Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week

 In a previous “Tactical Tip Of The Week”, I stated that one critical point in the curriculum that I teach is that “Our goal is to perfect simplicity”. This implies two separate issues. One is seeking perfection and the other is perfecting simple methods and tactics that have proven to work in combat.

 So, how do we go about seeking the perfection of simplicity that we seek? One thing we must absolutely ensure is that the methods we will attempt to perfect are valid for the environment we will be in when the methods will be used to stay alive. If this principle is not adhered to, all that will happen is the valuable training time we have will be wasted on programing inappropriate responses. Please pay strict attention to the methodology you are using.

 Once we sort out what we intend to perfect, then the work begins. The first step in this training process is to list all the various elements of your program that you want to perfect. As an example, here is a very short list that lays out this process:

  •  One-handed shooting with the primary hand at 3 and 5 yards
  • Two-handed shooting at 7 yards

 Use this process to make a complete list of all the applications you wish to “perfect”. Once you have the complete list, take ONE of the listed items and spend the necessary time to gain more competence in that item. How long should be spent dong this specific training on that item will depend on how much progress you are willing to accept. Wen you feel like you have attained more competency in that item, move to the next item. Continue this process until you have completed the list. You will be in a much better place than when you started this process. However, most of us will not be anywhere near “perfection”. So, start the process again. This time you will begin at a higher level of competency and at the end of this next sequence, you will be even better.

 If you think this can be an almost unending process, YOU ARE RIGHT!! This is a process I started first in my martial arts training decades ago and I have applied to my firearms training. The point of this training regime is that we can always be better and training has to always be continuous.

 Can we ever attain “perfection”? That’s most likely doubtful. But the beauty of this process is that we can have that goal of perfection guiding us and motivating us to always be better.

 Lou Chiodo

 A safety tip from Lou Chiodo


Tactical Tip Of The Week



Part VII

 This is the final part in this series of discussions on training issues and how we should organize our training based upon the realities of what happens in real world incidents. If you haven’t read Part I through Part V, it would be beneficial to read them prior to reading Part V. You can find Part I through VI in my website www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page – Gunfighters Ltd Combat Shooting Methods Inc.

 To recap some of the key points of the previous articles in this series, I have laid out a foundation of information that can be used to understand how our mind and body can be affected in spontaneous, close-quarters combat shootings. Understanding this information can lead us to why certain methodologies will have a greater probability of working under the high stress levels common to close-quarters fighting as opposed to working against us. Our training goal is to help eliminate any void in our training. We want to be able to fight with a trained response appropriate for the scenario we are facing. This response must be able to combine speed and combat accuracy within the close-quarters distances common to combat shootings.

 I will devote the remainder of this article to discussing a methodology I have been teaching in the law enforcement environment for approximately 32 years and have personally used for approximately 42 years. The methodology in this article specifically relates to close-quarters combat shooting (somewhere between contact distance to approximately 7 yards). This is where the vast majority of spontaneous gunfights take place. It has been my experience that once the methodology is learned, the distance can be increased. In my training classes, I usually use an umbrella of approximately 10 yards as a maximum when enough skill level has developed at the closer ranges. I have observed thousands of people successfully apply this method from contact range to approximately 10-yards. Each individual will have his or her own ability to apply this method at varying distances to the target.

 I NEVER refer to this methodology as “point shooting”. The reason is pretty simple. Over the years, the term “point shooting” has meant many different things to many people. The various interpretations by so many people has made the term “point shooting” very difficult to discuss since it has been taught and represented in so many varied ways. The terminology I use to describe the method I teach is “Target-Focused Shooting”. In discussion with Col. Rex Applegate, I explained my reasoning behind why I use that terminology. His response was both positive and supportive.

 Before we go further, a few quick words to make sure we are all on the same page. “Target-Focused Shooting” is designed for use in close-quarters, spontaneous attacks. However, a valid program will take into account the entire spectrum of distance that combat shootings may occur. This means that the use of the sight system is an essential part of the overall training program. An important consideration is that we need to train both “Target-Focused Shooting” specifically to handle close-quarters scenarios and the use of the sight system for longer distance shooting and, to a lesser extent, when precision up close might be required. But no matter what the distance, we must understand that if the SNS activation has degraded our vision, motor skills etc., then the distance to the threat won’t be the issue. Remember, there are no yard lines in combat so the real issue is how the SNS has affected our mind and body’s ability to apply our training. We can find ourselves at ranges beyond the 7-10 yard distance but still be affected as if we were 10 feet from the threat. Please consider this because it is an important point to understand and it can greatly affect our ability to use our sights at extended distances.

 Let’s examine the term, “Target-Focused Shooting”. By definition, a target is a “mark to shoot at”, “something you shoot at”,” something to be affected by an action (shooting at it)”. So, the first part of the name of this method of shooting elevates a threat to something we actually shoot at. We don’t always shoot threats. The threat’s actions can cause them to become a target of our gunfire.

 The second word, “focused”, refers to where our vision will be oriented when engaging the “target”. As we have discussed in previous parts of this series, our vision intently focuses on the target so that our brain can get the information necessary to guide our response. Therefore, when I refer to “Target-Focused Shooting” it means that we focus our vision DIRECTLY at the target while engaging with gunfire.

In order to make our bullets strike the desired target, we must have a way of “aiming” the weapon system to be successful. Here is where much debate has raged in the gun community for decades. Let’s try to put it all in perspective. First, we need to define “aiming”. Here are two definitions that I think are appropriate for this discussion:

  • The pointing of a weapon at a mark
  •  To bring in alignment with

 Since bullets travel in a linear manner, the firearm has to be pointed directly at the target or the bullet will not hit “the mark”. Now, the issue becomes how am I going to bring the firearm in alignment with the desired target? Also, how refined does that alignment need to be in order to effectively hit “the mark”?

 In order to align the muzzle of the firearm into the desired target area, I will explain how we do it the same way as I have in the hundreds of classes I have taught about this issue. The first thing that happens is you establish an “eye-target” line. That is the invisible line between your eye and the place on the target where you want the bullet(s) to impact. The second thing that has to happen is the “muzzle-target line”

(the invisible line between the muzzle and the place on the target where you want the bullet(s) to impact) has to intersect the “eye-target line”.

 So, let’s put it together to this point in the discussion, You see a threat, the threat does some action that make him/her a target, you look intently where you want the bullet(s) to strike (“eye-target line”) and you orient the muzzle of your firearm (“muzzle-target line”) to that point on the target. At this time, you can have a varying degree of SNS activation (it can vary with each person). Vision, motor skills and our ability to make decisions can be affected. The one gross motor skill we do posses is the ability to point our firearm at the place on the target where our vision is directed. Our heart rate can be abnormally high, our vision can be tunneled on the target, our two eyes can be WIDE open and it won’t matter. Your gross motor skills can actually be amplified and your ability to point your firearm into the target area is smoothly working with your mind and body. At this point, the “eye-target line” and “muzzle-target line have intersected.

 I may add at this point that the “eye-target line” and “muzzle-target line” can be established directly at eye level, or slightly below eye level. At distances where it would be inappropriate to have your arm extended due to the distance to the target, we can use a “close-quarters position” that can bring the “eye-target line” and gun-target line” in alignment. This is usually done from distances around the 2-yard line. The handgun is centered on the body at approximately solar plexus height and a forearm length away from the body. Remember, the goal is to INTERSECT the “eye-target line” and “muzzle-target line. This can be done at close range when the handgun is indexed in the close-quarters position or at eye level or slightly below eye level.

 The next issue that we will discuss is how much alignment is going to be necessary to accurately hit the target? Before addressing the answer to that question, I have to remind everyone that we are discussing close-quarters engagements that are not only usually within the 7- yard line but many are much closer to the target.

 In the context of a close-quarters incident, we need enough alignment to produce what I call “combat accuracy”. In high-speed, close-quarters, spontaneous combat shootings, pin point accuracy within the target is replaced with an “area of impact’ for the bullet(s) within the target. As an example, instead of being concerned with placing a bullet directly on a button on someone’s shirt, a “combat accurate” placement of the bullet would be in an area surrounding that button. So long as   that area is within the vital area of the target or area of the target that is presented to the shooter, it is an effective “combat accurate” hit. This isn’t precision shooting but it is effective combat shooting. We train to be able to hit multiple times in a very rapid manner to maximize the cumulative effects of those rounds when they strike within the target area. How far each round is from each other is called “dispersion pattern”. That dispersion pattern must be within the vital areas of the torso to maximize the cumulative effect of each bullet.

 This is not a “how to” article so I will stay away from describing the physical part of “Target-Focused Shooting”. I will, however, discuss a course of action that will cover what I believe needs to be done in a program. The goal is to bring this powerful and time-tested combat shooting method to those individuals that use their firearm to defend themselves. Here is a plan of action:

 In a training program designed to teach someone to use a firearm for defensive purposes, it is important for the curriculum to include the information about how the mind and body works via the SNS activation. Everyone needs to know how the SNS activation can affect their ability to apply their training (for trainers, that’s called being honest in what is taught). If we attempt to train people to do things that their mind and body won’t be able to do effectively in a real fight, we are setting them up for failure.

 Next, the program must be centered on training that will correlate with the environment that exists where the training will be applied. As an example, if the distances involved in handgun combat shootings are generally within the 0-7 yard line, our handgun training program should reflect appropriate use of training time at those distances. Additionally, a methodology needs to be taught and practiced that works under the conditions present in the spontaneous nature of the attacks at those distances. The methodology well suited for this portion of training is “Target-Focused Shooting”.  

 Any valid training program will include the use of the sight system of the firearm. This is essential training and should be introduced at the appropriate time in the training process. I have seen training programs approach this issue from many different angles. In my humble opinion based upon experience, I teach what the person will most likely need first which is “Target Focused Shooting”. If that seems odd, I refer you back to review previous parts of this series to understand why I do this. I will simply say now that it is because the environment that has the highest probability where the combat shooting will take place is the exact environment where “Target-Focused Shooing” is best applied. Once this is accomplished, then the issue of target engagement at further distances can be introduced into the program. This is where the use of sights can be taught and appropriately applied.

 I want to complete the final portion of this article to set a few things straight about “Target-Focused Shooting”. My comments are based upon EXTENSIVE RESEARCH and EXTENSIVE TEACHING of this methodology.  

 Over the years, I have read many articles and postings about what many refer to as “point shooting”. As I stated in previous articles in this series, I NEVER call what I teach “Point Shooting”.   I call it “Target-Focused Shooting”. I have explained why in previous articles in this series. So here are a few comments to think about that may go completely against some of the things you have read or been exposed to over the years.

Many articles (and the people who have written them) state that “Target-Focused Shooting” (and any other names that were used) is difficult, complicated to learn and requires a long period of time to be proficient in its application. In my personal experience of teaching thousands of people this methodology, I found this to be absolutely incorrect. In fact, because “Target-Focused Shooting” works with the natural reactions of the body under high stress and relies on gross motor skills, it is not difficult for someone to learn. Remember, this is not a long-range method of engagement. When taught at the appropriate ranges where combat shootings take place, it does not take long for someone to learn and develop “combat accuracy”.

 Contrary to some of the statements made in articles, once initial training is completed, “Target-Focused Shooting” does not require extensive follow-up training to retain proficiency. While I was still “on the job”, I trained officers who came back to work after being away for extended periods of time. Some were recovering from injuries and had not been to training for extended periods of time. Also, there were female officers who were away for extended maternity leave. They came to the range and integrated right back into training without issue. Proper training is the key. In fact, I observed that it was more difficult for those officers returning to the range to regain proficiency with longer range shooting that required them to use their sight system.

 Here are some final thoughts on the issues we have discussed throughout this series of articles. Something that has always concerned me about what is done in training programs is that programs can only be as good as the people who are responsible for teaching them. Before I go further, I want to convey that nothing I am about to say is meant to be derogatory to anyone who is either a trainer or responsible for the developing programs.

In my experience of training people who ARE trainers, many programs of instruction they develop and teach do not take into account the issues that we have discussed in this series of articles. There are varied reasons for this. Here are a couple of these reasons:

Simply stated, I found that many instructors don’t understand the dynamics of the SNS and what it does to the methods they teach.

  • They are bound by policy to teach the program that was handed to them by their agency and cannot deviate from the curriculum even if they believe it is not an appropriate program of instruction based upon reality.
  • If it is a private institution (“shooting school”) providing instruction, the curriculum taught may not take into account the many issues we have covered in this series. Individual instructor beliefs influence the programs and individuals that they train in those programs.
  • Many “techniques” taught are not fully vetted in training evolutions like force-on-force training where the targets can shoot back. If the “techniques” have failed in real combat shootings, there is no adjustment in the curriculum to provide better alternatives to account for why the “technique” failed.
  • Personal prejudices of the instructor or training cadre prevent changes in the curriculum. These personal prejudices prevent changes in the curriculum that take into account the issues we have discussed in this series of articles.
  • Data from real world combat shootings is not factored into the analysis of the program and how the training program is actually working.
  • The “shooter” is blamed by the instructor(s) for not following their teaching and curriculum (blame the student for failure rather than look at what is being taught to the student).

Of course there are other issues that could be included but I think these are some to think about.

In summary, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read these articles. I hope the content has presented information that you can use to increase your understanding and desire to further study these issues in the future. There are never absolutes and it is extremely important to constantly evaluate what is done in our training programs. Additional information can be found in my book, “Winning A High-Speed, Close-Distance Gunfight”. I have also put together a self-paced on-line training program that covers the “Target-Focused Shooting” methodology. It is available on my colleague Ian Kinder’s website at www.livesafeacademy.com and other free resources are also available at that website.

 I wish you all the best in the future. Be safe.

 Lou Chiodo






Tactical Tip Of the Week



Part VI

This is part VI in this series of discussions on training issues and how we should organize our training based upon the realities of what happens in real world incidents. If you haven’t read Part I through Part V, it would be beneficial to read them prior to reading Part V. You can find Part I through IV in my website www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page – Gunfighters Ltd Combat Shooting Methods Inc.

 Each article has been written to cover essential points of concern with the objective of examining what we have included in our training programs. The goal has been to determine if what we have included in our training program prepares the student/officer to face the realities of close-quarters combat shootings.

 I want to devote Part VI to two main points of concern. The first is how our motor skills relate to the combat shooting method we intend to rely upon for use in close-quarters combat shootings. The second is how lighting conditions can affect our ability to apply the combat shooting method we are using as part of our training program.

There is an incredible amount of information available about motor skills and the affects of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) has on our ability to perform physical tasks due to the SNS activation during high levels of combat stress. I encourage everyone to seek out this information and learn as much as possible about this issue. It has a profound affect on our ability to apply the combat shooting method included in our training program. My intention is to discuss this topic in a simple, concise way as it relates to our ability to develop combat accuracy in a close-quarters combat shooting.

Motor skills link our mind and body to accomplish physical tasks. For our purposes, we need to know how the activation of the SNS can affect our ability to perform the tasks assigned because our ability to stop a threat will depend on how we can apply our training. As this relates to combat, if our mind is asking our body to perform a task that is too difficult to perform due to the affects of the SNS activation, we can have a training failure. While a training method might work fine under specific conditions (calm range, extremely low stress levels since there isn’t a real threat present, clear vision, no fear of death or serious bodily harm etc.), we have to understand how that method and our motor skills might be affected when we are in adverse conditions and the SNS has activated within our body.

 So let’s look at the three motor skills that have to be accounted for in the combat shooting method we use for close-quarters shooting.   Here are the three motor skills that we will examine:

Fine Motor Skills require a high level of control over small muscle groups involved in the performance of precise physical tasks. In relation to shooting, one example would involve the smooth manipulation of the trigger to allow for a precise control of its release to engage a target.

  •  Complex Motor Skills involve the use of multiple muscle groups working in coordination with each other to accomplish a particular physical task. An example of this is if you are trying to perform movements that work against each other such as puling and pushing simultaneously. This type of task involves the coordination of all the muscles required to allow the movement to be done correctly. The more muscles groups involved in the process, the more complex it is for our body to perform properly.
  •  Gross Motor Skills utilize large muscle groups to accomplish physical tasks. Examples of these muscle groups are the larger muscles such as the shoulders, thighs, and forearms. Gross motor skills can be found in simple but powerful movements such as straight punching or thrusting the handgun directly at the threat/target. Another example of the application of gross motor skills is a fighting platform (what I call stance) that uses the large muscles of the legs and the simple positioning of the body using the large muscles of the body that do not require precise coordination to provide a stable platform to support and control the firearm.  

A critical issue that has to be discussed is how the SNS activation actually can affect the motor skills listed above. One of the affects the SNS activation causes is the elevation of our heart rate. This allows our blood to pump faster through our system and then be redirected into the large muscles of our body to add power to our body to assist us in fighting the threat.

Through study, we learn that our fine motor skills can suffer deterioration when our heart rate is approximately 115 beats per minutes. Complex motor skills can be greatly affected at approximately 145 beats per minute. However, gross motor skills can actually be enhanced by an elevated heart rate. This is because the extra power gained via the large muscle groups being enhanced by additional blood flow makes the simple gross motor skill movements stronger and more effective. This information has been around for a long time and I encourage more study of this research. Our understanding of this information as it relates to the combat shooting method we use is critical. We need to know why some methods can be difficult to perform under combat conditions so we can avoid a training failure at the critical time when we must rely on our training to stay alive.

A law enforcement officer on duty may be dressed in enough gear to add up to 20 pounds of weight to maneuver with. A short foot pursuit or rapid movement up a flight of stairs can elevate heart rate BEFORE a combat shooting and the additional stress related to it even happens. For anyone who is involved in a physical fight that may escalate into a combat shooting, the heart rate can be greatly elevated before engaging in a combat shooting. The key point to remember is that whatever combat shooing method you use, it has to work in the environment where you will fight. If what you are training to do requires fine motor coordination to work, it will have a high probability of failure when you attempt to use it in an environment that causes your heart rate to be elevated higher than when you are in the training environment.

The last issue I want to cover in Part VI is that many combat shootings happen in poor lighting conditions. Even though there are many outstanding flashlights on the market, we don’t see many combat shootings in poor lighting conditions relying on the artificial light produced by flashlights to aid in engaging the suspect. Having worked graveyard shift for my entire law enforcement career, I observed flashlights being used predominately as a searching tool and a way to illuminate the area you are working in as opposed to the flashlight being used in gunfights. For those who are carrying their handgun in a concealed carry role, even if you have a flashlight and it is on your body, it is doubtful that you will be able to deploy it rapidly enough to bring it into a gunfight in a spontaneous event that the suspect starts. You will have enough to do in order to get your handgun drawn from concealment and into the fight. Trying to draw both a flashlight and handgun under the duress of a live combat shooting is a lot to ask our mind and body to do simultaneously.

The combat shooting method we use for close-quarters shooting MUST work under any lighting condition we encounter at the moment of truth. If we have enough light available to identify the threat, we have enough light to effectively engage the threat in close-quarters. The key is to have a trained response that is time-tested, and capable of working when there is not only poor lighting conditions present but also when the ill-effects of the SNS activation on our eyes and motor skills are factored in. The combat shooting method that is ideally suited for the task is “Target-Focused Shooting.

 In part VII, I will cover “Target-Focused Shooting” in more detail and discuss why it is a critical skill to develop and should be included as part of our overall training program. Remember, this method of combat shooting is specifically designed for use in close-quarters combat shooting when the SNS activation has caused changes in our mind, body and vision. I look forward to discussing “Target-Focused Shooting” in Part VII.

 Be safe.

 Lou Chiodo


Tactical Tip Of The Week



Part V

 This is part V in this series of discussions on training issues and how we should organize our training based upon the realities of what happens in real world incidents. We have discussed analyzing incidents to determine the environment we can expect to fight in and how our mind and body can be affected by what happens in spontaneous incidents that are initiated by the person attacking us. If you haven’t read Part I through Part IV, it would be beneficial to read them prior to reading Part V. You can find Part I through IV in my website www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page – Gunfighters Ltd Combat Shooting Methods Inc.

 Let’s continue the discussion so that we can add to our understanding about how our vision can affect the combat shooting method we are using to win fights. We ended our last discussion in Part IV with the affect that the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) activation can have on our minds and bodies. Also, how our vision can be affected in a spontaneous attack initiated by the suspect. Again, I want to emphasize that each individual may be affected differently based upon personal experience and the nature of the incident (planned as opposed to spontaneous). In addition, our perception of whether we are in jeopardy of receiving serious bodily harm or death due to the actions of the attacker can affect the way we apply our training.

 As we have discussed, SNS activation can affect our eyes that will, in turn, impact the way we can apply the combat shooting method we have been trained to use for close-quarters combat shooting. One more way the SNS can affect our eyes is via pupil dilation. Through detailed research, we learn that under the high stress of close-quarters combat, our pupils can dilate abnormally based on existing lighting. This can lead to a couple of adverse affects on our ability to apply certain shooting methods. One of the adverse affects of our pupils dilating inappropriately for the lightning present is that our vision can become blurred to varying degrees. If this happens, the ability to focus on a front sight can be affected and our ability to apply a more precise way of aiming our handgun by using front sight focus in alignment with our rear sight can become extremely difficult.

Another factor to consider is that when our eyes are intently focused on the threat, our vision is adjusted to observe the threat at a given distance. In addition to the blurred vision that can happen via pupil dilation, the eyes would have to readjust to the distance to your front sight in order to apply the shooting methods requiring front sight focus. Remember, this all has to happen in fractions of a second because as we have discussed in earlier parts of this series, the suspect in a spontaneous incident has initiated the attack and there is little time to effectively respond to the attack. Also, the intense focus on the threat can greatly increase the difficulty of refocusing our vision off the threat and onto our front sight.

So far, we have looked at the following:

  • Intense focus on the threat/target
  • Pupil dilation that can cause a degree of blurred vision
  • Our eyes being adjusted to a particular distance to the threat/target that  can affect the use of the front sight of the handgun in a close-quarters,  spontaneous attack initialed by the suspect
  • Difficulty of readjusting our vision from the threat to our front sight

 How much each individual is affected by these issues can vary but I must point out that all three can happen simultaneously which means that more must be overcome in order to use the more precise way of aiming our handgun via the use of the front and rear sight.

 One more issue to examine about the relationship between our eyes and the close-quarters combat shooting method we train to use is “binocular vision”. So, what is binocular vision? It simply means both eyes are open. You may ask what that has to do with a combat shooting method we choose to use. The answer is it might have a tremendous impact on our ability to apply the combat shooting method we use. Here is why.

 In the context of a close-quarters, spontaneous combat shooting initiated by the suspect, we have discussed that the eyes are the primary source of getting information to the brain. Once that information is received in the brain, it can be processed and appropriate action taken to fight the attacker. At that moment of truth, your brain wants both eyes open so the maximum amount of information about the suspect and environment can be received and analyzed. Here is where we can have difficulties with the combat shooting method we are attempting to use to fight the threat.

 You will notice that many people have to close off one of their eyes in order to achieve visual acuity with their sight system. This is because their vision won’t allow them to be able to keep both eyes open and get the visual acuity necessary to focus on their sight system. Even under no stress of a gunfight, they simply can’t see their sights properly with both eyes open. So when they keep both eyes open due to the issues discussed above, they will have great difficulties trying to apply their sighted shooting methods in the high-speed and spontaneous environment of a close-quarters gunfight.

 Where does this leave us? If we understand the issues that have been discussed so far in this series of articles, we have a solution to the problems presented in close-quarters, spontaneous events that predominate the “battlefield” where law enforcement AND civilians fight. That solution is training a system that takes into account the numerous issues we have been discussing in relation to close-quarters combat shootings. I call that system “Target-Focused Shooting”.

 In Part VI, I will discuss some final issues that will help piece this together. We will discuss the relationship between motor skills and the close-quarters combat shooting method we use to defend ourselves. I will also start a discussion of “Target- Focused Shooting” to help piece this together. Be safe.

 Lou Chiodo