We are quickly devolving into a society of images, where the flashy hold more importance than anything else.  This isn't new, but the prevalence of media has made it more pronounced.  It has always had a society where the juggler held people's attention far more than the scholar, and the jester was more popular than the knight.  

I recall in my days as a Karate instructor (real karate not what we see today passed off as karate).  A new student would come in an ask when he could learn the flying side kick.  "Listen grasshopper", I would tell him, "you can't even keep your balance yet".  But the flying side kick that hit nothing at all, was never seen in a real fight, and was easily evaded even by a blind man, got more attention than the low round kick to the leg.  The low roundhouse kick was seen in many real fights and often broke the recipient's leg, but was not flashy and was all but ignored.

So today we see the two "flying side kicks" of the gun world being re-popularized again by the "gun flash dancers".  Flying side kicks get more views.  And the speed load and the speed rock are the equivalent in the gun world.  These are very cool looking when Keanu Reeves or some other movie actor does them on screen, perfectly timed, but unless that is your end game, "looking cool", I would suggest you not be so enthralled with these.

First the Speed Load, tomorrow the Speed Rock.  The speed load was first written about by McBride in A Rifleman Went To War (although not in the same context), and later used by Jeff Cooper to convince everyone of the superiority of the 1911 by requiring a reload during a stage.  It has become a staple of the competition crowd.  But it is a "flying side kick", with lots of flash and little real fight substance. 

Back in the 1990s I taught with Chuck Taylor, a student of Jeff Cooper, who was extremely clock focused.  A number of us developed the ability to do a speed load, from slide lock, and using street carry gear, in one second.  That was one second from shot, to shot.  So I am not denigrating this flying side kick because I cannot do it.  I am denigrating it because of serious problems with the method and its intended application. Interestingly, I queried three internet forums populated by gunfighters some years ago (cops, soldiers and experienced CCW folks), about the speed load.  While many had reloaded in one way or another, at some point during the fight, none had been saved by speed loading during the engagement.   Doing a speed load after the fight is over doesn't count.  Neither does doing a speed load while protected behind cover, nor when the gunfire has abetted due to one reason or another.  Those are not the ethos of the speed load which is speed reloading under fire in the open. 

At any other time, there really isn't a need for the maneuver is there?

First is the reality of the fight - you are shooting your pistol at another man, ostensibly doing your best to kill him, because he is trying to kill you.  Trust me that you will be focused on the job at hand and not on the goings on with your pistol.  Target shooting...even at the competitive level, is not the same - so let's not assume that it is.  As you are doing your best to kill the man in front of you, suddenly, your pistol is no longer working.

You do not know for certain why.

You do not have time to remove your eyes from the man still trying to kill you.

And yet the pressing need to return fire remains.

If you guess wrong, you die...period.

Assuming that the weapon has stopped due to running out of ammo is a foolish risk.  What we teach is far different.  We teach Proactive Weapon Manipulations, and Reactive Weapon Manipulations.  Both based on where you are in the fight, and determined by the pressure being applied to you.  In other words, you are either engaged right this instant...or you are not. If you have one round left in your pistol, and the man in front of you is still trying to kill you, your thought should be to shoot him and not to speed load.

So we teach the circumstances of the speed load - ie., running out of ammo - in the same context as any other stoppage.


Here is how we do it:  Keep the mission in mind.  Mission - Kill The Bad Guy

Gun does not fire: This could be due to one of five situations. There could be a failure to fire, a failure to eject, a failure to extract (also called a double feed by untrained), an empty weapon that did not lock open, or a weapon where something is broken.

You do not have the time to decipher the "why" at this point, only to keep the mission in mind.

Initial Default Solution: Tap-Rack-Shoot (obviously if it was fixed, the "shoot" would represent it. If so, continue with the mission). That will fix the Failure to fire, as well as the failure to eject during the time most guys are still analyzing the problem.

If that does not not work, you branch immediately to the Secondary Default Solution. You may have an empty weapon, or a failure to extract.

Secondary Default Solution: Physically pull out the on-board magazine and discard it. That very action will clear out most failures to extract and will prep the weapon to receive the fresh and full magazine. Insert the new magazine, work the slide once...briskly, and begin shooting again. 

Tertiary Default Solution: If the previous two did not get you back into the fight, it is likely due to subquality parts, magazines, or ammo. Nonetheless, take out the magazine and either hold on to it, or secure it in your belt or pocket. Rack the slide several essence totally unloading the weapon....and then reload...and shoot. Thus totally unloading and then reloading.

These are done in a flow chart process rather than an analytical method requiring sight and thought during a time when your life is being sought by an enemy.

That is how I train and that is what I and my people teach. It may not be as clever as what others do on the range, but I don't care.  I know how the mind and body work in a reactive gunfight and if a technique doesn't fit into that matrix of nature, what so-and-so teaches, or what the "Ninjas" are currently doing is irrelevant.

Fads come and go, but how your mind works in a fight remains constant.  And for heaven's sake - stop practicing those stupid flying side kicks.