has to offer. They do not find excuses, they do not look for reasons, they plow through the logistical problems and do what has to be done.

“When the sun goes down the entire battlefield changes.”LLPGF March 5-6, 2011 015

Are you as ready as you think you are?

If you cannot run the FFC movement matrix in the dark…….with no flashlight……using only your ability to drive the gun to the focal point and shooting off of muzzle flash, at the same level as you do during the day light……..you may not be as good as you think you are.

You are not an advanced level fighter unless you are a night fighter!

Come on out to Las Vegas on August 17-18, 2019 and meet me at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club and I will show you that this is not about point shooting…..this is about what is possible because of point shooting. Come on out and pick up some of the most important skill sets, techniques, and concepts and you may ever need. Come on out and learn how to dominate while fighting at night.

August 17-18, 2019 – Fight Focused Handgun – Fighting at Night – $250 – 5:00 PM to Midnight – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club

Fight Focused Handgun – Fighting at Night

Las Vegas, Nevada
5:00 PM to Midnight
750 rounds (bring more if you want to shoot more)

70% of all gunfight’s occur in low light. Are you as ready as you think you are? This is the course that takes your fighting skills to the levels that they need to be in order to triumph in the most likely of circumstances, the situation of fighting at night. This course is an in-depth look at the skills needed to be as deadly and as safe as you can possibly be while dealing with low light situations. We will look at every aspect of the fight, throughout the reactionary curve, and give you the appropriate strategies, tactics, and skill sets that will allow you to be as deadly and as safe as you can possibly be inside of the entire fighting at night continuum. Although, we will be covering an in-depth look at the use of the flashlight, this is not your typical “LEO base search and clear” type course. We will also cover taking your reactive combat shooting skill sets to a whole other level, one where you do not even need your flashlight to dominate the encounter.

  • The reality of fighting at night
  • Vision and night fighting
  • Low light manipulations
  • The floating light concept
  • Night fighting marksmanship
  • Flashlight in the hand concept
  • Hand on the gun concept
  • Reactionary fighting at night
  • Dealing with the unknown quantity
  • Darkness is your friend
  • Efficient and effective use of the flashlight
  • Night fighting on the move

Sign up here.

Roger Phillips Fight Focused Concepts 2019 Schedule

June 22-23, 2019 – Fight Focused Rifle II – CQB Rifle Gunfighting – $250 – 8:00 to 4:00 PM – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club


August 17-18, 2019 – Fight Focused Handgun – Fighting at Night – $250 – 5:00 PM to Midnight – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club

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

November 16-17, 2019 – Fight Focused Handgun VII – Advanced Fight Focused Drills – $250 – 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club

Here is the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club information if needed.


AAR: FFH III – The Reactive Gunfight May 18-19, 2019

By Chris Upchurch from Gunfighting 101

Last weekend I attended the Fight Focused Handgun III – The Reactive Gunfight class taught by Roger Phillips. The “reactive gunfight,” that FFH III focuses on are situations where you start out behind the curve because you are surprised or your opponent initiates the action. The tool set it teaches for dealing with these situations is built around dynamic movement and point shooting.

I’ve taken FFH III before, as well as Point Shooting Progressions, Roger’s previous flagship point shooting class. While FFH III is worth taking more than once simply to build point shooting and dynamic movement skills, I had a specific reason for wanting to retake it now.

I recently switched from carrying on my strong side hip to carrying in the appendix position (with the gun about 1 o’clock on the belt). This requires a somewhat different drawstroke, including a switch from open front cover garments to closed front. Having taken FFH III before I knew this is a class where I’d get a lot of reps drawing the gun. And they wouldn’t just be static, always squared up to the target, stand and deliver reps either. They’d be very dynamic, in a variety of orientations. This class would put my new carry position to the test.

In addition to being an excellent instructor, Roger has some of the best firearms coaching skills of anyone I’ve seen. He can look at what a student is doing, pick out the mistakes they’re making or something they’re doing that’s less than optimal, then provide feedback that meaningfully increases the student’s performance. I figured that Roger would be the best person to take my new drawstroke to the next level.

This is not a very gear intensive class. All you really need is a pistol, holster, mag carrier, and a couple of mags.

For my primary handgun, I brought my new G19X “Roland Special”. A Roland Special is a Glock (usually a Glock 19) with a compensator, red dot sight, and weaponlight. This gun is a slight variation on the concept, starting out with the Glock 19X to take advantage of the longer, G17 length grip (I much prefer the way the G17 feels in the hand to a G19). It’s kitted out with a Trijicon RMR milled into the slide, a Crimson Trace Lightguard LTG-736, an Apex trigger kit, a Mayhem Syndicate Mk 2 compensator and barrel, and some nice Dale Fricke kydex to carry it in. The last piece of the puzzle, the Mayhem Syndicate comp, arrived the day before I flew out to Vegas for the class so I didn’t have a chance to run much ammo through it before bringing it.

Given how new and untested my G19X setup was, I wouldn’t bring it to a class without a backup, much less trust it as my carry gun while I was in Las Vegas. Even if that were not the case, it’s generally a good idea to bring a second handgun to a course like this. No sense having a broken or problematic pistol spoil your investment of time and money. So I also brought my usual RMRed Glock 17.

While this is not a gear intensive class, it is an ammo intensive class. Roger lists a minimum round count of 750 rounds and says “bring more if you want to shoot more”. In my experience, while the class can be done with 750 rounds, doing so requires being very conscious of your ammo consumption on each drill. I didn’t want to have to think about that (and I just like to shoot a lot), so I ordered 1500 rounds and had them shipped to Roger ahead of time.

As a corollary to the amount of ammo, this is a class that benefits from bringing lots of magazines. Since I was shipping my ammo out, I wouldn’t have the chance to load mags ahead of time, but I still wanted plenty of mags so I could just get a bunch loaded on Saturday morning and not have to worry too much about it later. A pistol magazine loader like the LULA is a huge asset in a class like this.

This class is the culmination of a lot of effort switching to appendix carry. I made the switch back in early February and since then I’ve been doing dry practice almost every day. At this point I’ve done the drawstroke dry thousands of times. Unfortunately, given the restrictions at local ranges I have access to I hadn’t had the opportunity to do any live fire with it.

I’ve also practiced reholstering thousands of times. Given where the gun is pointing in the appendix position, safely reholstering is definitely a critical skill. Particularly when you’re working with a dry pistol, it’s easy to treat reholstering as an afterthought; just a step you need to get through to set up the next draw. I’ve put a lot of effort into fighting this tendency and reholstering slowly and deliberately. One advantage of appendix carry is that it’s easy to look down and visually confirm that the holster is clear before holstering the gun and I worked hard to ingrain that.

While most my dry practice time has been dedicated to the drawstroke, I also put quite a bit of time in practicing reloads; specifically reloading from slide lock (aka: reactive reloads or emergency reloads). When I switched to appendix, I also moved my spare mag from my left hip up to the 11 o’clock position (just to the left of the belt buckle). I wanted to get used to grabbing the magazine from there.

I decided to take advantage of all these practice reloads to make a couple of other changes as well. In the past, I’ve made my default a reload with retention (pulling the old mag out of the gun and pocketing it before inserting the new mag into the gun). When reloading from slide lock I made dropping the empty mag my default. Similarly, my previous practice was to get the gun back into battery by tugging the slide to the rear. I made the switch to using the slide lock lever (the G19X has a nice ambidextrous one). I also swapped my spare mag from a stock Glock one to one of the Magpul 21 round models and used all my practice reloading the larger mag. Between these changes to how I reload the pistol and a couple thousand reps of dry practice, I’d say my slide lock reloads are smoother than they’ve ever been.

One of the nice things about training in Las Vegas is it’s one of the few places you can get a direct flight from Wichita. Thanks to a 2-hour time difference my flight got me there in the early afternoon. I took advantage of this to stop at REI to do some shopping, make a Walmart run, and grab some dinner before retiring to my hotel.

I was up bright and early Saturday morning. After breakfast at the hotel I got loaded up and headed out to the range. I met Roger at the range’s front gate and followed him down to the bay where we’d be shooting. He gave me my 1500 rounds, and I immediately began stuffing ammo into mags; I got all my mags loaded up before class started.

Roger started off with a short lecture explaining the context of the class. In particular, this class, and the way Roger puts it into context has evolved a bit since the last time I took it. This is largely in response to some changes in the way Roger teaches sighted fire.

In a gunfight we’d really prefer to use our most optimal skill set: shooting sighted fire from a solid, stationary position to deliver fight-ending hits as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we’re not always in a position to do that, especially as armed citizens. Our gunfight may come as a surprise. Even if we see it coming, we often aren’t the ones choosing when to initiate the action and may start out in a position of disadvantage. We’re usually reacting to the actions of a criminal adversary rather than being proactive. This class is all about fighting in those suboptimal situations.

One thing Roger placed a big emphasis on in the course was that even if we start out in a reactive mode using our suboptimal situation skill set, when we get to the point where we’ve gained the initiative, we want to transition to using our optimal skill set to finish the fight decisively. Clint Smith said, “The purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to your rifle.” Well, the purpose of a reactive gunfighting skill set is to fight your way back to the point where you can use your optimal, sighted fire gunfighting skill set. Integrating the suboptimal and the optimal, the reactive and the proactive was a big part of this class.

This is something that Roger has been saying for as long as I’ve trained with him (even as “the point shooting guy” he still preached the importance of a sighted fire skill set). However, in this class he went much further into including it in the drills.

Since everyone in the class was fairly experienced, Roger noted that this would be more of a workshop type curriculum, exploring these concepts. This class is like a Petrie dish, an opportunity to gather information about what you can do with these skills.

With this, he segued into the safety lecture, talking about friends taking care of friends, the four rules of gun safety, etc.

Roger did a brief review of the optimal stance: support side foot well forward with the knee bent, primary side leg straight to transmit recoil to the ground. The ability to absorb recoil is more important with a rifle, but using the same stance across both provides consistency.

The grip is one area where Roger has really changed what he teaches, a process that started about three years ago in his first Fight Focused Handgun IV – Fight Focused Marksmanship course. The “locked wrist” grip is built around the idea of using leverage and skeletal support to control recoil and muzzle flip, rather than friction and muscular support.

Your primary hand should grip the gun as high as possible, with the web of the hand up on the tang of the grip and the middle finger up tight against the bottom of the trigger guard. Getting the grip as high as possible helps transmit the recoil to your body rather than flipping the muzzle upward. Squeeze tightly front to back: the work counteracting muzzle flip is being done by forward pressure from the web of your hand and rearward pressure from your pinky. These wedge the gun into place.

The support hand should be angled forward and down as much as physically possible; this is the locked wrist. It reinforces your pinky’s rearward pressure on the bottom of the gun. It can also mitigate recoil anticipation problems, since if your hand is locked out literally as far as it can go, it’s much harder to dip the muzzle in anticipation of the recoil when the gun goes off.

So far this matches what Roger was teaching in Fight Focused Handgun IV class I attended back in 2016. One new element he’s introduced since then is keeping the support side shoulder high and your elbows pointed out. This torques your hands together, pinching the upper part of the pistol’s frame tightly between your hands and making the grip much more solid. He’d talked about this in the CQB class last year, but since I skipped out on the live-fire range day in that class this was my first chance to shoot it live in one of his classes. It definitely helps further stabilize the gun and combat muzzle flip.

We started off shooting a couple of one hole drills. This was five rounds of sighted slow fire at about 5 yards, with the goal of stacking every round right on top of each other in a single hole. I did pretty well on this, getting everything into one rather ragged hole each time.

Next we started from the holster and pushed the speed a little, drawing and shooting some sighted fire groups.

Moving down the sight continuum, we did some work drawing and shooting with a flash sight picture. After a few reps of that we transitioned to “type 2 focus”. This is a flash sight picture, but rather than being focused on the front sight, you focus your eye on the target and superimpose the blurry sight picture on the target. By Roger’s definition, this is where really starts, when your visual focus shifts from the sights to the target.

Since I’m running a red dot, there’s not the same sort of distinction between hard focus on the front sight, flash sight picture, and type 2 focus that there is for the folks running irons. Instead it’s a matter of varying how much time I spend getting that dot placed precisely and settled on target. In the earlier drills where we were shooting with greater precision, I took a lot of time making sure the dot was exactly on the aiming point and as still as possible (perfectly still is impossible and part of shooting accurately is learning to accept that). With the later drills I took the shot as soon as I saw the dot near the aiming point, trading accuracy for speed.

Next up was aligning down the top of the slide. Rather than looking through the sights, you lower the gun about an inch and look over it. The sights are still there as reference points, but you’re not looking directly through them. With a red dot you have to lower the gun more and looking through the lens of the optic at an angle can have a distorting effect on those reference points. Given these complications I find I can definitely shoot faster and at longer distances aligning down the top of the slide with an iron sighted gun than I can with a red dot. The flip side of this is that the red dot allows me to use sighted fire in some circumstances where I’d be aligning down the top of the slide with an iron sighted gun. It’s a different set of tradeoffs.

After a fair amount of shooting aligning down the top of the slide, we briefly covered “metal on meat”. This is where you superimpose the entire back of the slide (“metal”) on the target (“meat”). If you can see meat all the way around the metal, press the shot. It works well out to about 4-5 yards, but beyond that the slide starts completely covering a torso sized target.

The final technique in the sight continuum is shooting off the drawstroke. Basically this involves ignoring any visual input from the gun and focusing solely on the target, relying on your body mechanics (drawstroke and stance) to deliver the hits. This works at very close ranges and can be useful in low light, but if you can get visual input from the gun, it generally makes sense to do so. Many people think that this sort of purely body mechanic based shooting is all point shooting is (“spray and pray”). They don’t realize all the other places along the sight continuum that point shooting encompasses. In a two-day point shooting class we disposed of the pure body mechanic/no visual input point shooting in about 5 minutes and I never really used it again for the entire class.

Roger uses a series of step-back drills to bring the entire sight continuum together and help students get a feel for when they need to transition from one technique to another. We started off a three yards shooting solely of the drawstroke and body mechanics. Stepping back to 4 yards, we drew from the holster and shot metal on meat. Step back again and align down the top of the slide. Keep stepping back and aligning down the top of the slide until that starts breaking down, then transition to looking through the sights with the focus on the target. Step back some more and switch to a flash sight picture. We ended up at about 15 yards shooting with a hard focus on the front sight.

Now that we’d covered the sight continuum, Roger gave a lecture on the seven concepts of reactive gunfighting: the reactionary curve, the takeoff, movement, the drawstroke, retention, the sight continuum, and the grip and trigger continuum.

While we’d been varying the amount of visual input in previous drills, we’d done all of it from full extension with the gun up in our line of sight (or just an inch below it when aligning down the top of the slide). Now, we started getting the gun further and further from our field of view.

The first step in this process was to shoot from contact ready, with the gun far enough below our line of sight that you can clearly see the adversary’s hands and waistband. You often need to see these things in order to decide whether or not to shoot them. Optimally, if we decide we need to shoot, we bring the gun up and use our sights. However, things aren’t always optimal and sometimes the need to shoot is so urgent we may need to take our initial shots with the gun several inches below the line of sight.

Here Roger explicitly introduced the idea of fighting our way from reactive to proactive, from a suboptimal situation to an optimal situation. Now, starting out pointed in and challenging someone at gunpoint isn’t that far down the reactionary curve, but it’s still a situation where we may find ourselves reacting to what the adversary does in response to being challenged.

We started out shooting with the gun below our line of sight, then after a few rounds we brought it up and used the sights to deliver another burst. Rather than making this transition based on a specific number of shots, Roger asked us to visualize the physical reaction from the bad guy that would lead us to make this transition from our reactive skill set to a more proactive one. This is what Ninpo Student describes as “knowing when you’ve got a guy”. Think of someone shifting from moving aggressively to being back on his heels in response to your gunfire. It’s important that he still legally represents a threat (otherwise we shouldn’t keep shooting) but we’ve gained enough of the initiative to shift to our proactive, optimal shooting skill set.

The other big reason to shoot with the gun below our line of sight is if we have a retention problem. Often people think about retention being just for very close ranges, but it really starts being a consideration at about 4 yards. The length of your arms put the pistol about a yard closer to the adversary, their arms put their hands about a yard closer to you, and the remaining two yards can be eaten up very quickly by a couple of big steps.

The corollary to this is that we can’t just go from full extension straight to the gun tucked up against the body in a classic “speed rock” position and think that covers all our retention needs, because the speed rock doesn’t work at 4 yards. Instead we need a continuum that allows us to gradually withdraw the gun as we get closer, trading accuracy (that we don’t need as much as the distance gets closer) for weapon retention (that we need very much as the adversary closes in).


The first step along this road is shooting from partial extension. Think of this as being part of the way through the drawstroke, about halfway between when the hands come together and full extension. When we were shooting from contact ready the gun was 5-6 inches below line of sight, now we’re talking about shooting about a foot below line of sight.

Again, during this drill Roger had us visualize the target responding to our shots and make the transition from point shooting below the line of sight to driving the gun out to full extension and delivering a couple of headshots using the sights.

In this class I was trying to manage my ammo so that I never ran dry during a drill (reloading before reholstering, swapping out mags between drills, etc.). But as we were shooting this drill, I did run the gun to slide lock and had to reload. Roger complimented me on how smooth the reload looked, so I guess all that dry practice paid off.

Our last drill before lunch was shooting from an even more compressed position, right where the hands come together during the drawstroke with your elbows up against the rib cage. Because of the solid skeletal support this is a position that allows for very rapid fire, but the lower level of visual input on the gun means that distance is limited. Again, we shot a burst from the below line-of-sight position then drove the gun up to eye level to use the sights for a headshot.

After lunch we picked up with the zipper drill. This involves shooting during your drawstroke, starting where the hands come together and continuing all the way up to eye level. If you do a good job keeping your shots centered and the gun parallel to the ground, you end up with a vertical string of shots right up the centerline of the target. Roger emphasized that the zipper is primarily a drill for learning and practice rather than a combat technique. If we really need to go from shooting from compressed position up to eye level, it makes sense to just drive the gun all the way out and take our next shot from there rather than shooting en route. In training, however, it provides the opportunity to shoot from varied distances below line of sight and varied extensions in a single drill. Being able to use the zipper to produce a nice vertical string of shots demonstrates mastery of several important point shooting skills (shooting parallel to the ground, transitioning from one focal point to another, etc.).

The last drill of the two-handed shooting portion of the curriculum was the hammer drill. With this drill you shoot from where the hands come together and put a burst into the torso, then shift focus to the head and put a round into the head from the same basic shooting position, without extending the gun any further. The key is to hinge your arms at the elbow and go from parallel to the ground to angled upward as you change your focal point from the body to the head. Note that when setting this up it’s critical to make sure that you’re not shooting over the berm.

Moving on to one-handed shooting, Roger talked a bit about Fairbairn and Sykes and their history in Shanghai, since this material comes to us pretty much directly from their book *Shooting to Live*.

Given this pedigree, Roger had us shoot these drills from a combat crouch, rather than the more optimal recoil absorbing stance that we’d been using thus far. We started out with 3/4 hip, which is the one-handed equivalent of the two-handed shooting from partial extension that we’d done earlier. One difference is because you’re shooting one handed, you need to concentrate on getting the gun on the visual centerline (with two-handed shooting this happens pretty much automatically). Most people initially try to do this by angling their forearm in and articulating their wrist to get the gun pointed at the target, but the bent wrist and angled forearm don’t do a great job transmitting recoil back to your body to be absorbed. A better approach is to get your elbow on your visual centerline, directly behind the gun. This will allow you to shoot faster and more accurately.

As we did this drill my trigger started feeling “crunchy” for the lack of a better term. It was hanging up at the very end of the trigger press and requiring more and more force to get it all the way back. When we took a break to drink water and ammo up, I asked around if anyone had a Glock disassembly tool. (I had not brought one. A lesson for next time even if I’m flying out to a class). Thankfully someone had.

My initial suspect was the aftermarket trigger or connector, but after I popped the slide off, they seemed to move freely. When I detail stripped the lower and popped the trigger, trigger bar, ejector housing, and connector out they appeared pristine. Something in the lower is usually the obvious culprit for trigger issues, but having ruled those out I turned my attention to the slide. Sure enough, when I pressed the striker back it hung up about an eighth of an inch short. That would account for the feeling I got from the trigger. I popped the slide cover plate off and removed the striker. It appeared a bit gunky, but there were no obvious problems with it. I cleaned it off a bit and reassembled the gun. The trigger operated normally. I still don’t know exactly what caused it, but the problem hasn‘t reoccurred since.

Next up was the half-hip position; the one-handed equivalent of shooting from where the hands come together in a two-handed drawstroke. There are actually three variants of this: one where you brace the elbow on the front of the ribcage, one where you press it in on the point of the hip, and one where your upper arm is behind the point of the hip pressed forward against the floating rib. These allow progressively greater retention, but limit accuracy and effective distance as you get less visual input from the gun and it moves off the visual centerline. We shot all three variants.

Roger also used this as an opportunity to teach the elbow-up/elbow-down drawstroke. This is a way to get the gun out of the holster and into a half-hip shooting position very quickly. You acquire your grip, pull your elbow up and back until the gun clears the holster, then drive it down and forward until you hit the half hip shooting position. It is very fast.

Last, we maxed out the retention concept shooting with the gun braced up against the pectoral. Roger taught it with the gun angled downward, so you can have your support side arm up blocking or fending off the attacker and not risk shooting yourself in the arm. This is one take on what many instructors call “the retention position” (propagating the mistaken impression that you only need one position to cover all retention problems).

I’ll note that I had absolutely no issues shooting a pistol with a compensator on it from the retention position.

During these last few drills I was getting a few failures to feed, with the round hanging up halfway into the chamber, angled upward. Given that it only developed late in the day, my suspicion was that it was probably related to the gun getting dirty.

We packed up, loaded up the targets, and headed out. Roger let me buy him a nice dinner at Boulder Dam Brewing and we spent some time talking about the state of the training industry and some of the classes I’d taken and he’d taught recently.

After a nice soak in the tub back at the hotel I cleaned the G19X as thoroughly as I could with the gear I brought with me. I did bring some oil, so I was able to get it well lubricated.

On Sunday morning I worked a bit on this write up. When I went down to grab the free hotel breakfast, I found it was raining lightly. I had not been expecting any rain based on the forecast, but luckily I had brought my goretex rain jacket for the wind we were expecting on Sunday.

The rain continued as I headed down to the range. It was supposed to stop not long after 8 o’clock, so we held off on setting up the targets and shooting until it did.

All of our shooting on the first day had been done squared up to the target. Today’s first block of instruction was dedicated to breaking us away from that. First up was shooting with the target towards your support side. For this Roger teaches the Center Axis Relock (CAR) positions.


The low CAR position has the gun braced up against the chest with the barrel parallel to your shoulders. Roger emphasized that the gun needs to be braced against your support side pec, since having it on that side forces your support side elbow back and keeps the support side arm clear of the muzzle. In this position you can clamp the grip of the gun between your primary and support hands giving very good recoil control. However, being so far below the line of sight and with virtually no extension accuracy and effective range is limited.

When you need to shoot at more distant targets on your support side, you can use the high CAR position. This basically takes the low CAR position and rotates your arms up about 90 degrees, so your support side forearm is vertical and the primary side arm is horizontal at shoulder level, putting the gun just below your line of sight. Recoil control isn’t quite as good, but bringing the gun up to eye level makes hits out to 5 yards or so quite doable.


We shot both the low CAR and high CAR positions live fire, then did a drill where we started out in the low position and shot continuously as we raised the gun to the high position. The cool thing about this is that if you do your focal point transitions right, even though the gun is moving in a curved, C-shaped path the string of bullet impacts will be vertical.

This was actually the one drill where I noticed muzzle blast from the comp. In low CAR the muzzle blast was like getting slapped in the bicep. Nothing that caused any damage or that I would even notice in a fight but in training it was definitely noticeable.

During these drills one of the students got a badly stuck case in his pistol. This was a G27 with a 9mm conversion barrel, which may have contributed to the issue. He got the case knocked out with a rod, but switched over to his G19 for the rest of the class.

The next drill was focused on drawing directly towards the target. As Roger pointed out, sometimes we have to do things on the range for safety reasons that are not necessarily the most efficient in a fight. In this case, safety and combat efficiently match up perfectly. For safety reasons, when drawing the only thing we want the muzzle to cover is the dirt between us and the target. Drawing directly to the target like this also gets the gun on target quickly. Driving the gun to the target is faster, more efficient, and less likely to overshoot than swinging on to the target from the left or right. This is relatively easy when facing squarely towards the target, but if the target is off to the left or right, or even behind you it becomes more difficult.

Facing diagonally uprange with the target off your right (primary) side shoulder the most direct way to get the gun on target is to draw and bring the gun straight up towards the target. If you’re drawing from the appendix position, this can be thought of as driving the butt of the gun to the target. Coming from the hip the gun is traveling more sideways. In either case you end up shooting back behind you using the point shoulder position. One key to doing this safely on the range is to get the gun pointed at the target, then rotate it so it’s straight up and down (or angled over a bit so you can aim down the edge of the slide if that’s your preference). If you try to rotate the gun earlier, you’ll have a tendency to swing the gun up in an arc, rather than go directly to the target which is both less efficient and a potential safety problem on the range.

Facing diagonally uprange the other way, with the target on your left (support) side shoulder, you basically draw to Sul, then rotate your torso until you can raise the gun right into the CAR position (high CAR at the distances we were shooting).

We did a bunch of dry work on both of these before shooting them live, to make sure everyone could get the gun on target without covering anyone else on the line with us.

Having covered the full sight continuum, drawing directly to the target, and shooting at these extreme angles, we had all the building blocks in place to move into dynamic movement. The difference between controlled movement and dynamic movement is all about the relative priority that you’re giving to shooting accuracy and movement speed. With controlled movement you’re sacrificing movement speed to prioritize a good shooting platform. Dynamic movement sacrifices some of that shooting platform in order to move more quickly (there’s also “get out of dodge” movement where you eschew shooting on the move entirely and just book it).

With dynamic movement you’re moving too fast to use your sights effectively. Keeping the eye, sights, and target all lined up just isn’t possible beyond a certain speed (even with a red dot). Point shooting is absolutely mandatory. That said, we’re not just pounding along paying no heed to our shooting platform. The fundamentals of shooting on the move still apply: lower your center of gravity, step smoothly and shorten your stride, and absorb the impact of your footfalls. They’re just done at a faster pace than in controlled movement.

The reason we’re employing dynamic movement is usually to get off “the X”. To get off the spot where our adversary’s gun is pointed, or about to be pointed, and where his bullets are going to go (or where he’s about to hit us with some sort of contact weapon). If we want to do this effectively our initial movement has to be explosive. We need to accelerate very rapidly off of this spot. Our initial “takeoff” is critical. There are a variety of ways to do this, and which is best depends on your physical capabilities and the amount of traction you have available (stuff that works on dry asphalt is not going to work on wet grass, gravel, or ice). Roger demonstrated several possibilities, including just stepping off (“lean and push”), the Pekiti takeoff, the Russian takeoff, and the two-footed takeoff. He seems to prefer the two-footed approach most of the time, but he’ll adopt what works for the conditions. We spent some time playing around with the different takeoffs to see what worked for us (at least on this gravel range).

After a bunch of dry work, we started live fire with moving directly towards the target. While this doesn’t get us off the X the way lateral movement does, there are circumstances where going straight in is appropriate. We may need to close rapidly with an adversary to defend a loved one, because we’re facing multiple adversaries and closing on one will put us in a better position versus others, or because it’s the only available option.

One consideration when going straight in is we don’t want to charge right into a retention problem. We worked on techniques for withdrawing the gun into a more compressed position as we got closer.

Moving on to the more traditional, “get off the X” directions, we practiced moving diagonally forward to the left and right (the 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock directions). We started off running these drills from about 9-10 yards, which is really further than you’d want to use these in real life (at that sort of distance other techniques would be more appropriate). However, Roger wanted to give students enough time to do the takeoff, get the gun out, and get some shots off. Once we’d had some practice and everyone was getting the gun out and rounds on target within those first few steps, we moved up to a more realistic distance of 5 yards. At this distance things develop much more quickly, closer to the classic gunfighting “rule of threes” (3 steps, 3 rounds, 3 seconds). For all of these drills, Roger had us cap things off by switching to a sighted fire headshot when we got to the end of our movement.


After lunch we did the rear diagonals, starting within arms reach of the target and moving back to the 5 o’clock or 7 o’clock directions. Roger put out cones at about eight yards to serve as notional pieces of cover for us to move too (it was far too windy to put out chairs or targets that we could actually use to simulate cover, so we had to use our imagination). Again, emphasizing the idea of fighting your way to your optimal skill set, when we reached this notional cover Roger had us post up and switched to delivering sighted fire.

We switched back to the forward diagonals, but this time we incorporated a directional change. After getting off the X to the 1 o’clock or 11 o’clock Roger had us visualize our shots putting the adversary back on his heels allowing us to regain the initiative. We changed direction to closing straight in with the BG, switched to controlled movement and sighted fire, and started putting headshots on board (not because you’d necessarily go for the head in this situation, but because it was a clean part of the target allowing us to see our sighted fire hits).

Switching gears like this is one of the more difficult things to do in the middle of a fight. A more traditional application would be going from delivering torso shots at a high cadence of fire to slowing down to deliver headshots. Here, we’re not only going from torso to head, but from dynamic movement to controlled movement and from point shooting to sighted fire. It’s quite a challenge.

After demonstrating our controlled movement/sighted fire accuracy this way in a couple of iterations, Roger had us run it using sighted fire on the torso and a higher cadence of fire (since it’s a bigger target).

Next up we did some drills starting diagonally to the rear while point shooing, then changing direction moving diagonally forward (think of a letter “V” with up being downrange) still point shooting, then when you get back up near the target line, stopping and delivering sighted fire headshots. The drill simulated busting off the X away from the assailant, changing direction to acquire the target’s flank, and, once you flank them, shifting to your optimal skill set and finishing the fight.

We had covered moving straight in and moving diagonally both forward and to the rear; next up was moving directly right or left (the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock directions). We did these drills moving all the way from one side of the range to the other, engaging each target on the line in turn as we moved past at about 5 yards. Again, Roger integrated the optimal, sighted fire skill set, this time by calling out one or more target numbers at the end of the drill and having us deliver headshots.

Last up, Roger covered “tactical pirouettes”. Normally when you move to the right rear (primary side) you do it using Center Axis Relock and if you move to the left rear (support side) you do it using point shoulder. The tactical pirouette allows you to switch that up. You get off the X by taking a big step to the side, then pivot on the ball of that foot. So if you take a big step to the right you can pivot and move to the rear using point shoulder and if you take a big step to the left after the pivot you end up in CAR. You might use point shoulder instead of CAR when going to the right just because you’re more comfortable with it, or because point shoulder is generally good out to longer distances than CAR. There’s less reason to use CAR instead of point shoulder, but one might be in a confined space like a hallway where you won’t be able to create distance the way you would in a more open area.

That drill wrapped up the class. Everyone loaded up their gear and helped Roger tear down the range. He handed out the certificates, and we all went our separate ways.

Concluding Thoughts
This was an excellent class. Roger does a good job adapting his courses to the student body and in this case we had a group of safe, experienced, shooters that allowed him to push the envelope and teach the class at a very high level.

As expected, Roger evolved the class considerably since the last time I took it in 2014. These changes really come to the fore in two areas: the locked wrist grip and the integration of the reactive and proactive. The locked wrist grip helps you deliver fast and accurate hits when point shooting just like it does during sighted fire. Roger did a great job integrating the transition from reactive, point shooting based skills to more proactive, sighted fire skills into the class. Many drills called for students to make that transition in various ways.

I’m pretty happy with how I performed in this class. All the dry practice I did with the draw really paid off. I was always able to get the gun out safely, quickly, and effectively. I think I acquitted myself pretty well in the point shooting and movement aspects of the class too.

One area I throught was particularly interesting was how well I did doing shooting during controlled movement with the pistol, despite the fact that all of my recent controlled movement live practice and most of my dry work has been done with a rifle rather than a handgun. This is a skill that definitely crosses over from one platform to the other.

While I’ve been using the locked wrist grip in all of my dry practice, this class has helped me refine it. Keeping the elbows out and torquing the gun is the main change, but I also need to make sure I’ve got the support hand aggressively forward (particularly when coming off a reload or other situation where I have to compromise my grip on the gun).

The teething problems with my Glock 19X on Saturday were kind of concerning. I still don’t know what caused the trigger/striker issue, but it hasn’t reoccurred. The fact that the failures to feed didn’t crop up until I’d put a bunch of rounds downrange and went away after I cleaned and lubed the gun makes me think that’s the cause. I’m not really used to having to clean a Glock, but I’ve never run one with an aftermarket barrel that has tighter tolerances for any length of time. It appears this setup may be a bit more sensitive to cleaning and lubrication than I’m used to. I’ve got another two-day pistol class coming up in late June. I won’t be making a decision about whether this setup is reliable as a carry gun until after that class.

One thing that had cropped up a couple of times when I was testing the G19X was the slide locking back even when the magazine wasn’t empty yet. I was wondering if this was related to the new gun, or to running the locked wrist grip. It happened a couple of times in this class, and it seemed like it actually occurs when I’m not being as aggressive about getting that wrist cocked forward. If I want to shoot using that grip it seems like I really need to stay hardcore about it.

The Apex trigger and connector worked very nicely. I think they deserve at least some credit for the groups I was able to shoot during the one-hole drill. The short reset on the Apex trigger also contributes to the ability to take very quick follow-up shots. The comp does seem to make a difference in this department as well, though it probably makes a bigger difference during sighted fire than during point shooting since less muzzle flip makes it easier to reacquire the sights (or the red dot in my case). The Trijicon RMR ran just like any other RMR I’ve used: accurately and reliably. The Dale Fricke kydex I was using was great, as usual.

For a while there was a running joke in Roger’s class is about how “the weather will be perfect”. In this class the weather really was perfect. It was a lot cooler than we had any right to expect it to be in Vegas in May (I even wished I’d brought a long sleeve cover garment on Sunday morning). The brief bout of rain didn’t disrupt any of our shooting. About the best you could ask for. It was quite windy on Sunday, but this isn’t a class where the wind disrupts much.

Fight Focused Handgun III – The Reactive Gunfight is a great class. Roger continues to evolve it over time and I think the integration of reactive and proactive skill sets that he’s introduced takes it to another level. I’d highly recommend it (including to folks who, like me, have previously taken one of Roger’s point shooting classes).

June 22-23, 2019 – Fight Focused Rifle II – CQB Rifle Gunfighting – $250 – 8:00 to 4:00 PM – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club

Fight Focus Rifle II – CQB Rifle Gunfighting

Mastery is nothing more than the perfection of the fundamentals through perfect repetition. This course will pick up where Fight Focused Rifle I left off. We will take our fundamentals to the next level through sheer repetition, then take those skills into the exploration of the most efficient and effective forms of movement, shooting from cover, and positional shooting. This course will focus the the distances of 5 – 50 yards. An intermediate level  of knowledge of you rifle, sighting system, and a correct zeroing of your rifle will be mandatory before taking this course.

  • Topics covered in this course include;
  • Safety and used of the sling
  • The application of a fighting rifle
  • The correct context of the fight
  • Mindset
  • Loading and unloading
  • Intermediate level manipulations
  • The fighting foundation
  • Grip
  • Perfection of the fundamentals of marksmanship
  • Use of  your sighting system
  • Sight offset
  • Recoil control
  • Consistent recovery from recoil
  • Working from the sling and various sling positions
  • Ready positions
  • Perfect Balance of speed and accuracy
  • Perfect Balance of speed and control
  • Failure to stop
  • Hostage rescue
  • Shooting from cover
  • Positional shooting
  • Reactive manipulations (handgun transition)
  • Intensive exploration of efficient and effective forms of movement

700 rifle rounds, 50 handgun rounds.  As always, bring more if you want to shoot more.

Sign up here.

May 18-19, 2019 – Fight Focused Handgun III – The Reactive Gunfight – $250 – 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM – Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club

Fight Focused Handgun III – The Reactive Gunfight

Fight Focused Handgun III picks up right where Fight Focused Handgun II left off. This course is designed to take your reactive gunfighting skills to the next level. We will be expanding the knowledge and the skills taught in FFHII to both the proactive and the reactive gunfight. We will make you more dangerous to your enemies from the most dominant of positions, all the way to the very worse of situations. We will cover being fast and accurate when all you need to do is defend your dominate position and we will cover taking back the lost initiative when you are behind in the reactionary curve and need to be more offensive in nature. Unlike most schools, we will not ignore that very worse of situations. We will give you the tools to overcome the tactical advantage of a well seasoned criminal, tools that have been used by some of the greatest gunfighter’s of all time. This is the course that will solidify the “just shooting” aspect of the seamless integration point shooting and precision shooting. This is the course that will leave you well prepared to deal with most encounters that a typical concealed carry or open carry individual may have to deal with on the streets or in the home.

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

What you will learn inside of this course is the essentials of being able to fight with your handgun.

  •  The benefits of conceptual training
  •  The fight continuum
  •  The mental aspect of the fight
  • The importance of the thumbs forward/locked wrist grip
  • Fight focused handgun manipulations
  •  Refinement of the eye/hand coordination draw stroke
  •  In depth study of efficient and effective body mechanics
  •  Intermediate level of precision shooting
  •  Solidifying the “See what you need to see” concepts
  •  Physiological effects of a life threatening encounter
  •  Deeper understanding of the reality of the fight
  •  Intermediate level of combat shooting
  •  A completely versatile combat draw stroke
  •  One handed combat shooting
  •  Perfect balance of speed and accuracy
  •  Combat accuracy
  •  Advanced level shooting on the move

*Pre-requisite: Fight Focused Handgun II or equivalent basic to intermediate level course.
** This course is perfect for the intermediate to advanced level student.

Sign up here.

The Reactive Gunfight

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Let’s first start with the definition of a reactive gunfight that I am working under;

A gunfight where you are in immediate danger of death or grave bodily harm and you are responding to the attack while being behind it the reactionary curve.

Let’s look at the definition that I am working within the proactive gunfight;

I gunfight where you are in immediate danger of death or grave bodily harm and you are responding to the attack while being ahead in the reactionary curve.

This article is not discussing “shootings” where the danger is not immediate.

There are very few things worse than being attacked, thrown into a life threatening encounter, when you were not expecting it, and did not see it coming. We all know that we need to make every effort to mitigate the possibility of this happening as much as we can. But, being aware 100% of the time is simply not humanly possible. Simply stated, being involved in a proactive gunfight is a luxury that is not always available. In reality, the proactive gunfight is a much more manageable situation, while the reactive gunfight is far more difficult to manage and triumph in. The reactive gunfight is where you find yourself in the very deepest level of trouble.

Training in conditioned responses will often give you necessary tools to succeed in the proactive gunfight. These conditioned responses are absolutely essential skill sets and need to be trained to a very high level. The higher the level of your proactive gunfighting skills, the less you will need your reactive gunfighting skills. But, the reality is that very few people will ever train to the extremely high level necessary to essentially eliminate the need for reactive gunfighting skill sets.

This is not just about training and skill level, it is also about experience in life threatening encounters and stress inoculation. The fact is that if you have not had significant experience in life threatening encounters and the stress inoculation that eventually comes through those experience, the ability to stay calm and get to the conditioned responses of your proactive gunfighting skill is going to be very difficult, inside of a truly reactive attack. It may take time to get to this proactive gunfighting  training…..time that you may not have.

I have been a firearms training junkie since 1999, I have been teaching self-defense with a firearm since 2005, and I have trained countless student from all walks of life. So far, I have not met one person that admits to getting directly to their proactive gunfight training, in their very first proactive gunfight. To a man, they tell me of their panic, their fear, and their inability to instantly get to their training.  The time period necessary to calm down and get to their proactive gunfight training, in their first gunfight varies from seconds to minutes. This is a time period you may not have when you are in a truly reactionary position. The time period necessary to acquire the all important stress inoculation, to be calm enough to instantly access the optimal skill sets of the proactive gunfight skills, takes much longer and is not measure in seconds or minutes. They are measured in number of gunfights or numbers of life threatening encounters .

Proactive gunfighting skills should be highly trained optimal skill sets, designed for the optimal situation of being ahead in the reactionary curve. Reactive gunfighting skills are sub-optimal  skills designed for the sub-optimal situation of being behind in the reactionary curve. These two varying skill sets are similar, but differ due to the understanding of the varying  physiological effects of a life threatening encounter, dependent on the stress and urgency levels of the two varying situations. This is something that many people do not accept or refuse to look at. There are many reasons for this and those reasons have been discussed extensively throughout my body of work over the last 20 years.

While the proactive gunfight skills are taught through highly conditioned responses, the reactive gunfight skills work at much more of a reflexive, instinctive, and natural level. They are designed to take into consideration the physiological responses of the extremely stressful, high urgency nightmare of being behind in the reactionary curve.

The way that I look at this is, if I am going to train to protect myself and my loved ones, I am going to accept the information that I have received from numerous source, who have extensive gunfighting experience, and I am going to train off of that information. That means that I am going to train to be the very best that I can in the proactive gunfight for the optimal gunfights, and train to be the very best that I can be in the reactive gunfight for the sub-optimal gunfights. Then I am going to train to seamlessly integrate the two. That is what I have done and what I have taught my students to do since 2005.

Very few Instructors teach the reactive gunfight. If you would like to understand where I am coming from, I have a huge body of work on the subject on my blog. If you would like to train in the reactive gunfight, I am teaching a course that focuses on it on May 18th-19th, 2019

“I know you can shoot, but can you fight?”