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Old December 12, 2009, 11:34 AM   #1
Glenn E. Meyer
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Shooting stance under stress and your heart.

Just the other day, there was a shooting at the Times Square Marriot. Nice place, I've stayed there. The NY Times had an article discussing the shooting stance of the officer who took down the BG. Kind of interesting for us.

One of the Outdoor channel shows - did a review of stances and why the one handed stance was abandoned

So here you go.

December 12, 2009

Hand Over Heart, Sergeant Hit Target By KAREEM FAHIM
When it came time for Detective Paul E. Morrison to shoot at someone — a young man on a bicycle, firing a .45-caliber automatic at him — his response came without prodding, drilled into him years before at the Police Academy until it was a reflex.

It was 1982, in the Bronx. Detective Morrison stood still, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. He extended his arms straight ahead, elbows locked, and held his .38 revolver with both hands. In the language of firearms trainers, the stance was “two-hand supported.” Detective Morrison couldn’t care less what it was called.

“Your heart is pumping and your brain is racing,” he said on Friday. “You go to it automatic.”

On Thursday, the city marveled at the instinctive response of another officer, Sgt. Christopher Newsom, who shot and killed a man who faced him with a gun in Times Square. Sergeant Newsom, a 17-year veteran of the Police Department, fired with his gun in his right hand, while at the same time, in a move that surprised some law enforcement experts, he draped his left hand across his chest, apparently to protect his heart.

It is called “one-hand unsupported,” and it is something of a throwback.

The stance, immortalized by the cartoon thug in the paper target that police officers shoot at, was more popular in the days before police officers routinely wore bullet-resistant vests, several former trainers said. “It’s a stance cops used to take at the range,” said Philip J. Messina, a former police trainer. “The logic was, by holding your arm over your chest, the bullet would have less of a chance of penetrating.” He added, “There are still old-timers who go into that stance.”

For a variety of reasons, New York’s police officers are now taught to choose the two-handed stance, according to Inspector Michael J. Hurley, commanding officer of the firearms and tactics section. “It gives officers a more stable shooting platform, and it’s easier to align your sights,” he said. The two-handed stance — one variation is called the “isosceles” — also lessens the impact of the gun’s recoil.

The one-handed stance is still taught, Inspector Hurley and other trainers said. It is seen as useful in several instances: if one hand is injured, if an officer finds himself faced with an attacker in close quarters or if the officer fires from the hip and is trying to avoid shooting his other hand.

Sergeant Newsom, 41, has not spoken about what went through his mind on Thursday, but using one hand apparently served him well. The police said that the man he was chasing, Raymond Martinez, fired at him twice at close range before his gun jammed. Sergeant Newsom fired back four times, hitting Mr. Martinez every time, the police said.

“We try to promote muscle memory,” Inspector Hurley said. “He remembered his training.”

That includes the 13 days Sergeant Newsom and all other police officers spend in firearm training at the Police Academy, and two days of refresher courses every year after that.

To avoid being struck by a bullet, trainers preach “cover” and “concealment.” “Cover” can be just about anything.

“I’ve heard of situations where an officer has put a book in front of them,” said John C. Cerar, a former commander of the Police Department’s firearms training section. Once out on the street, danger jogs an officer’s memory.

For Michael J. Palladino, who now heads the Detectives Endowment Association, the danger appeared in a hallway in the Bronx in 1982.

Detective Palladino, carrying a bulky walkie-talkie in his left hand, faced a man pointing a loaded .25-caliber gun at him from “arms-length away,” he said.

The detective’s left hand draped across the chest. With his right hand, he fired from the hip. One shot killed the burglar.

“The threat was gone,” he said. “Your training kicks in.”

The police said on Friday that the gun Mr. Martinez fired had been purchased on Oct. 18 from Dale’s Guns in Powhatan, Va. The buyer reported the gun stolen from her car 10 days later. The authorities said agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were seeking to speak with the buyer.

Also on Friday, the police released a rap video apparently made by Mr. Martinez. In it, he raps, among other things, “If they call the cops, I’m aiming at the sergeant.”

Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner, said the shooting provided a rare glimpse of police training in action. Sergeant Newsom “had no ability to get any cover,” Mr. Kelly said, “nothing to hide behind.”

He acknowledged that the department encourages a two-handed stance, but said responses by officers depended on the situation.

“Don’t forget, the adrenaline is flowing. You do these things reflexively,” he said. “In a split second.”


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Old December 12, 2009, 02:15 PM   #2
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My CPL teacher had us shoot one-handed not because it was required but because he thought it was important that we understand that we might one day have to do that. I weigh 130 pounds, 6' and my .45 felt a little different one-handed. Training for accuracy is required. It was hard enough when we could fire at whatever pace we wanted (I still put all 6 shots within a 3-inch radius at 7 yards) so I can't imagine what it's like when your being shot back at. Good shooting by the officer.
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Old December 12, 2009, 02:43 PM   #3
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The platform for police training/qualification is a stance, weaver, isosceles, are popular ... advanced training, combat/tactical/ whatever you may call it, you then start calling them shooting positions.

On the street there is no usual position/stance since situations vary all the time. It can be approaching vehicles, stairways, alleyways, open fields, crowded streets, and close quarters.

I'm glad the Time Square incident turned out well... DEAD BAD GUY.
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Old December 12, 2009, 03:13 PM   #4
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I favor the issoles stane. I feel it works best under fire.
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Old December 12, 2009, 03:15 PM   #5
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When teaching students proper shooting techniques, I usually start with the Two Handed Weaver and then move to the Modified Weaver. After they have those mastered, I move to single-handed strong hand and then to single-handed weak hand. This prepares the student for most situations. Further, when teaching the single-handed shooting techniques, most instructors will have the student place the non-shooting hand across their chest for one reason and one reason only; to prevent them from shooting themselves in the other hand. The by-product of this, if you will, is that it indeed offers a tiny bit more protection to the chest area should an opponents round hit it's mark.
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Old December 12, 2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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I weigh 130 pounds, 6'
You're 6 feet tall and weigh 130 lbs.?
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Old December 12, 2009, 04:59 PM   #7
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Another reason sometimes used to justify holding the non-shooting hand close into the chest is to reduce the potential for having the non-shooting hand & arm move or swing in such a manner that it might cause a corresponding swing, tremor or counter movement in the shooting arm. A balance/counter balance condition.

While being tightly pulled into the body might lend some stability to the extended shooting hand/arm, sometimes the circumstances and conditions might require the use of the non-shooting hand to perform some other role, too. Keeping it out of the way of rounds fired by the other hand is certainly a primary consideration, too.

Some of the older methods may not be as obsolete as some folks might think.

The use of sights is still a good thing, too.

I recently had the chance to attend the CNOA's 2009 training seminar in SF. During the "I'm Shot" 1-day lecture 3 cops were guest speakers. All of them had survived shooting incidents in which they had been seriously wounded, but had been able to continue fighting. (One was the female LAPD officer who suffered a .357 Magnum wound to her chest and returned fire on her attacker, hitting him 4 out of 4 times and ending the incident.)

While the situations and conditions of the shootings were different, the one thing that each of them had in common was that when they used their sights they made hits. Two of the cops said that they had to settle down and remember to aim before they made their hits. One gent said he burned through a couple of mags in his issued .40 pistol, missing when hurriedly shooting at his attacker 'instinctively', before he 'settled down' and aimed, at which time he hit his attacker.

Some of the older methods might still have some relevance. The wisdom is recognizing which are useful, which can be improved upon and which might be replaced with better alternatives.

We're still just shooting a handgun, you know.
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Old December 12, 2009, 05:17 PM   #8
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I agree, shooting stance is dictated by circumstance (hmmmmmm).

I've trained extensively using the modified weaver. It does offer a far superior platform, both for tactical advantage and recoil recovery. The problem with it is, it hurts to practice it. It stretches muscles that aren't normally stretched. Students often complain about this factor, especially first time students (by the end of four days of rigorous training, they're good to go though). If you keep up a schedule of dry practice 2-3 times a week, it's no problem. If you forget to dry practice for a couple of months, it is uncomfortable to do it (though you probably wouldn't notice if you just had to draw and fire under threat).

I got a new 1911 a couple of weeks ago and, sorry to admit, I haven't been dry practicing lately. After a couple of very short range sessions, it was just getting painful to shoot in the weaver stance so I switched to iso. Wow! Very comfortable, with reasonable accuracy and recoil recovery. I surely wouldn't want standing with my chest broad and square to a threat that was returning fire to be my only option, but a situation could arise where that is the only possible instantaneous choice. Just like dropping to a kneeling position behind cover (or any other shooting position for that matter) you won't be able to do it quickly, gracefully and effectively when you need it if you haven't practiced it.

So, iso is a fantastic shooting position for the range, or any other application when there is no threat of incoming rounds. It could even be necessary to use it in self defense. However, distance, cover and concealment are good buddies to have when bullets are whizzing past you and you will find those buddies a lot faster/easier with weaver.

Practice many shooting stances but think about this: "How many iso stanced paper targets have you seen that won the gunfight?" (LOL)
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Old December 12, 2009, 05:52 PM   #9
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Dinosaur opinion here. I was taught and teach one handed unsupported first. Then left handed unsupported, then I go into various two handed stances with and without barricades, with and without cover, with and without support for their shooting hand or gun. But first with one arm and on your hind legs. I want the gun to be such a natural part of you that you can shoot it twisted at an odd angle and bent over or standing on one foot or your legs crossed. Never had one of my cops fail qualification, never had a cop do bad at their qualification yet.

I do not teach point shooting, if the gun has a front sight I am going to use it. My philosophy is its not the quickest shot but the first accurate shot that wins. I get lots of arguments over that, usually from younger fellows. If a competitive shooter who clears bowling pins off a table with a 45 under 2.5 seconds tell me he never uses his sights I will rethink my position............ anybody out there?

As the article said the shootings were all different and worked out for the deliberate shooter. I don't care what stance they used.
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Old December 13, 2009, 12:30 AM   #10
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I weigh 130 pounds, 6'
You're 6 feet tall and weigh 130 lbs.?
Yep. I've collapsed both my lungs because of it, too. High stress college + part time job to help pay for it will do that. Also being active helps =P I used to ride my bike the two miles to campus before I collapsed my second lung. Was quicker than driving.
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Old December 17, 2009, 11:37 AM   #11
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Point Shooting

Hmmmm..... interesting posts.
I am a firm believer in using that front sight at distance and when plinking at targets, cans etc....

However, I was made a believer out of 'target focused' shooting a while back. Also called Point shooting, Instinctive shooting, and so on and so forth. Went through a week with ATF and one of the agents said they ran various drills with students, handing them glocks to holster and ready for next drill. Many times with 'dud' rounds to facilitate "tack rack ready" and so forth. One of the drills was handing out the pistols.... having them draw and fire into targets as they flipped, scan area and then holster. The agent then asked how many of you actually USED your front site on that BG? He said a couple raised their hands, proud to say they had used them. He then had them take the pistols out and LOOK at the front site. There were NO SIGHTS installed on the slides they had swapped out. NONE.
Once that heart rate goes over 140 ( I believe that is the number ) your fine motor skills go out the window. You get tunneled vision and your auditory reception is all but blocked. Both of your eyes stay open at this stage as well, whether you want them to or not. I was amazed at how well our eyes and hands work together if you allow them to, with just a little practice. The first time he said 'break retention, go to position 2 (bent arm) and fire two rounds into the target" I laughed. And then I was shocked. lol
The people we train are always rather amazed at how well they can point shoot once they try it. Another thing to consider is, when the ka-ka hits the fan, you WILL crouch/duck or whatever you want to call it. So for me, squared off, facing with a strong two hand grip is natural and more effective.
With that being said.... do I think that is the only way? Heck no! We teach and drill strong hand only, weak hand only to facilitate almost any situation encountered. For me, keeping that hand in close to the chest when shooting one handed is stability. If it's down by your side and you are moving it around.... you are moving your whole platform around. Tucked in tight keeps your torso more still.

Point Shooting. Give it a try. You will be amazed at what you can do!!
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Old December 17, 2009, 02:05 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 45Gunner
most instructors will have the student place the non-shooting hand across their chest for one reason and one reason only; to prevent them from shooting themselves in the other hand.
This was precisely what I was thinking reading the article. Somewhere in the attic I have a mid-sixties-vintage police training manual that states this explicitly.

It is interesting that a detective trained in more "modern" two-handed stances would, for lack of a better term, instinctively use a one-handed tucked arm stance in the actual event.

And in the actual event, good job by Det. Morrison. God bless him.

Bob James
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Old December 19, 2009, 09:22 PM   #13
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Any word on the distance involved? I have observed that many LEOs, particularly LEOs of Sgt. Newsom's generation and purported level of training, often assume a one handed stance in relative close proximity to threats; not close as close quarters - between 3 to 5 yards.

And remember, whether a given technique works in a given instance or not... that doesn't mean it was the right thing to to or should be emulated.
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