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DCJS Instructor
April 16, 2008, 11:16 PM
Being able to hit what you aim at with a Handgun

By: Tom Perroni

As I read the plethora of Handgun, Shooting, Combat, SWAT, magazines I am perplexed. Everyone has their own style of training always use “One Hand” in a close or CQB situation. Always use “Two Hands” at a distance or use the Weaver stance, NO only use the “Isosceles” stance always do this never do that etc.

I also read things like: Don’t train on square range. Force on Force is the only real way to learn combat shooting skills. Classroom Training “Talking” is for those who can’t really shoot ….just get out on the range and shoot. Combat Focus is the new wave of handgun training.

What I have discovered is there is no shortage of experts on the subject of shooting. Just go to any Internet “Firearms” chat forum and see for yourself.

So not wanting to be left out of the fun, I thought I would share my thoughts on how to hit what you aim at with a handgun for target practice or combat shooting situation.

So if you want to be able to hit what you aim at with a handgun in any situation read the following:

Stance:
Each shooter, under the guidance of the Firearms Instructor, and consistent with safety must find the shooting stance which is best suited to them and provides the greatest degree of stability and accuracy for shooting. The shooter must be able to assume their stance instinctively, as a reflex action with minimal effort or conscious manipulation of their body. Having said that it is my opinion that the placement of your feet has absolutely nothing to do with where the bullet impacts the target. You shoot from the mid chest up so to speak. However you need to be able to Move, Shoot and Communicate. Getting off the X is very important in a gun fight. A high degree of control is necessary to deliver a rapid, accurate shot. Every individual is unique and possesses characteristics that are theirs alone. These characteristics include height, weight, muscular and skeletal development, degree of flexibility and more. Therefore, there can be no universal shooting stance that can be utilized by all people

Grip:

A proper grip aids in controlling recoil and muzzle flip. It also allows the shooter to obtain a second sight picture more rapidly. Hands must have a 360 degree grip around the weapon. This allows the shooter to engage targets more rapidly

Grip is acquired in the holster, prior to draw and presentation. The web of the shooting hand must beat the top of the tang on the back-strap and no higher. If you are too high the slide will ‘bite” your hand. If you are to low with your grip you allow the gun to move more with recoil making sight recovery and follow-on shots more difficult and time-consuming. A key point is to have both thumbs pointing at your target. The heel of your non-shooting hand should cover the area on the grip that is exposed. You should squeeze the handgun with no more force than you would use to shake someone’s hand.

The support hand applies pressure in exactly the same fashion. The idea behind the two hand grip is to completely encircle the grip of the gun in order to be in control of recoil. The support hand thumb will be on the same side of the gun as the weapon hand thumb. “Fingers over Fingers and Thumb over Thumb”. A good test of correct grip is; with your trigger finger off the trigger and placed along the slide it should be even or directly across the slide from your weak hand thumb also along the slide.


Front Sight Focus:

In order to get accurate hits on target you must have “Front Sight Focus”. First you must understand that your eye can only focus on one thing at a time….All to often we walk around all day looking at the “Big Picture” In order to be able to hit what we aim at with a handgun we must focus on the front sight 100% of the time
Not the target. Not the rear sight the FRONT sight. I often hear student say the front sight looks a little fuzzy….I tell them that is o.k. give all of your attention to the front sight. But where on the Front Sight should you focus? The Top Edge is the answer. The object is to press the trigger to the rear while not moving the front sight off the target once the handgun fires. Each shot should be a surprise. Anticipation will cause trigger pull or trigger jerk. I will often tell my students to repeat “Front Sight, Front Sight, Front Sight, Front Sight until the shot breaks so that all of their attention is focused on the………Front Sight! I also tell my students that for every pull of the trigger they must have 2 sight pictures the one they had just before the shot broke and the one right after. They must have 2 sight pictures so if they fire 2 shots they need 3 sight pictures etc.




Trigger Control / Press:

Trigger Control in either double action or single action mode, it is defined as steady pressure exerted on the trigger straight to the rear to release the hammer and fire the weapon and immediately allowing the trigger to return so the weapon can be fired again. Descriptive term here is a press and not a squeeze. Note the trigger finger continually maintains contact with the trigger.

When pressing the trigger, the shooter should use the tip of the index finger. This should be accomplished by utilizing a smooth movement isolating the trigger finger only. All other fingers must remain still during the trigger press. Another important part of trigger control is trigger reset. Once the trigger has been fired, slowly release pressure on the trigger until an audible click is heard and felt. At this point, the shooter need not release any more pressure on the trigger to fire again. This maintains a proper sight alignment and sight picture more easily.
Trigger Manipulation

•Speed at which the trigger is pulled – a single gear, one smooth continuous motion at a single speed… not increasing as you apply pressure.

•The Motion in which the trigger is pulled – Is a smooth continuous motion, not a jerk, not a little at the time.

•Always remember that you press or pull a trigger, you never jerk the trigger.

The finger is placed so that the trigger is halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint. “The trigger is pressed straight to the rear in a smooth continuous manner without disturbing sight alignment.” You should not be able to predict the instant the gun will fire. Each shot should come as a surprise. Note the trigger finger continually maintains contact with the trigger.

Once the sights are aligned, the shooter must apply steady pressure to the trigger until a surprise break (hammer fall) occurs. The pressure is directed rearward with no interruptions, stalls or hesitations present. The proper trigger control allows the weapon to fire without disturbing the sights.

To begin proper trigger control, the shooter must first properly place the index finger on the trigger. The index finger is placed in the middle of the trigger at the most rearward curved portion. The trigger should cross the finger approximately halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint, over the swirl of the fingerprint.

Trigger Press. After attaining proper placement of the finger on the trigger, proper trigger pressure can be applied to the trigger. There are three parts of trigger pressure each time the weapon is fired. They are Slack, Press, and Follow through.


All three parts are important to proper trigger control.


1.Slack. The shooter must first take up the slack at the beginning of the trigger movement by applying slight pressure to the trigger. The trigger will move slightly to the rear until the internal parts of the trigger mechanism come into full contact with each other, and the “softness” in the tip of the finger is eliminated.

2.Press The trigger is then in the press portion of its movement, which is when the internal parts of the weapon are being disengaged from each other to allow the hammer to fall. The pressure should be a smooth, constant, and even pressure, applied straight to the rear so that the sights are not misaligned at the instant the hammer falls. Once the hammer begins to fall, the follow through portion of trigger control begins.

3.Follow Through. Follow through is the continued steady pressure applied to the trigger until the trigger reaches its most rearward point of travel. If the shooter does not continue to apply the constant, even pressure during follow through, it is possible that the impact of the round could move on the target, thus spoiling an otherwise good shot.

•On Glock handguns we us a technique called ‘Catching the Link” Once you have pressed the trigger to the rear hold the trigger until the slide cycles then let the trigger out until you hear a “CLICK” then you may follow through with another shot. What you have done is cut your trigger pull in half which makes you more accurate and increases the speed of follow up shots 80%.

•Always finish the shot, never quit the shot.

Keep the gun at eye level doing the exact same thing as the shot breaks that you were doing prior to the shot; aligning the sights, maintaining target acquisition.

•Maintain the gun in front of the eyes long enough to ask two questions:

a. Did I hit the target?
b. Did it work?


Dry Fire – This when the trigger is pulled without live ammunition in the firearm.
This method of training can be done just about anywhere and costs absolutely nothing. In this Instructors opinion it is vital to anyone who uses or carries a handgun. Essentially you are doing everything you would do at the range except your handgun is empty. (NO AMMO) The most important single fundamental skill in shooting - Trigger Control – is one which can best be improved off the range in dry practice. As I have stated in past articles all the fundamentals of Handgun shooting can be practiced with Dry Fire grip, sight alignment trigger control, malfunction drills, reload drills and all at no cost.

Practicing the above drills for 10-15 minutes each day will greatly benefit the shooter. I have seen marked improvement in students who practiced these drills for just 2 days. However please remember Handgun Skills are like buying a car: if you do not make your payments the car will be repossessed. If you do not practice the new handgun skills you paid for they will also be repossessed.

In conclusion remember smooth is fast, and speed is economy in motion; Accuracy always takes precedence over speed. Speed is fine but accuracy is final.

Well there you have it. I think this would be a solid foundation for any shooter. You can learn a great deal from a Basic Class it’s the foundation of your shooting skills. So before you take that “ADVANCED HANDGUN COURSE” make sure you have a solid understanding of the Fundamentals of Handgun Shooting. Remember you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.

Stay Safe & Shoot Straight!

And remember ; "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option".

Tom Perroni

I would also like to thank Chris Pick a new Instructor at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy for his input on this article.

Tom Perroni is the owner, President and Chief Instructor of Perroni's Tactical Training Academy. Pulling on a five-year law enforcement operational background, Tom has spent the last fifteen years delivering training to government, military, law enforcement and private security companies. Tom is also a Contract Instructor for Blackwater Training Center. Tom is also the Training Director for Golden SEAL Enterprises. Tom appreciates feedback and can be reached through the Contact page on his company website at http://www.perronitactical.com

pony
April 17, 2008, 01:01 AM
Sounds pretty much like everything I was taught at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute over a 4 day course last weekend. www.frontsight.com

Being able to put 2 controlled shots on target in 2.8 seconds is impressive, consider the target was turing to face and then away during this 2.8 seconds, then finally consider we did this from concealment. (at shorter distances we saw the timed targets down to 1.9 seconds) A highly recommend course - first rate!

lon371
April 17, 2008, 04:06 AM
But I thought, oh never mind. I will go practice some more.:)

Very well written.
Lonny

DCJS Instructor
April 17, 2008, 06:09 AM
My training is a fraction of the price..............;)





Tom Perroni

cxg231
April 17, 2008, 10:45 AM
Thank you for posting that. An excellent summary of the most important parts of handgun shooting. Now, if I can remember to do all of those things at the same time, I might be in business. :)

SundownRider
April 17, 2008, 10:50 AM
I've always approached practice with the thought in mind to hit the smallest target possible. I routinely use small dots on paper at 15 and 25 yards and I try to hit that small target every time. I find that when I switch to larger targets, it is easier to hit whatever I want to.

I do miss occasionally, but I don't miss by much.;)

GoSlash27
April 17, 2008, 08:22 PM
I'm experimenting with moving away from front sight focus. I left "top of the front sight" a while back in favor of dot geometry. As accurate as it needs to be and I don't waste time thinking.
Instead of looking at target, then guesstimating holdoff, then front sight, then rear sights, then front sight.... it's much quicker to look at target, form a triangle with the rear sights, and pull so long as the front dot is between the rears.

While I agree that the foot position isn't critical, I do believe that overall body consistency leads to accuracy. It's more important to do it the same way everytime than to do it a certain way (so long as you don't have a bad habit).
Basically, if you can draw and present while focused on a target and everything falls in line then it's not all that important exactly how you're doing it.

Good overall of the basics. :)

pony
April 17, 2008, 08:23 PM
"My training is a fraction of the price.............."

I paid a $50 background check fee for my first visit - and had a free 4 day handgun course; I paid a $50 course fee for a 4 day handgun course and the $50 background check fee once more for the course last weekend.

I would never (could not afford to) pay the price listed on the website.

Teuthis
April 17, 2008, 11:03 PM
In a crisis, where weapons are fired, it is your mindset, how you use the skills you were taught, that makes a huge difference in the outcome; even more than firearms skills. Most of those skills are going to collapse on you from fear and adrenaline anyway. Only the core of "aim and shoot" will remain if you are lucky.

All of the high end techinques you are discussing regarding detailed pistol skills, will most likely fall apart in a desperate shootout. All you can hope for is to focus on an adversary and use your training to automatically aim and fire with some reasonable accuracy. Perhaps a few highly skilled people, such as trained officers, could pull together multiple skills in those moments; but even that is doubtful to me. Personally, I always try to spot cover in any situation; and I would go for it first, before I thought about standing up in the proper posture to shoot. Once I have cover, then I will go into action.

If you are taken by surprise, you will have little or no way to use firearms training effectively. Everything will fall apart and you will be very lucky to bring your weapon into play at all.

In the story mentioned above, the people who were victims, seem to have paid no attention to their surroundings. That is easy in our culture, because it is not every day that we are set upon in such a manner. But I believe that out in public, especially at night, we should always be acutely aware of our surroundings, and any anomalies in familiar fields.

There is a discipline called "field anomaly" that teaches one to note the most minute changes in fields of view. One of its tenets is that one must always be watching; memorizing familiar fields, and looking at them for any changes. Also important is watching and noting anything unnatural in a landscape. Keeping one's alertness at level yellow is sufficient to spot field anomalies. I practice field anomaly, and practice looking for cover in the places I go, much more than I am able to practice the fine points of shooting. And that is how I prefer it. I'm a good shot, but that is only part of the art of survival in a firefight.

I think that the "fear "factor" will outweigh everything but the most core training techniques when danger is in one's face. One must know how to ignore the "fear "factor" in order to fight effectively in a crisis. One must be willing to take hits and keep firing without letting emotional shock cause collapse.

JohnKSa
April 17, 2008, 11:35 PM
If you are taken by surprise, you will have little or no way to use firearms training effectively. Everything will fall apart and you will be very lucky to bring your weapon into play at all.Actually, it's more common for an individual to revert to his training when under extreme stress. That is an important part of why there's such a focus on training in LE and the military.

TexasSeaRay
April 18, 2008, 01:26 AM
I've always approached practice with the thought in mind to hit the smallest target possible.

Our military unit used 3" x 5" blank notecards as our shooting target area with our handguns. On the range, we would fire box after box after box after box of ammo at those little notecards. We fire from all positions. We'd fire after having just run three miles, literally stopping at our respective lanes, draw and fire. We'd have blindfolds on, partners would yank them off, and we'd have to draw and fire at that little note card.

Our CO's rational was that we needed to keep our groups in a three-inch by five-inch range no matter what condition you were in physically, mentally or emotionally. We spent something like a full-week doing nothing but dry firing at those notecards before he issued us live ammo.

It worked. In fact, all these years later, I still only shoot at 3 x 5 notecards for my handgun shooting.

If you are taken by surprise, you will have little or no way to use firearms training effectively. Everything will fall apart and you will be very lucky to bring your weapon into play at all.

I could not possibly disagree more. Our platoon had a motto that went, "You Train Train Train so that you will always React React React because if you have to stop and Think Think Think, all you will do is Die Die Die."

And in our line of work, we were surprised far more often than we cared to be.

You train so that you will react accordingly and appropriately. Otherwise, what's the point of training at all?

Training is expensive. If it didn't work and pay off, I doubt so many professional gun-toters would bother with it.

Jeff

David Armstrong
April 18, 2008, 09:51 AM
' In order to get accurate hits on target you must have “Front Sight Focus” ' is not correct. It has been proven wrong over and over in actual combat as well as in more controlled environments. ' The finger is placed so that the trigger is halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint. ' is equally problematic. While that works well for some people with some guns, to try to suggest it is the only way that works, or even the best way, for everyone is contradicted by reality.

pony
April 18, 2008, 03:40 PM
What works for one will not necessarily work for all. I did however see consistently positive results from that form of training. Without exception, every shooter made improvement (even seasoned shooters with years of experience). I appreciate we may have been taught a method that made us all better, but it appears you are claiming another method exists that would make us even better.
This method is the only formal training method I have been taught. Please post links to substantiate your claims that this method is incorrect. I'd like to read more on the shortcomings of this style of shooting, and learn an even better method.

thanks,

Pony

' In order to get accurate hits on target you must have “Front Sight Focus” ' is not correct. It has been proven wrong over and over in actual combat as well as in more controlled environments. ' The finger is placed so that the trigger is halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint. ' is equally problematic. While that works well for some people with some guns, to try to suggest it is the only way that works, or even the best way, for everyone is contradicted by reality.

BillCA
April 18, 2008, 06:48 PM
The problem I have is with the stance, grip and trigger usage comments.

Stance:
Above all, the stance must be balanced and provide support for the shooter. The stance should be simple, easy to acquire and not require any real thinking. As such, I've practiced the "half-step back" with my right (strong side) foot and slightly flexing the knees. Balance and support are key elements. Without balance your accuracy goes to hell in a handbasket. Without support, you'll fatigue faster.

Foot placement can certainly limit the amount of traverse (lateral movement) you can bring to bear on a moving target. I my preferred stance, I can traverse about 120 degrees to the right, but only about 85 degrees to the left without moving my feet.

Grip:
The talk about thumbs is, well, fine for a pistol, not so good for revolvers. Especially if you're shooting a .357 J-Frame. Dedicated wheelgun shooters can also use a "high thumb" position where the thumb rides over the back of the strong side thumb (and can be used to single cock the gun if desired). However, this habit should be discouraged in any shooter who switches between pistol and revolver to prevent accidental injury by the slide.

With a revolver, the thumb-over-thumb concept will work, though I find my weakside thumb resting on the strong side thumbnail, with both pointing downward, works better, especially with Magnum loads or heavily recoiling guns.

For CCW shooters (as opposed to LEO or "combat" shooters in general) it is also important to practice single-hand shooting or "point" shooting. The civilian will most likely encounter a need for his weapon at just over arm's length distance and may have their weak hand otherwise engaged (fending off the opponent, pulling a child out of harm's way, carrying something, etc.) A good training course will teach extreme close quarters shooting with one hand.

Trigger:
With a wheelgun, those with smaller hands may have to rotate their grip slightly. Or they may lack the leverage needed to run the trigger. Such shooters can be seen using the joint of the index finger to operate the trigger. Usually one giveaway is groups printing to the right of center. The student should work to move the finger so that the joint is not on the trigger.

Certain wheelguns have triggers that "stack" during the cycle (Colts were famous for this). The pressure required to accurately shoot these actions needs to be gauged to the higher pressure without causing a "jerk" either at the first part of the cycle or after passing the peak pressure point (follow-through).

Sights:
Concentration on the front sight is a good thing. But not to the exclusion of what your target (opponent) is doing. The front sights, at close range, need not be perfectly aligned to score hits. It should be laterally aligned by being between the rear sight blades and the front sight on the target. Slight elevation/depression offsets will allow center of mass hits in the mid-body area. At ranges from 15 yards or more, sight alignment plays an increasingly critical role in making hits.

Dusty Rivers
April 19, 2008, 08:53 AM
I would highly recommend that if you get the chance you attend a cowboy mounted shooting match and observe the mechanics involved.

Overview: basically you have a male or female on horseback with a singlee action 45LC. They ride around a random course shooting balloons set in cones at various heights. This is a timed event so going like he**. They shoot 45 blanks which is nothing more than a crimped shell case loaded only with black powder, no wad. You are steering this horse through a sharp turning course and shooting 10 balloons with 10 rounds

observation: So you have this 1200 pound horse bouncing you around at a trot, canter or gallop. you have to draw shoot 5, re holster, draw your other gun and shoot 5, and cross the timer. There are 50 different patterns that the range master chooses from. The range in order to break a balloon is only about 10 feet if you are exactly centered on the balloon. Oh and you are shooting one handed

Point of post: It really doesn't matter where your horses 4 feet are, or how you have your thumb wrapped( cause you don't shooting one handed). What matters is where the the barrel is pointed when it goes boom. This includes having to lead. While the target is not moving you and your horse are.
Yes if you have a chance, feet, breathing, two hands etc. etc. etc. all will improve your chances, but it all starts with pointing your finger at the target regardless of what else is happing around you and your body. in order of priority you need to see the exact center of the target( aim small, miss small)
You need to get your gun on target as fast as possible ( find the front sight), You need to make sure you are not the one shooting innocent bystanders( clear your background), from there you can build your chances by grip, breathing, trigger pull etc. etc. etc. These cowgirl/cowboy mounted shooters are able to do amazing marksmanship things from the back of a speeding horse. They are not able to control most things in their environment during the shoot, but they all see the target, get their front sight on it and engage multiple targets in a short amount of time.

My point: aim small, miss small (so your first attention is center of center mass), in a fight find your front sight (mental focus needs to cause your front sight and attention to center mass to be in aligned in your thought process), clear your background ( don't shoot the bystanders),and dry fire practice- it is not the quantity ( rounds per session) but the quality of your practice that is important

Just my thoughts on all the very useful information presented so far.:cool:

thrgunsmith
April 19, 2008, 11:18 AM
I'm subscribing to read later, going to bed !

Dusty Rivers
April 19, 2008, 11:34 AM
two additional points. Mounted shooting on a moving horse requires balance/center of gravity, just like when you are shooting from the ground. If you are a woman or teaching women to shoot, or are a woman teaching men how to shoot keep in mind a very fundamental point. Women and men have a different center of gravity/balance. They need different stances to be "balanced to their selves" My sense of balance/ stance will be different than yours. Let them understand the importance of balance and then let them find out what works in a dry fire practice. The same goes for grip. My wife could not get the grip I thought she should have. I said OK here is the "unloaded gun" find out what works. She ignored her thumb and found it more important to wrap her fingers around the front of the grip and over lap the ones from the other hand. Her thumb then found a niche that works for her. Shooting 40 cal she now has a stance and grip that she flows into as the gun comes to play. She is much more likely to end up in THAT stance if she ever has to, than one I would try to shoehorn her into.

Just my uneducated opinions, delete as necessary:D
PS I am a good balloon killer, but I just can't seem to get my horse to find a stance he likes.:D:D

Sweatnbullets
April 19, 2008, 04:31 PM
This method is the only formal training method I have been taught. Please post links to substantiate your claims that this method is incorrect. I'd like to read more on the shortcomings of this style of shooting, and learn an even better method.

Pony, what you learned at Frontsight and what is being discussed by the OP is the "fundamentals of marksmanship" The fundamentals are very important, but they are just the starting point. Once you have the fundamentals down cold (safety, the draw stroke, keeping the gun running and hitting) you really need to take those fundamentals into some properly structured foce on force (FOF.) This is where you find out what you really need to know....what works where, and what does not work.

You will then see the need to add threat focused skill sets, dynamic movement, and the integration of hand to hand (H2H) with the gun. This is all becoming very mainstream. Frontsight is very much stuck back in the 1980's.

pony
April 19, 2008, 08:00 PM
Front Sight train all the way up to combat master; starting with the fundamentals. David Armstrong was claiming the fundamentals being taught by Front Sight and the OP are wrong, and had been proven such. I was seeking evidence of this.


Pony, what you learned at Frontsight and what is being discussed by the OP is the "fundamentals of marksmanship" The fundamentals are very important, but they are just the starting point. Once you have the fundamentals down cold (safety, the draw stroke, keeping the gun running and hitting) you really need to take those fundamentals into some properly structured foce on force (FOF.) This is where you find out what you really need to know....what works where, and what does not work.

You will then see the need to add threat focused skill sets, dynamic movement, and the integration of hand to hand (H2H) with the gun. This is all becoming very mainstream. Frontsight is very much stuck back in the 1980's.

Sweatnbullets
April 19, 2008, 10:45 PM
Pony, I have taken a whole lot of courses at Frontsight. It is a square ranged based fundamental marksmanship school. The skill sets taught there have very limited success inside of the crucible of FOF. This is what Armstrong is getting at.

You must take your fundamentals into FOF to understand how limited the skill sets are against a live, thinking, non-compliant, fighting adversary. I have trained with hundreds and hundreds of guys that have done this. To a man, they realize that the fundamentals have very little to do with the realities of a fight. They are absolutely necessary, but it is just a starting point.

You have asked for proof. I do not know how to give it except to suggest that you follow the link in my sig line. You have just been introduced to an open door at Frontsight.....there is a whole world inside of it that you have no idea of.

The fundamentals are just the beginning. Do not make the mistake to think that they are anything but. The training that I got at Frontsight got it's rear end whipped inside of FOF. That has happened to every person, with that type of training, in the FOF that I have witnessed or participated in. This includes Combat Masters and Frontsight instructors. You need to realize that many hard core Frontsight and Gunsite Modern Techniquers have had the FOF epithaney and now train well beyond the fundamentals that these schools teach.

There is a world of evidence in these facts....you are just not aware of it due to your newness to training. Follow the link it will open up an entire new world.

I have read plenty of Tom Perroni's stuff. He goes way past the square range fundamentals also.

pony
April 19, 2008, 11:17 PM
Sweatnbullets, I understand your point that there is much more to learn. I am still struggling to get an answer to my original question though. It must be a language barrier ;)
Regardless as to where training can take me, is what i have been taught so far relevant and useful, or should I start all over again? Are the skills Front Sight teaches a good starting point, or just plain wrong?
In first learning to drive we are taught to keep two hands on the wheel, at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock (at least we are in England). I would never expect to be taught this at any advanced, tactical, driving school. That does not make the initial instruction wrong though, it was just a point along the way. Does Front Sight focus progress to be an instinctual, muscle memory part of combat, or a hinderance likely to get you killed?

Front Sight offers advanced courses were you encounter simulated 'real world' experiences. The closest you come to that on a four day defensive handgun course is clearing a room, and the tactical simulator were you clear a structure. Some of the guys on my course had been on other courses where you actually have to shoot from a vehicle, etc. Much more than the confines of a square range. For many people these institutions offer a good balance for the limited amount of resources, commitment and time most people are willing to sacrifice. Whether my training was world class, or merely average - I learned a lot. I improved my skills, my confidence, and my understanding.
Prior to attending my first course I could barely aim in in 2 seconds, now I can draw from concealment and place two controlled shots on target. This is better than the average thug, and therefore could give me just enough edge to come out alive.

Sweatnbullets
April 20, 2008, 04:45 PM
Are the skills Front Sight teaches a good starting point, or just plain wrong?


Oustanding starting point!

Many believe that I am anti-Modern Techniques.....but that is just not so. My opinion has always been that the fundamentals of marksmanship, that the Modern Techniques teach, is a foundation that anything can be built on.

Tom's OP is also an outstanding starting point!

Does Front Sight focus progress to be an instinctual, muscle memory part of combat, or a hinderance likely to get you killed?


It has it's place inside of the fight continuum. It is a necessary skill set....but is not the "end all, be all" that Frontsight portrays. If you do not understand the "context of the fight" and you use a response that is simply illogical, it could get you killed.

Prior to attending my first course I could barely aim in in 2 seconds, now I can draw from concealment and place two controlled shots on target. This is better than the average thug, and therefore could give me just enough edge to come out alive.

Once again, this depends on the context of the fight. The recent FBI report states that the BG's train much more than one would think. They also train in instinctive shooting (point shooting,) which gives them a pretty substantial time/speed advantage. If you take into consideration that the averge CCW confrontation will most likely happen with you being in a reactive position (behind in the reactionary curve and the OODA loop) stand and deliver sighted fire may not be the best response to these types of situation. This is easily proven in FOF.

Pony, you are on the right path. But you have to accept that the "situation" is the dictating factor on whether the fundamentals of marksmanship is going to be a logical response for the given situation.

Here is a little something to help you see the realities of the situation.

Priorities of the Gun Fight and “The Fight Continuum”

Avoid one easily and completely due to preparedness, knowledge, and awareness by being deselected.

See one coming and get the heck out of Dodge due to preparedness, knowledge, and awareness.

See one coming due to preparedness, knowledge, and awareness, but to have no choice but to end it by dominating the action and decisively ending it with solid behind cover or stand and deliver marksmanship skills.

Unfortunately, “The Fight Continuum” does not stop here.

See one coming due to preparedness, knowledge, and awareness, at the same time that a dedicated opponent recognizes that you see it coming. The context of the fight is equal initiative and the victor will be the one that mitigates his weaknesses while maximizing his strengths. Stand and deliver, sighted fire, controlled movement, alternative sighting methods, dynamic movement, or point shooting. It all comes down to who are you, what is your skill level, what are your limitations? The higher the skill level, the lower the chance of taking rounds. Remember “Movement favors the trained shooter….dynamic movement favors them even more so.”

Find out that you are going to be in a gunfight only after you have seen the adversary’s weapon and he has the opportunity to inflict serious bodily harm or death……right now! Explode off of the X to get inside of the adversaries OODA loop. Acquire your handgun, put hits onto the adversary as quickly as you possibly can to try to take back the lost initiative. Fluidly move from a reactive position to, to equal initiative, to the point that you are dominating and decisively ending the confrontation by the use of your dynamic movement and the ballistic effect of your “progressively accurate marksmanship.”

Find out that you are going to be in a gunfight, but only after you go “hands on” to get the adversaries weapon off of you and you create enough distance so that you can acquire your handgun. Integrate quality “hands on” skills to the point that the weapon is off of you and that you have the time to access and index onto the threat. The available time that you create dictates the type of response that is most effective and efficient.

“Luck favors the prepared!”

DCJS Instructor
April 20, 2008, 05:20 PM
Pony,

Your question was: Regardless as to where training can take me, is what I have been taught so far relevant and useful, or should I start all over again? Are the skills Front Sight teaches a good starting point, or just plain wrong?

The short answer is you have a good base for the fundamentals of handgun shooting for Target Accuracy.

First let me define a few things:

1. Target Accuracy= is defined as “any shot that has precision; exactness when it hits a pre defined place on a specific target...” Hitting in the exact center of a target. (Shooting a small group)

2. Combat Accuracy= is defined as “any shot that significantly affects the targets ability to present a lethal threat.” (Shooting anywhere that stops the threat)

3. Square Range =This is a range that has pre marked spots the shooter must shoot from. i.e.; the line or the booth. The shooter can only shoot straight ahead and not cross the line or move from the booth while shooting.

4.360 degree Range = On this range the shooter may move free and engage targets from all directions. Moving targets and static targets as well as using barricades and cover to shoot from while moving forward backwards and sideways.

Now that you have theses skills you must progress to "Combat Accuracy" which in my opinion includes point shooting. However I must note that I teach things a little differently than most. I use the "Zipper Method" of shooting that I learned at FLETC. I have a philosophy you must crawl before you walk and walk before you run. What you learned at front sight is good, I learned theses same methods many years ago from Richard Sharrer at front sight.

Right now you are building your "Tactical Tool Box" so to speak and you need to take as much training as you can from as many instructors and schools as you can. Please note that I also feel that you should include Shotgun, Rifle, Knife and Hand to Hand skills in that tool box as well.

My father who was a US. Marine and firearms Instructor always taught me these four important things I would like to share them with you.

1. "You will not rise to the occasion you will default to your level of training.....How good was your training?"

2."A Handgun is a tool...a tool to fight your way back to the rifle or shotgun you should have had if you new you were going to be in a fight."

3."Smooth is fast. Speed is fine but accuracy is final.

4. When in a gunfight if you get hit NEVER give up keep fighting most people survive a hit with a handgun.

So don’t give up your on the right track. What Roger is trying to tell you is 100% correct.

P.S. Brownie, Matt Temkin, and Sweatnbullets are Experts in the field of point shooting and can teach you what you need to know. I hope this helps!

Tom Perroni :cool:

TexasSeaRay
April 20, 2008, 06:14 PM
1. "You will not rise to the occasion you will default to your level of training.....How good was your training?"

2."A Handgun is a tool...a tool to fight your way back to the rifle or shotgun you should have had if you new you were going to be in a fight."

3."Smooth is fast. Speed is fine but accuracy is final.

4. When in a gunfight if you get hit NEVER give up keep fighting most people survive a hit with a handgun.

I've never attended any of the "tactical" schools--at least not the civilian schools. All of my experience was gained first in the military, then on various battlefields, then in law enforcement, then on the street.

I cannot give enough "+1" dittos to statement #1 and statement #4.

Knowing those two principles, living those two principles and always being cognizant of those two principles is vital.

Jeff

Teuthis
April 20, 2008, 09:59 PM
My comments were not directed at military training. I was military trained too, and I know what training does. I was commenting on civilian training and the ability of the average citizen to react to some of the complex drills I was reading about. My focus was on awareness as opposed to reaction to a situation caused by lack of awareness. I spent time describing the importance of tactical advantage through awareness. I stand by what I said.

If one is taken by surprise in a situation such as was related, complex fireams training may indeed be of little use unless one is highly-skilled and relentlessly practiced. i.e. police or military. And will the average citizen work the drill with any precision or effectiveness? I wonder.

As far as skill training is concerned, I think the average armed citizen should focus on point shooting as one of the strong practice regimens. Draw and fire, eye/hand coordination. A simple drill that would work in a panic situation. That is all one will probably have time for if one is surprised.

On the other hand, if one is acutely aware of one' surroundings and what is in them, one can more often than not, avoid confrontation, or escape. Shooting it out should be the very last resort for armed citizens. Since you have been in it, you know what it is like, and how some lightly-trained amateur can react in the crisis.

DCJS Instructor
April 21, 2008, 07:47 AM
Teuthis,

As a Tactical Training Instructor Here is what I teach civilians about Tactical or Combat Mindset.

P.S. I teach L.E. and the Military the same thing!


COMBAT MINDSET

By: Tom Perroni

My motivation for this article came from two true warriors. I had the distinct honor and pleasure to have lunch with Lt Col Dave Grossman & Frank Borelli - two of the best warrior trainers in the business

After lunch Frank and I took some training from Lt Col Grossman. Now let me preface this by saying I have read all of Lt Col Grossman’s books, as well as the ones he has written a foreword to such as Training at the Speed of Life and American Thinking just to name a few. I have also read just about everything Frank Borelli has written. I consider Frank a friend and we have had many discussions on this topic (as well as many other topics).

Before the class started Lt Col Grossman informed Frank and I that he would be teaching this class a little differently in preparation for the New York Tactical Officers' Association seminar in Poughkeepsie, New York. So as any good Instructor I am a good student first and I listened with great interest for this new knowledge that would be imparted.

However what he said was not “NEW” but reemphasized in a way that made me think. Here is what he said:

“Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun; you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth.”

As he said this I looked around the room at the people in this class: a police chief, a SWAT cop from West Virginia, a police officer from Maryland, several FBI agents, and a major from FPS. Surely these warriors are trained, they are physically prepared, and they have made the decision to be a Sheepdog and not Sheep. But I thought for a moment about some of the civilians I train for a Concealed Handgun Permit in Virginia. How many take only the four hour Firearm Safety Course that is required to get the Permit? How many make the commitment to take further training of any sort? There is a big difference between Target Shooting and Combat Shooting. Please remember that paper targets do not shoot back.




I tell my students that before they carry a handgun with that new Concealed Carry permit they must ask them selves a very important question…

At the moment of truth when you are placed in a situation where you must defend your life or the lives of others you had the right to protect could you? After being trained correctly use that handgun to defend your self or others you had the right to protect by shooting to stop the threat and quite possibly taking someone else’s life to save your own life, could you?

If you can not answer this question or the answer is NO then do not carry a firearm because if you hesitate you’re dead; if you have it and don’t or can’t use it, it may be used against you.

I also tell my students that just merely having the Handgun is a false sense of security. You must be trained in how to use your Handgun. But you also need to be trained in the “combat mindset” You must realize that nearly 80% of all shootings happen in low or reduced light. How much low light training have you had?

We are also trained that the average contact distance between perps and officers or civilian concealed carry permit holders is less than 3 feet. How often do you practice your Draw and CQB weapon retention? We are trained that the average number of rounds fired in a gun fight at that distance by police is 10 rounds. We are also trained that the hit rate of those rounds fired is about 20% or to put it anther way an 80% miss rate. That means that 2 in 10 rounds hit the intended target. Do they suddenly loose the marksmanship skills they have developed over years? The answer is NO.

Lou Ann Hamblin a veteran Police Officer explains it like this “…many elite athletes fail during competition because of a lack of mental control. One of the major psychological characteristics of Olympic Champions is their ability to cope with and control anxiety. In reality, athletes do not lose their physical ability, technical skills, and strategic knowledge during a competition. Rather, they lose control of cognitive factors such as the ability to concentrate, to focus on relevant cues, to engage in positive self talk and so forth.”

We call this the “Choke” Phenomenon. An example of this can be an Officer involved shooting: the officer fires the subject does not immediately go down (Like in the movies and on TV); the officer believes they have missed the target so they pull the trigger again. The subject will not go down (miss again). Now they begin to shoot faster and the officer’s shooting gets worse and worse. The negative self-talk that often occurs when we begin making critical judgments about what a terrible shot we are will only serve to increase the toxic cocktail coursing through our veins. In actual gunfights people have been known to shut down, quitting before the fight is over and resigning themselves to lose.

On the other hand, many successful professionals use positive self –talk and imagery, letting insignificant errors pass right through their minds while focusing on what they must do to win…..seeing and hearing themselves as successful. Positive self talk can also come in the form of auditory recall. There have been reports of officers in life threatening situations “hearing” their Firearms Instructor say….”Shoot back …finish the fight…your NOT dead dammit!!!”

As Sir Winston Churchill said:

“Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

What is mindset? For the fighter, mindset is the conscious or subconscious willingness to commit harm (lethal or non-lethal) against another. When engaging in combat, mindset, more often than not, will be the determining factor as to your success or failure, regardless of technical proficiency. Anybody can train in a martial skill, but few have the mind and will to use their skills for killing or serious injury. Mindset's partner is "mental trigger," and this trigger is the defining moment that forces you to engage your opponent with the goal of injury or death.


So how do you train in Mindset? Here is how we begin the Mindset portion of our training. Keeping in mind that Mindset is just one of the 3 main principals taught at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy. Mindset, Skills Training and Tactics. Here is how we teach Mindset:

Since 9/11 everyone is familiar with the “Color Code” used by the government (Dept. of Homeland Security) to indicate the terrorist threat level. However I was taught that the originator of the “Color Code” was Jeff Cooper. Upon it’s inception it had absolutely nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels. It had everything to do with the state of mind of the sheepdog. As it was taught to me by an instructor who got it straight form Mr. Cooper, it relates to the degree of danger you are willing to do something about and which allows you move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle any given situation as it progresses. In this ‘Color Code” we have 4 colors that represent 4 mental states. The colors are White, Yellow, Orange, Red. I have listed them with a definition of each:

White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me." (Sheep)

Yellow - Relaxed alertness. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says "I am alert." You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you must be in yellow. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, "I thought this might happen some day." You can live in this state indefinitely.

Orange - Specific alert. Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing. Something is "wrong" with a person or object. Something may happen. Your mindset is that "I may have to shoot that person." Your pistol is usually holstered in this state. You can maintain this state for several hours with ease, or a day or so with effort.

Red - Fight trigger. This is your mental trigger. "If that person does "x" I will shoot them." Your pistol may, but not necessarily, be in your hand.

It is further simplified by Mr. Cooper in this way:

"In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.(Sheep)

In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.

In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.

In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant."

At Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy I train my students to Be Sheepdogs among Wolves and Sheep. We as Sheepdogs must defend ourselves and families as well as the Sheep from Wolves. So my students are trained to be in condition yellow at all waking hours of any given day and are trained as well as prepared to go to Orange or Red on a moments notice. However as the situation deescalates our students can deescalate jut as quickly as they can escalate through the color code.

Proper Training is also important. I am a big proponent of Force on Force Training. You will never know how you will react in a given situation until you are put in that situation. As LtCol. Grossman says it’s the “Fight or Flight Reflex”. What would you do if someone was say 8 yards away with knife with no obstacles between you threatening you with that knife? How fast can someone cover that distance?.....What if they were say 21 feet away. How fast could they cover that distance? If I told you 1.5 seconds would you believe me? If they had a Baseball Bat in their hand would that make a difference as to how fast they could cover that distance? Sure would. Mindset-Training-Tactics are the keys to your survival. Would you stand and fight or would you run?

If I had to summarize Combat Mindset it would sound something like this: A Sheepdog who had the Training & Mental Awareness and used the proper Tactics to handle any encounter, swiftly, accurately, morally and finally. They would be the one walking away from the confrontation. Either because it was the correct thing to do or because they were the victor in the encounter. "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option".


I would like to thank the following People who contributed to this article:

Lt.Col. Dave Grossman, Frank Borelli, Jeff Cooper,,Lyman Lyon, Fr. Frog & Lou Ann Hamblin. Progressive Martial Arts Training Center.

David Armstrong
April 21, 2008, 12:31 PM
David Armstrong was claiming the fundamentals being taught by Front Sight and the OP are wrong, and had been proven such.
No. David did not claim any such thing. David said that the claim "In order to get accurate hits on target you must have “Front Sight Focus” is wrong, as one can get accurate hits on target through other methods. The fundamentals of "Front Sight Focus" is nice, but as others pointed out it is not the only way to get things done.

Front Sight train all the way up to combat master
I'm always a little leery of places that invent titles based on what they have done. Lots of other places teach different things that are as good or better in combat. Don't get too wrapped up in a little knowledge when there is a whole lot of it out there.

TexasSeaRay
April 21, 2008, 10:18 PM
Front Sight train all the way up to combat master

First off, nobody is a "combat master."

Nobody.

Combat is not an "art" to be "mastered." It's a nightmare to be endured.

Second of all, the only way you could ever get to be a "combat master" is not through training.

It would be by surviving.

Kinda hard to be a "master" at something one has never done (actual combat).

Jeff