Brian Searcy and Tony Copper have a long history with Special Operations and became trainers upon retirement. Here is their take on the role of competition shooting for combat training.

All our instructors have experience in competitive shooting, and this strongly influences their training program.

It may seem incongruous that veterans of the most elite hostage rescue unit in the world would draw from civilian competitive shooters. In actuality, it dovetails neatly with their philosophy of acquiring the best available information and adapting it to their mission requirements.

Searcy argues that the closest thing to combat is shooting in competition. As for those who dispute that by saying, “Competition isn’t combat,” Searcy agrees. He believes that you use competition to practice shooting and you practice tactics when doing tactical training such as force-on-force or flowing through a shoot house. He states that most people who dismiss competition shooting use tactics as an excuse for poor marksmanship.

As for whether competition develops bad habits that will show up if a shooter is involved in a gunfight, both Searcy and Copper just smile and say they’ve never had a problem distinguishing between the two.

Bio on Brian Searcy and Tony Copper:

Brian Searcy – Sergeant Major, US Army (Ret)
Prior to taking his current instructor position, Brian served as a civilian consultant to the Pentagon’s Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Task Force. He worked in Iraq and the United States training Soldiers and Marines how to predict, prevent, detect, and mitigate the IED threat to personnel and facilities.

Brian is a 23 year Army Special Operations veteran who culminated 16 years with Delta Force (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) as the unit’s Operations Sergeant Major. His leadership experience ranges from serving as a military advisor in Central and South America to serving as the Command Sergeant Major (senior enlisted advisor) for a 1700 person Special Operations Task Force in Iraq. A decorated combat leader, his awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.

Brian has briefed President Bush and members of the NSC on capabilities and limitations of special operations forces. He has lead protection details for high ranking government and military officials in high threat and combat environments. As an instructor in Delta, Brian wrote and taught classes in assault planning, VIP protection, rifle and pistol marksmanship, explosive and mechanical breaching, close quarters battle, vehicle assaults and hand to hand combat. He served as the program manager and primary instructor for the Unit’s shooting and hand to hand programs.

Brian has extensive sniper experience, both as an operational sniper and a trainer. He is a graduate of the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC) and has real world experience in planning, coordinating, integrating and leading tactical sniper operations.

A competitive shooter for over 20 years, Brian has competed at the top levels of competition in both precision and action shooting. Brian is a U.S. Army Distinguished Pistol Shot and has been awarded the President’s Hundred Tab. His other marksmanship accolades include: Overall Winner- 2005 Joint Special Operations Command Small Arms Championships and the 2003 North Carolina Indoor Conventional Pistol Champion. In addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree in government from Campbell University, Brian has earned a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University. Additionally he has completed an executive leadership program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Tony Copper, Command Sergeant Major, US Army (Ret)
Tony is a 26 year Army Special Operations veteran who culminated 19 years with Delta Force (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) as the unit’s Selection and Training Sergeant Major. His leadership experiences range from leading small executive protection teams to serving as the Command Sergeant Major for a Delta Sabre Squadron. He has served in hostile fire/combat zones in Central America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. His combat experience includes Operations Urgent Fury (Grenada), Just Cause (Panama), Unosom II (Somalia), Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). A decorated combat leader, his military awards include the Silver Star and Legion of Merit.

Tony has lead protection details for high ranking government and military officials in high threat and combat environments. As an instructor in Delta (for new Delta Operators), Tony wrote and taught classes in assault planning, VIP protection, rifle and pistol marksmanship, mechanical and shotgun breaching, advanced MOUT and close quarters battle, Close Quarters Battle using Night Vision Goggles and artificial illumination, vehicle assaults (overt and low visibility), reacting to contact in vehicles, and surgical marksmanship and target discrimination. He served as the program manager and primary instructor for Delta’s shooting and hand to hand programs.

A competitive shooter for over 14 years, Tony has competed at the top levels in both military and civilian competition and was a member of Delta’s 1st Place team in the International Counter Terrorism Olympics. His other marksmanship accolades include: Georgia State USPSA Championship (unclassified division), and placed 3rd in the North Carolina State Championship (C Class division). In addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree from Campbell University, Tony is a graduate of the Army Sergeants Major Academy.

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