Do What Comes Natural

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When I first started shooting handguns as a boy, I copied shooting positions and stances that I had seen on TV, shooting with just one hand or grabbing my right wrist with my left hand and really paying no attention at all to body position or foot placement.

Then came handgun qualification in the department of state government that I was employed by. Back in the mid nineteen eighties we were issued Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolvers and shot qualifications using the tried and true Weaver stance. This was the case with many police agencies across the country at that time. We were introduced to the Isosceles stance but never really were encouraged to use it.

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The Natural Action Stance

After certification with the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Shooting IDPA and taking various handgun courses, I was introduced to a stance that finally made sense. This stance allowed my body to work the way it was meant to and I no longer had to wrestle the gun to keep it hitting where I wanted it to hit.

The shooting stance that I am talking about has several names, but I have always stuck with name I like best as I heard it called by John Krupa III of Spartan Tactical Training . The Natural Action Stance.

The natural action stance allows the shooter to work a shooting stance that is conducive to the physiological reactions of the body under stress. This allows the shooter to utilize the body’s “natural actions” during a gunfight rather than trying to make the body do something is incapable of doing well under severe stress.
So, how should you position your body when you are training? Remember, we don’t rise to the occasion, we always fall back on we have been trained to do.

For me, the position of the upper body is far more important than the position of the lower body.
So, lets start with upper body positioning and we’ll work our way down the feet later.
First, stand so that you are facing the target. I so many people try to blade away from the target and then fight their own physiology to get their handgun where they need it. When facing your target thing of a boxer. Would a boxer square up to his adversary or approach his opponent at a sideways angel?
Well, if you know anything about boxing you will know that a boxer squares up to his target and you should too. Your hips and shoulders should be square to the threat with your shoulders slightly forward of your hips. Don’t lock your knees! a slight bend in knees is preferable.
Your head should be upright with chin tucked down slightly and looking straight ahead.
Your arms should be straight out with elbows locked.
Role body weight forward into the recoil impulse of the handgun.

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Feet are shoulder width apart and pointed at the threat

Next comes the position of your feet. Lets face it, in a high stress encounter you will not be thinking about choreography or if your feet are in the exact right spot. But we can get a decent stance if we practice the following three things,

Place your feet approximately shoulder width apart.

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Shooting side foot (in my case, that’s the right foot) slight back.

This helps you keep your balance in the event that you are hit or pushed or simply standing on rough or uneven terrain. If it’s more comfortable for you, place your shooting side foot is slightly back.
Your toes should be pointed toward the threat. Again, this is natural and helps keep you squared up with your target.
Your body weight should be shifted to the balls of the feet. This allows to maintain good balance but also allows you to move quicker in any desired direction.

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Here you can see that the shooters weight is on the balls of his feet and not his heels.

The Natural Action Stance is advantageous for a couple of reasons. Number one, it takes advantage of several of the bodies natural reactions to startle and number two, it allows you to scan and access your environment for further danger by simply rotating your torso and still being able to maintain your shooting position.
There are several other handgun shooting stances that you may find beneficial but I’ll save them for future posts.

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Do You Train To Prevail?

Mindset: (mi~nd-set’) A course of action based on a previous decision, a set path based on reason and intellect.

“It should be understood that the ultimate weapon in your personal arsenal is the brain. Without a proper combative mindset the quality of skills possessed are for naught as it is the mind that engages in combat…the body just follows.” – Dave Spaulding

Training is a very important aspect of concealed carry, home defense and firearms ownership in general. If you do not train and you happen to be attacked you will be relying on survival instinct only. When you have your back against the wall you will not rise to the occasion. Instead, you will fight the way you train. Proper training allows you greater flexibility in your choice of tactics and techniques that can be used to defend yourself. Proper training allows you to manipulate your firearm using methods that are tried and true and have been used in the past successfully. Proper training techniques can be recognized by their simplicity and ease of operation while under stress. Overly complicated maneuvers and techniques are better left in the movies and are not suitable for use in life threatening situations. I like to use a simple formula taught to me by Dave Spaulding when evaluating whether to use a certain technique or not. Dave’s formula consists of three questions and goes like this, Is it simple? Is it sensible? Is it effective on the street? If I can’t answer yes to all three of those questions when evaluating a new technique, I won’t use it and neither should you.

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Kevin “Rooster” Fox firing from the prone position during a training course at Stony Farm Defense near Brimley Michigan

In my career as a trainer for the Michigan Dept. of Corrections I have often witnessed defensive techniques being taught in which their proper use by the average student would have taken years to master. These types of techniques are better left in the dojo and in competition and out of the realm of personal defense. The use of overly complicated techniques will only get you injured or killed. It is much better to master simple techniques that you’re able to operate well when under stress. Remember, you will fight the way you train.

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Jon Niggeling transitions to his handgun during an advanced shotgun course near Port Huron Michigan.

When training, it is critical that you train with purpose and drive. It is very important that during a training course you pay attention to the instructor and what they are explaining or demonstrating. This will allow you to perform the given techniques properly. It is also very important that if you have questions, that you ask those questions to obtain a correct answer. Otherwise, you may have missed a very important aspect of the training course. You must maintain an attitude during your range training that will transfer over into a real life defensive situation if and when the time comes that it’s needed. If you’ve taken any of my classes, you have heard me talk about a training technique called visualization. This is the time to put visualization into practice! For example, when you are shooting at a target imagine that the target is an assailant that is attacking you or a family member. Defend yourself against that target!

Let me put it this way, when defending your life you must always fight with the intent to prevail. It’s not a game. Simply surviving is not an option. If you have a family, there are other people that are depending on you. You cannot afford to lose and they cannot afford for you to lose. You must always fight to prevail!

You’re An Open Book

Having worked in the Michigan prison system for many years, I was able to interact with and talk to hundreds if not thousands of felons. Criminals have an uncanny ability to read people. They know who will make a good victim and who will not. That’s why it’s so important to present yourself as someone who is alert and aware of your surroundings when out in public. Don’t have your face stuck in a cell phone, or walk around with your shoulders slumped, feet dragging and looking like you couldn’t care letrunkss about what is happening around you. These are the traits in people that criminals tune in on.
As a defensive firearms instructor, I see many people who think that simply carrying a firearm will keep them safe and that’s unfortunate. They erroneously believe that their carry gun is some sort of magic talisman that will ward away evil.
Let me tell you, felons do not fear firearms, but what they do fear is the person that carries a firearm and is willing to use it. In fact, many times you can take the firearm completely out of the equation. The criminal fears the person who looks like they are aware and alert to whats happening around them. Those are the people who criminals perceive as being willing to defend themselves. It’s the person who is willing that criminals fear.

Be Prepared, Stay Safe, Take Control.

See you at the range!

THINGS ARE DIFFERENT OUT IN THE WORLD

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Coming from a correctional background, I like to talk with my former co-workers anytime I can. I also like to talk with officers who have hired in since I left corrections a little more than 10 years ago.
Given my present occupation, the conversation almost always turns toward firearms and training. I hear many lamentations concerning how some corrections officers do not feel they should have to go through Michigan’s required CPL class since they have a departmental carry permit and have been carrying a handgun on the job for five,ten, or twenty years, whatever the case may be.
I thought I might be able to shed some light on this subject, since I have seen it from both angles.
First off, you need to understand that your role in carrying a firearm is much different when carrying while at work as opposed to carrying concealed out in “the world”. Your role at work while armed is to head toward the danger. You stop inmates from killing staff or each other, stop them from escaping custody, and you even stop “Joe citizen” from throwing drugs and weapons over the fence etc. These types of actions are far different than any you would encounter outside of correctional setting. Out here, as a CPL holder, you’re primary job is to avoid trouble and altercations that would normally not be possible in the world of corrections. Contrary to popular belief, a CPL doesn’t make you World Cop or under cover crime dog. If bad situations cannot be avoided then you have the usp40responsibility to protect yourself, your family etc., all the while understanding that your firearm is your absolute last resort.
Another aspect that is entirely different is the legalities of concealed carry. Sure, you’ve had training in the use of force and may even be able to recite the department’s use of force policy. But, have you had any training in Michigan’s Castle Doctrine? Do you know when and where the Castle Doctrine protects you as a gun owner? Do you know when you have a duty to retreat and when you do not?
Unless you want to end up as an inmate for trying to protect yourself, you’d better be familiar with with more than 04.05.110(Use of Force).
Lastly, lets talk about equipment. At work you carry a Glock G22 in a duty holster, on a duty belt with spare magazines conveniently placed in horizontal magazine pouches, along with at least one “non-lethal option” such as pepper spray.
All of your handgun training is done using this same duty rig. A duty rig that you won’t have out here on the streets.
Out here, some of you may opt to carry to a full size handgun, at least at first. A spare mag will get shoved in your pocket along with your gum and your car keys, spare change, a Bic lighter and several used tooth picks. Then you’ll get tired of carrying it and it will end up in your glove box or left at home. Then, if you are still as concerned about carrying concealed as you should be, you’ll buy a small compact semi-auto or a S&W J Frame that will be much more comfortable to carry, but the trade off is that it will require much more training and practice to master than your full size pistol. That’s training and practice that you never received through the Michigan Department of Corrections. It’s one thing to maintain defensive accuracy out to 25 meters with a full size pistol, but it’s entirely another to do it with compact 9mm or a .38 snubby.
And speaking of firearms training in the Michigan Department of Corrections, have you ever drawn from concealment while qualifying?
Have you ever received training concerning how to best conceal a pistol? How about spare mags and ammo?
What works best for concealed carry in winter? What works best on a hot summer day?
The Michigan Department of Corrections’ firearms training program is a qualification program. You are trained up to a point that allows you to pass the qualification and nothing more. Any training beyond that is your responsibility.
So you’ve carried at work for 10+ years. Tell me again how that is relevant for concealed carry?
In conclusion, I want to add that the training you receive within the Dept. of Corrections is very good training and is very relevant for the job that you are required to perform as an armed corrections officer. Some of that training does carry over.
But as I’ve pointed out above, the training for concealed carry is far different and it needs to be.

See you on the range!