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Featured Article: 06-2004

The Ominous Parallels
Modern Isosceles & WWII Point Shooting

By Paul Gomez

Note: The author is Chief Instructor for Options for Personal Security, which is headquartered in Sebring, FL. Paul is a former law enforcement officer and has served in the U.S. Army in a Light Infantry Division. With over a decade as an armed professional, he has trained with most of the nationally known instructors and is well versed in the martial arts. He lives with his family in Baton Rouge, LA.

In this article I shall address the remarkable similarities between the Modern Isosceles shooting platform and the methods taught by Fairbairn, Sykes and Applegate [FAS] during World War II. While gun-handling standards have changed drastically in the years since Fairbairn and Sykes seminal work, “Shooting to Live with the One Hand Gun”, was released, the shooting positions and core concepts seem remarkably current. People have a tendency to discard the old for the new or disregard entire subjects because of perceived disagreements. I believe that this has happened with regards to the pistol training coming from the FAS/WWII era training. I hope that this brief article may encourage some students to take a second look at what I consider to be very valuable material.

Generally, the Modern Isosceles, as taught by an ever increasing number of instructors in both the public and private sectors, consists of a pectoral reference point which also functions as a retention position, a high or chest ready position [both hands on gun, gun on body centerline, muzzle generally parallel to the ground] and the completed two hand, eye level, gun-on-centerline Mod Iso platform. The idea of maintaining a hard focus on the front sight, exclusively, is falling away amongst the current breed of Mod Iso trainers, and is being replace with the idea of “seeing what you need to see” to get the results you are after.

The core doctrine of the FAS system was first laid out in “Shooting to Live….” [1942] and in “Kill or Get Killed” [1943] by Rex Applegate. They begin with point shooting from the eye level with the arm at full extension and the wrist canted so as to bring the bore of the pistol online with the shooter’s centerline. They next cover “advanced methods” which consist of the “Quarter Hip”, “Half Hip” and “¾ Hip” positions. Again and again, keeping the weapon on the body centerline is stressed. While working from the holster is not covered in detail, it is relatively easy to follow the progression from the holster to ¼ Hip through ½ Hip, ¾ Hip and ending at full extension at eye level.

Fairbairn and Sykes state that the Quarter Hip position is “for purely defensive purposes and would be used only when the requirements are a very quick draw, followed by an equally quick shot at extremely close quarters, such as would be the case if a dangerous adversary were threatening to strike or grapple with you.” Sound familiar? While the Quarter Hip, as illustrated in STL, is somewhat lower than the Mod Iso ‘pec-ref’ they are very similar in both concept and execution.

The Half Hip position is accomplished by retracting from either full extension or ¾ hip position until the elbow contacts the body. The bore remains aligned with the body’s centerline and parallel to the ground. Again, as illustrated in STL and other material from the same era, the position is somewhat lower than its’ modern analogue, the chest ready, but the benefits still apply. When the gun is on your centerline, bore parallel to the ground, all you have to do is orient towards the threat [i.e. have your centerline bisect the threat] and you will get hits.

The ¾ Hip position is the most problematic when it comes to integrating the material from these different schools of thought, since the Mod Iso does not have any sort of static analogue to it. However, when these positions are viewed in motion, the problem disappears. Assume a ½ Hip/ Chest Ready position. Having made the decision to shoot, the shooter begins shooting from ½ Hip as he begins driving the pistol forward, firing through the ¾ Hip position en route to full extension.

As many people have discovered through force-on-force training, sometimes the skills that we train on the range don’t always work as we’d hope. Regardless of where you choose to focus while you are practicing, maintaining the pistol on the vertical centerline of the body is extremely useful. This is a theme that runs from the writings of Fairbairn and Sykes and continues on through books by Enos, Plaxco and others. Do yourself a favor. Read Fairbairn and Sykes, then read “Surgical Speed Shooting” by Stanford, “Shooting from Within” by Plaxco and “Beyond Fundamentals” by Enos. Then give it a try on the range. A pretty smart fellow once said,” If you’ve never done it in training, what makes you think you’re going to spontaneously pull it off in the real world?”

This article is reposted froma thread at;

- Janq

· Premium Member
1,270 Posts
I'd read about this a while ago, when point shooting was starting to poke it's head up in the mainstream shooting community. I've always like the idea of looking at the target, because it can give you a heads up if it is going to move, etc.
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