Gun Safety Rules and Working in a Team

By ninpo_student of The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

Safety is one of those things that is misunderstood as it relates to gunfighting. I hate the term “Big Boy Rules” because it is invariably followed by some retarded stuff that has no business on a range at the level of students its being taught to. We used the term frequently where I used to work, but it was understood there, that it didn’t mean a complete lack of safety for “reality based training”. It simply meant that we were aware that tough realistic training can have severe penalties should something go wrong and you were expected to bring your A game to work everyday to mitigate those risks as much as possible.

Here is my take on the traditional safety rules popularized and simplified by Col Cooper

1. You are responsible for knowing the status of your weapon 100% of the time. We know that all guns are not always loaded, you are required to give it respect due as an instrument of lethal force. People get killed by others doing dumb stuff with “unloaded” guns all the time. Be responsible about it.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger and the safety engaged until your sights on target and you’ve made the conscious decision to shoot. Every round you send downrange in a fight has to be the result of a conscious action on your part. If you don’t want to buy it, fix it or be responsible for it, don’t shoot it.

3. Never let the muzzle sweep anything you are not willing to destroy. In the real world, this is very difficult if not impossible to do, nor is it necessarily desirable. Sometimes you have to point your weapon at someone until you’ve determined if they are a threat or not. If they are, get to work, if they are not, stop pointing your weapon at them.

4. Be aware of your target, its fore and background and what is surrounding it. In a fight, there is going to be screaming non combatants running frantically in all of those areas. Understand the environment you are fighting in and adjust your position in relation to your target to ensure you’ve got the cleanest background you can get and don’t miss.

As you can see there is a great deal of ambiguity in those rules, just like a gunfight. They are a good system, and if you were to break one of them while maintaining the integrity of the others, you will be ok should something bad occur. Break more that one, and all bets are off. We had a couple of absolute no go’s that would send you packing from the assault teams if you broke them. Number One was do not muzzle a teammate. You muzzle should never come closer to a teammate than 1 meter. You generally have about a 15 degree spread off the muzzle to work with, depending on the environment. Muzzling a teammate was a quick trip to the job fair if you did it. Number Two was disengaging the safety without a target or sight picture. It was ( and probably still is ) common for new guys to try and shortcut the system to keep up with veteran assaulters by disengaging the safety when entering the room for the perceived speed advantage of doing so. This one you may survive the first time someone caught you, depending of whether or not they thought you were salvageable. There would be some painful and humiliating punishment to remind you of your failure to reinforce that this is not acceptable. Do it again and you were looking for a new job.

CQB is a thinking mans game, much more like chess than checkers. In addition to the safety rules ( always in effect, you have to fit them to the environment you are working in ), there is the structure, your teammates, non combatants, potential IED threats, victims, enemy combatants, and a thousand other things. You need to internalize the safety rules ( or principles really, because that’s what they really are ) and understand how to apply them and when. Put in the work to do it right, spend the time thinking about the principles and what they are designed for. Avoid the commercialized version of “Big Boy Rules”, it usually means something with little to no training value with a severe penalty for failure. Big Boy Rules simply means you understand the application of the safety principles and are ready to bring your best game to the show, while understanding the penalty for failure……..

The Completely Versatile Draw Stroke Chapter 16

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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