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Old March 10, 2008, 11:02 PM   #1
Sweatnbullets
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The Fallacy of the “Retention Position”

The Fallacy of the “Retention Position”

The retention position is another “Sacred Cow” that simply does not stand up under critical thinking or inside “force on force” (FOF) training. The idea that you have only one position that will take care of the full spectrum of retention problems, that you may come across, is simply ridiculous. If you adopt and train in only one retention position, then you are forcing a suboptimal “niche” technique into a concept driven, continuum based skill set. This “force fitting” of techniques to replace fluid concepts is the undoing of the “technique driven” training of the recent past.

As in almost anything that we do in regards to self defense, there is a continuum in regards to retention. This continuum is once again based on the distance of the threat and the dynamics of the encounter. The distance aspect of this equation speaks for itself. The main goal is to protect your gun, gun hand, and gun arm by “extending out” only as far as is needed, dictated by the difficulty of the shot. This concept is very cut and dry….at least until we add in the variables of the dynamics of the encounter. It is the “dynamics” that much of the training of the recent past has completely ignored. The context of the fight dictates the amount of extension of the gun that is allowable and necessary. The weapon and the forward drive of adversary are additional factors that must be considered. Your movement response to these factors also must be taken into consideration.

As we recognize, once again, that this is not a “one size fits all” world and that the situation is the dictating factor it is plain to see that having only one retention position ties our hands is so many ways. Retention is a concept…..not a position. It is a fluid skill set….not a locked in positional technique. The retention positions that I have been taught in the past were geared towards very limited situations. On the most part they were stand and deliver techniques that were only good at “hands on” bad breath distances. Now this may be good for “one foot” but what about one yard, two yards, three yards, four yards, against a knife, against an impact weapon, with dynamic movement, and after you have gone “hands on” and created some distance?

From my experience with FOF, I feel that we all need to start considering retention at about the four yard mark. The reason for this is simple. Remember the retention main goal;

“The main goal is to protect your gun, gun hand, and gun arm by “extending out” only as far as is needed, dictated by the difficulty of the shot.”

Four yards with two men extended towards each other is really only a two yard gap. A two yard gap can be close by a stationary adversary in around .5 of a second. Contact at .5 of a second….and that is without a weapon that extends the adversaries reach. Factor in an adversaries forward drive and the time is considerably less. To come out to full extension on an adversary within four yards is just daring for a gun grab attempt or an attack on the gun hand and arm. By compressing the gun inward you accomplish two very distinct things, you take the gun further out of reach and you let the adversary know that you are not an idiot. Projecting the gun is a fool’s mistake. By compressing the gun you are limiting the adversary’s choices and possibly taking away his best choice.

If we accept that compressing the gun is a good tactic at four yards, well then it is obvious that compressing it even more so, is a good tactic, as the distance decreases. If all of this sounds familiar, it is because this concept has been around since the 1930’s. Fairbairn and Sykes understood the need for a fluid retention concept. Quarter hip, half hip, and three quarter hip were designed, in part, with the main goal in mind. One thing that we need to keep in mind is that these “hip” positions are just points that you can flow to and through. They are not “set” positions….. they are fluid points that had to be given names so that they could be discussed. Work the concept not the technique!

This concept of retention is so far superior to a retention position. It takes in the reality of a violent encounter…..which is all based on distance. The fluid use of kicks, punches, strikes, the use of a knife, a sword, etc, etc are all based on distance. To have only two shooting positions make as much sense as having only two ways to strike.

As we look to the dynamic movement skill set, it is very important to consider retention as we work the oblique angles or parallel tracking. At certain distances, with certain movement we actually close the distance. This fact must be kept in mind. Do not project the gun and open yourself to an attack on the gun, the gun hand, or the gun arm.

If we look at retention from an open minded point of view, it becomes very apparent that any retention training that does not incorporate quality, fluid, combat proven point shooting skill sets is simply training to be ineffectual.
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Old March 11, 2008, 06:37 PM   #2
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Old March 11, 2008, 07:02 PM   #3
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Nice ideas, Sweatnbullets. Interesting food for thought.
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Old March 11, 2008, 07:07 PM   #4
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The idea that you have only one position that will take care of the full spectrum of retention problems, that you may come across, is simply ridiculous.

No one technique takes care of the full spectrum of anything. You just learn to improvise and adapt as the circumstances dicate.

One also keeps in mind you should know such retention methods as the Lindel method as well as how to use their hands and feet and not always think the gun is the only solution (or even the best solution.)

Knowing just gun skills is not enough and never was.
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Old March 11, 2008, 08:35 PM   #5
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agreed mostly whole-heartedly... but I thought that it was common knowledge??? I wouldn't fully extend the firing arm on an assailant 4 yds away, likewise I wouldn't shoot from the hip at 15 yds. I think any position in between should be used as space allows.

I'm sure this will grow to be discussed but I think hand to hand training and martial arts are also useful. Not just check in the box once a year classes but a continuing study. This is one of the areas where I think airsoft is most useful, as you can actually perform force on force struggles with a "weapon" (safety glasses and all a given) besides a training dummy.
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Old March 11, 2008, 09:22 PM   #6
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Yeah, I can't recall any of my defensive training including any statements that a given technique works for everything either. Rention position fighting is for very specific circumstances.

Just curious, where are you getting all this sacred cow instruction that you talk about?
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Old March 11, 2008, 11:33 PM   #7
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It is a giant sacred cow born on the square range, fostered by folks in the business of teaching shooting solutions, and adopted by shooting centric legions who resist at every corner assertions that there is more to fighting than shooting knowledge, skill, and accumen.

And that said I agree 100%.
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Old March 11, 2008, 11:49 PM   #8
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In my opinion, and experience, it is a Sacred Cow worshipped and protected by those who have never had to truly test its limits and legitimacy.

I will forever and always fall back on my military training in which we prepared and trained for every possible CQB scenario imaginable.

The Sacred Cow there and then was A) hold your gun close to your chest so that you could thrust it outward like a double-fisted punch, B) when facing multiple threats, keep elbows bent so as to keep gun closer to chest, and C) any threat that advanced on your weapon, you pulled the trigger without any hesitation whatsoever.

I saw guys get washed out of the program for hesitating against approaching aggressor instructors. It was not tolerated because of how quickly a fast moving aggressor could be on you at a short distance. Then retention was not your most significant problem--your well-being and that of your teammates was your biggest problem. Hard for them to shoot when you're wrestling/struggling with a bad guy.

Realizing that there are differing levels of appropriateness between overseas military situations and domestic self-defense situations, I still contend that anyone who purposefully advances on a aimed firearm represents the gravest of dangers and should therefore be dealt with as such.

But again, that's just my opinion. After all, the anti's love to trot out the tired old statistic of your gun being 43 times more likely to be used against you.

Jeff
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Old March 12, 2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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Yeah, I can't recall any of my defensive training including any statements that a given technique works for everything either. Rention position fighting is for very specific circumstances.

Just curious, where are you getting all this sacred cow instruction that you talk about?


It's called a straw man arugment Double. You propose something as the problem and then knock it down. I've never heard of it being a be-all end-all technique either.
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Old March 12, 2008, 12:22 PM   #10
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Source

Sorry, was supposed to PM this.
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Old March 12, 2008, 04:56 PM   #11
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I must agree with SWB on this.
I have trained with quite a few squared away shooters in the MI and I see a trend to discount anything other than the MI and the #2 position for retention shooting.
They also spend a lot of time practicing from the 4 count draw stroke, although they do teach to shoot from any point from #2 out to full extension.
What is discounted is the full spectrum of shooting from the hip, zippering and a host of other close combat skills.
While some may see this as an improvement/simplification, I think they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater on this issue.
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Old March 13, 2008, 02:04 PM   #12
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Most shooters never take any formal defensive firearm training. I suspect the majority of people that do take formal defensive firearm training take an introductory course and stop there. If one only examines the introductory curricula, it may seem as if the retention position is being offered as a one size fits all solution.
However, I've had Thunder Ranch, Gunsite, InSights and Randy Cain all suggest the use of a progressively more compressed stance for retention purposes as the range decreases... but this certainly isn't emphasized in the introductory classes.
My first exposure to this concept was probably in '98, the year I became serious about training, and a couple of years after my first class.
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Old March 13, 2008, 02:16 PM   #13
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Not sure about a retention position, per se

although keeping more compact at closer ranges makes sense.

But, from drills in the dojo, it becomes apparent that position is less important than movement.

If somebody is on top of you, move. A step or pivot have much more force behind them than a shove or strike, since your whole body is involved.
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Old March 13, 2008, 06:18 PM   #14
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Is the retention position similar to the missionary position? If so I'm in favor!
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Old March 21, 2008, 12:21 PM   #15
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"I have trained with quite a few squared away shooters in the MI and I see a trend to discount anything other than the MI and the #2 position for retention shooting. They also spend a lot of time practicing from the 4 count draw stroke, although they do teach to shoot from any point from #2 out to full extension."

I see a contratiction in your sentences which I believe is "term driven" not "practice driven."

4 count MIers move train to fluidly adapt and move, as you say, from the 2 out to the 4, shooting anywhere along the way as necessary. The 2 (often termed "the" retention position) serves as a repeatable, default, EQC retention and/or shooting position which happens to be along the 4 count draw stroke. But, so is the 3. Some would argue that so are the points from 3 out to 4; I disagree is that while they are collapsed shooting positions they aren't retention positions.

Conversely, MTers train to defaulting positions, namely retention and extention. Same with the iso crowd who exept for posture largely emulate MT doctrine. Same still with some others. The sacred cow, at least this particular moo-moo, cometh from here.
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Last edited by Erik; March 21, 2008 at 03:23 PM. Reason: just trying to clarify...
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Old March 21, 2008, 03:32 PM   #16
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Then theres the problem of what's a "retention" position vs. a "non-extended" position, for lack of a better term. I see retenion positions as those suitable to hand to hand combat witha gunu in hand, if there is such a thing, NOT merely a compressed firing platform for purposes of discouraging or evading a gun grab.

I think that the crux of much of the arguments on this and other forums comes down to term conflict. For example, I don't see the 1/4 hip, 3/4 hip and the continuem in between to be retention positions per my definition above. Likewise, I do not consider anything beyond the 3 to be a retention position, and referably not 3 at that. I think many 4 count MIers agree, hense the labelling of the 2 as "the" retention spot.

Funny thing is how often we're saying the same things aruing supposedly "against" one another. I know, lets just all pick on the MTers!
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Old March 21, 2008, 04:41 PM   #17
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Positions vs movement

IMHO, no position is a sure thing. Some offer more initial advantages than others, but only in that first instant.

Learning to move, naturally and smoothly, is more important than locking in on any one position. Practicing with dummy weapons and a mix of training partners will teach you more than any debate on positions can.
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Old March 21, 2008, 10:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
I must agree with SWB on this.
I have trained with quite a few squared away shooters in the MI and I see a trend to discount anything other than the MI and the #2 position for retention shooting.
So you and Sweatnbullets see it, but the rest of us don't. Interesting. Just where are y'all getting this sort of narrow minded absolutist teaching?
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Old March 22, 2008, 12:08 AM   #19
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Sweatn':

Your argument is obfuscated to an extent in your overly lengthy thesis.

re:
Quote:
Now this may be good for “one foot” but what about one yard, two yards, three yards, four yards, against a knife, against an impact weapon, with dynamic movement, and after you have gone “hands on” and created some distance?
The retention position, as I have been taught it, have practiced it, and taught it to others is one position, which by definition is designed to RETAIN and maintain control and use of the weapon at the closest, most guarded position possible, while retaining the ability to fire it at your assailant when at "bad breath distances," as you put it. That position: weapon drawn in to the strong side rib cage, heel of the grip tucked against the lower or floating ribs (one or two handed grip), with weapon canted outward 30-60 degrees to enable firing (semi autos) without the slide interfering with the chest. You should be able to maintain muzzle coverage of your target if properly executed, and hit the target. This position is, by design, point shooting. At contact distances, it should be sufficient, and certainly necessary.

Maybe your have a different definition of "retention"? Any other position where the gun is at some extension and the sights are on target (even a flash sight picture), or maybe even point shooting at extension, is not shooting from retention. At 3 or 4 yards, I am in a modified Weaver stance, preparing to transition to retention if need be as I shoot if the aggressor continues to make their way to me unstopped. I am also moving off the line, and shooting the assailant to the ground. Using my definition of the retention position, I wouldn't be using it at that distance...only at the closest ranges when I may need to hold the assailant off me, or protect myself from a weapon, as I continue to shoot.

Am I missing something in your concept?

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Last edited by Covert Mission; March 22, 2008 at 01:13 AM.
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Old March 22, 2008, 06:46 AM   #20
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I have met/corresponded with quite a few experts who disagree with the value of half and 3/4 hip shooting as a means of super close range/retention techniques.
What is favored is the #2 position with a flagged thumb as the one and only retention position.
SouthNarc is one well known expert who I have personally trained with on this a few times, so hopefully this answers Double spy's question.
While I see the value of this ECQ position I do not feel it in itself is enough and should be combined with close hip, half hip and contact shooting to make one more well rounded.
Yes Eric..one can shoot anywhere from the MI 4 count draw stroke, but the first shots cannot come until the gun is fairly high in line with the chest--which is slower that shooting from the hip level.
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Old March 22, 2008, 09:07 AM   #21
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If you are using a 4 count draw stroke, it may be fair to say that by the time the gun is in position 2 one is fairly far along into the presentation. This is true because Count 1 is rather time consuming. However, the time between the end of Count 1 (when the gun actually moves) and Count 2 is quite short. This can be measured. Take a timer, start with your hand in a firing grip, and on the beep, draw to retention and fire a shot. Subtract your reaction time (usually around 0.25 seconds), and that gives you the length of time it takes to complete the entire Count 2. Probably about 1/3rd of that time the gun is still in or pointed at the holster. 2/3rds of that time is probably the theoretical time that you are delaying your shot in order to get to a tight, well protected position with a repeatable index.
I didn't think the OP was talking about shooting before Count 2, though. I thought he was talking about shooting at Count 2, or full extension, or anywhere in between, moving the gun out or in, as circumstances dictate.
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Old March 22, 2008, 09:28 AM   #22
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So what we are left with is that there is NO fallacy to retention position shooting itself. The only OP fallacy is that supposedly there are folks that teach this as an all or none approach. That alone isn't a problem with the approach, but with how it is taught.

We are also left with the problem that apparently because of such obfuscations by folks teaching "retention position" shooting, or how people comprehend what it means, that there is considerable disagreement on what the term means such that not everyone has the same idea in mind.
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Old March 22, 2008, 01:41 PM   #23
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What you do with your feet and hips

is at least as important as what you do with the pistol. Positions are just positions. Look at the Maginot Line....

If you don't practice fluid movement, of the whole body, then positions are only going to give you a momentary edge.

Cheers,

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Old March 22, 2008, 08:23 PM   #24
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Agreed.
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Old March 22, 2008, 09:26 PM   #25
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Learning a set of positions, be it the 4 count draw strok, or 'Weaver' stance, or Stressfire, or just any stance, drawing method, weapon holding method,etc... is not something set in stone.

Same goes for learning a jab, or cross, or uppercut, or back kick, or... well you get the idea.

You learn to adapt and impovise your techniques to the given situation. Maybe you will be lucky and a textbook draw from a IWB works just like you did on the range, but don't count on it. Adapt whatever methods you choose to train on. It might take some quick thinking but I assure you, in a fast paced situation you will be amazed how fast you can think if you are well trained.
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