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Thread: Jim Higginbotham on Shooting Center Mass...

  1. #1

    Jim Higginbotham on Shooting Center Mass...

    Jim Higginbotham is a retired Kentucky LEO who trained up the KNG for Iraq. A female soldier he trained up got the Silver Star.

    ..or put another way, Accuracy is Time.

    In other words, the closer you hit to the upper spine the faster they fall.

    I've been thinking along these lines for over two decades, though I admit, at first I was not sure of myself - because this flew in the fact of targets preferred by my mentors, people whom I hold in the highest of regards.

    But with the advent of more information in the form of written reports and videos which you can time since you have the luxury of playing them back, plus the shooting of hundreds of animals with handguns, I'm fairly comfortable with my conclusions. Couple that with the fact that we run into more mind altering drugs these days...

    To be sure, the only absolute is that there are *no* absolutes. So, much in the self defense field depends on *who* you are shooting. How they react to having a gun pointed at them, or even being shot at, or being hit in a non-vital area. So there can be no hard and fast figures. We do have clues though.

    I learn more from failures than successes. One reason for that is that often we cannot identify the exact cause of the success. For instance, a guy is shot in the gut or even missed - he might quit what he is doing or he might just become enraged and kill you...that is up to him.

    I quit shooting on IDPA or IPSC or similar targets sometime around the mid '90s other than in venues I wanted to participate in when I allowed myself to compromise. By 2000 I was completely done. I can just see no point to practicing shooting people you want to incapacitate quickly in the gut. By 2001 I was using target that did not reward hits lower than that point with a high value. The guys I was teaching were involved in literally thousand of gunfights (mostly with rifles) - we lost 3 (actually we lost 4 as one was furloughed at the time and working for Blackwater so I count him). There were lot of reasons for our guys' success (I continue to believe the largest cause was the quality of the soldiers more than the training) but the number one piece of feed-back was that our target caused them not to shoot "center mass" but higher.

    By "gut" I mean anywhere lower than the xiphoid process. Half of the IDPA "-0" zone and almost half of the IDPA "A-zone" are below that point. I have seen a video (actually saved it but I think the computer it is on died) of a professional boxer who was shot in the bottom half of either of those zones by an officer, who first tried pepper spray (which didn't work), and then tried his Glock .40 (which only worked for one round and then stopped working) - the bullet either missed the spine or did not go deep enough (the weight of the bullet was not given) and the boxer proceeded to wear this officer out for a period of close to three minutes and likely would have killed him had not backup arrived in the nick of time. He seemed in no way inconvenienced by a .40 caliber slug that hit about 3" above his navel.

    In another well known case in Washington state one of 4 officers killed had hit the subject in the gut (I cannot swear that one was inside the A-zone or not but it could have been) was still active 24 hours later when he got in another gunfight with an officer - fortunately that one worked out better for the good guys.

    As many here know, Pat Rogers shot a subject 14 times with a .223 (Knowing Pat, I figure most of those were within the Gunsite 8" circle). Some here also know that Pat was charged with murder for that (but the prosecutor died before an indictment was handed down and the replacement prosecutor declined to pursue it).

    Locally we had 3 officers shoot a subject 14 times with .40 S&W - half of those hit would have been in the lower IPSC "A-zone" - the subject was able to fire 30 rifle shots and was still on his feet when he ran dry and the officers had to wrestle the gun from him - he died 9 hours later. BTW those were all pistol bullet of modern design which expand 100% of the time in 10% gel - 7 expanded and 7 didn't - some of the ones that did not expand still did not go through.

    In another famous case officers shot a subject 17 times with .223 and 5 times with .40 S&W - nearly all of them striking "center mass", most of them going into the highest value areas of normal competition targets, all of them within the 8 ring of a B-27 - before the subject went down.

    In the famous case of the 180 lb guy in Chicago who was shot 32 times if you track the wounds (he was at an angle to most of the officers) he was hit at least 15 times in the "A zone" - half the bullets expanded, 25% of them went through.

    Richard Blackburn, the sleazeball who killed Trooper Mark Coats, was hit 5 times in the chest with a 4" .357 magnum using 125 gr JHP loads - and he can be heard calmly talking to an officer 30 minutes later! I've reviewed the tape many times, I think all 5 hits were within the IDPA "-0" zone - and I've seen a couple of reports that the bullets made it to the back chest wall.

    It goes on and on. Sure, you can count on luck and it does exist, and actually, through either the luck of fighting an undetermined subject or through the luck of the subject not being a very competent shot or gun-handler, we might live through the experience...but don't let that be your plan of survival.

    Stop practicing on targets that reward you for shooting people in the gut! Will you get away with that - sure. Maybe even most of the time, maybe even 95% of the time (by comparison you are likely to get away with not wearing a seat belt about 99.4% of the time - I don't recommend that). But if you want to take luck out of the picture, learn to shoot them where it counts....and where it counts *right now*.

    There is a reason we call many normal training targets "widow-makers" - it ain't the crooks widows we are referring to here!

    Onward and ...ah... upward (in your point of aim)!

    Jim Higginbotham

    PS - one might wonder why I go off on all these rants. A student recently sent me a video of a trainer who fired 15 rounds very fast at 3 different ranges, with all A's on an IPSC target - trouble was, out of 15 rounds only 3 of them might have stopped an attacker in about 5 seconds or 20 seconds (who knows?) - had he been "drunk, drugged or stupid"...and determined.

    PPS - I fully realize that you have to hit the spine in the Cervical Discs to guarantee the arms are disabled, but people hit in the upper 8" of the thoracic spine tend to drop so suddenly they drop what they are holding - no guarantees though but most people have time to move to cover or at least out of the danger area.

    Sent from my SM-A505U using Tapatalk

  2. #2
    There was a debate on "anatomical correctness" at the inception of IDPA. I understand they raised the Zero in the torso... but not by much.
    Code Name: JET STREAM

  3. #3
    Moderator BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Mar 2015
    I moved this to "Mindset & Tactics" instead of "Ammunition" since it seems a better fit here.

    On the original topic, I agree. I've heard the counterargument that a true center mass aim increases your chances of getting a hit somewhere on the target and any hit is better than no hit. I'm not 100% sure I agree with that based on how many criminals flee/surrender at the noise if hit or not. I also note that very seldom do I see people missing high compared to missing low when shooting under stress. I think the upper chest aim may actually increase hit probability if you shove the gun. I get "center mass" aiming when you have a partial target. Maybe you've only got a leg to shoot at, so you aim at the middle of the leg. For unobstructed targets, I'm with you. Upper middle chest or head, depending.
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    Quote Originally Posted by UNM1136 View Post
    Maybe with talented students I would lube up with baby oil and then go at it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    I moved this to "Mindset & Tactics" instead of "Ammunition" since it seems a better fit here.
    Makes sense. Thanks for the help. I should have posted it here in the first place.

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  5. #5
    Site Supporter ST911's Avatar
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    Dec 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by Tokarev View Post
    Jim Higginbotham is a retired Kentucky LEO who trained up the KNG for Iraq. A female soldier he trained up got the Silver Star.
    Can you quote or break out Jim's content from yours? Not clear.
    الدهون القاع الفتيات لك جعل العالم هزاز جولة الذهاب

  6. #6
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    Feb 2013
    NE Ohio
    Nipples to nose is the best advice I ever received regarding shot placement. Same as going for the vitals when hunting vs "just hit'em behind the shoulder."

    IMO this is even more important as Joe Civilian. Don't want LEO/MIL type mag dumps in court and there is likely little to no additional good guys support...during or after the event.

    A-Zone in pistol sport should be about 4 inches wide and placed higher but it would take away some of the super speed fun

  7. #7
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    Aug 2011
    Western Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by Danjojo View Post
    A-Zone in pistol sport should be about 4 inches wide and placed higher but it would take away some of the super speed fun
    USPSA and IPSC have zero interest in being anything other than a sport.

    Someone else will need to do that.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ST911 View Post
    Can you quote or break out Jim's content from yours? Not clear.
    Too late to edit.

    Jim's stuff starts right below the first link near the top of my post.

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  9. #9
    I believe that Jim Higginbotham was/is a disciple of Evan Marshall's garbage with a few of his own twists. A big proponent of .357 "stopping power" He had formulas on how many rounds it would take to stop an antagonist with the various service caliber pistols.

    He did preach shot placement more than Marshall....but it would be mixed in with his "science" that it takes 3 9mm HP's to equal one .45acp. Before one hangs on his prophecy diligent research into his past positions would be prudent.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2012
    My first FIC in 2007 the mantra was "between the nipples at armpit level."


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