Just a reminder that our one day “How to Practice” Handgun Workshop in Prescott, AZ is live and ready for you guys to sign up! We’re offering this course at a special reduced price (20% off)! Most of us attend a class from a trainer, get a bunch of drills and tips, and then have no idea what to do with them after other than to go to the range and shoot them. If only it were that simple. This class bridges the gap between classes and practice. We’ll show you how to take those things you’ve learned and integrate them into a structured practice regimen. We’ll teach you about Performance Tracking, how to use drills and exercises to your advantage, and how to make progress rather than just plinking at the range.
Tickets are available at : Eventbrite Tickets “How to Practice”
Come out and shoot with us!
I should just start filing these under a “Pet Peeves” section! Recently, there seems to be an uptick in certain groups of instructors purposely using others exercises or drills and passing them off as their own. Bottom line, if you didn’t think it up, give credit to who and where you got it from. Flashback to before the creation of Practical Performance: I was teaching for a company called TICTOC Training with my good friend Raul. We were invited by a regional SWAT team out west to put on a few days of carbine and pistol training for them. We both jumped at the opportunity. So, we headed out west to a newly established training center, which at the time had only had two other instructors there. Things were not kosher the minute we arrived. The training center had their own “guru” who felt he should have been providing the training to the team rather than us. He constantly interrupted our classroom portions of training and even hijacked our class one morning to give them a plug for his own programs! This same individual had, just a week or so before, had a serious negligent discharge as a student in another notable instructor’s course on the premises. This individual was about as unprofessional as they come. Anyways, class concluded and we voiced our displeasure with said individual to the facility owner.
During the class, we conducted several downed officer exercises requiring officers to engage targets as well as apply tourniquets and SWAT-T’s. These were tiered evolutions, each building on the previous, integrating vehicles, low light, etc. Fast forward several months. There I am, enjoying my coffee and perusing my new edition of S.W.A.T. Magazine, and who’s name do I see but this “SWAT team of one” instructor. I immediately flipped to the article which was basically an ego stroke written about the fantasy camp that was this training event for civilian end users. It was about this time that I saw the pictures in the article. And what did I see? An almost exact replication of Raul’s and my downed officer evolutions. Shooting position by shooting position, shot for shot, evolution by evolution, almost word for word, a copy of what we had taught at that class! Now, this wasn’t the first time I had been ripped off, and it certainly wasn’t the last. But this was the first time I had seen an article almost completely written about something that had been directly stolen from one of my/our courses with no credit given, and totally misapplied I might add.
When I teach a course, I make sure credit is given whenever and wherever possible. If I use a drill or exercise from another instructor, I will go out of my way to make sure they get credit for it. If I get a unique technique from someone, I credit them. I will also spend the time to find out the origin of said drill or exercise if I can. Don’t get me wrong, people are going to come up with similar or the same drills now and again. The more complex the drill or exercise, the less likely this is to occur. But if you go to a class and your instructor, Tactical Timmy, says “Here’s my drill. It’s called a Bill Drill and I came up with it for this…” then he’s part of the problem. This isn’t hard and its common courtesy. Treat it like a college research paper. If it has a non-generic name (“Bill Drill,” “Iron Cross,” “Squatch,” etc.) then it has an origin and deserves credit. Even if you don’t know where it originated, give credit to where you got it from. We ask this of other professions, and we should hold ourselves to those standards in this one.
Target from Sentinel Concepts, taken during CHE course. One of the best targets out there.
The terms “Combat Effective” and “Combat Accurate” have been swirling around the shooting world for quite some time now. Their definitions however, are a gray area at best, normally used to describe less than ideal (also known as bad) shot placement by a shooter or Instructor. I have seen where an instructor was attempting to demonstrate how easy it was to get a 1.0 second draw at 7 yards and continually placed rounds in the D-zone of a USPSA target (I.e. Shoulder/arm/read as complete miss on an average sized human). Of the five reps, zero impacted the A-zone and none were a “close” C. His response every time was “It’s a combat effective hit.” Does a shot in the arm have an effect on someone? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I think it’s time we redefine combat accuracy and combat effective hits.
What we’ve seen thanks to a decade of war and individuals really putting in the time to study how gunfights happen scientifically, is that if someone is hit in the arm, leg, even chest at times, the only thing that stops them from continuing to fight is their own lack of will to fight. If we want to truly define “Combat Effective” hits, we’d be talking about the A-zone of a USPSA target or the -0 portion of an IDPA target. And even these would be considered somewhat generous by some instructors. If we really want to be effective, we’d be shooting 4×6 and 3×5 cards. Does a hit in the hand have an effect on someone? Sometimes. Does a shot to the face have an effect? Sometimes. But I’ll say this, the shot in the face has a much better chance of having an effect than a a round passing through the meaty part of someone’s hand. (No, I’m not saying immediately go for the head shot.)
When we’re running our Combative Handgun/Carbine or Practical Application of Concealed Carry (PACC) courses, we shoot almost exclusively on B-8 targets, 3×5, and 4×6 cards. We shoot a lot of cards in our other courses as well, but the accuracy standards for the combative courses are far less forgiving. We didn’t do it just to make the courses harder. We did it because it is the most accurate representation of what is needed when fighting with a gun. One thing we’ve learned (and relearned over and over again) is that shot placement is king. Statistically, caliber barely matters, capacity rarely matters, but making good hits in vital areas ALWAYS matters!
So let’s be a bit more realistic, and honest with ourselves. A-zones and -0’s are easy, and they let us go really fast. 4×6 cards and 2″ dots are hard and are a more accurate representation of what stops gunfights. So go out, buy a100 pack of 3×5 cards, glue them to your USPSA/IDPA targets, and get to shooting. Hold yourself to a higher standard.
Some of you are most likely familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect, where someone of moderate or low skill believes themselves to be of a much higher skill level. Normally this manifests in the industry as “One second draws are easy. I carry with an empty chamber and I can easily draw, load, and fire under a second from concealment.” (That was an ACTUAL comment that was said to one of the guys I work with.) These comments generally come from the guy/gal that can be found shooting a couple times a year, or plinking in the middle of the desert at cans and televisions. These individuals are of little concern to me. They spout blatantly false statements on the Internet and forums, and often have an opinion about everything, and everyone, and anything that isn’t theirs is wrong. Again, while they annoy me to great extent, they are of little actual concern.
What does concern me greatly are those with moderate skill level that truly believe themselves to be HIGHLY skilled shooters. As much as it pains me to say, this is glaringly present within the tactical training community, and it stretches from the local instructor up to national level. One minute they will tell you how they are the greatest combat marksman that has ever been and if you didn’t come from their background you obviously aren’t worth shit. Three minutes later, they demo (if they demo) a draw from concealment at seven yards where they are unable to get a single hit within two seconds… Or perhaps they show you their sub-one second draw, to a D-zone or shoulder hit… Often the excuses of, “I’m on the road too much so I can’t practice” or “well, that’s a combat effective hit” comes out. BULLSHIT!!! What it comes down to is you’ve believed your own hype for far too long and have continued to make excuses for lack of skill instead of practicing, or practicing what you needed. I know very few truly skilled shooters who believe they are currently at the top of their game. They are hyper aware of their deficiencies and rarely make real excuses for them. They see and recognize things that are often not even apparent to a large majority of shooters. Things like how a 14lb recoil spring completely changes how a gun reacts in recoil vs. a 16lb recoil spring, or how a .010″ difference in front sight width completely changes the relationship between speed and precision.
Everything in context: Fighting with a firearm is different than competing with one, but shooting is shooting. The gun doesn’t know the difference. If you cannot perform a skill in isolation, such as drawing to an eight inch circle at seven yards and getting a hit under two seconds, how can you EVER think you will be able to do it within the context of a fight! If you really think you will “rise to the occasion,” I have some really bad news for you. So, let’s all be realistic about our skill levels. Understand that we can always get better. There is no end to this game of leveling up as it were. Something that is apparent amongst all the champion shooters I have dealt with, studied, and spoken too: they are always trying to get better. Some are trying to get faster, some more accurate, some are seeking both, but they are always trying to get better.
Let’s not believe our own hype, and remember that “The way is through training” (Miyamoto Musashi). We are all deficient in some area of shooting. Let’s get to shooting, dry firing, competing, and start forge welding some of those chinks in our armor.