When Keeping It Real Goes Really Wrong
by Paul Sharp


When Keeping It Real Goes Really Wrong
by Paul Sharp

I posted recently about shooting a drill called the 3X5. It’s an accuracy drill plain and simple. Sure you can work on going fast during this drill because yes, speed and accuracy are the ultimate goal however, accuracy first is the rule of thumb.

In response to this I received some feedback regarding keeping things real and how shooting a 3X5 card at 25 or 35 yards really isn’t reality… Okay, I get it. Most defensive shooting incidents are fairly close ranged affairs so we want to train for reality, train ourselves to deal with probabilities rather than possibilities. Again…, I get it. I really do, I’m not just trying to pacify folks that insist on only training for 5 yards and under, or 0-10 feet or whatever the stats tell them is the “typical” criminal encounter. I do understand the need to solve that problem and as one that has spent almost my entire adult life, (over two decades at this point), tackling this problem head on I have to ask; when is it okay to work on something else? I also have to wonder, how can it hurt to have the ability to hit a 6 inch plate at 25 yards at a one second per shot pace? Okay, I’m fudging the numbers a bit…, looking at my timer history right now it shows a 1.7 first shot and 1.18/1.11/1.08/1.08/1.09 splits on the remaining five rounds. All hits. A little over 1 second per round to hit the head at 25 yards 6 times? I’ll take it for now but I’m going to keep working until I see just how good I can get. I’m going to continue to dial in my accuracy while cranking up my speed.

Which brings me back to keeping it real. If I can consistently hit 6 inch or smaller targets at 25-35 yards, does it stand to reason that I’m going to be able to make effective hits on a torso sized target at 3 yards in a fast and furious manner? Think about it, the only thing slowing my trigger finger down at the 25-35 yard range is waiting for an acceptable sight picture. At 3 yards I won’t need anywhere near the same sight picture to make hits. Particularly shooting from the #2 or #3 position. That’s a hose fest man!! That’s like doing hill sprints with a weight vest and then taking the weight vest off to run the same hill. It’s so much easier.

Say our training objective were only to train for a close range encounter. Hosing a torso sized target at 10 feet and under is so easy it’s laughable once you’ve developed the index, sight awareness and trigger control needed for shooting at 25 yards and farther. I would encourage you to dive into accuracy work, challenge yourself to hit smaller targets at greater distances. Really push the envelope of your capabilities and see just how accurately you can shoot. It’s kind of like the old strength training debate of heavy weight and low reps versus lighter weight and high reps. How about heavy weight for high reps? When it comes to our shooting skill set we should be striving for more accuracy AND more speed. It’s not a fast miss or slow hit, it’s fast hits. Six rounds in a fist sized group in an opponent’s upper chest at 3 yards in just over a second is certainly more effective than putting the first round into their foot, second round into their leg, third round goes down range somewhere… You get my point I’m sure.

Our overall goal in pistol shooting is to balance accuracy, power and speed. It’s a handgun so there isn’t much we can do about power, particularly if you’re LE/MIL and your department or unit dictates what ammo you carry. Also if you’re injured or have been injured and now your hands, wrists, elbows and arms aren’t what they used to be carrying a hand-cannon is no longer an option. So leaving the power issue out of the equation, the elements of accuracy and speed can be enhanced through consistent training. I would encourage you to put the bulk of your effort into increasing your accuracy. Speed will come as you learn to grip, index, track the sights and drive the gun but if you never take the time to focus on your accuracy you’re setting yourself up to plateau. Once you hit that wall you will have to take a few steps back and put the work into developing your accuracy so you might as well do it now if you haven’t.

For those that have in the past put the work in but haven’t recently you can schedule a training block of only accuracy work or incorporate accuracy drills at the beginning and ending of each range session. This allows you to revisit and knock the rust off your accuracy skills while also giving you some run-n-gun time as well. I find that a session beginning with something like a Dot drill followed by a few hundred rounds of running-n-gunning doing my best imitation of a USPSA GM level shooter then finishing the session with another Dot drill or similar untimed accuracy drill aimed at improving my current skill set is the best way for me to structure my training at this point.

Paul Sharp is a police officer with 16 years experience. His current assignments are patrol, SWAT and training. His past assignments have included resident officer, undercover narcotics detective and neighborhood response officer.

Paul has graduated from numerous firearms and tactics courses and is an Illinois State firearms instructor, defensive knife instructor, defensive tactics instructor and is the lead pistol instructor for his agency.

Paul has been recognized as an instructor in the Filipino Martial Arts and Jeet Kune Do concepts as well as Mixed Martial Arts and holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Having competed at a professional level in Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing, Paul is uniquely positioned to coach others from knowledge and experience. Paul has also been recognized as an instructor in DR Middlebrooks Fist-Fire shooting system as well as mid-west regional director for SBGi.

Paul has been featured in several national and international magazines for his part in developing a systematic approach to integrating and instructing Mixed Martial Arts and combative sports for those working in a weapons based environment.