The Ultimate Goal Inside of a Gun Fight

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

As an Instructor that made a name for himself by focusing on the advancement of the art, inside of the reality of the reactive gun fight, I find that I am often misunderstood or misquoted about what I believe to be the ultimate goal inside of a gun fight. Due to the fact that I teach people what to do in the very worse of situations, what I am truly teaching is often marginalized or straight out ignored.

In every reactive gun fighting course that I teach, I emphasis this one aspect of the fight with these statements.

“If I am fighting for my life with a firearm, there is nothing more that I would like to see than a perfect sight alignment on a perfect sight picture. Always get the maximum visual input on the gun that the situation will allow, but realize that you can not always get to your sights. Therefore, we must have other tools to fall back on. But, if you can get to your sights……GET TO YOUR SIGHTS!”

The ultimate goal inside of a gun fight is to stay calm, to get to your training, and to get to the most efficient and effective tool for the job. Hands down, the most efficient and effective way to aim your gun is with a high quality sighted fire skills.

There are no hard rules to gun fighting, but there are some very important general guidelines.

  • The more (or finer) visual input that I can get on the handgun, the more accurate I can be.
  • The higher I bring the handgun to line of sight, the more accurate I can be.
  • The further I extend the handgun out, the more accurate I can be.

Each of the statements above do have some cons, but that is not the focus of this article. The statements above are all about getting to your most optimal accuracy positions and if the situation allows you to get to these optimal positions, then EVERY effort needs to be made to get there.

“Staying calm” of course is not as easy as it sounds. The encounter not being truly reactive will help facilitate you remaining calm. Quality training and education will  help facilitate you remaining calm. Experience in violent encounters will help facilitate you remaining calm. It is the experience and the stress inoculation that comes from it that will have the most dramatic effect on your ability to remain calm. But, most people who carry a gun, as a way of life, do not have the experience and the stress inoculation to remain calm and that is a reality that we have to face, without ego and arrogance getting in the way.

The reality is that we may not be able to remain calm in a truly reactive situation. But, that does not mean the we should not strive to calm down. The ultimate goal of staying calm/calming down, in order to get to our training allows us to get to the most optimal tools for the job at hand. Even if you are attacked out of the blue, totally blind sided, and way behind in the reactionary curve the goal is to take back that lost initiative, as needed, then to calm down and get to the most efficient and effective way to stop the threat, which is to get to your high level sighted fire skills, if the situation will allow it.

I know there are going to be some people who read this and think that I have changed my mind about the skills that I have been teaching for the reactive gun fight and that would be incorrect. I have always preached this! We should always strive to use the most optimal skills that the situation will allow. But the reality is that extremely sub-optimal situations may not allow us to get to our most optimal skills, until we have made the situation more optimal.

Every fight should be both physical and mental. The mental aspect should always be about accessing that inner voice telling you exactly what to do……telling you one of two things.

Stay calm and get to those sights.

Calm down and get to those sights!

 

2x2x2x Drill The Way That I Run It

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Man on man, two students in front of three targets each, at seven yards. Target area is 3×5 index card in the center of thoracic cavity on each target.

Set up is from the holster, three magazines with six rounds in each. Each targets (of three) gets two rounds each, reload, two rounds each, reload, two rounds each.

First shooter that runs it clean moves on. Only clean runs move on to the next round (nothing outside of the index cards.)

I’ve run this in a few courses and nobody ran it clean, throughout the competition, therefore nobody won the competition. This PA. group of guys were informed of this fact and they assured me that would end inside of this course.

Everyone ran it well, but only two could advance to the final. It was Big Sam and Sgt. Psycho. They were shot for shot all the way through, right up to the last shot. The last two shots sounded like one. It all came down to who ran it clean and Big Sam did and Sgt. Psycho had one shot out by a millimeter.

It was a very good competition.

In the course before this one, the guys could not believe that their would be no final, since nobody ran it clean. They all just stared at me in disbelief. I informed them that the standard had not been met and that this course was very much a “standards” type of course.

When it comes to top quality sighted fire skill level, the standard should be very high and very difficult to achieve.

Both of the guys in this final can really shoot accurately, going up against each other forced them out of their comfort zone, and the were forced to shoot faster than they were used to.

Lesson taught and learned! You can shoot accurately, at a faster pace, if you just know how it is done.

The Sequence of Shooting

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts
 I have lectured and demonstrated this concept hundreds of times, knowing perfectly well that I may have missed something. I finally decided to get it written out so it can be put into a handout inside of my courses.

 

(Mental Prep, Brain Leads Body Follows)

  • Eye hand coordination draw stroke
  • Lock in on the focal point
  • Perfect body mechanics

(Perfect Count One)

  • Clear the cover garment
  • Acquire perfect master grip
  • Stage support side hand for the thumbs forward camming grip
  • Begin to bring focus off of the identified threat and back to where the front sight is going to land, focal transition

(Perfect Count Two)

  • Elbow up to high pectoral
  • Elbow down to parallel to the ground
  • Finger goes to the trigger and slack is removed
  • Focal transition still in progress
  • Begin to drive gun in a straight line to the point of aim

(Perfect Count Three)

  • Hands come together in the staged thumbs forward camming grip
  • Pressure is beginning to be added to the trigger
  • Focal transition is being completed

(Perfect Count Four)

  • Perfect balance of speed and control
  • Drive the gun out to a perfectly locked in thumbs forward camming grip
  • Trigger is stage to break off the shot
  • Press out to extension with zero disruption
  • Hard focus on a perfect sight alignment on a perfect sight picture achieved by the focal transition

(Engage)

  • Press off the shot
  • Follow the front sight during recoil
  • Verify recoil recovery with post landing back in the notch
  • Trigger reset
  • Asses the threat through the sights
  • Press off subsequent shots as needed, verifying recoil recovery, and the post landing back in the notch

Why the Change in Focus?

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

This question was asked of me by a student, who sought me out to learn from the “point shooting/dynamic movement specialist.”

 My answer to his question was that my focus had always been on creating well-rounded and completely versatile fighters, but it was the truly reactive gun fight that had not been brought to its full potential. This substantial lack of study in this important piece of the puzzle left me in a very good position to make a name for myself while advancing  the art in a portion of the fight continuum that very few people knew well.

 I have done very well with being the “reactive gunfight/point shooting/dynamic movement specialist”………but I have never preached anything but a seamless integration of the reactive and proactive gunfight. My focus may have once been on the advancement of the art of the reactive gunfight, but it is now time to bring that same laser sharp focus to the proactive gunfight and the seamless integration of the two, into just one high quality system. The integration has always been there, but now we are looking to seamlessly combine our very high level reactive skill sets with a very high level proactive skill sets.

 When we look at the priorities of a typical civilian gun fight, the reactive skill sets are the most likely skills needed, that is if the bad guy does his job well. Concentrating on bringing these skills as far as we could take them made really good sense.

 But, times change and our situation has change.

 With the rise in terrorist attacks taking place in America and the definite reality of it simply getting worse, the need for high level proactive gunfight skills has never been as necessary as they are right now. I know…….I know the chances of one of us being there when an active shooter starts shooting up innocence is very small, but so is the need for reactive gunfight skills. Preparing for the worse, while hoping for the best is what training for self-defense has always been about. If we seriously looked at the odds of a law-abiding civilian needing high level gun fighting skills and worked our training off of those odds, we would not even need to own a gun, let alone know how to use one at a very high level. But, when your number is called and your flag goes up, the odds simply do not matter because your odds at that particular time is 100%. You are going to need these high level skills as much as you have ever needed anything in your life.

It is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

 When we talk about an active shooter situation, we are most likely not going to be the sole individual targeted and if we are not being directly targeted our proactive skills are going to need to be at the highest levels possible.

 Fight Focused Handgun IV-Fight Focused Marksmanship (FFHIV) and Fight Focused Handgun VI-Advanced Fight Focused Marksmanship (FFHVI) are not just about creating courses that I have always wanted to create, it was also about creating a course that fits in with the circumstances that we face today. Sure the need for the reactive gunfight is not going to go away any time soon. But, in my opinion the proactive gunfight has begun to take on a much more predominant role than it has in the past, in regards to active shooters and terrorist attacks. That is what the FFHIV and FFHVI is all about. Fast and accurate sighted fire, surgical precision, positional shooting, use of cover and concealment, extremely high level controlled movement at distance, comparisons in your precision during controlled movement between the varying forms of controlled movement, and the complete study of movement in order to make the best decisions, on the best form of movement

 Everything has its place and if you do not get deep into the study, you really do not know what makes you as safe and as deadly as you can possible be. The time that I have spent of this study has shown me some very surprising things. Who would have known that I would be better shooting the “turret of the tank”, at 25 yards, with a non-dominant side two-handed grip, over that of the primary side one-handed grip? Who would have known that I was better at fast an accurate shooting at 30 yards using side stepping over the “turret of the tank” concept? Who would have know that “move-stop-shoot” at 30 yards, using the rifleman rule of three, was far better inside of FOF, than both of the last two options?

 There are still so many pieces of the puzzle that have not been explored to their full potential……so many situations where we have not nailed down what we need to do to be as deadly and safe as we possibly can. That is why the focus has changed! But, it has always been about creating the most versatile fighters that we can possible be. Being well-rounded means that you have an answer for whatever fight that shows up at your door step and only focusing on one portion of the fight continuum leaves you flat sided.

Fixing the Problem Shooter and/or Teaching the New Shooter

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

As an instructor, eventually you will run up against a student that is just not getting it. In the private sector this is not that big of a problem, but if it is your job to get a problem shooter to qualify for a professional position, it can be quite a predicament. When someone’s job is on the line, the pressure of overcoming this problem can really wear on the problem shooter. Most of the time, the problem shooter can be brought around with patients and a continuing effort of working on the fundamentals of marksmanship. For a very small percentage of problem shooters this continuing effort may still not be enough. Some students just need a different approach.

As the problem shooter, trying to fight your way through your problems can be extremely frustrating. This frustration leads to an inability to do what really needs to be done…. which is to remain calm. Once the problem shooter becomes frustrated it is very difficult to turn that around. If the student has lost their confidence, the instructor is really fighting an up hill battle. So it becomes clear that we need to do two things right off of the bat. We need the shooter to remain calm and we need to establish their confidence. By taking on a completely different approach, this breaks them away from “that same old frustrating failure.” This is a good start to “remaining calm” and a brand new clean slate for their confidence.

The job of the instructor is to get the shooter inside of their comfort zone and establish the shooters confidence. Once the comfort zone and confidence is established the instructor needs to keep complete and absolute control of that comfort zone and confidence level. Over the years of dealing with problem shooters, it became perfectly clear that this method of teaching was not just good for fixing problem shooters, it was also very good for teaching new shooters.

I really like starting people off with a nice solid Modern Isosceles. In my opinion it is a much better stance for the newbie shooter. There is much less tension in this position over that of the Weaver stance, so the problem student does not tense up and tire as quickly. It lends itself to good recoil control and it gives an excellent center-line. The basic geometry of Modern Isosceles allows the shooter to make hits without even using the sights. The grip needs to be firm and with full purchase on the handgun. The two-handed thumbs forward grip gives us both of these qualities. The goal is to point in at the targeted area and press the trigger to the rear, without coming off of the targeted area. Then recover from the recoil in a consistent  manner. A good stance and grip facilitates this perfectly. A poor stance and grip does not facilitate it at all.

Many of the problem shooters of smaller stature have a problem with remaining extended at line of sight for long periods of time as they work on their fundamentals. This leads to tension that is completely opposite of the remaining calm that we are looking for. We need to understand the shooters comfort zone and keep them from tensing up. Some ways to do this is by teaching and allowing a relaxed/lazy ready position. The first ready position to work with should be a relaxed/lazy low ready. The gun is safely lowered to the 45 degrees and the upper arms are resting on the shooters body. This allows safety, relaxation, and the ability to rest in-between strings of fire. Keep inside of the students comfort zone and they will be more relaxed, less tense, and tire less quickly.

OK, we have the Modern Isosceles, the thumb forward grip, and we have a relaxed low ready. Next, put a focal point on the upper thoracic cavity of the target for the student to focus on. I nice bright red neon sticker the size of a quarter is perfect. Have the shooter start at two yards. All the shooter is going to do is focus/lock in on the focal point, bring the gun up from the low ready till it intersects the line of sight and immediately take the shot. No transition of focus, no hesitation. Just bring it up and take the shot. Then recover back down to the relaxed low ready and rest. As the instructor, watch the hits. Remind the shooter to focus on the spot that the shooter wants the bullet to go. If the shot is low or high make sure the shooter is pressing the trigger right when the top of the slide intersects the line of sight. If the shot is off to the side make sure they are bringing the gun up in front of their dominant eye. If the shooter is right-handed and everything is off to the left, watch the wrist articulation and make sure that it is appropriate for the Isosceles. Repeat until the shooter simply can not miss. Add in controlled pairs, then burst of 3-4. Repeat until the shooter can not miss.

Watch carefully for recoil anticipation (low and to the right on right-handed shooters) and the shooter attempting to aim with the sights.

WHY?

This is the question that will always be asked! Why does it matter if the student is target focused, over being sight focused? This all comes down to gross motor skills over fine motor skills…..being globally focused over being locally focused…..using natural ability over conditioned skill sets. This takes pressure off of the student. It dumps the “conditioned response” of sighted fire and accepts the “instinctive response” of threat focused shooting. This allows the body, eyes, and mind to do what they do thousands of times a day. It is simply more natural! Natural leads to relaxation, which leads to remaining calm, which leads directly into confidence. Hard focus on the front sight while trying to get a perfect sight picture, during the inevitable infinity pattern, can be a major stumbling block for a problem shooter. They often mash the trigger at the point that the sight picture passes over the point of aim. The old mantra “front sight, front sight…….press” is often followed up by the inevitable “NOW!” which is one of the main causes of mashing the trigger and recoil anticipation. If you give the problem shooter the time to think about the recoil anticipation…..you are going to get recoil anticipation.

The next step is “driving the gun.” Teach the student a safe/relaxed/lazy compressed ready (count three of the four count draw stroke or as soon as the hands come together.)  I have a compressed ready that just rests the gun at my mid section, with the wrists and the inside of the forearms laying against the rib cage. No tension, no exertion, totally relaxed. We are now going to have the student drive the gun to the focal point. Remember that “driving the gun” is a controlled move. We have the ability to accelerate out and decelerate to extension. Drive the gun to the focal point, take the shot then recover back to compressed ready. Repeat until the student can not miss. Add in controlled pairs, burst of 3-4, and repeat until the shooter can not miss.

Remember to keep absolute control of the students comfort level and confidence level!

Time to “drive the gun” from the holster, make sure that the student is using a nice four count linear draw stroke. The focal point, the linear draw stroke, driving the gun, and taking the shot with no hesitation……these are the key factors.

At this point you should be seeing some decent success. The student should be relaxed and feeling pretty good. It is time to start moving back. The pace for moving back is up to the instructor. Remember you have now established the confidence…… you must remain in complete control of it! Moving back slowly will keep you in control. Work the low ready, the compressed ready, and from the holster as needed.

The goal is to get the shooter to easily hit everything inside of seven yards, to give them a pattern of success, to give them some confidence, to take some of the pressure off of them. You still have to work on the fundamentals of marksmanship outside of seven. But now hopefully, you have a more confident shooter, someone who now knows that they can do it. Also, someone who has built up some upper body strength due to the repetitions and someone who has learned to remain calm and not tense up. As you work on the fundamentals, as soon as the shooter gets frustrated, bring them forward and let them succeed with some threat focused shooting.

Working a problem shooter through the fundamentals can take some time. By having “inside of seven yards” down cold, this may give you the time that you need. Remind the shooter of the “importance” of inside of seven yards and how they have “the most likely” covered. Let then understand that they already have an important piece of the puzzle and the next piece (fundamentals of marksmanship) will follow as long as they remain calm, confident, and put in the work.

As instructors it is our job to help people overcome their problems. These problems do not mean that the student is anything more than someone with a problem that must be overcome. There may be events in their past that have left them recoil sensitive (a lot of shooting with a 12 gauge shotgun as a very young child, an electrical explosion in my hands, and thirty years of working a tool, where the trigger was pressed with the whole hand instead of one finger were some of my issues.) Reprogramming can be a tough job for an instructor. Here are some “less known” tricks of the trade that can make this reprogramming of a problem shooter and the teaching of a new shooter much less of a burden.

Remain calm and relaxed

Establish a pattern of success

Develop confidence

Solidify that confidence by maintaining absolute and complete control of that confidence at all times

After Action Drills

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

To quick check or to not quick check……that is the question?

The quick check is a quick look to the left and to the right after you have shot them to the ground, while still pointed in on the downed adversary. It is explained as a way to break your tunnel vision and to quickly see if there are any additional threats in the forward 180 degrees.

When done correctly the quick check is solid. But I have seen then done so badly in the past that we use to call it “the California twitch.” It all comes down to doing them at a level that allows you to actually see something while you are checking.

What say you all, do you like the quick check when it is done correctly?

Here is where I am at right now when it comes to the after action drills (AAD’s) that I am teaching.

1) Shoot them all of the way to the ground and point in at the downed adversary/adversaries.

2) While pointed in (not compressing to contact ready unless necessary) quick check left and right (while actually seeing), then return to down adversary (one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…..total time to have returned to down adversary/adversaries)

*In the real world, this of course is where you would probably be moving to cover, or to a position of tactical advantage, and doing much of what follows during that movement or after you have reach your position of advantage. In reality, these may be time compressed due to urgency, but they should not be time compressed during you training. I cover these real world movement AAD’s extensively in FFH V and FFH VI.*

3) Scan forward 180 using the third eye principle (two eyes + one muzzle = third eye principle) while looking for other potential threats, identifying their hands, and checking high and low.

4) Drop into Sul and check the rear 180. Step forward into known spaces using the best direction that you prefer balancing out your retention and marksmanship concerns. Check the hands of every person behind you to train yourself to actually see.

5) Re-evaluate down adversary/adversaries

6) Proactive reload (with retention)

7) Tactile (using the racking method) and visual medical check, done in halves or in quadrants. Wetness and color check on hand before moving to the next half or quadrant.

8) “Is this really over?” and reluctant re-holstering doing whatever needs to be done for a safe re-holstering.

Most of you guys know me……I’m a concepts guy and I see after action drills as a concept.

It is not a check list that has to be done just so, it is training in a repetition of things that should be covered. The concept is clear, but how we get there needs to be situational dependent.

If there are two adversaries, I am not shooting one to the ground before I pay attention to the other. If I am at slide lock, I am not going to quick check or scan before I have reloaded. If I am hit in an artery and I only shot 2-4 rounds, I am not going to reload with retention before I go to my tourniquet.

If I am in a public setting with innocents around I will also change my “pointed in” forward 180 scan. Since we are concept guys, that deal in situational dependent matters, I will not necessarily cover innocents unless I feel that it is the very best thing to do.

As a overly conscientious person, I realize that winning a gunfight is not just about going home. It is also about being able to live with yourself. Knowing me, if I killed an innocent, that would stay in the forefront of my thinking for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I would survive that.

If we are talking about zero dark thirty out on the streets, I have no concerns with pointing in while looking around. It is when there are innocents present that my “pointing in” will turn to Sul…….which was trained in to me during my AAD’s that I practiced on the range.

Concepts = fluidity, adaptability, and the ability to improvise on the fly, no matter what the situation is.

What say you all?

Couples, Families, and Teams – Introduction to Defensive Handgun

This one day (six hours) course is specifically designed for the people out there that would like to train with the people who mean the most to them. Throughout the years. I have had many people request courses that are geared towards couples, families, and teams. The fact is that many people do not train due to not being comfortable training solo or with their loved ones, inside of large groups of individuals that they do not know. Whether you are a husband/father that would like to have a course geared towards your family unit, or a wife/mother that would like to have a course geared towards your family unit, or any other possibly relationship or situation, this course was designed just for you. The value of having everyone that you care about on the exact same page, in regards to defensive handgun skill sets can not be understated. When everyone involves  knows the “how, where, when, and why” of solid defensive handgun skills, there is nowhere to go but onward and upward.

The “you do not know what you do not know” runs very deep inside of the gun community and it is best when all involved members of the couples, families, and teams know exactly what the other members know. Consistency, continuity, confidence, and competence work hand in hand.

If you already train and would like an opportunity to get the people who you care about the most, to train along with you, this is your chance. This course will be taught in a respectful, polite, and encouraging manner. There is nothing more important than having the ability to defend yourself and your loved ones and that fact will be kept as the main focus inside of this course offering.

Ammunition; 10 snap caps in the caliber you are carrying, 100 rounds of live ammunition, and as always, “bring more if you want to shoot more.”

  • Fundamentals of Firearm Safety
  • Handgun Choices Pros and Cons
  • Carry Options Pros and Cons
  • Basic Handgun Manipulations
  • Awareness and Mindset
  • The Reality of the Fight
  • Introduction to Point Shooting
  • The Fundamentals of Marksmanship