Sam Woodfill

Leave a comment

Captain Sam Woodfill
Competition Marksman and Pershing’s Favorite Doughboy
by Darryl Davis

Rifle Marksmanship is an imperceptible process with results visible only to the practitioners and understandable only to other practitioners. Marksmanship is nearly impossible to describe to others. [Note 1]

General Pershing did not want American soldiers to learn to be cave-dwelling trench denizens. He wanted cross-country fire and movement to be the major calling, with trench adeptness as sideline. But “fire,” “shooting,” “marksmanship,” have no standard meaning. Those with equipment familiarity think it applies to what they can do. Those with rifle marksmanship skills (e.g., who have fired more than 1500 rounds, each carefully aimed, each result carefully inspected) hear it as referring to their much higher capacity. Pershing thought of it in the latter sense, hence his regard for Captain Woodfill, who had been a target shooter for many years before the war and had skills accordingly. He also was a skilled hunter.


The Long Plod to Proficiency

1 Comment

The Long Plod to Proficiency
Notes on marksmanship training
by Darryl Davis

Military elite performance for real or as in the movie is astonishing and inspiring. Its magnetism has led to clutter up thinking on rifles and their use.

A gifted British officer, trying to introduce rifle use in the Army during the American Revolution, got terribly confused and thought military elite performance had something to do with it. (No rifles in Britain or in settled areas in the Colonies, just in the near and remote Colonial exurbs.) No rifles in New Jersey. Because his head was turned by the fixation on military elites, he set back thought of rifles in the British Army for 25 years, even though the British High Command were severely alarmed by the non-military, personal rifles used by Colonial Rustics, who were all regarded as extremely dangerous and threatening. Well, they were, even though some were middle-aged and lacking in teeth.

The British introduction of the Baker Rifle was a bad, monkey-see imitation of the American rustic’s super rifle, getting the rifle wrong and with no idea of how the natives achieved Proficiency.

The rifle-shooting learning curve comes up quickly in the Equipment Familiarity part of the curve, and then the curve goes “flat.” It really levels off. All armies stop there with rifle training, as what is the point? The flattening is in fact the beginning of the long duration when a different set of skills are learned. After this Long Plod, all (ALL) go to reside somewhere in Proficiency. Getting there quickest is done by firing a large number of carefully-fired shots and inspecting each result. It is like learning the violin.

Armies think Proficiency is something spontaneous, or like having perfect pitch. Instead, an army finds either a quick learner or someone bringing skills in from civilian life. It is the number of careful shots fired. Slow learners fire more shots and they just take a little more time to get to Proficiency, but get there they do. Armies consider it something associated with having a military elite profile. Rubbish. I have seen a thin, short, very myopic middle-aged woman at a pistol range make one little hole with her M1911 Colt .45 automatic pistol. At an outdoor range, I have seen a genuine blue-haired old lady, with glasses to match, make a disturbingly large number of holes in the black at a thousand (1000) yards.

Keep all the military at the range at slow-fire and eventually the whole lot will plod to Proficiency and shoot about as well as the snipers. The track record of Proficient civilians put in the army and thrust into live-fire is 1.5 shots per hit/kill. This is the Hermann Phenomenon, first observed over 200 years ago. The record is stable through astounding equipment changes, because it is something one learns on the Long Plod to Proficiency.

The henchman to seeing ability to shoot coming only from military elites is the magnetic fixation on hardware. Hardware is important as learning should be done on a reasonably accurate rifle with adjustable sights. Audie Murphy learned on a single-shot .22. Sergeant York learned on a 19th Century caplock with fixed sights. Other than that, the key is the number of shots fired.

The Long Plod to Proficiency has been made by one army in the past, but no one noticed. It was an accident. They were training for short range rapid fire, and slow fire at all ranges was in the course of fire. The officer corps did not notice that the slow fire scores had slowly risen to Proficiency, which calls for big changes in infantry doings. After the war, the officer corps and the historians missed it.

Nonsense Training


Nonsense Training
by Dave Spaulding


Ego Defenses

1 Comment

Ego Defenses
by Claude Werner


All Army Small Arms Championships


All Army Small Arms Championships
February 1-7 2015

Qualified to offer Tactical Training, Again

Leave a comment

So it turns out some sheriff in Florida is notably unskilled with issue firearms, even when compared to police officers. Shocking to hear, I know.

Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre, who has pushed for bans on certain firearms, drew deserved criticism for not being able to pass minimal local police qualification standards. Apparently, he isn’t even required to attempt this. “There is no such requirement [to pass basic qualification] that exists for the constitutional office of County Sheriff,” the article notes.

It is worth pointing out that if Sheriff Manfre cared to, he could put himself up as a tactical trainer and offer classes. His credentials could legitimately read:

  • Certified law enforcement professional with more than a decade’s experience.
  • Passed multiple law enforcement firearms certifications
  • Extensive leadership experience as elected County Sheriff
  • Regularly audited law enforcement firearms training and gained a deep understanding of multi-agency training programs


What Right Looks Like


Good shooting requires good feedback and the only way to get it is learning to keep your eyes open.

It is nearly impossible to progress until the ability to consistently and accurately call shots is developed. That is, seeing the sights lift in recoil as the triggered shot is released. Seeing that tenth of a second window that tells you where your shot really went.

Most gun owners never develop that ability, or even realize its importance. Here is an example of what this is supposed to look like by COL Denise Loring of the USAR Marksmanship Program.

Notice her eye stays open for every fired shot. Man up and learn to shoot like her.

Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,037 other followers

%d bloggers like this: