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Guest Writer Series

Blake.  Combat Shooting Skills.

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I had the pleasure of meeting a few of you individually and in small groups, but  never got the chance to join in one of the organized events.  During my free time at home I was very active in the forum when it was around.  I had a great time there getting to know some of your personalities and miss them as much as you can miss strangers.  I'm submitting this hoping a few of you shooters will find it helpful. 


When you go to receive "advanced" shooting instruction, the first thing they tell you to do is focus on the sights, squeeze the trigger, pin the trigger to the rear, release the trigger, and try to relax.   In combat shooting, that's how you lose a gun fight.   To win a gun fight, you need fast, accurate shooting and I never see speed training offered in the civilian world.  Early in my career as a shooter,  I asked a firearms instructor how to shoot faster.  He looked at me like I was stupid and said, "Just shoot faster.".  Even now,  it's very hard to find an effective combat shooter instructor.


The first thing any good combat shooter needs to learn is how to shoot fast and that requires pulling the trigger without moving the gun off target.  To learn this skill, you don't even need to load the gun and you don't need a target.   For the most part, you don't even need ammunition. To be a good combat shooter, you need to be able to fire the gun without altering the attitude  and the direction the gun is pointed.  Until you can do that, aiming is meaningless and you're wasting ammunition.


Imagine you're at a range.  You're stance and grip is perfect.  Your focus is on the front sight and you're on target.   Then you pull the trigger and, for whatever reason,  you move the muzzle.  You just sent the round off target.  It didn't matter if you had perfect aim to begin with.  It's pointless to focus on aiming until fire control is in place.  


When I get a new shooter,  aside from safety checks and range rules, the first thing I have them do is cycle the gun-"click".  Cycle the gun-"click".  Cycle the gun-"click".  During any classroom lecture,  I want everyone dry firing.  Even and especially if the lecture isn't even firearms related.  Nothing is moving during this dry fire exercise because they aren't allowing the process of aiming to affect their trigger release and control.  Now extend the gun towards the target,  ignore the sights, and pull the trigger- click.   Do this over and over and commit it to muscle memory. 


Then we go hot with weapons and begin live fire.  Given the same directions,  almost immediately, everyone will bring up their gun and slowly aim.   That's where I stop the range because they're all aiming and aiming reduces speed.   Unless you lack complete fundamentals of fire control, you're going to hit the target at 3, 5, or 7 yards without aiming so take aiming out of your repetition and muscle memory cycle.   You can't miss for lack of aiming at that distance.   You'll miss by moving the gun out of alignment.   Jerking, flinching, pushing, and pulling it. 


It's not even a jerking the trigger problem.  I hate it when people blame everything on poor sights or jerking the trigger.  To shoot fast, you're going to jerk the trigger, so learn to jerk the trigger without moving the gun.   It's that simple.  It's just not that easy to do.   The most common reason people will go off target is because they are anticipating the shot.  If you're shooting low, you're anticipating the shot and either pushing the gun to the target or dropping the muzzle.


What I emphasize with combat shooters is to learn to shoot without aiming.   Point the gun at the target and just shoot.  Commit that motion to memory and forget everything else.  Even if I'm poorly aimed the shot is going to go where it was directed.   At that point, I'm not trying to see a perfect, clear sight picture. I'm not trying to make the sight motionless.  I'm not trying to fixate on my aiming point.  In combat shooting,  it's only about 30% visual and the rest is feeling the situation.  If I can release the trigger without moving the gun off target I'm going to have a good shot. 


Some of the best firearms training schools will tell you to concentrate on the front sight.  I'm telling you to ignore it.  That's not the kind of advice you'll get in basic training.  Basic training teaches you simple shit like how to make your bed and wear your uniform.  Police train in that simple basic sense.  According to statistics,  officer involved shootings average a 25% hit rate at or less than 10 feet away.  From a Glock 17 with  a 17 round capacity, that only comes to about 4 hits.


That happens because they train mechanically:

1.  Grip and hold control

2.  Sight alignment

3.  Breathe control

4.  Trigger control

5.  Follow through


The mechanical steps of shooting are very close to the mechanical steps of throwing a baseball, but the best Major League players have abandoned those steps and found their natural throw.  Their natural throw is often far from the basics, but yet they play at a level well above others.  In a real combat shooting situation, you don't have time to go through the mechanical steps.  Even if the procedures cross your mind, the instinct to survive takes over and those untrained will just pull the trigger until empty. To increase your  chances of survival, you need to make combat shooting your natural instinct.


Combat shooting is really simple.  There are only three things you have to do:

1. Hold the gun really tight.

2. Point the gun at the target.

3. Pull the trigger fast without moving the gun off target.


This isn't advice for beginners.  You do need a solid foundation to build upon.  Combat shooting takes you beyond the basics.  I would argue that the guy preaching just the mechanics of shooting hasn't learned anything beyond the basics.  I find that many of those guys just like to look smart to those who know less. I also find that those people have less to say around experienced combat shooters. Your stance and grip don't have to be like mine.  My gun doesn't have to be like yours.  Find your own grip and take your own shot.


If you're going to carry for protection, carry all the time. 

Practice and shoot often.  It's a perishable skill.