Reading Exercise Science Literature

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Dr. Jonathon Sullivan is the Associate Director of the Emergency Medicine Cerebral Resuscitation Laboratory and Course Coordinator of the Emergency Medicine Basic Research Elective for Wayne State University. He has served on the Scientific Review Committee for the Emergency Medicine Foundation and as a Reviewer for the Brain Research Journal.

He earned is MD from the University of Arizona College of Medicine (MD) in 1992, Ph. D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1999, and did an Emergency Medicine Research Fellowship in 1998. His Residency was at Detroit Receiving Hospital, Wayne State University in 1992-1995 and he currently an ER doctor at the Detroit Receiving Hospital at Michigan’s first Level I Trauma Center. In addition, he’s also a certified Starting Strength strength coach and owner of Greysteel Strength and Conditioning, a barbell gym catering specifically to people age 40 and older.

Here is his approach to reading and understanding scientific papers, specifically those in the exercise science literature.

NSFW Warning: Dr. Sullivan is a former Marine and current practicing ER doctor and his language is salty. Part of interest begins at 8:15.

Here are his thoughts on the importance of strength training.

Competition Shooter, Real World Encounter

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This is yet another example of how competition shooting causes bad habits during real world encounters. Oh, wait…

Man Who Shot Crossroads Mall Terrorist Is USPSA Competitor, 3-Gun Shooter

USPSA Shooter,  3-Gunner, and NRA-certified firearms instructor Jason Falconer has been identified as the man who shot and killed a 22-year-old Somali immigrant who went on a stabbing rampage inside a St. Cloud, (MN) Mall on Saturday.

The apparent terrorist—who apparently asked victims if they were Muslims before stabbing them—was engaged by Falconer inside the mall.

US Marine Scout Sniper Documentary

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Here’s a summary: Take what you learn by attempting to win shooting matches and apply that improved skill and knowledge to the field environment.

Carlos Hathcock Interview
“What I used when I was sniping, I learned when I was competing.”

Sadly, they overlooked Chief Warrant Officer Arthur Terry as having originally started the program in Hawaii at the Pu’uloa Range Training Facility near ʻEwa Beach and Pearl Harbor (now Joint Base Harbor-Hickam). Gunner Terry’s sniper program trained Carlos Hathcock.

Gunner Terry served as a sniper in Korea. More accurately, he used his competition shooting experience with an accurized service rifle to engage specific targets. Upon returning to the States, he was assigned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, running a shooting team and starting a formal sniping program in the 1950s. This began being known as the Scout Sniper program as scouting was required to first find a target and high level shooting skill was required to get hits.

Terry had officially retired after Korea, however, Major General Alan Shapley, then-commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, “reacquired” him for a single purpose: Developing a sniper program, starting with the shooters from the Marine Rifle and Pistol team in Hawaii. Shapley was preparing for future conflicts after Korea. Terry was given a new service number and “unretired” into a Warrant Officer position with the mission of turning shooters into snipers. Given his sniping experience in Korea, Gunner Terry was directed by FMF brass to start this program. It wasn’t unusual for Shapely or generals from 1st Marine Division dropping in to Terry’s office for updates.

Arnold Vitarbo and John Verhaal were among the skilled competitive shooters on Gunner Terry’s cadre. Jim Land and Carlos Hathcock were some of their first students.

Another interview of a Viet Nam era sniper:

Time and the Hunter


Once in a great while, hunters will complain about the HunterShooter format and its use of timers. Well, the novice shooters purchasing hunting licenses sometimes do when justifying their non-participation.

The complaint using goes along the lines about how hunting is not timed, there’s no timer in the woods, animals don’t carry clocks, and the like. Just as defensive shooters wrongly complaining about timed exercises, the point is that time can be a factor and can be a stressor. Learning how to perform under time pressure is a good way to learn how to handle this.

Broken down, buck fever is largely influenced by time pressure, either real or perceived. Knowing there is but one chance to do the correct thing and that it needs to get done before the animal is spooked or flees is a stressor pressed largely by time. If a hunter could somehow guarantee the animal wouldn’t move or leave and knew he was free to take as much time as desired, buck fever would be mostly eliminated.

Beyond buck fever, sometimes there is a time limit and it might be strongly enforced by your quarry.

Anyone foolish enough to suggest this hunter didn’t feel pressed for time?

A regular participant consistently producing good scores in HunterShooter events likely wouldn’t have had this problem. As in, not missing quickly with multiple shots in the first place.

Lawrence of Arabia

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Thomas Edward Lawrence was the British Army officer whose World War I exploits earned him fame as “Lawrence of Arabia” Some assembled facts about the man.

Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was later used for the 1962 film based on his World War I activities.

The real “Lawrence of Arabia” was a man of short stature. While six-foot, three-inch Peter O’Toole cut a towering figure as the lead in the 1962 epic biopic “Lawrence of Arabia,” the real Lawrence was only five feet, five inches tall. Lawrence remained self-conscious about his height, which may have been caused by a childhood case of the mumps.

He first traveled to the Middle East as an Oxford archaeology student. Lawrence spent the summer of 1909 traveling solo through Syria and Palestine to survey the castles of the Crusaders for his thesis. He walked nearly 1,000 miles and was shot at, robbed and badly beaten. In spite of the arduous journey, the new graduate returned to Syria the following year as part of an archaeological expedition sponsored by the British Museum. His years in the region deepened his knowledge of Arabic and affinity for the Arabs.

He never had a single day of battlefield training. In 1914, the British military employed Lawrence on an archaeological expedition of the Sinai Peninsula and Negev Desert, a research trip that was actually a cover for a secret military survey of territory possessed by the Ottoman Turks. Once World War I began, Lawrence joined the British military as an intelligence officer in Cairo. He worked a desk job for nearly two years before being sent to Arabia in 1916 where, in spite of his nonexistent military training, he helped to lead battlefield expeditions and dangerous missions behind enemy lines during the two-year Arab Revolt against the Turks.

Lawrence was a scruffy officer. His army superior, Ronald Storrs, remembered Lawrence had – and deserved – the title of the ‘untidiest officer in the British Army’. His uniform was never put on quite right; his Sam Browne belt was as often as not buckled loose over his unbuttoned shoulder strap, or he’d forget to put it on at all. He also had an instant disrespect for army officers, his general lack of respect for authority being a theme running through his life.


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A nice quote from Greg Everett. This applies equally to problems in fitness training and tactical training.

“Being prepared for any random task is not the same thing as preparing randomly for any task.”

Too Successful Training

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The rookie is “obeying” the commands he so often got at basic; also the TEAM training: when one goes down, all go down.

I remember one recruit in the rifle shoot house that did a nice job of clearing all the rooms and hitting the targets high center mass…one of which was UC with a clean 223 hole through the badge round his neck.

I suspect “training scar” issues like this occur more from novice skill levels rather than learning a “bad” habit. When academy/basic training remains the totality of formal learning a person has, they’re more likely to repeat such things because it’s the only response available in a rather limited playbook, especially when there is little to no history of performing under pressure where the results truly matter to them.

Example. We shot a series of surprise courses at CAFSAC in the shoot houses at Connaught, Ottawa. Despite shooting these after the fixed, square range courses (the sort that allegedly cause “training scars”) not a single competitor displayed any such mistake. None of the range officers reported anyone inadvertently remaining flat footed when they should have been moving, failing to use cover, unloading before finding and engaging targets, etc. It’s almost as if being more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand. Amazing!

From John Tate:
You speak of a “limited playbook.” My phrase is tool box/tool bag. And I fully agree.

Once upon a time, LONG, LONG ago, I played guitar and 5-string banjo. The fingering is vastly different. But one learns to change “playbooks.”

Your square range vs. shoot house example illustrates identical adaptation to the environment.

The one quasi-counterexample I would give is a person reacting to an instantaneous and severe stimulus where either instinct or habit takes over before conscious thought. I liken these to “brake pedal moments.” BUT – as you said, “[B]eing more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand.”

All of which goes back to the “train to die” model of only shooting the standard, flat-foot, stationary target qual course.

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