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Throttle Management and Dot Discipline

Throttle Management and Dot Discipline
“Do everything as fast as you can except for squeezing the trigger.”

I was teaching a class on a range in Germany with some of America’s finest Special Forces soldiers. They were engaging steel with frangible ammunition from their M4s and to their credit, burning it down. I heard one soldier, “Ryan D.,” say, “Throttle management and dot discipline.” This really stuck with me. His description is a great way to get the point across when trying to push soldiers past their self-
perceived limits. I wanted to break this down using his mantra and the description that I would give on a normal range day of training.

Throttle Management 

Students get sick of hearing the description I use over and over, “Do everything as fast as you can except for squeezing the trigger.” This parlays nicely with throttle management. Doing everything with as much speed as you can, slowing down to deliver accurate fire and then getting back on the throttle again. A good case for throttle management is with the draw of a pistol. Get your hand on the pistol as fast as you can. That first move is less important than when your hand finally comes in contact with the pistol and forms the correct grip. Get there quickly, then throttle back and get a good grip on the pistol. Once you have a good grip you can get back on the gas and throttle up to 90-plus percent speed again. Slow slightly to confirm the proper meeting of the hands at position three, then amp up your movement until the sights are on the target and slow to confirm a proper sight picture. Then, squeeze the trigger. This is a simple version of the throttle management mantra as it applies to the simple tactical draw.

Throttle management also applies to driving the gun from one target to the next. For the sake of argument, let’s stick with the carbine-mounted red-dot sight. In this day and age, it seems that every tactical wannabe is coming up with new and better ways. On the ground with combat soldiers, the endstate is still the M4 Carbine mounted with a small red-dot sight. The only variance is how much battlefield-of-view there is through and around the sighting system, its window or lens, and how many knobs are getting in your way when trying to see the target. Some optics have small dots, other larger dots. An EOTech holographic sight has a dot with a large circle around it. Dot size is irrelevant when shooting from 10 yards or closer; Even a large dot will work up close.

In action, we combine throttle management and dot discipline. Throttle management is how fast we can get the carbine on target. Once there, we discern how much dot discipline we need to get a good hit.

We also have to remember mechanical offset on these closer targets. The elevation of the sight is at least 2½ inches above the bore, causing us to hit low at close ranges. Being switched on to this variance, we have to remember how high to hold onto a particular target at Close Quarter Battle (CQB) range. The dot must be driven to the target instead of slowing down as we get close to the desired impact point. We must stop violently on the target, which is key. If you are slowing the movement of your carbine as your dot arrives near the target, you will be slower than the shooter who drives the dot aggressively to the target and then abruptly stops. Once the throttle is shut down, we have to use our dot discipline to make the minute dot correction before the shot is fired. The key to success in driving to another target is having your eyes already prepositioned on the intended target. If your eyes are there, the carbine can be abruptly stopped with precision as the dot arrives at the target. If your eyes are on the dot as you drive the carbine, you will more than likely over-­swing the intended point of impact.

Dot Discipline 

When the dot arrives on target, you must know what is required at that distance. Shooting a 6-­inch plate at 10 yards is much easier and requires less patience than the same plate engaged at 50 or 100 yards. This is where dot discipline really comes to bear.

Along with dot discipline during the shot, there must also be discipline to call your shots. Some would say, “How can this matter at 7 to ­10 yards?” My response is “If you care to engage a target and have good dot discipline, you will see exactly where the dot sits as the carbine fires.” If the dot was not where you wanted, the proper response is to immediately re-­engage — not to stop. Look at the target, access the hit, realize that it’s not sufficient and reacquire. This falls into the “slower-than-molasses” technique.

If you do call a good shot due to your unbelievable dot discipline, then it is time to get violent again. If you call the good shot, the follow-through of your carbine should not bring you back to the target you just engaged — it should start the movement towards the next target. Use throttle management and, if you don’t get it, the throttle should be all the way to the floor when you start to move the carbine.

Too Much Throttle 

If your carbine or pistol isn’t stopping on the target, you have a little too much throttle involved. The dot must drive aggressively and stop abruptly. The round is fired and the sights are driven quickly to the next target. The key is the stop. Some like to flock shoot; As the sights cross the vitals they let the round go. Sometimes they’ll hit the mark, but most often they’ll be short or long. Drive the gun, stop the gun, fire the gun and drive the gun.

Weight Matters 

If you want to be fast, you can’t have a big, heavy carbine. You need to have the wand of death whittled down to a manageable weight. More weight to the middle and rear of the carbine will help. Lots of heavy barrel and gadgetry aren’t what is needed. Working light will allow quicker movement to and from the target. Think Formula 1. The minimum weight allowed for a Formula 1 car is 733 kilograms, or 1,616 pounds. NASCAR stock cars weigh around 3,300 pounds. It’s easy to see the difference when it comes to one car being nimble and the other plowing through the turns. Recoil management would seem to be an issue with the lighter carbine, but it really isn’t. You won’t notice the difference between a 71/2-pound carbine and a 6-pound carbine during recoil. You will, however, notice how fast you can get started and stopped with the lighter bang stick.

Grab some Viking Tactics (VTAC) targets (, get your carbine gassed up and start working on your throttle management and dot disciple. This is a skill set that requires much training and maintenance to stay on the ragged edge. Push the gun hard all the time and pay attention to the dot. Throttle management and dot discipline are what America’s finest are doing on remote ranges around this country — and the world. 


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