by Bradley J. Steiner, President International Combat Martial Arts Federation
WEAPONS are and have always been integral to martial arts.
The weaponry of the time always dictates what will be included in a
realistic, practical program of training, and thus antiquated weapons
(i.e. sai, sword, tonfa, nunchucks, 9-foot poles, etc.) must be relegated
to classical/traditional studies, and abandoned when considering what
a combatant must learn in the 21st century. The premier self-defense
weapon of today is the handgun that has been designed and intended
for anti-personnel use.
While few rational individuals will dispute the handgun’s status as
the “ultimate weapon of self-protection”, there is some question —
unfortunately lingering from the halcyon years of that wrong turn-off
taken when the late Jeff Cooper introduced what he called “the new
technique of the pistol” — about what exactly constitutes the best technique
of employing the handgun in close quarters battle.
While few rational individuals will dispute the handgun’s status as
The proper technique for real world close range, quick reaction combat use
of the one-hand gun was developed and initially wrung out by the late
William E. Fairbairn when, as “Officer in Charge of Musketry” in the Shanghai
Municipal Police Department during the early years of the 20th century, this incredible
close combat master used actual gunfight experiences (plenty of which were
his own, and all of those of dozens of other officers, shopkeepers, and criminals,
who had engaged in handgun battles, and whose experiences were documented or
personally observed) to formulate doctrine. By actual record, William Fairbairn
personally participated in more than 600 violent encounters with lethally
dangerous felons! More than 200 of those encounters involved combat
use of his sidearm!
During the 1940’s, when Fairbairn was called out of retirement to train British
secret service personnel (SIS or MI6), commandos, and operatives of the
wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), his methods of armed and unarmed
combat were further refined. Seconded to the American Office of Strategic Services
(OSS), Fairbairn became mentor to then Capt. Rex Applegate. Applegate, eventually
to become Fairbairn’s opposite number in the States, contributed his own research
and his terrific teaching acumen to train more than 10,000 fighting men in
the legendary Fairbairn methods of both armed and unarmed combat.
The Shanghai experience, the countless experiences of the second world war,
and post-war experiences with law enforcement, intelligence, and military service
organizations — all of whom received extensive training in POINT SHOOTING
(the Fairbairn/Applegate Method) proved beyond doubt or question that proper use
of the fighting pistol for close range engagements is UN-sighted, natural,
“instinctive” or POINT shooting.
The unfortunate advocacy of always concentrating on the front sight and always
using the handgun’s sights is the byproduct NOT of combat experience, but of
competition experience. And yes, certainly, as a sporting/competitive way to use
the pistol at a range, in competition, in events set up to require use of the sights
by establishing unrealistically long range targets, the newly introduced “technique”
of Cooper’s makes sense. BUT NOT IN CLOSE QUARTERS BATTLE PREDICAMENTS
WHEN ONE CONFRONTS AN ARMED KILLER!
We wrote about all of this in enormous detail and at great length for nearly
ten years, every month, in a Column that we contributed to a mainstream
gun magazine. And while many of that publication’s readers took issue
with that which we presented, 100% OF THOSE WHO READ OUR COLUMN WHO WERE
IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE MILITARY, AND OTHER CAREERS WHERE IT WAS
“DONE FOR REAL” , AND WHERE THESE READERS HAD BEEN ACTUALLY “DOING”
SOME OF IT, THEMSELVES, agreement was total, enthusiastic, and based upon
REAL WORLD EXPERIENCES!
Point shooting is not theoretical. It is a simple, basic method of utilizing
the handgun when the circumstances of actual combat impinge upon the shooter,
and when his ability to focus on sighted shooting becomes impossible. It is easy to
demonstrate the “superiority” of focusing on the front sight and hitting targets
conveniently set up at a shooting range. However, the shooting ranges that most
competitive shooting aficionados do their live firing at are wholly unrealistic.
Not only are the shooting distances generally ridiculous (more than 50% of
all encounters occur at distances of FIVE FEET OR LESS; and nearly 100% occur
well within a 20-foot range — usually no further away than about ten or twelve
FEET), but the range environment does not produce the stress of combat, and it never
triggers the involuntary psychophysical reactions in the shooter that a real battle
inevitably includes. IN A REAL CLOSE RANGE COMBAT SITUATION YOU CANNOT
FOCUS ON THE FRONT SIGHT! At the range — whether the target is three feet away
or thirty yards away, you always can use the sights — rather easily, too, if you’ve
spent time practicing the so-called “new technique”.
Sadly, the recent experiences of police officers, federal agents, and others
who have been trained in and who have attempted to rely upon the “new technique”
have all too often resulted tragically. The California Highway Patrol is only one
law enforcement agency that has abandoned the “new technique” and — wisely! —
gone back to point shooting for its officers.
We bring all of this up because we appreciate that our visitors will in many cases
wish to avail themselves of modern weapons in their quest for realistic and total
preparedness. Know this: it is point shooting that you want to learn and rely upon
for close range lethal emergencies in self, family, and home defense, if and when
you need to employ a pistol. Waste no time or money on competition methods.
If you ever need to use your pistol for real it will not be very sporting.
The fabulous Kimber Company (a weapons manufacturer that everyone considering
purchasing a sidearm for social use should check out!) has come up with another
classic winner! It is a concealment handgun without fixed sights.
Whether you select the new Kimber as your personal carry weapon or not, is a choice
that only you can make. We certainly think highly of Kimber’s products.
What we wish to stress is that, so long as your objective is learning how to employ
a pistol in actual combat, against living, armed, dangerous enemies, it is
POINT SHOOTING that you want to rely upon as your technique.
Two chapters in Applegate’s KILL OR GET KILLED will teach you the method. Or, you can check into SHOOTING TO LIVE, by Fairbairn, or the classic QUICK OR DEAD, by William Cassidy. There are other sources, as well as a few teachers who are fully qualified to train you in the method (without side-tracking you into competition shooting). Mark Bryans or our self can train you — or, if you can read and are disciplined — you can likely train yourself. We obviously caution that you obey all laws regarding firearms ownership and use, and that YOU GET PROPER INSTRUCTION IN SAFE GUN HANDLING AND THE FUNDAMENTALS of handgun use before you actually purchase any firearm. On the left is the terrific ULTRA RCP II by Kimber. The encouraging fact that — finally — the uselessness of sighted firing at close ranges is being acknowledged in a modern pistol made by a top, premier manufacturer, is very gratifying to us.
We hope that you have found this article helpful.