Matt Temkin is a NYC Court Officer, Point Shooting and Combatives expert. For the record, Matt’s first instructor was one of Col. Darby’s original Rangers who saw combat in N. Africa and Italy (where he was wounded), was highly decorated, then became a Ranger instructor in close combat. That was Matt’s Dad…Matt also trained under Col. Rex Applegate, need I say more?
Below is Matthew Temkin’s excellent four-part Point Shooting Lesson Plan. These were posted with his permission. Due to their being transferred from one format to another, I have had to do some minor editing, mainly for appearance sake. I assure you that I did not alter Matt’s verbiage or instructions. Should you find any text questionable please contact Matt and/or myself and it will be corrected - Thank you and enjoy.
Point Shooting Lesson Plan
(Parts 1 thru 4)
By Matthew Temkin
This plan is now used as a handout in my instructor classes. In order to follow along you will need KILL OR GET KILLED (KOGK) and SHOOTING TO LIVE (STL).
How I Teach Point Shooting - Part 1
1) History of Fairbairn, Sykes and Rex Applegate.
Since nearly everything taught in this system flies in the face of most other systems, you had better have a d**n good reason for your students--especially streetwise cops--to change. Stress the huge combat/training experience of these men. Review the "typical" gunfights as described by both Fairbairn (SMP, pages 2-5 of STL) and Applegate. (Pages 99-106, KOGK)
What happened then still applies today.
2) Define the term "instinct" as it applies to the system.
(Last line on page 5 of STL onto page 6) It just means the ability to point a finger at an object with great accuracy. The training will now allow the gun to become an extension of the hand, and the finger an extension of the barrel.
3) How to grip the pistol.
Place your finger on the trigger, on the first crease, and grip it until it shakes. This is the convulsive grip as taught by Fairbairn. The handgun should now be in perfect alignment with the Y of your hand. (See pages 107 and 129 of KOGK).
4) Basic drill - dry fire.
The simplest method of getting the right technique is to grip the gun in a two hand "Pre Modern" Isosceles, with the feet in a "horse stance". (very slight crouch)
Now release your weak hand and hold the pistol only in your shooting hand. The gun should now be directly in your centerline. Test this by slowly bending your elbow until the barrel, near the front sight, touches your nose. (Just make sure the darn thing is unloaded, ok?)
You should now be in the position illustrated on pages 21-23 in STL.
The hallmark of the (beginning stages) of this drill is the square stance, convulsive grip, and the vertical lift.
I use the Q targets, and tell my students to concentrate on the Q. have them slowly raise the pistol from "low ready" and when they feel on target, have them trigger the shot with a convulsive squeezing of the entire hand. (Yes, I know. It is called milking the grip, and is considered a no-no. However, try it anyway.) The key is to lock the wrist and elbow, and lift only from the shoulder, while focusing your eyes on the exact spot you wish to hit. (See Applegate's video, SHOOTING FOR KEEPS for an illustration.)
Have them come up and fire the shot after a very slight pause...but without looking for the sights or the gun itself. As they progress, the tempo can be increased. Just make sure that they come down SLOWLY between rounds.
5) Live fire.
Start at about 8 feet. Have them fire single shots. Most will be dead on. Many find that they are shooting out the Q very quickly and are amazed.
If the shots are going high, have them squeeze the pistol harder, as they would do in combat.
Too low? Slow them down.
Off center? Adjust the grip so that it cuts the body's centerline. See page 22 of STL for details.
6) Now it is time for bursts of two or more shots.
Same drill as before, but now trigger two shots as fast as possible.
The "secret?" as Applegate so aptly put it, "Just pull the d**n trigger as fast as possible." If the shots open up a bit, have them clutch the pistol tightly, as they would in combat. Yes, it hurts, which is why it is time for a break.
During the breaks, or when loading mages, stress the importance of practicing with a slight crouch, convulsive grip, focusing in on the target, etc. Why? Because that it what happens quite often in combat, and must be insisted upon in practice. Also, the more real you make it in practice, the more accurate it becomes.
7) Now we will repeat the basic two drills with one foot forward - which one is no matter - and we will bid farewell to the "square stance."
It was only meant as a training vehicle, anyway. The rest of the course will be done from the "One hand (So Called Modern) Isosceles. Position". In other words, the "MI" with only one hand. (The important thing is to keep the back heel slightly raised) Or as Applegate called it, the "Forward crouch position." (page 114, KOGK)
Again, both drills with first only one shot at the whistle, then "bursts of two or three."
We will now add movement to the method. Applegate was a firm believer in moving into the enemy if the range was short and there was no cover nearby. See page 125 of KOGK for more on this.
Special military/police units have devised several methods, the Graucho, heel-to-toe, etc., of advancing without bouncing. But since we are not trying to keep a sight picture when moving/running in, we can do so with any natural foot motion.
As long as the student is not bouncing, then he is doing fine.
Same drill, but do so while (slowly at first) moving in.
Work up to finally running in at full speed and firing away. The body will soon find that perfect blend of speed and accuracy, without the need for sights. (pages 127-129, KOGK)
How I Teach Point Shooting - Part 2
Part one normally takes about 50 rounds or so. All shots should be dead center, and should be covered by the palm of one hand.
We are looking for the ability to hit a man size torso hard, fast and often. As Fairbairn wrote, "Nail driving marksmanship will not cope with such (Firefights as described on pages 2-5 of STL) conditions."
1) Pivot/angle shots.
I am well aware that nearly all shooting schools teach set ways of moving one's feet to engage a target to the flanks/rear. Both Fairbairn and Applegate warned against this. (See page 130, paragraph 2 for the exact quote, which is basically, "The shooter should change his body direction in any natural manner. Stay away from any set method of changing body direction. Terrain is uncertain, and the actual position of the feet in combat may not always be the same…”)
The real trick is not to swing your arm. The pivot and vertical lift should coincide, meaning as soon as your eyes lock on target you should be ready to fire. I should add that a step in after the pivot is a wonderful aid to accuracy and the proper combat mindset.
There are situations when you cannot move your feet at all, but must twist the body to get on target. No problem. But try to step in ASAP after the twist. See page 135 to 136 & the bottom of 138 for details.
2) Marching Drill.
Once the student has both right/left and rear pivots down pat, have him walk parallel to a line of targets. Tell him to keep moving with the gun in the ready position" (page 114 of KOGK) and to wheel, turn and move in towards the nearest target "on the whistle."
Watch his feet, so you can blow the whistle sometimes when the left foot is forward, sometimes when the right is advanced.
3) Whether with or without the sights, shooters should be taught to focus/aim at the belly button.
(See page 78 of STL for reasons why). Also, as my dad pointed out, you do not want to see a man's face when shooting to "stop", since doing so may slow you down.
4) Multiple targets.
Place two targets side by side, about 5 feet apart. Engage them with movement, meaning stepping in to engage each target. Do not pause between shots, but fire only when your eyes lock on each target.
Eventually I work up to 4-5 targets staggered at various distances. Good results are surprisingly quick.
5) Use of Cover.
See page 147 of KOGK. This is how Fairbairn taught it. For left side he taught to change hands, but Applegate felt that Cirillo's method made more sense. For best results, use the sights with both eyes open, and aim for the navel. (Bonus...doing so does not make the weapon block out the target.)
Moral? Learn both!!
The real "secret" of point shooting is to focus on the exact spot that you want to hit. With practice it is not necessary to have your body "squared" to the target, as one does in basic practice. Eventually where the eyes go, the hands will follow.
6) Zipper drill.
Start point shooting--rapid fire--while focusing on the navel. With each "burst of two" focus your eyes a bit higher and higher on the opponent’s body, finishing on the head.
The shots will go where you look, almost as if by magic. The pistol, BTW, should sound like a machinegun.
7) Head shots.
Fire two shots into the chest. Without pausing, focus on the head and fire two more. When the 4 shots sound like one, and the headshots are dead center, you are doing it right.
Remember not to think or pause...just shoot.
Naturally this is a close range technique. But since the head shots are coming from below his eye level, he will never see it coming--as long as you do not PAUSE.
8) Mental Attitude.
My dad always stressed--be it armed or unarmed combat--that it is not so much what you do that counts, but how aggressively you do it. See the bottom of page 141 into 143 of KOGK for Applegate's opinions on this vital element.
Whenever I teach a class or read comments that come up concerning some of my posts on other forums (Usually the ones who have banned me) two key objections normally are made.
1) Moving into the enemy.
On Friday I was in my local gun shop when I ran into a guy who took my class a few years back and has since moved to Florida.
He told me the story of a cop in Broward county who was recently in a shooting. His gun ran dry and he had to pull his belt buckle mini revolver in .22 caliber. While firing he choose to charge into the BG, firing all the way. Several witnesses reported that the bad guy froze up as the cop was running in and presented an easier target to the officer.
Cop 1, BG 0
2) Shooting for the stomach area.
A recent shooting of a NYPD Captain was related by one of my friends who is a police officer in the 28th PCT and was on the scene. The Captain had his gun out and was about to fire when the punk got off the first shot. The Capt was shot in the stomach area and was literally unable to pull the trigger. He then clutched his stomach, dropped his Glock and collapsed.
Thank goodness he survived.
Reread why Fairbairn & Sykes advised to focus in on this area.
IMHO too many self-defense experts spend way too much time arguing minor points and over analyzing techniques. Perhaps we should spend more effort heeding the advice of those who have been and done, even if it conflicts with our (untested) cherished beliefs.
How I Teach Point Shooting - Part 3
One of the flaws of Applegate's method was his insistence on point shoulder (arm fully extended at nose/chin level) over the closer range methods favored by Fairbairn, Sykes and Grant Taylor.
Much later on in life Applegate began teaching the 1/2 hip technique, which he called "Body Point."
In fact on his deathbed in 1998 Applegate told Hocking College's Steve Barron that he considered 1/2 hip to be the most vital aspect of combat shooting.
It should be noted that this was also the method that McSweeny favored in the majority of his tape.
In my armed guard classes we do both active role-playing and Shoot/Don't Shoot videos with CO2 pistols, sans projectiles of course.
In the majority of cases when the distance is within 2-3 yards I notice that most of my students would go into half hip even though they were never taught it.
Fairbairn mentions this on page 4 of STL..."If you have to fire your instinct will be to do so as quickly as possible, and you will probably do it with a bent arm, possibly even from the level of the hip..."
But first let us deal with 3/4 hip position.
Please turn to page 39 of STL. What Fairbairn is showing is the ready position that will naturally turn into 3/4 hip.
Face the target at about 9 feet and fire by bringing the gun up by lifting only from the shoulder. In other words, the wrist and elbow remain in the exact position shown. The pistol should be fired in bursts of 2-3 shots at about chest level.
The best example of this is the O.S.S. film, especially the part where Fairbairn is having the student chamber and fire in one motion. That pretty much shows how to do 3/4 hip from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
- Go to page 123 of KOGK. Look at the small inset picture where the subject has the pistol way off his center line.
That is a perfect illustration of why hip shooting has gotten such a bad rap for decades. As with all but close hip, the pistol should be intersecting your center line. A good photo of the proper method is on page 124 of KOGK, but ignore Applegate's warning as to the dangers of the technique.
Limitations perhaps, but within its proper distance, 1/2 hip is deadly accurate.
The easiest way to get into it is to face the target square (6 foot distance) and hold the pistol in a 2 hand Isoc. position. Slowly bend your elbows until they rest on your ribcage. Release your weak hand and you are now in half hip.
Fire in bursts of 2, 3 and four shots and soon you will be amazed at the accuracy. Then repeat the drills with one foot forward.
Finally, start backing off a step at a time to see how far away from the target you can get with man hitting accuracy.
Close or 1/4 hip
- Go to page 47 of STL. The current trend is to rest the gun hand against your ribcage and fire away. The fact that few instructors can agree on exactly where to reference the pistol is not a good sign. It is also very easy to loose track of the muzzle during a struggle (And make no mistake about it - you are not in a gunfight but a fight) and shoot yourself.
To avoid this Applegate favored to strike the BG with the muzzle and then shoot. With a revolver this is no problem, but a semi auto may go out of battery, so be sure to draw it back slightly before firing.
You'll notice how each shot tends to blow the target into a very raggedy and very, very large hole. That is the gasses working for you as an extra bonus. Just ask any Medical Examiner to explain this in greater detail.
Once you have the basics down it's time to practice this with some unarmed strikes. Both the tiger's claw/face smash and axe hands are effective. I like to have my students face the target with the gun holstered. On the whistle I have them execute a left hand face smash while drawing the pistol. Keep your left into in his face, in a real fight it would be clawing, gouging, ripping, etc., and draw your pistol. Thrust the muzzle into the stomach area, pull slightly back and rip off two shots.
It is important to keep your left hand high and the pistol low to avoid shooting your free hand.
- I really should have included this in part 2, but here goes now.
Quite often the only possible way to safely move is directly into the enemy. But exceptions do exist so let us examine how to move off line.
Applegate cautioned not to give specific methods of moving one's feet, but here is where I break that rule.
Face the target square in a "horse stance". As the pistol is raised do a "In Quartata" (as Styers shows in COLD STEEL). Your left foot comes behind your right foot but DO NOT cross your feet. At all times you should be on balance with your feet shoulder width apart. After the first step keep sidestepping and shooting for a few rounds.
Do it righty and lefty, and then practice it with either foot forward.
If you were being charged by a knife/stick armed man you could combine the first step with a muzzle smash to the BG's mouth before shooting.
- With both half and quarter hip you can repeat all of the drills taught in parts 1&2 (with point shoulder) but instead doing them with the closer range methods.
I should mention now that working on a square range, even one that allows up to 180 degree shooting, has its limitations.
Once the basics are mastered you really have to practice either in a "Kill" house, with FATS machine, Airsoft, SIMS or CO2 pistols. (When I was single I'd attach paper targets to towels throughout my apartment and practice point shooting/room entry with a repeating air pistol. Along with smoking, eating in bed and a few other joys, that is something canned by Mrs. Temkin)
How I Teach Point Shooting - Part 4
One of the my favorite articles in gun magazines is the review of courses given by "name instructors".
Much of what passes for "advanced" training sometimes makes me shake my head in wonder.
For example, should "double taps, hammers, rapid reloading, zeroing the weapon and other fundamental skills really belong in a so called advanced course?
When I teach a long arm point shooting course, I assume the student already is very familiar with his weapon of choice and my teaching style reflects this.
First of all, the following methods are workable with any type of long-arm...rifle/carbine/shotgun...regardless of action.
The only exception would be concerning underarm assault position with fully automatic, very short barreled weapons such as the Uzi, Mp 5 with adjustable stock, etc.
1) Explain how the principles of point shooting with long arms are identical as to those with the handgun.
It is assumed that the student is proficient with the weapon, manipulations and aimed fire from all positions (standing, kneeling, prone, etc.)
2) There are 4 methods of aiming a weapon...
a) Classic aimed fire using both front and rear sight.
b) Weapon at shoulder, ignoring the rear sight, but putting the front sight at enemy’s navel area.
c) Weapon at shoulder, eyes focused on enemy's navel, but totally ignoring the sights. (Sometimes called Quick fire)
d) Underarm assault position. (See pages 182 & 183 of KOGK)
All of these techniques have one thing in common and that is that the barrel is always in line with the eyes.
3) Assume the same offensive stance
- left foot in front, toes of both feet facing the target with the back heel slightly raised. practice one shot drill, two shot drill and 3-4 shot bursts from both aimed and front sight only sighting techniques. Begin at distance of 20 feet or so, backing up to about 10 yards. Once you have good groups the real training will now begin.
4) Face the target in a square Isosceles stance with the rifle butt in the shoulder.
The exact location is not so important, but it should be comfortable. I tend to place it somewhere between the shoulder pocket and my collarbone.
Most shotgun stocks, however, are a bit long and I usually place that stock in more of the traditional shoulder "pocket." No matter what, both elbows should be sharply bent and pulling in slightly.
To do "QuickFire" have the weapon at low ready and focus on the exact spot you wish to hit. With the stock in your shoulder raise the barrel until it is about at chest level, immediately fire off first one, then two, and finally bursts of 3-5 shots.
Since the sights are not being used the rate of fire is very rapid.
The best illustration of this is in the rifle section of ALL IN FIGHTING, page 125, figures 156 and 157.
5) Repeat this drill while moving towards the target.
Then fire a few shots moving in, followed by shooting while retreating.
6) Multiple targets.
Same Quickfire position, same concept as with the pistol. Key is to move into each target while engaging. Avoid swinging with just the hips from a stationary position.
Lastly we come to the underarm assault position, which does not get the attention it deserves.
Thankfully it is well illustrated in KOGK (see the chapter of firing shoulder weapons) and you will be all set.
Practice it with the same drills that we used for close pistol work. Also practice it while carrying the weapon at port arms by slapping the stock under the armpit and immediately shooting upon impact.
I am tempted to dispel many of the myths about point shooting, usually written by the anti point shooters.
I am, however, tired of doing so. Besides, the current trend of men like Andy Stanford, Mas Ayoob and others is to redefine the term so as to either make it appear that:
A) What Applegate & Fairbairn taught was actually a type of aimed fire.
B) We've actually meant the same thing all these decades. It was merely a confusion of terms.
One objection that I would like to deal with is that, "It either takes years and years of training to make PS work, or an extreme amount of natural talent." (usually when referring to Bill Jordan) Or that it is extremely inaccurate.
The following is a short synopsis of what I recently taught to 6 police/military instructors in Sweden.
Course time was about 3 and one half hours, including short breaks. We went through about 1200 rounds of ammo.
We did not move on to a new drill until all students had fist size groups. Distance was from 0-6 meters.
1) Brief history of FSA
2) Describe term instinctive and how it relates to shooting.
3) Basic drill from square stance. Single-bursts of two-bursts of 4-5 shots.
4) Repeat same drills with one foot forward.
5) Repeat drills while moving in.
6) Move in for 4-6 shots, then back up for 4-6 shots.
7) Zipper drill.
8) Two chest, two head drill.
9) Lateral movement drill, right and left.
10) Principles of angle/pivot shots. Work up to marching drill.
11) Putting it all together drill. Rapidly fire while moving forward, back, right, forward, back, and left. Should fire off 15 rounds in a bout 8-10 seconds while in constant motion.
12) Explain how distance dictates technique. Show 3/4 hip position. Repeat all drills from this position.
13) Half hip.
14) Multiple target drill.
15) Show problems with retention shooting and why the gun must be canted to the side. Then explain why Applegate preferred to strike with the muzzle.
16) Repeat drill with face smash. explain why we rip and claw.
17) Do drill, then incorporate movement...back, lateral, etc.
18) Finish with stalking drill. Student slowly moves in and out various targets until, at the sound of the whistle, he engages the closest target. (Called a "S" drill by the London Swat Officers).
I have used this same format to teach civilians, some of whom have never even touched a pistol before, with excellent results.