Combat Focus Shooting (2010 Edition) by Rob Pincus Book Review

| November 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

“Hey, I want to get a gun to protect myself.”

The bottom drops out of my stomach like I’m on a roller coaster.

I have three immediate goals:

  1. Determine how serious this person is about protecting themselves.
  2. Talk about firearms in a way that makes sense to a novice without fully understanding their capabilities and limitations as an individual
  3. State that “protecting yourself” goes far, far beyond being proficient with a firearm.

I have less than two minutes to hit all of the high notes before their eyes gloss over. If I lose them, the next time we talk they’ll brag about the great deal they got on an Uncle Mike’s holster and a used Taurus PT 24/7. “It’s from a police department from Brazil!!!”

I give a brief summary of my stance on personal protection, and then ask the question:

How serious are you?

Depending on their answer, I give them some homework. Over the years I’ve accumulated a list of books, Web sites, and videos I suggest people watch at different stages of their personal safety journey.

I’ve added a new book to the syllabus, and it’s Combat Focus Shooting (2010 Edition) by Rob Pincus.


This book has good information for just about anyone, but it is especially good for people new to the defensive use of firearms.

Combat Focus Shooting is densely packed with information. However, the information is easily digestible due to its logical progression of philosophy and data, and because it has a specific context: an armed encounter between one defender and one or more attackers at two-arms reach.

Topics covered include:

  • Terminology. This may seem over-thought at first, but put yourself in the shoes of someone who may have NEVER seen a gun in real life before, and grew up where forceful play was not encouraged (like “army,” or plinking with a BB gun). There are a lot of terms in the gun world, and even more in the overall self defense community. Rob establishes a baseline for future learning and discussion. This is something I wish instructors would incorporate into their own training programs.
  • Basic mechanics of drawing a handgun
  • Grip and trigger press
  • Understanding the difference between sighted fire and intuitive / point / biomechanically indexed fire, and when to use either method
  • The concept of “combat effective” shooting, especially as it pertains to an aggressive human target vs static target shooting
  • Moving during a violent encounter
  • Prioritizing your training time and resources. An example in the book was balancing the need to know how to reload under duress with the statistical probability that you’ll never need to reload during a violent encounter. There are other things a novice should practice.
  • How the human body reacts to being startled
  • Shooting drills

General Impressions

This book covers just about all the fundamentals.

The more I train with different instructors, the more it becomes obvious that there’s at least 80% overlap with what everyone teaches. The 80% overlap may differ from instructor to instructor, but it does allow us to make a general list of what a firearms owner should know how to do, and some general agreement on how to do it.

“Movement” is a good example, and an easy way to distinguish a fight-focused shooter versus a competition shooter vs a casual target shooter. Every single instructor I’ve trained with has addressed the need to move at some point during the encounter. They all differ a little bit about how to move, and what else you should be doing (or not doing) while moving, but the idea is that the student needs to know to move.

I really like the data-driven backbone of the CFS book. It gives the reader a “why,” something that’s often lacking in other instruction or just based on supposition. Context aids in learning, and with so much for a new person to learn any aid is welcome.

The Kindle edition had some formatting problems and some some blank pages / sections. This was a little annoying, but not a big deal. If I paid $10 for the Kindle version maybe I would be more upset by it. I presume the paperback version is devoid of these errors (score one for dead trees).

I wish there was a more current version of the book. In evaluating some of the techniques and the photos, I wondered if Rob still teaches things as shown in the illustrations. It’s been six years since this version came out, and I wonder what, if anything, has changed.


A Good Foundation

The CFS book is not basic — it’s fundamental. That’s why I have moved it to the front of my “welcome to self defense” homework list, despite being critical of some of its pieces.

As I said in my review of the 1-day Dynamic Focus Shooting class, the reality is that most gun owners won’t get any formal training. Those that do might take one or two classes a year, and maybe 3 – 5 classes total.

This book is great for people new to fight-focused training, but I think Rob’s structured approach and data-driven analysis makes this a good read for more experienced students. You might already agree with certain things, but now you’ll have some science or some statistics to further explain why you agree with these things.

The book is 218 pages and is available for $25 on the ICE Training Web store; I read the Kindle version for “free” via the Kindle Unlimited program, otherwise the Kindle version is $9.99

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

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