SEPTEMBER 14, 2010

Editor's Notebook: Handgun Combatives

by Rich Grassi
You can't learn to shoot from reading a book. You can gain a greater understanding of the physical act in all its complexity by a clear explanation of what goes on in the firing of an accurate shot, a series of shots, the draw, clearing stoppages, and other tasks necessary to use the handgun in combat. I like gun books generally, some more than others. Favorites have the characteristic of being able to reach me, to illustrate something I hadn't seen or hadn't completely understood before. I have a few of those favorites. An updated version of one of those favorites has just been released by the publisher, Looseleaf Law Publications, and that is Dave Spaulding's Handgun Combatives, 2nd Edition. Some could say that, as a colleague of Spaulding's in the gun writing field, I am biased. That's not true. I've been around a number of writers who can't shoot. (I'm fond of telling people my job is communication, not gunfights.) The bias that exists stems from the time I attended one of his short, four-hour classes during an IALEFI seminar. He's one of the best teachers I've had. And, not only can he teach, he can write and you better believe he can shoot! This book is Dave's report of his attempts to find the right method to get gunfight students to gain the needed skills to save their own lives. As instructors, it's our continuing struggle to reach every student we get - it's not easy. Using some core principles (e.g., "Simple is good," "physiological efficiency"), Dave reaches out and puts together a plan you can use to become a better (more accurate, quicker) shot. Dave is one of two friends in the training arena of whom I'm aware to use neurolinguistic programming in combatives training. NLP has become controversial in some quarters though it's solid training doctrine in combatives. Mental imagery, modeling and anchoring combine to make the acquistion of needed skills quick, sure and accessible even in times of great stress. When put together with Force on Force through a trainer like Randy Clifton, the use of Isolation - putting the specific cluster of techniques to the student during force-on-force excerises while increasing stress - the techniques are "fire-formed" and accessible to the user in battle. Dave shows the shooting stance - standing in a way such that you don't fall down during a gunfight - as well as shows how to draw, reload, clear stoppages, work corners and defend yourself in an automobile. He explains the Continuous Motion Principle and explains his conclusion that we all point shoot! I've explained before that there are a few books on this topic I keep close to hand for immediate reference. Cooper's Principles of Personal Defense is one. The Constitution of the United States is another. Ayoob's In the Gravest Extreme is another. Another book recently released in a second edition - one I'll describe in another column - is in that stack. And Handgun Combatives is the other book close to hand. Dave explains his technique, he puts it as simply as it can be communicated, and he illustrates it to show what he means. Buy this book. It'll be one of your few close references too.