How Did You Choose a Shooting Style and Why?

How Did You Choose a Shooting Style and Why?

This is a discussion on How Did You Choose a Shooting Style and Why? within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; As I have started to try to really think about improving my shooting to be prepared for a worst case scenario, I have been thinking ...

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Thread: How Did You Choose a Shooting Style and Why?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array McPatrickClan's Avatar
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    How Did You Choose a Shooting Style and Why?

    As I have started to try to really think about improving my shooting to be prepared for a worst case scenario, I have been thinking about the various shooting styles out there. It is kind of like finding a dog training method: the only thing two trainers will agree on is that the third guy is wrong!

    So I have been considering three "main" concentrations: aimed fire using traditional sights, aimed fire using a laser and point & shoot. Of course, each of these has their detractors and fans, and I guess I'm curious as to how you picked one and why?

  2. #2
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    Array gasmitty's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Gilbert, AZ
    I'll gently take issue with the way you bound the question. You defined three "styles" of shooting, but none is a style so much as a technique that will be driven by circumstance. You also seem to be seeking advice on which to "concentrate" on. My advice - worth exactly what you're paying for it - is to drive toward competence will all three.

    Going in reverse order, if you have a weapon-mounted laser, then by all means train with it. But don't train with it to the exclusion of other sighting means, because the day you absolutely depend on your laser to save your bacon is the day that Murphy shows up - dead battery, failed switch, or a bird turd on the lens.

    Point shooting is necessary to learn because there's a greater likelihood of needing your sidearm at bad-breath distance in a situation where you may not have time to aim. In some situations you may have time to aim but near-total darkness may preclude the use of your sights.

    Knowing how to shoot quickly and accurately with aimed fire using traditional sights is an absolute necessity, and I would call it the core of training and shooter development - but not to the full exclusion of other sighting techniques. Point shooting won't serve you well when your target is one head and one hand at 20 yards. In bright daylight your laser dot will be invisible to you on certain targets.

    In my case, I've tried lasers but they're not for me. Practice point shooting? You bet. Aimed fire? Of course. I also dabble in IDPA-type events with reactive targets set from 5 to 20 yards out to push my own capability to shoot quickly, accurately enough, and on the move.
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  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array TerriLi's Avatar
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    Never done the laser stuff, never had the money. I decided to try both aimed traditional fire, and point and shoot. Heck my draw starts with a from the hip shot "point and shoot" that transitions into an aimed shot.
    I also do "point and shoot" arms extended shots. So perhaps its not doing only one, but maybe a mix that might answer your question.

    As to why, because sometimes taking the time to line up sights might be to much time, and others you can't afford to miss on the first shot. Having training in both gives you an edge training in just one might not.

    Why did I do it, because when being attack under my truck by a pit bull sights aren't that useful, and pointing and shooting really is my best option. Same incident, I couldn't afford to miss because the pit bull was going after my friend and there were way too close for comfort for me to make the shot.

    So that answer you questions?
    I know not what this "overkill" means.

    Honing the knives, Cleaning the longguns, Stocking up ammo.

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  5. #4
    Member Array mfcmb's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    My studies have lead me to believe that the vast majority of cases in which I'd need to use my gun in self defense would be at very close range while moving off the "X". Therefore I spend the majority of my time practicing: a scoop draw, dropping the elbow to get the gun into the firing position, shooting a "zipper" pattern with shots fired progressively from waist level through eye level, at which point the gun comes into my peripheral vision and I can use the Quick Kill style of point shooting, and doing all this while moving. (There's more, but that's the condensed description.)

    I also practice aimed fire to prepare for the less often cases when I'd need to shoot at distance with precision.
    In the heat of the moment, what matters is what your body knows -- not what your mind knows.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Array Matthew Temkin's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Why not practice all three and just call it shooting as opposed to "style"?
    Each has it's place in the great scheme of things.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Array Roger Phillips's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Las Vegas
    Individual Prioritization

    “There are no short cuts; there is only the individual priority of what you need and when you need it.”

    It is my opinion that learning, training, and practicing, is a never ending process. What we have is a huge self defense puzzle and we should be looking to acquire pieces to that puzzle in a manner that reflects a prioritization of what we need and when we need it. This can be a very difficult decision making process because from our very first course, we realize that we know so very little. Even for guys like me that have been hunting and shooting my whole life, my first course only let me know how little that I really knew.

    As we look to prioritize, we need to look at our situation. What is our mission, goal, threat level, occupation, life style, responsibility, and mindset.

    What so many people do not understand is that you do not have to be an LEO or soldier to have a high threat level. I have met a number of guys from a number of different walks of life that can articulate a very substantial threat level. This is usually from their occupation, but it can also be from their life style (where they live) and responsibility (protection of self or a loved one that is being stalked.)

    I have trained with a number of guys that have made the decision to train with me, to learn combat shooting fundamentals before they learned marksmanship fundamentals. Many of these guys do not have the time to get to the advanced levels of combat shooting through the marksmanship path. They recognize the fact that that path would take too long and not give them what they need "right now." They recognize that the marksmanship path does not take the physiological response of the reactive gunfight into consideration. Most of all they realize that the chances of a reactive encounter is much more likely, to their specific situation, than a proactive encounter. They also understand that they do still need to acquire the marksmanship skill sets. But, they want to have the time to make that fine motor skill happen, all the while having their "most likely" situations covered in a very effective and efficient manner.

    This type of thinking, for these guys, is very good to see. When I first started training (due to a high threat level occupation) I did not have the resources that are available now. There was virtually one path and that path was slow and inefficient. That training was all about reprogramming your natural instincts, abilities, and reactions out of you, replacing them with condition responses that did not take the typical physiological responses of the fight or flight response into consideration.

    All I know is that I am very happy and lucky to be in the position to give these guys an option that is far superior to the options that I had.

    The guys that taught me this stuff took a lot of heat bringing it back from the dead. They did it for one reason "to make sure that you went home at the end of the day." That is the bottom line and IMHO they have succeeded in their efforts.

    It is my opinion that nobody is in the position to direct a student on which priorities he needs to be learning, but the student himself.

    The question then arises, how do you help prepare yourself for the best decisions possible? IMHO an honest and realistic threat assessment must be made. This means that we must educate ourselves to the threat level that we face on a daily basis. This edification can be a very large job encompassing a number of different factors and elements. As we do this we must be careful about becoming too extreme in our thinking, we must avoid the "tinfoil hat" paranoia. As we come up with our well researched, honest, realistic, and non paranoid threat assessment, we begin to get a picture of what we need and when we need it.

    Just as an example, here is a very quick list of priorities that would seem to make sense to me, inside of my very personal situation.

    Mindset; Know the enemy, know the pre attack indicators, know yourself, know the laws, have your line firmly drawn in the sand, eliminate or mitigate concerns that may make you hesitate. "He who hesitates, dies!" Get your mind right!

    Home Defense; Develop a multilayered approach to home security. Become competent in quality home defense weapon systems that handle your personal situation the best. Rifle, shotgun, or handgun each tool has its place where it shines. Foster knowledge and competence in tactics. Develop the knowledge that "hunting" "clearing" or "searching" as a lone home owner is extremely risky undertaking. Prioritize securing the loved ones, taking up a fortified position, staying under the cloak of darkness, and laying in wait to engage from a proactive position.

    Conceal Carry; Being away from home can put you in some of the very worse of positions. I consider the concealed carry skill sets as some of our most important due to the high possibility of starting the fight from behind in the reactionary curve and working through a low light situation. Get the very best training that you can find for these situations. It is my opinion that the hand to hand skill sets, integrated with the draw stroke from concealment, coupled with dynamic movement, and point shooting skill sets are the absolute core to self defense with a handgun.

    SHTF Situations; Katrina, Rodney King, Watts, etc has proven to us that things can go very wrong.....very quickly! Emergency preparedness is a must. Training, such as we see in the Suarez International Rifle courses and the High Risk Operator course, become obviously necessary skill sets.

    This is just a real quick example of honest and common sense approach to an individuals list of priorities.

    There is a certain realization, about the amount of time that most of us can dedicate to one aspect of the fight. Once we look at the context of "the fight" it becomes very clear that we can not just be specialists. We must be well rounded, we must be versatile. This does not allow us to focus on being "the best" on any one thing. Most of us are working stiffs, with families, responsibilities, and other interests. We do the best that we can do, within our busy lives, to be the best that we can be at defending our loved ones and ourselves. We must come up with a way to cover as much of the "most likely" as we can.

    If we keep an open mind, if we develop an "inclusive" attitude, we can easily pick and choose common sense concepts that take care of the "most likely" at an efficient and effective level. To reach this efficient and effective level we must make compromises. These compromises need to be geared to the individual prioritization. A prioritization concept that may never allow for the individual to reach the level of the best shooters in the world……but may make him the very best that he can be within the specifics on his specific situation.
    Roger Phillips Owner of Fight Focused Concepts, formerly know as Sweatnbullets

  8. #7
    VIP Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    My style is "try to be smooth." Sweep your jacket or shirt away and get a good grip and draw and point and fire in one smooth fluid motion.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

  9. #8
    Member Array AlexN's Avatar
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    Columbia, SC
    Quote Originally Posted by McPatrickClan View Post
    So I have been considering three "main" concentrations: aimed fire using traditional sights, aimed fire using a laser and point & shoot. Of course, each of these has their detractors and fans, and I guess I'm curious as to how you picked one and why?
    The answer, of course, is that all of these skills have their place. Rather than try to untangle them here, let me just say that the biggest difference in improving my own level of shooting has been (1) the way I grip my handgun (the high thumbs grip rather than trapping my thumb) and (2) doing regular dry fire in addition to live fire.
    Alex Nieuwland - Suarez International Staff Instructor
    Upcoming SI Classes in South Carolina:
    Introduction to Point Shooting - February 26
    Defensive Pistol Skills - March 5-6
    Shotgun Gunfighting - March 26-27
    Point Shooting Gunfight Skills - April 2-3

  10. #9
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    Array Hopyard's Avatar
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    I think Gasmitty nailed this one. Its not so much picking a style as being able to do what is necessary as the circumstances dictate. Most SD is going to be up close and so practicing point shooting makes sense.

    In the gym, doing MA H2H, you quickly figure out that distance can be closed extremely quickly. For ordinary civilian SD, you need to be prepared to know how to make space and time, to side step a charge, and maybe engage in limited H2H till you can get the gun or another weapon into play.

    Even if someone is charging from 50 feet out, aimed fire might not be as practical as point shooting because the distance is going to close really fast if you aren't running the other way too.

  11. #10
    Distinguished Member Array INccwchris's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    why pick a style to train with? your muscle memory and instinct will react in a different way each time depending on the circumstances, every time I have drawn on the job was not a quick reaction draw it was slow enough that I knew what I was doing prior to going into the building to clear it. There are two main stances I borrow from, the Weaver stance that I was trained in for CAP and in high school competition. which is the strong hand gripping the pistol with elbow slightly bent and the support arm cupping the side and underside of the grip for support and enables me to cross my dominant arm over my weak arm to hold a flashlight. This is what I refer to as my tactical stance, the stance I use to order someone down or clear a building with. It is comfortable and easy to move quickly and smoothly around a structure. Then there is the isosceles stance, what i was taught in training for Blue Line and what I refer too as my reaction stance. If I need to draw to shoot quickly, this stance allows a shooter to put his weapon out as far as possible and on target with minimal effort in order to get off a quick shot. Both arms extended fully with a proper grip. this is the stance that based on force science magazine is the one that is the most instinctual draw and fire stance and the one that an untrained person will go too no matter how they shoot at the range. I practice both ways and in many variations of both ways so that way I am prepared to fight once I need too. I would suggest figuring out your own system and using that for shooting at the range and training at a class. This way your natural reaction is what you will train and hone to an art form and you will not be fighting instinct as well as the BG when and if you need to present your weapon and fire
    "The value you put on the lost will be determined by the sacrifice you are willing to make to seek them until they are found."

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    It is ironic that you asked this question. Today, I worked with 2 people who drove ove 300 miles to have me work with them, and one of them posed the same question. First, let me say that I do not charge for this, but do it because I have a good job and like helping and working with people who want to learn.

    First, I would like to say that Gasmitty is correct, you need to become profiecient with aimed fire. Basic marksmenship fundementals cannot be ignored, and are a crucial foundation for building skills on. Practice open sighted firing until you have it down as second nature.

    There are many basic everyday situations you commonly and unwittlly place yourself into such as using a restroom at a desolate rest area late at night. You are standing at a urinal, facing the wall do your business. How could you possibly be more vunerable to attack? This is everyday life, and there are many more scenarios just like it you will find yourself in each day. This is what everyday people will encounter, not military style, house clearing, or run and gun type situations. So concentrate on the reality of the world in which you live, and concentrate your efforts there.

    Situation will always dictate the course of action, thereby the method of shooting technique required. At contact distance, an elbow to the head may be required to create distance for the draw. At further distance, cover may not be available, or feasible, so learning techniqes that minimize your body and protect vital areas while you engage the threat, such as a technique I have taught for years, may save your life. Practice the basics of marksmenship, practice the weapon presentation, then practice reality based training.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array Roger Phillips's Avatar
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    Las Vegas
    Which One First?

    Now that Suarez International has two seperate offerings when it comes to entry level handgun courses, I keep being asked the same question, "which one first?"

    "Do I start off with the fundamentals of marksmanship or do I start off with the fundamentals of point shooting?"

    First things first! The most important thing to know, is that where ever you start you need to absolutely own both skill sets and you must learn to seamlessly integrate the two.

    With that perfectly clear, which one you concentrate on first all depends on your situation. Conventional thinking is that you learn the fundamentals of marksmanship first. This is a very good way to go and is the path that I took. In the vast majority of cases, this is the best way to go.

    But, there are no hard rules. The situation is always the dictating factor.

    If you have a situation where your life went from a low threat level to a very high threat level, over night, you may want to break away from conventional thinking. If you are in such a situation and you need "the most likely" taken care of "right now," you may want to look at the fundamentals of point shooting first.

    Over the last five years, I have been in a very unique position to see things that very few people will ever see. This position is where I have neewbies coming to me to learn point shooting first. I have been in the unique position to see an "apple to apple comparison" between the whole "which one first" question. This is an unique experience that very few people have ever had the chance to be part of. This gives me a perspective on the subject that very few will ever see.

    If you "need" something that you can rely on "right now" learning point shooting first definitely has it's advantages. The "definitley" part of that would come from emperical data that I have collected over the last four years.

    What is very cool about the SI curriculum is how consistant it is in application over different catagories. What we teach you in the marksmanship courses applies to your point shooting skill sets. And what we teach you in the point shooting courses applies to your marksmanship skill sets.

    The eye/hand coordination to focus on a targeted point and draw your gun directly to that point, in a linear fashion, will put you 95%-98% there. The sights are nothing more than the final 2%-5% verification.

    Eye/hand coordination is the King!

    Whether you keep your focus on the targeted point, or you bring the focus back to the point that you drawing your front sight out to, is a very minor part of the equation inside of seven yards.

    But, as we come full circle, outside of seven yards you should have the time and the distance to allow you to get the focus off of the threat and back to the point where you are drawing your front sight out to. Any situation where we have the time (distance = time) we should be striving to get to our sights.

    As we do this, it is still the eye/hand cordination that puts the aim 95% -98% on the targeted point. So even if you have the time to get to the sights, lock onto a point to facilitate starting your eye/hand coordination. Once you have initiated the eye/hand coordination, begin to bring that focus back to the point that you will be drawing the front sight out to.

    This consistancy allows us to be better at each skill set, even when we are working on the other skill set.

    Back to the "Which one first" question, if you are in a position where the logistics force you to take point shooting before the fundamentals of problem! If you learn point shooting first, just keep an open mind. Realize that you still need sighted fire. If the two are taught correctly, you will see a ton of overlap and how well they integrate into one "just shoot the dirtbag!" concept.

    If you can, go fundamentals of marksmanship first.

    This is all a very personal decision that no one but you is in the position to judge. Nobody knows your situation as well as you do. Think it through, make your decision, and do not look back.

    I'm here to tell you, either way it will be just fine.

    The SI curriculums are set up as a progression where they build on top of each other. Other systems often force you to "dump" this or that as you progress in your skill sets.

    Which ever SI entry level hand gun course you plan on taking the foundation is the same. Same safety, same manipulations, and the same draw stroke. The biggest difference comes down to the curriculum focus on the actual aiming method.

    Even if the actual aiming method is "front sight focused" or "drive the gun to the focal point focused" the body mechanics are the same. The use of the eye/hand coordination is the same also. As mentioned, it is the "drive the gun to the focal point" part of the eye/hand coordination that puts you on the targeted point. Bringing your focus back from the focal point, to the point where your front sight is being drawn out to really is the only difference.

    Learning the optimal skill set first is always a good idea. Then slowly taking the visual input away to less and less optimal is the natural progression. This is the way that the Point Shooting Progressions course is set up. We start with precision marksmanship with hard focus on the top edge of the front sight, then we slowly take away the visual input. Once you have the body mechanics of the eye/hand coordination down, dropping below line of sight, heading into the retention concept, and working in one handed combat shooting is not difficult at all.

    I've given thousands of tips as an instructor, here is one that is worth as much or more than any tip that I have ever given.

    Whether your entry level course is fundamentals of marksmanship, or fundamentals of point shooting, make the mental connection between the two from the very start. That is what this thread is about. Do not compartmentalize the information as a "sighted fire course" or a "point shooting course." Begin to identify the corellations between the two skill set from the very first minute!

    What this does, is it allows you to be a better point shooter as you learn the fundamentals of marksmanship. In return, you will become a better marksman as you learn the fundamentals of point shooting. The two go hand in hand. They compliment each other. They are just points inside of the "just shoot the dirtbag" concept.

    It is all about making the hit! Eye/hand coordination and the corresponding body mechanics is what allows this. The sights only refine the precision an additional 2%-5%.

    Once we begin to understand the applications of eye/hand coordination, solid body mechanics, and the concept of "economy of motion", we can begin to start taking short cuts.

    It is the short cuts that facilitate the differences between the "one handed combat draw stoke" and the "two hand high pectoral draw stroke." Both of these draw strokes are linear. Both work off of eye/hand coordintion. Both use solid body mechanics. Both work within the concept of economy of motion. The difference is just a natural progression in your short cuts. The height out of the holster that I "turn the corner" is dictated by the situation. One handed combat shooting is all about speed so I turn the corner as soon as I have cleared the holster. This is just a natural progression in your skill level and your ability to use short cuts.

    These are not seperate skill sets. They are just points inside of the continuum.

    If looked at this subject with an open mind and a solid understanding of how each is taught, sighted fire and point shooting can be taught at the same time. Since they are not seperate skill sets, they do not need to be taught seperately.

    Context is everything! If the context of the fight is kept at the forefront, the ability to see the need for a conceptual approach is evident. Many trainers of the recent past considered their students to not be sharp enough to understand the context and dynamics of a fight......all while learning how to shoot.

    Over the last five years of instructing, I can say that that is a pure misconception. Many people want to believe that "common sense is not common." I believe that is an elitist attitude that has very little reality attached to it. The students that I have trained with over the last four years seem to recognize and understand common sense very quickly.

    What we are talking about here is teaching "the mental aspect of the fight" from the very first minute of training. When teaching the fundamentals, if they are addressed in this manner, it is very easy to teach the continuum of shooting right off of the bat. When addressed correctly the students understand that the situation is the dictating factor and that there is a need to be well rounded and versatile.

    When you give the student an open minded perspective to start with, the barriers that are created by the closed minded instructors are simply nonexistant. When the student has never been subjected to closed minded teaching, they are in a much better position to learn at a pace that is more in line with their real ability.

    To inform a student that he "needs" his sights is a blatant lie and perpetuates the closed minded training that we have seen between 1950 and 2000. I have found that it is very benefitial to teach a more open minded approach from the very start. An approach that teaches sight fire and point shooting as nothing more than pieces of the puzzle that must be connected.

    So very few people actually know how to teach point shooting. Even fewer know how to teach sighted fire and point shooting as one fluid concept. Until you have actually seen the two taught may not know what you may not know.

    It is hard to judge something that you may have never even seen before. But that may be why the terms "open minded" and "closed minded" are used so many times.

    Just because people say "Thats the way we have always done it" does not mean that is the best way.
    Roger Phillips Owner of Fight Focused Concepts, formerly know as Sweatnbullets

  14. #13
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    Many times folks will attach themselves to a particular technique or style of shooting and praise it as the end all lifesaving tool that if you don't do it this way you are wrong.

    How you train is up to you but just remember there is no magic gun, magic bullet or one technique that works in all circumstances. Neither you or I or more importantly the bad guy come with a flip chart or rule book of what we or they can do or not do. Learn all you can from different people and schools and then adapt that skill into something that works for you and then practice that skill until you are comfortable with it and retain it. If it does not work for you it simply does not work for you it does not mean you are wrong or will not survive a lethal force encounter it just means you have to use a different tool, skill or technique to get the job done.

    Just and opinion
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

  15. #14
    VIP Member Array shockwave's Avatar
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    In all fighting arts, of any kind, there comes a point where you have to "make it your own."

    So yes, you can study with a teacher who can show you things, but at some point you have to internalize the lessons and adapt them to your own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. And, ultimately, you'll have your own personal style.
    "It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first."

  16. #15
    Member Array jrfctx's Avatar
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    I would seek out a trainer who espouses common sense in their methodology, one who is inclusive of point shooting, alternative sighting methods(type two focus/aiming off the slide/CAR,etc.), and hard focus on the front sight. To exclude any of these things would limit your abilities to survive a gunfight. Take into account your particular needs for defense and start there, but plan to become well rounded by exploring the full spectrum of gunfighting, not just this or that, because you never know what situation your going to find yourself in. I would also seek out instruction in the use of empty hand combatives and edged weapons, and then learn to integrate all of your fighting skills.
    Last edited by jrfctx; February 13th, 2011 at 01:59 PM.

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