July 3, 2015
Ralph Mroz, tactical training
Competition vs. street training — again, and why my opinion has wiggled around
by Ralph Mroz
Over the years I’ve written a few articles on the difference between training for match competitions and training for the street. I have found that my opinion has changed over the last few years in that I find more value in competitive-orientated shooting that I used to. In no particular order, here’s the things – pro and con – that have influenced my current state of mind on the matter:
There is a lot more to street self defense than shooting, but shooting is a critical and central component of it.
Competitive shooters are the best pure shooters, so if you want to learn to shoot, competitive training is how you’ll get good at it.
Competitive shooting can train some bad habits into you. For example, you can shoot too fast (that is, faster than you can assess the situation), cover is treated as an inconvenience rather than a life-saving opportunity, you shoot without vocalization, penalties for misses are not life-destroying, among others. [Editor’s note: All of these can – and are – mitigated by course design if that is the goal.]
You can mitigate the disadvantages of competitive training by doing it only as a sideline compared to street training or by shooting competitions with street gear and using street tactics. You can also modify competitive training drills to be more realistic while retaining their shooting improvement quality. [Editor’s note: A significant portion of all effective training, for competition or otherwise, is developing fundamental skills. Concerning firearm use, there is no difference in fundamental skills with street training or competition.]
Now that so many men have retired out of our top-tier special forces (Delta, whatever 6 is called this week, and so on) and are teaching serious members of the public and LE, we have more insight into their training methods, which, and this is important, have been validated in copious close-quarter combat engagements since 2003. One thing that strikes me is just how much a good deal of their training seems to resemble competitive training, which is no real surprise in that every SF unit has a top competitive shooter that they regularly get instruction from.
Competitive shooters, in order to get an edge, slick up their guns with a too-light trigger. Yes, Rule Three is the ultimate safety, but on the street you have to expect to get startled, bumped, trip and fall, as well as get into physical struggles. During these events your finger can involuntarily come onto the trigger, and a trigger weight less than 5 pounds — and ideally more — is just too light. [Editor’s note: All military and many civilian venues (notably Production/Stock/Standard divisions) mandate equipment and modifications suitable for issue and/or field/street use.]
Tom Givens’ record of all of his 60+ (armed) students winning their gunfights is impressive, and Tom trains in traditional, competition-compatible, technique.
Things like acquiring a sight picture and resetting the trigger — both foundational competitive techniques — do seem to have value under stress. The trigger reset seems to become subconscious programmed, and whether or not you can actually acquire a sight picture under stress (I believe it depends on the amount of stress you are under compared to what you have become accustomed to), you are certainly building kinesthetic memory which seems to hold up sufficiently well.
Some additional points:
Competitive shooting need not encourage bad habits. Things like shooting too fast and cover use can be addressed with course of fire design based on the goals.
A significant portion of all effective training, for competition or otherwise, is developing fundamental skills. Contrary to popular myth, competitive shooters do conduct training or practice by shooting full competitive courses repeatedly. Instead, they drill fundamental skills, the same base skills that apply to all firearm use.
Concerns with equipment, such as slicked up guns with a too-light triggers, can be addressed in equipment divisions forbidding such modifications. Military matches require as-issue gear and ammo, for example.
July 1, 2015
COMP, Competitive/Organized Marksmanship Programs, Jeff Cooper, Keith Garcia, Ken Hackathorn, rooney gun, tactical training, training scar
I’m not sure if Ken Hackathorn is choosing selective memory or just waxing nostalgic. In his interview with Recoil magazine he lambasts organized competitive shooting. There are no concrete examples, just the usual suspects of empty, unsubstantiated claims. Details here:
June 25, 2015
COMP, Competitive/Organized Marksmanship Programs, Ken Hackathorn, tactical training, training scar
Ken Hackathorn spent a bit of his interview with Recoil magazine looking down on competition shooting for giving bad habits. Yes, the same Ken Hackathorn that is a founding member of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), and helped usher in 3 Gun competitions.
Here are the relevant quotes lifted from Recoil magazine.
KH: [Jeff] Cooper started IPSC and I was one of the founding members. When IPSC started, in the mid ’70s, it was combat shooting. We were drawing from holsters, shooting multiple targets, reloading under stress, using varying courses and it was “radical.”
Recoil: What difference do you see between shooters who train for competition and those who train for self-defense?
KH: Certain things are just different in the real world versus the competition or “game boy” world. A lot of guys talk about their splits and times. When I hear somebody talking about splits, I pus the delete button on them because they’re a game boy, they’re not a realist. That’s something that is very important in the world, but they’ve lost any semblance of reality in what they’re doing. You end up programming yourself with reflexive responses, and those responses can get you killed in the real world. They think that if it was a “real scenario” they wouldn’t do those responses, but in reality, they would.
There was a period post-Sept. 11 where all the special-ops teams in the military started bringing in champion shooters to teach them techniques. Once they went off to war and got a chance to apply the techniques, they found that most of it was bullshit and borderline suicidal in a real-world application. On the flipside, we’ve also learned that you can have a ton of military experience or a great record, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great teacher.
Recoil: What do you see as a central obstacle for competition shooters looking to take more self-defense styled classes?
KH: The emphasis on speed and certain muscle memory drills can be really harmful in a real-world application. Under stress, the conscious analytical mind doesn’t work; only the subconscious mind can function from what it’s been fed. When bullets are flying, you’ve got the IQ of a lizard. FIghting with a firearm means having to work with what you’ve programmed into your mind – and that can only happen from practice. Everything we do is critical in that respect. A target in real life might not be “one and done.” He may keep coming at you, but you stop firing because you already hit them once – like you would a posed target on a speed competition. It’s not how fast you hit somebody. It’s where you hit them that can neutralize the situation. That’s where my Wizard Drill comes into play. You’ve got to learn to focus on an aggressor rather than a clock.
Let’s see if we’re following.
“Competent and practiced shooters” is a nice way of saying “competition shooters.”
As with others that propagate this myth, we’re still waiting on concrete examples of this “problem” causing actual problems. There’s this nebulous notion that competition is bad because some people keep making the claim but still no named examples.
June 22, 2015
Only Available until June 30, 2015
Coonan Inc., manufacturer of the unique custom 1911 chambered in .357 Magnum, introduced a new Limited Edition Compact model based on the company’s “Classic” full size model.
The Limited Edition Compact is built with a stainless steel 4-inch barrel, 6+1 single-stack magazine, fixed night sights, black milled aluminum grips, and a black anodized trigger. Because this is a limited edition, it will carry an LTD serial number. This exclusive pistol is only available until June 30, 2015. For more information, visit coonaninc.com.
Coonan .357 Magnum Compact Limited Edition Specs
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 4”
Magazine Capacity: 6 rounds +1
Stainless Steel Finish
Black Milled Aluminum Grips
Fixed Night Sights
Black Anodized Trigger
LTD Serial Number (LTDxxxx)
June 22, 2015
Guest Article, SensibleShooter
Sensible advice from Kevin Creighton. Learning good things from different places is much better than limiting yourself to “one true way.”
Is Firearms Training Your Single Point of Failure?
by Kevin Creighton
June 21, 2015
Kalashnikov Concern of the Kalashnikov Group revealed their new PL-14 (Pistol designed by Lebedev) at the International military-technical Forum this month in Kubinka (Moscow region). Interestingly, the concept was developed jointly by Russian special forces and IPSC competitive shooters and the company has made a point in making that clear.
“On another version of the pistol for highly skilled users (special forces and competitive shooters), trigger will be lighter.”
“The versatility of our new pistol allows to use it not only as a military weapon for the military forces and police, but also as a pistol for different shooting competitions – said Kalashnikov CEO Alexey Krivoruchko. – We intend to produce different variants of the pistol, for example, with certain characteristics of the trigger mechanism for special forces units, as well as a civilian version with trigger that would be suitable for practical shooting competitions as well”.
June 21, 2015
A series of Bryan Litz tips on ballistics and competition.
If you only know Bryan Litz from his Applied Ballistics Books and DVDs, you may not realize that this guy is a great marksman (along with being an actual rocket scientist). This guy can shoot. At the recent Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN), Bryan took top honors among all sling shooters — and he managed to do that while performing many other important match duties. The pay-off for Bryan was getting his name on a really cool “ghost dancer” perpetual trophy. Litz joked: “With what the wind gods can do at shooting matches, it makes sense to have a trophy that puts you in touch with the spirit world.”