Perfecting the Fundamentals of Gunfighting with a Carbine

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

From a very good discussion on my forum. The full discussion can be found here.

Three weekends in a row training and teaching………

You all know me, I am constantly looking for the very best information that I can find to pass onto my students. Many of you have watched as I worked through my varying obsessions from CQB, to Low Light, to Point Shooting, to Dynamic Movement, to the Reactive Gunfight, to Perfecting the Fundamentals of the Proactive Handgun, and now to my very public announcement to get deep into Perfecting the Fundamentals of Fighting with a Rifle.

I wanted to write this article to begin the discussion on my experiences training with ninpo_student and in return, then passing that knowledge onto my students.

As an Instructor, every once in a while you come across something that is an absolute game changer. For those of you that trained with ninpo_ student in April of 2016, you probably know what I am talking about…….Recoil Control and the Consistent Recovery from Recoil.

For me, what was so cool about the class is how everything ninpo_student was teaching in regards to this subject was in perfect alignment to what I was doing inside of my proactive handgun courses. While the techniques were different, the concept was virtually identical……get structure behind the weapon and mitigate the recoil as much as possible, in order to get faster and more accurate hits.

Inside the course in April, ninpo_student said something that has stayed with me from the very first moment he said it.

“We would shoot these terrorist 5-10-15 times and you know what we found out?”…………………” We weren’t shooting them enough!”

At that point he showed us what they had learned to do to be as fast and accurate as possible, inside of typical CQB distances.

Make no mistake about it, the best defense is not a good offense……the best defense is an outstanding offense!

I wanted to write this article to begin to discuss owning an outstanding offense in regards to gunfighting with a carbine.

This material comes from the best Gunfighters in the world, who learned hard earned lessons as their brothers died around them while fighting the Global War on Terror. Ninpo_student passes on these lessons to honor his brothers and I would hope to be seen as doing the same.

If there is one thing that I have learned over the last couple of years, it’s that we have ALL been taught a huge amount of theory. These theories cannot be tested by one gunfight, or two, or five, or ten, or twenty five. For theories to be adequately tested, it require a significant number of gunfights. What do I consider significant………. somewhere around a hundred gunfights. Until then it is simply theory! America has been at war since 2001, this is the longest time period that we have ever been at war. The amount of experience and knowledge coming out of this time period is simply unsurpassed in American history. If you are not paying attention to the lessons learned, the myths dispelled, and the theories blown out of the water you are missing out on some amazing information.

With all of that said……..what do we need to do to be as fast and accurate with a rifle as we can possibly be?

When you are blasting long held beliefs out of the water and talking about the failures of past theories, I find it is best to set the stage and first begin discussing the thinking behind those theories. Almost immediately, you begin to see the problem with the past thinking.

When I started discussing the “locked wrist grip” on the handgun, the new habits are such a dramatic change, that there needed to be some convincing to get people behind putting in the substantial work needed to make those changes. This stable rifle shooting platform is going to very much be like that.

The changes are dramatic. There will be a resistance to the changes. The convincing is easy with the rifle in your hand, the evidence of the tracking of the sights in your face, and the absolute truths of the hits on the target. It is not going to be near as easy in the written form.

Lay down the science and people with good common sense will see it plain as day.

On the structure behind the rifle we need to understand the learning progression that we went through. The M4 set up and the techniques used came to us straight from the use of the MP5. Standing straight up, mount of the rifle in the shoulder pocket, collapsed stock, and a mag well hold. The problem is that the 5.56 is not a handgun round. The theory behind the M4 and the techniques used simply did not facilitate a good recoil control or a consistent recovery from recoil. What worked well for the MP5 simply did not work well with an M4. When the urgency is high, there is no way to put the hits on board as they would need to be, in order to dominate the adversary with ballistic effect. When we are talking about taking down a religious zealot, who is not afraid to die, and only wants to take as many Americans with him as he can, an extremely dominant offense is an absolute must.

And that dominate offense starts with recoil control and consistent recover from recoil, which of course is all about structure behind the gun.

Recoil is energy.

You can either store/absorb the energy or you can transfer/redirect the energy. Shooting a M4 like it was a MP5 has you absorbing the energy. You can only successfully absorb so much energy before it negative effects your ability to make fast and accurate hits. You get muzzle flip that climbs and you get knocked back on your heels. Absorbing does not work well.

Transferring the energy through your body, and straight to the ground, through a straight rear leg is far superior to absorbing it. So, it is the stance that allows this transference of energy.

Aggressive forward lean (and I mean AGGRESSIVE) with the support side foot forward and knee bent right above the foot. Firing side leg rearward, well back, and straight. You will look like you are trying to push a truck up a hill. The straight rear leg is essential. Without it, you are not transferring the energy to the ground, you are absorbing the energy. For those that have trained with me, the straight rear leg is going to be very different from what you are used to. It will take work, effort, and constant monitoring. This ain’t no combat crouch.

Now that we are transferring the energy to the ground, we need to get as much body mass behind this rifle as we can. We may be transferring the energy, but it still has to go through the body. It needs to go through a body with solid structure. Hips squared up to the target! No blading! Rifle mount NOT high in the shoulder pocket with the toe of the stock. Mount it lower and inward of the shoulder pocket, somewhere in between the shoulder pocket and the center line. You will need to drop the head to get your cheek weld.

The firing grip is all about working the trigger. Do not be too concerned about the trigger finger placement on the face of the trigger. More and more, accomplished gunfighters are beginning to just “bury” the trigger finger, just as we are seeing in the locked wrist grip on the handgun. The support grip is far forward in a C clamp, with the thumb over the top of the rail, and while pulling the carbine back into the mount. Do not overly pronate the C clamp, because when you are fighting for blood you are going to need to find a C clamp that you can do for hours and overly pronating makes that impossible. Extend well, short of full extension, find something that gets the job done with out unnecessary tension or strain. The C clamp is all about not allowing the muzzle to rise. The “pulling the carbine back into the mount” of the support hand also reduces muzzle rise and helps facilitate the recoil straight to the rear and straight to the rear only.

With a M4 variant, with a short fore end, where you can not extend out to a good C clamp, gain the length that you need by extending the stock to it’s full length.

The tracking of the sights/red dot

This optimal stable shooting platform is all about not allowing muzzle rise (just like with a handgun.) Read your sights! If they are tracking upward, you have not nailed your optimal position. The ultimate goal is to have the rifle recoil straight to the rear……and straight to the rear only. If the muzzle never comes off of the targeting area, you can press the trigger as fast as you can and keep everything in a very tight pattern.

This is a decent image of the aggressive forward lean, the squared up hips, and the straight rear leg. The C clamp may be slightly overly pronated and past that of being able to do for a long period of time. The overall concept is well displayed, but as in anything, this is going to be user dependent. Slight adjustments may be required, but the concept is sound in this image.

If you have any questions feel free to join in on the discussion at my forum.

September 29-30, 2018 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Rifle For Gunfighters – Co-instructed by Colby Rupert & Roger Phillips – 2 days $350

Rifle For Gunfighters – Co-instructed by Colby Rupert and Roger Phillips

This fast pace, two-day, fight focused rifle course will be co-instructed by Colby Rupert (ninpo_student) and Roger Phillips of Fight Focused Concepts, with Colby taking the lead role and Roger acting in a support role.

Mr. Rupert has over 10 years of decorated experience in the combat arms community on active duty in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. He left the service honorably as a staff NCO and held multiple leadership billets from Fire Team and Squad Leader to Platoon Sergeant. Colby is now a Firefighter/Paramedic with a large southern Nevada Fire Dept.

I am honored to have the chance to bring this course to my student base. Colby has not only proven himself, over and over again, during his accomplished military career, he has also proven himself to be an exemplary Instructor. The combination of relevant real world experience and the ability to care enough about people, to instruct at the highest levels is a very rare combination. Do not miss this special event because it is sure to be a great over all experience.

This course will be shot out to 200 yards, from atypical positions,  and auxiliary rifle gear capable of holding at least 5 magazines is highly recommended.

1000 rounds and as always, bring more if you want to shoot more.

Sign up here.

Read AAR of last time this course was run here.


August 25-26, 2018 – Las Vegas, Nevada – Fight Focused Handgun – Fighting at Night – 2 nights $300

Fight Focused Handgun – Fighting at Night

Las Vegas, Nevada
5:00 PM to Midnight
500 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.

An Example of a Home Defense Carbine Set Up and Plan

By ninpo_student of The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

I’ll lay out how my home defense (HD) carbine is setup, the condition it is kept in and how I expect to employ it. Hopefully it will answer your other questions too. My current HD blaster is a 10.3” 416 upper on an SR15 lower. The upper has an Aimpoint T1, SF 200 lumen Scout light, DBAL I2 and a direct thread Gemtech Trek T suppressor. The lower has an A5 receiver extension, B5 Systems Sopmod Bravo stock, KAC two stage trigger and Lancer magwell with a Magpul MS3 padded sling. It is staged with my Team Wendy carbon bump helmet, PVS14s and a Surefire IR helmet light. As a fan of all the lumens, I choose the 200 lumen Scout because (1) it was what I had in the parts box, (2) it was compatible with the dual tape switch I have that integrates with the MFAL and (3) I expect to fight under no light conditions for as long as I can and the 200 lumens will work for my needs in that context. When I have the extra money it will be replaced with a brighter light.

Ammunition is the Barnes 70grn TSX loading from Asym Precision, magazines are G3 PMAGs loaded with 30 rounds each. In addition to my bump helmet, I have a Unity Clutch belt with a comp’d and RMR’d G19, two pistol mags with 124+p HST, a spare carbine magazine, Surefire Fury hand held and a small trauma kit. Under the clock at random times in the middle of the night, I can jock up in just under 30 seconds, less if I skip the NODs. I have a house alarm system and two small dogs who are very aggressive barkers when they sense someone unauthorized in their yard. I stage everything on a small stool sitting next to my side of the bed, setup so I can don the belt, sling up the carbine and mount the helmet, in that order.

The carbine is kept in what is commonly referred to as “patrol ready”; bolt forward on an empty chamber, on safe, dust cover closed with a 30 round magazine inserted under the closed bolt. The sling is banded to the stock so I only need to give it a solid tug and it’s free to use. The equipment on my carbine or used in conjunction was selected to fill specific roles. The optic stays on until it’s scheduled battery change, the MFAL has a visible green laser, the light and laser controls are integrated on the tape switch for ease of use, the suppressor is self explanatory, the A5 system smoother out the recoil impulse to aid in shot to shot recovery and the magwell is big and hard to miss.

With that out of the way, what do I consider to be essential skills and procedures to employing my HD carbine ? Stance, sight picture and alignment, trigger control, recoil control, emotional control on my part, light use and discipline, and target discrimination. Really everything that goes into running a carbine optimally inside of a CQB engagement. Recoil control I’ll address in a future post as it deserves more space than I’d devote to it here. The fundamentals don’t really change, although their application and importance may. Depending on the target profile, distance and surroundings, etc., I can afford to be sloppy on any or all of them, depending. I need to be prepared to burn it down on a dude at 5m with multiple rounds or make a low percentage shot on threat holding my wife or one of my children hostage at 18m, that farthest distance inside my house.

The three I consider the most important are emotional control, target discrimination, and light use / discipline. Since I plan on fighting in a no light environment, should I be forced to use light, I’d expect it to be under exigent circumstances for PID in the event my NODs go down or an unexpected light source comes into play. The other role would be to deny space to my adversary once I’ve recovered all my people as I await an LE response to keep him away from my family. The two I consider most critical are target discrimination and emotional control.

Target discrimination is fairly self explanatory, but I will say this. Under the stress of hunting someone inside a structure, if you aren’t paying attention to the world around you, you’re going to shoot something you don’t intend to. So, that means no third eye principle, the eyes should move roughly 15 degrees ahead of the muzzle as you scan for targets. The manual safety stays engaged until your eyes are connected to the sighting system and you’ve made the conscious decision to shoot. We do not hunt people inside structures or anywhere else, with a disengaged manual safety. If your weapon choice doesn’t allow you positive control over the safety at all times, pick another weapon or train until you can easily manipulate it. To do otherwise is negligent, in my opinion. I’ve seen more than one high speed, legit assaulter type shot in training because someone didn’t have the safety engaged. If we can make that mistake, then you can too.

Emotional control is the other big one. You will be hunting an adversary, or waiting for him to come to you inside your house, with your family inside it. FISHing (fighting in somebodies house) an incredibly stressful event, made even more so with the addition of the most valuable things in your life on the line should you fail. Speaking for myself, I’m going to flipping furious that someone dared to come inside my house and threaten my family. I know I need to temper that anger and not let it dictate my actions and responses. If this is your first gunfight those emotional responses and urges will be even worse, including fear. You need to be able to recognize that they exist and set them aside until the killing is done. You can be mad, scared, whatever once it’s over. Until then you need to be focused on the tasks at hand; killing, incapacitating or driving your adversary away from your family and house.

Now to the environment. It will either be a violent home invasion attempt during daylight hours while I’m home, or someone attempting to sneak into my house in the wee hours of the day. If I’m awake, the carbine will be near wherever I’m at inside the house ( or backyard if I’m out there ) along with my Roland in my CCW holster. My wife knows to retreat to our daughters bedroom and post up until the fights over, whether or not I win. At night, she’ll do the same thing. Her room is next to mine so it shouldn’t be an issue accessing. From there, it’ll all depend on how the fight develops and what happens.

Thoughts on Up Coming, August 3-5, 2018 Phoenix, Arizona, Close Quarter Battle Course

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Shooters often believe that they do not need to train in CQB or tactics. Shooters that believe that will only ever be shooters. If you want to develop past being just a shooter and toward actually becoming a fighter, training such as this is essential.

If you plan to take one course from me this year, this course would be your best decision. Co-instructing it with Colby Rupert is not just an honor, it is a privilege. If I was not co-instructing in this course I would be eagerly paying to be a student in it.

We need to understand and admit the level of theory that we have all been taught in the past. The information and experience now available to us, since fighting the war on terror since 2001, has moved us well past the theory of the past and into a level of understanding, through experience, never before seen in American history. If you want to lean how to fight or take your fighting ability to a whole other level, this course is an outstanding option for you.

We are now at ten students enrolled and there is still room for at least ten more.

Enroll here.

May You Live in Interesting Times

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

I don’t know…….

I have always resisted the sleazy marketing of fear mongering and I have never donned a tin foil hat in order to sell courses.


It seems as if America has changed to the point that the need for “brown stinky stuff hitting the fan” training has reached a level never before seen in my 19 years of training and 13 years of instructing.

When we look at the fact that 50% of this Country hates us with a passion…….30% of the Country would be perfectly alright if we were dead…….20% of the Country would jump at the chance to actually kill us, as long as they thought they could get away with it……and another 20% would sit back and let it happen just to protect themselves from being targeted.

I do not feel those numbers are exaggerated. There is a war going on in America, a war where winning at the polls has only deepened the hatred and widened the divide.

There is one thing that I know about progressives………and that is that they will never stop.

Yes, I am going to be teaching more and more rifle courses.

Yes, I will teach CQB courses every chance that I get.

People can sit back and make fun of this blog entry or this plan. But, I am serious and I think we all better look very closely at the reality of our America and wrap our head around the fact that we are on a very slippery slope. We need to honestly evaluate where we think this Country is headed. Do you think that everything is fine? Do you think it is going to get better? Do you think the progressives are ever going to stop?

I don’t.

I have finally made up my mind and I am going to begin speaking about this. And when I do, please realize it is not over the top sleazy marketing and it is not anti-government stupidity.

In my mind, it is a reality.

For those of you who do not live in a liberal hell hole like I do, you may not understand where I am coming from. But here, I am out numbered and surrounded……….and that fact is made perfectly clear to me everyday.

It took me 19 years of firearms training to finally write this blog entry. I have thought about writing this for over a year. These are very personal thoughts that I have held in for a very long time. I felt it was extremely important to finally put these thoughts out there to my friends.

The Takeoff (Revised)

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

When it comes to the very best way possible of exploding off of the X, there are a number of factors that simply must be taken into consideration. It is very clear that inside of almost anything “tactical,” “the situation is the dictating factor.” Without this being at the very forefront of our thinking, we inevitably end up needing to force fit sub-optimal skill sets into situations where they do not belong. What this means is that the very best takeoff comes down to being user dependent and heavily reliant on the individuals very personal situation. Once this reality is laid down it becomes very clear that the takeoff cannot be “technique focus.” It must remain “concept focused” and used inside of a continuum approach.

In the recent past we have looked toward specific techniques in an attempt to be the very best that we can be at getting off of the X, inside of a truly reactionary gunfight. As we progressed from one technique to the next, it becomes clear that the techniques that we have used in the past were nothing more than the framework needed to establish an extremely versatile and fluid takeoff concept. If we look at the continuum approach, it is basically a A-Z concept where no one point/letter is more important than the next. While some may call this approach complicated, in reality it is not. It is as simple as it needs to be….. but no simpler. A fluid concept is simply the only way to be the very best we can be inside of the fluid dynamics of a fight.

“The fight is going to be what the fight is going to be!”

Here are a list of circumstances that simply must be taken into consideration in order to be the very best that we can be inside of our takeoff.

Traction/footing; This is something that simple cannot be ignored. Traction needs to be rated on a scale of 1-10 and accepted for what it is. The skill sets that we use, to be the very best that we can be, on solid/dry/warm/textured surfaces are completely different from the skill sets that  we use, to be the very best that we can be, on a loose/slippery/wet/cold/smooth surfaces. To think that we can own only one technique that allows us to be the very best that we can be in varying traction levels is ridiculous.

Movement; A takeoff does not just come out of a stationary position. I do not stand around in dangerous environments……I walk through them. The takeoff concept must work while stationary and while moving.

Getting off of the X; A lot of people believe that this means getting off the spot you are presently occupying. In reality, it means getting your body off of your adversaries targeting area. If somebody is targeting my upper thoracic cavity, I need to get that part of my body off of the X that they are targeting.

Which direction am I going; Our takeoffs need to be efficient and effective to every position on the clock, no mater if you are stationary of moving. Some takeoffs are better than others, in this regard. That is why we need to know them all, so we can apply the most effective technique, inside of the fluid concept, no matter what the situation is.

Allowable Telegraphing; There are plenty of times where “telegraphing” is simply not a factor. But, there are times where you simple cannot telegraph your intent. Distance is a key factor on whether you can afford to telegraph or not. The amount of telegraphing all comes down to the quickness of your “drop.” The flinch/drop will telegraph more than a simple lean/push or fall/lean/push.

Genetics/Experience; Some people are born with natural abilities that allow them to do things so easily, that it is as natural as breathing. The ability to flinch/drop on command is one of these abilities. This ability opens up options that others may not have. The flinch/drop is also something that is very prevalent inside of Western sports such as football and basketball. Some people have trained extensively in relaxation based martial arts training. This allows them to do things that many people will not be able to do. We must be very careful and train in the manner that is appropriate to how we will really fight.

Physical limitations; As an instructor it is my job to teach people to be the very best that they can be. If there is any sort of physical limitation to one of the legs/feet there must be adjustments made to allow the individual to be the very best that they can be. Being technique focused will not get the job done.

When we look at the varying circumstances around the takeoff it is clear that “one size does not fit all”……and it never will!

The Framework of the Explosive Dynamic Takeoff

 The Pekiti Takeoff is long time established Fight Focused Concepts doctrine. It is based on the trailing leg being the 100% drive leg. It works great for solid footing and in conjunction with movement. It is both a stationary takeoff and a movement based takeoff. The stationary Pekiti is conceptually the exact same thing as a typical movement base football “cutback.” Due to the movement based characteristics of the Pekiti, it will always be a mainstay and the primary takeoff. Inside of the balance “to hit and to not be hit” the Pekiti takes both equally into consideration. You get off the X very quickly with an outstanding ability to get to the gun very quickly. Inside of the A-Z continuum, the Pekiti is the “A.”

The Enhanced Pekiti was discovered in the most difficult of circumstances. It is based on the lead leg being the 100% drive leg. The dropping over the center of gravity on the lead leg, the shoulder to the opposite toe, the tucking of the chin, and the allowing the head to lead the way are all about making the adversary miss and setting yourself up for an explosion off of the X. It is all about surviving the initial contact in order to be able to get into the fight. The center of gravity being over the top of the lead/drive leg is all about setting yourself up for full explosion, with next to zero chances on slipping. This is not a movement base skill set due to the fact that it breaks the general rules of “never cutback off of the inside leg.” Inside of the A-Z continuum, the Enhanced Pekiti is the “Z.”

The Optimal Two Footed Takeoff gives us the very best body mechanics (hips and toes aligned with the desired direction of movement) to be as explosive as we can possibly be. This is the takeoff used by the fastest humans in the world. This is a 50%-50% takeoff. The trailing leg is used to create momentum, to get the lead/drive leg past the apex and into the fully loaded drive position. This allows for the lead/drive leg to start at the center of gravity which drastically cuts down on the possibility of slipping. Even if the trailing leg slips, you will not go down or  lose much explosiveness due to the fact that the lead leg is on the center of gravity. This is a movement based skill set that is conceptually the same as a football cut back out of the “stutter step,” The stutter step is what we do to control the speed of the cutback on wet surfaces, while at the same time puts the inside leg under our center of gravity. If the outside leg slips, the inside leg is right there to take control of the slip. The stutter step is virtually, setting up for as close to a two footed takeoff as movement will allow. It is not a pure two footed take off but it is extremely close to it. Inside of the A-Z continuum the Two Footed Take Off is the “M.”

Non-telegraphing Take Off

I have been teaching the “Lean/Push” for a very long time. It is a trailing leg take off designed for those that do not have the athleticism of the “flinch/drop.” You simply begin the fall the direction that you want to go and push off with your trailing leg.

During the discussion on takeoffs, Sonny Puzikas introduced us to the Russian/Systema take off, which is another no-telegraphing takeoff. It is basically falling/leaning the direction that you want to go, to the point that you have defeated the apex, and then push off with you lead leg……from a position of full power potential.

Rounding out the rest of the continuum comes down to varying percentages of the drive leg (trailing or leading) varying levels of allowable telegraphing, and the amount of rolling of the shoulder……..dictated by the situation.  This is a truly fluid continuum, a continuum that you can turn your take off into whatever you need your take off to be.