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Combat vs Competiton, Sighted vs Instinct

3168 Views 22 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  brownie
This is just more food for thought guys..I've posted this on Brownie's forum in case you guys havent read it...

Combat vs Competiton, Sighted vs Instinct

After having been on several forums over the last couple of years what I have noticed is that the boards are dominated by sighted competition shooters. Now I dont know if that stems from Coopers MT and propagation of IPSC, IDPA etc but it seems so. I know this is an old argument but I find most of it nonsense. 98% of these guys no matter where you find them are sighted fire competition shooters. Now, I've been around the block a few times, seen combat, been in a few gunfights and dont ever remember seeing my sights. In fact I dont ever remember using 2 hands to fire my handgun. I'm not saying its a bad thing but I dont believe it is realistic if you carry conceal to believe you are going to be capable of getting up on the sights. So why do so many people train that way? Most gunfights happen within the 10' range. There is no time. Do they actually believe that they will have the opportunity of sighted fire or that they will be capable of even doing so with the adrenaline dump? Do they believe its going to happen at 15-25yds? I read somewhere today where someone said "quick draw" wasn't critical. I actually lost my coffee on the keyboard. 1st time thats happened and they weren't talking about a gunfight at distance. It was bad breath distance.

What brought me to this is I see a lot of people that could die from drinking the kool-aid from the MT crowd that they have been fed. If you are going to carry a firearm it would seem to me that practicing systems that teach Close quarter gunfighting/battle would be your lifesaver if ever needed. I actually joined IDPA at one time but never shot a match nor attended one even though I intended to and am now having second thoughts. Reason is muscle memory, I dont want to get caught up in that rut. It might be fun but I dont carry every day for fun. When the SHTF I want my reactions to be instinctual. Which is where training in the Threat Focused skills/Quick kill skills, Point shooting skills by F.A.S and I even like some of the C.A.R. stuff that I think is useful. All 3 training methods I believe would be the most likely to keep you alive when things go bad. I'm not against sighted fire, I think it has its place in combat but only out past the 10-15 yd mark. As I practice dry fire at home i've found myself really practicing on draw speed and fire at 1/2 hip. Whoever gets metal on meat first is most likely the winner. This is after all survival, not competition. I've trained in two handed sighted fire quite a bit also however that wont be my instinctual draw and fire when it goes down. I could go on and on about this subject but I think I'll leave it for now. Lastly, I'm a common sense guy with just a little experience and the Quick Kill techniques just make sense to me. Guess I drank the wrong Kool-Aid according to most.
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25 reads and no responses in 3 weeks---------interesting, the lack of response to this subject SwampRat.

31 replies and 500 views on my own forum posted on the same day.

Come on people, someone's got to have an opinion on this subject on this forum, even if it is to ask a question.

Trouble that limits most i think is just the availability of being able to train in the more realistic self defense scenarios.

My range, and most I am aware of will not even allow draw and fire. I guess it's somewhat understandable. I see enough dangerous situations with static target fire. I can't imagine what would happen if some of these folks tried more advanced techniques unsupervised.

Another great reason to seek out more advanced training!

I'm thoroughly enjoying reading your posts and trying to learn as much as possible as I can through your experience and wisdom. I do have trouble reading through your cryptic (to me) posts though. Here is just a sampling of what I had to bypass because I just couldn't figure out what this stuff means. I *think* I might know what sighted fire is but I wouldn't give me a test on it or anything.

Coopers MT
MT crowd
C.A.R. stuff
sighted fire
two handed sighted fire
Quick Kill

You are obviously out-trained and out-experienced and out-everything else than I will ever be. I'm a stay at home mom, that's what I do. This gun stuff is new to me but I feel like a kid in a candy store trying to see what I can get into next. What I really want as I educate myself on firearms and how to transition to my concealed carry life is some sort of dictionary that explains all of these cryptic terms. I'm not beyond reading and researching things that are way over my head because even if I can glean from it I still come away with a few more nuggets of information I wouldn't normally have had.

I know I'm hanging with the big guys here. I'm ok with that. The more I 'listen' in on your conversations the more I learn. What hoses me up is when I can't break the 'initials' codes. You don't have to hold my hand and baby sit me if you (or anyone else) would direct me to a site that would translate all of this gun jargon.

I'm trying, I'm really trying to be a responsible concealed carry gun owner. Someone help me out here, please.

MamaBear, who is not above asking for help
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Coopers MT= The Modern Technique of the Pistol is a method of use of the pistol for self-defense. The Modern Technique uses a two-handed grip of the pistol, which brings the pistol to eye-level, so that the sights may be used to aim the pistol at one's assailant.

An example of a shooter employing the Modern Technique may be seen in this section of movie from the television program Miami Vice.

The Modern Technique of the Pistol was developed by Jeff Cooper in the 1950s after experiments with older techniques, such as Point Shooting.

IPSC= http://www.ipsc.org/

IDPA= http://www.idpa.com/

MT crowd= Those who practice the Modern Technique

SHTF= **** Hits The Fan

F.A.S= Fairbairn, Applegate, Sykes http://www.threatfocused.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9

C.A.R.= Center Axis Relock= Center Axis Relock (CAR) is a shooting system primarily intended for close quarters battle. Invented by Paul Castle, it uses some of the human body's natural psychology and physiology reactions to stressful encounters.

The CAR system features a bladed stance (the shooter's weak-side shoulder facing the target), a close-to-body firearm hold, and sighted or non-sighted fire as the situation dictates. This differs from other shooting styles such as the Weaver which feature a square stance (almost perpendicular to the target), the pistol held out at arm's length, and some form of sighted fire.

Advantages over other shooting styles are listed as:

* Improved recoil control, allowing faster follow-up shots.
* Better weapon retention.
* Stances and reactions are a good approximation of human reactions under stress.
* The bladed stance reduces the shooter's silhouette, making him a smaller target.

The CAR system is primarily intended for handgun shooting although it can also be used with long guns, batons, tasers and OC sprays.

sighted fire= Sighted fire is best for optimum marksmanship. Line up rear sight and front sight

two handed sighted fire= See above except using two handed grip

Quick Kill= http://www.threatfocused.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46
Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique © TM
By Robin Brown

I was fortunate enough to have been involved with a group of men in the early 1980's, directed and led by one of the original OSS operatives whose function was to protect VIP's as well as establish security measures for major US corporations in and outside the US borders.

Maj. Gen. Mitch WerBell, who was given that rank by the Afghanistan president for his efforts in fighting the communists and training security forces in Afghanistan, held training at his 66 acre compound in Georgia, USA. It became affectionately known as "The Farm" by many.

The training center was known as SIONICS and was an acronym for "Studies In Organized Negation of Insurgency and Counter Subversion". Mitch brought men with military backgrounds, or those who had specific martial and "sneaky pete" skills to his SIONICS training facility. They instructed us in the finer points of staying alive under various adverse conditions.

Not quite 400 private citizens were allowed to attend before the operation closed down due to his death in late 81 while working in Cal. for a major corporation where I was with the team. I say, "allowed to attend" as your background was checked and you were accepted once cleared that you were not affiliated with a terrorist state or subversive group.

Former military personnel were given preference as well as people in the security profession but just about anyone could attend if they passed the background check. The course was intensive and lasted for 10 days at 18 hours per day. Only 10 individuals were allowed in each class. The cost in 1981 was $3000.00 to attend and it needed to be paid in advance.

One of the instructors was Lucky McDaniel, a colorful figure who had developed his "Instinct Shooting" program which was later adopted and renamed the Quick Kill (QK) rifle technique by the US Army.

Lucky demonstrated and trained us in the long gun Quick Kill as well as the pistol Quick Kill over two days of the 10 we were there at the compound. One day on long guns and one day with pistols. The long gun training started with bb guns and hitting aluminum disks varying from 3 inches to 1 inch in diameter which were thrown into the air. The rifle training regimen was also found in the US Army training text 23-71-1. From there we went to shotguns and shooting clays thrown from every angle using this long gun/rifle Quick Kill technique.

In the pistol Quick Kill course, we went directly to 1911's that had the sights removed. We trained from 3 feet to about 36 feet. There was a different technique for less than three feet which was not QK, and which protected the gun from a gun grab or swipe.

The following is how I was instructed and then executed/used the Quick Kill technique with a pistol or handgun based on that instruction.

Find a light switch across the room. Any object at about that distance will do. Then with the light switch or object in your view, raise your arm/hand and point your finger naturally at the object, like you are scolding a dog. Looking at your target, you also should be able to see in your peripheral vision, the end of the finger that's pointing at it.
When you point, you naturally do not attempt to sight or aim your finger. It will be somewhat below your eye level in your peripheral vision, perhaps 2-4 inches below eye level.

Now, place the end of that finger about 2 inches below your target. Move your arm, NOT JUST THE FINGER. Then, lower your head and try to sight along the length of it. You will be on the object. Raise your head and you will see the end of the finger still about 2 inches below the object. The reference point can be different depending on the person and gun being used. Many handguns have different natural pointing abilities. Just start out at 2 inches below the target initially.

If you find you are above the target when checking the finger, you may need to use three inches below, as the reference point for you initially. Conversely, if you are low, you may need to raise the reference point a little. Once you find the reference point for you, you can point at anything using this Quick Kill technique and know that you are hitting the object automatically, and when not looking at anything but the target. Your finger will be in your peripheral vision but not looked at.

Now go get a handgun, make sure it's empty, and do the same thing on the same object across the room. Use the end of the barrel and/or the front sight now instead of the end of your finger in your peripheral vision
Once you have referenced the end of the barrel and/or the front sight about 2 inches below the target, DON'T MOVE THE GUN, and lower your head and check where the sights are pointing.

As above, when you could see the end of the finger pointing at the target in your peripheral vision while focusing on the target, you will now peripherally see the end of the barrel and/or front sight while looking at the target. Once you have tweaked the reference point for that gun, you can repeat with follow up shots as soon as the reference has been reacquired peripherally. You have not looked at the gun or front sight, just the target. And the gun will be anywhere from 2-6 inches below your eye level, more or less.

With Quick Kill, the focus is always on the target, never having to adjust ones gaze or focus even remotely on the near object [the gun or sights]. I don't have need to worry about 0-3 yards or 7-10 yards or beyond 10 yard methodologies, the commonality of one focal point in using Quick Kill with a handgun under the stresses of self defense is easier to ingrain into memory once it has been mastered.

Some will achieve this immediately while others will have issues and questions. I hope that I have explained this well enough for most. It's much easier to show and guide one, than just describe Quick Kill. As with most things, practice can improve performance, and the same is true with Quick Kill with a pistol or handgun. You can practice at home or on the line. Draw, raise the gun up into your peripheral vision, acquire the referenced distance from the end of the barrel that includes the front sight to the target, and dry fire or blast it for real. Try different distances from 3 feet to 20 yards. The reference point can and should be tweaked up or down until you know where you need to keep it at those distances with that handgun.

With one focal plane to worry about when utilizing the Quick Kill methodology, the older I get, the more I appreciate the way it works. Though admittedly, when I was enlightened I was still capable of quickly adjusting between focal planes.

Lucky McDaniel never published or wrote about the handgun and pistol Quick Kill technique. The verbal information he imparted at SIONICS during our training had never been seen in print before. I’m aware of a few firearms and knife instructors as well as some in the private sector who have searched for over two decades for this technique with pistols and handguns with no success.

Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique ©, as described above, uses a very specific peripheral reference point from the end of the barrel and/or front sight to the target while ones conscious focus is on the intended target. That not only is different than any other method of sighting previously discussed anywhere but it is what makes Quick Kill continuously repeatable by utilizing a specific reference point between the end of the barrel and/or front sight and the intended object one wants to hit.

I first wrote something similar to this on February 22, 2004 on the internet that also included the long rifle Quick Kill technique as shown to me that was referenced above in the army manual. I registered the copyrighted material and the document is filed with the Library of Congress, Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.

I've carried this knowledge of the Handgun or Pistol Quick Kill [ QK ] Shooting Technique © since 1981 but had never put it into print until 2004.
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I stand in awe for you sharing that with me (us). It would truly appear that my ignorance is a blessing in disguise as I ask my questions and qualified people like you answer in order to educate us all.

Thank you for taking the time to type out and specifically answer all of my questions and then some. I'm going to have to print this one out and practice.

I benefit greatly from this site and love learning from you guys.

MamaBear, mostly copy and paste...I just know where to look...glad to be of service.
I compete in both IDPA and USPSA and I use both aiming methods, depending on the distance to the target. I usually don't even remember seeing my sights after engaging targets at >7 yards, but I usually can't accurately hit targets farther away than +/-10 yards without using the sights.

I think there's room in the tactical toolbox for both methods.
Thanks for posting this SwampRat. What I have to do next is make the time to get advanced training in handgun defense. In the mean time I practice at home with an unloaded gun.
Just because you’re shooting in an IDPA match doesn’t mean you’re required to use the sights on every shot.
Most stages are designed with target distances of 10-25 yds. But some have close targets and I often shoot them without the sights. Sometimes I can see the gun clearly and sometimes I’m not aware of it at all. Depends on the distance, cover, angle, etc.

As far as not using your sights in a close-range gunfight, it depends on your training.

These guys trained to use both hands and the sights:




In the 3rd video, even the BG seemed to be using the sights.
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In the 1st video there was no two handed shooting or on sight..Target focused shooting and one handed
In the 2nd, two handed shooting but again "Target focused" with arms extended.
In the 3rd video its hard to say but at that distance I wouldn't put money those guys were focused on front site press.

All 3 appear to me to be Point shooting with the slide or barrel of the gun in view..The last 2 videos were nose indexed 2 handed shots. The 1st video was done in typical F.A.S 3/4 hip..JMHO of course..I'd bet if you had the chance to ask them, none of them actually saw their sights..

One mistake, to me now, was in the 2nd video when the LEO is back peddaling while firing...you cant back up fast enough to keep from getting hit..he got lucky.
25 reads and no responses in 3 weeks---------interesting, the lack of response to this subject SwampRat.

31 replies and 500 views on my own forum posted on the same day.

Come on people, someone's got to have an opinion on this subject on this forum, even if it is to ask a question.


Not be be an arse, sir, but I've read the article at least 3 times. I have yet to comment on it because there is nothing else really to add. SwampRat laid it out there as plane and simple as can be said. The only thing I think I may be able to add is the more you practice and the better knowledgable you become of your equipment, the more instinctive you become. I am like that with my bow, rifles, and pistols.

Thanks SwampRat.
OK, SwampRat, if you’re convinced that you can tell where the shooters’ have their eyes focused in those clips, I certainly won’t argue with you.

The nice thing about internet forums is, we don't have to agree.

All the best.
Japle, no argument from me...My point of view differs from yours. You shoot competition and I dont..From my experience mind you and mine alone what I've found out is in a life or death situation you WILL revert to your very basics of training... However the adrenaline dump in this situation is a whole different ball game vs when the timer goes off. One is threat/target focused with blurry at best sights the other is sight focused with blurry target. In a real live gunfight with incoming rounds I can guarantee you will be threat/target focused while indexing the gun be it nose indexed as seen in #2-3 or thru peripheral vision on the barrel or slide as seen in video #1, not sight focused with someone shooting back at you. Again, just my humble opinion. Both types of training have good and bad. One is combat focused while the other is competition focused and that is where the rub comes in with the competition shooters. The gun handling and marksmanship skills learned in competition can be a plus if you have no other training available. Regardless, both have positive attributes.
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Here's a response I got from David Williams on Brownie's forum. David's a Firearms Instructor, Combat Vet, Marine, and certified C.A.R Instructor. He puts it into words much better than I did..please read on..

Yes, the shooting world is dominated by competition shooters. I specifically exclude the word "sighted" because I believe that sighted vs. threat-focused and competition vs. real world are two different discussions, and to throw them together over simplifies the topic.

Competition shooting is what it is... it is a natural extension of our desire to compete at damn near everything that the human body can do - to pit our skill against the next guy and to see how we measure up. As a general rule people cannot take the afternoon off, go down to the range, and shoot at each other until one is either wounded or dead in an effort to measure skill. Likewise, you just don't see two guys stepping into the alley behind the bar to have a little disagreement at 20 paces. We have an inherent desire to know who the better man is, who is more skilled, who is faster, more efficient, more accurate, and just all around more impressive. Who gets the girl? Who gets the bragging rights?

Another factor is that, to a certain degree, I believe that life and death are the ultimate yard sticks by which our skills are measured; and combat certainly provides that system of pass or fail, live or die. However, there is usually a shortage of on-demand life-or-death situations that we can involve ourselves in to get that experience. Instead, many turn to organized competition. For those of us lucky enough to see the elephant, spit in its eye, and bring home a story or two...well...we usually find that everything else tastes a little bland. Consequently we tend to look upon "sport" shooting as something less than a true measure of skill. One of my favorite phrases on the topic was one I heard many years ago (I can't even give credit because I don't remember where I heard it or if it was original) is:
"The difference between combat and sports is that in combat...you bury the guy that comes in second."

There's just something about coming out the other side alive that makes us look upon practitioners of sport with a little disdain. As an aside, however, most of us know that on many occasions it was pure damn luck that brought us home. Regardless, it doesn't change the way we look at it.

So we've got our pure sport shooters and we've got our combat vets who have gone toe to toe with an armed enemy and come out on top (LE included)...the two reigning authorities on the art.

But who do newcomers turn to for advice and guidance? Well.. by its very nature a sporting community is going to have piles and piles of theories as well as performance data to support those theories. They've also got people dedicated to fine-tuning their art until it's as exact a science as it can be. That data is readily available, the knowledge there for those willing to learn. The techniques are specific and the results are measurable.
Let's look at what the other side of the coin -

Unless one belongs to that select group of human beings known as Special Operations Forces, the opportunities for armed engagement over the past 50 years have been quite limited. From Korea to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, I hear quite a bit of "I never even saw my sights". But to be completely fair, Korea and Vietnam were different wars. One of the only things I learned about weapons employment from Vietnam was how important fire discipline is. It was enough of an issue that it resulted in a design feature in the next generation rifle; the M16A2. Full auto was replaced with a short three-round burst. Why? Because we learned that people weren't aiming but were instead choosing quantity over quality when it came to sending rounds downrange. Within the context of our current conflict, Hue City was really the only battle with lessons that could be carried forward. Even then, nothing could prepare us for what we found in Fallujah in 2004.

My point here is that simply having survived combat doesn't necessarily make us experts on what will and will not help us survive combat. Sometimes it just means that we were in the right place at the right time, and sometimes it really does mean that we have executed a series of well-timed decisions that ensured that we came out on top. Sometimes it means that we were masters of our training, and sometimes it means that we should have sat 6 inches to the left.

It's hard to keep score in that world, and people want to know that the person they're listening to has the highest score around.

I will say this: that competition shooters have much to offer the trained killers. Had I spent half the time and effort practicing what they had to teach that the successful competition shooters do, I would have been a hundred times more deadly. It's unrealistic to bring our world of life-and-death consequences into their world of precision sport...but it's definitely worth our time to bring some of their precision into our world of life-and-death.

To sum it all up, it's not the competition shooters that I have a problem with. It's the competition shooters who believe that the stress of competing somehow overshadows the stress of being killed, and that somehow they are qualified to preach to me about how stress affects the body and mind. It's the competition shooters who believe that everything they teach is applicable to real-world situations and that getting a high score in the last tournament somehow equates survivability under life-threatening stress.
David Williams makes some really good points.

Something else to keep in mind is that, just because someone shoots in competition and practices aimed fire, doesn’t mean they haven’t seen combat.
It doesn’t mean they use the sights on every shot.
It doesn’t make them a “gamesman” who’s only out for the high score.
It does make them a lot more likely to come out on top in a gunfight. They’re used to shooting fast and accurately and doing it under some pressure.

Competition doesn’t teach all that’s necessary to survive combat, but it teaches a lot that’ll help. Gotta keep your priorities straight. Gotta stay real. Gotta be ready.
Good Points Japle, I'll put forth question..Should the new person learn to combat shoot( point shoot/metal on meat) first or should they be taught marksmanship with MT technique ISO front site press. Both have different grips, ones convulsive the other firm, one sees the slide or barrel the other is front site focused....They should learn both but in what order ?
In order to learn accurate shooting – and any other kind is worthless – you have to master trigger control and follow-through. You have to learn to shoot good groups on demand. Maybe you can learn that without also learning correct sight alignment and sight picture. But why would you want to?

I learned basic-through-advanced techniques under an NRA instructor shooting .22 target rifles, so maybe I’ve missed something. It seems to me that the sequence should go something like, MT, Mas Ayoob’s Stressfire technique or something similar and then close range, unsighted fire.

We’ve all seen the folks at the range that never learned the basics. They shoot 10” groups at 7 yds using the sights. Slow fire. They’d probably do about that well unsighted. I think our standards are somewhat higher than that.
Japle, most people can learn the MT, proper grip, stance, breathing, surprise break, trigger control, front sight press in about an hour. They will have learned the basics with passable marksmanship. Its up to them thru repetitive practice to advance those skills. The basics arent that difficult if your going to compete. Its perfecting the basics that takes time. The Combat training, threat focused, Point shooting, FAS or whatever we want to call it takes the natural talent that is in all of us and utilizes it along with the instincts. Which is what you will revert to in real life situation. I train people for street fights not competition. I want them to learn to stay alive not get "A" hits on an IPSC target. I want them to understand that a gunfight is not competition, there will be no ISO stance, locked into the front sight and press the trigger when it comes crunch time. The violence will be extreme. Proper grip and gun control along with safety are always stressed but the dynamics of a real life gunfight are quite different than shooting paper. 10" at 7yds is getting metal on meat if they can do it unsighted. Every time you hit a body part it takes more out of the bad guy. There is no second place winner in a lethal force encounter--only first and first loser. When the stake is one's life, losing is not an option! To be prepared, one must possess the necessary knowledge, skills and mindset. Achieving these skills requires proper training and continuous practice. Are we training to be a grandmaster or to stay alive? As David said above I think both can learn from each other, its the training sequence that bothers me a little.
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I certainly agree that competition and gunfighting aren’t the same. Driving on the road and driving in a race are very different, too. But the skills learned for one can help in doing a good job with the other.

Years ago, I was driving with my family in December through Nebraska. There had been an ice storm ahead that we didn’t know about. The road forked, and when I started to turn right, the car went straight. Dead ahead were three telephone poles. We were going to hit them. Without thinking, I spun the car and we hit going backwards. My training kicked in and I performed a fairly complicated maneuver that had to be timed just right. No one was hurt, BTW. The car, a VW sedan, was totaled.

I agree that the training you advocate is definitely useful. I’ve spent a good bit of time working on those skills. What I don’t agree on, is that people don’t use the sights and many of the skills they’ve learned in competition when they get into a fight. Some will, some won’t. Many will freeze. It’s hard to predict.

I’ve seen people with a respectable amount of competitive experience who still get the shakes and do dumb, sometimes unsafe things when the buzzer goes off. I’ve taught 90 lb girls to shoot the G.I. 1911 well and seen 240 lb soldiers who never got over their fear of the gun.

The more training you get and the more types of training you get, the better off you’ll be.
I think we can agree on that!!
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