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Old May 15, 2015, 10:08 AM   #1
DMK
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Have I been practicing all wrong?

I've been reading Grant Cunninghams Defensive Revolver Fundamentals (and he has a similar Defensive Pistol Fundamentals for semi-autos) and it's an interesting read. The link at the bottom of this post highlights some of the more interesting points. (I believe these are taught by Rob Pincus as well.)

  1. Many, if not most defensive encounters are ambushes (He explains the statistics in the book).
  2. When surprised humans follow many instinctive defensive patterns (facing square to attack, putting hands up/out in front, eyes focus on attacker, etc)
  3. It is probably best to train with these patterns instead of against them (ie follow though what your body has already started unconsciously)
  4. What works for LE is not necessarily best for CCW training. While LE certainly do deal with ambushes occasionally, they most often go into a situation with at least some time to mentally prepare for a fight.

So I was always taught and practiced: Weaver stance, blade your body for a smaller profile to target, focus on front sight, try to make as tight groups as quickly as possible, double taps, etc.

Cunningham is saying this is all wrong for CCW practice. Think about when you've been startled. A friend jumps out behind a tree and startles you, a big dog comes running and growling at you while you are walking down the street. What do you do, how do you react?

When ambushed, you'll start to take a stance more like a squatting isosceles than a Weaver. You won't be able to focus on that front sight because you'll be focusing on your target and you won't have the same eye focus control as you do at the range. He also talks about shot precision in the link below.

What do you guys think about this? The front sight focus vs target focus really has me. That turns everything I've learned upside down.

http://www.gundigest.com/concealed-c...nsive-shooting

Last edited by DMK; May 15, 2015 at 10:17 AM.
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Old May 15, 2015, 09:03 PM   #2
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There are innate reactions (untrained) which is basically akin to "instinct" and then there are trained reactions which are a form of habituation. It all depends on what you know, how much you train and under what kind of conditions. I blade myself in response to danger, keeping my firearm furthest away from the problem. Everyone has their own tactical kabuki dance.
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Old May 15, 2015, 10:53 PM   #3
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The whole aimed fire vs. point shooting debate is a LONG rabbit hole to go down. Suffice to say that both sides have their pros and cons.

If things are close enough that you are firing from retention, target focus is the obvious answer.
Past double-arm length, I'd argue aimed fire (using the sights) is much more appropriate, and generally more effective (unless one is a VERY good point shooter). I base that off of reported accuracy for DGUs and LEO shootings, where accuracy suffers substantially past 5ft (somewhere just under 50% at 5ft, if I recall correctly).
It's the intermediate area that gives people fits.

The "best" answer to me is to practice both. Target focus is great for firing from retention or partially-compressed stances. Using the sights is better for accuracy. You may or may not be able to dictate the distance in a confrontation, so it would be good to be skilled at both.
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Old May 15, 2015, 11:25 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMK
...humans follow many instinctive defensive patterns...
Instinct is not always our friend. If your car starts to skid, your instinctive reaction is to apply the brakes, and that can be a very bad idea.

One purpose of training is to overcome instinct and substitute more effective responses. Of course it will take a lot of proper practice to make those more effective responses reflexive.
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Old May 16, 2015, 01:58 AM   #5
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There is no 'instinctive' draw.

There is no 'instinctive' pulling of the trigger.

There is no 'instinctive' ammo reloading technique.

There is no 'instinctive' aiming of a handgun.

There is no 'instinctive' stance.

We are not born with any of those. They are acquired skills.

Some techniques are easier to learn due to our physique but that does not mean they are good techniques nor the best ones.

Example: it's easier to just flail away with haymakers in a fight but strong, well practiced punching combinations would be more effective. But those combinations take time and effort to learn.

On the street, the qualities that matter most are guts, a cool head, street smarts, and good intense training (and in that order.) Equipment is well down the list.

And sometimes just being lucky is what makes the difference.

Deaf
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Old May 16, 2015, 06:53 AM   #6
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I think he has a point about how you will react if attacked. Staying in the weaver stance and trying to shoot small groups at a pit bull (dog or human) closing on you from 15 ft. would be unlikely to happen. Weaver stance doesn't give you a very good platform to move off of either. The ability to move instantly in any direction would be important given the fact that pistol bullets rarely stop someone instantly.
No one can totally predict what will happen in a violent encounter so finding the greatest degree of flexibility in your defensive shooting has merit.
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Old May 16, 2015, 07:02 AM   #7
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Situational awareness. Know what is going on and adjust yourself accordingly.

Be flexible. I train my shooters to use both weaver and isosceles. I also train them to shoot on the move.
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Old May 16, 2015, 08:46 AM   #8
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I also train them to shoot on the move.
Yes, for sure, and preferably while running for cover, or better yet, while running away.
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Old May 16, 2015, 08:59 AM   #9
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The whole aimed fire vs. point shooting debate is a LONG rabbit hole to go down. Suffice to say that both sides have their pros and cons.

If things are close enough that you are firing from retention, target focus is the obvious answer.
Past double-arm length, I'd argue aimed fire (using the sights) is much more appropriate, and generally more effective
And let me clarify here, Cunningham is not talking about Point Shooting and he's careful to mention that in his books. (I don't know the specifics of Point Shooting technique, but he mentions that it's different than what he teaches)

He's recommending bringing the gun up to line of sight and looking through the sights with focus on the target. He does mention to use the front sight if you can and where it's appropriate (longer distances, you have the luxury of time, etc), but he mentions that at shorter distance this may take more time, which you won't have an abundance of.

The technique actually works sort of like a red dot sight and sounds like it might work very well with something like an XS Sight Systems Big Dot front sight.


Quote:
The "best" answer to me is to practice both. Target focus is great for firing from retention or partially-compressed stances. Using the sights is better for accuracy. You may or may not be able to dictate the distance in a confrontation, so it would be good to be skilled at both.
I agree with this. I can do 25y on demand with my carry gun. I'm working on 50y and maybe even 100y yard shots. But from what I'm reading, this should be a competence, not your primary training. You don't want to spend a majority of training time on this.

Last edited by DMK; May 16, 2015 at 09:27 AM.
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Old May 16, 2015, 09:11 AM   #10
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I think he has a point about how you will react if attacked. Staying in the weaver stance and trying to shoot small groups at a pit bull (dog or human) closing on you from 15 ft. would be unlikely to happen. Weaver stance doesn't give you a very good platform to move off of either.
Exactly.

I agree with the whole "falling back to your level of training" thing and that not all instinctual reactions are appropriate to modern life.

But what I'm reading from the book is more about follow through. If nature has started you down a path in that split second of surprise, shouldn't we follow though on that and work with some of our instinctual reactions, rather than fighting against them with our training?

For example, nature is not going to throw you into a bladed Weaver stance, so why back out of a workable stance that you are already in and then set yourself up again in a something else.

Training is very important and we all have a lot to learn and practice. So just work with the initial instinctive reactions, , follow through and spend maybe better effort on things like trigger control, recoil management, reloading techniques, shooting while moving, etc.

Last edited by DMK; May 16, 2015 at 09:31 AM.
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Old May 16, 2015, 09:18 AM   #11
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Situational awareness. Know what is going on and adjust yourself accordingly.
Absolutely. That is more important than carrying a gun IMO.

But we are not machines. Life has distractions. Sometimes we are tired and miss something. We can't see through walls. Sometimes we just screw up and drop our guard.

I think we have to be prepared to be caught off guard. If you do see something and have time to prepare for an attack then most of this may be moot, but better than the other way around.

Last edited by DMK; May 16, 2015 at 09:33 AM.
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Old May 16, 2015, 09:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
There is no 'instinctive' draw.

There is no 'instinctive' pulling of the trigger.

There is no 'instinctive' ammo reloading technique.

There is no 'instinctive' aiming of a handgun.

We are not born with any of those. They are acquired skills.

..and nobody said that there was

I disagree about instinctual stance, I believe we have a innate body posture in response to danger. Some people get small some puff up, some jump and some freeze... its a posture in response to a stimulus. I agree that other than some passive eye hand coordination, we do not likely have any instinctual gun-fighting skills.. those are learned.

The OP was speaking to a persons innate [posture] in response to fear. He said something about squat and squared toward danger. I said that there is an instinctual response to a stimulus and then there is a habituation or learned response to stimulus. My point is that although as people we tend to react a certain way, we can learn or train ourselves to respond differently. My comment was directed at "posture" or the initial response to danger... not the fight itself.
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Old May 16, 2015, 09:46 PM   #13
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Staying in the weaver stance and trying to shoot small groups at a pit bull (dog or human) closing on you from 15 ft. would be unlikely to happen.
If you have been trained diligently in the 'weaver' stance, or any particular stance, then you will most likely do as you are trained.

The key word is 'diligently'.

Few train much at all. But those who train often and hard will far more likely do as they train.

And you mistake the weaver stance with 'small groups'.

The weaver stance has NOTHING to do with small groups. It was invented to CONTROL RECOIL.

Being later added to the Modern Technique (MT) it was combined with flash sight picture, compressed surprise break, large caliber pistol, and Coopers color code of readiness.

Yes there are other 'stances', and other ways to manipulate the trigger, and other ways to see the sights (or not), but one can shoot very fast and hit very well under stress with the weaver stance.

Again, the key word is 'diligently' when it comes to practice.


Quote:
My point is that although as people we tend to react a certain way, we can learn or train ourselves to respond differently.
And with that I agree. That is what training is all about, especially diligent training.

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Old May 17, 2015, 09:28 AM   #14
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Some refer to the instinctive as reaction from our "monkey brain."
Hopefully minus the screeching and mindless running around in circles, though.
For those of us in the majority who will probably never get much in the way of training, building on their monkey brain seems like a good idea.
For those of us who will get training, the monkey brain is less of an influence.
As far as stance, personally the first time the isosceles was encountered was at club matches.
It was clear that it provided very fast shooting, good accuracy, and easy running to the next shooting position.
But the years of using the Weaver didn't vanish from memory.
Both the Weaver and Isosceles, and other methods, have their place and are useful.
There doesn't seem to be reason to focus on just one, especially for folks who will train and become competent with others.
Like shooting from the ground, or from a chair, or from behind things, or under things, or around things, or while hot footing across open ground, 'etc, 'etc.
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Old May 17, 2015, 11:21 PM   #15
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I seldom post on these threads because I get into trouble, but ...

First, let me say that I have been a LEO, but I have never been in a gunfight and hope never to be. But I also suspect that many of the "experts" never have been, either.

But I keep seeing stuff about placing the legs at a precise angle, the feet exactly so many inches apart, the hands just so, the grip on the gun perfect, etc. Now I know that some of those things can be learned with training and practice, but it seems to me that they are more suited to playing gun games (I like the games, but what do they have to do with self defense?) than to any realistic training. How does one adopt the perfect stance in a car, or in a doorway, or on a staircase, or behind a wall.

And I never see anything about taking cover. I was trained to use any available cover. One of my instructors put it bluntly - "you can't protect and serve anyone if you are dead!" Standing straight up, in a perfect stance, facing the enemy, seems to me to be a way to get very dead, very quickly.

IMHO, training in alertness and keeping that "situational awareness" is a lot more important than training until you can't even think about returning fire unless your feet are at some perfect angle.

Or am I just a coward because I would like to keep my skin free of any holes that nature didn't put there?

Jim
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Old May 17, 2015, 11:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by James K
...But I keep seeing stuff about placing the legs at a precise angle, the feet exactly so many inches apart, the hands just so, the grip on the gun perfect, ...
Remember that there are two distinct and complimentary parts of good training. One is learning and mastering the fundamentals -- basic marksmanship skills. The other is practical weapons craft and associated tactics. The latter builds on the foundation of the former.

So one day you might work on the square range honing your basic skills. On another day you do simulations or IDPA/USPSA type courses of fire working on movement, target identification and transitions and shooting from unconventional positions.
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Old May 18, 2015, 12:59 AM   #17
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This weekend, I attended a class at the Firearms Academy of Seattle where these intermediate to advanced students had already built a solid, good foundation of shooting skills before coming into the class.

The class was a hybrid type class. Half of it focused on refining the students' shooting techniques and the other half focused on solving problems with the gun in hand during scenario and role playing exercises. It was an excellent class and definitely worth the investment.

Quite frankly I see very little value in doing any type of dynamic movement drills or scenario type drills unless and until the shooter has built a solid foundation of basic gun handling skills that will hold up safely under stress. In this, I perhaps part ways with people who want to jump out of flaming helicopters the first day that they own a handgun, & I definitely part ways with people who will have their students doing the tactical range dance long before they have learned how to hit a target in any reliable or repeatable way. But I think, after watching many different students develop their skills from many different schools of thought, that the shooters who start by building a good foundation and then proceed from there to apply those foundational skills in a wider variety of contexts -- well, those people tend to do a better job of learning the skills and almost always and up in a better place overall.

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Old May 18, 2015, 07:25 AM   #18
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Quite frankly I see very little value in doing any type of dynamic movement drills or scenario type drills unless and until the shooter has built a solid foundation of basic gun handling skills that will hold up safely under stress.
Well, that's great unless you get mugged the day after your first class. It would be nice if we could say "oh I'll get mugged 4 months from now so I have time to learn all the basics of marksmanship, and then advanced class 1 and 2."

IMO, moving laterally, and finding cover should be the very first things you learn. Even drawing a gun quickly from concealment should come before you worry about marksmanship. Like James K said, if you get killed before you "get off the X" or get your gun drawn, you won't need to worry about group size.

Think about the most likely scenario for the average citizen.
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Old May 18, 2015, 10:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMK
Quote:
Originally Posted by pax
Quite frankly I see very little value in doing any type of dynamic movement drills or scenario type drills unless and until the shooter has built a solid foundation of basic gun handling skills that will hold up safely under stress.
Well, that's great unless you get mugged the day after your first class. It would be nice if we could say "oh I'll get mugged 4 months from now so I have time to learn all the basics of marksmanship, and then advanced class 1 and 2."

IMO, moving laterally, and finding cover should be the very first things you learn.....
Nonetheless, learning something is a process that takes place over time. For everything we do, for everything we learn, there is always we haven't yet learned what would be of use to us today. And I'm sure all of us older types have the occasional "if I only knew then what I know now" moment.

And in the learning of various types of physical and mental skills, the effective learning of some skills will depend on having laid a foundation of other, more basic, skills. That's simply reality.
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Old May 18, 2015, 11:29 AM   #20
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Building on what Frank said: It's difficult to give people what they actually need, when there is so little they want.

Most people come to firearms training schools for confidence.

What they actually need is competence.

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Old May 18, 2015, 12:25 PM   #21
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Nonetheless, learning something is a process that takes place over time.
Quote:
What they actually need is competence.
Agreed. But all I'm saying is we don't need a whole class of front sight, press trigger, breath before we learn to draw efficiently and move laterally.

What I'm learning from Cunningham and Pincus is that maybe a lot of what we thought we knew is be based more on tradition than reality. You very likely just need to move out of danger, efficiently get the gun out and put your shots into minute of softball at close range.

Besides, a class isn't going to make you competent anyway, regular practice is.

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Old May 18, 2015, 12:49 PM   #22
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Honestly why ask the question if you do not what to hear the answers? There are lots of people on this board in this thread that are great trainers and you are basically ignoring what they are telling you because you read something in a book.

Yes learning to move is important but if you do not have the basics of fundamentals of shooting accurately then when the stress happens you will not be able to hit the intended target.

One has to ask have to ever taken a training class because IMHO staying on a square range working on trigger control is exactly where everyone should start because everything worse builds on that.
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Old May 18, 2015, 01:14 PM   #23
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Honestly why ask the question if you do not what to hear the answers?
I'm sorry. I don't mean to come off like I'm not listening or grateful for the responses. That's just how I process things. My teachers all have a love/hate relationship with me because I challenge everything I'm taught.
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Old May 18, 2015, 01:34 PM   #24
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OK, so let's say you can really efficiently run behind something and draw your pistol. Then what?

Frankly, going to a firearms class to learn to run better is a terribly inefficient training choice.
Knowing how to draw efficiently is a valuable skill, and logically taught at a firearms class. However, if you can't hit what you point your firearm at, you are not only basing your safety off of a bluff, but you endanger those around you, if you actually do pull the trigger.

Being able to hit what you are shooting at is a basic, fundamental skill. You have no business shooting at people if you have no idea where the bullets will go, no matter how justified you are in defending yourself. I've seen new shooters get ahead of themselves and miss VERY easy shots because they let the simple stress of being on a clock get to them.
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Old May 18, 2015, 01:48 PM   #25
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My practice would be going to the range and having fun, some IPSC etc. I would only get some formal training if I enjoyed it. I would not be dragging myself to some training that i would probably never need.
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