Get Off the X, Don’t Turtle: Guns for Beginners

In the video below, a man in far better shape that your humble correspondent (inventor and poster boy for the term OFWG) shoots and reloads his GLOCK twice. Quickly, too. The first problem here is the same one that bedevils millions of shooters. One that I’ve repeated millions of times, but bears repeating . . .

He stands still.

I can’t imagine a real world self-defense scenario where it’s a good idea to stay planted and unleash that many rounds. After all, you can only fire at someone if they pose an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death. In which case, they’re extremely likely aggressing towards you.

In which case, you need to GTF out-of-the-way first. Or, at the least, at the same time as you’re unleashing a ballistic response. And definitely towards cover (an object that stop bullets) or concealment (an object that hides you). Remembering that a moving target — you — is harder to stab, shoot, pummel or rape than a stationary one.

If you’re stuck practicing at a square range (i.e., within lanes), that’s a problem. You’re training yourself to shoot from a stationary position. If, like our friend Glock Gun 4U, you’re outdoors, once you’re reasonably good at hitting what you’re aiming at, there’s no reason NOT to practice shooting and moving.

As for his stance, that “head down between your arms” position is called “turtling” (for obvious reasons). Bad idea. It adds little to your accuracy at the expense of severely limiting your peripheral vision. Turtling makes it extremely difficult to ID other threats, escape routes and cover/concealment options.

And it’s slower. You don’t see professional shooters hunker down when the timer beeps; a situation where every millisecond counts. Shooters who wear multi-focal glasses note: turtling forces you to look out of the top part of your specs. That may be good for target acquisition, but it sucks for getting a good image of your handgun’s sights.

Bad shooting habits are born and made. Unmaking them, training yourself to get off the X and maintain a proper posture, is critical to your survival in a defensive gun use. You have been warned.



  1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    He pissed away most of a box of ammo, and he only practiced his draw once and magazine his reload twice.

    Seems like a pretty inefficient way to practice.

  2. avatar Joel says:

    Um….that’s not even fast….LOL

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Yeah. Not very fast.

  3. avatar anonymoose says:

    My pet turtle died 6 months ago. He was only about 13, but he got a respiratory infection. 🙁

    1. avatar Hank says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. My condolences. Let’s all take a moment of silence for Mr Turtle.

      1. avatar anonymoose says:

        Thanks. I still miss hearing him digging around in his tank on my dresser early in the morning.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Yeah. Condolences brother. I really don’t like losing our animal friends.

  4. He’s not turtling. He’s rolling his shoulders inward to point his elbows outward so that the recoil forces his arms back rather than up.
    The camera angle also makes it look like his head is lower in relation to his arms. If your gun is in line with your arms, which is a great way to manage recoil, and your eyes are in line with your sights, your head will seem to tuck as you press out.
    Maybe you don’t see competitors do this because they use ported guns to eliminate muzzle ride rather than arm position.

    1. avatar Robert w says:

      Watch a video of Max Michele shooting production. I guarantee he doesn’t bury his head in his chest like that. Rotating your elbows anywhere will not affect the way your body reacts to the recoil of a handgun. You may perceive it as less recoil, but it’s just because you have locked out every joint in your upper body, which makes you stiff, and long. His gun is a mile away from his body, and he is locked up, any manipulation required a massive break from his shooting stance.

      If you’re shooting an XL frame revolver, sure try and soak it up where you can, but most anything a glock can spit out isn’t a bear to manage recoil to the point that this guy is.

      1. “Rotating your elbows anywhere will not affect the way your body reacts to the recoil of a handgun. You may perceive it as less recoil, but it’s just because you have locked out every joint in your upper body, which makes you stiff, and long.”

        Not if you do it correctly. The arms have to remain slightly bent and if they flex from the recoil, the hands move back and not up like you see when people fire harder recoiling guns.

        1. avatar W says:

          Watch a Miculek video or two. His splits are much, much faster than Mr Turtle and he uses something closer to traditional isosceles.

          Miculek epouses “nose over toes.” That’s really the key and is far more important and relevant than bend at the waist, sticking your butt out, or rotating your arms. All of that said, turtles will turtle.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      The position he is in is how I was taught to shoot an automatic, and how I shot for most of my life. And then, one professional shooter after the next corrected me. When I finally started just picking my head up, with my arms much more natural, my shooting, with any pistol, became much faster. It’s that way for every person I train now.
      The old way we were taught made sense, but it doesn’t actually work, at least not for me or for anyone I’ve shown the simple head’s up method to.
      There is a reason that this position is not found in competitive shooting, and it has nothing to do with compensated guns. Head’s up is simply faster.

      1. So if your head is higher, your eyes are higher. Your gun has to raise higher to get sight alignment and you have to point the muzzle lower making a terrible grip angle (according to TTAG) that much more dramatic.
        There’s no reason one position is faster than another if each shooter starts closer to his final position before the start buzzer.

    3. avatar Levi says:

      This really shows how much you know about competition shooting and shooting in general considering most divisions don’t allow porting or compensators …. even in this video you can see he is still getting considerable muzzle flip and bounce with his elbows way out to the side and shoulders up to his ears .

      1. I’ve been shooting one gun for only three years. No competitions. Never in the military or LE. No. I train for self defense. I may not know shit about shooting and I never lied to pretend I do. But I do know about Internet assholes. And you are top notch.

  5. avatar jwm says:

    I liked it better when we used caliber wars for clickbait. Training wars suck.

    1. avatar Hank says:

      Nowhere near as intense either. Thread hijacking time. 9mm sucks and is for old people and women to shoot. Real men shoot real powerful rounds like .45, 10mm, .357, .44, and so on.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        It’s .9mm all the way. Deadliest round in the history of firearms. Just ask any msm rep.

        1. avatar Hank says:

          Indeed. Speaking of that, I herby decree we should start calling 10mm, 1CM instead.

        2. avatar sagebrushracer says:

          nope, 7.62x54r from a cut down mosin, Obrez mosin nagant for the win. the fireball from the muzzle alone will get you in trouble with those pesky Geneva convention rules about flame throwers.

      2. avatar BLoving says:

        Okay. I’ll bite.
        .25acp is underrated and .25naa and .32naa are the wave of the future.
        (extra points to any of you who didn’t need to Google those two naa chamberings!)

        1. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

          I recall reading an interesting piece on how unreliable ‘stopping power’ really is. A police officer shot a 300 lb. charging behemoth with his backup weapon, a little .25 ACP, hit him in the shoulder, and the guy went down like a sack of potatoes. A lot of it is just what people expect to happen when they get shot, i.e. getting knocked down flat.

        2. avatar Klause Von Schmitto says:

          Sure, but how much “knock down power” do they have?

        3. avatar Anner says:

          Do you enjoy the 357Sig, but don’t want any of the power? Is 357Sig not quite unobtainable or expensive enough for you? Well do we have a product for you!! Introducing the 25 and 32NAA, a bottlenecked cartridge that eats away at your wallet faster than the mag changes you’ll need to perform to sling a decent number of rounds fownrange!

          The tiny NAA rounds are pretty cool though. American ingenuity. I’m surprised NAA still lists them in their autos; I wonder how many they’re selling these days, years after the initial excitement wore off.

      3. avatar neiowa says:

        I thought .40 was for the quota babes who couldn’t handle the 10mm which had been determined to meet the requirement?

    2. avatar kenneth says:

      I’ll take a piece of this. .357 is the tits, and all semi autos suck…

      1. avatar Hank says:

        Now we’re talkin. Real rounds out of real guns. Personally I love .44 mag. The muzzle flash, the noise, the power. The recoil really isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be with standard loads.

      2. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

        The HELL! Tupperware rulez!!

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    “If you’re stuck practicing at a square range (i.e., within lanes), that’s a problem. You’re training yourself to shoot from a stationary position.”

    Y’know, I don’t think it’s that much of a problem. People will either fight, flee or freeze. It’s part of our DNA, I guess. The “freezers” may need training to stop them from freezing, if that’s possible. The fighter and fleers will do what they do, and both techniques are valid.

    What isn’t valid is shooting while moving. Most people will never be able to do so, not with any degree of accuracy. Move, then shoot. Shoot, then move. But shooting while moving for anyone but operators operating operationally is probably a losing tactic.

    1. avatar tfunk says:

      Suppressive fire?

      I know I’d prefer to not be shot at while I run, so if I can convince the bad guy it’d be in their best interest to duck for a bit while I find cover I’m cool with it

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        What’s going to stop those bullets you’re spraying? Maybe the body of an innocent person a half mile away?

        Leave suppressive fire to the battlefield where it belongs.

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          It doesn’t belong on the battlefield either. Mark of the untrained and amateur.

    2. avatar Mad Max says:

      You got that right. Unless you are that operator operating operationally:

      1). Get to cover
      2). Aim
      3). Shoot
      4). Repeat, if necessary

      If you are not at bad breath distance and have practiced in a square range frequently, you shouldn’t need much ammo or to reload against the most likely threats you’ll encounter as an average American armed citizen.

      If you encounter something more, say a large group of organized terrorists, you will need help so it would be best to get out of Dodge and call the cavalry.

      1. avatar kenneth says:

        And another good idea is sometimes practice point shooting from the hip, with the support hand out in front of you. Its for the aforementioned bad breath range, If the perp is close enough(say inside7 feet) he will probably either charge or try to grab your firearm. It makes sense to get into the idea of fending off an attacker with the support hand while putting a couple into him with the strong hand sans sights or aiming.
        Make certain to keep the support hand out of the line of fire! Gun low, hand high.

    3. avatar Cliff H says:

      It’s an interesting subject. A while back, before I took a basic tactical pistol course, I had always practiced in a “square” range, even in the Army.

      At the Clark County Range here in North Las Vegas our class had the opportunity to correct that problem. We practiced draw and fire from concealment, Mozambique, and move and fire. Interesting, informative and exciting.

      But our final string was 45 rounds with two combat reloads shooting at steel silhouettes about 10 meters out. With the instructor calling targets behind me I fired 10 rounds from cover, reloaded, then moved to the next cover about 20 feet away. He continued calling shots, “2 center mass on the right, head shot on the right, center mass left, head shot right, head shot left,” while I moved and although it was intense I was surprised at the number of times I actually heard the steel ring, even with the head shots.

      Of course those guys weren’t shooting back. Still, before that I would have doubted my ability to hit ANYTHING while moving and firing. Not OAF, but still gained a bit of confidence I didn’t have previously.

  7. avatar W says:

    Totally agree on turtling. But..

    “I can’t imagine a real world self-defense scenario where it’s a good idea to stay planted and unleash that many rounds. After all, you can only fire at someone if they pose an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death. In which case, they’re extremely likely aggressing towards you.”

    It’s time to get real. If one’s accuracy/ speed mix suffers from moving while drawing or shooting, then one should consider not moving. After all, the goal of shooting is to hit, not to make noise or worse yet, to make noise more slowly than would otherwise be the case.

    After all, a man has got to know his limitations.

    1. avatar Anner says:

      Good point.

      I’ll add that it’s highly dependent on the situation. If a threat is advancing on me, but from a good distance out (say 20yds+) or is attacking a loved one and their attention is not on me, I’m gonna stand there with as solid a stance as I can muster and unleash everything as accurately as I can. The faster and cleaner I can place rounds into the threat, the sooner moving or any other tactic is OBE. When the threat is crumpled on the ground and all the good guys involved are still standing, I don’t care that I instinctively took a step to the left while drawing.

      At arms length (regardless of the weapon the threat has) or with a threat shooting back (at me), you bet I’ll be moving, at the very least to present the threat with a non-compliant target.

  8. avatar samuraichatter says:

    I thought turtling only happened when you went in really cold water.

    1. avatar Robb says:

      That or if you had a really strong cup of coffee.

  9. avatar strych9 says:

    When someone turtles it’s time for a seatbelt, double underhooks, flatten them out and put them to sleep.

    Also, adjusting your earpro prior to your DGU is an absolute must.

  10. avatar Paul C says:


    1. avatar Paul C says:

      Was referring to the article, in case that wasn’t clear.

  11. avatar JR Pollock says:

    Farago’s so fat, when he turtles, his chins suffer slide bite…

    1. avatar Hank says:

      I’m sure you’re just a perfect specimen of the human figure…

  12. avatar Pete says:

    Another reason I like to use only one hand, one doesn’t have to nestle in between ones biceps and peek out. I mean, heck, just at the range it impedes my ability to monitor nearby newbs. Not that I care if they dump mags or hit the ceiling or whatever, not my zoo. Ping me with cases if you want, that’s what glasses are for. As long as they don’t have a freak-out and muzzle me.

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      Just you wait until you get pinged with a case right down the shirt collar! Cases are damn hot. Ask me how I know.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Stop trying to show everyone on the range your cleavage.

      2. avatar Pete says:

        Meh, there are better and worse collars but either way a piece of brass can’t hold enough heat to make me lose composure while remaining solid.

  13. avatar Gilbert says:

    First the stupid SIG video with the rotate the belt thing for weak hand draw.
    Next up, Glock with an almost equally stupid video of what not to do.

  14. avatar Kaban says:

    Wait, does that mean that coolest C-clamp I just managed to get down some is not really good?

    My heart is tactically broken.

  15. avatar Ragnar says:

    Notice how he maintains situational awareness at the conclusion of the engagement?

    That little 15 degree head turn, left and right of center is a simulation of a “check your surroundings”. Going through the motions is one thing, but as we all know, in a real life shooting, we fall back on our training. Is that 15 degree head twist really going to suffice for clearing your blind spots, much less your six-o’clock?

    1. avatar kenneth says:

      That little left/right head turn is just a ritual that many have been taught to do, without understanding why. An EMPTY ritual. One that has been repeated often enough that it has lost all relation to WHY you do that.
      The proper way to do it is a slow scan from one side to the other. If one turns the head most of the way, peripheral vision can see almost clear behind to the six. Assuming that that one knows how to pay attention to peripheral vision at least. Actually LOOKING for threats, and not just turning the head as quickly as possible because it was “what they taught me to do…”

  16. avatar Dave says:

    How old or new is this video of Michael Barnes? I still thank him for letting me know about Jason Falla and Redback One. He’s been dark on YouTube for 4 or 5 years now.

  17. avatar Old Region Fan says:

    I’m a bit old, but doesn’t the modern way of moving like a robot seem a bit silly to anyone ? What happened to smooth fluid motion on a draw and re-holstering ? Its the cool thing nowadays I know ! I’m going to put on my bell bottoms and listen to some Techno Robot music !

    1. avatar jwm says:

      With bell bottoms you can ankle holster a 1911. Operators had to operate even in the stoned age.

    2. avatar kenneth says:

      Aren’t bell bottoms supposed to go with Psychedelic rock like Black Sabbath or Uriah Heep?

      1. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

        Can verify. Was there. Still own the vinyl.

  18. avatar Mark.19 says:

    Lol, I actually know that guy and he’s a phenomenal shooter. I love all the shit talking from a single, short video clip w/o know the circumstances, purpose, etc…lol, the internets at its finest.

  19. avatar BierceAmbrose says:

    Donatello? No, Raphael.

    Sorry. They all look alike.

  20. avatar Keystone says:

    “If you’re stuck practicing at a square range (i.e., within lanes), that’s a problem.”

    Yeah, well, not all of us have private land or tacticool training centers we can go to and practice moving and shooting skills.

  21. avatar Mike Smith says:

    By far, the best group for training to move in a real world reactive “oh $*#&!” gunfight is Suarez International.

    1. avatar Robb says:

      Gone too soon. Still watch his videos. I’d defintely find time to attend his classes if he was still around. Might have to check it out anyways.

      1. avatar Mike Smith says:

        Perhaps you are confusing Gabe Suarez with somebody else? This is Gabe’s organization, he’s still very much alive and kicking strong… 🙂

        1. avatar Robb says:

          Yeah, I was mixing him up with Paul Gomez. I thought I deleted my comment after realizing it but I guess it didn’t take.

          My bad.

  22. avatar kap says:

    Slow is fast, fast is good all this information is good for your healthy body types but what about some realistic training for us older used too was has been wanta bees?

  23. avatar earl says:

    It’s best to bring the gun to your eyes, not bring your eyes to the gun.
    Maybe he’s training for a match, not defensive practice. The criticism of moving is misplaced here IMO.

  24. avatar Russ H says:

    I’ve been a tactical police firearms instructor for 20 years. There’s no context to this video. Showing it for the purposes of criticizing this guy is messed up. Maybe he’s simply demonstrating mag changes to beginners. And don’t say he should be moving between mag changes regardless – everyone has a different method of teaching. Maybe in all his other videos he is moving while changing magazines. As for “turtling,” if he hits every target center mass (or in the head) every time, so be it. Pretty hard to conclude his peripheral vision is lessened too. Maybe he’s demonstrating “turtling.”

    If I were going to write an article and use a video to demonstrate preferred tactics vs other to make points of instruction, I would make my own video and not pull one off the web. Just a suggestion. Maybe he gave his permission for you to use this video in this manner, I don’t know but if he did, never mind.

  25. avatar Leighton Cash says:

    That video is why Timmys need to mix in competition shooting, just to make sure they aren’t locking in something weird that is neither fast, accurate or efficient.

  26. avatar Sledgecrowbar says:

    Shame this isn’t the shooter’s Youtube account. He had some excellent stuff up years ago with a G18 and some select fire carbines. I haven’t been able to find his stuff in a long time. He may have taken it down because of the internet badasses but it was genuinely enjoyable video.

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