Too often, tactical types just don’t get it. They avoid improving obvious, useful (though less flashy) skills in favor of fixating on rare, edge cases.

The solution to all problems concerning skill and capability is to focus on core fundamentals, driving skills up against an objective metric. Doing so improves you in ANY environment these skills and capabilities may be tested, be it competitive, tactical, real world, etc.

Here’s an example of the problem.

It’s dry fire practice time. You bring the weapon up, obtain a sight picture, and smoothly press the trigger, concentrating on making each step of the process as precise as possible. The front sight is steady throughout the press. You set it up and run it again, knowing that repetitions are important. Practicing the fundamentals is essential. But, this practice of pressing the trigger, which results in a click instead of a bang, may actually be counterproductive when it comes to developing your combative skills.

For example, when you press the trigger in real life – live fire practice and especially during a confrontation – and you get a click instead of a bang it means you have a malfunction. The response to this, clearing the stoppage and getting the weapon running again, must be immediate. In a fight time is a precious commodity. There is no time to stop, think or assess the problem and then correct it.

So this tactically-minded instructor is concerned about dry practice creating a bad habit because it might impact malfunction/stoppage clearance response. For most gun owners, this concern is a bit foolish.

Getting into a fight (English-to-Douche translation: dynamic critical incident, time-is-life scenario) is a statistically low occurrence, even for active law enforcement personnel. A malfunction/stoppage is also a statistically low occurrence, assuming you conduct a minimum of semi-regular live fire practice/training with periodic maintenance and aren’t using complete garbage for equipment.

OTOH, marksmanship is needed 100% of the time live ammo is used – for qualification, practice, training, competition or real world/DCI-TIL – assuming you intend to hit something on purpose. Gun handling, such as getting the gun aligned on target starting from a ready/carry/holstered start, is also required 100% of the time. Doing these things in a time-efficient manner will always be useful in every conceivable use.

Also consider, that rare stoppage during that rare fight will never occur until after:

  1. You first find yourself in that rare fight.
  2. You get the gun out and up on the assailant.
  3. You attempt to shoot at (and, preferably, hit) said assailant.

Only after all this happens first does malfunction clearance become a concern – if it ever does.

I’ve had both military and police argue against my suggested use of dummy rounds and dry practice to fix their flinch, for the same reasons stated above. The only reason we were playing around with dummy rounds and dry fire at all was due to their now-identified flinch and problems with fundamental skills. They didn’t pick up on it before because the terribly low standards used in their qualification didn’t weed out this problem.

So, they’d rather continue to flinch and shoot horribly, coupled with a slow, inconsistent draw, all because a given practice method MIGHT (proof, please?) slow down their malfunction clearance in a fight…. Awesome.

Given that marksmanship and gun handling will always be needed, they need to be addressed to a reasonably high level first.

  • If something like a ball and dummy drill indicates you’re flinching, FIX THAT FIRST.
  • Can you hit a 30 MOA target (three inch at 10 yards, eight inch at 25 yards) with your handgun?
  • Can you draw to a first round, centered hit on a silhouette at seven yards in about 1.5 seconds?
  • Can you shoot multiple shots center-chest on the same target in less than half second per shot?
  • Shoot an El Presidente to par (10 seconds with centered hits) or similar drill with your EDC (Every Day Carry) equipment?

If you can routinely do these things on demand, your marksmanship and gun handling skill is sufficiently high enough – and, more importantly, your practice/training habits are sound enough – that additional tactical concerns might be worth considering. At least your base fundamentals are acceptably good enough to warrant further study.

If not, you’re an like an obese diabetic worrying about the “optimum” exercise program instead of just starting with something simple and actually following it.

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