Double Taps vs. Controlled Pairs

controlled pair
February 7, 2014  
Categories: Learnin'

Double taps…it’s a great phrase, especially if you want to sound like a B grade 80s action hero. It definitely sounds cooler than “controlled pairs.” Despite what some may think, the two things are different.This evening guest writer Jared Ross is going to explain the difference, and why he thinks one is far more appropriate than the other. Mad Duo

Double Taps vs. Controlled Pairs

Jared Ross

It seems that at every Rockwell Tactical class someone inevitably asks, “Why you don’t teach ‘Double Tap‘ as an option?”

Why? The double tap is a very bad technique that just keeps coming back.  The idea is to aim at a target with only one sight picture and shoot twice, as fast as you can.  In doing so, you are jerking the trigger each time.  The first round usually hits its intended target (I’m giving the shooter credit). The next round could land anywhere.  On a square range and up close, you could get away with it.  Start adding stress, however, or use hostage targets and bad things start to happen.  I have never seen anyone who holds to this technique shoot consistently.

Let’s think about the real world.  How will you explain to the cops, jury, and judge (should you be involved in even a righteous shooting) that you have no idea where some of your rounds went? Even if you’re completely justified in using lethal force?  Think about it.  It doesn’t matter if you are carrying as a civilian or as part of your job.  If you decide to shoulder the responsibility of carrying a firearm, you should be able to give a reasonable accounting of every round you fire.

There are several varieties of reason that ‘double taps’ keep coming back.  Some are associated with poor training, others come from watching too many movies.  One of the main reasons is just plain laziness on the part of the shooter or instructor.  They want to shoot faster and think that cutting corners, by not adhering to the 8 principles of shooting, is the way to do it.

Now let’s talk about controlled pairs.  If you want to shoot better, if you want to shoot faster, if you want to shoot with greater accuracy, you must go back to the basics.  The main difference between the two techniques is this: with a controlled pair, you are applying all the fundamentals of shooting.  That means one sight picture followed by a shot. As part of the follow-through you are gaining a second sight picture.  Then comes the second shot, followed by a third sight picture.  You are in complete control the entire time.   You will know where each and every round went.  With time and experience you will be able to call your shots.

What about speed?  In a gunfight, you will be motivated to get as many rounds out of your gun as you can until the threat is destroyed.    A normal human can process what their senses are telling them and shoot at an aimed target every .25 seconds – so it is possible to take 4 aimed shots in a second.  Admittedly it takes work and practice to accomplish this, but it is possible.  The more you understand and apply the 8 principles or fundamentals of shooting, the closer you can come to reaching this goal.  Good training and the use of drill like the “Half & Half Drill” will help you achieve it – that’s the whole point of the Half & Half drill. The last part requires you to shoot 10 rounds on target in 2.5 seconds.   If you don’t apply those basic principles, your shot group will look like a shotgun blast.

[Note – if you want some more info on the Half & Half or other drills, let us know in the comments. Mad Duo]

If you train using double taps you are reinforcing bad habits.  This will become even more apparent when called upon to shoot a larger string of rounds.  It will just turn into spray and pray.  On the other hand, if you practice using controlled pairs, when the need arises to shoot more rounds at a time you will already have the ability to do so accurately.

Let me use an experience I had that really illustrates the difference between the two.  My team was training with soldiers from another country.  These guys were great, motivated, squared-away soldiers. We learned as much from them as they did from us.  On the day we got to go to their gun range, they wanted to put us through some of their drills.  Needless to say, we couldn’t wait.  I received two 30rnd mags for an M4 for the first drill.  It consisted of someone standing behind you, tapping your shoulder to begin firing, and then you keep shooting till you are tapped again.  Repeat till out of ammo.   We were all thinking, “This is kind of a simple drill,” but we kept our thoughts to ourselves.

They did a demonstration (yes, the guy doing the demo shot fast).  Then it was my turn. I got the tap.  I took my time… bang…. bang….bang….bang.  It was their weapon I was shooting and I wanted to get the feel for it before I shot rapidly.  I got the tap to stop.  A very disappointed guy told me I shot too slowly.  I got the next tap.  You could barely distinguish any individual shot by sound, I shot so fast.  After I finished the second mag, everyone saw my target.  Our host nation friends were a little embarrassed by the proof it displayed.

Those of you who have been to some of our seminars have seen the picture.  I won’t show it here because of where it was taken.  The target has the shots from the demonstrator and it looks like a nice bird-shot pattern from a shotgun.  Then there was my shot group of 60 rounds.  It could be covered by a US half dollar.  Every single shot I took was an aimed shot.  I applied the basic fundamentals every time, ensuring I had a sight picture before and after.  I shot faster than the demonstrator.  He (trying to shoot fast) just slapped the trigger, and embarrassed himself and his unit.

The take-away from this is: don’t cheat yourself.  Use of a “Double Tap” is the lazy man’s way of trying to become a combat shooter, and failing.  Take the time and keep going back to the basics; there is always room for improvement.

Practice, and use Controlled Pairs.


About the author: Jared Ross has spent about a decade as an 18B Green Beret Weapons Sergeant. A former 82nd ABN 11 Bravo, he has done multiple combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and assorted other shitholes. He spent several years with one of the active duty SFGs, has worked as an instructor at SFAUC and is with one of the reserve SFGs. Jared is a well rounded soldier and an inspired, methodical and instructor. His company is called Rockwell Tactical Group, a training organization based in Pennsylvania; everything they teach is predicated on a warrior mindset, whether students are responsible armed citizens, military, LEOs or PMSCs. They teach students of every race, age and gender, striving to ensure they prevail not only over the assailant, but fear and panic as well. You will be seeing more of him on Breach-Bang-Clear. If you’re interested in training with Jared and his crew, check them out at Rockwell Tactical Group; on Fecebook at

Bad ass pictures by: Markland Photography

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  1. Asdf

    This entire article is proof that your average vet is roughly 10 years behind the curve of modern performance shooting and it’s really sad lmfao. If you don’t know how to do rapid double taps with accuracy and don’t understand the difference between predictive and reactive shooting, then you really have no place teaching people how to shoot. Look up who Ben Stoeger and Matt Pranka are before talking about concepts you really don’t understand.

  2. jeff

    I disagree. I’ve shot 10s of thousands of hand gun rounds. I have taught myself to control the muzzle without needing to aim twice. Muscle memory? Speed? Strength? Whatever helps you sleep at night. My point is I can have 2 inch ‘double tap’ groups all day every day and never question myself squeezing the trigger. To claim that I am ‘jerking’ the trigger is crap. Some people understand how to shoot a gun without having a blog, a website, or a magazine to write for. Some of us aren’t navy seals or delta rangers who have skill. I didn’t wake up with skill, but have practiced and practiced then practiced some more. I’m not the only shooter I personally know who can accurately execute double taps with precision, so that tells me the world is full of them. So to ‘give the shooter credit’ or to refer me for example to some 80s B list action hero just think for a second that there are people on this earth who can double tap and while you may have the controlled pair down as quick as you’d like.. I’m still squeezing off 2 rounds before your mind is even registering to aim the next round. Idc how fast you or anyone using the controlled method is clicking. I’m not bashing the technique as it is an effective way for almost anyone to get some speed, but it’s simple logistics here. 2 double tap rounds in a 4 inch pattern(and that’s me bringing in a whole host of other skill levels) hitting instantly vs a deuce of controlled pair rounds at 2″ inch patterns? I’ll take the faster hits anyday. I mean think about the size of targets we are shooting at. If a consistent 4 inch pattern is inside the head target. So I’m not seeing the logic in trading speed for inches.. when it’s less than 2″ difference I’ll take speed any day. Then again maybe since I’m not in a law enforcement scene controlled pairs aren’t ideal. But I do know if someone breaks into my home and thinks of using a controlled pair technique they are going to have one hell of a bad day as I’ll be placing 4 rounds in 2″ pairs in a critical area as they are throwing that bead up for the 2nd half of their controlled pair. This isn’t super human or movie esque skill I’m talking about. It’s perfectly capable with effort, will and practice.


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