Marksmanship Fundamentals (Become a Great Shot)

Of all my years of shooting and in all my instructor courses I learned The Fundamentals of Marksmanship. These fundamentals did not come from a dream I had nor are they my opinion, they are “The Fundamentals”. If you are reading this post you are like me. You always want to excel and become better. Take what works for you and disregard the rest.

You are easy to teach because you’re eager to learn. Teaching a person with bad fundamentals is not the worst thing. Teaching a person with bad fundamentals but thinks they are correct is painful. Example: I was instructing a shooter who had a horrible stance, grip and so on but would hit the bulls-eye nearly every time. His question to me was "why do I need your help, I can shoot the nuts off a fly". My answer was simply this. I gave him 3 bullets and said "shoot those 3 rounds in the same hole in 3 seconds". Needless to say he could not do it.

The purpose of learning the fundamentals is to master them. If you can master them, congratulations, you’re the best shot who ever lived so long as you can perform under pressure and/or don't have a flinch or any other psychological distraction that hampers your concentration. So, please don't ever think you're good enough because there is always someone out there practicing right now and that someone someday may be your foe. So now I give you the secret to shooting.

(1) STANCE This is the foundation for every shot you take. A good stance with feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend of the knees keeping most of your weight off your heels and on the balls of your feet. I like to compare this to sports. You need a good balanced stance for a free throw, a golf swing, a wrestling move and so on. For the people who don't play sports simply jump up in the air as high as you can. How you land is your stance. You are most balanced when you land. If not, you'll fall. A good balanced stance will allow you to adsorb recoil for a follow through and will also allow you to advance later on when combat shooting or move and shoot drills.

(2) GRIP A good grip consists of the gun in your dominate hand as high on the back strap as it will go (do not put your dominate hand so high and off the back strap that will cause the slide of the pistol to comeback during the cycling and cut the web of your hand) with your support hand pressed firmly against the remainder of the exposed grip. Your support fingers will wrap firmly around the fingers of your dominate hand. Your dominate thumb will be pointing parallel straight down the slid of the gun and your support thumb will be under and touching the thumb of your dominate hand. The support thumb will be in front of your dominate thumb quite a bit. Please when shooting a very short barreled gun do NOT put your support thumb in front of the barrel. Now, you’re holding the gun with two hands. The pressure from each hand should be 60/40. 40% grip from your dominate hand and 60% grip pressure from your support hand. Why? Simply put, your dominate hand not only has to help hold the gun but also needs to press the trigger.

(3) SIGHT ALIGNMENT What is sight alignment? Let's use a Glock for example. Standard Glock sights have a white ball on the front of the gun or front sight while the rear sight consists of a u-shape or a football goal post. Your front sight should sit just inside of the u on top of the horizontal line and in between the two side posts or uprights. The ball should have equal distance or light on either side of it. If you are an experienced shooter you know how critical it is to have the ball centered perfectly. If you are a new shooter the only thing I'll tell you is next time you're at the range stand on the ten yard line and center the front sight with the rear sight then take a shot. Next, move the front sight ever so slightly to offset it to one direction then take a shot. You'll be amazed.

(4) SIGHT PICTURE This is how your sights line up in reference to your target. Again, lots of concentration is required. Not only are we making sure we have equal distance on either side of our front sight in reference to the rear but now we need to place that front sight on our target. Shooting combat style is always recommended that the front sight is key. This is accurate and simple when shooting inside of the 15 yard line. If you have proper grip you can just point your fingers at the target and will probably have a decent hit ratio. We've been pointing at people and things for years. It just comes natural. However, when trying to shoot one hole groups it takes more concentration. I found most people absolutely fear qualifying at the 25 yard line. I will tell you it's really not much different than shooting at the 10 or 15 yard line. Here's the trick. Your eyes have what's called a hard focus and a soft focus. You can only focus on one thing at a time especially when they are at different distances. So when shooting from the 25 what do you need to see? The sights and your target, right? You will only be able to see one of those two things clearly. What one should you use your hard focus on? Sights. The target at this distance should be a bit blurred. The clear focus will be on your front sight making sure it's where it needs to be. Try this and you should surprise yourself.

(5) BREATHING I find this fundamental to be the most disregarded. I tell people to breath and relax. Most say to themselves yeah sure I'm relaxed or I've been breathing my whole life buddy, I don't need you to remind me. They would say this because I failed in explaining myself. Breathing is not just breathing when it comes to shooting. It's a practiced perishable skill. What I do when I'm trying to make the perfect shot or any shot for that matter. Okay let me start over. Every shot you take must be with the intent of achieving perfection so what I do when I shoot is take a very deep over exaggerated breath. I hold it for a second or two then slowly let it out until my lungs are left with about 25% of oxygen. At that point I am at my most relaxed calm and steady point. Everything just seems to stand still for a moment allowing the perfect shot. This step is not to be ignored. By practicing this every time it will increase your score tremendously.

(6) TRIGGER CONTROL In the law enforcement world we spent many years rehearsing the infamous double tap. For my Department at least, it has been changed. We now train using the term two controlled pairs. That is two rounds that you can fire as fast as you can accurately. The reason for this change is because we found by firing double taps translates to cops as double slaps. Slapping the trigger will most defiantly scare the shit out of your attacker but may not stop the threat. To control the trigger in my opinion takes the most concentration of all the fundamentals. It’s a very focused deliberate act. It is a slow steady even press to the rear of the gun. During instructions I would literally stand behind the student. In a low soft voice saying "steady, steady, steady, press, press" until the gun surprises them and goes off. Although this training may not appear to be applicable in a real life or death situation, it is. They are learning the feel of the trigger, the breaking point of the trigger and how to control the trigger. Eventually with a lot of rounds down range they will become quicker and smoother on the trigger. Remember in an “Oh Shit” situation we do not rise to the occasion, we fall to our level of training.

(7) FOLLOW THROUGH The follow through is not only the end of your last shot but it's also the beginning of your second shot. A good follow through allows the shot recoil to disperse energy from the firearm through your hands, up your arms and shoulders, down your torso, down your legs, into your feet, and then the ground. After you pull the trigger a lot of energy is being dispelled. Controlling your body when all this is taking place is key to follow through. Keep the trigger depressed while the gun is cycling the new round then resting the trigger slowly is the beginning of your next shot. In the first paragraph of this blog I gave you the example of the guy who couldn't put three rounds in the same hole in three seconds. Because his fundamentals were off he was unable to properly follow through. I like to compare shooting follow up shots to a police term called Course of Conduct. Cops use this term often to describe the difference between one incident or two separate incidents. If I am shooting a five round volley I want to make it one continuous course of conduct. In other words the end of shot one is the beginning of shot two and so on. I am linking the shots like music notes. With an improper follow through you essentially have five separate shots of five separate Courses of Conduct. In order to excel at the sport of shooting you need to be able to link the shots. Once you get rhythm down you will eventually be able to fire three rounds in the same hole in three seconds. This will ultimately lead to more advanced moving and shooting or combat shooting or simply put real life scenarios that can one day save you and your family’s lives.

Joseph Harris, Blog Author
Co-Founder of Roll Call, LLC


My 1st Blog

I am Joe Harris, co founder of Roll Call.  I am a 35 year old man from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I am married to my lovely wife Carrie and have three great children, well three sometimes behaved children. My oldest had just enrolled in The Citadel Military College in S. Carolina. Before you ask, yes I am 35 with a kid in college. He is my stepson. I married his mom when he was just 7. I am a cop is Scranton, Pa for 14 years now. For those who don't know about Scranton, Our city's recent claim to fame is "The Office" television show staring Steve Carell.  My youngest son Joseph is 10.  His life revolves around football.  I do have the honor of coaching his team.  Coaching was for the kids but quickly turned into therapy for me.  My daughter who is almost 3 runs the house and is sure to give her mom grey hair. 

I am a Corporal in my department.  I was a member of our SOG team (special operations group) aka SWAT for about seven years. I was a sniper for four years and a firearms instructor for the department for nearly 10 years.  Due to the company's demands I had to resign from the SOG team which I miss greatly.  I currently have a unique desk-style job.  I am in the process of providing security assessments for nearly 20 schools in our city. This job, although not incredibly exciting, is truly the most rewarding; to have a part in making hundreds of children safer is a great thing.  As a member of my department I was afforded to attend some of the greatest training available in our country.  Training such as the Secret Service Firearms Instructor Course at the Rawlings Training Center, Intermediate/Advanced SWAT training by the Las Vegas Team Zebra and beginner, intermediate and advanced sniper training by the National Tactical Officers Association just to name a few.  

While working as an officer, my father Tom and I started Roll Call in 2007.  I felt this would be a great opportunity to sell to cops by cops. Let's be honest, I did not get very excited to sell uniforms. I did like the firearms part.  Now having my dad as a partner was very important. He not only had the entrepreneurial experience but he was my father.

At the beginning of this adventure, we set the ground rules of how this business would be run. Customer is right, customer is doing us the favor, and don't except a thank you from a customer but to thank them.  Too many companies in this day in age think you owe them for their service or product.  That can't be any further from the truth.  We also said honesty is best.  This would not be the 1970's used car salesman approach (no disrespect to used car salesman, only the outdated approach).  I remember telling the new cops "Look,  I'll tell you what you need then what's cool to have". I never sold them what they did not need. Selling to the new guy was easy. If it's black and velcro, they would buy it. Honestly, I made sure I sent them in the right direction. I had to sleep at night. 

Just recently, we launched our largest website yet.  It was asked by one of our advisors why we don't blog.  I like to read, I like to write but I did not have an answer.  So welcome to Roll Call's 1st blog.  My blogs to come will be the fundamentals of marksmanship, gun reviews, business and cop talk just to name a few.  I hope to blog 2 to 4 times a month.  Talk to you soon. 

Thank You for Reading,
Your friend Joe Harris 

Become an Entrepreneur

I know most of you reading this post are law enforcement, sportsmen/women or gun enthusiasts.   You may be winding down your wonderful career or maybe just tired of it and ready to cut out early or perhaps you have some extra time and would like to start a side business. What ever your reason for reading this post I hope it helps and you get results.  These rules were learned from reading many business books and real life experience.

I found in my law enforcement career karma can be a B*%#£.  It can also be very nice but that depends on you. What the hell am I talking about?  Simply put, you can't get help unless you’re willing to help.  Roll Call has had tremendous support from you and I thank you for that. I want to reciprocate and give you some tips that may help you in you endeavors in the business world.

Tip 1. Help others!
 In the business word it's not just about you. You’re looking for customers, right? Well I personally know a lot of business people who, well lets just say, thought they were the customer.  Allow me to explain. What ever business you're in, you must remember one thing, you're the boss of the people you pay only.  Not to confuse the word boss with the word a#*hole, but that's another story. The customer is always right unless you don't want them as a customer anymore then you're right; but keep in mind an angry customer will cost you more than your pride so swallow it. That customer is in front of you because he or she had done business with you or may do business with you. Let me translate "doing business", giving you their hard earned money. Don't forget every dollar they don't give you is a dollar they give your competitor. That's a two dollar swing.

Tip 2. Honesty is the best policy!
I prefer to say honesty is the only policy.  The days of the slick car salesman (no disrespect to car salesman, I used to be one for a short time) are gone. You can't, nor should you, bull shit anyone these days especially a customer. To take their money based on a lie is immoral and criminal. Ok, I'm not trying to teach ethics here but I had to say it. Now, in today's market people are sometimes more informed than you are in your field. Even if they are not, don't argue because.....the customer is always right. Today is the Information Age and people more now than ever can see through lies and they can equally tell if someone is genuine.   A few hundred years ago people did not break the law because they thought they would be cursed by some witch. Our fellow Americans are just not that gullible today. Believe me, keep it real, keep it honest, don't insult intelligence and your customers or potential customers will appreciate it.

Tip 3. Do NOT limit your abilities!
Alright, I am going to stay true to tip 2 here. No, a not so bright person is not going up in the next Apollo launch. A person who runs 6.2 second 40 is not making the NFL.   That's not our fault.  That's what God gave you. What did God give all of us? Heart. No one can say you have no heart. That's from within. That's a choice not a handicap. You and only you can decide to have passion and determination. The greatest part about this in relation to the business world is that we are all even. This is the place where you don't have to be the smartest, fastest, or prettiest. You only have to want it, then get it.

 The excuse of I have no money, I don't have those connections, I can't compete with their money is what I like to call the looser attitude. Not calling you a loser but calling your attitude the loser. The best news is that if you have this attitude you can wake up tomorrow and have it gone. I don't know what is going to make you light your internal flame.  I truly hope this post will do it. I may not know you but believe it or not I know a bit about you. You’re reading this post. The flame is inside just give it some oxygen, believe in yourself and feel the passion. Once you feed your inner flame there is no telling what you can do. No one can tell, not even you. You will know once you're involved. By then it's too late, you're a businessman or woman.

Tip 4. Do NOT limit your worth!
When starting a business be sure to have a plan. A plan for today, tomorrow, and next month. Don't forget to have a plan for the next year. Not having a plan is not having a goal. I like to make a big goal for two or three years out. I then give it hell with the hopes I reach my goal early, I'm talking one or two years early.  My long term goals are not to make an extra 2k. My long term goals are to make an extra 2 mil. I don't care what you make today or what you think you're worth, all that matters is what you believe you're worth. If you can't wrap your head around being a millionaire you are shorting yourself 900 plus K.

Once you have the belief in your mind of what your worth then you can start working your plan. Don't let one day go by with out making some kind of forward progress. I don't care if it's just thoughts. Thoughts lead to ideas which ultimately leads to production and money.

Tip 5.  Steady does it!
Let me start off with an example of steady does it. When I was a teenager I worked at a local Golds Gym which was one of the most fun I had at a job. Here comes the new year. Sign ups are through the roof with folks ready to meet their New Years resolution and goal.  The gym is packed and your waiting in a line just to use the water cooler. Where else is there a line? At the weight scale. I would find myself calming the regular members who were bitching because they can't get on a machine by telling them, relax, this won't last long, give it a few weeks and most members you will never see again.  I said this not because I had no faith in the new members. I said this because even at an early age I began to figure the human nature part of us out.  Most people need Instant results. They just put 3 hrs in at the gym they should have lost 3 pounds.

I compare working out to business. Don't weigh yourself everyday just keep your goal in mind. Before you know it you’re wearing your high school jeans that you found in your parents' attic.   In business if you stay focused, work every day before you know it, you're looking back at the 1993 Cavalier you used to take to your company's sales meetings. Keep your eye on the goal not the empty check book. It's discouraging and counter productive.

In closing:
I would like to add that writing this was supposed to give some hopeful entrepreneurs insight into my personality and views on business and offer them helpful tips in becoming successful one day. After reading what I wrote I came to discover these are not tips to a good business. These are tips to a good life. Every tip can be transformed into a goal you may wish to achieve. Goals such as a big promotion, a new job or building the best internet company. What ever you wish to do or become, feel free to take from this post what you will and make it your own. Stay safe!

Joe Harris Blog Author
Co-Founder of Roll Call, LLC

The Best Concealed Carry Gun

As a firearms instructor and a firearms dealer I am often asked what the best gun to carry is. My response is quite simple. Carry the biggest highest capacity gun you're willing to carry every day of your life. Let me explain. Forget about the caliber for a bit. The only thing I suggest to go along with carry the biggest baddest gun you're willing to carry is make sure it's of good quality. What is a gun of good quality? Sig Sauer, Glock, Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Springfield, and so on. If I were to carry a revolver I would probably go with Smith. If I were to carry a semi I would suggest a Ruger, Glock or Smith. There are many other makes that work well. Just remember cheaper is not better. Go with what is proven. As for quality you can always ask your trusted arms dealer. I do like researching some blogs like this one. Anyone who takes the time to write about guns more often than not knows something about a gun's performance, but don't just read one or two blogs, read several. Back to the carry the biggest gun you're willing to carry everyday. Please be realistic and honest with yourself. A Glock 26 9mm is a great gun to have when things go south but thinking this will be an easily concealed gun will probably leave you unarmed when it goes down. The gun has all the right stuff: 9mm, high capacity and even reliability. The issue is the gun is bulky and will be uncomfortable for most concealed carry persons but if you can deal with that gun in your waist, go for it.

The big question is what's the right caliber? Let me cut to the chase. I carry a Ruger LCP which is a small 380 cal. More than once I told fellow cops what I carry daily. I was told the 380 round will only piss the attacker off. Still none of the hecklers are willing to take a bullet from the 380. So if it's a question of who's more macho, I would lose to the guy carrying a 45. That's usually not the case because my question to them is, of course, what are you carrying? I've heard Colt Commander or Glock 26 or any other gun that's tougher than mine. My next question is where is it? 9 out of 10 times it's at the house or in the car. I think I made my point with that argument.

The end of the story concludes with me suggesting you carry the biggest baddest gun you're willing to carry everyday like you would your cellphone. And like I always tell people during these debates is, I'd rather carry a .22 than a baseball bat to the fight. Big calibers are nice and are often more effective than smaller calibers but don't base your final decision on that. Ammunition has come a long way in the past years. Carry what you will honestly carry.

Joe Harris Blog Author
Co-Founder of Roll Call, LLC


Kids firearm safety is often thought about but rarely addressed. In this day and age we have more firearm owners in the United States than ever before. Many new gun owners ask how to own a gun while still keeping their children safe. The common answer is hide the gun or put it in a safe.

Well, if you think back to your childhood, one of your best skills was hide and seek.  Most often Santa Claus's true identity was discovered by kids using this technique.  So I'm not an advocate of the hide and seek method of firearm safety in the house. The next alternative is to buy a safe. This is a better solution and should always be used, but a safe in of its self does not address firearm safety with our children.

Some years back I was attending an Instructor Development Course. This is a course that instructs Law Enforcement how to teach. For our final we had to compose and teach a course on any subject we wanted to teach. One student gave their presentation on basic golf and another gave a presentation on woodworking.  I gave my presentation on Firearm Safety in the home.  My presentation specifically addressed firearm safety for your children.  At the start of the class I set a mouse trap, unused of course. I explained to the class that I was not holding a mouse trap. . . It was a gun.   I set the trap then told the class the gun is now loaded.  As I was setting the mouse trap, carefully, not to set it off on my finger and look like an ass, I explained how this gun is my pride and joy. I just purchased it and it is loaded. I passed the mouse trap (gun) to the first student (cop).  I kindly asked him not to set the gun off and don't shoot the person next to him. I instructed the class to pass the loaded gun to the person next to them and continue to pass the gun until instructed to do otherwise. The trap was passed around the class at least twice without setting it off.  As they were passing the trap I began to explain that with a class full of professional officers I was able to get you to pass this loaded gun to each other disregarding everything you were ever instructed about safe gun handling. I most certainly can get your child, with no weapons instruction, to hold a gun.  At that point the light came on. The next person holding the trap carefully unset it and passed a safe and unload firearm to the person next to him. The point of this exercise was not only to get the attention of the class but to help the students see how vulnerable our kids could be. If we, as trained professionals, can be caught up in the moment so can our children.

So now I'll ask you. How safe is your house?  Are your guns secured away? If you’re reading this chances are you’re already aware of the dangers of irresponsible gun ownership. So, most of you have your guns locked away from the little hands. If you’re like most Americans you may allow your children to visit or play over relatives and friends houses. I asked a law enforcement class of students if they perform a "protective sweep" when walking into a house to insure no danger awaits them.  Protective sweeps are a common practice for law enforcement in many situations that will allow the officer to check the area of a structure so they can deem it safe while they perform their duties. I asked the class how many officers with children perform a protective sweep of the home they are dropping their children off to visit or play at. Well, I'm sure you can guess the answers . . . None.  This is not to criticize anyone or judge a parent. That question is setting up my next point. I know you are not going to do a protective sweep of your sons or daughters friend’s parents’ bedroom.  Chances are if you try that you and Jr. will quickly be asked to leave.  I know this practice is unrealistic so here's my suggestion.  Educate!!
You, as a responsible gun owner, can lock away your guns, hide the bullets, replace the sheetrock on the wall with rubber padding, and cover all the electrical outlets but at some point your pride and joy will find himself or herself in a potentially dangerous situation and the only thing that they will be able to rely on is the education taught by you.  Simply saying "don't touch a gun" is just not enough. What worked for me as a child, and what I've passed on as a father, is to take the mystery out of the gun.  Take away the curiosity.  When is the best time to start educating the child? Answer, the first time they show an interest in the gun.  Sitting down with them in a safe controlled environment and taking the time to explain what the gun is, and what it can do, is key.

All weapons handling should be safe and controlled. Weapon unloaded, muzzle pointed in a safe direction (no muzzle sweeps) finger always off the trigger are the cardinal rules of safety.  BTW, nearly every child first learning how to safely handle a weapon will try to put their finger on the trigger.  Make that correction immediately. Once safe handling of the weapon is underway, begin teaching the child what to do if they find a weapon, what to do if their friend shows or wants to show them a weapon, and why they should react in the prescribed way.  Now, after your child is safely introduced to the weapon, start all over again. My cardinal rule is almost no matter what I'm doing, anytime my son wants to "see a gun" I must make the time for him and show him the gun and rehearse the safety rules. Why do I respond like that?  My child must know he has the ability to handle a weapon anytime he desires. There is no need to handle a weapon behind dads back. The curiosity is satisfied. It’s a matter of asking. After some time it will be like that new X Box game he had to have so bad, ahhh, it's okay every once in a while, it gets boring. Once the curiosity is replaced by the education, you are now on the right track.
Keeping this balance is a perishable skill. Don't ever think it's over and you've succeeded in your mission.  It's a matter of maintaining what you've started, a very expensive Christmas tradition. Stay safe and enjoy the sport with your children.


Joseph Harris
Blog Author
Co Founder of Roll Call, LLC