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Thread: History of Defensive Handgun Techniques

  1. #1

    History of Defensive Handgun Techniques

    If you were embarking today on a study of the history of handgun shooting skills and training / techniques related to personal defense for ordinary people, what resources would you seek out to begin with?

    Which books would you recommend, and in what order?

    What other materials (websites, DVDs, magazines, audio files) might prove helpful?

    pax,

    Kathy
    Kathy Jackson

  2. #2
    If we separate out military and police training, then civilian use of the handgun was pretty much an ad hoc business based on theory and supposition until Jeff Cooper founded the American Pistol Institute (often referred to as API or Gunsite) in 1976.

    Before WWII, Ed McGivern (http://www.amazon.com/Fast-Fancy-Rev.../dp/0832905577), Elmer Keith (http://www.amazon.com/Sixguns-Keith-.../dp/1614272824), and a few others wrote intelligently about using handguns at speed and under stress, but most of them were talking theory—few had been in actual gunfights.

    Sykes and Fairbairn published with a method of sorts in 1942 (http://www.amazon.com/Shooting-Live-.../dp/1581606788) based on their experience with the Shanghai Municipal Police before WWII. Some of that they talk about makes sense, but most has been eclipsed by a more modern understanding.

    After WWII, writers like Bill Jordan (http://www.amazon.com/Second-Place-W.../dp/0936279095) and Skeeter Skelton (tons of articles and columns in Shooting Times in the 70's and 80's) wrote at length about specific techniques, but neither man developed a complete method for gunfighting. Massad Ayoob (http://www.amazon.com/In-Gravest-Ext...ews/0936279001) tried couple of times, but he was never really taken seriously for a number of reasons.

    The Modern Technique of the Pistol (http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Techniq.../dp/0962134236) came out of API in 1991. It was essentially Jeff Cooper’s attempt to preserve his method in hopes of convincing everyone that he had solved the problem and stopping them from challenging or improving upon his work. Before him, pretty much everything taught formally in the US came from the NRA, who based their TTPs on law-enforcement methods, such as the FBI reload, that were often based more on safe range procedure for poorly-trained shooters than on tactical soundness.

    Then three developments—action shooting, the internet and the surveillance video—changed everything.

    Action shooting let shooters try their hands at the actual skills they might need in a fight. People in Tier I military units got a lot of their training from high-level competitive shooters, and those competitions drove a lot of modifications to the handguns you can buy over the counter today.

    The internet let shooters compare notes more easily. Before the internet, we read The American Rifleman, Guns & Ammo, or Shooting Times, plus the handful of books that were occasionally published on the subject. If you had questions, then you wrote a letter to the editors and if they liked your question, it might have been published a year or so later, along with a half-assed answer that had been edited to work for a mass audience and not to offend advertisers. Cooper, Keith, and others answered letters written directly to them, but their output was limited. With the internet, shooters can find and interact with very experienced gunfighters in real time--and this forum is probably the best place for that to happen.

    To my knowledge, Ken Hackathorn was the first to point out how much surveillance video has changed our understanding of gunfights, because it lets us study what people actually do in fights without having to rely on post-event reports and testimony. So add a few thousand YouTube videos to a couple of good forums, and that’s pretty much the state of the art today.

    And there are two other things that influence the state of affairs today, the influence of which has yet to be fully seen. The first is the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which had the unintended consequence of helping the NRA put a ton of pro-gun candidates into mayor's offices, state legislatures, judge's chambers, and other public offices where they could make it possible for so many of us to carry concealed weapons today. That drives the market for most civilian instruction in the handgun.

    The other is the Global War on Terror. Many of its veterans have found employment imparting to the rest of us skills and the mindset that they developed in combat. Every one of them seems to have his or her own method, techniques, and opinions, which range from the superb to the idiotic.


    Okie John
    Last edited by okie john; 02-04-2016 at 10:58 PM. Reason: Insert comma

  3. #3
    Site Supporter Tamara's Avatar
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    Tagging to follow...


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    Add a few hundred more pages and you've got the history of modern gun fighting post JC (Jeff Cooper).

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    What Tam said.

  6. #6
    okie john has it correct.

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    Site Supporter Tamara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by okie john View Post
    Then three developments—action shooting, the internet and the surveillance video—changed everything.

    Action shooting let shooters try their hands at the actual skills they might need in a fight. People in Tier I military units got a lot of their training from high-level competitive shooters, and those competitions drove a lot of modifications to the handguns you can buy over the counter today.

    ...

    To my knowledge, Ken Hackathorn was the first to point out how much surveillance video has changed our understanding of gunfights, because it lets us study what people actually do in fights without having to rely on post-event reports and testimony. So add a few thousand YouTube videos to a couple of good forums, and that’s pretty much the state of the art today.
    Since you put these two things in one sentence... How many surveillance videos show gunfights with people who regularly engage in action shooting competition?

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    History of Defensive Handgun Techniques

    I would add the books,

    Shooting by J. Henry Fitzgerald

    Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights by Jim Cirillo

    Jeff Cooper's books

    Principles of personal defense

    Fighting Handguns

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by serialsolver; 02-05-2016 at 08:07 AM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara View Post
    Since you put these two things in one sentence... How many surveillance videos show gunfights with people who regularly engage in action shooting competition?
    I have no idea.


    Okie John

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    Kathy. I miss having you around here.

    Thatisall.

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