Moving and Shooting: The Reality of Human Behavior, Predator-Prey, and its effects on shooting.

The reality concerning shooting on the move is this:

  • If moving forward prior to encountering an oriented, sudden, high-intensity threat, forward movement will stop as a defensive behavioral measure and shooters will either shoot while stationary or will begin some type of defensive movement. This will almost always occur despite the shooter being trained to advance on known threats.

  • Shooting on the move DEFENSIVELY will occur as a behavioral response to primarily avoid being shot while secondarily attempting to shoot the threat. Movement will be rapid and accuracy will be significantly degraded making true "precision" shooting in a real situaion very unlikely.

  • Shooting on the move OFFENSIVELY with precision will rarely occur due to the dynamics of real world shootings. It will most often occur when the threat has ceased, turned and ran, or is oriented on something else.

  • Teaching OFFENSIVE shooting on the move as a default in CQB when in the face of an Oriented Sudden High-Intensity Threat completely ignores human nature and the vast amount of actual combat footage that shows it is simply not done regardless of the purposeful commitiment to do it in training. There are outliers, but there is a large body of evidence indicating it is theoretical, or only useful in the above cited cases.

Against a sudden, high intensity threat, almost all people will either stop to shoot to avoid getting closer to a sudden threat, withdraw and shoot reactively, or move rapidly laterally while shooting fast enough to avoid being easily shot. This is proven time and time again with real event video or realistic training event video.

Why do we stop? Evolutionary instincts and intuitive learned behaviors that promote survival do not include spontaneously running up to a snake about to strike or charging an angry bear. It makes no more sense to run up on someone about to possibly shoot you unless there is no other valid response. When time is short, the defensive responses and lower brain responses take over due to duress, lack of time, and the fact that defensive responses require less information and are easier to execute. Can you condition someone to advance on spontaneous immediate deadly threats? Perhaps if the training is perfectly designed, but at what cost, and why do we simply not see it happen. Smoothly flowing into a room and shooting with precision (offensive fire) on the move requires a mix of calmness, low duress, and reduced imminent threat posture that is rare in actual encounters. I am not saying it isn't done, I am saying the times that it is done are extremely rare despite heavy amounts of training just to do it and CQB tactics that require it as a default. These default shooting on the move CQB tactics nearly always fall apart on first contact. An example of a rare time when you might shoot on the move, using your sights would be to shoot a threat running away from you or a threat oriented on someone else. Any defensive lateral movement at moderate range will produce a significant number or errant rounds. This is behaviorally wired and a limitation of human performance under duress. The training disconnect is that training to shoot on the move is usually done without significant time pressure or speed of movement to avoid being shot. Shooters are told or forced to slow down, use their sights, and shoot well enough to always hit their target. They never really push it to full, real-world speed. Then in a real situation, they are forced to move much more rapidly and are unable to use their sights. This forces them into an untrained and unfamiliar situation which actually increases stress and decreases accuracy. The thought of being responsible for every round you fire to the point of controlling exactly where it hits while under life threatening duress is a moronic and impossible standard. One that has never and will never be achieved for any significant statistical pool, especially with firing on the move. The courts recognize this. Police officers are by no means legally expected to be accurate with every round. They are expected not to be negligent or reckless. The courts know it is nearly impossible to gaurantee hits when you are shooting under high duress to protect your life. Statistical police hit rates are a prime example of this training-reality disconnect. The idea of being reasonably and professionally accurate while shooting with discrimination is an achievable standard. The idea of never missing a shot in training is absurd and goes against the principle established rules of motor learning and behavior such as the rules of specificity and transfer. It is a broken idea that persists in the minds of dogmatic instructors who don't understand making your training as similar to the event as possible. They also don't understand that their dogma increases both liability due to unrealistic training and accuracy due to training context being vastly different from performance context. Its the difference between always hitting a punching bag and thinking you are going to achieve the same success when sparring with someone who moves and reacts. I absolutely do teach shooting on the move. First step is rearward and lateral shuffling movement in reaction to a spontaneous threat. Why? because it is behaviorally compliant, doesn't require much training, and it useful and used frequently. Next we work on offensive fire done as a measure to hit a threat when you have an advantage in initiative. Offensive fire can allow very reliable shot placement due to lower duress and easier lines of movement. Then we teach defensive "bursting off the X" defensive fire which when done at real world speed to avoid being shot produces a certain number of expected misses, especially when you have targets behind cover or moving themselves. We take this into consideration when designing courses of fire. We always push enough accuracy to be effective- but not perfect- while moving at full speed. If you get stuck on 100% accuracy, your speed will never approach the speed you will need under fire. Our CQB method makes use of these ingrained human behaviors. We DO NOT teach continuous movement directly towards someone oriented on you trying to shoot you (the unknown). Its tactically stupid and if your ancestors were dumb enough to do it, you wouldn't be here. We do teach stopping and shooting from angles of cover or concealment and we do teach lateral movement to avoid being hit. The person moving laterally is most often covered by someone stationary to support them with more accurate fire.

Unlike 90% + of the trainers out there, I base my training concepts on observable human behavior under duress. This video shows several primary concepts from High Threat Systems:

-Initial Defensive Override -Low Brain Priority- Flinch Instinct -Fast Defensive Movement To Avoid Being Shot (Intuition) -Target Orientation and Lock -Defensive Point Shooting -Offensive Fire and Forward Movement When Threat is Reduced or Fleeing (Deliberate Thought/Predator-Prey Dynamic) Notice when smooth flowing moment starts, when it ends abruptly, and when it starts again. Again, if running up on a threat positioned in the "unknown" area is good for CQB, why isn't it a good idea here? Running up on threats is absolutely dependent on surprise. If your technique catastrophically fails without surprise, why not a use a technique that works with and without surprise from the start? In summary:

  1. Make your training behaviorally compliant.

  2. Train at realistic speed with realistic expectations

  3. Demand 100% hits "when it makes sense," not as some dogmatic, unproven theory that has never worked to get 100% hits in real life.

  4. Don't require 100% hits when you use realistic parameters that are so tough that realistic, full speed response is crippled and never achieved. Start slow and build speed, but build speed to realistic levels quickly. Reduce misses by increasing performance under realistic conditions, not by decreasing conditions to unrealistic levels and never advancing.

Stay safe, Trevor

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