Video: Double Taps, Hammers and Controlled Pairs

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Don't know your double taps from hammers and controlled pairs? We break down these key defensive shot series into their simplest terms.

Muddled in jargon, defensive handgun training can make a novice shooter’s head spin. A sticky point for many is the difference between hammers, double taps and controlled pairs.

The sticky point, they all accomplish the same ends—two shots on center mass. In turn, many end up using one or all three terms interchangeably. But just because they put two shots where they’re most likely to cease an attack doesn’t mean there isn’t nuance in their execution. These differences are important to understand, because when you’d use a hammer sequence is much different than when you’d pull the trigger on a controlled pair. In essence, variance comes down to sight picture:

  • Hammers: sights are not reacquired between shots.
  • Double Taps: same sight picture on both shots.
  • Controlled Pairs: sights are reacquired between shots.

At the top, you use the bear minimum of sight picture to deliver your fire, while at the bottom you use the maximum. As you could well guess, you move from less to more accuracy and more to less speed. That’s typically always the tradeoff, no matter what you’re behind the trigger of. And each has its place and are well worth sharpening to a knife’s edge.


Learn How To Run Your Defensive Pistol:


Think of it this way, if an attacker is within 3 yards and closing, you won’t have time to line your sights up for each shot. Conversely, moving out 7-yards or more, it would be outright negligent to take an un-aimed shot, particularly if there are other people about.

On the surface, the terms hammers, double taps and controlled pairs might seem a bit muddled, even esoteric. But understanding and becoming proficient in each can have real-life implications.

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