Tag Archives: combat shooting

The Fallen Drill! Live Fire and Sims Fire, Standing, Falling and Fallen Target Practice

The Fallen Drill, Live Fire and Sims Fire, Standing, Falling and Fallen Target Practice


He moved! A universal problem in many martial arts, mixed weapon fighting, combatives and survival firearms training is that people move. When people are struck, kicked, stabbed, slashed, shot, etc., they…move. They move from your set-up for the first strike, – yes, just the perception of your first attack be it facial expression, words, stance, chambering, drawing a knife, stick or gun, may cause them to move on cue just before you strike. Or they move after the first hit, the second strike or the third…

In many systems you’ve been trained for a set of attacks or shots. Sets of two? Sets of three? Stop and reload? These reactive movements on his part are often ignored or forgotten in training drills. Still we hit, stab or shoot the mitts, or a heavy bag, or a paper target in sets. In many of these sets the body targets are vague and not well defined.  

These routines are organized by you, or by an instructor of a system. How smart are you? Are they? Is it? What is your-their “martial IQ? Do you or they ever calculate logical probable. post hit movements? 

The faster you attack, the better chance the second strike-shot on the target might be where you planned it, such as maybe with a super quick, two-punch combination to the nose-face? Or say, two or three very quick trigger pulls on a gun? Yes maybe, and no maybe.

But as an instructor we must warn our practitioners about these reflexive-reaction, spoiler-movements, and advise them that many of the elaborate focus mitt drills, martial art combinations and shooting drills might be SNAFU-ED when the enemy naturally, reflexively, responsively moves. Warned that their first or next designed target spot may well move and you might have to chase it a bit. Or, ignore it and adlib something else.

I constantly see long, complicated focus mitt drills that have zero relation to realistic body reactions of those hit. These long drills become like demonstration dances to impress onlookers and make one sweat for a workout. I am not saying they are all worthless, no, just that they could be planned smarter. They could be composed to guess where the opponent might be after step 1 actually landed. Where then should step 2 logically be? In the unarmed world, good sparring gets this chaotic introduction done. You learn to chase targets. Adlib to take what you see, get..

I have been in numerous martial arts where we memorized 3, 4, 5 or more moves on an attacker who is just standing still like a statue after his own first punch at you. You block and respond, beating the statue-man to death in many moves. But the opponent is not reacting to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd strike or kick, the training partner-uke remains upright and still, until the scenario calls for his takedown. You then takedown, trip or throw the statue enemy. In this regard, it was an old school concept that the takedown you chose, is the one that best facilitates the direction he is already falling in after you’ve cracked him some great strikes. You don’t or shouldn’t change or stop his falling direction. You…facilitate his falling direction. So in this old-school rule of AIki-Jitsu and old Jujitsu, they recognized the opponent was…moving after being struck.)

I was always flabbergasted at various knife systems through the decades that memorized numerous elaborate 3, 4 or more body template, patterns of stabs and cuts. “Stab the heart, then deep cut down to the kidney, then stab…” First off, dear detached-from-reality person, the body has bones in it and second, the enemy…has probably…MOVED after your very first stab! His kidney is no longer where it was in your splendid, one-dimensional, flat, frontal template. Your 3-4 step templates are basically, misleading, distracting…BS.

 The enemy movements will be…

  • frozen for a second?
  • arms up in your attack path,
  • turning,
  • stepping forward, sides or back away,
  • leaning, (slipping, dodging)
  • falling,
  • fallen down.

Frozen? Yes, he might be frozen in place, especially if your first attack alone isn’t strong enough to move him. We all know about the “flight, freeze, fight” studies, so to be thorough we must list it. But he probably will move.

In short, you probably have to chase the targets. The solution is to construct training responses that try to predict with some certainty where said enemy will move in response. To counter these practical problem in doctrine, an instructor with sufficient “martial IQ” must prep the students with these realities. This does sort of ruin and-or, de-emphasize the whole list of required, memorized 4-5 step statue fighting some martial arts demand. The instructor should warn – “After this strike, it is possible, probable that said person might not be where you expect them. His jaw is not there anymore. His liver is not there like in the set…he moved.”

Guns! Wrong End of the Barrel. I hope by now I have established the idea that people will move and may not be were you expected them to be from training drills? Since I teach hand, stick, knife and sims ammo GUN, I have to ponder this problem in the pistol and long gun world, which is what I really want to dissect-remind here.

The Gun Blast! Yes it is true, some people. somewhere. sometime will absorb some fast small caliber shots and keep approaching or freeze? Will they? And for how long to overcome the elements of just the gun blast alone? I mean, just stand beside someone shooting a firearm on the range without hearing protection. Take note of the force and sound expelled. Now imagine that aimed at you. I would like to mention that the sheer sound and blast of a gun would-could cause people to…MOVE, cringe, startle, curl, bend, jolt, shut eyes, dive, fall…

Will Bullets Move People? A number of gun folks like to discuss and argue about the force of a landed bullet. Science tells us it must land with about the same force as the recoil in your hand. Yet bullets landing on certain anatomical parts into certain positions seem to make people move more than recoil, and flesh and bone destruction can make them fall, least of all from multiple, successful bullet impacts. These reactions may ruin your second or third shot plan. Shot folks, or shot-at folks will also and quite probably move. These movements differ from the standard flat, full-frontal target picture you have been practicing your marksmanship on.

Handgun (and rifle) Combatives. I believe that people are not fully, really learning firearm combatives unless moving, thinking people are shooting back at them, or at very least threatening them close up in a deadly force situation like with a knife or tire iron. This experience absolutely requires interactive, safe, simulated ammo training.

Some old gun hands have called the shooting range a “one-way street,” and you need a “two-way street experience” to maximize your combative skills. It is somewhat horrifying to learn how easily you can be shot, even with the best one-way street instruction. I mentioned earlier “Good sparring gets this introduction done.” Interactive simulated ammo scenario exercises get this two-way street done too.

“It is somewhat horrifying to learn how easily you can be shot…”

Since I almost never teach live fire marksmanship and leave that to the patient experts, I concentrate on simulated interactive shooting. In a perfect world seminar, I always prefer to partner up with live fire experts whenever possible and ask them to do a live fire version of what I will teach later with simulated ammo, but I have a few live fire drills for a predicted response to shooting an enemy that moves and-or falls. Here’s one – thus the “Fallen Drill.”

The overall premise is, you shoot the armed bad guy and he begins to fall. He’s still armed. Still looking at you. You shoot him on the fall, and you shoot him when he’s grounded, should he seem cogent. The live fire version featured in the top photo above requires a little rigging of targets and the target stands.

By the time they get to my turn, practitioners have already done their important marksmanship training, and now we are shooting real people with the sims guns. We are shooting real people and the “scoring” is “miss or kill,” you might say.

Bullseyes or human figures? Since some instructors do obsess about scoring, scoring, scoring any and  everything, we have the mode on the left. Note these have no weapons. Me no “likey.” I prefer folks shoot at armed human, photo, figures. And these bullseye targets are full, frontal flat and I am uncomfortable with that too.

For combatives, photos of real people, (not drawings) angled and holding weapons on the targets, is “reducing the abstract.”

I and a few others have written through the years about the sheer stupidity of forcing police and military shooting training to shoot unarmed, non-human shaped targets, to be politically correct. This is counter-productive and ignorant. This is a giant step backward in combat shooting. The training rule of “reduce the abstract” applies. While typically round, and-or non-human shaped targets are used for pure marksmanship development and competitions, when you get into the combatives training, human-shaped figures (photo pictures of real people are better than drawings). It is also not good to shoot at targets like this photo below, that are unarmed and threat-less.

We should not be practicing to shoot unarmed people! (About 99.9% of the time, as it is situational. And next we should not be shooting at unarmed people targets. It’s not good training for the brain and reflexes. Firearm combatives training targets should always include a weapon to prep-instill the instantaneous, mental recognition, justification for lethal force. It’s bad enough we spend so, so much time shooting at bland, non-human-form bullseyes and various odd shapes. When doing combat shooting training, at very least “arm” the realistic target!

Anyway, I invented this “Fallen” live fire and simulated fire exercise in isolation. You and others may have something like it already too, as most inventions are made in isolation. If so? Good for you. Now let’s pass it on…

Oh and remember, he moves, but so do you! Which is a whole other subject essay.


Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com

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