Let us open this page with a brief discussion of our training philosophy, tight groupingparticularly as it applies to the defensive use of the handgun at close quarters. After that I may add on some miscellaneous trivia that might be of interest.


The most effective way to ensure our survival in a dangerous world, when all else fails, is to have in place a solid set of pistol skills. The distilled essence of those skills is the ability to dominate your immediate surroundings through the threat or application of deadly force, coupled with knowing when that is morally and legally justified.

The handgun is the only personal firearm that you can have with you, whenever you choose to, day in and day out. For most people it is superior to an edged weapon and it does more to level the playing field, and eliminate a force disparity between you and a threat, than anything else that’s available.

Zia Firearms TrainingKnowledge is attainable through study and consideration. Developing skill at arms is problematic. Teaching traditional marksmanship has changed little in more than a hundred years, and if shooting tight groups on the range is the objective, then there’s no need to deviate from traditional methods. Perfect sight alignment, hard focus on the front sight, breath and hold control, and slow increasing rearward pressure on the trigger to ensure a “surprise break” are still the means of achieving tight groups.

Unfortunately traditionally trained marksmen don’t seem to do much better in gun fights than untrained criminals. Based upon FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics police nationwide achieve hits in gunfights with less than 20% of the shots they fire, which begs the question “Where are the rest of those rounds going?” Obviously the traditional training approach can be improved on if the goal is to prevail in deadly force encounters, not to shoot tight groups on targets that don’t shoot back.

Our training program takes into account those physiological effects of stress that render traditional marksmanship ineffective in a typical gunfight. We teach traditional marksmanship for when it’s appropriate, i.e. for precise shots at distance. More importantly Zia Firearms Trainingwe teach “reactive shooting” techniques as pioneered by training guru Bill Rogers and others. We teach the use of the entire focal continuum, a rapid presentation of the weapon to the target, a grip that optimizes recoil management and returns the weapon to the target with the sights aligned after each shot, and a natural action stance that manages recoil and allows for rapid engagement of multiple threats.

Nothing we teach is “secret”, nor is it anything we invented. It just represents the forward edge of a widespread evolution in combative marksmanship training. What you get from ZFT now will be the norm in just a few years. We just won’t waste your time training you in methods that we know don’t work in gun fights. There are better methods, and those are what we focus on.

A large portion of our training is conducted on reactive steel targets of our own design. These targets jump and “clang” when struck with a round, providing the shooter with Positive Instant Reinforcement (PIR), visually and audibly. PIR enables the shooter to instantly recognize, at a subconscious level, the results of each shot. A miss is instantly associated with the poor trigger operation and/or inadequate sight picture that caused the miss. A well executed shot is instantly rewarded with the “clang” of a solid hit.

sightIn addition to using PIR, we teach one handed shooting skills more than most trainers do. There are two good reasons for this extra emphasis on one handed shooting. First, you might be fighting off an aggressor and only have one hand available to shoot with, or you might be wounded or partially disabled and only have one hand available to fight with. Secondly, a rapidly growing number of cruiser videos of officer involved shootings are revealing that many shooters are using one handed techniques, even when they have been trained in two handed shooting and both hands are available. We want you to be able to fight with either hand, or both.

With our training we try to prepare you with a better understanding of the stress dynamics you may encounter, and with skills and techniques that work.







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Why The Gun is Civilized

I love this short essay because I find the Major’s reasoning succinct and compelling. D. Dooley

Why The Gun is Civilized

By Major L. Caudill

USMC, Retired

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100 pound woman on equal footing with a 220 pound mugger, a 75 year old retiree on equal footing with a 19 year old gang banger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a car load of drunken guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a (armed) mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed, either by choice or legislative fiat—it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV. There people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I’m looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation….. And that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” Thomas Jefferson