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canebrake 10-02-2009 12:21 AM

Combat Accuracy
Got this in my Gabe Suarez's WARRIOR TALK NEWS - OCTOBER 2009

It's post worthy:

Combat Accuracy Part 1

Roger Phillips - Suarez International Staff

There are many varying opinions on what accuracy is needed inside of combat. Who is correct all comes down to who you believe. The definition that I use when it comes to combat accuracy is as follows, "any hit on the adversary that effects change in the adversary in regards to the OODA loop." In reality, any hit on the adversary is good for you and bad for them.

The generally accepted nationwide hit ratio for law enforcement officers is 15-25%. This is with guys that have to qualify often using fundamentals of marksmanship skill sets. The question is why is this hit ratio so low while the qualification standards are so much higher?

When we look at combat accuracy we need to factor in the balance "to hit and to not be hit." The reality of not wanting to be hit simply has to be factored into the equation. This is why we see such a low hit ratio. Fundamentals of marksmanship skill sets are not the mythical "end all, be all" inside of combat situations. The situation is the dictating factor.....not the technique focused fundamentals of marksmanship. When we understand the physiological desire to "not get hit" it becomes evident that inside of combat, misses happen. They happen even more readily if you do not train within reality...... the "to hit and not be hit" reality. Once we accept this reality and begin looking at skill sets beyond the fundamentals of marksmanship the hit ratio improves dramatically. There are many police departments across the nation that has proved this to be fact with their increased hit ratio.

Let's look at some of the things that have been taught as acceptable combat accuracy in the recent past.

The Pump House

The pump house is that fist size group into the heart. By all means, this is a great area to target. It is my default, but it is not the "end all, be all" fight stopper that many would have you believe. There are numerous stories of dedicated opponents that that fought well and continued to kill even after taking hits to the pump house, just because the adversary may very well die, does not mean he is dead yet. Many times people will refer to these guys as "he did not know he was dead yet" guys. I see them more as "I am going to take as many of you with me as I can" guys. There is a huge difference in the mindset and danger level between the two. Shots to the pump house are not a guaranteed immediate fight stopper. In fact there is no guarantee that the adversary is going to eventually die due to the shot to the heart.

On the square range, there are those that teach the following. "You will be half as good in a life threatening encounter as you are on your best day at the range." They teach a fist size group, in the pump house, on the range telling you that it will turn into a hand span group in a life threatening encounter. While this all sounds great, the generally accepted hit ratio numbers simply do not back up this claim. In my humble opinion, this would be due to not training within reality

The Thoracic Cavity

This is the hand span group that covers the heart and the upper lungs. There is a lot of good stuff in here to cause substantial bleeding and breathing problems. While my default may be the pump house, I would be more than happy with any hits in the upper thoracic cavity. A very good representation of the upper thoracic cavity is a nine inch paper plate. Good stuff? You bet! Although, the thoracic cavity is not the guaranteed fight stopper that some would have you believe. Not only is it not an immediate fight stopper many people survive chest wounds.

Cranial Ocular Band

This is the credit card width band that wraps around the whole head. This targeted area is delineated by the soft tissue around the nose and the eyes. It is also delineated by the thin skull around the temple, the ears, and the base of the skull. Some portray this as a "turning them off like a light switch." This is simply not so. There are cases of people fighting through hits to the cranial ocular band. The only way to "flip the switch" to turn a person off is with a direct hit to the medulla oblongata or the "apricot" as the snipers call it. The medulla oblongata is part of the "Reticular Activating System". The RAS is the portion of the brainstem that keeps someone awake. That is one of the reasons that a shot in the medulla literally "flips off the switch".

Training With in Reality

These first three are very much what is taught in the recent past inside of the Modern Techniques based schools. While these targeted areas do offer excellent hits inside of combat, they are not the only alternatives to excellent hits. There are other areas that offer excellent combat hits and many of them are combat proven and come to us from the "old timers." They come from gunfighters who were in a very substantial number of gun fights or from guys that documented a substantial number of gunfights. We need to face the facts that the Modern Techniques is a competition based system that put a high priority on a successful marketing strategy and an ability to "score" to help perpetuate that successful marketing strategy. The fact is that forcing the students to only target two distinct areas made targets much easier to score. It is the improvement of the "score" that led people to take the exact same course over and over and over again.

The introduction of Air soft guns to the general public changed all of this. All of a sudden the general public could test everything themselves. This power of testing was no longer solely in the hands of people with an agenda. The information on the realities of a fight that had been held back could no longer be protected. The flood gates were now open and nobody could stop the changing tide. For the critical thinkers out there dumping the status quo was simple. Heck, they were already half way gone just out of common sense. For those people looking to be the best that they could be this often led them back to studying the history of gun fighting and the vast amount of knowledge and combat proven skill sets.

Let's take a look at some of the things that the "old timers" considered "combat accurate."

Center of Mass

The definition of center of mass is as follows, "targeting the center of whatever mass that is available." That means if only a foot is available, target the center of the foot. If only the elbow is available target the center of that exposed elbow. This is all about making a hit. If you target the center and you are slightly off, you will still get a hit. This also means that if you are in low light and both you and the adversary are moving (as a high percentage of gunfights actually come down) you should target the center of mass so that if you are not perfect inside of this difficult situation you will still land a hit. When some of the old timers talked about center of mass, you would often hear them discussing targeting the belt buckle. We need to realize the difference in where they wore their belt buckles. They were not at waist level they were at abdomen level, very close to center of mass. These guys knew the realities of the fight and they had no competition based dogma ingrained in them. Focusing in on the belt buckle gave them a very nice "focal point" at center of mass to lock in on. They understood the seamless integration of sighted fire and instinctive fire and the correct context inside of the fight.

In "Shooting to Live" Fairbairn and Sykes documented six hundred and sixty six gunfights inside of a twelve year period. They saw this one phenomenon so often that they put it in writing "If you shoot a man in the gut, he will most likely drop what is in his hand."

In a reactionary gun fight, with decent distances, and dynamic movement, I teach targeting center of mass. We need to take back the lost initiative with our speed, movement, and ballistic effect. We need to put a hit on board! The best way to insure this is targeting the center of mass. As we settle into the fight, our movement, and our increasingly accurate marksmanship, we can begin bringing the shots up into the thoracic cavity.

canebrake 10-02-2009 12:24 AM

Combat Accuracy Part 2

Roger Phillips - Suarez International Staff

The Central Nervous System (CNS)

In my Modern Techniques training of the past they always scoffed at the CNS stoppage for anything short of the cranial ocular band. They use to hold their pinkie up and bob it back and forth while saying "go ahead try to shoot it" all while laughing. While entertaining, it was not the truth of the matter. For a CNS stoppage you do not have to disrupt the pinkie size spinal cord, you can often disrupt the CNS by making a hit to the spinal column. A good representation to the size of the spinal column is a 1 1/2 inch side of a typical two by four. When you look at this way, the CNS stoppage is not near as difficult as the Modern Techniques portrayed it to be. But once again we get into the whole "scoring" philosophy and it's misrepresentation of the facts.

When we train the CNS should always be taken into consideration, just as center of mass needs to be taken into consideration. The CNS stoppage is a prized and worthy goal. For a squared up adversary, by all means target his center line and his CNS. If the adversary is bladed we need to balance our targeting of the CNS with our targeting of center of mass.

The old timers recognized this and even developed tactics and techniques to target the CNS. The zipper is all about targeting the CNS. We are looking for a five to six shots, vertically stringing right up and on the CNS from pelvis to cranial ocular band. The level of "stoppage" is dependent on the height of the hit to the CNS. Hit them low and you take their mobility. Hit them higher and take away their mobility and their arms. Hit them even higher and you take oh so much more. There is very few shots better than a CNS stoppage. Only the "apricot" could be better.

The Pelvis

I am not even going to get into this old tired debate. I will just repeat the advice of Jelly Bryce given to Dave James. "Son, if you shoot a man in the nuts.....he will leave you alone."

I have not had one male student question the validity of that statement.

There is so much time spent on debating "the pelvic girdle." What is usually missing from the debate is the huge number of blood vessels in that area. This brings up another old timer philosophy, "more holes in, more blood out, lower the blood pressure and win the fight." You may not break the pelvic girdle and take away mobility, but you are putting holes in and lowering the blood pressure.

If we look at pure speed of the draw and the irrefutable law of physics and economy of motion, the very fastest that you can be is a draw stroke right out of the top of the holster straight to the adversary's pelvis (Elbow up/ elbow down.) Combat proven!

More Reality to Think About

Resetting the OODA Loop

The OODA loop is the decision making process that all human being make. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. It takes the average person .2 -.25 of a second to cycle through this decision making process. The old timers used this phenomenon for everything that it is worth. The old timers proclaim that any hit on an adversary will buy you .2-.25 of a second. Each hit resets the adversary's OODA loop. This goes right in line with Suarez Internationals philosophy of "Any hits on them is good for you and bad for them." This also goes hand in hand with shots to "less then optimal" regions of the body, such as the pelvis. We are not worried about the effects of one hit we are looking at the cumulative effect of five to seven shots, within the first two seconds of the fight, dispersed out all over the body. We are using the phenomenon of the resetting of the OODA loop to get as many hits on board as possible until the threat has been stopped.

Multiple Traumas to Multiple Systems

The "old timers" were big on staying away from tight groups. They believe in multiple traumas to multiple systems. When the reality of the fight becomes clear this philosophy happens naturally. The biggest thing about them is that they did not worry about a perfect group. They were fight focused not competition focused. This is why this article is a lecture in every one of my Point Shooting Progression courses. So many times I see that concern about the loss of a tight group when we begin pushing the limitations, so many "shaking of the heads" and "looks of disgust." That is until things are put into perspective. Once the "Combat Accuracy" lecture has been given all of the marksmanship based egotistical nonsense just melts away. Only then can we get down to the serious business at hand.

"Face" the Facts

While targeting the cranial ocular band has some benefits, the major down fall is that this requires more precision than most situations will allow. We need to accept the reality that any hit on the adversary's head it a darn good hit! Sure, make you focal point the bridge of the adversary's nose, but realize that a slight miss is still a great hit. When we talk about resetting an adversary's OODA loop any shot to the face has to be a major reset. While I have no proof of this, common sense tells me you just bought yourself more time than just .2 - .25 of a second.

The Neck

In my Modern Techniques school I was shooting a drill at twenty five yards. When we walked up to the target I had one perfect shot dead center into the throat. As they marked it a "three points down" I could not help to think how absolutely stupid that was. Here was a perfect fight ending shot and it was scored as a "peripheral." Where is the reality in that? I blew out the esophagus and the spinal column.

I do not know about you all, but the last place in the world I want to get hit is square in the neck. Common sense tells me that a neck shot is a winning shot in most fights.


It's simple any shot on them is good for you and bad for them. It may not be a fight winning shot, but there is a whole lot more coming and it is coming fast and accurately. Stay fight focused, not score focused, spread the love, and shoot them to the ground.

Combat shooting is nasty business. You are not going to be perfect, you are going to fight within whatever the situations allows you. You will need every edge that you can get to be the very best that you can be. You need to be able to fight inside of the realities of the fight, not inside of the made up realities of the recent past. Learn from the very best that had no agenda.....look to the history of the gunfight and seamlessly integrate the best of the old with the best of the new.

SGT-MILLER 10-02-2009 12:45 AM

Good post, Cane.

Gabe Suarez knows what he's talking about. Those are wise words.

IGETEVEN 10-02-2009 04:10 AM

Indeed, very good post Cane and shooting accuracy as close to reality one can train for. Zipper to forehead, point shots delivered from a weapon, double, triple tap. Game over.


CA357 10-02-2009 04:20 AM

Great stuff Cane, thanks. I'd never read any of Suarez's stuff before, this makes sense.

canebrake 10-08-2009 02:32 AM

The Correct Mindset

In training, we talk about everything from how we walk, strip out a magazine, hold a rifle/pistol/carbine, and even how to adjust slings and gear. Ditto the OODA loop (and how to interrupt it), the advantage to closing on a threat rather than running away in certain situations (OK, I'm still vague on this one, but I know the unexpected action is frequently the right one, this is just a little counter-intuitive).

Fighting is, as they say, as much an art as the mechanics of its study are a science.

Last week, however, I was reminded that there's a part of the combat mindset - and preparation for dealing with a known threat- that many of us forget.

Our best weapon- in virtually any circumstance- is our mind and its correct usage to adapt and overcome in life-and-death situations. The training scenarios are, for me at least, one of the best ways to see - clearly- that on many occasions, I'm letting my natural instincts and that most immediate of drugs, adrenaline, take my mind out of the fight.

There's nothing like having that brought home to you by a world-class martial artist and trainer who looks more calm and unflappable than capable and experienced. John Hutchinson, one of Gunsite Academy's trainers, had his unflappability tested last week, trying to help me improve my shooting techniques.

I'm not a bad shooter, but I'm not practicing at the levels I once did. I'm also not at the physical skill levels of twenty years (or more) ago. So, Hutchinson reminded me, I should be applying my mind more to the fighting situations.

Having been more reactive than proactive in most physical situations, that's tough advice to comprehend.

Until you get in a situation with a little performance pressure. Standing on a line with eleven other shooters - most very experienced and trained - induces a little of that pressure. For me, that means the mind starts working against me. Instead of telling me to analyze the situation and respond in a sensible manner, I get the "ready-set-GO" thing from my brain, turning me from a logical guy into a pretty passable imitation of Jerry Lewis. The easy things get difficult, and suddenly, I'm missing shots I know I can make in my sleep.

Unfortunately, I'm too-wired to sleep. Having been in a real shooting situation, I fight old memories and matching reflexes. I don't know if it's happened to you, but I've sure seen if from both the personal and observational side.

After trying to correct me mechanically and not seeing a response, Hutchinson told me something that clarified my problem and gave me a way to instantly tighten shot groups and simplify procedures.

"You're moving around too-much in your body," he said simply, "that's making you have to work against yourself to get a good shot off."

Eureka, he was right. I was guilty of the shooting equivalent of "moving over the ball" in golf. Instead of getting into a strong, neutral position with my rifle solid and stable in that position, I was moving head, eyes, arms, feet, knees, elbows. Let's just say I looked more like an explosion than a rational machine

I was violating the basic rule of a fluid situation: slow down physically and analyze mentally; then follow your mental mapping. It's amazing what a couple of deep, calming breaths and a solid stance will do to tighten your groups. It's even more effective when you're on the move. Strides may shorten or steps may drag, but the upper body remains still, strong and on target.

After shooting, Hutchinson reemphasized that fact by reminding us that when running indoor shooting simulations, he wanted us to concentrate on analyzing each problem individually, and to slow down rather than racing through the simulator as one large timed event.

"Err on the side of safety," Hutchinson says, "I'm going to be with you, and safety's what I want. Don't try to go high-speed, low-drag on a situation, try to make each motion deliberate and thought out. If you rush into a situation, you may find out you've put yourself in a situation you didn't anticipate."

What he didn't have to say was that in real life, those kinds of situations can get you seriously killed. After all, he reminded us, a single person clearing an unfamiliar building was already a bad enough deal. Trying to do it at the speed of Jason Stratham in an action flick was a good way not to get out the other side.

What's my point? THINK before acting in your practice. If you're on the range and suddenly start rushing shots and taking those short, sharp, jerky motions that are producing less than your optimal results, slow down and stop fighting with yourself.

That's one fight you're always going to lose. Instead, breathe, slow down and think before acting.

Now, if I could only remember to do that before I speak.

--Jim Shepherd from The Shooting Wire 10/7/2009

Cory2 10-08-2009 08:43 AM

Indeed this is the truth. I have played paintball and airsoft for about 5 years now (thats a long time since im only 21) and although I can get pretty good groups on target at the range I do not do this or try to do this when playing paintball/airsoft. I point my gun at the biggest target I can see which is usually a torso, although it can be a leg or an arm or the face. I picked up something from a movie none the less a while back though that I tried out and discovered works quite well when aiming quickly. In the movie Patriot when the guy is telling his son or whatever to aim for the smallest target on the body such as a button. This is true I often find my self aiming at peoples pockets on their vest or one of the breathholes of the mask. Now I don't mean I take the time to sight directly on this to make sure I hit it but I simply decide in my mind that is what I'm going to shoot and it has helped my accuracy greatly. However there are times still when I simply point and shoot but these times are when aiming is not really an option, such as pieing a corner and an enemy comes running at you, you simply fire untill they are hit.

spittinfire 10-08-2009 11:23 AM

Great posts cane!

IGETEVEN 10-08-2009 10:23 PM

QUOTE: I was violating the basic rule of a fluid situation: slow down physically and analyze mentally; then follow your mental mapping. It's amazing what a couple of deep, calming breaths and a solid stance will do to tighten your groups. It's even more effective when you're on the move. Strides may shorten or steps may drag, but the upper body remains still, strong and on target.

Great post information Cane, and very accurate IMO, and my own personal shooting experience. (Yours may vary).


canebrake 10-15-2009 12:29 AM

From the Warrior Talk News – The Stalemate 10/14/2009

The Stalemate – Gunman’s Perspective

First is the recognition of the event. As soon as you find yourself grabbing his weapon wrist, you place yourself in position for him to do likewise to you so be aware of this. Grabbing his wrist may be the only thing keeping his knife from entering your guts so do not discount the option of doing so. Moreover, understand that the reality of movement and chaos will preclude you keeping your gun in the popular #2 or retention position. I am not here to argue that point. I will invite you to try the drills we do and then it will become obvious as to what is possible on the shooting range and what is possible in a dynamic fight.

I will offer a layered approach to this as well. This means that anyone layer can solve the issue, but if one does not solve it, we have additional layers as backup.

Upon recognizing the adversary's grab, pull your hand back and up, like a karate man chambering a punch. It is important to get your slide over the man's wrist so it does not impede the coming shots. While doing this of course, you grab tighter on his knife wrist and keep that away from you as you begin pulling the trigger as fast as you can and sending hate right up his arm into his face.

If that doesn't work, it will probably be as a result of an excessively strong adversary that prevented your pistol and wrist from chambering back. No matter, as you feel his pressure holding your wrist down, simply go with it and drop your weight down in a dynamic manner. Again, harder to write about than to show you. This will often free the gun hand. The best option now is to spring upward into the adversary, with a Rugby style head butt and a multitude of shots as you drive him back.

The third layer is more complicated but has been done many times in free FOF exercises. If you are solidly held from bringing the gunhand up or down, simply move the body around the gunhand. Move the body away from the gunhand laterally. This will create a gap that you can move quickly under. Now simply push up with the body and down with your gunhand and you will be free. Once free, get the gun in place and work that trigger 'til your finger cramps. Remember, in all of these you are holding the adversary's knife hand well away from you.

Stalemates, just like ground fights, and other things happen. We may not like them, but only a fool ignores them. These and other topics are discussed and drilled in our Zero To Five Feet course.

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