#> I’d be willing to bet their are more than some shooters that know something you don’t. Or even are better shots that you are, whether they know some trick, or are simply better than you are.

Of course! Firearm User Network isn’t about “John Buol is best.” Notice my title is “Director”, not “Best Shooter.” I think I have a few good ideas, but I’m confident somebody else has even better ideas and I want to find them. Then we’ll promote their name to the masses. Some guy who throws a football gets national attention. Skilled shooters deserve the same.

#> The true experts may be all around you … – you have to look for them somewhere outside of a range competition.

But who are they and how will we know if they’re the real deal, or just full of it? The only way I know how to establish if someone is truly skilled with a firearm is to have them demonstrate. Set up a challenge and let anyone who wishes try it. The people consistently earning the best results are your best shooters.

Can you think of a way to test shooting without going to the range to measure skill?

#> Organizing shooting events brings together those who are [only] interested in competition. Real expert shooters may not be interested in competition.

Maybe. But if these “real expert shooters” never step forward the world will never know. What a waste.

If Einstein kept his theories to himself, would we have benefited from them? Not unless someone else performed the same work and then made this information available to public scrutiny.

#> What you are telling me is that every time I go to the range, I will gain no benefit unless I’m competing?

Effective practice means training up to a standard. Establish a standard (a certain target with so many rounds at a specific range in a given amount of time) and measure skills with it. The benefit comes by purposefully trying to improve your result, and thus, improving your skill.

Without measurement you can’t determine a result and can’t determine improvement.For some folks, all they want is to hit a tin can or get their deer. One fellow I’ve corresponded with literally hunts from a bench rest and his furthest shot is 100 yards. An occasional sighting-in session is adequate to maintain his needed skill. That’s fine! But this hardly constitutes the pinnacle of excellence in field marksmanship skill.

I want to find out what is best, not just “good enough.” What kind of performance can we consistently expect from a top-notch shooter? How do we know how far we can improve to? The problem is finding a realistic, but challenging standard.

Bench Rest events have established mechanical accuracy standards. Position shooting events have established human accuracy standards. There are still more factors in “real” or practical/field shooting. Take hunting as an example. Hunters can’t use certain trinkets, must use “regular” firearms and have time factors.

You’ve heard of Roger Bannister? Everyone thought running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible, until he did it. We need to find the “4 minute mile” barriers in shooting and break them. That’s what competition does. Then, by showing what is possible we know what standards are realistic on the practice range. Alot of gun owners hold themselves back because they don’t know what’s possible.

#> Now, I have a challenge for you. I’ll find a range, and pick a distance, from 1 – 500 yards. I’ll put a photocopy of a $100 bill on a target. If you can get the first two announced shots (I’ll give you 3 practice shots at a similarly sized and distanced target, once you announce the first “for real” shot, no more practice) into the oval face of the photocopied bill (I count the whole of the hole, not tears that may extend. If there is a debate over whether a shot counts or not, a disinterested third party will be asked to judge.), I’ll give you the original. Use any gun you want. Any stance you want (a bench might be there, but it may not. Come prepared accordingly.). If you fail, You don’t owe any money. Instead you have to publicly announce one rec.guns, and any other shooting-related newsgroup that the moderators will allow the post through, that you lost the bet (competition), and that competition isn’t the only way to improve one’s shooting skills, and I get to include any links to groups.google.com that I think are related (I’ll keep it to within 20 or 30).

This is an interesting competition. (I thought you said competition doesn’t prove anything?)

You could set the bill up at 500 yards, place a screen so the only shot available is Standing. I’ll tell you right now I can’t do that and neither could any normal human. Hell, I couldn’t do it prone with a sling! But how many non-competition shooters could?

If I fail your test, but you shoot it successfully, it proves that you are better than me (for that contest on that day). I would be proud to publicly announce the winner of any event, especially if they beat me. But besting my mediocre skills doesn’t prove that competition shooting is bad.

You are challenging the notion that competition shooting doesn’t produce a better shooter, that “good old boys” who plink tin cans can routinely out-shoot champions.

A better contest would be to round up five champion-level shooters in a given locale and five local non-competition shooters. Give them identical firearms and ammo and have them shoot your target at some distance for a prescribed number of shots. Ideally, repeat the contest two more times to get an average spaced over more than one session. Anyone can have a bad or unusually good day, but we’re interested in consistent performance.

When the smoke cleared, if the good-old boys averaged a higher score I would be very interested. They just may know something the rest of us need to learn!

I believe that the champs with formal competition experience will win the day. You contend that the non-competition folks will win. We will never know until someone organizes this competition.

Of course, that only proves my point. You can’t determine the best shooters until you organize some event that tests relevant skills and finds the consistent winners.