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Monday Morning Gomez: the Importance of the Full Firing Grip

The late Paul Gomez was lost to the firearms/training community on June 4, 2012. Though many people are (sadly) directly unfamiliar with Paul's work, or with that of his company GTI (Gomez Training International), chances are you have seen or heard one or more of his tenets. Gomez was one of the most singularly knowledgeable and influential individuals in modern “defensive shooting” history (though that may not be an entirely accurate categorization); the second, third and fourth order effects of his instruction continue in training facilities to this day. He was, by reputation – and I say that because I never had the chance to train with him – an innovative, pleasant and affable man of ferocious intellect and uncanny memory. More than on of his friends have referred to him as the “Encyclopedia Paultanica.” Much of what he proselytized then (if in an occasionally eccentric fashion) has since been adopted by a whole host of trainers and has since become canonical. He was by all accounts an incredible font of knowledge. I'll be sharing more of his work in the future, not least to share much of the history he knew – for today we'll start with the history and evolution of the drawstroke, as Gomez described them. I have taken the liberty of modifying the text slightly for flow in a written document; it is not an exact quote. Any inaccuracies or misinterpretations are my fault alone.

The Importance of the Full Firing Grip

Paul Gomez

Keeping the Full Fighting (or Firing) Grip – the FFG – on the pistol. What does that mean and why is it important?

The full firing grip is acquired on the pistol at count one of drawstroke and the goal is to sacrifice this grip as little as possible.

Paul Gomez full fighting grip

The hardest part of using the pistol and getting it into the fight is acquiring a full fighting grip on the holstered pistol. Once the shooter has done that he should sacrifice it as little as possible. To that end, if I am running a pistol with two hands, then I am going to use my off hand thumb to manipulate both the magazine release and the slide release (if I choose to use the slide release to run the slide). That is different than what a majority of trainers teach, but here is the logic; what I've seen again and again are shooters who shift their gun and the gun hand thumb to access the magazine release button on the pistol, no matter what kind of reload they are doing, very often they wind up with a crappy grip immediately following the reload because they never put that thumb back where it was to begin with.

Many poor grips begin in the holster, however others come following a reload, where the shooter now has some form of grip other than what the shooter would normally have on the pistol.

To avoid that I simply don't move my gun hand thumb at all. I use the support hand thumb to manipulate the magazine release and likewise use the support hand thumb, parallel to the slide release, to allow the slide to go forward.

Going from shooting the pistol at extension I bring the weapon back to reload and drive my thumb in parallel to the ground into the mag release, which gets the magazine out of the gun. I can then strip the magazine from the mag well or let it fall. This has the added benefit of solving the problem of potential mag release blockage created by the shooter's grip; the mag release has to come off the opposite side of the frame of a Glock pistol to release the magazine [where an indexed trigger finger or the palm of the gripping hand covers the opposing side of the magazine release as it is pushed through].  If I keep my gun hand on the pistol and drive my support hand thumb parallel to the ground, the magazine will always clear.

Paul Gomez full fighting grip 2

Paul Gomez full fighting grip 3

There are a couple of different schools of thought on actions to be taken from slide lock on running the slide to put it back into battery. Some people will use the slide release, whether they're using the gun hand thumb or the support hand thumb. Others will fully grasp the slide [overhand, slingshot, from behind, etc.] to do so. If you're going to run the slide using the thumb, once the magazine is in the gun, hitting it with the support side thumb is going to be faster and smoother some people than shifting the gun hand thumb to get to that slide release.

Paul Gomez full fighting grip 4

Once I've got a full firing grip on a holstered gun, I don't want to break it for any reason. So to that end I'll use the support hand thumb to accomplish those manipulations.


Photo credits unknown – used here with respect.

The late Paul Gomez 2Though the GTI YouTube channel has not been updated in years it is well worth reviewing (there's a reason it's called Gun Training for Thinkers). You can do that here. To continue in the tradition of thinking and learning the late Paul Gomez espoused (and to help support his children) you should consider checking out Paul-E-Palooza. 2015's event will the 3rd iteration of the memorial training benefit; it will be held near Garrettsville, OH August 15th and 16th. You can rest assured any money spent to get there and participate will be well worth the expense – instructors and attendees alike will be a wish list of industry professionals. You can read an AAR of last year's Paul-E-Palooza right here.

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