Gunsite Combat Triad—Mind Set, Gun Handling,
and Practical Marksmanship!

By Mike Boyle

         espite the fact that the autopistol
         now dominates the defensive
         handgun market, the revolver
has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts.
Savvy lawmen continue to back up their
service sidearm with a small snub revolv-
er and this same hardware is often car-
ried off-duty. In a parallel universe, armed
citizens with CCW permits have discov-
ered that it can be difficult to blend into
polite society while trying to conceal that
high-capacity autopistol. Then there are
those folks who have always preferred
the revolver for self-defense. I wouldn’t
necessarily sell them short.
   When I noted that a course in Defen-
sive Revolver had been added to the Gun-
site curriculum, I was intrigued. Although
I shoot revolvers often, my formal training
came to an abrupt halt when my agency
went with an autopistol. This course
would, no doubt, provide me with an op-
portunity to improve my revolver skills. In    Despite the popularity of the autopistol, revolvers are still very formidable tools. S&W M624 .44
the end, this turned out to be one of the      Special (left) and S&W 686 .357 Mag (right) would be very decisive stoppers. Colt Cobra .38 Special
best training experiences I’ve had.            (bottom) remains an excellent hideout piece.

           Ready Position                                                                           a smaller target, utilize cover, or sup-
    After our classroom briefing, we were                                                           port the pistol better. Positions included
off to the range to get down to the real                                                            braced kneeling, speed kneeling, and
nitty-gritty. Initial work was done from the                                                        double kneeling. All have their advantag-
Ready or Guard Position, which consist-                                                             es and should be included in everyone’s
ed of firing singles and pairs at a target                                                          handgun training regimen.
a few yards away. In the field, the Ready
Position would be utilized when the                                                                              Combat Triad
handgun is presented, but not fired. To                                                                The Gunsite Combat Triad consists of
acquire the Ready Position, the handgun        Dry fire builds good habits.                         Mind Set, Gun Handling, and Practical
is drawn and the arm is lowered about                                                               Marksmanship. Mind Set remains the key
45 degrees without any alteration of the       but quite attainable if you work at it. The          to conflict resolution. Simply put, if you
elbow or wrist flexing from the shoulders.     presentation can be safely practiced                 are not aware and willing, you will lose.
The muzzle is depressed below an adver-        off the range with an empty gun. Soon                This message was made abundantly
sary’s danger points (hands/feet) and the      enough, it will seem that the gun is up to           clear during my recent training and re-
trigger finger is straight along the frame.    the eye in one fluid motion.                         ally didn’t deviate at all from the message
The Ready Position is especially useful           Over the next three days, we took a               originally delivered by Colonel Cooper
in managing threats or when moving into        number of runs on what was referred to               with, of course, “DVC.” These elements
potential problem areas.                       as “school drills.” Shots were fired at a            are applied consistently, providing an
    After the instructors got a benchmark of   Gunsite Option Target at distances that              equal balance of power, accuracy and
our groups’ shooting skill, we would then      ranged from 3 to 25 yards. Our goal was              speed (DVC=Dilegentia, Vis, Celeritas).
work on the presentation (drawing) of the      to place hits in the center of the target, all          The tactical reload remains a contro-
revolver into the show. Gunsite teaches a      the while balancing speed with accuracy.             versial and often misunderstood skill.
five-count draw stroke (grip, clear, touch,    In fairly short order, all hands were meet-          When tac loading a pistol, we are ex-
smack, look) for the revolver. The ultimate    ing with success.                                    changing a partly depleted magazine for
goal is to be able to draw and place two          We also had the opportunity to shoot              a fully loaded one. With the revolver, we
center hits on a target 7 yards away in 1.5    from different kneeling positions. Kneel-
seconds. This is a pretty high standard,       ing while shooting allows one to become                                   Continued on page 88

                                                                                                      Septembe 2009 • COMBAT HANDGUNS 83
GUNFIGHTING                                       ing the gun after the non-effective shots
                                                  to assess the situation. This can get you
(Continued from page 83)                          dead in a hurry. The new improved drill is a
                                                  much better fix.
                                                      Of course, it wouldn’t be a Gunsite class
are voiding the cylinder of empty cases           if we didn’t get to try our hand on the clas-
and recharging with fresh cartridges. Tacti-      sic El Presidente, Dozier Drill, and man-on-
cal loads are only attempted when there           man shootoffs. A couple walks through the
is a break in the action and no imminent          outdoor simulator tested our skill. Steel,
danger is present.                                reactive targets along with “good guy” no-
   One might argue that time spent prac-          shoots were placed along a desert wash
ticing tactical loads with an 18-shot pistol      you negotiated with your revolver. Tagging
is a waste of time. That may or may not           these targets proved far more challenging
be, depending on your point of view. The          than the square range.
ability to tac load a revolver is absolutely
vital if you choose to go afield so armed.                       Gun & Gear
I don’t know about you, but I would rath-            For my Defensive Revolver class, I used
er not dump four live rounds on the deck          a Smith & Wesson M581 .357 Mag with
and reload with my final six if that’s all I      Federal American Eagle .38 Special am-
had. If time is on my side and I’m behind         munition. Built on the popular L-frame, this
something hard, I would attempt a tac             revolver featured a 4-inch barrel and fixed
load. Should the situation be unresolved or       sights. Originally, my M581 sported a blue
you’ve fired four or more, use your speed-        finish, but had taken a toll due to holster
loader. My old 2x2x2 pouch got a serious          wear and the usual hard knocks. Several
workout throughout the class.                     years ago, I packed it off to Bob Cogan of
   Additional live fire drills included the re-   Accurate Plating & Weaponry, who refin-
tention position for extremely close quar-        ished it in hard chrome and gave it a street
ters, pivots and turns, and failure to stop.      action job. The double action trigger pull is
The failure to stop drill is the immediate        especially nice.
action taken in the event a pair of body             For support gear, I brought a Safariland
shots fails to neutralize a determined ad-        and HKS speedloader plus a Brown Shoe
versary. Should the two body shots come           Vertical Carry Holster from C. Rusty Sher-
up short, a precise shot is delivered to the      rick. Rusty’s website pitches this rig as a
head. Originally, doctrine called for lower-      “holster for old revolver guys” and I clearly
                                                  qualify. Crafted from horsehide, this holster
                                                  allows one to obtain an optimum firing grip
      Airtravel With A Gun                        while drawing and conceals the gun very
                                                  well under a loose shirt or jacket.
     Traveling the “unfriendly skies” can
  be an extremely frustrating experi-                           Revelations
  ence. Planes are crowded, airports                  The Defensive Revolver class gave me
  are chaotic, and the drill for declaring        a better appreciation of this timeless sys-
  and securing firearms when flying can           tem’s capabilities. It felt good to get a first-
  really try your patience. For the last          rate workout with a revolver. Autopistols
  few years, I’ve been using products             certainly have an edge when it comes to
  by Storm Case to make sure my gear              continuity of fire; but a couple of hundred
  makes it to my destination. Constructed         tactical reloads later, I’ve become more
  of HPX High Performance Resin, Storm            comfortable keeping my revolver in the
  Cases are virtually unbreakable. Hasps          game. With the right tool, I wouldn’t feel
  accommodate standard-size padlocks              “undergunned” protecting my hide with a
  and their unique pull latches open              revolver. In extreme close quarters, the re-
  with a press of a button. My IM2975             volver continues to shine and even holds
  Storm Case accommodated my guns,                an advantage over the autopistol.
  gear, and clothing in style. For more               The 3-day Defensive Revolver course
  info, contact Hardigg Storm Case;               also made me keenly aware of some of my
  800-542-7344;                     own limitations. As most everyone knows,
                                                  Gunsite is a strong proponent of sighted
                                                  fire for just about anything beyond contact
                                                  distance. I can tell you that the fixed front
                                                  sight on my M581 has grown significantly
                                                  smaller and fuzzier over the last 25 years!
                                                  When I returned home, the red fiber-op-
                                                  tic front sight on my S&W M686 made an
                                                  enormous difference and was a far better
                                                  deal for my middle-aged eyes.
                                                      I also found out that getting up and
                                                  down wasn’t quite as easy as it used to
                                                  be. In the past, I heavily favored a braced
                                                  kneeling position, but I’m now much more
                                                  comfortable speed kneeling. It is better to
  Storm Cases protect gear while traveling.       find out our limitations on the sterile envi-
                                                  ronment of the range.
88 COMBAT HANDGUNS • September 2009

To top