Marksmanship vs Point Index Shooting Training Methods

Which is Best for the Beginner?

Story and Photos by Paul Pawela

The debate rages among gun aficionados on how to train beginners on the fine points of shooting a handgun. Some trainers start out with the fundamentals of marksmanship:
  1. Steady hold;
  2. Proper breathing;
  3. Focus on the front sight;
  4. Practice rear sight alignment and Gently squeeze (don’t jerk) the trigger
Others favor starting with the “point index” shooting training method:
  1. Crush grip on the gun;
  2. ) Center line the body and index the firearm straight to eye-level as you’re pointing a finger looking over the sights, not looking through them
  3. ) Shoulder and pelvis are slightly bent in a good fighting stance with the arms extended and locked out;
  4. When shooting begins, never regrip the gun or lower to see where your hits are. Shoot three to four groups at whatever distance (no longer than 30 feet) before verifying the target.
Pawela, here posing as a bad guy with a knife, argues that
marksmanship training takes “a significant amount of practice to
fully master,” a big ask in a time of bullet shortages, while point index
shooting is all about just “getting multiple hits rapidly on target.
So, who is right? Actually, they both are. But the problem is that marksmanship advocates often fail to inform new shooters that this methodology takes thousands of repetitions to create the muscle memory to perfect (and with today’s current ammo shortage, good luck with that). Point index shooting, on the other hand, takes three to five minutes to become proficient for personal defense purposes.
Marksmanship focuses on target shooting, while point index shooting emphasizes shooting for self-defense, which greatly differs from poking holes into targets.

TARGET VS. TACTICAL SHOOTING Personally, I favor point index shooting if we’re talking handguns because it was designed for up-close self-defense situations. Time and again, we find what works well for target shooting bears little resemblance to a tactical shooting situation.
One of my first shooting instructors/mentors was retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney (he was an active duty master sergeant when I trained with him and I was a sergeant). He was one of the original members of Delta Force and the author of Inside Delta Force, the book that inspired the popular television show The Unit. To quote Haney from his book:
“Pistols are a trade-off, trading range and accuracy for portability and concealability. … Most shooting is based on methods used in target shooting – staring at the front sight. Close range gun fighting is a world away from target shooting.” Consider that in the majority of citizen-involved self-defense shootings, most conflicts occur within arm’s reach, with the longest distance being about 30 feet or the length of two cars (the car is the number one location for assaults on citizens). However, many people waste bullets and time trying to hone skills with handguns at absurd distances from 25 to 100 yards. Spend time training for what is probable, not possible.
Under stress in a fight or flight situation, the body will instinctively crouch and subconsciously push away from the danger by creating distance. If armed, you will automatically crouch and extend your arms, placing them at eye-level.
So why not practice this method even before you begin the basic marksmanship techniques? It will create confidence, which leads to practical experience.

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Historically, the fundamentals of marksmanship originated with rifle shooting. The theory was that if armed with a rifle, one has distance, and if there is distance, there is time: time to focus on breathing, time to get proper front sight/rear sight alignment, time to slowly squeeze the trigger.
These are all the things one needs to do to become a competitive shooter or a distinguished marksman. Unfortunately, this training is commonplace for handguns as well, and it takes a significant amount of practice to fully master. In the process, new shooters often develop “target fixation” and are frustrated by the inability to constantly hit the bull’s-eye.

The point index shooting method I prefer is the same, whether you are shooting two-handed or one-handed, in the case of a person holding onto a loved one or dealing with an injured hand during the course of a deadly encounter.
In fact, I am so confident of this method that I often bet my students a steak dinner that I can have them shooting proficiently in five minutes or less; in the last 12 years, I have taught over 6,000 people this method and have not had to buy one dinner!
I care far less about grouping targets than I do about getting multiple hits rapidly on target because at the end of the day, we are concerned with stopping the threat. That means to shoot as many rounds as needed. When a person can put their rounds inside the number 10 target ring, that gives us confidence.
Marksmanship can come later. A handgun is a self-preservation tool used at close distances; gunfighting is a world away from target shooting. If you’re a new shooter, why not train for the worst-case scenario first? That’s just my two cents.

Editor’s note: Paul Pawela is a nationally recognized firearms and self-defense expert.

Knife vs Gun

Lets Revisit the 21 Foot Rule Concept
The 21 foot rule drill is well known within the law enforcement and personal defense circle. This defensive drill was patterned after a Salt Lake City Police Sergeant Dennis Tueller experimentation.

The Tueller drill is all about “reactionary gap” through training. Other trainers have come up with the distances associated it to the Tueller drill. This experimentation, determined that the average healthy adult male can cover a distance of seven yards (21 feet) in about 1.5 seconds.

The significance of the time factor is based on the reasonable standard that a person who’s trained in proper pistolcraft (gun fighting) should be able to draw a handgun and place two centered hits on a life-size silhouette at seven yards in about 1.5 seconds.
Its important to point out that both the distance of 21 feet and the time factor as addressed in Tueller’s drill, were both approximations based on training experience is all.

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Training Scar
According to Force Science Research Center the old way of training was to stop the scenario when the defender gets off the first shot at the perpetrator. This type of training and mentality of “bang you’re dead” leads to a false sense of safety, this is a “training scar“. A training scar is a negative trait that’s come as a result of bad training practices. See video below.

Another training scar that is common in shooting is how we are all conditioned to stand on the firing line and shoot at a static target. For this reason, most Law Enforcement Officers and civilian gun owners step in concrete the minute their gun leaves the holster.

Safety was the primary motive to reinforce training with firearm. If there were any movement implemented into the training. It was limited to movements to perpendicular or lateral movements in relations to the target.

Alternative Solutions
Force Science Research Center provides an alternative way is to turn the “Tueller concept” into an actual drill as a force on force exercise. Basically, the drill extends to another 10-15 seconds, rather than stopping on the first bang you’re dead. We have to get rid of the “Bang! You’re dead” mentality. This gives the participants a chance to utilize any tactics (techniques) to survive.

Armed with this method, put in the flight time, re-create the environment settings. In the long run, participants can better prepare themselves when faced with similar situation as the Tueller drill depicted.

The takeaways will be from the experience that you gain while training. The neutralizer will be distance and mobility are your biggest allies.
You may need to get back to the basics and re-learn to run, get off the X-mark quickly.

Other consideration, training partners that you train with all moves differently. So it would be nice to have the sherman tanks and the speedy agile person coming at you. Their speed and aggression will dictate how you will handle the melee. In the end, there is no magic bullet, just train, train, in order to fill in those real life survival gaps.
Here’s some thoughts from Brian Pincus of Personal Defense Network addressing the issue of don’t just think of practice deliberate steps then shoot.
Because in real life it doesn’t work that way. Your adrenalin is kicking in and you’re moving at a hundred miles within a half a second. You gotta..
Put in those stress and shoot while getting off the mark. (Get to the meat at 9:50 below)

Without all the defensive buzzwords from Brian, its about:

  • Get the hell off line
  • Draw your weapon (you’ll be holding the pistol one handed)
  • Side step either to the right or leftFire a couple of quick shots as you move laterally

Yeh, thats right you’ll be practicing a Gang Banger one handed style of shooting.

Here’s another tactic that you can use and that is your legs and then the gun. So if you have fast feet or better get fit into the mode. Evade by running and using the environment (car in this scenario) as a shield then draw your gun.

How do you train for this type of defense? Or how would you re-wire your training? Here’s another quick drill that was captured by Gn_Funkertactical that can be expanded to 20 seconds. Go to 5:10 in the video below.

If you like to see some of the best knives for personal defense, you check it out here from Reviews Insider.

Sources: Force Science Research Center,, Photos by Bill Bahmer, Chad McBroom, Full Assault Tactical Youtube, Brian Pincus Personal Defense Network, Best Defense, Michael Janich, Gn_FunkerTactical

Slide Release or Rack it?

Dave of Gun & Tactics shares with us multiple techniques to reload a pistol. One technique they talked about was using the front slide serrations, now we check out racking versus using the slide release. Dave goes over the real time differences between the techniques and goes over the basics with a timer as the evaluator.

If you’re still not following what we’re talking about. This is when you have to reload, you’ve spent all your rounds and the slide is at the rear position.
So you release the used magazine and re-insert a new one in. Afterwards you either use the slide release button or slide pull to put a round int the chamber to continue running the pistol.
Irregardless of which technique you use, Dave here demonstrates the fastest ways to get your pistol running after the reload.

Here’s a quick result for time.

What do you think, which technique works best for you? Or, do you even practice this?

Economy of motion was brought up by a keen observer, here is what he had to say:

Absolutely agree with the rationale for managing fine motor skills under stress.Through repetition finding the most efficient process to deliver accurate shots and handling a firearm is essential. Having tutored individuals with small hands their physiology does not allow for slide release manipulation in all cases but it is a favored option.
If I may make an observation regarding ‘Economy of Motion’ which is what this tutorial is promoting. Your support hand on each draw was around your belt line throughout, whilst adopting a high profile grip (chest area).
When drawing from the holster this distance your left arm has to move to establish grip is quite long (In milliseconds) and on occasions may promote inconsistent grip.
Using economy of Motion principles by placing your support hand flat onto your right chest muscle (opposite for lefty) allows the gun to move to the support hand more efficiently as it has less distance to travel.

Should people use the excuse that you wouldn’t stand like that as it’s an unnatural pose I would say that if you are drawing your weapon you have already identified a lethal threat and your physical stance is in the process of changing to a more combative position. Hopefully I’m making sense trying to explain this textually.

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Home Defense: 5 Tactics To Prevent an Intruder

There’s more to it than Bang Bang for Home Defense

There are roughly 2.5 million burglaries a year — 66% of those being home break-ins. That translates to one burglary every 13 seconds. So don’t be surprised if one day an armed robber with an AR-10 scope attached decides to break into your home. But here’s the good news:
You can significantly lower the possibility of a home invasion. How? By following these 5 proven tactics I mention below. Let’s get started.

Security Cameras
Let’s start with the obvious: Security Cameras.
If a robber sees cameras set up around your property, they’ll most likely move right past your house onto an easier target. The reason? Proper security cameras monitor and record activity outside your home 24/7. That’s why homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.
Not only do security cameras monitor activity, but most modern systems have features like:

  • ● An Alarm System – Some security cameras come with an alarm system. If the alarm system is armed and the cameras detect an intruder attempting to break a window or door, it’ll automatically sound an alarm (and even notify local authorities).
  • ● Motion Detection – Someone snooping around on your property? The cameras will most likely pick up the motion and send an alert to you via email and smartphone.
  • ● Mobile Remote Viewing – Allows you to view the cameras anywhere, anytime, at the tip of your fingers. Pretty cool, right?

In short: If you don’t have security cameras set up, you should invest in some. It’ll help prevent burglars and vandals from tampering with your property.
Now, arming your home with security cameras (and an alarm system) is a great place to start. However, a layered approach offers even more protection. That’s why I recommend to…

Reinforce Exterior Doors
I never realized how easy it is to kick open a door until I tried it myself. Teaming up with a couple of security experts, we set up demonstration doors — the same doors most houses use. On average, it took around two to three kicks to break the door open.
It’s no wonder 65 percent of break-ins occur by barging in either through the front, back or garage door. That’s when I realized I should reinforce all my exterior doors. And that’s exactly what I did with three simple (and proven) lock reinforcements:
● Add a quality Grade 1 deadbolt
● Replace the deadbolt door strike plate with a four-screw strike box and faceplate
● Replace the lip door strike plate with 3-inch wood screws
The best part? You don’t have to be a professional technician to install these reinforcements.

The best part? You don’t have to be a professional technician to install these reinforcements.
Just buy the materials — like EZ Armor, which is a door reinforcement kit that comes with everything you need — and follow the installation instructions provided. Once you’ve reinforced all your exterior doors, it’s time to…

Reinforce Exterior Windows
Most burglars will try to break in through your door. However, if you reinforced it (like in the previous step), then they’ll try your windows next. That’s why you should burglar-proof your windows as well. Here are a couple of options you can take:
● Plant cacti or thorny bushes beneath the window
● Add stoppers, which are pins, nails or screws that tightly secure the window down
● Install window bars
● Upgrade the windows to tempered glass
● Install security films
Now that your windows are nearly burglar-proof, let’s add an extra layer of protection by

Motion Triggered Lights
As the name suggests, motion-triggered lights are lights that are activated as soon as motion is detected.
This is a great system to install around your house as some intruders tend to rob at night. And here’s the best part:
Motion triggered lights are cheap, reliable and straightforward. For example, I bought a pack of 4 solar-powered, motion sensor lights for only $30. And to this day, it still works like a champ.
If you do end up ordering a set, make sure the lights are properly angled to cover every exterior door and window. Another effective motion-detecting option is a…

Protection Dog
Here’s the truth:
Dogs are one of the most effective home defense companions on this list. (Especially if you get a guard dog like a Dobermann, German Shepherd or a Staffordshire Terrier). The reason? Because they’re pretty much a walking alarm. And I’m sure any dog owner would agree with me.
Here’s why:
Any time someone knocks on the door, they’ll set off a loud bark that’ll rattle the house. Even more, dogs occasionally stare out the window to see what’s going on outside. Again, a walking alarm. However, dogs are a huge responsibility — both financially and physically. So be sure you’re aware of the responsibilities before committing to the buy. That said, I leave you with one question…

How Will You Prevent a Home Invasion?
At night, I go to bed with my dog on watch, a security system armed, and a Glock 19 handgun close at hand. I have no worries. What about you?

Author Bio:
Richard Douglas is the founder of Scopes Field, a blog where he reviews the best scopes and guns on the market. He’s been featured on various magazines and publications like NEWSREP, ODU Magazine, Boyds Gun Stocks, Burris Optics, JPFO and so much more.

Center Axis Relock

Is it Hollywood or the Real Thing?

We all love action movies and chances are you’ve probably seen the movie John Wick and maybe the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 as well.  

The action in these movies are very cool to watch, the choreograph is well designed. The credit goes to Taran Butler, the man who trained Keanu Reeves to tactical shoot that looks impressive in the movie.

With the third (final?) chapter in the series coming in May, that got us thinking about the films, particularly the shooting techniques that were used in them.

Now, for those of you who haven’t seen the film, or read articles on it, the directors, stunt coordinators, and the actors themselves all went out of their way to make the stunts and gun handling in the film as accurate as possible to real life.
In other words some of them actually went through similar tactical shooting courses.

In the above picture you see Keanu tilting his gun to the side like that, its not for Hollywood cool looks, but is actually a real shooting technique created by law enforcement trainer Paul Castle.

paul castle
Paul Castle, inventor of CAR

Before his untimely death due to cancer in 2011, Castle developed what he called the Center Axis Relock (CAR) system as an alternative to modern weaver and isosceles stances.

So we’ve established that its a real thing, and not simply movie stuff, but is it worth learning?

Lets take a Look

Why Center Axis Relock was Created

Most self-defense scenarios happen at very close range, in confined spaces, usually within 8-10 feet, or less.

The problem with moving in a confined space in a traditional stance is that you have the gun way out in front of you, as taught in the Weaver or Isoceles.  This gives you very poor leverage in the event someone gets their hands on your gun. Weapon retention was a concern at this range.

Isosceles Stance
Isosceles Stance

The CAR system allows for less time between drawing and getting the target in your sights, as well as providing better weapon retention. Having the pistol closer to the body allows better leverage and control.

real close distance
AKA Real close distance

For shooting and moving, or shooting at the range, a standard isosceles/weaver stance could be a better choice, but what about shooting inside a narrow hallway, or from a vehicle?
What about when the target is already at contact distance, maybe even inside where your arms would normally be in an isosceles stance?

The CAR system is the answer to these problems.  For this reason, it was never intended to replace the weaver or isosceles stance (though we recommend the latter) but was meant to be another transition tool in your tactical shooting method.

Here’s How the Center Axis Relock System Work

There are two main parts to the CAR system, each a shooting stance in its own right, and each with a specific purpose.

  • First, there’s the High position.  This is what you’ll be drawing into, with your body facing perpendicular to your target.  The support (non-gun-holding) hand clears clothing or other obstructions while the strong hand brings the pistol up and close to the chest.
  • The support hand then moves up (be careful to never sweep the muzzle over your support hand) and meets the strong (gun-holding) hand from beneath.

At this point, your weak-side foot should be at a 90-degree angle to your target, and the barrel of your gun should be up, level, and pointed at the target. 

Although not a goal or recommendation, it is possible to place accurate fire at a target within contact range from here if you really needed to. You can also use your elbows to get distance from your attacker.

CAR high position
Be sure to check out this article from GunsAmerica writer Wayne Lincourt that goes over the fine details of drawing into the CAR system.

This is your ready position.

From here, you have the option of transitioning to the Extended position, whereby you rotate your support elbow down while rotating your strong hand up to bring the sights of the firearm up into alignment with your strong eye (read up on Cross-dominant shooting if you aren’t sure which eye is your strong eye).

CAR extended position.
This is the extended position.

This is the position you’ll use for accurate aimed fire at range.  From here you can engage targets as normal, using your support hand to pull back on the gun, while using your strong hand to push it forward towards the target.

This creates a very stable, yet flexible “locked-in” firing position, while also presenting as small of a target as possible to your attacker.

Level 1 CAR System
You can watch this video for an idea of how the transition works.

What’s the CAR System Good For?

The main goal of the CAR system is to get your sights on the target quickly while maintaining solid weapon retention and a stable firing position. This overall will improve the hit rate.

It does this by using your body’s instinctive reactions and gross motor functions in a high-stress situation.  In such a situation, you may have trouble getting your sights aligned quickly, and if you are not strongly dominant with one eye or the other, it may be difficult to quickly choose the correct sight picture.

The Center Axis Relock addresses these issues in two ways.  One, the first position, or High position, is designed to facilitate the maximum point-shooting ability for engaging a target that’s already at contact distance.

If you have an assailant in your face, punching the firearm out towards them gives them ample opportunity to begin wrestling for your gun, which is a dire situation indeed.
From the High position of the CAR system, it is much harder for such an assailant to get their hands on the gun in a way that will allow them to take it from you.

It also makes it very easy to point shoot without bringing the sights up, meaning you can stop an attack before it gets going.

If the target is further away and you need to utilize your weapon’s sights to make an accurate shot, the Extended position offers an easy-to-use position for quickly and cleanly bringing the gun up and into a firing position that still offers a stable shooting platform and good weapon retention, while also allowing utilizing the correct sight picture automatically.

What its Not Good For?

I truly believe the CAR system is something every defensive-minded shooter should learn.  Another tool to have in the “Tactical Shoot” toolbox. But it may not be for everyone.

The CAR system is not a replacement for the isosceles/weaver stance most modern shooters are more familiar with.
This stance offers a better chance of moving, shooting and acquiring sights quickly.

Remember, unlike Hollywood movies, you want to be in as few gunfights as possible, and a well-armed banana peel retreat is better than a well-armed engagement any day.

The CAR system is also not great (in some opinion, there are those who disagree) for room entry.
If you enter a room with an attacker in an unknown location, you may have to pivot your entire body to make a shot, especially if the attacker is to your support side.
But, for coming around the corner when you don’t have the distance to back away from, the CAR can be used.

That being said, how often does that happen?  In most situations, if you have to draw your gun, you’re already reacting to a visual threat, probably one right in front of you.  For that, the CAR system is incredibly effective.
Again, this all depends on how the CAR system is used by the individual. The CAR system is a transition movement, for those that have never learned and used in a tactical situation like room clearing or a bus take down may not fully understand its usage.

The CAR system was designed for moving through confined spaces with your gun in a ready position that reduces the likelihood of your gun being taken from you.

Last Shot

The Center Axis Relock system is not a common shooting technique used by us normal folks but may have been popularized by Hollywood, but it is way more than just filmic flim-flam. This is a real-world technique, developed by a professional with over two decades of military and LEO experience.

And if used properly, as another tool in the “Tactical Shoot” toolbox, it can even save your life.

For more information, be sure to check out Sabre Tactical, the company founded by Paul Castle primarily to teach the CAR system.

Have you train with the CAR system? What do you think about it?



Sources: Matthew Collins, Sabre Tactical

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Do you know Situational Awareness?

Situational awareness is the perception of environmental elements which translate to being aware of your surrounding.
This is important for being prepared to defend yourself and your family. Which is becoming more important these days.
Having this edge can make a differences in your decision making while in a fight or avoiding one.
We don’t necessary have to train to be a Ninja to one with nature, but that is the idea.
Don’t view this as 007 fantasy or paranoia, but just heighten alertness as part of your lifestyle.

Its true that we train for the worse case scenario to shoot while in a gunfight. But we should train our awareness more which can help us better at employing those shooting skills.
Being aware and observant is using your eyes and hearing your mind is looking for those red flags in your environment.
Many soldiers and combat veterans in general come back still in an “orange” state of readiness, which finds themselves always looking around. Its an adjustment from a war environment to a quiet domestic one.
This situational awareness is ingrained into them while on these hot deployments.

Here’s a primer on security for the newbie and refresher for veterans.
Security Setup
One of the things that is taught at the basic level for soldiers is security. You may find this to be very common to LE and regular security functions.
Soldiers are taught that security is 360 degrees and 100% of the time.

  • Which means that your entire surroundings are a threat and you need to watch them.
  • This is to help with spotting a threat before it has a chance to hurt you.
  • When you are watching your surroundings it is important that you keep quiet and quickly scan your surroundings with intense attention to detail.
  • Watch the little things like the location of hands, where eyes are pointed, how people carry themselves, what they are wearing, etc.
  • There is also location scanning that you must be aware of like sources of sound, camera locations, blind spots, locations of exits/entrances, etc.
  • No detail is too small when you are looking around, and you need to be very thorough in your visual scanning.

Scanning Methods
When looking around, there are four positions that you can use for aiming your head.
The first two are 45 degrees to the left and right which will give you a little more than 180 degrees of coverage your eyes.
The other two are looking over the shoulders which cover your rear quadrants.
This is a very obvious method of checking your rear.
Looking around can be as discrete or as obvious as you wish.
Employing peripheral scanning in public is the best method when you don’t want to make it obvious that you’re watching.
If I want to look behind me, I will walk past something and pretend to have passing interest in it and use that split second to glance at what is behind me.
I highly advise that you not stare since that is all it can take to start a conflict.
Listening to your surroundings is an invaluable skill to use and develop and is just as important as using your eyes.
Gives us good perception of our surroundings such as distance of the source of noise.

Being quiet and tuned into our surroundings in order to hear those little things that normally go unnoticed as background noise by others.
You can learn a lot about your surroundings by just listening to the different sounds.
You will find that obnoxious noises will attract attention from everyone, such as a loud rattling cart in the store, revving engines, or crying children. You have to learn to analyze every sound and judge their origin.
Its possible to use your hearing to cover most of what goes on behind you. This isn’t always feasible, but it is an added method of security that must be used in conjunction with your sight.

With these two senses alone, you can have a pretty good defense from your surroundings. If you take your safety and your families’ safety seriously, you will maintain your situational awareness. There is little to no disadvantages to this, unless you are the one whipping your head around from side to side with your hood up.

You can be very discrete and inconspicuous to those around you by using your peripherals and quick passing visuals in order to acquire your visual information.
The important thing to remember is that it is not being paranoid, it is being aware and alert to activity around you. Yes, is is a lifestyle. This is probably the most important thing you can practice if you want to give yourself the best chance of surviving any altercation.

by David Donchess and revised by ASJ Staff

What’s your Caliber for Concealed Carry?

Caliber debate has been going on for every kind of guns even for the concealed carrier. Many gun smarts utilize ballistics reports and mini-science. When it comes to handguns, everyone are looking at what law enforcement are using and they go with that. But is that the right way to figure this debate?

As a consumer/concealed carrier, the question is still will a .45cal better at stopping an attacker than a 9mm? What about a .40cal or .22mag? Unfortunately, there is no straight forward answer.
Decisions, Decisions
For consumers knowing what the different calibers can do can help you decide which to use. Many new shooters choose the 9mm as a reliable load and managing recoil much easier than the heavier loads. Other things to consider is the physical makeup of the concealed carrier. Is the person physically strong or an 80 year old female? So using a .45cal would be a poor choice, 9mm would be perfect.
So basically, choose a caliber that you can physically handle with a preferred high capacity magazine.
Now comes the moment that every gun instructor will tell you. You got your handgun and ballistics chosen, the ball is now on your court what to do with the tools. It doesn’t magically make you the badass glock-futitioner.

Putting in the Flight Time
That right its time to hit the firing line. If you can tightly group your shots on an attacker, it can stop them. Thats right even if you’re just toting the .22mag, you can do some damage to protect yourself.
The commonality here is what you can do with the gun, not about making a bigger bang than the other person out at the range.
Still don’t buy this argument? What do you carry and how often do you practice? Be safe!

Shoot with both Eyes Open

Shotgun coach Nick Penn states much of common shooting wisdom is incorrect. He helps shooters “shoot straight” with both eyes open.

According to U.K. shooting coach Nick Penn, half of the people who take shotgun shooting lessons are wasting their money. Why? He says it’s because they’re told to shoot with one eye shut. Penn maintains that shooting with both eyes open is essential.

But there’s more to it than that, Penn says. You should go by feel—more than barrel or bead reference—when you pull the trigger.

He says shooting is the only sport in which the proper techniques and form haven’t been thoroughly researched.

“With shooting, no one has ever come out with a proper explanation as to how it works,” he declares. “And this is how it works.”

Throughout the video, other shooters reiterate Penn’s take on effective shooting, also denouncing commonly taught shooting techniques.

“I don’t have a barrel on my gun anymore,” laughs shooter Andrew Blackwell. “You don’t look at the barrel, you don’t look at the bead, you don’t look at the lead…you look at the bird.”

“It’s a big leap of faith to think that your eyes can tell you where the shot needs to go without using the barrel as a reference point,” instructor Paul Beecher says.

I imagine much of the success for Penn’s no-barrel-reference technique depends on a proper fit of the gun to the shooter and a little point instinctive shooting.

I don’t know about you, but I was taught to shoot with both eyes open. Perhaps it’s different in the U.K., But it’s worth reinforcing that shooting a shotgun with both eyes open will lead to more success.

Sources: Fieldsports Channel, David Smith

Tactical use for the AR-15 at Home

AR-15: the Ideal home defense?

Everybody has an AR because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. Besides owning a shotgun an AR is the next best thing for a home defense.

Below video highlights Richard Nance (GunsandAmmo Editor) and Dave Spaulding (Handgun Combatives) discussing tactics and techniques using an AR-15 which any lawful citizen can learn.

They talk about best ways to enter and clear a room while not extending your AR out there. But if you do there are some weapon retention methods that can be used to retain your AR. So sit back and enjoy this training session.

Video Transcript:

Speakers: Richard Nance (gunsandammo host), Dave Spaulding (


Richard Nance: “Well Dave, it’s really no mystery why the AR15 is the preferred weapon of tactical teams. I mean you’re not going into a structure hunting a dangerous badguy with a handgun if they have access to an AR. That explains why the AR is so wildly popular now for home defense.”

Dave Spaulding: “I agree.”

RN: “But unfortunately, in home defense you need to understand some of the nuances of this weapon, because while we tend to think of close-quarters combat as say, seven yards, fifteen yards, there could be situations in your home where you’re much closer than that.”

DS: “Right, and the homeowner needs to understand that they’re not part of a tactical team.”

RN: “Exactly right.”

DS: “We made a fairly quick entry into this room, and I think the homeowner needs to understand that they need to go slow, they wanna be methodical, because one thing you don’t want to be in a hurry to do is get shot.”

RN: “Exactly. You’re gonna take as much information as you can from outside the room and everything else.”

DS: “Absolutely.”

RN: “But rather than talk about tactics, I wanna talk about the use of a longgun in a confined setting.”

DS: “Ok.”

RN: “So, you know, here is the typical shoulder-mount that we often use. Now, when we’re entering a room, you can imagine our muzzle is definitely going to preceed our movement into that room.”

DS: “Right.”

RN: “There’s some other positions that we wanna consider using, and what we can do is: Unload these guns, use an inert training gun, and I can demonstrate some of these for you.”

DS: “I think that’s a good idea.”


RN: “Good there. Ok, let me come back outside the room here. And if I enter with this huge, long musket here… I mean, if you’re a badguy and you’re secreted in the corner of the room, you’re gonna shoot me. Because you know I’m behind this gun.”

DS: “Right.”

RN: “If you’re unarmed, you have ample opportunity to grab hold of this, and there’s so much leverage here, you could certainly off-balance me.”

DS: “And for the viewer, I should let them know, this is a full-length M16. A car bead(?) that’s commonly used nowadays is gonna be a little shorter, but what you’re getting ready to talk about still applies.”

RN: “Exactly. So, sometimes that’s remedied by the use of a low-ready -or even like a safety-circle type position- when you enter the room. That way, the muzzle doesn’t preceed your movement into the room by much.The only problem is, if I’m coming in the room from the low-ready, and you’re there and you grab hold of the weapon, I’m kind of in a bad position here.”

DS: “Now I have the leverage. Absolutely.”

RN: “So, oftentimes people say, ‘if someone grabs my gun, I’ll just shoot them off’, well if you’re exerting pressure there, then shooting the weapon isn’t going to take care of the problem.”

DS: “Well, Rich if you go ahead and just fire a buncha rounds, this barrel’s gonna get hot, and he’s gonna let go. But what’re you firing those rounds into?”

RN: “Exactly right.”

DS: “Yeah.”

RN: “So, I mean, you gotta be accountable for every round. Another option is to enter the room in what’s called that close-quarter hold, right? So I’m in the room like this, now if you grab hold of it, I can actually take it away from you, using what’s caled COPP. Clamp, Orient, Push, Pull. So I’m already clamped here, the muzzle’s oriented to you, but the same technique works if you grabbed it this way. Just orient the muzzle to you this way, then Push-Pull. Driving the muzzle in, and pulling back.”

DS: “The leverage is definitely yours.”

RN: “Exactly. And this is actually a firing position that we can demonstrate. So why don’t we get the live-fire guns back up, and we will demonstrate shooting at close-quarters from this close-quarter control hold,and above here like this.”

DS: “Okay, let’s do it!”

RN: “Dave, I’m gonna load this AR-15, we’re gonna go hot again just for a second. Just to live-fire some of these positions I just showed. The first is a close-quarter hold, I’m gonna clamp down here, now–”


RN: “–Pretty dang good shots from here. This isn’t something you’re gonna do at extended range. Then you would want to have the sights, and you have the shoulder mount. Another option we showed here, and that is after I drive the muzzle into the badguy and I’m pulling it back here–”


RN: “Get my effectiveness here, I’m not even seeing the sights. It’s similar to shooting from here with a handgun at extreme close quarters.”

DS: “Right.”

RN: “Now why would I come over the shoulder? Because you have a little further length of pull there, to completely extract the muzzle from the badguy’s hands.”

DS: “Rich, that is great information, and I think what homeowners need to understand before they select the AR-15 is, it is a different gun than a handgun. That, you know, it’s like anything else. You gotta give careful consideration, you gotta select the weapon that works best for you, you gotta train with it, and then you gotta do some really solid preparation in order for it to work for you.”

RN: “Excellent point, Dave. Thanks a lot.”

Source: Richard Nance – GunsandAmmo, Dave Spaulding – Handgun Combatives

Reality Training For Life

[su_heading]What It Takes To Win Under Stress And Under Fire[/su_heading]

Story and photographs by Andre’ M. Dall’au

After unexpected losses of US aircraft by enemy interceptors during Operation Rolling Thunder during Vietnam, the Pentagon looked for ways to increase American pilots’ ability to survive and prevail during a close-in fight. The US Navy started what was called the Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) made famous by the movie TOP GUN. Now every major air force uses a version of this kind of force-on-force or reality-based training. Why? Well, it works! After graduates from DACT were deployed in Vietnam, the Navy’s kill-to-loss ratio against the opposing MiGs between 1965 and 1967 rose from 3.7 to 1 to a whopping 13 to 1. Interestingly, the US Air Force, which had not yet embraced DACT, had its kill ratio worsen during a similar time period. The Air Force finally realized that if they could get a green pilot the equivalent of ten combat engagements using force-on-force training, their odds of surviving a tour of duty went up dramatically, so they started their own DACT program that was included with their world-renowned Red Flag exercises (an advanced aerial combat training) — which has probably saved more pilots than any other combat training offered.

At night with a knife wielding assailant is a scary scenario, but one too often played out for real.
At night with a knife wielding assailant is a scary scenario, but one too often played out for real.

THE USE OF REALITY-BASED scenario training (RBST) is as effective with defensive shooters on the ground as it is with the US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) — more popularly known as Topgun — graduates who now rule the skies. The biggest question, as was faced by Topgun and Red Flag organizations, was how do you realistically challenge someone without actually using live ordnance and drawing real blood? While the Navy and USAF used various kinds of aircraft — including acquired MiGs and other bad-guy equipment, a ground-based gun fight simulation posed a different set of problems.
One of the first solutions was the MILES System used by the military which is basically slaved laser projector mounted on a rifle, machine gun or tank cannon, with related sensors on the opposing force vehicle or personnel that registered appropriate hits and alarmed if the target was disabled or dead. Law enforcement used the FATS system, which is a realistic computer-controlled projected image tha create shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios. The images reacted by appropriately responding to the student by surrendering or collapsing if hit. However, neither system gives much negative feedback beyond a noisy alarm or critique by an instructor.
For many decades competency with firearms was determined by demonstrating accuracy from a static stance with the only variable being the distance to a paper target. Although useful for showing basic firearm competency, it did not provide any simulated stress of dealing with reactionary feedback in a shoot/don’t shoot decision-making situation.

Students are put through an array of scenarios that require them to use their intelligence, skills, and wit to make split second decisions in active scenarios.
Students are put through an array of scenarios that require them to use their intelligence, skills, and wit to make split second decisions in active scenarios.

Without a doubt the value shooting at paper bullseyes or silhouettes on a conventional range helps shooters verify their firearms’ accuracy, reliability and enhances the shooter’s proficiency by repetition of correct fundamentals. There is nothing better to make a shooter comfortable with their firearm than by practicing a consistent sight picture and the repeated proper hold so that your muscle memory will perform when needed. But this kind of training does not exercise the shooter’s critical gun-fighting skills to continually evaluate and respond to what is happening around them, challenge their situational awareness or make deadly force decisions rapidly and correctly. Most people revert back to their training when under stress and will perform what they have practiced. If al lof a shotters training was consuted on a static range, then behaviors such as not seeking cover, administrative reloading and not maneuvering to lessen the threat will be a struggle in a life-or-death situation.

ERICK GONZALEZ, with 30 years of military and law-enforcement experience, noted that “reality based scenario training is the answer!” He went on, “RBST is designed to force students to make decisions under stress, and then regardless of right or wrong, good or bad, discuss those decisions and the actions afterwards during an honest critique. It is much better to do that during a scenario, to learn by doing and make your mistakes in a training environment than fail when it is real!” He went on to tell why he decided that range-based training did not sufficiently prepare him to prevail in a gunfight; “right after Hurricane Andrew there was widespread lawlessness, almost anarchy in Miami. As we were pulling up to the scene of an active shooter, my seasoned partner told me matter-of-factly that we would be in a shooting. Sure enough the situation ended up being my first gunfight.” Erick went on, “Almost immediately I realized my standard police department training did not completely prepare me for what I was experiencing; I was trained on maintaining a sight picture and focusing on the front sight, but I couldn’t help but keep my attention on the shooter! Then I remembered my military training when an old E9 told me to keep my pistol slide centered on the middle of the target which I did and won the fight. In addition it seemed that the event took forever, at least ten minutes while in actuality the fight was over in seconds.”

The student’s decisions of shoor or don’t shoot are reviewed during the very important follow-up critique where every action taken by the defensive shooter is discussed.
The student’s decisions of shoor or don’t shoot are reviewed during the very important follow-up critique where every action taken by the defensive shooter is discussed.

AFTER SURVIVING HIS FIRST SHOOTING Erick questioned himself and his actions; “why couldn’t I concentrate on my front sight, or even hear the person firing next to me or why the shooting seemed to be in slow motion? That’s when I learned about time dilation and the effect of threat-based tunnel vision, and I realized that I had been taught how to shoot at paper but not how to prevail in a gunfight!”
Erick continued to reflect on how that event led him to improve defensive gun fighting for citizens and law enforcement, “I realized that training in a real-world environment, against opposing forces with the same level of performance, or better, would provide our officers with a unique perspective, which allowed for the development and improvement of tactical performance. After witnessing several good, law-abiding individuals in legal troubles due to poor and or inadequate training, I decided to start EMG Training & Consulting, Inc., and bring the many benefits of RBST to legal gun owners.”

TO ACHIEVE THE DESIRED REALISM and high level of knowledge retention, both the role players and students use less-lethal impact weapons and ammunition to provide kinetic feedback. Airsoft pistols (for role players) and plastic pellet projecting weapons (for the students) are used allowing a complete 360-degree experience. The primer-powered pellets are accurate out to common gunfighting distances, and leaves behind a splatter of paint to identify where the pellet hit. While impacting with a respectable force the plastic pellets do not penetrate, but reliably cycle the firearm, and can be loaded and carried just like duty ammo. The plastic pellet training rounds are available in various major service pistol and rifle calibers, and usually can convert a firearm by simply exchanging the slide, bolt and magazine. Once converted, the training firearms can no longer chamber regular ball ammo, but can be reverted at will. That means that a user of a common service pistol can use the exact same model for training so that their sight picture, trigger control, recoil management and even reloading muscle memory can be enhanced instead of confused with a different system
This training also emphasizes the need for the student to respond to hostile fire, even when one of the shots from a bad guy connects. When a student feels an impact, they learn not to look at the nearest coach, observer or trainer and ask, “Am I dead?” Why? Because when it is for real, staying in the fight and putting the bad guy down is the priority while stopping mid-fight to focus on if and where you were shot might have deadly consequences.

Motivated role players ensure that each student is provided a realistic situation that may start out innocent and may or may not escalate into a deadly force issue.
Motivated role players ensure that each student is provided a realistic situation that may start out innocent and may or may not escalate into a deadly force issue.

Recently in Ohio, a shooter emerged from a vehicle during a routine traffic stop firing an AK-type rifle at the two deputies who were in the unit parked behind him. During the brief exchange, one officer was hit in an extremity that was undoubtedly painful but not an incapacitating or fatal wound. The first officer immediately dropped out of the fight to concentrate on his individual trauma and took no further defensive actions, although the assailant was still actively shooting, eventually expending thirty-seven 7.62x39mm rounds towards the two officers. The second officer who had sustained some minor injuries did not concentrate on his wounds but continued to engage the shooter with aimed pistol fire, fatally wounding him, which ended the rampage. The second officer was the perfect example of staying in the fight, even while bloodied, until the threat was neutralized. That is the desired result of RBST.
Erick explained that the EMG training curricula. “Our RBST is a complete training methodology. It begins by familiarizing the student with their specific defensive equipment which includes their handgun, holster, gear and choice of outerwear. Then the student is walked through the dynamics involving use-of-force in a self- defense situation, emphasizing that just the display, let alone use of deadly force will most assuredly have legal consequences.” Erick continued, “The student then performs live-fire drills designed to test their gear and equipment, and once the student feels comfortable he or she is introduced to real-world scenarios.”

THE USE OF APPROPRIATE and enthusiastic role players ensures that every interaction is responsive to the performance of the student, and that there is no preconditioning, so the student will not have any idea what their desired response will be before a scenario begins. Erick has a portable, multi-room shoot house that he uses for on-site training that allows defensive shooters a real-world experience of being confronted with various decision-making, shoot/don’t shoot situations. Erick further explained; “The scenarios are exceedingly realistic because the role players might or might not threaten or pose a deadly threat but just be annoying or intrusive. That is to ensure that a CCW holder will not be preconditioned to solve every problem by using a firearm.” Just as with every kind of simulator training the post-scenario discussion is key for a successful training experience, Erick noted, “the student’s response and actions are discussed during the follow-up critique so they can justify and explain their actions. Why did you shoot the guy that approached you shouting with only a cell phone in their hand? Why didn’t you engage the guy with a knife 10 feet away who kept yelling threats and wouldn’t heed your commands to stop? Why didn’t you seek cover that was just 2 feet away? Every student is evaluated during the scenario for performance under stress, the ability to maintain his or her situational awareness, their use of effective communication skills and finally demonstrate the ability to perceive and identify threats and follow through by applying the appropriate level of force.” Erick went on to discuss what his classes have shown him, “during our courses of instruction, I have had the opportunity to work with individuals of varying levels of training and experience. Some of the students with extensive range experience seem to struggle with the most basic of dynamic engagements. One of the most common issues I see is the inability to effectively draw the handgun from concealment once a role player is introduced into the drill. I’ve observed students stay flat-footed in front of the role player as they exchange fire just a few feet away from cover. That may be an unintended consequence of shooting thousands of rounds on ranges where hits count but movement is not allowed!”
Erick and his EMG Training cadre teaches combat gun fighting in threat-based controlled scenarios so that when shooters revert back to their training it will save their life, not respond like they are squared on a motionless, harmless silhouette. Instead they learn to move and seek cover while effectively placing rounds on target in response to real-world, life-threatening situations that have become all too common place where we live, work and play. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more information on Erick Gonzalez and EMG Training Consulting, you can visit them at