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Author Topic: Skinny Sideways and Canting  (Read 1165 times)


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Skinny Sideways and Canting
« on: September 25, 2006, 11:29:19 AM »

A couple of quick observations on shooting a pistol with one hand, intermixed with some shared words of shooting expert Lt. Dave Spaulding (Ret.). The points here are how to position your body when shooting with one hand and how to position your pistol. So:

   Point 1) Body position issues

   Point 2) One-handed, pistol, hand and arm position issues
There are many reasons for having to shoot with one hand, least of which there seems to be an inert, reflexive response for many to do so when startled, even after much two-hand training. People shoot with two hands to:
   - keep the weapon on target - better support
   - reduce recoil
   - handgun retention
and they typically stand:
   - flat and frontal to you
   - bladed
   - completely sideways

Point 1) Some suggest you can shoot one-handed with a two-handed grip style body position. Strike a bladed pose as if you were using a two-handed grip anyway and then just use one hand. This does still leave your body in more of a frontal position and a larger target that turning your body a "skinny" sideways.

I have conducted hundreds and hundreds of sims training sessions through the years and observed this one-hand phenomena occur many times. Here's a classic situation I've seen many times. A veteran police officer and shooter stands before a teenager with no training. They draw. The teen instinctively turns his body sideways to avoid the pain of the sims. He gets real slinky too, as if he is actually dodging the barrel as he sees it on him. The officer drops into his two-handed, range, stance. More often than not the two-handed officer, bladed and more frontal takes quite a few more rounds than the sideways, slinky teen. You might say the uneducated folks have "won" a lot of these CQC training battles versus the range veteran. I have drawn many radical conclusions from watching these sims match-ups.

"Sideways" was a classic shooter's position when I started shooting in the 1960s. In the typical police qualification course, some 25 rounds or so were shot from the 50 yard line in this one-hand, sideways position. The thought today of having to shoot that far without binoculars gives me the willie nelsons. But, I qualified expert many times in those days, even with a snub-nose .38! YES! It can be done. Also, the duelers of yesterday always stood sideways to limit their body exposure to the opponent. We were told back then, that standing sideways made us less of a target. Nowadays, they say real slick, impressive terms like, smaller "shooter profile." Yet, no one today seems to be an advocate of "skinny sideways."

Point 2: To cant or not to cant. Recanting the cant!
There seems to be two schools of thought on the angle of the pistol in your one-handed grip. Many experts suggest that you cant the pistol at a near .45 degree angle. They say that this angle is the natural angle of the hand and really assists in the simplicity of execution. More than one expert I know has run tests on the angled grip and they say at greater distances your accuracy drops off. I myself have never tested this, but I have no reason to doubt it.
Then others, like Dave Spalding offer a more rigid opposite:
    "Try this the next time you shoot at the range. Get into a solid shooting position with your shoulders above your toes. Extend your arms in your favorite shooting platform-Weaver, isosceles, who cares?-and then lock your support arm back against your upper torso. Make sure you lock the support arm back because this will help lock the extended arm, too. Note: It really doesn't feel all that different to shoot with one hand than with two. If you need a bit more recoil control, put a little more upper-body lean into the gun. If the gun seems to waver and move in front of the target, don't try to cant it inward. Rotate the shooting-arm elbow down toward the ground and straighten the shooting-hand thumb. You'll find this locks the arm all the way from the shoulder through the wrist. If you need to bring the gun back to the torso for a close retention shot, all you'll need to do is bend the elbow and draw the gun back. This is simple to execute, so don't over-complicate the process. With this method, you can fire the gun anywhere from just above the holster pouch to a full extension away from the body."
                                                ...says Dave in the latest Law Officer Magazine

Just some points to ponder. How to stand. How to hold that pistol when shooting with one hand. Meanwhile, my prayer is "may all your enemy be ignorant and untrained (but I hope they don't turn skinny sideways on you, especially while you are recanting the cant!)


Nick Hughes

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Re: Skinny Sideways and Canting
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2006, 08:35:13 PM »

Well, just to play devil's advocate Hock...lets take the skinny kid and the cop scenario and take it outside into the real world.

Cop is wearing his vest...bad guys rounds hit the vest and he survives....skinny kid takes the hits in the ribs and dies.

or how about we turn the cop side on like he saw the skinny kid do and he dies because the rounds go through the open side of his vest (which is the single biggest reason vests fail)

food for thought

Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent. I am attacking.
--Ferdinand Foch-- at the Battle of the Marne


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Re: Skinny Sideways and Canting
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2006, 10:36:16 PM »

or...cops who are shot in arms as the classic two-handed grip, is thrust, arms up in front of vests. Guns, hands, forearms, elbows, upper arms...have been shot alot. Guns drops from impact rounds to arms. This is actually quite common because people shoot center mass and also because they fixate on the pistol and seem to "automatically" shoot at it. It is important in the sims shoot-outs to try to get the shooters into a serious post-scenario, briefing to account for the succession of shots. Sometimes the first shot I was hit with, was to my gun hand and all my subsequent return fire may not have happened at all.  Kind of makes me think of one time I was in a "training shootout" with Mike Steele. On a run sideways Steele fired a one hand shot at me and then I hit Steele in the head. Everyone saw the head shot and said "wow." BUT! Steele's first shot hit my weapon hand! I believe I never would have made that subsequent head shot.

Or...then factoring in the "oh-shit factor." The vested officer NOT losing his standstill range pose and range shooting composure when the nasty explosion erupts right in front of him? And then? Will they fall anyway. Lots of vested people are actually knocked off their feet when shot in the vest. Some describe it as being hit with fast pitch baseball. Some are even knocked out cold! Some have been. Some not.   

or...just take away the "teen and the cop" scenarios and just say coomon bad guy/common good guy. Now chances are the common good guy has no vest. He is one of the zillion-plus, concealed-carry handgun people walking around without a vest. Or a common plainclothes/detective officer without a vest. A security person. etc.  If we run the numbers, I wonder just how many people are actually wearing vests compared to those who don't. How many people are attending Gunsite and Frontsite and the numerous shooting ranges and will carry guns everyday without vests? Would a guess be that 90% of the gun carrying population are not wearing vets? I don't really know? Is is the neeeds of the mnay, outweight the needs of the few?

A sad, yet small amount of unlucky officers are killed every few years from getting shot in that small open patch in the armpit. Newer armor on the market is trying to cover that patch now. Years ago, it was the whole, wide- open strip that ran down both sides. They are constantly trying to shrink that opening. Costs more though. Recently here in Dallas an officer was chasing a bad guys, running - and quite frontal -  and a running bad guy turned over his shoulder and fired a revolver at the officer. This unaimed shot somehow, hit the running officer, enough in the armpit to kill him! Right in the opening of the vest. Also, bullets have been known to pentrate into the tight space between the front and rear panels.

In lots of these sims shooting scenarios the people do not have the "skinny sideways" position completely, as in raising their gun arm up into the classic, range or duel shooting pose. Many times their arm is still bent somewhat. Then an armpit area shot would hit them in the upper arm? All sucks.

By the way, quite a few of the trained police officers and shooters, under the stress of painful sims round going off in front of them, abandon the two-hand grip anyway and just "applegate shoot" so to speak, with one hand anyway, turning away form the blast and pain. This also comes out in our Gun Level 1 baseball experiments when we heave fast pitches at the sims shooters. Almost all them dodge the bulet/ball and would shoot one hand and turn sideways to escape the incoming. The old arguement goes on and on about fighting natural movements wrestling with trained movements. ten of these fight tests? I have seen officers use both single and double hand grips in the set of ten!  My guess it has a lot to do with their body's perception of exactly where they are when they draw. This is what I myself do as I find myself reacting to my and his exact positon at the time of the draw. (We often walk and run while doing these scenarios changing the body dynamics)
A few of the oldtimers would make a fist and put it in their armpit if they turned sideways to shoot, hoping that such an unlucky round would hit the fist, shatter it and sent .38 or .9 mm fragments anywhere but into the torso.

I have no solid, one-best-way solutions for any of this, except teaching several proven methods and let the individuals have some freedom to experiment a bit. But the sims training is fascinating to observe.

« Last Edit: September 26, 2006, 08:59:18 AM by »