Thursday, September 10, 2015

Just the Basics - “Three to five rounds, High Center Mass”


My purpose, when I head to the range for a couple hours work, is to keep my defensive shooting skills as sharp as I can. Range time for me is limited by both time and money. I’d love to shoot every day – I can’t. Few can. So, when I do carve out a block of time I go with purpose.

To do this I employ a couple tools. First is the target with my long term favorite being the LE SEB target. Yet there are many others available – some that show internal organs, some specific to local police training academies, some simply “popular” like the B-27 and some favored like the FBI Q target. All have value, all have uses.

Target 2 (Mobile)   Target 1 (Mobile)b-27e-black_La (Mobile)   ILEA-Q_L (Mobile)q-wh_L (Mobile)

The second tool I use are drills that I record on my cell phone and then play via my phone’s Bluetooth earpiece. There are 10 drills that run 30 seconds each. This is typically enough to execute the shooting portion, complete a scan/assess and the reset for the next drill. On the “up” or “fire” or “threat” command I execute 3-5 rounds “High Center Mass”. On a number/shape command I execute a single precise shot. What I’d like to focus this particular post on – the idea of “High Center Mass”.

While we all pray that there is never a need to draw a defensive weapon to protect ourselves, our family or someone in our charge – the reality of today’s world is that our prayers man not be answered. Past that there is a continuum of possibilities as to what may happen. We may well be able to escape a confrontation – best way to win a gunfight is to not get into one. This should be our very first choice.

Should that be impossible the next best thing would be for the individual acting as the threat seeing a drawn defensive weapon and decide it would be best if they beat a hasty retreat.

Should those options not be available – we may well find ourselves in a situation where we need to shoot to stop the threat. This, in itself, is a source for multiple posts and not the purpose of this particular post. Again, let’s focus on the words “High Center Mass” and define that more clearly.

Once you engage a threat the best for all involved is to end the fight quickly. One option, in very specific cases, is a head shot. I have covered that in depth here and do not to address again in this post. The second option is very frequently taught as “3 to 5 rounds “High Center Mass”. On most range targets listed in this post there is some kind of outline or indicator what your point of aim should be. In the real world it’s difficult to get a threat to pause while you spray-paint an outline of the area you wish to shoot. Hence the phrase “High Center Mass”.

The importance of this area is that it is a confluence of the three major systems that allow a human body to function – the nervous system, the respiratory system and the circulatory system. In this location on the human body all three converge. Your ability to put solid hits in this region quickly and accurately is your best chance at quickly stopping the fight. The problem is that many times it’s difficult to merge the work we do on well-drawn targets with the real world of shirts, jackets, parkas and other cover garments. In real life, how do we find High Center Mass? Well, perhaps if we “drill down” a bit we can do that.

Body Composite 3

Image 1 shows the area I mean when I say the words “High Center Mass”. Put the bottom of your palm centered between the nipples with your fingers extending upward. This is roughly equal to the 4”x6” box that is popular on some targets. On a covered person this spot is located approximately half way between the elbow and the shoulder.

As we “drill down” through skin and muscle and bone you can see that this 4”x6” region provides you an opportunity to do real damage to all three systems – stopping the fight as quickly as is possible. In the best of cases – this should be your primary “go to” spot on the threat.

The next time you go to the range – take a look at how your practice, the drills you run, the targets you use. Are they the best you can get to work on your defensive skills? Are you clear on what you must do to stop a threat? Do you know what “High Center Mass” means and can you consistently hit that region at typical defensive distances?

If your answer is a firm yes . . . As Han said – “Don’t get cocky . . .” Keep working on your shooting skills and keep them sharp. And, if you can’t – make finding some good coursework part of your training goal over the next year.

One other disclaimer here as well – defensive shooting covers a broad range of possibilities. This is but one, a “perfect” one that all too many people limit themselves to. Make sure your training involves a good assortment of training scenarios that will enable you to widen your skillset.


  1. I like the emphasis on *high* center-of-mass.

    One of the quirks of "saggin'" is that it lowers the visual center-of-mass. A gut shot deer can run a really long way and a gut shot bear can stomp you to mush, so a gut shot bad guy is still a threat.

    Again, thanks for sticking to the meat and potatoes. I don't need exotic information. I need better execution (on my part) of the basics.

  2. Thanks Joe - that's the focus I try to keep . . . basics, fundamentals . . . if we all pay attention to that the rest will naturally follow. All IMNSHO, of course.

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