Glossary of Combative Terms

This glossary is a reference for some of the industry specific terms you may come across in our articles, videos, etc. They should not be relied on for legal purposes. Always refer to the applicable laws in your area or consult with an attorney for legal advice.

A-Zone – The “A” or “Alpha” zones the area on IDPA and USPSA targets that represents the ideal shot placement on an attacker.

Deadly Force – Most statues define Deadly Force as any type of force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. Serious bodily injury means injury that creates or causes serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death.

Deadly Force Attack – Any attack from an assailant who is demonstrating his or her intent to use deadly force.

Deadly Force, Justification for the use of – Most statues only justify the use of deadly force to protect yourself or others from a deadly force attack or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Gun Stability – The aiming process is a relatively easy skill to master. The more challenging aspect of shooting is to keep the gun stable and properly oriented on target throughout the trigger press.

Hand+Gun Combatives – “Hand Plus Gun Combatives” is a term coined by Rick Molina in 2015. As an instructor, he was trying to find a succinct way to label the multi-aspect nature of what’s needed to survive attacks at near-contact distances. Hand+GunTM combatives describes any fighting methodology that combines “hand-to-hand” techniques (including strikes, joint locks, sweeps, kicks, etc.) with handgun or short-barreled rifle shooting, striking and leveraging techniques.

IDPA – The International Defensive Pistol Association is the governing body of a competitive sport shooting league that tries to simulate defensive shooting scenarios in its competitions.

In-Structure Attacks – Outside of military environments, most attacks can be categorized as either “In the Open” or “In-Structure” attacks. Attacks in the open simply mean there are no structural barriers to deal with. Conversely, In-Structure attacks are when you’re dealing with an attack in or around structures, such as home invasions, store robberies, active shooters at a workplace, mall theater, church etc.

LON Light Environment – LON is an acronym for Low Or No Light environments. There are three general classes of lighting: illuminating light, low light and no light. From a shooting perspective a lighting environment is determined by the class of light in front of the sights and the class of light behind the sights. Consequently, there are nine (3 x 3) lighting environments.

Meat and Metal Aiming – To the best of our knowledge meat and metal aiming is a phrase coined by Gabe Suarez that describes the rapid “point and shoot” type of aiming that’s appropriate at near contact distances. When you see metal (your gun) in the middle of meat (the attacker), you’re on target. (Also see PEK Aiming.)

Muscle Memory Aiming – This is another name for PEK aiming.

Muzzle Energy and Recoil – Muzzle energy is a metric based on the speed and weight of specific types of ammunition (i.e., 9mm, 45 ACP, 357Sig, etc.) as they leave the muzzle of a gun. Generally, the higher a round’s muzzle energy, the better it’s terminal ballistics will be, and therefore the more effective the round is as a man-stopper. However, the more muzzle energy a round produces, the more felt recoil it produces – making the gun harder to control and slower to shoot.

Near Contact – Describes an extremely close range of distances where an attacker and his or her intended victim are either in contact or almost in contact with each other.

Off Hand – Lingo for a shooter’s non-dominant hand.

Patridge Sights – The Patridge sight design uses a single post or blade for a front sight and a notch or slot for a rear sight.

PEK Aiming – PEK is an acronym for Proprioceptive, Exterioceptive, Kinesthetic. These are the proper physiological terms for the human sensory systems involved in non-visual aiming.

Photograph Targets – Targets that have a photograph image of an attacker. They are used to get the shooter accustomed to looking at a person when shooting and being able to instinctively determine where to aim.

Point Aiming – The terms Point Aiming or Point Shooting have been around for along time, and over that time they’ve been used and misused to describe a lot of different things. Today, most qualified instructors steer away from these terms because of the potential confusion. That said, there are still some who use these terms to loosely describe some form of PEK Aiming.

Proprioceptive Aiming – This is just another name for PEK Aiming.

Reactive Targets – These are targets that react in some way when they are hit. Reactive targets may move, fall over, make a sound, etc.

Range Games – We use range games as a part of practice, not only to make practice fun but also to add the stress of competition and to push ourselves outside the normal range of our drills and exercises.

Shooting from Retention – At Near Contact distances we must shoot with grips and from postures that ensure we will retain possession of the gun.

Shot Placement Feedback – When shooting on paper or steel targets your shot placement (where the bullet hit) is obvious and immediate. This subconsciously gives the shooter feedback he or she can use to make adjustments. This is way the latter rounds in rapid-fire strings tend to be more accurate than the first round. In a real situation, where attackers wear clothing with different colors, patterns, thicknesses, etc., your shot placement is much less obvious, if it can be determined at all.

Sight Picture – Traditionally, Sight Picture refers to the shooter’s image of the front sight’s, rear sight’s and target’s alignment in relationship to each other. In combatives, it’s that and more. Because, in a combative situation, you need to identify, and focus on, a target that’s a specific part of an attacker body. Moreover, that attacker will likely be around innocent bystanders.

TechniqueONE – Predator Combatives’ training curriculum is built around a single, limited-decision, counter-defensive technique that seamlessly blends empty-hand and armed maneuvers, which are triggered by primal, instinctive and natural reactions to the most common deadly-force threats from attackers. TechniqueONETM is a trademark of Predator COmbatives, LLC.

Terminal Ballistics – In combatives, terminal ballistics refers to the study of how different bullets perform when entering a human body, and structures such as residential walls, car windows, etc.

Trigger Control – The biomechanics required to successfully break a trigger without disturbing the gun’s orientation to the target is considered one of the most difficult skills in handgun shooting to master.

USPSA – The United States Practical Shooting Association is the governing body of a competitive sport shooting league that tries to simulate defensive shooting scenarios in its competitions.

Visual Aiming – Some incorrectly correlate visual aiming with the use of traditional Patridge type sights. Visual aiming is actually any type of aiming that uses visual feedback to adjust the orientation of a gun when shooting.

Weapon Retention – A category of principles, practices and methods for retaining possession of your weapon. Weapon retention is usually broken down into two area retention in the holster and retention after the draw.