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.