The world is a dangerous place. We live in an age where terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and violence are commonplace. With that in mind, would you really entrust the safety of your family to your unsteady hands?
Most people turn to instructors, but current doctrines only hamper your ability to make split-second judgments when your life (and your family’s) is on the line. This is why special force operators around the world developed several techniques to make defending yourself with a gun as automatic and as instinctive as possible – by using your body’s own reflexes to make the decisions for you.
When you’re faced with imminent danger, your body switches to a “fight or flight” mode. This is your body’s way of trying to preserve itself by giving you the tools to survive – you become hyper-aware of your surroundings and you encounter tunnel vision, where your peripheral vision becomes blurred or blocked. Your brain removes all unnecessary information around the world that’s not necessary to your survival and snaps your attention to the source of danger.
This is precisely what these techniques use. They transfer the skill to your nerves and muscles, significantly shortening your decision-making. The top two schools that use this method are the Instinct Combat Shooting (ICS) technique and the “both-lamps-open” technique. Of course, neither of these techniques would matter without training.
The ICS places more importance on focusing on the target than the mechanics of aiming. In other words, instead of aligning your sights to the target, you should instead keep your eyes on the target. Also known as “point shooting,” ICS is becoming more common in police academies worldwide, especially when it requires shooting at a moving target. The U.S. Army originally conceived of point shooting in the 1960s using the then-new M16. Back then, instinct shooting was the realm of trick shot artists.
This technique relies heavily on hand-eye coordination, the same principle that guides the mechanics of sports like tennis, baseball, and basketball. To hit the target using the ICS doctrine, the technique advocates learning how to interpret what the eyes see and shoot accordingly. As the ICS is much faster than aligning your sight to a target and deciding only then to fire, it saves crucial split seconds when you stumble upon an active shooter situation.
The traditional way of shooting a gun is to keep one eye closed and view your target through your sight. This shuts down your triangular vision and leaves people with a messed-up depth perception. Shooting with both eyes (“lamps”) takes advantage of the body’s natural way to judge distances, increasing the odds of hitting the target. Another benefit of shooting with both eyes open is that you have a much wider view, allowing you to react to other sources of danger much more quickly than you would otherwise.
No technique is useful unless you train and become familiar with it. Several shooting drills combine these two techniques, including the “crossing birds” drill. This involves focusing on the targets instead of the gun’s sight. In this drill, two clay targets are thrown in front of the shooter, who will have to shoot both targets in one shot when they “cross” each other on his field of view. While this is primarily a shotgun drill, the real-life takeaways from this drill can improve your ability to focus on the target instead of where your gun is pointing at. (Related: Learn how to deal with gun stoppage with these drills.)
In a fight-or-flight situation, these techniques can help you “fight” instead of becoming just a statistic.