Friday, January 25, 2008

Balleye's Firearms Tactics & Training: Push Off - Hip Shooting

Disclaimer: Let me start this one by saying that this is a potentially dangerous shooting technique for the shooter, for any bad guy adversary, and for bystanders, although it can also be a quite effective and desirable self defense technique under the proper conditions. It should only be employed in life threatening situations or in situations where you, or another innocent, have been threatened with serious bodily harm. It should only be practiced at a firearms range, and initially only under the supervision of a qualified tactical firearms instructor. Do not try what I am about to describe unless you are under the tutelage of a qualified tactical firearms instructor who is thoroughly familiar with the technique and who can demonstrate it to you, and supervise you in its use properly. If you do try this defensive shooting technique without, or even with, proper instruction - you do so at your own risk. If you read the following, in part or whole, you agree to hold me harmless, and indemnify me, for any outcome directly or indirectly related to your use, in any manner, of the following information, and your attempt to use or teach the following described shooting technique.

Most of us who have learned any manners at all probably have learned that it is impolite to point, but if you have also learned to shoot handguns, then you know that pointing your gun at the target is the only way to hit it directly (as opposed to ricochet shots). Along those lines tactical and defensive handgun shooting courses teach the shooter how to point the handgun at the target, how to acquire a proper sight alignment, and about proper sight picture. A little more down the road, a more advanced form of shooting often is taught, one that advocates a not aiming with the sights but rather aiming overt he top of the gun or down the length of your arms. This type of shooting is fine for fairly close in shooting (probably out to 10 yards for most shooters) and is called Point Shooting. Both aimed fire and point shooting essentially require the firearm to come into a position extended out in front of the shooter. This is all well and fine, that is if the adversary at whom you are shooting is far enough away not to be able to take your gun away from you when you extend it. If on the other hand you are in extremely close quarters (say three feet or less) to someone who is threatening you with deadly force and you fear imminent loss of life, or serious bodily harm, and you decide to shoot - well then either of those methods would be pointless (no pun intended).

So what is it you would do in such a situation. If you handgun is still holstered, then depending on the proximity of the bad guy, you may decide to try hand to armed combat - you using your hands to try to disarm your adversary. It simply may make more sense to do so than to try to draw your own weapon, but this is a consideration for another day and lesson. Today I am going to write about a situation in which you have either already have gun in hand, or have decided to draw it and shoot to defend yourself (or another innocent party). Here is the scenario - an adversary is very close to you - and you have need to shoot him/her. Before you start thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, I know distance is my friend in a gun fight, I am not going to get that close to a bad guy, forget about it because he has brought the fight to you and IS that close. For example, you are leaning against the outer wall of a building waiting for the local bus. A guy who is walking by suddenly turns to you, screams obscenities, and goes for a pistol. You see it coming out of his waistband. What do you do. Distance would be nice, but this guy is less than 3 feet away and is approaching you, while drawing a gun. You are in effect between a rock and a hard place. What do you do?

If you try to draw while running to get distance or get behind cover you may make it, but may put yourself more at risk. You must make a decision on what to do based upon the actual situation, and the totality of the circumstances including your prior training. If cover is literally a step away, you may want to go for it, then again. maybe you meed to do something else before you can get to it. There is another way to handle this situation which could provide you with more of a chance of survival should you decide to draw and fire while for the moment choosing or being forced (if cornered) to stand your ground. You can try to throw your opponent off balance or stride, make him react to you by you controlling the action, instead of you simply reacting to everything he does, and shoot him at the same time. You do this through the technique of push off hip shooting.

You immediately push out with your open weak hand (or the hand that does not draw your weapon), and you whack the bad guy as hard as you can in the upper body as high as you can without missing. In the process your hand will likely be coming up from your side and you may be given another target other than his upper body which to strike - his gun hand or gun. Don't go for it if you intend to shoot (this is my personal preference, though some would say 'sure, grab the bad guy's gun if you can'). Instead aim at the upper side of his chest on the same side (to you) as is your hand that is pushing out and up. Make sure you do this as you draw your weapon with your other hand, and keep that weak hand up in a defensive high position after you do so (the reason should become obvious but if not I will explain). Simultaneously draw your weapon with your strong (or other hand as some now say)hand but DO NOT EXTEND IT OUT IN FRONT OF YOU (because doing so only offers a gun take away opportunity to your adversary). Instead of extending it, as soon as the muzzle clears the holster or waist band, bring the blade of the shooting hand to your hip on the same side as your strong hand (much easier with a strong side draw holster than with cross draw, but possible with both), cant the top of your firearm out away from your body with blade of hand toward hip or actually your hip, point muzzle at your opponent from that position and fire. Remember in most, or at least many, cases you will want to point the muzzle up and in a bit, toward the center of mass of the bad guy, to compensate for it being off to your side and so low against your hip. Remember this is a close in firing technique, one where you are both within reach of one another - you do not want to start firing from the hip when the bad guy is too far off to hit with reliability - that would be a potential danger to others, and a waste of ammo. You also do not want to shoot yourself in your weak side arm or hand, thus the reason I told you to keep it high once you strike. I have actually seen a guy using this technique with right hand shooting his pistol, and left hand held low and getting powder burns - he was that close to shooting himself because he did not do it right. I would swear some of the bullets had to go through between his spread fingers!

If you manage to do so successfully, you will have then accomplished a few things. You will have taken control of the action, you will have made physical contact with a close in opponent and quite possibly stunned him and thrown him off his mark, you will have shot him and possibly stopped him. You are also now in a stronger weapon retention stance against this adversary than had you placed the firearm out in front of you. So, he has less chance of grabbing your weapon and you have it in a stronger position (closer to your body) to be able to more effectively retain it should he grab it. You also may well have opened up a line of retreat for you to seek cover by pushing him out of the way.

This is a technique that requires a lot of practice. When you first try it out, you should do so with a dummy gun - one that is absolutely incapable of firing. If you do not have one, try it with your strong hand in the classic stance of kids round the world, and use your index finger as the barrel of your imaginary pistol. This dry practice, and a lot of it with a non-firing gun, is essential to assure that you have gotten down the proper coordination of this technique. You see, if you do not correctly coordinate the movement of your off shooting hand, the one with which you push your attacker, then when you draw your handgun to fire there will be way too much of a chance that you will shoot yourself in that hand or arm. This is an inherently dangerous move, not just to your adversary if you do it right, but also to you if you do it wrong. The best way to learn it is not by reading about it here, but by asking a professional firearms instructor to teach you how to do push off hip shooting. Note most instructors call it something like push off shooting, but I stress adding hip to that terminology because I recommend you only shoot from the hip or just above it against your body, if in such a situation. Some shooter try to hold the gun in front of them, sort on on their bellies. This again offers the gun, your gun, to the bad guy for a takeaway, and if a pistol, the slide may come back, hit you flab or jacket or coat, and fail to eject or feed. Clothing interfering with the function of a pistol is also the reason I told you to place the blade of your hand on or near your hip, and slightly cant the top of the firearm away from your body just before you shoot.

Remember do not try this without proper instruction, if you do, you do so at your own risk.

All the best,
Glenn B

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