Years ago, Col. Jeff Cooper developed the Modern Technique of the Pistol. A key element of that endeavor is the Combat Triad. For teaching purposes, Cooper illustrated it as an equilateral triangle, with the three equal sides representing Marksmanship, Gun Handling and Combat Mindset. The development of skills in each of these areas is what defines the successful defensive shooter.
Marksmanship Marksmanship is not only the ability to shoot accurately, but also the ability to shoot quickly. The defensive shooter develops the ability to accomplish the various elements needed for an accurate shot and to compress the time element so an accurate shot can be delivered as soon as the gun comes on target. It is important to remember that marksmanship is not judged by what a person did on an individual, lucky day, but rather what he can do on demand. It speaks to the ability to function under unbelievable stress to deliver well-aimed, fight-stopping hits.
Gun Handling This is the ability to manage the chosen firearm so one can get it into the fight quickly and keep it running. Gun handling involves the ability to make a smooth, fast presentation of the gun. One should be able to recharge it quickly and smoothly, and one should also be able to clear the various malfunctions characteristic of that particular firearm. These skills must be practiced until the defensive shooter can perform most of chores without taking his eyes off of the threat.
Combat Mindset Besides being able to handle the firearm efficiently and shoot well, the defensive shooter must also be able to fight well. Awareness, tactics and determination all come into play. Developing a realistic defensive plan is also a part of the Combat Mindset. As Thunder Ranch's Clint Smith says, if you have to fight, fight smart. That all speaks to the Combat Mindset. It is the difference between being a good shot and being a gunfighter.
The serious defensive shooter should give deep thought to incorporating all three elements of the Combat Triad into his defensive planning and training. To leave any one of the three elements out of the picture creates the potential for losing your life during a violent criminal attack. In the words of Col. Cooper, one should be able to say, "They told me this could happen and I know just what to do about it!"