The Combative Continuum

An Original Essay by The Tactical Hermit

As you journey through the world of self-defense you will ultimately discover that few combat systems are compatible. For example, you may have one stance you learned in martial arts and another you learned for knife, another for your pistol and another for your rifle.

Soon, your brain becomes jumbled and you have information overload. You would have trouble recalling any of these systems under normal circumstances, forget under combat stress!

We need to simplify the way we think about how we train.

We need one stance, any weapon.

We need one guard position.

We need to be able to access our weapon the same way and along the same line; stick, knife and gun.

Enter the Combative Continuum.

The Complete Arsenal

We have to build our system using the concept of the “Complete Arsenal” or in other words, ask yourself if ALL your skill sets (1)Empty Hand (2) Stick (3) Knife (4) Gun can “dovetail” into each other. You must always evaluate all facets of your training using this concept. The Combative mindset consist of simplicity and economy of motion. When we discuss empty hand strikes, we also talk about the elbow slash, because as you deliver a face smash, you are now “cocked” to slash with your opposite elbow. If we are talking about a stick, we discuss high and low line strikes, as a man cannot guard against both. With knife, we must understand the thrust is much more modular than the slash. With CQ Pistol, our footwork and how we present the weapon using our knife, can fold right into getting the gun into the fight in a clinch.

Part of the Combative process and arsenal concept is basing our tactics on an  understanding of the human anatomy. As we learn this, we find, especially with the knife, what tendons work what and which arteries when cut, can cause unconsciousness and death in under one minute. We find the location of certain organs, and the path bullets must travel to shut them down. This is also important because as this is a continuum, we must understand pain compliance techniques when less than lethal platforms are needed first ( a great example is the latest headline about the airline captain who flipped out in mid air). Learning a simple arm bar or wrist/finger lock could be helpful in subduing an unruly or troubled person.


Where most other “styles” are concerned, this is typically the most in-depth and complicated part of it. Not with the Combative Continuum. You will have one stance for all weapon systems. The catch is that you and you alone will be the one however to find it, nobody can teach you. It may take you some time to develop and find it: Don’t worry, you will!

Ask yourself these questions when selecting your stance:

  • Does my stance allow me to be as MOBILE as possible?

  • Does it allow ATTACK and COUNTER-ATTACK against any line of attack?

Don’t get freaked out by where to put your feet! The simplest way to look at this is your foot position should simply mimic your natural gait. Take a stroll naturally and then suddenly stop, look down; that is your foot position. The same thing goes for dynamic movement off the line of attack with pistol or rifle, walk NORMALLY! Don’t “groucho” or “duck” walk.


When we talk about the presentation of the weapon, we automatically think guns, but let’s think a minute here and use the complete arsenal concept. How do we present an empty hand strike, such as a face smash? Consider stance, how we “load” into the strike with our lower body and hips and the dynamic of extension with our arm through the strike. All these things make up the “presentation” of your palm striking somebody’s grill. If we substitute the stick into this equation, you will see how alot of the same traits are present; in particular, the “loading” or “cocking” action done with your lower body and hips. This is a distinct reason why combatives was and still is so effective and still taught widely in the military. It was a simple, brutal, gross motor skill oriented platform that did not depend on alot of memorization, only instinct and aggression.

Carrying the Presentation modularity a bit farther, consider the knife and the gun. I am of course taking into consideration not everybody carries their fixed blade knives and pistols/revolvers in the same position I do, but be open minded here and consider the benefits. The late and great Bob Kasper, who IMO, is the best resource for Combative Knife technique, favored the ARC/IWB position (Abdominal Rear Cant, Inside the Waistband). The OWB option to this position is Horizonal carry, 11 o’clock,  OWB on the belt. Here, the knife is mounted horizontal on the belt, so as the arms hang down naturally, all that has to be done is the garment stripped and a quick cross draw. I favor a Benchmade CBK or Blackhawk Crucible Fixed Blade for this. For pistol, I favor the AIWB carry, or Appendix-Inside-the-Waistband. I find this position offers the quickest presentation and best concealment for even a mid size pistol. When using these two carry positions, one can have a very simple manual of arms to access either knife or gun. Ensure that you have a solid sheath and attachment point in these positions, so if you have to run or get in a tussle, they will stay put.

Making Room

In his book “Sting of the Scorpion” by Bob Kasper (an excellent read and reference book for the combative knife student) Kasper tells why having a toolbox of practical unarmed combatives that dovetails into the knife platform is so important.

“Chances are, you won’t be able to draw before the assault. Based on old school jujitsu, the curricula emphasized ‘atemi-wazi’, or vital area striking with various hands and foot weapons. These techniques are geared for in-close fighting and will get someone off you in a hurry and allow you to draw your weapon.”

This dovetails into the gun as well; OC and empty-hand or improvised weapons strikes to gain room between you and the attacker so you can access and draw your weapon.

The standard “Reactionary Gap” that is taught to Police and Security personnel is recognized as 21 feet or 7 yards.

I have never been a fan of this teaching, as I find it impractical and unrealistic.

In a perfect world, we would like to keep people at twice this distance, but you simply cannot do it. We have to get close to people in our everyday lives, no way around it. The only way to prepare for this is to always carry OC and have a simple set of strikes and kicks to make distance. The best mentality is always be prepared to strike and get off the line of attack, gaining enough distance to present a weapon into the fight.

The Vertical Shield

The vertical shield can also be called a “Default Position”, simply because it should be the format your entire body follows (along with your stance) when attacked or you feel threatened in any way. The Shield covers vital parts of your left side with your weak hand, which is the side of your body likely to be attacked in a head-on assault.

There are several shield positions promoted currently, but the one I use is a hybrid of Bob Kasper (“Sting of the Scorpion”pp.31)

“Place the fingertips of your “non dominant” hand (not weak hand, as you do not have any body part that is weak, just one you don’t use as much as the other!) lightly on your left cheekbone (right if you are left handed). Then take your left elbow and pull it into your torso until your biceps are lightly touching your pectorals. This hand/arm position not only shields the vital areas on the left side, but it also withdraws the limb out of harms way.”

The hybrid of this shield switches from guarding your vital’s with your arm and elbow (in a knife situation) to protecting the head. All you do is instead of resting your fingertips on your left cheek, moving the left hand up to where you are lightly grabbing the back of your head. This forms an elbow guard which will protect you from getting knocked out. Not saying you won’t take some licks, but it will keep you on your feet until you can pump fist, steel or lead into the attacker.

Linear Line Concept

A linear line is simply a straight line from your hand to the target, this applies to empty hands strikes, the knife thrust and full extension with the pistol. The path to target, no matter the weapon, is the same. Linear strikes with empty hand are akin to the jab, palm strike and face smash. With the knife, they are harder to see than say a hooking attack and they also more accurate and strike deeper. The key is a linear attack does not telegraph it’s intent, it is a quick strike; imagine a cobra striking it’s prey. The rule to remember is that if you can punch the target, you can execute a knife thrust. In his excellent WW2 Combatives book, Arwrology, Dr. Martin Perrigard states there are two primary things to aim at to make a stab wound quickly fatal; (1) Large Arteries (2) Major Organs. This goes back to understanding the human anatomy to make our tactics and strikes as effective as possible.

Linear lines with the pistol deal with executing a full extension toward the target when it is APPLICABLE. This is always dependent on your proximity to target. When there is plenty of distance, having full extension gives you better balance and recoil control. That being said, a good portion of your handgun drills need to be firing from compressed ready or a compressed position of some type, as you never want to give your attacker a chance to lay hands on the weapon in close quarter situations.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Self-Defense Issues: How are Your Grappling Skills?

In a recent video, a Chik-fil-A employee courageously jumps in to save a woman from a carjacking attempt.

In the video you can see the employee drag the carjacker POS from the car and then subdue him with a choke until the carjacker surrenders.

Regardless if you carry any type of weapon on your person for self-defense, you should always have a toolbox of empty-hand skills.

Some of the most basic and practical skills to have are Choke/Submission techniques from Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.

  1. Rear Naked Choke

  2. Guillotine Choke

  3. Arm Triangle Choke (Anaconda, D’Arce Choke)

  4. Triangle Choke

  5. Side Choke


There are also a SHIT TON of Clothing Choke holds that can be very useful, in particular the T-Shirt and Hoodie Choke.



You can never have enough empty hand skills folks!

Personally I think Street Combatives/Boxing combined with cherry picked techniques from all the major disciplines: Muay-Thai, BJJ, Krav-Maga and Kali offer the Armed Civilian the best chance, but as with everything in life, find what works for you and TRAIN HARD!

I highly recommend Southnarc (Shivworks) for Realistic Street Fighting Training.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Over-Thinking and Under-Training


I have noticed a developing trend in tactical training blogs and forums: Trainers and Students “Over-Thinking” situations and by default of that mentality, putting forth energy toward the WRONG training goals and under-training on the skill’s needed.

Let me give you an example: At a recent “Active Shooter” class, the topic came up of shooting from behind cover; granted, a valid training topic and one that should be covered, but being this is an ACTIVE SHOOTER class, there are many more pertinent subjects to cover. Long story short, a couple of the students got waaaaay too involved in an active conversation in all of the various situations that could come up while firing from behind cover, including: shooting thru barriers, ricochet’s, the way FMJ and HP rounds behave thru various materials, etc. Needless to say, we got way off topic really fast and it cost the class valuable training time. Word of advice:  NEVER get bogged down with “WHAT IF’S” when you are training to win a fight. I am not saying they cannot be “theoretically” discussed, but speaking from experience, opining about what “MIGHT” happen in a gunfight is about as useless as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.

The small stuff will always work itself out, what the CO needs to focus on during training (and conversely to get the best value out of his precious training dollar) is the FUNDAMENTALS, because nine times out of ten, that is what is going to carry him home! So instead of arguing ballistic tables or round penetration test, do some Combatives training or Force on Force!

Now I know what some of you are thinking: “A man can only train on the fundamentals for so long before he moves on to more ADVANCED techniques and tactics.”

I would answer that by saying this: Those “Advanced” skill-set’s you are talking about, the “high-speed, low drag” type stuff, is simply the FUNDAMENTALS  sped up a notch.

This is what the saying “Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast” means.

When you have refined your skills to the point of being butter smooth, speed will come!

So to be clear, here is a short list of GUN FIGHT FUNDAMENTALS you need to routinely cover REGARDLESS of the “scenario” or type of weapons involved.

  1. Get in Decent Fighting Shape! Couch Potatoes don’t die from enemy fire, but from heart attacks.

  2. Train how you Live. Same Clothes, Gear and Gun.

  3. Hard Focus on ECQ Shooting >5 Ft. Distances

  4. 70/30 Dry to Live Fire Ratio. Fundamentals are Cemented by Repetition.

  5. DISPLACEMENT trumps Marksmanship. Must integrate Move and Shoot into 90% of your drills.

  6. Hard Focus on COMBAT ACCURACY. Fighting for your Life is not a Competition “Bullseye” Shoot.

  7. Use of COGNITIVE STRESS DRILLS. Learning to Think and use DISCRETION before you pull the trigger. Remember: “Every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.”

  8. COMBATIVE CONTINUUM CONCEPT. Approach your training with the “One Mind, Any Weapon” mentality. No matter the weapon (or no weapon) in your hand, you have a transferable, common structure set of skills to get you home.

  9. AMBIDEXTROUS Weapon Handling. No “Strong” or “Weak” Side. Gun Fighting is a Martial Art.

  10. SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST. Strive to eliminate un-needed movements and tension in weapon handling and presentation. Speed will come.

  11. If the drill is not SAFE, REALISTIC & PRACTICAL, trash it! Fantasy Gun Training can kill you faster than a bullet.

Let’s be real guys: In this backwards economy, most of us are not Rockefeller’s and every penny counts! Those of you that budget for training the same as for weapons need to get every ounce of knowledge out of that instructor while you are there, and the Instructor needs to be ensuring that happens as well.

Remember #11 above! If the training you are currently receiving does not line up with these three very simple things, you are wasting your time and money and all the while, training yourself to fail when your life or the life of your loved ones may depend on it!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!



“Listerine” Pistol: Extreme Close-Quarter Combative Realities

When we talk about “Listerine” Combat we are referring to that nasty “bad breath” distance fighting that takes place within 2- 3 feet of your nose. This can be empty hand, knife, stick or firearm. We will see that all of the Combative principles of each of these platforms intersect or duplicate each other at some point. Simply having a gun does not always solve your problem. A gun is not a magic “tailsman” it is only a tool that when combined with certain skill sets can get you out of a jam, one of those skill sets being Extreme Close-Quarters Combatives.

It is said if you want to learn something new, read an old book.

This is very true in the realm of Combatives. Without going too in depth, I would suggest any of the books by Applegate, Fairbairn or Sykes. The techniques these guys developed are simple, brutal and effective. Yes, the books are 60+ years old, but if you look at “modern” trainers in combatives, not much has changed, except some trainer trying to put his name or “brand” on it to make money. A Face Smash or Axe Hand to the throat  is the same in 1942 or 2022!

Brutality and effectiveness have a habit of going together in the same sentence, no matter the time period.

Having the pre-conceived notion you will have to get hands on with an attacker scares the hell out of a lot of guys. This goes back to the ideal that carrying a gun will keep you from getting into a fist fight. The entire reason some guys carry a gun is because they have some type of disability or are more “seasoned” warriors in age and don’t think they could stand up to a twenty-something thug intent on killing them. Once again, we have to do away with this persistent mentality of “having a gun solves all your problems.”

It is just not REALITY.

We have to be willing to sharpen ALL our skill sets if we expect to walk away from a violent attack. If we are willing to do that, firstly, we will be better trained than our attackers and secondly, we will have stacked the odds in our favor for whatever might happen.

There are several simple combative strikes that you can employ for what I call “First Strike”, or the strike that you employ to give you two crucial things in a ECQ Fight:  TIME and DISTANCE.

TIME to draw and present the weapon (gun/knife/stick) and DISTANCE to ensure weapon retention and the ability to wield the weapon and give you room to maneuver or escape.

There is a reason I say “First” Strike”; if you wait to be the poor sap who initiates the “Second” strike there is a strong likelihood you will lose the fight and at the same time, your life.

The Boyd OODA Loop dictates in a fight situation, the human brain does four things very quickly: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

In a fight, we want to interrupt or RESET our attacker’s OODA Loop, which will cause a lag in his response time, giving us the crucial seconds we need to win the fight. The ideal “First”  Combative Strike affects our attackers eyesight and breathing quickly and brutally, taking advantage of the old adage:

“If you cannot see or breathe, you cannot fight.” 


Some strikes I have used with great effectiveness over the years, is the Palm Strike, Hammer Fist, Axe Hand to the Throat and Face Smash. All of these will affect either sight or breathing or both. What all these combative strikes have in common is they do not have be dead-on accurate, technique wise, to be effective. The only thing they require is they be executed violently and with as much force as you can muster. It goes without saying, that Conditioning is an integral part of any Combat Training. I like working with a heavy bag 30 minutes a day on all these strikes. Once you have those down, you can move on to elbow and knee strikes.


 Once the strike is executed, you must have a plan of what to do next. Since this article is about Combative Pistol, we will assume you are armed and the attacker intends Deadly Force and must be dealt with likewise. If you were in the position of being unarmed, this is where your knowledge of extensive Civilian Operator “Dirty”Combatives would come into play. Either way, you have to respond with a violent counter-attack.


So we will assume the First Combative strike had good effect and stuns the attacker. I will tell you from vast experience, this is no time to “drag ass” on your part! You must act quickly now.

You have to keep in mind that since we are talking about EXTREME Close Quarters, there is a chance the attacker, although stunned, may be still right on top of you, in fact, I would bet he is. You must be prepared to strike as many times as needed; don’t diddle around, knock this guy’s ass in the dirt!! You will have to get out of the “Kill Box” from this position to enable you to draw your weapon and at the same time, retain it. There has been times, when no matter what I did, the guy would not allow me to get away from him, this will call for some Contact Shooting methods while in the “Clinch” or has it has been called by a friend of mine, the “FUT” (Fouled Up Tangled).

Since I am never a fan of stepping backwards in a fight, for the simple fact you can wind up on your ass, I recommend moving either to your 3 or 9 o’clock or to your obliques. Of course, you will have to make that call depending on the situation.

At these distances, Displacement Trumps Marksmanship!

It is more important to not get stabbed/shot than to shoot the BG!

While you are displacing out of the kill zone, you must at the same time, get the gun into ACTION.

Depending on how you carry your pistol (Stong Side IWB/Appendix IWB/Open Carry, etc.) you must drill regularly on the presentation of the gun, aka; “clearing kydex/leather”, quickly and efficiently with either hand while moving. (A cool piece of gear I have been using lately is the  Concealment Trigger Guard Holster). Several things come into play once the gun is out of the holster. The first is being able to fire the gun one-handed, with either hand. The Ambidextrous use of a pistol should be a mandatory skill; if you are not including that into your pistol course of fire, start ASAP. The second is being able to fire at anytime in the presentation process. The gun does not have to be in a certain position or in a certain grip to be fired during this time..all that is mandatory at these ranges is that the muzzle is facing the attacker.

In regards to sights, it has been my experience the best I can describe my “sight picture” (if that is what you want to call it for identification purposes) during my encounters was a “super imposing” of the frame of the gun on the mass of the attacker. Some have called this “Metal on Meat” Shooting, which is a great description.

Some will want to call this “Point” or “Combat” Shooting, I just call it “Shooting.”

There is no definitive “school” of thought you follow if you are truly a combat shooter IMO, it is a continuum of collective principles and techniques you call upon for each unique situation.

When do I use my sights? When I have too! I mean seriously, if a human being is 3-5 feet away from you, do you really need to take the time to align sights to get solid “combat effective” hits? Absolutely Not. Do I have to at 15 yards? Absolutely. At these close ranges, the power of the handgun round is exponentially increased, and you will find ANY hit in the torso area increases your odds of a STOP.

With all this being said, I would say 70% of your “live” handgun training needs to focus on ECQ and Contact distances.

Focus on the Fundamentals:

  • Displacement Over Marksmanship

  • Ambidextrous Use of the Handgun

  • Firing thru Presentation

  •  Super-Imposing the Gun on Target

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!


Training Stressors

“Take time to Deliberate, but when the TIME for ACTION has arrived, stop thinking and GO IN.”

-Napoleon Bonaparte

Most firearms/combat training today lacks realism; Those “primal elements” that the student needs to experience when they are TRULY fighting for their lives. One of these primal elements that we can replicate with some degree of certainty is STRESS. In the heady days of firearms training (waaaay before I was a glint in my daddy’s eye) when Jeff Cooper was blazing trails with the “Big Bore” 1911 Combat Pistol and the Modern Technique, it was widely thought that organized handgun matches hosted by groups like the IPSC and the IDPA would give students the added realism of stress using  COMPETITION & TIME. The only problem with that theory is that Competition and Combat Shooting are not the same animals, hell they are not even the same life forms!!

The “Competition Training” Mentality

Those of you that have been reading this blog for some time, know without me going too deep the very wide gulf that exist between “Competition” styled Training and true “Combat” Training, the major division being “square range” versus “360 degree” training. Like anything, behind any system lies the founding and/or “driving” mentality behind it. With competition styled training that mentality (due to tradition more than anything else) resist the notion that fighting is a continuum. There can never be any “dogma” or “system” that answers with complete certainty all of the riddles a person faces when fighting for their lives. If we are to “live to fight another day” we must understand that no stance, grip, caliber of pistol or specific sighting method is the “best”.

So, now that we understand the foundation, let us explore how we can add “STRESSORS” to a combat shooting routine that uses a 360 degree range.

When we are integrating ANYTHING into our training we must always ask ourselves Three Fundamental Questions:

        1. Is it Safe?

It goes without saying, if something is not safe, it needs to be thrown out, no matter the degree of realism it may add.

  2.  Is it Practical to the Student?

If I am teaching CO’s (civilians), I do not need to include stressors or material that a LE SWAT or Tier 1 Spec-Ops Unit would have, this is why some trainers are labeled as “Mall Ninja’s” or “Armchair Rambo’s”..they have no practicality in their methods and are considered a joke in the training industry. These types of trainers (as we will discuss later) can be a terrible liability to the student’s reputation if ever the time arises to question it.

3.   Is it “Street-Proven” (Realistic)?

Is this something that has a precedent in the real world? Is this something that has happened in the real world and not just in a controlled environment like a square range?

Once we have answered these three questions in the affirmative, we can start compiling a list of possible stressors. (Note: When compiling your list, always identify what Skill (or Skills) the stressor is enforcing).

  • Competition

  • Time

  • Physical

  • Audio

  • Environment

  • “No Shoots”


You can take any practical firearms drill and make it competitive, but what I like to do is center in on a particular skill and create a competition around it. For example, to work on Speed and Accuracy you can do the “Speed Dot” Drill. Using a pre-made target or a homemade one, where there are 10 numbered “dots”, one person calls out a number while the shooter engages it. You can then mix it up saying “all evens” or “all odds” or go a step further like me and start doing “cognitive drills” where as fast as possible you have to do a math problem, for instance, you could call out a sum and the shooter would have to shoot the two corresponding numbers to make that sum as quickly as possible. (For 5 it would be the 2 and the 3).  LE Targets makes some paper and cardboard targets that have different colors and shapes to add further challenge and fun.


What can I say about using Time to induce stress that most seasoned shooters don’t already know!? I would add this caveat: Keep it Real! Don’t be that guy that walks around with a shot timer clipped to his belt measuring EVERYTHING he does..reloads, malfunctions, presentation, etc.  that is what I call going back to “fairy tale” land, and letting that “Competition” mentality take over. We have to always separate the two worlds..shooting nice little neat groups in bull’s-eyes, while keeping your reloads down to 3 seconds IS NEVER the same as FIGHTING for your life.


This is where the rubber starts meeting the road guys..when we start replicating these things we are definitely “Keepin’ it Real!!”

Let me make a short list and we will go down the line:

  • Sweating

Not really a big deal until it get’s in your eyes or on your hands and effects your grip on your weapon. No way to really avoid this is except to help your body make less of it under pressure, and the only way to HELP your body do that is to get in decent shape (I will be repeating that ALOT, BTW) BUT, even after that, still, a healthy, in-shape person sweats on hot days or when under stress; it is the body’s way of regulating temp & cooling itself, no way around it. So in essence, the only smart way to deal with this is:

A. Wear menacing looking black Gloves (or the white bedazzled glove like Michael Jackson, your choice) and a American Flag bandanna around your head 24/7 like Willie Nelson (only an option for .03% of my readers I am guessing??)

B. Drill with damp hands and a sweaty forehead and see how you can fight thru it..after all, isn’t it better to discover something in a controlled environment versus the unforgiving real world? The solutions will be different for everyone..some will choose equipment mods like grip tape on their guns, others may just carry a handkerchief…find what works for you and go with it, if it keeps you alive, go for it.

  • Rapid Breathing/Heartbeat

Ahhhh…now we are getting down “Where people live” as an old preacher friend of mine used to say! I want to approach this from two different angles, one is for the guy who knows he is out of shape..listen bro, just be honest with yourself.. if you can’t touch your toes without exhaling loudly because your diaphragm is pressing against that inflated stomach you are toast in a fight, armed or not. Let me dispense with the myth propagated by the “Over 40, Beergut” crowd; just because you pack a pistol does not give you a license to be the poster boy for yourself (and the ones you love) a favor: Drop the Weight and get in shape!

The second is for the guy who is in shape but does not add these stressors to his we stated before, isn’t it smarter to experiment with something in a controlled environment versus the real world?? I always like to throw a couple of guys into a combative pit before a shooting drill just to prove this point, or better yet, make the combative pit the ACTUAL drill by throwing a blue gun in there and watch them claw thru each other to get to it…boy, do they get out of breath quicker than they thought!! Things get real fun then! This is also where force on force can be VERY telling. I think people find out real quick that other people do not stand still when you are trying to cause them harm and when you get tired, you make mistakes!

I have only one thing to say about dealing with rapid heartbeat from what I have seen recently in training; I think people find out real quick what I mean by fighting is a “Continuum” when there heart is pumping 90 to nothing from rolling around doing combatives or being involved in a ECQ encounter and then having to slow waaaay down to make that precise head shot to end the fight. We all just have to find our way to breathe, release the tension in the muscles and make the shot.


One of my all time favorite stressors, because it flies in the face of square range dogma in such a profound way. You would be surprised how few people have really ever truly heard their weapon fired “loud” without hearing protection or how few people do not train (at least in part) without hearing protection. The reason is simple, we have been taught, SCARED might even be the word, since we were little kids about the dangers of hearing loss when shooting firearms. The problem with this “safety dogma” as I see it as a trainer is that it robs the student of the real world “stressor” of a loud gun and the effect that it has on the human body during a gunfight. Now let me be clear so I don’t get a bunch of hate mail from the NRA about promoting “unsafe training practices.”

I am not endorsing training WITHOUT hearing protection, but only doing a couple of drills (maybe 5 rounds) without it, so the students can KNOW first, how loud the gun is and secondly, how much it affects his senses during the fight. I am also a big fan of randomly firing a SAFE gun (using a bullet trap) during drills just to knock people off balance…Fights are noisy and loud, not muffled!

Another BIG reason I do this is something I learned from my security days; hearing gunfire (without hearing protection) randomly but on a steady basis subconsciously in grains the unique SOUND of a firearm into your brain..this can come in handy in a variety of situations for the CO: How many times have you heard news stories of survivors involved in an active shooter situation and the first thing they said was “It sounded like a car backfiring, so at first we did not pay it much mind…” Remember: Awareness is your biggest weapon!

Lastly, and this is useful particularly in team drills, is how loud, out of control, wounded or dying screaming people can affect your communications and thought process. This is where hand signals can come in handy.



This is a very overlooked stressor and one that really lends itself to MAKING yourself grow and expand your skill sets. Example 1: You train on uneven, rocky, hard ground versus nice soft dirt which makes you do more ground combatives and shooting from the ground or on your back drills, just because of the higher probability things will go to the ground when your footing is uneven. Example 2: You train around vehicles, which makes you realize the importance of getting behind the engine block for real COVER and not just CONCEALMENT behind the door frame. It also shows you the often overlooked field of fire UNDERNEATH the vehicle where cover is better than over the top of the vehicle, where you are exposed.

The other side to Environment is WEATHER.

Here we have to really apply that Practical aspect. If I live in Minnesota, where it snows a lot and the temperature averages around 10 degrees, I probably need to train in cold weather with cold weather apparel. If I live in the deep South, where the Temp in the summer can peak 100 degrees, well I need to tailor my fitness, apparel and training around that. Be smart. Remember as an armed civilian, you are ultimately a partisan..that means you use your environment, ie your home ground (terrain and regional weather) to your advantage!!


No-Shoots, like Competition and Time, are stressors carried over from the Competition training mentality, but just like these, when blended correctly into a combat shooting routine, it can be an invaluable stressor. The skill (and mindset) that No-Shoots bring to the table is one of the most powerful allies the CO has on his side:  DISCRETION.

In the overly litigious society that we currently live in, as civilians with legal Concealed Carry Permits (or Open Carry) depending, we must understand that in the event we have to use deadly force to defend ourselves, more often than not, we will have to go to court to defend not only our actions, but our firearms training as well. That being said, I cannot urge my readers enough to be very cautious in the TYPE of firearms training they attend. Like most of you, I have never been the type of person to really care what people think of me, but as history has taught us, if the DA (prosecution) can paint a picture of a person who trains to be a “Uber-Rambo, Survivalist Ninja” who shoots first and ask questions later versus a “Responsible, level-headed Armed Citizen” who does not go around looking for a fight, you will most likely lose your case.  Remember this: Every round that you fire in an altercation will have another Lawyer (or group of lawyers) attached to them, looking to take everything you own, including your reputation and most importantly, your freedom.

This all being said, I am not the type of trainer who has a complete workshop on what to do AFTER THE FIGHT is over. Lawsuits, litigation and legal entanglements AFTER the FIGHT is your Lawyer’s job; and the only advice I can give you is get yourself a GOOD Lawyer NOW and talk to him frequently about self-defense and the laws in your state pertaining to it. You would also be smart in purchasing an up to date Criminal and Traffic Law Manual for casual reading.

Lastly, history has taught us, quite succinctly, through multiple Civilian Self-Defense court cases over the years that the Discretionary Mindset HAS to be a FUNDAMENTAL TRAINING PHILOSOPHY for the CO. When the time comes for the DA to put a microscope on you, it makes you look reasonable, sensible and not like a “gun freak”. If your current training regimen does not reflect this, consider changing ASAP. Always remember this: by exercising the “Big 3”, the CO can, by virtue of self-restraint and a little common sense, solve a huge, pain in the ass problem before it begins!

As far as integrating this into your every day drills, you would not be re-missed in practicing Force-on-Force role playing to rehearse using the “Big 3” on the street. I have found that in the process, it helps sharpen both Combatives and Less-than-Lethal skill sets (like the use of OC). (Sidenote: Do not forget in these drills one your biggest weapons is your VOICE..use it to command authority and draw attention!)

You will also find as you start integrating “No-Shoot” targets randomly into ALL of your drills, that your need for Precision will go up. As time progresses, you will find yourself (out of necessity) having to find that right combination of SPEED & ACCURACY to complete the drill. This is not by accident, it is the Combative Continuum at work.

Stay Dangerous and Train Hard!