LASD Pistol Team Exhibition, 1936

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Bullseye shooting was used to build fundamental skills. Note that the combat course was scored points per second.

So, any of you that have shot the IDPA Classifier recognize a few of the strings of fire used here?

A Different Approach To Training: Shooting Better For The Sake Of Shooting Better


Outstanding write up by John Van Swearingen. Compare his comments to my reviews of the Magpul Dynamics DVD series he mentions below.

A Different Approach To Training: Shooting Better For The Sake Of Shooting Better
by John Van Swearingen
(The opinions below are those of the author, John Van Swearingen, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Gunfighters crew. No endorsement is implied by the mention of any brands or products. Further, the author is not that tough. You can probably take him.)

Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship


Shooting Team members have been saying this since about forever ago. I suppose it’s progress that somebody outside of the marksmanship programs finally noticed as well.

Note the authors of this paper failed to mention the US Army Reserve Marksmanship Training and Competitive Program (who largely staffed the Small Arms Readiness Group back when it used to be effective and relevant), the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center, the All Guard Team, and the Guard’s state-level Small Arms Readiness Training Sections.

These exclusions are especially sad because the NGMTU, state-level SARTS, Guard and Reserve teams are officially declared by published military regulations. Most of the programs listed under paragraph 2d. are not.

I’d point out these exclusions just emphasize the paper’s point as even the authors of this document citing vast ignorance of effective marksmanship training are themselves ignorant of effective marksmanship programs throughout the Department of Army.

5 February 2014


Subject: Lack of Institutional Training for Leaders on How to Instruct Marksmanship

1. Purpose. To provide the current status

2. Facts. There is no current training available within the institutional base that instructs leaders specifically on “how to” instruct marksmanship. No formal instruction exists today that develops all leaders on how to adequately teach marksmanship skills, firing or engagement techniques, and methods.

a. NCOES. This includes the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) or any other course currently offered at the Maneuver Center of Excellence. No course includes instruction on the variety of training aids, devices, simulations, and simulators (TADSS) that support marksmanship instruction, or how to use them effectively to achieve any desired increase in Soldier performance.

b. U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School. The Drill Sergeant School does provide limited instruction on marksmanship training; however, it is tailored to the instruction modules for Initial Entry Training (IET) and is not available to all leaders Army-wide. In an Army Research Institute study, even the Drill Sergeant courseware required additional attention and that “a common theme identified was that many drill sergeants misunderstood parts of rifle marksmanship doctrine and / or inconsistently applied training techniques and procedures” (Army Research Institute, 2011).

c. Several courses, products, and publications have been developed in the past decade to support marksmanship training at the unit level. The Small Arms Weapons Expert (SAWE) course, the Small Arms Integration Book (SAIB), Short Range Marksmanship course, Long Range Marksmanship course, and Small Arms and Optics (SA-O) course, are examples of those previously developed and provided by the MCoE. These items are no longer supported or provided by the MCoE. Other Army organizations have filled the training gaps created by the loss of these items, such as the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU), the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), and PM Soldier, Sensors, and Lasers (PM SSL) which offer mobile training teams to small groups (10-20 Soldiers per class).

d. Operational and Army Reserve units have subsequently developed their own marksmanship programs to fill these training gaps, particularly as AMU, AWG, and PM SSL cannot meet the training demand. The following organizations have developed or are developing their own marksmanship instruction courseware to alleviate training shortcomings and the expected loss of MTT support by AMU and AWG in the future:

  1. 10th Mountain Division
  2. 82nd Airborne Division
  3. 101st Airborne Division
  4. 7th Army Training Command (USAREUR)
  5. Warrior Training Center (WTC, National Guard Bureau)
  6. Small Arms Readiness Group (US Army Reserves)

These courses vary in design, content, and duration, but each does reference and use FM 3-22.9, Basic Rifle Marksmanship and the specific weapon technical manuals.

e. The MCoE provided a restructured SAWE Program of Instruction (POI) to units as an exportable training package for unit use. This POI can be found on the Warrior University at: and can be accessed from any government computer (Maneuver Center of Excellence, 2013).

f. During the AEWE analysis in 2012, specific attention was made to the training shortfalls within Army units. “The Army should consider teaching not just marksmanship to its Soldiers, but formally developing marksmanship training skills for its NCOs” (Army Training Evaluation Center, 2012). The report went on to comment that senior Command Sergeants Major “provided an overwhelming support towards relooking at the Army’s training approach…of US Army NCOs and Officers” concerning instructing rifle marksmanship training skills to leaders.

g. In a white paper from the then 197th Brigade Commander, this position was further promoted to “aggressively pursue consolidation of the different marksmanship courses we currently offer to the field under the auspices of the Global War on Terror into one course that produces a Small Arms Master Gunner. This course needs to build upon the basic knowledge all NCOs get from attending IET, the Warrior Leader’s Course, the (then) Basic Noncommissioned Officer’s Course, and other specialized training they receive during the course of their careers” (Gregory C. Kane, 2009).

3. Recommendation: The Maneuver Center of Excellence evaluates its current curriculum structures and their inherent ability to support any additional training hours specifically dedicated to the instruction of how to train marksmanship. This includes:

  • NCOA assess feasibility of including additional instruction on small arms training.
  • USAIS assess feasibility of implementing stand-alone functional training course that is specifically geared to certification of instructors at Home Station for small arms weapons, optics, and illuminators.
  • NCOA inquire with the Sergeants Major Academy for the feasibility to incorporate small arms instructor training within the Warrior Leader’s Course.

Stephen Krivitsky/AZTD-TDD/6-1828

APPROVED BY: COL Richard Timmons


Army Research Institute. (2011). Research Product 2011-07, Rifle Marksmanship Diagnostic and Training Guide. Fort Benning: Army Research Institute (ARI).

Army Training Evaluation Center. (2012). Analysis Report for the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) – Bold Quest 2012. Fort Benning: U.S. Army.

Ellison IV, M. I. (2005). Current Inadequacy of Small Arms Training for all Military Occupational Specialties int eh Conventional Army. Fort Leavenworth: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Gregory C. Kane, C. (2009). Forging a Coordinated Small Arms Training Strategy. Fort Benning: 197th Brigade.

Maneuver Center of Excellence. (2013). Small Arms Weapons Expert – Training and Educational Material. Retrieved FEB 03, 2014, from Warrior University:

Maneuver Center of Excellence, Directorate of Training and Doctrine. (2011). Analysis of Alternatives, Live Fire Training Strategies, Task 9. Fort Benning: Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Rand Corporation. (2013). Changing the Army’s Weapons Training strategies to More Efficiently Meet Operational Requirements (RESTRICTED DRAFT). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army.

Rifle Shooting May Predict Your Lifespan


Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live
Flexibility, balance and muscle strength are key indicators of longevity.
by Becky Lang
Discover Magazine November 2013

Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo noticed long ago patients having trouble with motions such as bending down to pick up something off the floor or easily rising from a seated position indicated a loss of muscle, balance, and flexibility, all which indicate an increased chance of mortality.

Araujo eventually developed a simple test requiring no equipment called the Sitting-Rising Test. In a study published in the European Journal of Cardiology, Araujo had more than 2,000 patients ages 51 to 80 at at Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro take the SRT. The study concluded that people scoring less then eight points on the SRT were twice as likely to die within the next six years compared with those scoring higher and scoring scored three points or less indicated a 500% increased chance of dying within the same period compared with those scoring more than eight points. Each point increase in SRT score was associated with a 21 percent decrease in mortality from all causes.

To perform the SRT, sit down on the ground. Using no support is a perfect score of five. Using your hands or forearms on the ground or your body to help is a one point deduction for each contact. Appearing to lose balance is a half point. Then stand up, with the same scoring and deductions. Add them together for total score.

These illustrations from Discover Magazine shows how to perform the SRT.

If you imagine a rifle in that woman’s hands, you’ll notice she basically assumed a cross leg sitting position. Being able to get smoothly into and out of a sitting position with a rifle in your hands and using minimal to no support to do so yields a high SRT score. As with your marksmanship, shooting seated from a bench is also harmful to your health.

Medical professionals have spoken. An ability to get into and out of rifle shooting positions indicates a maintenance of sufficient muscle, flexibility, and balance for long, healthy life. Dry practice and live fire regularly from field shooting positions. It’s for your health!

Training vs. Instruction


The real world benefits of competing aren’t found participating at the match, they are found preparing for the match. Participating in competitive events merely serves as a yard stick as to how effective these preparations were, with the bonus of meeting and visiting with nice people in a fun environment.

This translates perfectly and exactly to whatever else you might set as a goal. The rulebook and match program are the OPORD and the match is the mission. The results spell out how well your preparations went. Plus, despite myths to the contrary, the fundamental skills trained are the same. Your gun can’t tell the difference between Pepper Poppers or terrorists. More ranting on that here:

Soldiers, cops and most gun owners rarely train. Usually, they receive instruction, an introduction to concepts. Perhaps they practice these concepts occasionally, such as during annual qualification. They may expend ammo and range time but skills rarely increase measurably.

No public sector or CCW skill assessment requires demonstration of improvement once minimums are met. A minimal skill level that passes raw recruits at the academy or in basic will continue to pass twenty year vets.

Competition is one of the few venues where actual training – that is, purposely programmed skill development – is measured and encouraged. It is also one of the few venues where you can test the entire range of your marksmanship and gun handling skills at high levels under the stress of a timer, audience, and empirical measure.

Competition is also one of the very few environments where participants actually TRAIN, that is, have a measured means of determining skill and purposely drive skill up based on that measurement. Most people that bother with “training” receive someone’s, or some organization’s, idea of instruction and stop there. “Experienced” trainers have attended multiple instruction courses that never demand skill increases. It’s like a person that attends a barbell certification course annually but never touches a barbell between these sessions. Even after twenty years this “experience” won’t leaven him any stronger for it.

I challenge you to find an open enrollment tactical class where paying students are FAILED. That is, they don’t receive any acknowledgement of attending unless they hit some minimum, pre-determined skill performance requirement. Most give everyone a certificate of attendance, provided your credit card clears and you don’t hurt anyone.

See if you can find an open enrollment tactical class or military/law enforcement qualification beyond intro/basic that enforces a required skill progression. One that sends students home the morning of day one, possibly without refund, if they fail to meet tested minimums.

Tactical Timmy (military, law enforcement and civilian) takes instruction, but he rarely trains. Not until he is held to any progressive skill standard.

Coaches Must Compete

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Béla Károlyi is regarded by many as the greatest coach of Olympic gymnasts. Looking at pictures of the man, he doesn’t appear to be a gymnast capable of performing the moves that his gold medal winning athletes are required to execute.

Tiger Woods has a coach (Hank Haney) but Mr. Haney never achieved the same golfing success as his student.

Jim Schmitz coached Team USA in the 1980, 1988, and 1992 Olympics, has trained 11 Olympians – including three athletes who have clean and jerked 500 pounds and two who have snatched 400 pounds – and led teams to national championships seven times.

It is also claimed that the same is true in other major sports as well. Some great coaches were once players, but few had Hall of Fame playing careers. Other good coaches never played but led their teams to victory.

These are examples given as to why coaches don’t require any personal, higher level experience. This notion is false.

Skill Demo

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Aikido/Sword instructor Koichi Kashiwaya Demonstration
by Brent Yamamoto

Notice that none of the techniques are overly complex, they are only simple diagonal, horizontal, and downward cuts. This is not to say that any of them are easy.

Although some of the cuts are from a static position, most involve movement. In most of these sequences, he is moving…either before, after, or even during the cut.

There are many good cutters out there, but most do so only from static positions. This is akin to standing still shooting holes through paper at the range…it is useful practice but it is not fighting. Fighting requires movement, along with the recognition that you must balance hitting while not being hit.

Movement is not wasted, telegraphing is minimized. Muscles are relaxed rather than overly tense. Smooth is fast.

Accuracy. At this distance the focus is on the target. He is not focused on his own weapon, and yet the cut goes where it’s intended. He sees what he needs to see to insure an accurate hit.

Notice that the sword comes out of the sheath fast, but it goes back in very reluctantly. Does this look familiar??

Transitions between right & left handed cutting. Just as we must not be slaves to our shooting position, he is not a slave to his cutting position. Use what is right for the situation and change as necessary based on the relationship to the target.

Mindset. I don’t need to describe this, just look at him! There is no emphasis on technique, no concern about proper grip or stance or any of that (those things are necessary but at this point they are “baked in”…they just happen without conscious thought). There is a single-minded goal of cutting the target down…cut, cut, and cut again.

There isn’t a rusty meat cleaver in this video. You cannot perform at the limits of your capability with poor equipment.

The concepts apply to whatever tool you are using. Train fundamentals on targets using simple drills until measured results demonstrate proficiency. Add in useful things when appropriate.



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