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NRA Show 2013: Defensive Shooting Skills Development

NRA Show 2013: Defensive Shooting Skills Development

If you made it to the defensive shooting skill development seminar taught by Rob Pincus at this year's NRA show in Houston, Texas, you may have thought for a moment you were doing yoga for gun enthusiasts. Pincus stood on a table demonstrating perfect form, while a room full of a couple hundred folks mimicked his movements, hands raised in the air. It was a thing of beauty.

Pincus — who is the owner of ICE Training Company and is also a longtime author, trainer and consultant — made his case for the "warrior expert theory," which states that through frequent and life-like training, students can learn how to recognize and respond to a threatening incident in a consistent, efficient way. In plain English, it means the more you perform the necessary muscle movements required of a defensive situation, the more successfully you will execute those skills in the moment you need them most.

"We're all gun enthusiasts here, and the number one reason we have guns is ultimately to protect ourselves," Pincus said. "That means we all have a right — and I would say a responsibility — to learn how to properly defend ourselves with the appropriate firearms."

"Our rights and responsibilities have been under attack the last three months, and up to this point we have successfully maintained them," Pincus said to a packed house of NRA members well aware of the recent threats to the Second Amendment, but maybe less aware of the need for self defense training. "It is up to us to make good on those freedoms we've fought so hard to protect."

With experience as a law enforcement officer and executive protection agent, Pincus has taken his training methodologies and used them to equip law enforcement agencies and combat groups around the world. He also developed the Combat Focus Shooting program, which was designed to be the most efficient defensive firearms training available today.

Core Components

At the heart of the ICE (integrity, consistency, efficiency) training is the concept of intuitive defensive shooting — the assertion that training must work within the framework of what the body does naturally and train it to be as consistent and efficient as possible. That means reality-based training, constant repetition to build muscle memory and a basic understanding of how the body naturally functions.

Pincus stresses trainees understand the importance of context when preparing themselves for defensive shooting skills. First, it means understanding most defensive pistol stops are psychological. While hitting your target is certainly optimal, the psychological impact of being fired upon must be taken into account. If an intruder flees after an errant shot, the stop is still successful.

Second, Pincus trains his students to make their shots in the high, center chest, from an average distance of 9 to 15 feet. Since most defensive scenarios take place in that range, training must mirror those distances. In the same way, students must prepare themselves with "defensive accuracy" in mind, concerning themselves not with groups on a target but overall threat deterrence. Success is measured not ultimately by tight groups on a stationary paper target, but on whether or not a hostile force is stopped.

When it comes to developing consistency, Pincus maintains there's no substitute for constant repetitions of the proper and most efficient techniques. That means, for example, preparing yourself to shoot unsighted at shorter distances and sighted with one eye closed at the high end of the 9 to 15 foot range. This means Pincus helps students intuitively adjust for a target at 9 feet versus one at 20.

Balance of Speed and Precision

Ultimately, Pincus said, all that training comes down to successfully balancing speed and precision. The deciding factor is distance, which determines how precise a shooter needs to be. At 9 feet, it matters less than at 15. Either way, the number of successful hits on a target comes down to your application of skill in that moment. Speed is more of a result of confidence to make a shot at a certain distance, in a particular setting. Put it all together and you've got multiple shots in a hostile threat, high center chest, that form a counter ambush stopping their attack. That is, after all, the main point.


With the events of the last three months now on paper and a political environment ablaze with talk of gun control and mounting restrictions, Pincus said Americans are once again waking up to the necessity of protecting their right to self defense. And as they do, the need for specialized training in defensive shooting — as well as utilizing the right kind of firearms — is more paramount than ever.

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