AAR- Combat Focus Shooting 01/12/10
This is long so bear with me.....
I recently had the opportunity to train with Rob Pincus and some of his prospective Combat Focus Instructors. The course itself was actually a Combat Focus Instructors course lasting 4 days and comprising of 3 and a half days of classroom time with 4 hours spent on the Range at C2 shooting center in VA Beach. Being new to CFS, and thanks to some extremely good luck, I had the opportunity to spend 4 hours on the range with Mr. Pincus and his 3 prospective instructors. The idea was that, as someone new to CFS, I would provide the prospective instructors with a clean slate that they could impart their knowledge on.
Before I get into the shooting itself, let me talk about Rob Pincus and CFS real quick. Before January 11th 2010 I had never had any contact with Rob. I am a police officer in Norfolk VA and Im an avid shooter. Being in a position that may require me to defend myself or others with a handgun has made me keenly aware of the necessity of constant and relevant training. I had seen one of Mr. Pinucs's DVD's before and really liked the information that was put out. I was searching online for CFS videos and I stumbled across a thread on this site that Mr. Pincus and I both had first hand experience with. Long story short, I received an email from him and that started the ball rolling for me to jump into his class the next day.
The idea of CFS is to use your bodies natural reaction to stress(for instace a deadly force encounter) to your benefit while incorporating good tactics into an extremely intuitive shooting methodology. CFS isnt really a system or a gimmick, its more like an approach that maximizes efficiency. Rob Pincus has done extensive research on the subject and has corroborated his findings with others in the personal protection field to develop the CFS method. He is an extremely personable guy and turned out to be a very articulate instructor as well. Rob was able to convey his ideas in a way that was relevant to me and the situations I could find myself in. And as someone who has participated in quite a bit of Force on Force training I found myself agreeing with pretty much everyhing Rob was putting out. There were definitely a couple of instances where the light bulb came on for me during this class. Anyways....onto the class
We started out with a basic drill called extend, touch, press. We were shooting at Q targets from about 3 yards away. This is the basic building block of the course. We would start at the high compressed ready position and at Rob's command we would index the gun out to full extension, touch the trigger, and then press. The touch and press is broken into 2 parts in order to minimize trigger slap. The full extension of the arms is what your body will likely do under stress anyways and is biomechanically more efficient at speed than trying to stop your arms at a certain point before you take the shot.
As an aside... I had always shot with bent elbows prior to this class. Other well known instructors teach it and I cant argue with it in the context of what they do. However, this is one of those occasions where the light bulb went off on for me. I remember back to the active shooter force on force we did last year for the department. We had searched almost every class room in the vicinity of the gunshots and were about to make entry into another......I was second in line. When I stepped in right on his heels of my lead man I saw 2 "active shooters" at about 5 yards away aiming Simmunition Glock 17's at me. I pressed out and effectively engaged both( with plenty of help from my partner who got hit once). Even after thousands of presentations from my holster using bent arms, I found myself locked out at full extension.
The next drill we did was very similar except at the command of “UP” we would extend touch and press on our own. We also started incorporating lateral movement(getting off the X if you will) on the draw stroke and during reloads. As the drill progressed we were encouraged to start firing 3, 4, or 5 shot strings of fire on the ”UP” command. The reason for this is to get out of the habit of only training to fire 2 rounds as alot of training(including some PD training) would have you do. The lateral movement makes you a harder target and takes advantage of your opponents stress induced tunnel vision causing him to have to reset and refocus on you.
The idea here is that youre looking for Combat Accurate hits. Those being defined as anything that “significantly affects your targets ability to present a lethal threat”. We were aiming for the high center chest area and at this distance(3 yards or so) were encouraged to try it without our sights. Remember that CFS is big on efficiency, and at close range a sight picture is not always needed to get a hit. This was another light bulb moment for me……
Let me start of by saying that Rob never once came out and said “you shouldn’t be using your sights at this distance” or “you have to use your sights here”. I actually asked him if I should be using my sights this close….after all it is called Combat Focus Shooting. Rob replied that when you should and shouldn’t use your sights Is up to the individual and depends on their confidence level and proficiency with their firearm….. So I gave it a shot! It was difficult for me at first because, again, I had literally done thousands of repetitions drawing my weapon and presenting it while picking up the front sight. I had also never tried unsighted fire at the range before. But I found myself thinking back to active shooter training again. When I stepped into the room and started “taking fire”(sim rounds) I shoved my weapon out to full extension and fired back. But what I didn’t do was pick up my sights…..in fact I didn’t even think about it. It all happened extremely fast and even though I already had my weapon out and at the close ready I still shoved that thing out as fast and as far as I could. At about 5 yards I extended, focused on the threat to my right and fired what I remember to be 4 or 5 rounds(we only had 10 a piece…..theyre expensive!).
The next drill we did was the balance between speed and precision. We had the Q targets up still but on either side of the head we had small bullseye style targets. From the holster, Rob would either yell out the command of “UP”, “Left”, or “Right”. Up meant to engage the Q target in the high center chest area. Left or right meant to shoot for the smaller bullseye targets. At my skill level with CFS I found that I was quickly and consistently able to get good hits on the Q target without my sights….but had to slow down and sight in to hit the bullseye targets. This drill made me realize the importance of knowing and pushing your limits….but understanding when you need to take your time.
We then moved onto the” Lap drill” which consisted of 6 bullseye targets stacked three vertically and two across. We basically had to shoot each target starting at the top left and finishing at the bottom right as fast as possible. BUT, we had to put a round in the black before we could move to the next target. The idea was to accurately engage multiple targets as quickly as possible and move laterally in either direction(your choice) while transitioning from one target to another. When you transition you were to pull the gun into the high compressed ready and then extend back out to the new target. Rob teaches transitions this way because in a real “Dynamic Critical Incident” the bad guys likely wont be standing in a row for you to simply move the gun between and shoot in order. Whats more likely is that they will move and could be a good distance apart. Once youve neutralized one threat you will then obviously address the other. But….If the original target was in front of you and the second target is to your left, you will have to spin/turn to the left to bring your weapon to bear. At the speed of real life and while under stress its possible you could swing the gun past your target and then have to bring it back to engage him(make sense?). When you get tunnel vision and focus on the most immediate threat it makes sense(at least to me) to engage him until hes no longer a threat, pull the gun back in( as you would anyway to scan and asess), turn to the next threat and then present the gun back out.
I found myself using my sights for this entire drill and by reading my sights was able to determine If I had scored a hit or not and whether to move to the next target. We also did variations where two hits were required per target before we could move on….and a variation where we could only fire six shots total(there were only 6 targets). All of this while still incorporating lateral movement during the draw stroke and reloads.
The final drill was called the “figure 8” drill, and Im a huge fan. We had 3 Q targets lined up( was a square range) left to right. We also had 2 markers/cones set up about 4 yards from the targets, one marker in front of the left target and one in front of the right. The person performing the drill would walk a figure 8 around the markers and Rob would call out either left, middle or right. At that time you would perform a “flinch” as if you had been startled and then turn and orient yourself towards the target Rob had called out. One you did that you would move laterally to the left or right while drawing your weapon and engaging the target with 3,4,5 or 6 shots….it was up to you. You would then holster(or reload if necessary) and continue walking the figure 8 until Rob called out the next target and you would repeat the process. Rob would also occasionally call out, “Head Shot” while you were engaging a target to keep you on your toes and hammer home the importance of the balance between speed and precision.
During the class I ran a Glock 19 with Warren Sights and drew out of a Raven Concealment IWB holster. I was wearing a lot of clothes and a jacket because it was freezing and had some issues near the end with my clothing affecting the draw. I usually don’t dress the way I did for that class and wish I had given it more thought. I do plan on training with Rob again in April for his combined 3 day course and will likely wear my duty gear for that class.
My overall view of CFS is that its perfect for me and my line of work. Ive trained with LAV and others and immensely enjoyed myself while learning a lot. My fundamentals of marksmanship are much better have trained with LAV as is my shooting on the move. But…..Rob Pincus teaches a methodology that absolutely makes sense for myself as an LEO, but also for your average CCW holding citizen. The difference between me and LAV(or Brian Searcy, or Kyle Lamb, etc..) is the context in which our armed engagements may occur. For the most part our SOF are a Proactive force. They generally take great care and planning to ensure that an engagement happens on their terms and they go in guns up and ready to roll. As a police officer It is far more likely that any armed encounter Im involved in will be Reactive. Action is always faster than reaction and therefore efficiency and consistency on my part will hopefully level the playing field. This goes for the armed citizen as well. Mr. Pincus does not look down on other instructors and in fact encourages you to train with other people and learn as much as you can. I plan to continue doing that, but I will without question continue to regularly train with Rob Pincus in Combat Focus Shooting and look forward to becoming an instructor myself in the near future.
Sorry for the long winded AAR but I hope it did the class justice. Ive never learned so much in 4 hours!