Friday, September 7, 2012

Training – Hands, hands . . . . what the heck do I do with my hands????


A few posts back I described Focal Point shooting and how useful it is to reduce the time it takes to engage a threat. Since I was focused on the draw, I honestly didn’t pay much attention to my support arm – an oversight made obvious my friends Keads’ and OldNOFO’s gentle questioning in the comments that went something like: “Why is your support arm so high and far away from your body???”

In fact OldNFO was so curious he actually gave me a call – what a great surprise.

Phone rings: “Keller!!!”

Deep Texas Twang: “Bill??? It’s me, xxxxx, you know OldNFO!” (Have you ever noticed that ALL PILOTS talk like Chuck Yeager??)

And that started be best ½ hour of the day! We have never met, nor had we ever chatted in the past. We covered my thoughts on hand/arm position in short order and then got down to the business of two retired vets getting to know each other. It’s always a good thing to make a new friend – this was no exception! I look forward to our next chat!

So on to the topic at hand – hands, hands . . . . what the heck do I do with my hands??

Perhaps it should be obvious but just to cover the most basic element of support hand/arm position – KEEP YOU DAMN HAND/ARM AWAY FROM THE MUZZLE OF YOUR WEAPON!!!!! Second – these are simply my opinions – other instructors, for other types of training will have their thoughts, ideas and expectations. Listen to them! Over time you will find your own base set of physical mechanics that fit your body, your way of moving, your level of training. The majority of my students are new shooters, unfamiliar with weapons or personal defense, so I have chosen three positions that I encourage them to explore and begin with, to give them a very basic set of defensive positions for their support arm.

These would be: Close Chest, Forearm Vertical and Upper-Arm Extended.

Close Chest: This is the position that the NRA teaches for dominant-arm shooting only. Your support arm’s fist is clenched and placed center chest. This provides the shooter the ability to stiffen their upper body and provide greater support for their extended dominant arm as they shoot. And, it keeps your support hand well away from your weapon’s muzzle.

Forearm Vertical: The shooter takes the forearm of their support arm and places it close to their body in a vertical/horizontal/slanted position to block their attacker. Both the Close Chest and Forearm Vertical position provide the shooter good protection and keeps their arm close to the body so that it stands less of a chance to become something the attacker can grab and use to their advantage.

Upper-Arm Extended: Bend your support arm at a 90 degree angle and hold your support arm horizontal in front of you. This distance, the distance your Upper-Arm Extended provides you maximum “retention” of your support arm. It gives you a great deal of flexibility to block your attacker while not providing them the ability to grab your arm and push/shove you off balance. Once you begin to extend your support arm, you provide your attacker an open invitation to simply reach, grab and pull.

Remember, an attack will likely be within 3 yards, last less than 3 seconds and require you to defend yourself with your support arm while you draw and engage your threat with 3 rounds or less. While there is certainly nothing wrong with working on your fully extended, two handed, solid sight alignment, good sight picture shooting, please - remember - this is an IDEAL situation and one you are not likely to experience.

Gun fights are quick, personal, violent – and at close quarters.

Train that way, learn to defend your “off side” to gain much needed time to draw and engage your attacker . . .

You may well get but a single chance . . . .


  1. Yep, truly enjoyed the chat a looking forward to more of them! :-) And you're right, NRA teaches a different way entirely! LOL

  2. Been doing some single-handed shooting at the range recently (dang, my off-hand shooting...I think I put some extra holes in the targets of adjacent lanes!). I had no idea what to do with my other hand, so, being the dweeb that I am, it ended up on my hip, like I was fencing. LOL So this article is well-timed and well-appreciated!

  3. Great advice. And all pilots do not sound like Chuck Yeagar, though I sometimes have resembed him after pulling a 20 hour shift.

  4. NFO - When you are "feet dry" and caught up, give me a jingle! People kinda bang on the NRA, but they forget the purpose of a BASIC pistol class - and the clentched fist is a great starting point.

    Rabid - Glad it pointed you in a direction - yet - nothin' wrong with a bit of "stylin'" on the range sir, nothin' wrong at all!! :) I think you have given me a topic for a post this week - we'll see.

    Ms. B - Thanks for the great suprise today. I did find a Mossberg 500 Tactical 12 Guage that looks like it will fit my defensive shotgun course - but it remained behind for another day. While your voice did not that a southern lilt at all, I find it hard to believe that even in a flight suit after a long cross-country, you would ever resemble Yeagar! :)

  5. LOL "How To Handle A Complete Idiot (Minus Village) On The Range"

  6. Kathy Jackson teaches the clenched fist with a handful of shirt in it.