In the last post we covered what Individual Movement Techniques were and their purpose, in this post we will discuss the first ITM, the heel to toe method.
To start moving forward, all you need to do is begin in your generic shooting stance (see the 4th drill in your firearms drills manuals) which is; feet comfortably apart, with the feet, hips, and shoulders roughly on the same plane, add a light natural bend in the knees to lower your center of gravity (which will act as your shock absorbers during movement and is a position you will most likely find yourself in when under stress), and top it all off with the weight of your body over the balls (just behind your toes) of your feet.
Think of this as the “ready to move/pounce in any direction” stance, because if you are positioned correctly you should be able to quickly move in any direction instantly without having to redistribute/ transfer your weight first.I will remind you now, just as I would if you were on the range with us, don’t get too wrapped up in the stance because you will rarely have the opportunity to shoot from a picture perfect stable platform in a real life fight, especially at the beginning of the fight. So establish your basic stance, and learn to move and shoot from it.
From this neutral and ready to move in any direction stance, we will begin our practice by learning how to move forward.
There is no huge mystery here if you are ambulatory and with a decent amount of fitness you already know how to walk forward, all we are going to do is add a few techniques to your walking in order to smooth out the amount of movement that you would normally see while walking and shooting.You will be teaching
You will be teaching yourself how to walk in a manner that allows you to stabilize your upper body by minimizing the bounce that is caused by normal walking. Think of the old war movies where the good guy is going in for a knife kill from behind his enemy, he is crouching low as he stalks his prey in order to minimize noise while maintaining a position that will allow him to spring into action.
The key to both a stable shooting platform and relatively stable and silent movement is moving forward with shorter than normal steps while keeping the knees bent to lower your center of gravity as much as necessary to give you a balance between the speed you desire and stability of the upper body we need to shoot fast and accurately.
I would recommend that you practice the following technique barefoot in your home, in a quiet area. Once you have the basic concept down, transition to socks, then tennis shoes, and then move up to dress shoes. If you have them, try out your tactical shoes/boots. You will find that certain footwear enhances the movement and stealth, while other types of footwear degrade your ability to move silently.
To see the best results from the following drills I would recommend that you begin practicing in your normal dry practice area and ensure that you are following all of your dry practice guidelines found here.
Using either your unloaded firearm or your nonlethal training firearm or “NLTF,” begin with your cleared firearm pointed towards your target, keeping your finger off of the trigger, and paying attention to your firearm and its relationship to the target.
Begin the drill by walking the way you normally would.What you are observing at this point is the amount of movement and bounce that you see as you walk towards your target with a normal gait. Try this enough times so that you know how much bounce and movement you get from a normal walk.
What you are observing at this point is the amount of movement and bounce that you see as you walk towards your target with a normal gait. Try this enough times so that you know how much bounce and movement you get from a normal walk.
Practical Application (Practice)
Once you have this solidly in your mind, put NLTF down for a moment and practice the following technique: From your basic stance, while keeping the knees slightly bent, begin walking slowly forward with your hands out in front of you as if you were holding your firearm.
As you walk forward, pick your forward moving foot up slightly higher than you normally would (doing so allows you to avoid most tripping obstacles or scraping over items on the floor), ensure you are taking a shorter stride than you normally would, and as your forward foot comes down, permit your forward moving foot’s heel to strike the ground first.
As your body weight continues moving forward, roll your foot down from the heel to the mid-foot, to the balls of your feet, and finally to the toes (as opposed to slapping the foot down flat as the heel strikes), allowing your foot full contact as you continue to bring the weight of the body over the forward foot. When you pick up the rear foot to bring it forward, raise it slightly higher than normal (for the same reasons mentioned above), rinse, wash, repeat.
Key Point: remember to keep your stride shorter than what you are normally use to, as doing so helps reduce the amount of bounce in your steps which
will be transferred to your upper body.
You will probably notice that if you are taking longer strides there will be some bouncing in the upper body, especially in your outstretched arms (where your firearm will be).Once you can see and feel this, begin to work on shorter stride lengths. Play with the different stride lengths, from the normal stride to impractically short strides, and find a happy medium that you can comfortably move and confidently fire from.
Once you can see and feel this, begin to work on shorter stride lengths. Play with the different stride lengths, from the normal stride to impractically short strides, and find a happy medium that you can comfortably move and confidently fire from.
Once you have the stride length optimized for you, play with the amount of bend that you allow in your knees. Find out how much bend is too much to maintain and impractical, and how too little of a bend in your knees doesn’t give you the stability you would like.
Practice varying speeds at the varying stride lengths and observe how the speed affects the amount of bounce you feel, or the amount/frequency of bounce you are experiencing in your movement.Now add your NLTF, or unloaded firearm in your designated dry practice area, and start practicing.
Now add your NLTF, or unloaded firearm in your designated dry practice area, and start practicing.
Finally, start to play with the speed of movement. In the beginning, you will probably find that you can’t move too rapidly, but with a little practice and determination, you will find that you can move surprisingly quickly and quietly while maintaining a stable platform.
Once you have that down, start practicing the technique often. Start listening to what your technique sounds like when you move. Try moving over different surfaces and at different speeds, try it at your home, your office and the parking garage. Soon you will have a very good idea of just how fast and quietly you can move with specific footwear over which surfaces while maintaining a stable shooting platform.
Will you use this technique every time you shoot in real life situations? No. So should you put an exorbitant amount of emphasis on this walking technique? Again, no, but as I mentioned earlier you should practice the techniques enough to master them, because it’s nice to know what you can do and have that technique in your pocket when you need it; which will be anytime you need to have a steady and relatively silent platform from which to shoot from.
To move to the rear, you can simply reverse the process. Keeping your weight mostly over the stationary foot, lift your rearward moving foot slightly higher than normal just as before, this time however, because we are moving to the rear, make contact with the toes first, continue to roll the foot down to the ball of the foot, the mid-foot and finally the heel. With the back foot firmly planted now, pick up the forward foot in the same manner (slightly higher than normal), and when it plants itself start with contact on the toes working back to the heel.
Just like above, practice these movement techniques by varying the stride length, bend the knees, and speed. Find the optimal gait for you.
While you are moving backwards it’s a good idea to conduct a rearward scan and assess as you move, continue to use the principle of scrutiny regardless of the direction you are traveling. If you find that you need to move to the rear quickly or over a great distance, your best bet may be to simply turn around and walk forward, going to where you need to provided you can do so safely of course.