I blame Hollywood for the general populations inability to use vertical cover. It is the most basic of the tactical skills, it is used multiple times in every IDPA match and it is the easiest to practice as you walk around, yet is among the most often made errors.
The reasons Hollywood uses cover wrong are obvious… If you paid an actor $20,000,000 to be in your film, would you hide him behind a wall? It would be really hard to follow the dialog from 2 good guys that are pinned down if you couldn’t see them and the gun looks a lot bigger it you thrust it into the camera.
Tactically however this is not good.
In the photo to the left you can see me using bad Hollywood form around both left and right side cover. In both example’s I am using a poor grip (teacup) which does nothing for recoil control and helps bind me up. I am sticking the gun out past the edge of the wall, exposing it to someone who might be around the corner, exposing where I am and binding me up, limiting my range of motion. The result is that I have to expose much of my body and I would be far less effective.
While much less dramatic, the image to the right shows much better form.
In each position, I amusing a proper 2 handed grip, I am back away from the edge of the door (protecting my muzzle from a grab), I have free range of motion and I have minimized the visible area of my body. None of upper or lower body and only my out side arm and enough of my head to allow use of my dominant eye is exposed.
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The catalyst for this post was a forum comment suggesting that one reason for practicing weak-hand only shooting is to permit shooting around vertical cover. Tomorrow I will post some images that show why this is an important skill with a rifle (they also show why I don’t like a rifle for home defense), but the short version is that with a rifle tucked into the pocket of your shoulder you need to expose your far shoulder to the target to place a shot on target. With a pistol you only need to expose the eye you are sighting with and when leaning this can be a difference of 8-12″.
The pistol corollary to switching hands would be to close your dominant eye.
If you are unsure what is your dominant eye… check out this post on determining your dominant eye.
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This positioning is made possible by standing back away from the edge of your cover and it is the reason you hear people say “Don’t crowd your cover.”
This is a skill I practice everyday! I practice it with my son when we have Nerf gun wars (He practices it too) but I also mentally practice it whenever I walk around I corner.
I do my best to never cut the corner. I approach it from a fairly wide position, lean slightly to look at what is coming (like crossing the street) and then scan the rest of the room as it becomes available.
Try it for a day, it quickly becomes habit!
If you want to see more of the pictures my son and I took in preparation for this post, including a few of him with a Nerf over-under, check out the gallery on the Facebook page.