Shooting, moving, cover.

This is a discussion on Shooting, moving, cover. within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Interesting exercise outlined and sourced from Dave Spaulding's blogsite. The exercise was admittedly not a be all end all but just an indicator of tendencies. ...

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    Member Array niks's Avatar
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    Shooting, moving, cover.

    Interesting exercise outlined and sourced from Dave Spaulding's blogsite. The exercise was admittedly not a be all end all but just an indicator of tendencies. I'd be interested in your thoughts.




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    From Greg Ellifritz at Active Response. An interesting piece of work! I have seen similar studies...the first from Bruce Siddle in the 1980's...and they all seem to come to the same conclusion. I have seen similar conclusions from the many people I have interviewed who have been involved in gunfights. While I remain skeptical about shooting while moving, moving fast and shooting and seeking objects that will either stop bullets or hide us from our opponent(s) is Tactical Gold! As far as sights go, if you are going to "reference" them in a fast, unfolding situation, they need to be of a configuration that is easily noticed...bright color, etc. Black on black or three little dots just won't cover it! Please enjoy!

    As the full-time training officer and firearms instructor for my police department, I often have the opportunity to attend firearms training sessions from some of the best trainers in the world. I have noticed that most of these trainers teach students to shoot their firearms while moving, with the premise being that a student is less likely to be struck by incoming fire if he/she is a moving target. In addition to “shooting on the move”, almost all trainers advocate moving to cover in a gunfight, if said cover is nearby. These two techniques make seem to be very logical. Most people would agree that making yourself a moving target and seeking bullet-resistant cover could only help one’s chances of winning a gunfight. Having an inquisitive mind, however, I’ve always wondered exactly how much of an advantage one could expect to gain over his opponent through the use of movement and cover.



    To answer this question, I began an exhaustive search of hundreds of firearm tactics books and countless accounts of police-involved shootings looking for examples where utilizing movement or cover saved a person’s life during a gunfight. During my search I found many instances where officers and civilians reported that they used cover and/or movement to help them win a firefight. I also found quite a few articles and books extolling the perceived benefits of cover and movement. I did not, however, find any concrete scientific evidence describing any quantifiable advantages of using movement or cover in a gunfight. The question remained: Which is the best tactic to use in a gunfight…remain stationary, move, or seek cover?



    Because I couldn’t find the type of information I wanted, I designed a scientific experiment to get my own data. Besides training law enforcement officers, I also teach firearms skills at the Tactical Defense Institute (TDI), a shooting school in southern Ohio. John Benner, the owner and chief instructor at TDI was very supportive of the idea of my experiment and was curious what the data might show. He suggested that the ideal test subjects would be in his soon-to-be–held “final intensive scenario training” (FIST) class. The students enrolled in this class were highly trained, all having graduated at least six levels (ten days) of TDI’s handgun curriculum. Most had additional training from other shooting schools as well. John graciously allowed me to perform my experiment during a segment of the two-day FIST course.



    THE EXPERIMENT

    The test I conducted was loosely based on some training drills created by Sam Faulkner, an innovative trainer recently retired from the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy. The experiment had three phases. During each phase, one student faced another with a distance of fifteen feet separating them. Each student was outfitted with safety gear and armed with a .38 caliber revolver loaded with two “Code Eagle” brand marking cartridges. For those of you unfamiliar with this technology, the marking cartridge is a .38 paintball powered by a special primed plastic case. It chambers in any .38 revolver without modification and shoots the paint ball at approximately 300 feet per second. The rounds produce a sharp stinging sensation and a bright smear of red paint on the bodies of the people who are hit. Obviously it is necessary to wear protective face shields when using these rounds in order to prevent eye injuries. In prior training exercises I’ve found the Code Eagle rounds to be very valuable in gunfight simulations. They are reasonably accurate, and produce quite a “pain penalty” to the person who is struck. Anticipation of even the small amount of pain these projectiles generate causes considerable anxiety for most people. This anxiety at least partially duplicates the stress reaction one is likely to experience in a gunfight.

    In the first phase of the experiment, shooters were given orders to fire their two rounds at each other as quickly as possible after a surprise start signal was given. I instructed the students to remain stationary during the simulated gunfight. Absolutely no movement of the feet was allowed. Phase two was identical to the first phase, except that students were allowed free movement (forward, backward, or lateral) after I gave the surprise start signal. In phase three, students started a step away from one of two fifty-five gallon steel drums. These drums were to simulate cover. On the start command, students were instructed to move to their steel drum and use it for cover while engaging their respective adversaries.

    THE RESULTS

    A total of nineteen students participated in the experiment. One hundred fourteen rounds were fired, with thirty-eight rounds fired per phase. I tracked and compared hit percentages during all three phases, differentiating between hits on the torso and the more peripheral hits on the arms and legs. The data are as follows:



    PHASE HIT RATE TORSO HITS

    #1-STANDING 85% 51%

    #2- MOVING 47% 11%

    #3- USING COVER 26% 6%



    LESSONS LEARNED

    The students who participated in my study were as surprised by the results as I was. We all expected that movement and the use of cover would reduce the hit rates of the rounds fired. We were astonished, however, at how much difference moving and seeking cover made. The difference in hit rates between standing and moving cannot be explained away by a lack of skills by the shooters. Each shooter had extensively practiced shooting on the move, with most being able to hit a twelve-inch steel plate on demand any distance inside of fifty feet while moving. Similarly, these students are adept at hitting a moving target while standing still. The critical factor seemed to be the difficulty the shooter experienced in hitting a moving target while moving his own body at the same time. This clearly identifies a need for additional training and highlights the critical importance of making yourself a moving target during a gunfight. If highly trained shooters hit their opponents’ torsos with only eleven percent of rounds fired, imagine how much worse the average street thug with no training and minimal experience will perform under similar conditions!



    It is also clear that when students used cover they fared even better than they did while moving. The hit rates would be far less than reported if several students didn’t break cover and retreat after running out of ammunition during the drill. Most of the hits occurred when this happened. Proper use of cover almost eliminated the chance of being hit.



    One other critical statistic needs to be noted. Thirteen percent of the hits across all phases of the experiment struck the hands or guns of the person at which they were fired. This indicates a strong focus on the threat being directed against the shooter and a lack of attention to the front sight, creating some implications for future training. These shooters are strongly indoctrinated in the use of their weapon sights for most shooting situations. Even when shooting fast, they generally utilize a “flash” sight picture when shooting on targets. Even with extensive practice, very few students reported seeing their sights in this experiment. Not wanting to bring up the dreaded “point shooting versus sighted fire” debate in this forum, I’ll simply say that we as trainers need to do some more work. We need to find a better solution to allow our students to hit their targets with a greater percentage of rounds during the stressful, fast-evolving nature of a gunfight. Whatever that solution is, be it training in point shooting techniques, an enhanced sighted shooting curriculum, or stress-inoculating scenario-based training, it is our collective responsibility as trainers to find it.



    It was interesting to note that some of the shooters in the above experiment shot with only one hand despite doing the majority of their training from a two-handed platform. When asked why they had done this, most were unaware that they had fired one-handed. Their bodies seemed to be on autopilot, self-selecting what was perceived to be the fastest way to get their guns on target. This fact, combined with the prevalence of hits on the hands or guns of the shooters indicates that we should focus much more of our time training one-hand shooting, hand transitions, and support-hand shooting techniques. We should also emphasize the importance of carrying secondary weapons in case our primary gun becomes inoperative after taking a bullet.



    Overall, this experiment generates more questions than it does answers. I set two very critical limits in this experiment…a fifteen-foot separation distance and the firing of two rounds per shooter. I chose the distance because a large percentage of law enforcement officers are killed while facing gunmen at this range or even closer. For this study, it seemed an appropriate balance between a range that was so close that hits were virtually guaranteed and one that was too far for the Code Eagle projectiles to be effective. It is likely that the results would be somewhat different if the ranges were altered. Similarly, firing more or fewer rounds will probably change the results. Who knows what to expect when variables such as multiple attackers are injected into the equation. The true value of this experiment may not be the data obtained, but the experience given to the students. They received a chance to see for themselves what techniques worked and which were not as successful. I do not expect anyone to alter their tactical doctrines or teaching styles as a result of this article. I only encourage all trainers to examine the tactics they present to their students and be willing to put them to the test in a somewhat more chaotic environment than the traditional “square range”. It is only this type of thorough examination that will promote a greater understanding of tactical issues and, in the process, save our students’ lives.

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    VIP Member Array First Sgt's Avatar
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    Interesting read. I was taught long ago, the M.O.V.E. principle (Motionless Operators Ventilate Easily)...It's how I train and continue to train. Move and shoot. JMO
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    Funny how some of us have been training this exact same thing for a decade and some are finally taking the time to do the work and research it....It is all about exploiting your opponent's OODA cycle and exploiting the action vs reaction advantage.

    It is pretty simple. If you move it is harder to hit you. If you move quickly and unexpectedly it is even HARDER to hit you. If you DO get hit it will likely be a peripheral hit and not center mass. That is good for you no matter how you look at it. NOT getting shot is a good thing. If we HAVE to get shot peripheral hits are imminently more survivable than COM hits.

    If you train to shoot on the move AT REALISTIC ENGAGEMENT DISTANCES (4 yards and less) and AT REAL SPEED and TRAINING TO DO IT THE WAY YOUR BODY WORKS MOST EFFICIENTLY then you will be able to score hits while you are moving with a purpose.

    Does it work at 15 yards? No. After about 5 to 7 yards most people cannot move full speed with a purpose "off the X" and still make guaranteed hits. But at half that distance...the distance where EVERYONE'S statistics show that most pistol fights take place...you certainly can move quickly and still hit who you are aiming at.

    If ALL you EVER do is shoot paper with a 2 handed grip standing flat footed and looking at the sights then your odds of hitting a moving human in a reactive gunfight are limited. But if you actually train Force on Force against other live opponents who move like people move and if you can shoot without having to have a picture perfect sight picture then your odds will dramatically increase.

    Again...some "discovered" this a long time ago......
    Last edited by Cruel Hand Luke; May 2nd, 2013 at 01:05 PM.
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    Wow, this actually reflects some of my own earliest training by an older generation of shooters that vastly conflict with many of the more modern trainers I encounter regularly. Some of the points that I keyed in on.

    1. When you have real bullets flying and not painful simulated ammo, you will see even more enlightening behavior. Even as a child dressing in thick clothes and goggles we shot each other with BB guns which are many times more painful and it did not make us act like we would if those had been real bullets. No more than the pain of a stinging paint ball game makes those people act realistic. Although I'm sure there is huge value in this test regardless.

    2. Point shooting is a skill that is not necessarily indexing the gun on the target. I can demonstrate with the gun blocked completely from by view. It's a real skill you develop with your eyes and hand, and practicing with your crouch, eyes on target and a single handed convulsive grip is not some outdated technique that we have magically moved past. The human body in combat works the same now as it did 100 years ago. Just studying cop shootings at 10-15 feet you see how highly trained individuals revert to single hand point shooting, problem is many of them never worked on that skill. I work on sighted and unsighted skills, both. To not do so is arrogant and unwise.

    3. As we practice walking slow across an open area, restricted from changing magazines and following those cool IDPA rules remember you are really practicing the art of getting your ass shot off. The real 35-40 year old veteran cops I know who have been in dozens of gun fights, and wounded, all tell me they are mostly RUNNING for cover or shooting from cover, or looking for a telephone pole, engine block. And if they fire while moving it's usually to make the BG get their head down, cover fire, so they can get to cover. You also hear some stories of actually closing the distance when super close up, or even charging the bad guy making them freeze up. Which to many older guys came as a surprise.

    Speaking of IDPA I laugh inside when during a match I see competitors including cops hanging their gun, wrists, or arms around the edge of cover shooting. Especially a wall. Watch the old FBI training films where they shoot anywhere down that line of the wall and hit the person who is assuming they are safe shooting around that cover. Backing off 3 feet solves the whole issue. If you compete in IDPA do yourself a favor and go practice alone and untrain yourselves from doing a half dozen different things they force you to do. It might save your life one day. Oh, and dont worry about dropping a magazine with one round left in it and getting a 10 point procedural when your life is on the line.

    I personally practice getting off the X, and recently reminded by someone to continue getting off each X with multiple threats. One of the best DVDs I have is rather boring but shows world class shooters firing at moving targets, and from moving vehicles. I am amazed how 10-15 mph, a speed you can run, is so hard to get a hit. If you are not a cop why would you not simply reach a distance you are willing to simply escape?

    I sure don't know all the answers but I do know some things and I will continue searching for the truths and wisdom in these situations and practicing those skills. I built 4 moving targets I shoot at while I'm moving. It was a skill that was hard at first but now I can do it fairly well. You know all those people in competition that say wait for the moving target to apex or cross your ambush? Yes that works but costs a lot of time. I have NO problem now chasing down those fast moving targets with my sights. And my fastest times through many of those classifiers and IDPA/USPSA courses is with POINT SHOOTING. The fastest El-Presidente I ever shot was all point shooting. Same with Smoke and Hope at the steel match.

    Thanks for the very interesting read!!!
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    I keep preaching that being a good shooter at a range does not equal being a good self defense shooter. I have seen at many competitions how so many fail at hitting a slow moving target the first few times they try. Most cannot hit well when they are moving either. Put them together and you have a lot of missed shots and liability. However, I am often dismissed as an old timer who does not know that a light trigger and laser makes up for lack of self defense training and skills. I have long since stopped being bothered by those who refuse to believe or learn. Let them learn the hard way. If they survive.
    The worst thing about growing old is that other men no longer see you as dangerous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old_Dog View Post
    I keep preaching that being a good shooter at a range does not equal being a good self defense shooter. I have seen at many competitions how so many fail at hitting a slow moving target the first few times they try. Most cannot hit well when they are moving either. Put them together and you have a lot of missed shots and liability. However, I am often dismissed as an old timer who does not know that a light trigger and laser makes up for lack of self defense training and skills. I have long since stopped being bothered by those who refuse to believe or learn. Let them learn the hard way. If they survive.
    You are so right. Some just do not believe, but they live in their own gun fight. They will never realize the error of their thought process until it hits the fan....
    Don"t let stupid be your skill set....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old_Dog View Post
    I keep preaching that being a good shooter at a range does not equal being a good self defense shooter. I have seen at many competitions how so many fail at hitting a slow moving target the first few times they try. Most cannot hit well when they are moving either. Put them together and you have a lot of missed shots and liability. However, I am often dismissed as an old timer who does not know that a light trigger and laser makes up for lack of self defense training and skills.
    Yup.

    Moving of the "X"; leveraging cover; shooting on the move; shooting moving targets; shooting from cover; shooting when seriously injured; force-on-force scenarios with one or more "assailants" actively trying to "kill" the defender; ...

    All of which can ratchet up the consequences of failure, pump up the stress levels, none of which really accurately simulates what really occurs in a deadly violent situation.

    BTDT on a couple occasions, though not with firearms. It's violent, disturbingly ugly and brutal, realizing there's no mercy and no quarter given, with life on the line and likely only moments left to erase the threat and survive.


    Quote Originally Posted by Old_Dog View Post
    I have long since stopped being bothered by those who refuse to believe or learn. Let them learn the hard way. If they survive.
    Same, here.

    Those who refuse to consider their situation and vulnerability as well as taking practical and effective steps on their behalf and on behalf of those whose security they're responsible for ... Well, history isn't kind to predators' food. Should be enough said, though some folks will never learn, believing the utopian desires will protect them from all ills of the world. Such folk become food.
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    I have learned much from Greg, both in person and from the articles he has written. Thanks for the post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaShooter View Post


    3. As we practice walking slow across an open area, restricted from changing magazines and following those cool IDPA rules remember you are really practicing the art of getting your ass shot off. The real 35-40 year old veteran cops I know who have been in dozens of gun fights, and wounded, all tell me they are mostly RUNNING for cover or shooting from cover, or looking for a telephone pole, engine block. And if they fire while moving it's usually to make the BG get their head down, cover fire, so they can get to cover. You also hear some stories of actually closing the distance when super close up, or even charging the bad guy making them freeze up. Which to many older guys came as a surprise.
    I guess that explains how the NYC cops managed to ventilate half a dozen innocent bystanders during a shootout a while ago! Suppressive fire probably makes sense in Afghanistan but not so much on American streets where you're responsible for where every bullet you fire ends up. You make some great points, but I'm not sure I agree with the suppressive fire part.
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    Thanks for the post. This is why I have taken 4 Gun Fighting Classes and one Alumni Class in the last 3 years. As a result I can get pretty good hits on targets while moving to cover. In the two IDPA matches I attended that had move and shoot I was running away from the SO as he tried to keep up with me. At 65YO I am not the fastest out there but I can outrun an IDPA SO! I am only a member of USPSA and shoot B Class Limited. Also, one of the folks I have trained with on more than one time is Cruel Hand Luke above. This guy knows his stuff and how to teach it!
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    Phaedrus I think Blue Thunder is getting more to the points I was trying to make. I almost laugh out loud at the thing they do at almost every IDPA match with the baby step back peddling to cover while firing slow accurate shots at bad guys, bumping into the wall very clumsy then going around cover and proceeding with the stage. The guy I shoot with that was 40 year career in border patrol, marshalls and Miami drug units was in dozens of real gun battles and wounded more than once. He showed me how to turn and run like hell while firing to the rear with actually accurate single hand shots. No spraying and praying, and in the process he says they get their heads down and usually stop firing when your couple of shots are either hitting them or whizzing by their ear. I sure hope I have just enough common sense not to spray bullets wildly on a sidewalk loaded with people like the many poorly trained NYC cops that never saw a gun before they came to the academy and qualify once a year. I may have mentioned that I shoot around a lot of cops and sometimes I think the percentage of them that shoot well is lower than the average civilian competitor. Some can't shoot worth a hill of beans. And security guards? They qualify at a range I used to visit often and I wouldn't trust one of them with a water gun. On the other hand I should clearly state that I know some LEOs that are fantastic shooters and very wise. I also realize after a couple years only a few of the many instructors that teach around here are actually worth a crap.

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    Member Array Cruel Hand Luke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    I guess that explains how the NYC cops managed to ventilate half a dozen innocent bystanders during a shootout a while ago!

    They were not moving to cover or using "suppressive fire"...they were standing still and shooting at a mostly stationary target. They just missed...a lot. The 12# trigger in their Glock 19s certainly didn't help any with their marksmanship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Thunder View Post
    Also, one of the folks I have trained with on more than one time is Cruel Hand Luke above. This guy knows his stuff and how to teach it!
    Thanks Blue Thunder. I appreciate the kind words. Hope to see you in class again sometime.
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    His finding mostly match my finding from doing FOF. I will go on to say point shooting will help in the ratio of hits in his study.

    GOTX, get the first hit and then keep hitting till the BG is done fighting.

    GOTX and getting the first hit are two very important factors in most gunfights.
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    I was taught over 30 years ago in the Army, as a matter of fact it was one of the first things they taught us; If someone is shooting at you RUN to cover. In my career in LE that served me well, take cover THEN tell the perp to drop his gun from a superior tactical position.
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