Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

In this article, I want to explore the issue of “scanning”. Let’s examine this in the context of the period of time immediately after the combat shooting has happened and the suspect has been hit and his/her actions have been stopped. This usually means the suspect has been shot to the ground at a given distance from us and no further engagement of the suspect is necessary. The fight with this suspect is over.

Over the years, I have read many articles and listened to many people discussing this issue. Some of what I read and heard made sense while some of it could potentially be dangerous to the person following the advice. What I want to do in this article is get our heads and bodies OFF THE RANGE and into the time IMMEDIATELY following a VIOLENT FIGHT with someone who just attempted to murder us. I am not going to approach this issue of “scanning” from the standpoint of a “range drill”. So when you read the article, please refer back to this paragraph if what is written seems to go against the standard way this issue of “scanning” is taught and practiced on the range and in other training evolutions.

I must first discuss some thoughts about range training itself. In my view, the range is a place where we can develop skills that are critical to our overall use of our firearms as a defensive tool. Under live fire conditions on the range, we can verify that our “fighting platform” (every part of our body from the ground to the top of our head) is developing our ability to help control our firearm. Also, we can verify under live fire conditions that we can coordinate shooting while moving with combat accuracy. In addition, the proper use of cover can be taught and practiced, reloading skills developed, clearing stoppages and all the basic safe gun-handling skills can be practiced. Range training under live fire conditions is an essential part of the overall training needed to be proficient with any of the firearms we use for self-defense. As I develop this article, please understand that what I have written in this paragraph is very important to the overall message that I will be trying to convey to you. Yes, THE RANGE IS A CRITICAL ELEMENT IN OUR OVERALL TRAINING PROGRAM.

In relation to the issue of “scanning” I want to spend some time developing the concept of training methodology to better understand how the process of “scanning” should be ingrained into our post combat shooting responses.   I will develop this training model with you and then apply it to the process of “Scanning”.

When teaching defensive tactics, there is a sequence of training that is followed to help the trainee systematically learn and then develop skill with the material presented. It starts at the very basics of fighting platform (Stance/body positioning), the way to deliver a particular strike at low speed gradually building up the speed of the strike. Then the trainee is introduced to striking a heavy bag or similar training aid to ensure they are striking properly so they don’t injure their hand or foot. Then we drill the trainee using a training partner to learn how to adjust for distance, target the specific point where the strike needs to be delivered and gradually build up speed in these drills.   The next step is to allow the training partner to more aggressively interact with the trainee. This allows the trainee to get used to the additional challenges of everything being more dynamic. The next step is to have the training partner in appropriate protective gear present a very aggressive challenge to the trainee by attacking in real time speed.

What was described above is a “training methodology”. It is a way of training to ingrain proper responses in a dynamic environment. It begins at the most simple of points in the process ending with as close to reality as we can make it in training. Now let’s apply a “training methodology” to the issue of scanning.

As stated earlier, the range is an integral part of our training program. The problem is the range cannot account for everything we need to do to ingrain proper responses in a trainee. The range is the place where we learn to control our firearms during live fire. It is where we develop skill with the numerous elements of combat shooting. It is like the “heavy bag” in defensive tactics training. It is the place we go to hone specific skills. The thing we can’t do on the range is fight another person(s). Here is how I have seen “scanning” taught and integrated into training in numerous venues and training programs throughout the country:

The trainee gets on line, is told what the firing sequence is going to be, the start signal is given and the trainee engages the paper and cardboard target or steel plate with the given drill. The shooter is stationary during this sequence. Upon completion of the drill the trainee has been instructed to “scan the area” in order to determine if there are more threats in the area and try to regain situational awareness.

Here is where it gets murky. First, we are teaching someone to stand still during a close-quarters engagement (read the last article about movement if you haven’t already for more info about why this is unsound). So the trainee has remained stationary during the drill/fight and then told to stand there in the open and “scan”. I have observed the “scanning” done in one of two ways. Either the trainee waves his firearm from side to side following the muzzle with his/her eyes or the muzzle is stationary in the direction of the suspect that was just shot and the eyes and head are moved from side to side and, at times, completely behind each shoulder in order to attempt to scan the “360 degree” area surrounding the trainee. This process is all done while OUT IN THE OPEN AND STATIONARY.

Before going further, I want to make it emphatically clear. Is “scanning” something important to do? OF COURSE IT IS!! BUT, it has to be done in a tactically sound way that minimizes us as a target IF a secondary threat is present or the downed suspect attempts to continue to fight from the ground.

Referring back to the issue of programming or ingraining responses into trainees during training, let’s briefly analyze the “scanning” process I illustrated above:

  • The trainee is stationary
  • The threat is engaged per the specific drill
  • The trainee will either keep the muzzle in the direction of the “threat” – a paper of cardboard target or steel plate- and then move their eyes and head attempting to “scan” the “360” around them.
  • The other option is the muzzle will follow the eyes while “scanning” the “360” around them

Now we have to ask what we have just taught the trainee:

  • Stand still in a close-quarters fight
  • Don’t move to cover as you are engaging the threat (again read the previous article about movement for more perspective on this issue)
  • Stand out in the open and cover the suspect after engaging the suspect in a stationary position
  • Then the trainee is allowed to stay in the open and use one of the methods described above to “scan for an additional threat from an exposed, stationary position

I have a few quick points to make:

  • What happens when you are stationary, exposed out in the open and just engaged a suspect, shot the suspect to the ground and there is a secondary threat in the immediate area?
  • Is the secondary threat (if present) going to wait for you to shoot the suspect to the ground and/or wait for you to pick up on them via your “scanning” before opening fire on you?
  • Would you rather “scan” from behind cover or exposed out in the open?
  • What happens when your eyes and/or muzzle or both are pointing in a different direction from where the secondary threat is located? Are you going to even pick up on the secondary threat?

I remind you that we are discussing events that begin in close-quarters with the suspect and initially you are out in the open.

So what can be done to program or ingrain a way to “scan” (which is a critical phase of an incident) that can decrease our vulnerability to getting shot by the first threat if he/she is on the ground but not completely out of the fight? And if there is a secondary threat, decrease our vulnerability to getting shot by the secondary threat if present? The answer is MOVEMENT! This movement needs to be towards the nearest cover available. Now here is where the scanning part of the engagement comes into play. Once at cover, any scanning and assessment of what is going on with the first threat engaged can be accomplished from a position that offers more protection than standing stationary out in the open. Also, the “scanning for additional threats, if either undetected or actively engaging you (you may not realize they are actually shooting at you due to your focus on the first threat) can be accomplished from this position.

So how do we program or ingrain a more efficient and tactically sound way of doing this critical phase of the incident – “scanning?

It’s simple. On the range, place cover nearby the trainee. If you are practicing close-quarters engagements, first instruct the trainee with an appropriate methodology to use in close-quarters engagements, and then teach them how to integrate it into movement. Once that is accomplished. then you can instruct the trainee to move to cover while engaging the threat and then once there, do their “scanning” from a position of cover. As I said –SIMPLE! Make this immediate action to a close-quarters threat part of their sub-conscious processing and it will be programmed into them the same way as in the martial arts we program a student to use movement to avoid getting hit.

Another outstanding way to teach this principle of shooting while moving to cover and then “scanning” from cover is to do the training in a force-on force environment. We can work the trainee through specific drills with a role player using airsoft or other gear available to project “rounds” at each other. We can introduce a second role player to actually be there and have the ability to engage the trainee to teach how important it is to get to cover and scan from cover. Once again, it’s SIMPLE!

Once the above is accomplished and trained, then you can add reloading to “top off” the handgun once no further threat is encountered or engaged. Then add communicating into the drill. So the process is as follows:

  • Shooting and movement to cover then,
  • Initially cover the downed suspect in case there is need for reengagement of the initial threat
  • “Scan” for additional threats and if necessary, engage additional threats from cover, not out in the open
  • Reload once the scenario doesn’t present any further threats or reload, of course, anytime the handgun is run dry and then
  • Communicate what has just happened either to a dispatch center or call 911 if you are off-duty or a civilian involved on an incident.

“Scanning” after engaging the initial threat is essential. The way we train to scan IS the issue. If all we are doing in training is waving a muzzle or head side to side or looking behind us while out in the open, we are programming a process that can be extremely dangerous to do in an actually incident. Remember, the range isn’t combat. Programming a method or tactic devoid of reality can lead to failure in combat. Use the range for the great things that can be accomplished in that environment. However, provide a training environment that allows for a realistic way to practice scanning so that the trainee doesn’t default to a way to scan that exposes them to the danger of remaining stationary out in the open.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope it has generated thought about how we are teaching “scanning”. Be safe.

 Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master



Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

This week, I want to spend some time discussing the concept of movement and shooting while moving. There are a number of issues surrounding this topic. It is my intent to lay them out and you, the end user, determine where this fits in for your planning and training.

The concept of movement is a principle used in all fighting systems to achieve the objective of victory in combat. Movement can be described as a “tactic” – a way to position us to maximize our ability to employ a particular weapon on an opponent.

In a military context, the concept of movement can be both a unit tactic as well as an individual tactic. The unit (of any size) can use movement to position it to bring its weapons to bear on the enemy. The movement is used to put the enemy at a disadvantage and minimize their ability to effectively use their weapons against our unit. In conjunction with the unit’s movement, each individual within the unit will use their personal movement to keep from becoming a casualty and bring their personal weapon system to bear on the enemy. The integration of the unit’s movement with individual movement is used to gain advantage in the fight and defeat the enemy.

Let’s turn to fighting systems that involve an individual fighting against another individual(s). Boxing, martial arts, and fighting systems that use impact weapons and edged/sharp weapons all use the concept of movement. Movement is used to be able to engage an opponent with the hands, feet, knees, elbows, palms, batons/sticks and blades/points of a sharp object to inflict trauma on the opponent to win the fight.

 An important issue to understand about movement is that it is also used to AVOID being injured or killed by the enemy’s/opponent’s weapons. Oftentimes, the opponent initiates the attack against us. No matter what weapon system they are using, this means they have taken the initiative of the fight by doing something first. Along with their initiating the attack, they have already fixed your location and in their preparation to attack factored your location into their plan of attack. S0 what does that mean? If they intend to attack you by hitting you with a palm strike, they have to move to a position that allows them the proper distance from you to be able to strike you with the palm. If they are using a baton, they have to use movement to be in a position to properly strike with the baton. This allows for the transmission of enough power to be effective in causing sufficient trauma to degrade the opponent’s ability to fight. If the opponent is attempting to stab or slash you with their edged weapon or sharp weapon (pen, or any pointy object), they have to use movement to bring their weapon in a position to stab or slash you.

As you can see, it doesn’t mater if you are the attacker or defender; movement is an integral part of fighting. If you study the way fighting systems are taught, you will note that there is a significant amount of time spent on teaching individuals how to move. It is sometimes called “foot work”. Also, as in the case of fighting arts and boxing, additional time is spend developing movement skills that teach head and body movement to help avoid getting hit but also set up effective counter-attacking.

Now let’s tie this concept of moving into the way we deploy and integrate our firearms as a “fighting “ tool. Before I start that part of the discussion, I want to include this statement that I use in my classes that has relevance to this issue. I have used it in other articles but it is something that we all have to remind ourselves about periodically to keep training on the right path:


“The purpose of firearms training is to prepare an individual to use firearms in a fight against an adversary in what usually begins as a spontaneous attack initiated by the adversary. Our firearms program is not about shooting. It is about fighting. When the concept of fighting is taken out of firearms training, we have forgotten the purpose of our training”.

So, everything to follow is in the context of being in an actual FIGHT with another person(s) using our firearms NOT being on a range engaging paper and cardboard.

Since the majority of firearms used in self defense are handguns due to their portability and immediate access if concealed or for on-duty law enforcement in uniform using exposed holsters, I will direct the discussion to handguns used in combat shootings.

In many circumstances, attacks are initiated by our opponent, They choose the time and place of their attack which gives them distinct advantages at the beginning of the fight. As discussed in this article, one of the most important things to happen when your opponent acts by either attempting to hit you with a striking technique, stab or slash you with an edged or sharp weapon or strike you with an impact weapon, AVOIDING the initial attack and not getting injured or killed, is a primary objective. It is NO different when we apply this principle to attacks with handguns (or for that matter long guns). How do we try to avoid getting shot when the opponent starts the fight? MOVEMENT!! Please think of this in terms of an “ambush”. One of the first tactics taught in counter-ambush techniques is to EXIT THE KILL ZONE. You do this via movement. The opponent (enemy) has already fixed your location, went through the process of Observe, Orient, Decide and ACT (OODA cycle) and you are in their kill zone. As we see in handgun fights, the distance is very close (0-7 yards) for the vast majority of fights. Standing still allows your opponent to have the advantage of not having to adjust to your actions because standing stationary doesn’t change anything from their perspective relative to your location and initial assesssment.

Once the fight is initiated, remaining stationary during a close-quarters engagement offers the best target profile to your opponent – a large and stationary target!

Just picture this in your mind:

  • You are confronted with an aggressive person that without warning draws a handgun and is in the process of pointing it at you with the intention to shoot you or actually shooting at you.
  • You are not in arms reach to deflect the handgun but the person is approximately 3-4 yards away from you.
  • To link this with the discussion earlier in the article, the person has gone through the OODA cycle, has taken the initiative in the fight and has the intention to shoot you.
  • YOU are in THEIR kill zone. They will get he first shot(s) off at you even if you are armed and are going to draw and engage the person.

If your response is to simply stand there and draw your handgun (from concealment or from a duty holster if you are law enforcement, you will do it under the duress of being shot at from a close range. Even if you are fast, it won’t be faster than someone who has already gone through the OODA cycle and has started shooting at you. You are, in essence, like the stationary paper target on a range- large and stationary. Again, back to the mental picture. Are you seeing this in your mind??? 3

yards, live fire directed at you, you haven’t begun to shoot at the person yet, you are stationary and nothing will alter the person’s behavior until you get bullets on target.

Let’s continue. What you have to be able to do RAPIDLY as soon as you perceive that the person is in the process of attempting to shoot you is:

  • Exit their “kill zone”: – MOVE!!!
  • Avoid getting hit so you have the opportunity to actually bring your muzzle to bear on the person
  • As you are moving, combine that movement with drawing your handgun and continue moving until you either shoot the person to the ground and/or make it to a point of cover that may be nearby.

 The other benefit that you will receive from moving is that you now become a more difficult target to hit from the other person’s perspective since you now become an unpredictable, moving target that is returning fire and, if properly trained, making combat accurate hits on the other person.

I would like to make quick points to put more perspective into this issue of movement. We have to separate when it is appropriate to combine movement and shooting simultaneously from times when it may not be the most appropriate or productive tactic. Here is an illustration of what I mean:

Scenario 1 – With absolutely no warning, a threat opens fire on you with a long gun from a distance of approximately 20 yards. You are armed with your concealed handgun when this event begins. Use your imagination about where you are and that there is cover approximately 15 feet away from you. What do you want to do? Stand there and attempt to engage the threat with your handgun that must be dawn from concealment? Or do you want to MOVE as rapidly as you can to the cover that is nearby?

Let’s analyze this scenario and, of course, you can apply your own analysis as well:

At the beginning of the engagement, you are in someone’s “Kill Zone”. They have targeted you and have already gone through their “OODA Cycle” to the point of “Acting”. You are 20 yards away from the threat that is ACTIVELY engaging you with a long gun. You have to locate the person who is shooting at you, go through your own “OODA Cycle”, if you decide to engage the person immediately you must access your handgun, draw from concealment, orient the muzzle on target and due to the distance from the threat be able to deliver an accurate shot(s) on the person. This requires a shooting method that is in the realm of precision shooting because at the distance to the threat, other methodologies may be ineffective. You must make enough hits on the person that causes them to stop their threat against you and you have to do this WHEN YOU ARE BEING ENGAGED WITH LIVE ROUNDS. At this point you would have to ask yourself, if you proceed with this course of action, what is the probability of success? Who has the advantage based upon distance, weapon system and the initiative of the fight? You can form your opinion based upon your personal thoughts on this scenario.

Here is another option. Think back to one of issues we discussed earlier about ambushes (what I described in the scenario above IS an ambush). One of the first and immediate actions required to increase your survivability is to EXIT THE KILL ZONE. So, once you hear that fist shot or observe the person with the long gun, an option is to get behind the cover that is nearby IMMEDIATELY and as RAPIDLY as you can. Your opponent has opened fire on you first. There is a significant distance between you and the threat (for handgun fighting purposes). Your Sympathetic Nervous System may be activated to a certain degree causing the many problems associated with it that may affect accurate shot placement. If you elect to engage the threat without first moving to cover, you are fully exposed to a person engaging you with a weapon system that has a distinct advantage at the distance in the engagement.

So, based upon the analysis that I presented, what do you want to do? Stand there and draw your handgun and attempt to engage the threat? Or as an alternative, move to cover as rapidly as you can draw your handgun and then handle the threat? It is going to be your choice. All I want to get across here is to make your decision about what to do based upon reality not fantasy.

Scenario 2 – Here is a scenario for any law enforcement officers reading this article. You make a field contact with a person and begin sorting out the issues of the contact. You maintain a proper space cushion /reactionary gap distance from the person and have applied proper tactics to this point. As you conduct your investigation, the person, without any warning, begins to draw a concealed handgun and is in the process of pointing it at you (remember the “spontaneous attack initiated by the suspect” we have discussed in various article – well here it is in real time exploding in front of you). It happens so suddenly that based upon the distance between you and the person, you are unable to trap his hand before the handgun is drawn and there is no option to physically mitigate his ability to draw his handgun. So what is a course of action that can help in this scenario? MOVE!!! You are in THEIR “kill zone”. They have taken the initiative. They have already made the decision to shoot you and have been through the “OODA Cycle”. What you need to do at this point is as follows:

  • Keep from getting shot since the person has initiated the attack and will have the ability to get the first shots off in the fight
  • Exit the “kill Zone” by moving while simultaneously accessing YOUR handgun and bring your muzzle to bear on the person and engage the person.
  • Continue to move while shooting the person and attempt to move to the nearest point of cover if there is cover available. If no cover is available in the IMMEDIATE area, then move to the nearest point of cover even if it is further away. This is necessary to be able to scan the area from a position of cover – not out in the open. You can now assess the status of the person you just engaged, reload when appropriate and get on the radio and let everyone know what has just happened. You should also assess your status for injuries since you may not realize you have been shot due to the Sympathetic Nervous System activation masking the pain of the injury.

Let’s review a couple of points. Movement is a tactic we can use to avoid getting hit by the other person’s bullets. Developing the ability to shoot and move simultaneously when in a close-quarters combat shooting allows us to not only help avoid getting shot, but also helps to gain the needed time to deploy OUR handgun. This helps us begin to gain back the initiative of the fight and end the confrontation by hitting the person with OUR bullets. If we remain a large, stationary target when in close-quarters with our opponent, we make it easier for them to make hits on us as opposed to being an unpredictable moving target.

If the distance from the person who is engaging us when the distance is greater than our ability to accurately engage them while moving, then a viable option is to move as rapidly as possible to the nearest point of cover and then engage the person if appropriate.

I have discussed the concept of movement and then added the concept of shooting while moving for close-quarters engagements. If we intend to use this tactic as an “immediate action” to a close-quarters attack initiated by the suspect, we have included training that helps us develop the ability to be combat accurate while shooting while moving. This is not a “how to” article on shooting while moving so I will not discuss the way to develop this skill. I prefer to do the “how to” training in person and in a training event.

What I will discuss is that shooting while moving training needs to be realistically accomplished using a combat shooting method that is appropriate for the high-speed, dynamic and close-quarters environment that is present when shooting while moving is appropriate.

In my training programs, “Target-Focused Shooting” is the preferred method of engagement for use in close-quarters combat shootings. The need to be proficient in this method of combat shooting is amplified when involved in a spontaneous scenario initiated by the other person when in close-quarters. I want to emphatically make clear that this DOES NOT mean that precision shooting methods are not taught or integrated into training. Each method has its particular purpose and application.

So why is it that I am encouraging proper training in “Target-Focused Shooting” to be integrated into shooting while moving when in close-quarters with the suspect?

Think about the scenario depicted above. You are in close proximity to a person that suddenly presents a handgun and is either shooting at you or at the point of shooting at you. You can’t deflect the handgun because you are not close enough to them to use that type of technique. You have a choice of standing there and attempt

to draw your handgun and attempt to return fire from a stationary position. You will have to do this while being shot at from a close distance to the person. Or you can react by immediately moving while drawing your handgun and engage the person while moving. Due to the nature of the incident, there is a distinct possibility that the Sympathetic Nervous system has activated and many physical and mental changes in your mind and body will affect your motor skills, vision and perception of distance. Your eyes will be drawn intently on the person trying to kill you at close quarters. While all this is happening in fractions of a second, your eyes will be providing your brain with a continual update about the threat. Here are a few things that having your eyes fixed on the threat will provide your brain:

  • Is the threat stationary or moving?
  • If the threat is moving, what direction is the threat moving?
  • If you are engaging the threat, is the threat continuing to fight or has the threat fallen out of your line of sight causing you to stop shooting?
  • If the threat goes down, is the threat still active even though on the ground?
  • If the threat is down on the ground but still active, do you have to reengage the threat while he/she is on the ground?

These are just some of the pieces of information that your eyes will provide to your brain so that you can make appropriate decisions about what to do. If your eyes aren’t on the threat in a dynamic close-quarters fight, how can this information be seen?

Here is another way to look at this issue of “target –focus” and why it is important to understand. Anyone who has been in a hard contact fight with anyone or has been in competitive fighting events where you are fighting a person who is trying to do to you the same thing you are trying to do to them will understand this next statement:

Would you ever take your eyes off your opponent while attempting to strike him/her? If you DO NOT HAVE YOUR EYES ON THE OPPONENT, how can you judge distance and adjust for the proper distance to hit them? How do you know when it is necessary to move your head or body to avoid getting hit? How can you see openings to strike or see the affects of your strikes in order to know how to continue fighting?

Target-Focused Shooting” allows you to account for the issues I raise in the above paragraph AND if you have received proper instruction and have integrated “Target-Focused Shooting” into your training, the combat accuracy CAN BE ACHIEVED. Please, DO NOT pass judgment on the ability to get combat accuracy using “Target-Focused Shooting” until you not only have received PROPER instruction and training in the method AND have gone into a force-on-force environment to learn its application. You CAN NOT fully appreciate its effectiveness until you use the method against another person. Of course, the learning will be done in a training environment where you can practice. The real fight is the ultimate application and there is little time to learn there. 

You can reap great benefits from adding movement in your tactics and shooting while moving to your capability to engage a close-quarter threat. The goal of our training is to practice combat shooting methods and tactics that can minimize our exposure to injury and prevent us from receiving any injury or die in a confrontation.

Including movement into your tactics and developing shooting while moving skills will greatly help you win a close-quarters combat shooting. Have a great day.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

In this article, I want to cover a topic that is extremely important to understand as it relates to combat shootings. There are a variety of perspectives on this issue from different instructors and firm believes exist in their minds about what is true. So, it is not my intent to change, convert or impose my view on anyone. Just simply lay out some thoughts about the topic and ask that whoever reads them can at least be exposed to the perspective.

By this point in your reading, you are probably wondering, “What’s the topic”? Alright, here it is, “COMBAT ACCURACY”. I have read dozens of articles on this topic and have always walked away thinking, “This just doesn’t jibe with the reality of a real combat shootings”. What I mean is that the discussion was built around the “sterile” environment of the range, not the brutal, high-speed, spontaneous nature of real combat shootings when both people are trying to shoot each other. So, I will try to discuss this from the perspective of people fighting rather than people shooting. This means that real bullets are being exchanged, the suspect usually began the fight, and it is not a piece of paper, cardboard or steel plate downrange of our muzzle.

Before we begin, I think it is a good idea to define the term “accuracy”. Here are three definitions that we can view that will be useful for our discussion:

  •  Freedom from mistake or error
  • The quality of being correct or precise
  • How close a result comes to the true value

These are pretty straightforward definitions. But how do they apply to our discussion of “COMBAT ACCURACY”?

 Let’s begin with a review of how many of us were taught about the concept of accuracy in our shooting. Does the term “group” mean anything to you? Let’s relate the term “group” to the definitions from above.

I remember being told that I needed to understand two terms. Sight alignment (the front sight is centered in the rear sight with equal light showing on each side of the front sight as it was positioned in the rear sight and the top of the front sight was level with the top of the rear sight. Sound familiar? Then that sight alignment must be placed onto the desired target creating the “sight picture. Then I was told to focus on the front sight and “breath-relax-aim-slack-squeeze”. Now if I did all that correctly, my bullet should hit the desired target and I would be rewarded with a perfect placement of the bullet. This would meet the definitions we have above. The shot would be free from mistake, it would be a quality shot because it is precise and the real value is to put the bullet exactly where my front sight was on the target. Then my objective was to do it again, and again with the objective of keeping each shot as close as possible to each other when they impacted the target – hence the term “group”. This just explained the process of precision shooting.

Now, the shooter who could produce the smallest “group” was considered the better shooter than one who had a larger “group”. This method of shooting is usually done with either one shot at a time (single shot per process) or if done with multiple rounds fired done within time limits that are considered generous when compared to the speed of engagement within the context of a combat shooting. The pressure one feels is generally self-induced as opposed to a life and death scenario where pressure comes from the suspect(s) and the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) maybe activated. For any of us that have engaged in “precision shooting”, we know it requires highly developed skill to meet the definitions above – free from mistake or error, the quality of being correct or precise and how close the shot comes to the true value (a “ten ring” hit).

The above process of handgun shooting was the way I was trained when I first entered law enforcement (just like thousands of others) because it was considered the state-of-the-art method of getting us to be “accurate. There we were first day on the range with double action revolvers at 25 yards with a relatively small, round, black bull’s-eye target. We received the finest explanation of the precision shooting process described earlier in the article before going live with real ammunition. What do you think happened? You probably guessed it; things didn’t go too well for the poor cadets. Range officers telling them they are not following instructions and it was the shooter’s fault for not applying the great instruction that was provided. I bet a few of you have heard that before. Oh, I forgot to mention, those mean looking bulls-eye targets were NOT shooting at us. Nobody was telling us we had to do it in a short time limit like 1-2 seconds. So, the point I am getting at is that even with perfect instruction, the process was extremely difficult for the shooters on line to actually meet the expectation of well-placed bullets on target in nice, small “groups” on a piece of paper not an aggressive suspect trying to kill us.

Let’s discuss the term “combat accuracy”. Since we don’t get into combat shootings with bulls-eye targets, we have to look at the “target” we face when we fight for our lives. Until the aliens come, it will be a human being. So let’s examine the target area on a human “target’ that can be considered   acceptable in terms of accuracy. However, we have to examine this issue of combat accuracy in the context of a high-speed, spontaneous combat shooting that the suspect initiates when the distance involved is usually within approximately 21 feet from the suspect. This is no longer a range drill, but a fight to stay alive and uninjured.

The target area that I define as ‘combat accurate” is approximately the size of an 8.5 inch X 11 inch piece of paper superimposed on the human torso. If you put the bottom of the paper around the belly button (for taller individuals adjusted higher), a bullet that strikes the suspect within the area within the paper would impact an internal part of the body that is essential for the suspect’s body to function properly.

Before you say, “That’s too big an area”, lets put it context of a combat shooting not doing a paper drill on your time on the range. First, the speed at which the trigger is pulled in these close-quarters combat shootings is extremely fast. We can see anywhere from 3-5 shots a second. So, we are not seeing single shots at a leisurely pace. The human target, unlike the stationary range target, can be moving dynamically or simply move enough to cause their body position in relation to the good guy to shift so that the profile of the target is not like the nice 18 inch wide by 24 inch torso of a training paper target. Oh, lets not forget the suspect is either in the process of shooting or already shooting at the good guy at close range, the lighting may be diminished and motor skills may be diminished along with vision problem associated with the Sympathetic Nervous System Activation.

I have a very SIMPLE question. For the most part, officers and civilians are taught precision shooting techniques in their training (remember the breath-relax-aim-slack-squeeze front sight focus via the rear sight alignment) to engage threats. So, if the range to the threats is relatively close, 0-7 yards, how can we explain the poor hit rate in combat shootings when such precision is taught and trained? Remember, the acceptable standard of calling a hit in a combat shooting by the standards we see used is a hit is ANYWHERE on the body.

 My friends, if we can teach people methods that can keep their multiple, rapid shots within the 8.5-inch X 11 size target area, the ability to stop a threat would dramatically increase. How can I make this statement? Because people who I have trained to control their rounds into that target area have not only effectively hit the threat but also put enough trauma into the 8.5 inch X 11 inch target area via the rapid hits dispersed with in that area.

 To ensure that this information is being interpreted correctly, I will restate that we are discussing close-quarters combat shootings. It is clear that as range to the threat increases, the need for more precision is necessary. That will require the good guy to slow the rate of fire down and, if possible, use a position of cover and possibly use

the cover itself to help stabilize the handgun. There is an assumption here that is often overlooked by many who are either writing about this topic or just don’t understand the dynamics. Often, a person is unaware of the actual distance they are from the threat. They are not on a range where there are defined yard lines to remind them of the distance. Distortion due to vision issues when the SNS activates can cause problems with perceiving distance and other distortions that are vision related. So if you think you are 5 yards from the threat and rapidly pull the trigger but are 12 yards from the threat, many the misplacement of the shots can be great amplified beyond our desired target area (the new X-ring 8.5 X 11 inch area). This can cause many misses in combat shootings.

Each time we pull the trigger and then rapidly pull the trigger again the muzzle can be in a different place than the previous shot. So, for as many times as you may pull the trigger, the muzzle could have discharged from as many different places. This causes the rounds to disperse within the target area. This is called the “ dispersion pattern”. If your dispersion pattern is within the target area we have defined as the new “X ring”, then you are hitting vital areas. The more bullets that hit, the better it is and the threat receives more trauma. Rounds outside the new “X ring” can still do significant damage to the threat such as a shot that severs the femoral artery or a shot that hits the upper arm that severs the brachial artery. However, our desired target area is within the 8.5 inch X 11 inch area within the torso of the target.

So, how can we increase the trainee’s ability to get multiple, rapid hits within the 8.5 inch X 11 inch target area? I have defined hits in this area as delivering “combat accuracy” on the target for the purposes of combat shootings when in close quarters with the suspect(s)?

The answer is PROPER TRAINING! This training must cover the spectrum of combat shooting that includes specific training for close-quarters shooting utilizing “Target-Focused Shooting” methods as well as precision shooting methods for intermediate to longer range shooting scenarios. I state the following as MY opinion but any program that doesn’t include both methodologies is deficient and incomplete. I will also state that once these two methods have been taught and proficiency developed in both on the range, a program is still incomplete until the trainee is brought into a force-on-force environment where the methods can be applied against a “human target” in a dynamic environment using airsoft, Simunitions or any other equipment that allows the trainee the experience of real-time application of their training against another person.

Based upon what I have seen though years of providing training to a wide variety of law enforcement, military and civilian clients, applying training in a real time, dynamic environment puts the whole issue of “COMBAT ACCURACY” in proper perspective. That 8.5 inch X 11 inch (“X” ring) target area isn’t so big when viewed from the context of fighting someone as opposed to shooting at a piece of paper, cardboard or metal plate on a controlled range. I submit that if we could get that degree of combat accuracy in real combat shootings, more officers and innocent civilians forced to defend themselves would not be injured or killed.

I will end this article by asking you to give what was written some thought and don’t pass judgment on it until you can go through proper training in “Target-Focused Shooting” methods, precision shooting methods AND have the opportunity to apply those principles against “human targets” in force-on-force training to fully understand this issue of “COMBAT ACCURACY”. Be safe!

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master



Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings

In this article, I want to spend some time discussing “expectations” as it relates to training and when training is applied in combat shootings. I intend to look at this issue from a couple of perspectives and attempt to sort out why often results in combat shootings do not reflect the results obtained in a training environment.

Let’s begin with the expectations of the instructor as it relates to his/her presentation of a training evolution that will be presented to the attendees. Here is my personal opinion of what should be a reasonable expectation for the instructor when providing training.

It is reasonable to expect that the attendees come to class with the equipment that was specified as a requirement for the class. I would expect the gear to be serviceable, appropriate for the nature of the class, and the firearms that will be used maintained properly so that the failure of the firearms be at a minimum since it can affect the flow of a class. If there were any questions about the class, I would want a call, email etc. prior to the class so that if there is any issue can be handled BEFORE the class starts.

I expect the facility to be properly set up by the host (if it is a class that is hosted by an entity who handled the renting or use of a particular facility). If there is a particular need for barricades, target stands and related material to properly teach the class, it needs to be handled PRIOR to the class. All issues need to be sorted out before the class begins.

I expect the attendees to arrive on time, and most importantly with an attitude that desires learning and enrichment no matter what level of expertise they possess based upon prior training and experience. A clear mind to what is going to be presented will allow for a greater understanding of the material presented and even if the attendee is highly skilled, they will have a better opportunity to take something useful with them when the class is completed.

Now what do I expect of myself (as the instructor) in presenting the class.

  • I must ensure that the administrative requirements to present the class are properly coordinated. This means that the facility is ready to go and the necessary materials to present the class are present and ready to go. Final coordination with whoever is responsible to make the reservations for the facility and have the necessary equipment present is MY responsibility. I can’t blame anyone else if I don’t take the time to ensure it has been handled properly.
  • I have to ensure that I have organized the material in a logical sequence that is methodical and presented at an appropriate pace for the attendees.
  • I have to provide the attendees with reference material that will allow them to review the content of the class at a later time.
  • I should NEVER appear arrogant to the attendees, as it is insulting to anyone who comes to the class to be exposed to an instructor with an ego problem.
  • I cannot appear to be dismissive when a challenging question is asked. Questions need to be answered to maintain credibility with the attendees.
  • The attendees are in class to participate in MY class. I cannot berate or compare my class with another instructor’s class. The attendees can do that on their own. I must focus on what I am presenting.
  • My overall goal is to present time-tested and relevant methods that have proven to work in combat not just the range.

Now, the list above is a broad view of what I expect from the class and the way I run it. Let’s look at what I believe should be some of the expectations of someone who is attending the class:

  • A safe environment should be expected because the purpose of attending the class isn’t to be injured due to improper instruction or the actions of either the instructor or other students. I would expect safety issues to be handle appropriately and if there is an unsafe student in the class, they should be either removed from training or just allowed to observe.
  • The facility should be able to support the type of class that is being presented. It should be adequate for the size of the class.
  • If I am an attendee, I do not expect to be treated like I am a recruit attending boot camp. I do not expect the instructor to act like a drill instructor – especially if they haven’t been in the military. I expect to be treated like any professional would like to be treated – with firmness, fairness and dignity.
  • I understand that in the context of a class, mastery of the material may not be possible. I expect the material to be presented in a methodical way so that I can practice on my own using what I have been taught as a guideline and use that guide to help master the material at some point in my training.
  • I expect the amount of “downtime” be minimized during the class. I understand that some drills may have to run individually due to safety concerns but if I am in an 8 hour class and half that time is waiting for everyone else to do the drill, I am not getting the maximum value for my training dollar. I fully understand that there is always a need for downtime due to magazine reloading, set up for new drills etc. but I would expect the instructor to be competent enough to minimize “downtime”.
  • Depending on the nature of the class, I would expect feedback on my performance. I am there to learn and I need to know if I am doing something wrong and what I need to do to correct my mistakes. I understand that there are many ways this can be done and that each instructor will have a specific way they provide feedback. If for some reason, I am having a specific issue, I should feel free to address it with the instructor and allow him/her to determine the best way of addressing it. But, it needs to be addressed.
  • I would like some documentation that I have attended the class so I can keep a record of my training. This may be important at a later date if I get into a combat shooting and have to demonstrate my proficiency.
  • At the completion of the class, I expect to feel as though I leave better than I arrived.

 I am sure there are other expectations that you can come up with since we all have personal expectations when we attend training. I have listed those expectations that I feel important as a baseline for classes. Your personal expectations are just as important as anything I have written above. I would encourage you to find out as much about the class you want to attend so you can ensure that it will provide you with the type of training you want. If you have a question about what will be done, I encourage you to ask the person who will provide the training so you can get the answers you DESERVE.

At this point in our discussion, I want to look beyond the training class or classes that have been attended and focus on the application of that training in combat shootings. This discussion can be inclusive of private training classes or department provided training programs. The goal is to attempt to analyze why we sometimes see disconnects between what is included in training and what happens when someone tries to apply that training in the one place where it has to count – in a combat shooting.

These comments deal specifically with the content of a class or program. The intent is to simulate our thoughts about what is included in training and in some cases, not included in training as it relates to performance by the trainee in combat shootings. There are many views about these issues that can be presented. Individuals are often greatly influenced by their prior training and unfortunately many opinions are formed by invalid data or training that doesn’t reflect reality. Frankly, people die because of this issue. No matter what experience level someone possesses or how many “shooting schools” they have attended, or how many gun magazines they read, professionals always keep their minds and eyes open for either better ways to operate or train. It’s a never-ending process.

I intend to provoke your thought here. Let’s first talk about methodology – the way we do something. For the purpose of our discussion, we are talking about fighting with your handgun in a life or death, close-quarters fight with someone who initiates a spontaneous attack against you. This is an unplanned event and the suspect has chosen the time and place of the attack.

If you are being taught a methodology for rapid, close-quarters combat shootings that depends on the following:

  • Fine motor skills,
  • Your body is in a state of calmness
  • Your heart rate normal
  • Your Sympathetic Nervous System is NOT activated
  • You have the luxury of time to perform your “shooting tasks” to be able to do the classic precision shooting progression of: breath – relax—aim – take slack out of the trigger – and squeeze the trigger to a “compressed, surprised break”

Don’t be too surprised when your performance in a combat shooting doesn’t match your performance on the range where many of the factors listed above are either partially or collectively MUCH different from when you qualified on the range.

Let’s move forward to the issue of frequency of training. I have lost count of conversations I have had with officers and instructors from a variety of agencies that have advised me of their training budget and time allowed for training has been curtailed or, in many cases, drastically reduced. Many have told me that the only “training” that is sanctioned by their department is their annual qualification shoot. My first thought when I hear this is, “what lunatic is causing this to happen to their officers and department”. Too strong a statement one might say? Well, there isn’t anything more important than the mission itself than the welfare of the officers in someone’s command. There are many ways to conduct meaningful training at a very reasonable cost. I have discussed this in prior writings available on my website and it would do these individuals well to read them. No brave officer should have to pay the price for the lack of foresight or concern of those in positions that could prevent needless casualties or deaths because of not providing adequate training time and resources to conduct the training.

Frequency of training is critical to maintain skill levels and increase capabilities. The psycho-motor skills common to combat shooting must be first taught and practiced properly and then practiced on a frequent basis to become ingrained in the trainee. How good would anyone be at let’s say playing tennis if they play for only 1 hour per year? How good would someone be if they play the piano and just practice only one hour per year? How good can someone be if they practice martial arts for only one hour per year? Get the point. ANYTHING that requires the use of the mind and body together needs to be continually practiced to maintain or develop more useful skills. So, frequency of firearms training is CRITICAL to achieve success when applied in combat.

Let’s turn to how training is conducted. Once PROPER methodology is taught to the trainee, an appropriate environment must be established if we expect the trainee to learn how to apply the training they have received in prior training. This environment should be as similar to the actual environment they will be in at the moment they will have to apply their training. Of course, the instructors conducting the training must address all appropriate safety concerns.

So what needs to be included in this training environment? Here is a list of some essential components but additional ones can be added or a combination of any of them can be used to create a special, targeted training objective:

  • It is necessary to focus training at the ranges most frequently encountered in combat shootings. Time and amount of rounds used in training should be spent proportionately at the ranges where the fights are actually happening. As an example, if we determine that 85% of our combat shootings are happening within the 0-7 yard line, then conducting training within that range spectrum is appropriate since the methodology we will use at those ranges can be practiced and honed. The instructors need to analyze the data from their own agency’s combat shootings as well as from other agencies similar to theirs to help determine the way they form their training.
  • Variable conditions that are encountered in live combat shootings must be created during training. This allows the trainee to become accustomed to the variable shooting positions that are often assumed when shooting around or over barriers. Also, variable lighting conditions will allow the trainee to learn how lighting affects their vision as it relates to applying their shooting methods. Also the trainee can practice integrating their flashlight with their firearm and how important it is to be able to be combat accurate in any lighting conditions present during many of the combat shootings.
  •  Here is another variable that has to be considered in training. In dynamic fights, movement is an element that is often encountered. The suspect, the good guy or both can be movement simultaneously. So, if this variable isn’t accounted for in training, the trainee will not have the opportunity to develop shooting while moving skills or how to engage a moving target. There will be no “redo” of the incident if they have a training failure (meaning their training didn’t account for or adequately include enough training in a particular skill needed during the incident). The place to learn and perfect skills is in a training environment NOT when there are live bullets coming down range at the trainee.
  • Finally, all the issues discussed above need to be integrated into a force-on-force environment where the trainee can apply their training dynamically in real time.

I will summarize by tying the two main points in this article together. I started off by talking about “expectations. Then I talked about the issue of performance in combat shootings not correlating with performance on the range and qualifications. I have to ask these question for you to ponder:

  • How can we expect officers or those who we have trained to perform well if we haven’t provided them with the proper training for the environment they will be in when applying their training?
  •  How can we expect them to perform well if we haven’t provided them the ability to do the repetitive training needed to increase psychomotor skills used in combat shooting?
  •  How can we expect them to develop a better ability to make use-of-force decisions if we don’t allow them the opportunity to combine all the skills that they are developing in a force-on-force environment where they are faced with realistic scenarios and have to use all their skills to solve the problem?

 I learned something very early on in my martial arts teaching endeavors. NEVER BLAME THE STUDENT FOR YOUR FAILURE TO PROVIDE PROPER TRAINING.

As a final note, if you ever wonder why the bullets are not hitting the suspect(s), take an objective look at what you are doing in your personal training and, if you are an instructor, look at how you are training students before anything is said to criticize the student.  

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope some, if not all, of this article helps you in the future. Stay safe.

 Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master