AUGUST 16, 2022

Guest Shot: The Essentials of Combative Pistolcraft – Part II

Today’s feature, a continuation of “the essentials,” is from correspondent Dave Spaulding.

(The first part of the story, available here, involved the typical, most commonly encountered “facts” of deadly encounters. Without knowing what you are preparing for, you can’t effectively prepare. Having determined what skills are needed – what’s the best way to actually prepare?)

I feel the proper combat draw stroke is critical and should be performed with the thought it will be the same if your opponent is 2.5 feet or 25 yards away. It’s not necessarily about a fast draw, but a draw to a close retention position and then straight to the target like a punch. I like to equate the draw to driving; you steer, accelerate and apply the brakes to arrive when and where you want. The draw is the same…if it does not arrive where you are looking then what good is it? That said, the draw needs to be as fast as possible as fighting is also about time…the more time taken to address the threat, the less likely we are to prevail. When the decision is made to draw the handgun, the movement should be smooth and efficient…read this lack of unnecessary motion…to get the muzzle on the threat NOW!

While the gun hand is drawing the pistol, the support hand should be placed in front of the sternum so it is in a position to fight, fend, apply a proper two hand shooting grip or any other function that may be required. If hanging at your side or flat to your belly, it is less likely to be able to perform these necessary tasks. During a conversation with Jeff Chudwin, noted trainer, law enforcement officer and President of the Illinois Tactical Officer’s Association at the 2015 ILEETA Conference, Jeff talked about the Zulu warriors of South Africa, some of history’s most feared close quarter battle warriors. In a discussion about close quarter shooting techniques, he showed me the Zulu shield and spear technique with the non-gun hand used to strike, parry and not flat against the body. Jeff’s point was that by making use of both arms and hands we can also gain position, time, control, fight and shoot…a true “multi-task of combat” as it were. It also showed that using both hands in a fight is nothing new…little in the combative pistol world really is regardless of what some internet guru tells you…

I have long said that trigger control is weapon control meaning the pressure applied to the trigger via the index finger and hand will affect the alignment of the weapon with the target. It is quite common to apply rearward pressure to the trigger only to have the whole hand tighten on the grip. When this happens, the muzzle will dip and the bullet will impact low.

Everyone…even the world’s best shooters…do this as it is what the hands want to do, tighten as a unit and not as an individual digit. After all, you do this thousands of times a day…do you really think just because you hand a handgun in your hand you will instantly stop and just use the index finger? If so, you’re dreaming! Trigger finger isolation requires a HUGE amount of mental focus and I maintain the best way to do this is dry fire in a quiet room where there are no interruptions.

FACT: The most essential thing you can do in a gunfight is get the gun between you and the threat and control the trigger so the muzzle does not move!

In conclusion, try hard not to fall into fads or cool-looking techniques. Training should be simple, efficient and effective. If it is not helping you prevail in what we all know is true close quarter conflict, then why are you doing it?

Dave Spaulding is a professional firearms instructor with 36 years' experience in law enforcement and federal security. The recipient of the 2010 Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year Award from the International Law Enforcement Training and Educators Association, Dave has worked in all facets of law enforcement including communications, corrections, court security, patrol, evidence collection, training and investigations. He was a founding member of his agency’s SWAT Team and acted as its training officer for 8 years. He spent a year in an undercover capacity and was the commander of a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force, has been an adjunct instructor at the former Heckler & Koch International Training Division and the Tactical Defense Institute. In addition to his many published articles (over 1,400), Dave is the author of two acclaimed books, Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives. He operated his own training company with focus on “the combative application of the handgun”