January 21st, 2008 09:16 AM
Question for Tactical Instructors?
I have just finished a (4) day Advanced Handgun Course In this class was a former Navy Seal, Police Officers, PSD Operators, Current EP Agents, And a Former FBI Agent /Tactical Instructor. All Solid Operators what I learned from this course was that when you put this many talented folks together with varied backgrounds you are going to learn several new ways to do things! What I teach is learn with an open mind you may not have a use for that technique or tactic now but put it in your “Tactical Tool box” one day you may need it.
As a LE Firearms Instructor and ILEFI member I search there forums for new training info everyday! This is a great source of info from some very experienced Instructors.
What follows are excerpts from a post that begs a training question:
I was just rereading an old post on the ILEFI forum that stated that NTOA members returning from military combat are stating that under stress they do not switch hands/shoulders to better use weak side cover. I am a firm believer in changing hands when either using weak side cover or taking a weak side corner but I do see the authors point. And he does state that while switching hands/shoulders has an advantage we should face reality that it probably will not be done when it's for real.
Should we learn to shoot "Bilaterally" Ken Good of Strategos Int. teaches there were several good reasons to do so, including being able to always move in a forward direction (i.e. with long guns) no matter which side targets appeared on; maintaining proper posture in the shooting platform; efficient use of cover and cornering, etc. To paraphrase Ken, there are left handed and right handed corners in this world, and if you are only capable of encountering one efficiently, you are 50% as effective as someone who can do both. Of course, it may not always be possible to switch hands, but it’s very nice to have that option.
I was taught when shooting around the left side of cover, I had to put the pistol in my left hand. The theory was by putting the gun in the hand on the same side of cover you were breaking, you would expose less of yourself to your adversary. This was gospel for a long time in the law enforcement training community. This is shooting “Bilaterally”.
The other method taught is to “roll out.” This is performed by keeping yourself positioned at least arm’s reach from your cover. If you’re right handed, you must keep your left elbow tucked in tight against your side. As you approach the plane that breaks the edge of your cover, you “roll out” by bending at the waist until you see enough of your target to engage. It’s okay if your weapon is not perpendicular to the ground; it will still shoot straight. This requires the shooter to
break the pretty-range-stance that was beat into their heads in the academy and mold to their available cover. By using this technique the shooter can keep his weapon in his dominant hand, therefore increasing the probability of making accurate hits on their opponent. Accurate hits, are what end gunfights
I’ve become a firm believer in the saying: “It’s a way not the way.” The phrase means there are several acceptable ways to perform a technique, not just one “right” way. This is the first thing I learned at Blackwater as an Instructor. Of course there are wrong ways, but some instructors get hung up on one acceptable method and fail to recognize alternative styles that still accomplish the objective.
So.... what say you?
Should we teach to switch hands?
Or does it depend upon the situation/individual?
I would like to hear your thought and ideas!
"Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option".
Director of Training
Golden Seal Enterprises Inc.
Firearms Training Unit
Golden Seal Enterprises
The following people contributed by posting on ILEFI
January 21st, 2008 09:21 AM
Teach to switch hands... its just something else to tuck away and use if needed. I doubt under pressure that it will be done, but if it is its a good skill to have.
January 21st, 2008 09:51 AM
In the courses that my father and I teach, we teach the ability to think outside the box....that being said not all of our students will switch hands, but the ones that practice switching it up are much more likely to learn more and just get more options in their approaches. I'm a lucky person as I've learned to shoot guns with both since I was 6. I'm left eye dominant and right handed so it comes pretty natural. I'm much better with my right hand, but I can still hit center of mass with my left hand everytime. With experienced shooters, you'll find they are open to learn more tricks and techniques, whereas new shooters will only do what feels comfortable. Its a very thin line with the new shooters, in doing something that is comfortable for them so that they continue to shoot and advance and doing something that they don't like and having them just quit. I try to gauge my students as often as possible by individual level. I haven't had any navy seals in my courses, but I have had a few police officers, and then I've also had quite a few people who had never shot a gun before. Learning is different for each person and as such has to be tailored around the individual as much as possible.
"All war is deception" --Sun Tzu
January 21st, 2008 10:48 AM
Whether the principles and concepts are applicable in the real world does not mean they make it back to our students for a various reasons. Our group believes that even in beginner classes students need exposure to transitioning from dominate to non-dominate hands for shooting but not for the reasons stated here. Only in advance courses are transitioning comes into play and is optional.
On a side note, I trained with Ken for one day at LFI level 3 as a guest instructor and was impressed with some of the techniques presented to us in regards to simplicity and effectiveness.
ACCJT Certified LEO DT Instructor
January 21st, 2008 12:47 PM
I came to that conclusion naturally. I do practice off hand, but more for the intention of being able to shoot well if my strong side is 'out of action', due to injury or otherwise occupied.
When I started practicing running & gunning, I would switch hands to accommodate barriers. It does give me more cover/ concealment for my body, but it slowed my times WAY down. I found I was much faster to target by not switching hands at barriers, just leaning or rolling out further.
Is it good or bad? Tough question....By switching you may present less to the BG, but if it takes you longer to stop said BG....is it better or worse? I think that in a real fight you will react & go back to your strengths & training. You have to decide if your training incorporates switching & when & when not to.
I haven't been in the stress or a life or death shooting (hope it stays that way!), but this is where a shot timer has really helped me. It does add a little stress when you are trying to beat your time & still be accurate. With that added stress, I default back to my training...which for me usually means staying with strong side.
I'm looking forward to see what the pro's here think. Hopefully all of us novices will get some useful tips.....
Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.-Seneca
"If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. If I have a gun, what do I have to be paranoid about?" -Clint Smith
"An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." -Jeff Cooper
January 21st, 2008 04:01 PM
On switching hands;
I teach it...
I practice it...
I stay proficient with it and can use it if I need to...
but when operating I tend to stick with strong hand only due to my proprioceptive and kinesthetic comfort with it.
Training means learning the rules. Experience means learning the exceptions.
January 21st, 2008 04:15 PM
Sadly, the fact that folks aren't switching sides to take advantage of cover is expected. I've seen it in training and combat scenarios and many times.
Short answer: yes, it should be taught and practiced.
Story time: Prior to deploying to OIF, Troy and I were in charge of all the pre-deployment training for our battalion. One phase of the training was a 2-week MOUT/SASO package. Throughout the MOUT portion, we stressed to our students over and over that they needed to use any (all) available cover and/or concealment. We taught them how to switch shoulders and properly use their 3-point slings, how to stay covered, etc.
When the final, student-lead assault came, our OPFOR had a field day with the Simunitions. Many of the students were under the false assumption that just because they couldn't see the OPFOR, the OPFOR couldn't see them. They learned that getting shot in the toe, foot, elbow, knuckle, knee, legs... is painful. It was tough watching a security element set up a cordon on a house, and seeing a kid hit the left side of cover with the rifle in his right shoulder, sticking all the way out into the open.
Now, we had explained and demonstrated the proper way to do it. We had the student imitate us "by the numbers" and then practice on his own. But when the adrenalin began to flow and the heart rate was up, he didn't pay attention to what he was doing...
Paul Howe mentions in "LEADERSHIP AND TRAINING FOR THE FIGHT" that in order to 'master' a skill, it has to be practiced perfectly for up to 3000 repetitions. I think could be part of the problem. As an instructor, I have X number of days to give a student the basics. It's up to them to practice on their own time afterwards...
Do you have the time in our schedule to devote to 3000 perfect repetitions? Do you have the will to conduct 3000 perfect repetitions? Are your repetitions perfect to begin with?
That’s a question that only the individual can answer. I understand it’s tough with training budgets, ammo allocations and daily schedules being what they are. Personally, I choose to make time for it. In the final analysis, you can expect to be only half as good in combat as your worst day in training.
January 21st, 2008 05:38 PM
Very good points.
I have a phrase I tell my students that my father taught me:
"You will not rise to the occasion: You will default to your level of training.......how good was your trainig?" How much do you practice what you have learned?
January 21st, 2008 09:07 PM
I too have taught people to switch hands. I have also taught them to stay with their strong hand too. There are strong points for each, and I would say whatever the situation dictates, is what you do. I am all for keeping it simple and not making the situation any more difficult than it may already be. BUT, exposing less of yourself is pretty high on my list too.
Usually, I tell my students that there are many ways to accomplish the goal and your skills, mind, and body will figure it out if you just think about getting there.
Sometimes, they invent a whole new technique!!!!
January 22nd, 2008 11:48 PM
Teach them to switch.
Then leave it up to the individual to decide if it fits into their tool box.
Shooting around cover is not the only time that you may need to be bilateral. Especially with a long gun.
I teach a lot of dynamic movement in my courses. Binding up with a handgun can be solve three ways (four counting back peddling, but I refuse to teach back peddling)....a directional change, a footwork pivot, and transfering the gun. The directional change is the best solution. After that it is user dependent. Some of my students prefer the foot work pivot and some prefer to transfer the gun. I like the foot work pivot because it is a gross motor skill set and I have always been a foot work guy.
Dynamic movement with a long gun is a much more challenging proposition. The context of my course is close quarters shooting. I teach one main concept.....index the gun onto the threat as quickly and accurately as the situation will allow. This leads to full tranfers, partial tranfers, and shooting while floating the rifle butt across the body.
But of course, much or this is done after solid long gun point shooting skills have been ingrained.
January 23rd, 2008 12:54 AM
I'm a retired officer and instructor as well. I put a lot of emphasis on shooting well with either hand. I firmly believe the ability to switch hands to fit the situation is a potential life saving skill.
January 23rd, 2008 08:06 AM
Since I am the guy who began that thread over on IALEFI
I should clarify some things.
Most of the WW2 manuals that I have read stressed switching hands/shoulders with firearms.
The advantages are obvious, but it seems that training time/inclination is the main concern.
An excellent alternative to switching is the "Cirillo Cant"
as taught by the late Jim Cirillo.
This keeps the gun in the strong hand and works as well with one handed or a two handed grip.
Most importantly is how it keeps your body well behind right and left side cover.
I was surprised when Applegate told me that this was what he preferred since he never was a fan of switching hands.
I recall one guns drawn incident when I was backing up two cops where I actually changed cover rather than switching hands--but that was over 20 years ago before the concept ever occured to me.
More recently I was put through some room clearing
drills with the Swedish police and I found myself changing hands quite often to deal with changing situations.
Bottom line---I stress switching hands but I also show the Cirillo method as to better prepare both the motivated and not so motivated student.
February 6th, 2008 06:59 PM
I know you are right about the SEALS and other Special Operations units not switching hands. Personally, I think that this is a big mistake in training because what happens if one hand is injured.
If a sling is being used on a long gun, then the switch may not be possible or wise. But, I believe that less body exposure is normally a good thing.
The only thing about switching sides on a long gun is that what happens if you are “caught” when switching? A handgun is much easier to switch than a long gun in my opinion.
Honestly, there are pros and cons. One has to weigh them and decide for themselves which is best for them. Personally, I don’t like limiting my options or my training. I do both and we encourage our students to do the same.
Train hard, train often, and train REALISTICALLY!!!
Brian K. LaMaster
President-Innovative Tactical Concepts, LLC
Modern Warrior Talk
"High Impact Training"
“Serious tactics for serious situations!”
February 6th, 2008 10:33 PM
We teach and train to switch hands if the shooter wishes. Comes in handy.
"The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization. It was greatest before there was any civilization." Sigmund Freud
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