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Advanced Skills

January 15, 2018

My buddy, Paul Sharp, of Straight-Blast Gym—Illinois, and proprietor of Sharp Defense, posted the following on Social Media:

When people start talking about advanced techniques my eyes cross. There are no advanced techniques. There are fundamentals honed to perfection through conscious effort. Then there is the application of those fundamentals against ever increasing challenges. The mechanics don’t change, our understanding grows so we’re able to apply the technique against higher and higher levels of resistance. As we advance we face greater resistance and better opponents which causes our understanding of the hows, when’s and why’s to advance. The mechanics remain the same. We become advanced.

Sugar Ray Leonard’s jab wasn’t magically different. His ability to hit anyone he faced at a world class level with his jab was the difference between basic and advanced.

During his seminar JJ Machado taught us all the same guard recovery technique. A guard recovery technique I had been taught my first month of jiujitsu. His ability to apply that technique against the best grapplers in the world is the difference between basic and advanced.

Bruce Gray presented my duty pistol, (a DAO S&W 4586), from a duty rig and hit the A zone of a target that was 25 yards away in a little over 1 second. He used the same draw stroke, mount, and trigger press he had been teaching me. He didn’t teach an advanced drawstroke or trigger press. His ability to make hits in those times with less than optimal equipment was the advanced understanding and application of the technique.

The point is; there is no secret sauce aka advanced techniques. There is advanced application and there is only one way to get there. High level coaching, and practice.

This is something I’ve discussed in rifle and pistol classes for a long time now.

One of the hardest things for me as a teacher is expressing to people that the “basics,” or “fundamentals” we are doing ARE the advanced, high-speed shit. I can demonstrate a drill, in exactly the way I showed the students how to do it, and explain, step-by-step that I am doing it exactly how I just demonstrated and explained it. Invariably, someone will then ask me to show them what I did different…

For fuck’s sake, dude….

There are four basic aspects to using a gun in the anti-personnel role:

  1. You need to be able to hit what you need to hit, in order to elicit the desired response, as many times as you need to hit it, in order to elicit that response.
  2. You need to be able to get the gun into the fight soon enough to make a difference.
  3. You need to avoid shooting anyone or anything that is not doing anything that warrants shooting.
  4. You need to be composed enough to make good, appropriately correct decisions, in order to achieve 1,2, and 3.


There are no secret squirrel techniques to running a gun. Anyone that tries to sell you that shit, like some bad, 1990s TRS full-page magazine advertisement, needs to be beat about the head and shoulders with something dense and damaging.

In the example above, what I did different, is that I have performed the skills of that drill hundreds of thousands of times over the last three decades. I’ve done it in the morning, afternoon, and in the middle of the night. I’ve done it refreshed and well-nourished, and I’ve done it after parachuting into the darkness, and then humping a ruck for 15+ kilometers, through the woods, to get to the range.

The difference is not in the technique. It’s in the practiced application thereof.


Let’s look at how we develop the four aspects above.

  1. You need to be able to hit what you need to hit, in order to elicit the desired response, as many times as you need to hit it, in order to elicit that response.

    At a very basic level, this is what basic marksmanship training and practice is about. If you can’t hit an appropriately sized target, you’re not going to achieve #1. I’ve seen a lot of “instructors” and “experts” who considered any hit on a silhouette as “adequate.” Thing is, it MIGHT be. If you are confronted with an uncommitted mugger, at conversational distance, even one hit might be enough to stop him from doing whatever he is doing that warrants you shooting him.
    In the acid-rain washed, dystopian future that we are living in however, that may not be adequate. What if the bad guy is wearing a Semtex waistcoat, shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” and shooting up a shopping mall? Your one hit on his silhouette may very well hit that vest and blow it, him, other bystanders, and you to Hell. That is what some would call a “bad outcome.” In a case like that, what you are going to “need to hit” is his brainbox, to shut him down, before he can trigger the bomb.
    Or, the bad guy may be a drug-fueled berserk that spent the last five years throwing around heavy pig iron in the pen, and your one round in his silhouette hurt him less than his former cellmate ass-raping him did, so he isn’t going to stop. Now, you need to either centerpunch that dude’s head, get a lot more than one hit on him, or get ready to give up your virginity.
    You want to be able to hit what you need to hit, in order to elicit the desired response, as many times as you need to hit it, in order to elicit that response? You need to be able to get precision hits, at varying distances, under any conditions. Above, I mentioned being able to run a particular drill under any circumstances. That’s what needs to happen. Too often, when I discuss dry-fire practice with people, they bitch about not having time, or how their wife nags them when they take the time.
    That’s actually beneficial. You think your wife stresses you out when she bitches at you? Try staring down the muzzle of a gun, and listening to rounds zip past your head. Use that stress to add value to your dry practice. Get up twenty minutes earlier and do it. Oh, you’ll be tired? Great. That makes it MORE effective. If you can do it tired, doing it well-rested is cake.
    You were going to go to the range today, but it was snowing, and -20F? AWESOME! Get your ass to the range! You think bad shit only happens in fair weather?
    There is nothing advanced about marksmanship. It’s simply being able to execute basic marksmanship and gunhandling, under any circumstances.

  2. You need to be able to get the gun into the fight soon enough to make a difference.

    You want a super-reliable, fast, resilient draw from concealment? Take twenty minutes a day, and grab the timer. Set your par time, and beat it for twenty or thirty reps. Every. Single. Day. For the next year. And then do it again, for another year. Then repeat.
    In a Clandestine Carry Pistol class, almost invariably, everyone manages a sub-1.25 second draw to first round hit (and the ones that don’t get it within 1.5 seconds) to an index card, at 10 meters. You know how big an index card is? Roughly the same size as the “instant incapacitation” zone in the center of the human head. It takes most classes about half an hour to get there. And, by half an hour, I mean something like 200 repetitions of the draw, on the timer, getting faster and more efficient.
    You want to master the carbine? Don’t go take ANOTHER class. Take what you’ve already learned, from a reputable trainer, and practice it. You’re solid in your positions, and can consistently get hits out to 600 meters? Great! Now, work on getting into position faster, and getting your hits sooner. One of the things we work on in my carbine class is going from “standing ready” to getting a hit, on a reduced silhouette, from the prone, at 100 and 200 meters, from the prone…in less than 2.5 seconds. You know what? Something like 95% of students manage it within twenty minutes.
    Of course, in that twenty minutes, they’ve done well over 100 repetitions on the timer. I don’t need to add silly shit like burpees to “get their heart rate accelerated.” It’s already a smoker. You know what though? They also learn, quickly, that they can hit that metric, even when they are physically exhausted.

  3. You need to avoid shooting anyone or anything that is not doing anything that warrants shooting.

    I’ve heard a lot of shit in recent years about “Big Boy Rules,” from would-be tough guy trainers. They seem to think that “safety” is a range issue, and could form training scars. Fucking retards, the lot of them…and I say that as a guy who once questioned a team leader on left and right safety limits, on a range.
    “Gee, Sergeant, it seems like in a real fight, we would be more worried about where the enemy is, and less about where the left and right limits are. What if the enemy maneuvers over there?”
    “Hey, Ranger Mosby. Who is over there right now?”
    “Third Platoon, Sergeant.”
    “That’s right, Ranger. Where do you think Third Platoon would be, if this was a real fight, and those were bad guys, instead of cardboard targets downrange?”
    “Over there, Sergea…..Oh.”
    “Yeah, dumbass. Oh. Safety is even more important in combat than on the range. Let’s make it harder for the enemy, not easier.”

    You know what “Big Boy Rules” are? They are understanding—not just “knowing,” but UNDERSTANDING–the fundamental safe firearms handling rules, and adhering to them in a mature, reasoned manner, no matter what. And yes, they apply in real fights, just like they do on the range, at the gun store counter, and in your living room. Don’t be a fucking idiot.

  4. You need to be composed enough to make good, appropriately correct decisions, in order to achieve 1,2, and 3.

    This is where “advanced” skill comes in when we are talking about shooting and gunfighting. 1, 2, and 3, above are basics. They are no different for experienced, “expert” shooters and gunfighters than for the new guy at the range, with his very first gun, and his NRA Basic Safety Course certificate tucked into his range bag.
    The difference is that the dude with 100,000 rounds downrange in an organized, planned, developed training regimen, has the ability to execute those three aspects without putting a lot of conscious thought into the process. That gives him the brain space to think about other things, like what is happening in the battlespace around him. THAT, in turn, allows him to make good decisions, in regards to 1, 2, and 3, and the synergistic relationship between them.

    “Shit, that dude needs to be shot, right now…but…I’m armed only with my pistol, and he’s 100 yards away, with an AK….I can’t make that shot on demand…I suppose I could try anyway…but there is a family with kids huddling under that table, on the other side of him…if I miss….okay, fuck it, I’m going to maneuver over there, behind that aisle of shelves, and then sprint up closer to him…that will give me a safer angle, and I KNOW I can make that shot from there. Let’s roll!”

    Having 1, 2, and 3 well-developed, allows 4 to happen. It can range from the rather extreme example above, to simply making the decision that, “Hey, this dude might need to get shot here in a sec….I’m gonna go ahead and get my hand on my gun, just in case…” It might even be…”That dude might need to be shot here in a sec…but I know my limits and my capabilities, so I don’t need to go to guns just yet. Let’s let this play out for a minute and see what develops…”

There are no advanced techniques, but, as Paul pointed out in his comment, “…there is advanced application.” You’ll know you’re advanced when you can do it without trying so hard. You’ll know you’re advanced, when you’re thinking about what you’re going to do, three steps ahead of where you are now. You’ll know you’re advanced when you no longer worry about being advanced.

Quit looking for the “Secret Scrolls of Knowledge of the Sect of Secret Squirrels,” and follow Paul’s suggestion: “Do the work.”

From → Uncategorized

  1. Ken permalink

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. StreetDetective permalink

    Thanks, that was very interesting 🤠🎯 🔫

    reposting it now at:

    Thank You, From New Mexico 👽

    Jeffrey A. Friedberg 🤠 FORMER Private Eye Author, Writer SEO Guru World Expert On Everything Giant Blogger Commentateur Social et Satiriste


  3. Diz permalink

    Mosby never ceases to amaze. I am reading, well re-reading his books these days. This concept is probably one of the most important yet overlooked and ignored by all. Well most.

    The take-away I’ve had from former SF dudes is that they hone the basics to perfection. I mean unless you’re a Jed ready to jump into France next week, you don’t need an OSS-style, quick n dirty training plan. You need to put in the reps to own the techniques. Not attend another high speed class. Not buy another cool piece of kit. Do the fucking work.

    You might notice there is a little training nugget in there. Lots of guys are big on planning training. When they can’t make a certain time, a certain day, they don’t train. I have found over the years that you need to be flexible and just grab 10,15,20 minutes whenever the opportunity presents itself. Especially on skill sets, where to don’t have to jock out, train, shower and change.

  4. Nyle Fullmer permalink

    GREAT read ! When teaching a Basic EMT class I would routinely tell the students, Paramedics save lives, Basic EMTs save Paramedics. When in doubt go back to the basics.

    Thanks from Rexburg.

  5. Dave McCullen permalink

    “spent the last five years throwing around heavy pig iron in the pen, and your one round in his silhouette hurt him less than his former cellmate ass-raping him did” Pff, in that case either his cellmate was a real monster or he wasn’t throwing said pig iron around heavy enough…

    Unrelated, what’s with your books on FO? I couldn’t find them in their store this morning, damn near broke my heart. I realize that it’s a by-product of wanting to collect “Secret Scrolls of Knowledge of the Sect of Secret Squirrels”, but surely we can make an exception to your stuff?

    • lastmanstanding permalink

      Dave, fwiw, I ordered The Reluctant Partisan Vol. 1 from FO on 12/11/17. Haven’t received it yet and have had zero replies to numerous requests on status of delivery. I’ll recommend that you order from John.

      JM…good to see you back at the blog. Looking forward to more great writing in 2018.

    • Lindsey Ross permalink

      Dave, John posted a bit ago on the MG Facebook page that FO was no longer going to be carrying the books. He’s working on getting something new set up, but in the interim gave his email and said you could order direct as well.

  6. Talented writer. Good job.

    What’s your ratio of practicing with both right and left?

    How about an article on non-permissive carry for the day and age?

    How about an article dealing with Leo’s for the day and age? It is obvious that “comply” is not the default answer it once was, without carry or with carry. “It depends” for should be everyone’s initial tactic and should be posted by the nra or similar.

    From people getting shot opening their house door armed (Florida), grabbing their wallet while disclosing they have a permit (Minnesota), to drinking in their motel room (Arizona), to getting swatted (Kansas), or a near missed victim of collateral damage (Utah). Note most of the people were dumbasses, but still…

  7. bill pearce permalink

    Good stuff, as always.

  8. Jon permalink

    Thanks John. Missed you and your meaningful contributions man, for what it’s worth. I hope the family and project are well. Thanks for encouraging me to keep at it with my own.

    I couldn’t find the quote but wise men often spend their time reminding us of the basics.

  9. Dienekes permalink

    Been shooting some 55 years now. Slowing up, but this is SPOT ON.

  10. brunop permalink

    Great article (again). Keep them coming.

  11. Yousef Nutski permalink

    This is good stuff folks, It applies to all Skill-sets, not just Marksmanship. A former Aquaintance, known as “the Quitter”, once attended one of my Rifleman FTX’s. Leading up to the shoot I was getting a lot of PM’s from him asking about this and that, all good, I want my Shooter’s to be prepared and I encourage them to ask me questions prior (and after) the shoot, but he was leaning towards the whole.. “Am I going to learn anything “advanced”.. I get it all the time, at east 25% of my first time attendees are seeking the skills and knowledge to make 1000yd hits with their rifle scoped with $59.99 glass that has zero loctite on any of the mounting screws. Or they want to “Run-N-Gun”. That didn’t bother me. He showed up!! That definitely didn’t bother me…

    Then I get the several PM’s from him about what “advanced” things he did not learn…. I finally asked him the question that ended the PM conversation. “What did you score??”. Well, he was below 125, which meant he did not even qualify, which is not uncommon for a newbies first shoot, BUT he was complaining about things that he did not learn that do not apply to making a hit on a reduced target at 25M…

    I politely explained, that if you cannot put all 5 rounds into a 1″ square at 25M, you will not be able to put all of your rounds into a 20″ square at 500yds. Another words, if you can’t do it at reduced distance, your wasting ammo at Known Distance. And with that, the conversation was over, and with every shooter like that I ever had, they never dry-fired during their preparation periods, they never practiced acquiring their NPOA during target shifts, etc etc, they’re too good for “Fundamentals” they want the “Secret Scrolls of Knowledge of the Sect of Secret Squirrels”

  12. Aaron ElInfidel permalink

    Permission to repost with links on


  13. Bogeyman permalink

    This is why I’m good at jacking off and not at shooting.

  14. Rick permalink

    When I trained with Louis Awerbuck in the late 90’s I once asked him about the difference between his Handgun 1 course and the Handgun II( I called it the advanced course). He said its not an advanced course, we just work harder at what we learned in the first course. We did do a few more things but he had the same take as Mosby. Just working harder, moving faster and mastering the basics.

  15. Michael permalink

    Great article!

  16. phoenixfire177 permalink

    Awesome to see you writing again, sir! Love the article!

  17. pigpen51 permalink

    First time I have been on this site, and I have to say that I am impressed. This was the most common sense approach to training that I have ever seen from anyone. We have all seen the other people who spout off about the advanced techniques and such. But this is just what I have found works for me, in not only firearm fundamentals, but also in mastering many other areas of your life. Say, for playing football in high school, or hitting a baseball, it is all about fundamentals. Playing a musical instrument, for me, is the same thing. There are no secret tips or tricks, it is just fundamentals that you learn, and then practice until they become ingrained in your nature. Thanks for this, it re-enforces my own practice session goals. And it will help me when I chose further training, to decide on a trainer and what to look for in a class.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mosby Reveals Advanced Tactical Techniques – Lower Valley Assembly
  2. Mosby: On ‘Advanced’ Skills | Western Rifle Shooters Association
  3. Among all the news: The deep state has run out of squirrel’s & shiny objects. (There’s time still left for a coup. Will they jump the shark because there is nothing to loose) Stay Tuned…. – Dirt People
  4. Weekend Knowledge Dump- January 26, 2018 | Active Response Training
  5. Donnerstag – Die Ebbefestung
  6. The secret of advanced drills - PreDefence

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