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Old July 25, 2017, 04:29 AM   #1
Jeff22
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W.E. Fairbairn and Rex Applegate

That whole period in history is quite fascinating. Fairbairn's techniques for employing the handgun have been superseded by more modern techniques, but the history of the Shanghai Municipal Police and how and why those techniques were developed is very interesting. William Fairbairn instructed British Commandoes and later on US Army MP Officer Rex Applegate, who in turn was involved in training agents of the Office of Strategic Services.

Some recommended reading:

"Shooting to Live with the one hand gun" by W.E. Fairbairn & E.A. Sykes

"The World's First SWAT Team: W.E. Fairbairn and the Shanghai Municipal Police Reserve Unit" by Leroy Thompson

"The Legend of W.E. Fairbairn: The Shanghai Years" by Peter Robins

"Quick or Dead" by William L. Cassidy (classic history of the development of modern shooting techniques)

"Kill or Get Killed" by Rex Applegate

"The Close Combat Files of Col. Rex Applegate" by Rex Applegate and Chuck Melson

"Bullseyes don't shoot back: The complete textbook of point shooting for close quarters combat" by Rex Applegate and Michael Janich

(Many of these books can be found for cheap on amazon.com)
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Old July 25, 2017, 01:38 PM   #2
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I wouldn't say Fairbairn's and Applegate's techniques have been "succeeded"
by "more modern techniques", rather other people have developed techniques that work for them-and others. IMHO shooting techniques are like martial arts-you have to find what works for you.
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Old July 25, 2017, 06:39 PM   #3
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Fairbairn & Sykes developed their fighting techniques by actually fighting people - sometimes to the death. Their techniques worked and it is doubtful you would go seriously wrong studying them, practicing them and emulating them.
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Old July 26, 2017, 11:42 AM   #4
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"..."succeeded" by "more modern techniques"..." Nearly all of which are based on playing the assorted shooting games not reality like Fairbairn and Sykes. Fairbairn and Sykes' techniques are proven in real live combat. Both in war and police work.
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Old July 26, 2017, 06:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. O'Heir
"..."succeeded" by "more modern techniques"..." Nearly all of which are based on playing the assorted shooting games not reality like Fairbairn and Sykes.
So in a gun game where speed and accuracy are the entire component of your score, the Fairbairn and Sykes method is so completely non-competitive that not a single person uses it; but if you sprinkle magic combat fairy dust in the air, it suddenly becomes better?
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Old July 26, 2017, 08:57 PM   #6
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Well, those folks were not playing games, they were into killing people. No warnings, no fair play, no scoring. And the horrible truth is that if you carry a gun, you are not playing a game, either. The fact is that if you do carry a gun you must be willing to kill. Not frighten, not play mind games, not intimidate. Kill. If you cannot accept that, and all that it implies, leave the gun at home and save your fancy shooting for the range.

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Old July 27, 2017, 01:07 AM   #7
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How?

How did we get from a look back at the streets of Shanghai, to slamming folks who shoot competitively? Some other comments:

Almost all modern combat handgun shooting instruction, be it LE or military current training, has evolved from what was or had been done over the past 50 or so years, with competitive action type shooting. No academy or agency/organization, at least that I am aware of, teaches Fairbairn/Sykes (FS) techniques of singlehanded point shooting. (course I could be wrong).

So does that make the "modern technique" the only way, and F/S (point shooting) totally obsolete? Of course not. In the unpredictable circumstances of a real shoot, where things might happen at bad breath distances, in terribble light, etc, you won't have time to establish your stance, grip, and consider your front sight, and achieve a surprise break. Your behind the curve, and you need to shoot, quickly. An instinctive shot, or some type of "speed rock" may well be the only answer. Similarly, if you are involved in a shoot involving longer distances, let's just use over 7 yds, point shooting probably won't solve your problem. F/S, and modern technique are tools, to be applied as necessary, to win.

If we shoot someone, they may die. If we carry, we need to be completely resolved with that issue, that our shooting may kill someone. But, we shoot to STOP. To stop an immediate violent threat to ourselves, and.... possibly others. "Shooting to kill" as a civilian or an LEO, is a legal disaster waiting to happen. We shoot to stop, death could be a consequence we need to mentally and legally prepare for, but not our purpose.

Jim Cirrillo (?) and the New York Stakeout Squad, were in a number of gunfights. My understanding is that when considering potential members for the unit, an officer who shot a bit competitively and was a proven good shot, were one of the elements they took into positive consideration. The stress of competition certainly will not equal a real shoot. But it provides a mechanism to create some circumstances that will be present in a real shoot. Certainly shootng fast and accurately, under the presurre of the clock, your peers and varying courses of fire, is viable practice.
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Old July 27, 2017, 03:15 AM   #8
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Jim Cirillo was in 17 shootouts IIRC. He won them all. He always shot as if was the real thing in IPSC matches !
At least one of the matches he was laughed at by the "players ". I wonder how they would do in a real shootout ?
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Old July 27, 2017, 07:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James K
Well, those folks were not playing games, they were into killing people. No warnings, no fair play, no scoring. And the horrible truth is that if you carry a gun, you are not playing a game, either. The fact is that if you do carry a gun you must be willing to kill. Not frighten, not play mind games, not intimidate. Kill. If you cannot accept that, and all that it implies, leave the gun at home and save your fancy shooting for the range
What does that have to do with anything in this thread? The discussion was whether Fairbairn and Sykes have been superseded by modern techniques. They have. Willingness to kill has nothing at all to do with whether that technique can deliver fast and accurate fire - unless you are making the argument that this technique somehow confers an extra mental edge that only appears in a fight. Is that what you were trying to say? If so, you have not made much of an argument to explain why this works in a fight but not a competition?
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Old July 27, 2017, 07:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mete
Jim Cirillo was in 17 shootouts IIRC. He won them all.
Why did he win them? Was it because his shooting technique was so superior? Or was his shooting adequate but he was a master of tactics? Or maybe he had a particularly adept mindset? There are a lot of things that go into a gunfight besides weapon handling - many of them much more important.

If I am strong enough to lift the end of a quarter-ton pickup with one hand, I bet I can win a lot of fights without having much in the way of a good fighting technique; but people who emulate me because I won a lot of fights are going to be in trouble.

As a shooting technique, no one has ever dominated any of the shooting sports based on fast and accurate gunfire using Fairbairn and Sykes technique. So if this technique has some modern utility that has not been superseded - what is it? Does it pair well with a dominant set of tactics? Does it imbue a winning mindset? Why is this an intangible that no practioner can describe?
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Old July 27, 2017, 01:32 PM   #11
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Jeff Cooper emphasized the "Combat Mindset" and Charlie Askins won all of his gunfights because he was a crack shot and, as Massad Ayoob wrote of him, a "stone cold killer." Also I wonder how much of our "modern" techniques are not new discoveries but people being allowed to label it and claim credit. I recall reading an article years ago about the Pershing Expedition of 1916 where the author related accounts of NCOs using a two handed shooting stance and scoring hits at long ranges.
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Old July 27, 2017, 01:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Well, those folks were not playing games, they were into killing people. No warnings, no fair play, no scoring. And the horrible truth is that if you carry a gun, you are not playing a game, either. The fact is that if you do carry a gun you must be willing to kill. Not frighten, not play mind games, not intimidate. Kill. If you cannot accept that, and all that it implies, leave the gun at home and save your fancy shooting for the range.
Totally agree. Well said.

There are gun-gamers, and then there are gun-fighters.

The latter have an overwhelming advantage ... It's called proper mind-set.
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Old July 27, 2017, 02:47 PM   #13
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Some people are natural born killers, some have to learn to do it.
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Old July 29, 2017, 08:21 PM   #14
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"What does that have to do with anything in this thread? The discussion was whether Fairbairn and Sykes have been superseded by modern techniques. They have. Willingness to kill has nothing at all to do with whether that technique can deliver fast and accurate fire ..."

Stick to playing games on the range and leave the gun at home; otherwise explain what carrying a real gun in the real world has to do with except the very real possibility of killing someone.

Jim
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Old July 30, 2017, 01:45 AM   #15
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Better read up on Jim Cirillo's "nose point" technique. It is a two handed version of point shooting when things are close.
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Old July 30, 2017, 09:06 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesK
Stick to playing games on the range and leave the gun at home; otherwise explain what carrying a real gun in the real world has to do with except the very real possibility of killing someone.
Jim, I'm not understanding your point. My point is if a shooting technique works in a gunfight, it should work in a game. But it doesn't work in a game.
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Old July 30, 2017, 09:29 AM   #17
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Why did he win them? Was it because his shooting technique was so superior? Or was his shooting adequate but he was a master of tactics? Or maybe he had a particularly adept mindset? There are a lot of things that go into a gunfight besides weapon handling - many of them much more important.
Jim was a great guy. Most of his shootings were ambushes, nothing wrong with that just saying that things work differently when the BG gets popped in the mellon from the get go.
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Old July 30, 2017, 09:37 AM   #18
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Stick to playing games on the range and leave the gun at home; otherwise explain what carrying a real gun in the real world has to do with except the very real possibility of killing someone.
It is not either or. You are the sum of all your knowledge and abilities. Are there training scars from competition? Sure there are. There are also training scars from faulty repetitions. I have been carrying a gun professionally since 1979 and have been shooting competitively in some fashion or other since about 1975. I believe that marksmanship skills enhance ones ability. I was training in the early 1980's on basically what S/F taught. I can switch back and forth between aimed fire and threat focused fire as needed, I think that is a necessary skill.

Competition shooting definitely improves your shooting ability, if for no other reason than trigger time, reloading and weapon handling reps.

In the Martial Arts one gets better by practicing and sparring, combat shooting is no different.
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Old July 30, 2017, 09:59 AM   #19
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Jeff Gonzales, who might know a thing or two about gunfighting, recently wrote an article on front sight focus: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...sights-target/

I thought one of the unique and informative aspects of his article was where he discussed training himself to see the front sight every time vs. "looking through" the front sight and his philosophy on that.
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Old July 30, 2017, 10:58 AM   #20
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This being the 21st century, the original "Kill or Get Killed" training film used by the Army is online and very instructive: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BeSpwAA_0DU

Some of the things you can see that carry over even today are you need a good master grip and good trigger manipulation before how you index the pistol comes into play. It also gives some good instruction on how to index a pistol without sights, which is still occasionally handy in the era of large tritium sights and powerful handheld lights.

Now compare the instructor in that video to this state level IDPA competition video.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n1OEmqkamo8

Has that method been superseded?
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Old July 30, 2017, 02:47 PM   #21
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Quote:
Competition shooting definitely improves your shooting ability, if for no other reason than trigger time, reloading and weapon handling reps.
That's a valid point, I agree. A lotta folks who CCW for personal protection don't have near enough repetitive "trigger-time" to make it count on the street, i.e., in a real-world SD incident.

Quote:
In the Martial Arts one gets better by practicing and sparring, combat shooting is no different.
That depends on which MA we're about, ... and more importantly, what you're training for.

If it's strictly fancy-prancy forms & kata dojo stuff, then it falls somewhere between irrelevant and useless on the street.

If you're talking instead about MMA-type training, that's different. MMA training imparts a "street-reality" to self-defense that's virtually identical to training for a real-world gunfight.
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Old August 8, 2017, 04:58 AM   #22
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When I was a Board member of IALEFI, I met Jim Cirillo, he was running a scenario shoot he had set up.

I was passing through, just to look "You want to run through it?" Sure said I.

When we were patching the targets, he said: "Why did you shoot the mechanic who had a big wrench?"

I said he had it raised? He was still laughing when I left! Brits!
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Old August 8, 2017, 07:01 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Robbins
What does that have to do with anything in this thread? The discussion was whether Fairbairn and Sykes have been superseded by modern techniques. They have.
"...superseded by modern techniques..." only in the sense of making quick hits against a paper target without danger - other than looking bad - and in an artificial environment with both hands free and time to prepare.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Robbins
Willingness to kill has nothing at all to do with whether that technique can deliver fast and accurate fire...
Mindset to win a lethal encounter is only applicable to real life. Actually, it does not apply to shooting games as you say. So as long as one is shooting for score on a controlled range, it may be ignored. However, it is the key missing element that cost the FBI and the agents involved several lives and some serious injuries in Miami, Florida on 11 April 1986.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Robbins
...unless you are making the argument that this technique somehow confers an extra mental edge that only appears in a fight. Is that what you were trying to say?
What is being said is Fairbairn and Sykes developed a training program to teach their officers to physically stop criminals with lethal intent, not win shooting prizes on an artificial scenario. In fact, the question is mentioned and answered in Shooting to Live.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Robbins
If so, you have not made much of an argument to explain why this works in a fight but not a competition?
You are possibly correct, Bart. The statements made so far have assumed the readers are familiar with both concepts. To one who is wholly immersed in the 'game' aspect and interested only in making high scores and mistaking 'gaming' for reality, the difference is probably invisible.
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Old August 17, 2017, 04:49 AM   #24
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In Shanghai, the Chinese members of the SMP carried Colt .380 ACP Pistols (Colt 1908), the European constables carried Colt M1911s in .45ACP and the Sikh members of the police carried Webly Revolvers in .455 caliber.

The issue sights on the M1908 and the M1911 were tiny and not of much use in many applications, hence the focus on point shooting techniques. In the book "Shooting to Live with the One Hand Gun" William Fairbairn opines that the best sights for combat use with the pistol would be a silver bead front sight and a shallow "V" rear sight -- similar to today's express sights. (I have sights like that on an M870 shotgun and also on a Kahr K9)

The accuracy standard required in training was quite low in comparison to modern practices.

“The qualification we require before the recruit’s course can be successfully passed is 50% of hits anywhere on the man-sized targets employed.” – page 40

Fairbairn suggested the use of aimed fire at distances greater than 4 yards and the grip depicted is quite similar to what is commonly used today.

“in spite of having said that the great majority of shooting affrays take place within a distance of 4 yards, the need does arise occasionally for a long shot.” – page 45

Fairbairn did state “they must not look at their sights because they will never have time to do so” –page 37. Keep in mind this was with the little tiny sights the M1908 and M1911had back in the 20s and 30s. Modern practice (since the early 70s) has been to employ high visibility sights on handguns used in defensive application in most circumstances.

Fairbairn also advocated engaging a target with a "burst" of two or three rounds -- another technique still used 80+ years later.

Given the limitations of the equipment available and the limitations on time and ammunition he had available to train 6,000+ members of the Shanghai Municipal Police, the program he developed was quite innovative and is influential in some ways into the present day.

(page citations from "Shooting to Live with the One-Hand Gun" by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes, reprint by Paladin Press in 1987)
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Old August 21, 2017, 03:43 PM   #25
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"Mindset" is an important aspect of self defense. So is situational awareness and the technical skill to actually deliver accurate hits on target under the circumstances your are presented with.

You can have all the "will to win" that you want but that in and of itself is not enough. You still need technical skills, whether you are talking about empty hand skills, using a knife or impact weapon or a firearm.

I would suspect that the unarmed techniques that Fairbairn and Sykes taught would still be relevant today. When it comes to defensive use of the handgun, Fairbairn in his book recommended sighted fire at distances past about 4 yards, which is not any different than techniques taught today. The only difference is that he had a specific one handed technique he taught for close range, along with several other positions (like the quarter him and half hip) positions that are also somewhat similar to what is commonly employed today.

Hocking College in Ohio at one time taught their police academy students a variation of Fairbairn's technique (this was probably 20 years ago or so?) I haven't seen any articles about it in the police magazines for years so I don't know if they still do that.

Somehow this discussion veered off into the often repeated argument about whether or not USPSA or IDPA shooting is relevant to self defense, and if the techniques commonly used in those matches are relevant to self defense. Of course they are, in some respects. Neither of those disciplines is tactically "correct" but both are good ways to practice high performance shooting against multiple targets at varied distance. As a form of marksmanship skill development, they are entirely relevant to self defense provided that you use the gun and holster combination that you actually carry on duty or for self defense with your CCW permit or on your property. (I shoot a Glock 22 or 35 in production class in USPSA (or stock service pistol class in IDPA) and a Glock 19 in the concealed carry pistol class in IDPA (and now a Glock 43 in the back up gun class in IDPA)(I'm a cop and almost everybody I train carries a Glock)

What a guy does shooting a USPSA open gun out of a funny holster using a race gun with an optic on it is NOT relevant to you if your defense gun is a S&W Shield carried in a Bianchi Black Widow holster. (I use that as an example because that's one I'm familiar with). Also, 32 round field courses involving lots of running around may not be relevant to you, but an 8 or 12 or 16 round stage involving movement from position-of-cover to position-of-cover and engaging multiple targets at moderate distances would be.

A lot of people who criticize competitive shooting have never tried it. Sometimes it's because there is no club close enough, sometimes because their work or life schedule doesn't work with when the matches are, sometimes it's because people are often reluctant to try the unknown, and often it's because people don't want to test themselves and risk finding out that they aren't as good as they think they are. Sometimes it's because the courses of fire run at a local club emphasize "run and gun" stages that may be less relevant to the skill set you are trying to develop. That doesn't mean competition is "bad" but it might mean that the courses of fire they run won't be useful to help you achieve the abilities that you want to learn.

Same thing with training. You do NOT have to spend thousands of dollars flying out to Gunsite in Arizona or Thunder Ranch in Washington State (although that would be really neat). In most places of the country you can find a competent instructor who does two day(or three) classes for $300 to $500 and 600 to a thousand rounds of ammo. Most people aren't in a position to go to multiple classes in a year (although that would be really neat) but you can probably afford to go to one every other year or every third year or whatever.

Pick a class that is appropriate to the primary skill set that you are trying to develop. The armed private citizen would benefit from one kind of class, a police officer on patrol might benefit from a similar or slightly different class, and then a SWAT Team member or soldier would find a class with a different focus to be more applicable to their circumstance.

(I have always thought that there is room in the market for one day classes taught by competent instructors at a reasonable cost that focus on development of specific skills. National or regional traveling instructors usually have two or three or five day classes -- regional or local instructors might do shorter classes. A one day class would be easier for most people to afford and squeeze into their schedule)

There are so many people who would enjoy shooting in a match and enjoy going to formal training if they'd only try it, but it's really hard to get people to take the first step. And, you have to make a proper choice of both based on your current abilities and what skills you're trying to develop.
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