Book Review: COMBAT GUNFIGHTING (Advanced Handgun Fighting Skills), by Officer Michael T. Rayburn. Self-Published. 347 pages, quality paperback. Illustrated. P.O. Box 5101  Saratoga Springs, New York 12866. $24.95 + $5 shipping and handling ($10 s/h for foreign orders).

WITH the sole exception of those who drank the “kool-aid” that had been generously pumped out regarding the so-called “new technique” of the pistol, and the utter balderdash presented by some of that school’s commercializing copycats, those who have studied actual gunfight situations, and related lethal encounters in which handguns have been employed against dangerous, attacking felons, all acknowledge that POINT SHOOTING is real combat handgun shooting.

We fought a lonely battle for nine and a half years, every month, in a column that we wrote for a mainstream gun periodical in which — at the time that the “new technique” was enjoying its halcyon years (i.e. 1980’s) — we endeavored, every month, to convey the truth and the reality of point shooting. We  explained why it worked. We explained how it came about as a method. We discussed how and why the method proved itself, not in “combat matches” but in COMBAT, and we explained how to acquire the skill.

We did receive some solid support from many in the law enforcement, security, investigative, intelligence, and military professions who had been and done. But the majority of the magazine’s readers, having had no real “combat experience” or exposure to close quarters battle situations, themselves, and having nothing more to go by than the interminable mouthings of gunwriters (who, in one instance, even implied that point shooting was a fraud) simply accepted the popular malarky, and assumed that point shooting had been “replaced” by the modern, so-called new technique.

How good to see the truth being more and more widely accepted (as, ironically, what many in the know might wish to regard as the real fraud of the use-of-the-sights approach to close range combat shooting, is more-and-more falling into disrepute).

Another voice of reason “out there” is Mike Rayburn. A highly experienced police officer and firearms instructor, Mike has produced  a truly fine contribution to the literature of practical, real world combat shooting with the pistol.

Mike’s book, COMBAT GUNFIGHTING is a well articulated antidote to the nonsense that has infected the law enforcement and military training programs in handgun technique since the  “new technique” mythology began, following world war two. (Note: The so-called “new technique” of the pistol certainly provides an interesting and enjoyable sporting form of handgun use, to be applied in competition — not combat — venues. And we have no quarrel with those sport shooters who enjoy and participate in the activity. What we vigorously and uncompromisingly insist — as does Mike Rayburn — is that insofar as actual close quarters use of the handgun is concerned in real combat — point shooting is the only way to go, and it is dangerously inappropriate to confuse that which wins in shooting matches with that which you need to save your life in a lethal confrontation.)

Before the eloquent obfuscation in print by those touting for their new venture began, and the excellent writer Jeff Cooper, extolled his “new” approach to what he and his followers wished to believe is “combat shooting”, the mechanics and theory of point shooting could readily be explained and described in relatively few words. Fairbairn initially did this in his classic text Shooting To Live, which was a classified document throughout world war two. Applegate’s original monograph on the subject, Handgun Offense, was also classified until, in his book Kill Or Get Killed he offered an expanded version of it. Applegate’s treatment is quite complete — and quite brief, even in its expanded version.

But the ton of absolute bullshit that has been perpetually dumped onto the self-defense handgunning field during the last 40 years by advocates of what is not combat shooting at all, but what they who believe in it (often persuasively) keep insisting is combat shooting, has made a more in-depth, greater theoretical explanation desirable. Too, there are some interesting and valuable training and tactical concepts regarding the proven point shooting doctrine that teachers of this discipline in this 21st century have to contribute. This is what makes brilliant instructors like Jim Gregg and the literature that he has contributed so important, and this certainly is what  necessitates a most enthusiastic endorsement of Mike Rayburn’s comprehensive book, as well.

If you understand that combat shooting is not remotely related to competition shooting, and if you have done sufficient research to become convinced that POINT SHOOTING is and always has been (and will remain, so long as handguns are utilized) genuine, war and street proven combat handgun shooting doctrine, then you will enjoy and benefit from studying Mike Rayburn’s outstanding treatise!

Our belief is that this outstanding text should be regarded as required reading and as a constant shelf reference for teachers in the private and government sectors, who wish to prepare their charges for, as Fairbairn put it, “shooting to live”.

Do not be misled by the subtitle of this book: “Advanced Handgun Fighting Skills”. Certainly the book contains plenty of “postgraduate” instruction for all who have mastered the fundamental point shooting method; however, it is an outstanding source of reliable instruction for the beginner, as well.  The work takes the reader from the very beginning, introducing him to the theory of combat (point) shooting, through the fundamentals of grip, body positioning (“stance” if you prefer a more substantial term), and fire control, and then on to all sorts of situational applications and adaptations of the basic skill. Reloading, firing in dim light, clearing malfunctions, dealing with multiple assailants, even handling canine attacks, and more . . . all addressed sensibly and realistically and authentically, so that the reader/student will be able to employ these skills in actual combat encounters, not in the sanitized environment of the range or competition event.

In addition to recommending Mike’s terrific book, we happily welcome him as an ally in our ongoing efforts to preserve, build upon, and teach the finest real world skills of armed and unarmed close combat and self-defense to all decent people inside and out of law enforcement, the military, the intelligence/security services and, most important, the private sector.

Cancel your subscriptions to those silly gun magazines and get hold of Mike’s book!