Thursday, May 24, 2012

FIGHT! – Combat Effective Shooting

A post or two back we chatted about what happens when time runs out – that moment when you draw your weapon to stop the threat that is before you. Now what??? Well, the obvious answer is “SHOOT THE BASTARD! NOW!!!!”

At that instant your body undergoes a massive adrenaline dump – your eyesight drops to about 35 degrees per eye – 70 degrees total. Your fine motor skills are gone and you are left with only your gross motor skills (making constant practice manipulating your weapon a must). Your heart rate sky rockets, your breathing becomes rapid. All this occurs while an existential threat intending to send you home in a box is bearing down on you.

A number of studies have been conducted regarding the mechanics of gunfights. Perhaps one of the most unique and comprehensive is “Shooting to Live” by Fairbairn and Sykes. Their first-hand experience with approximately 600 gunfights is not only a gripping read but very informative. Discussions cover distances, types of weapons, body armor, movement – to name just a few topics. If you have not read this book – stop now (I’ll wait), go to Amazon and place it on order – you will not be sorry. In today’s vernacular, perhaps the most common title assigned to describe their shooting technique would be “Combat Effective Shooting”.

Keeping in mind most gun fights obey a rule of 3 – 3 rounds, 3 seconds, 3 meters, your ability to shoot a threat bears no resemblance to standing on a firing line, carefully taking your stance, your grip, acquiring a good sight picture and engaging the threat. A gun fight is fast, brutal and deadly. In general, the shooter to get the first hit wins. Time spent working on combat effective hits will serve you well.

When looking at an active threat, you should work on three primary skills:

MOVE – a stationary target is a dead target. I hear the words “get off the x” used frequently but basically you want to make yourself into a moving target, not a stationary one.

DRAW – work on your draw stroke daily. Dry fire, draw slowly until it’s perfect – then accelerate it until you fail, back off a bit and repeat – daily.

POINT AND SHOOT – work on the “metal on meat” sight picture, put the rear of your weapon in the center of the chest and pull the trigger as fast as you can.

The hits you achieve in this three-step process would fit into the category of “combat effective shooting”, you’re not going to have nice, tight 3-inch groups, all your rounds will not be going through the same hole – yet you have the opportunity to significantly damage your immediate threat.

So where should you “aim”? There are three primary areas and one that spans the three.

First, center chest. A round of Critical Defense ammunition from Hornady through a threat’s heart will be a bad day for any attacker. Multiple rounds, in the area of the heart and lungs, will go a long way to take your attacker’s mind off you.

Next, the pelvic area. Break the pelvis, their mobility is severely limited and it’s an area where the majority of your blood supply is generated. You can dump a lot of blood in a short time through multiple pelvic hits.

Third, their head also provides the opportunity for a quick kill, yet it is no guarantee and trying to hit a 4 inch target during an adrenaline dump can require more luck than you have at that given instant.

Finally, the ultimate “off switch”, their spine. Sever their spine above the pelvis, their legs stop – sever their spine above their heart – their primary systems stop, sever their spine at the throat – they drop like a rock.

I teach a new shooter to focus on the torso, from the neck to the crotch. I have them experience dumping multiple rounds in that region, from a number of different positions while using various point shooting tools – focus on the target, use your entire weapon to aim - not just the front sight, engage early and often. My goal is 3-5 rounds in this area in less than 3 seconds. Most threats will be down at the end of this process – not all of them, but most of them. For those still presenting a danger, repeat above as needed.

Bottom line; stop worrying about small groups on little round targets at 21 feet. Death will greet you at a much more intimate distance. Prepare for that moment by ensuring you can get solid Combat
Effective Hits quickly and consistently. As I said earlier, you have all the time you need to prepare . . . now. Make use of it.


  1. With only gross motor skills in a REAL situation, being able to hit a torso is going to be GOOD!

  2. Yep - agreed. Of course, trying to move with full pants is toughter too! :)