There is this idea you don’t need to work on the simple things, somehow they will be performed easily and automatically. You might have the right idea, but rarely does this happen in the real world.

Circus tricks

A good example is the crush grip for shooting a pistol. We like to challenge the durability of the grip during various shooting drills and the harsh realities is you need to actively be thinking about the details throughout the entire shooting string. Firing one or two rounds is not the best indicator of true potential or skill. Fellow instructor Mike Pannone references some of these drills as “circus tricks” and I completely agree. It is not until the higher round counts you get a true indicator of your technique and more importantly the durability of your technique.


Shooting comprises several “micro tasks” to generate a recognized hit on the target. These micro tasks must be performed over and over again for the prescribed or required round count. The higher the round count the more challenge to your technique you will face. Since we cannot say for certain what type of round count you will see in a gunfight don’t get wrapped up in training for a specific round count. Instead, focus on the consistent application of technique. This is where durability really comes into the picture and where we get a little off the reservation.

The trinity

In the early stages of a student’s development we place a high premium on their stance, mount and grip. It is for the explicit purpose of setting the student up for success and at the same time trying to eliminate as many known shooting errors as possible. If the student has a solid stance, the base of their technique will allow for improved recoil management. In the early stages we want to see their stance improved, but with an eye on the future so we emphasis a stance where mobility is the goal. As we move to the mount we want to follow a similar pattern of eliminating as many known errors as possible and then emphasizing strength from the muscular chain in the upper body as your primary method for recoil management. These two goals start us off on the right foot, pardon the pun.

The crush grip

Lastly, we need to focus on the grip and what we like to call the crush grip. The problem we see is when we take the crush grip for granted. We have developed an over reliance on a solid stance and powerful mount. You would think I would haven’t anything to bitch about, but the realities of a gunfight often do not mimic a flat range. During this last class I had a conversation with my good friend Paul Gardner where he relayed some observations from previous classes as he watched the students work through drills. Much of the discussion can be summed up with this simple drill, firing strong hand only from a seated position.

Reverse engineering

Yah, probably not very realistic unless you realize how often you are in a seated position and the possibility of having your weak hand unavailable. Then it becomes pretty important and here you get a true appreciation for your skill set. At this point your technique is focused on how well you can crush the grip with one hand and manage the recoil with one arm. Using this as a baseline we worked to create a kinetic chain to help us improve our technique when we do not have access to our stance and mount. The reverse engineering centers around the crush grip and when we focus on the proper grip with power applied consistently for an extended period of time.

Many view high round count drills as wasteful, unnecessary. If all you want to shoot is low round count drills then yes they are, but remember the bad guy gets a say and you won’t know the prescribed round count for your gunfight in advance.

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Trident Concepts
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