How Shooting Affects Your Hearing

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How Shooting Affects Your Hearing, an info graphic from The Smoking Barrel USA:

How Shooting Affects Your Hearing
Source: The Smoking Barrel USA

Learning By Competing

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Bill Starr was one of the great strength athletes and coaches, having competed and won at Weightlifting up through Olympic levels, Powerlifting, and then taking what he learned and coaching others to do the same. Knowledgeable practitioners in the strength and conditioning field recognize him as one of the innovators. His efforts are a primary reason why sport teams recognize the benefit of Strength and Conditioning coaches.

Starr was an ideal trainer and coach, having first formally competed and achieved success to validate his knowledge before teaching others. He learned what he knew by competing.

And as I learned from fellow competitors in the ensuing years, that’s what they did as well. It was an intuitive process out of necessity. There were no coaches to tell us this, and no one was actively writing about it in the magazines. That’s how we learned just about everything about lifting heavy weights: trial and error, then sitting back and considering just what had been done, both pro and con.

This seldom happens currently. When a strength athlete hits a wall in his routine, he doesn’t study the problem and come up with a viable solution. Rather, he seeks advice from the bounty of experts out there, via books, videos, clinics and DVDs. That’s certainly much faster and easier, but at the same time it’s less effective. Having to beat your head against a wall until you solve the riddle about your program is much more beneficial than having someone else come up with the answer.

Be like Starr. If you want to learn your discipline better and faster, compete!


Practice/Train/Compete — and Repeat


Tom Vaughan, MD is a neuroradiologist in private practice in Louisville, KY. He is a shooting enthusiast who believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility. Here’s an article from his website, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

Practice/Train/Compete — and Repeat:

I practice handling and shooting firearms as often as possible… I also shoot as many rounds as I can afford to, as often as I get the chance. At the indoor range this mostly means stationary paper targets, which have their limitations, but there’s no real substitute for lighting off live rounds. I also belong to an outdoor range where I can shoot some steel targets, draw from a holster and move with the gun. It’s a bit farther away, and time, daylight and weather limit how often I can shoot there, but if you’ve never made steel ring and watched it fall, you’re cheating yourself out of a real visceral pleasure.

I try to take one or two formal training classes a year, and I’ve been able to take classes near home from both local experts as well as nationally known shooters. I doubt any of them would confess to having trained me if they saw me shooting, but I’ve learned a great deal from multiple sources.

This summer I’ll take my first trip to a national training facility, and I’m excited to go. I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in training all day for four consecutive days. I know it’ll be a great experience.

That said, what has helped me most so far is competing. And I’m just talking about low-level competition at my local club—no money, and no prize but bragging rights. Some of the shooters there are really talented, fast and accurate, and a few obviously compete at higher levels. While I’m not going to challenge them any time soon, the pressure of timed shooting with people watching adds a level of stress that taxes whatever skills you bring to the match.

The first time I participated, I set a pretty meager expectation for myself—no safety violations. I wanted the club members to know that safety was my top priority, almost as much as I wanted to come home with all my fingers and toes. On those accounts the day was a great success. As far as skillful shooting, I didn’t do much, but the format allowed a lot of time for reflection. It was easy to begin to analyze my performance and see what sort of mistakes I was making.

And, boy was I making them. After my first round, though pleased I hadn’t done anything foolish or dangerous, I was unpleasantly surprised at the difficulty I’d had neutralizing targets. I’d gotten pretty used to putting most of my rounds into a single, if largish, ragged hole on stationary paper, especially at the distances I had been shooting in that first round, 7 to 15 yards. While I was mostly on paper, the hits were in the C and D zones as much as the A zone. h

After some reflection, I realized that under the tiny amount of pressure the competition format created I had completely abandoned basic marksmanship principles
. Not once had I put the front sight in the rear sight notch, let alone focused on it before pulling the trigger. I think I was actually looking down across the top of the slide! And that was just lesson 1.

The match included 5 stages, and I learned a little from each one. After another less than stellar round, I realized I’d been slapping my trigger like a rat on a food lever, rather than using a controlled squeeze, letting off only to the reset. Stage by stage, my technique slowly improved, and while I didn’t set the world on fire, I was eventually rewarded by quickly clearing a plate rack with no doubles.

By the end of the match, I was humbled but hooked. Not only had it been fun spending the morning with a group of safety conscious people who shared my love of shooting, but I had learned a lot about shooting under (only a tiny bit of) pressure. I had learned not only from my own efforts, but also by watching other people, some very good, and some closer to my level.

I hope I never find myself on a two-way range, and I do everything I can to keep that from happening. I also do everything I can to survive a deadly force encounter if it happens, and I encourage everyone who owns a gun to do the same. Even stationary paper marksmanship degrades without practice, and most gun owners never even attempt dynamic live fire exercises.

That’s a shame, because it’s how guns are actually used. It’s a lot more challenging, but it’s a lot of fun as well. And it’s a lot more likely to save your life.

Competition Will Get You Killed On The Streets?

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Choice cuts from a great article at Primary and Secondary

-Is mission planning not a thing anymore?
-Are mission rehearsals not a thing anymore?
-Is having ISR units recce targets and conducting recce handovers to the assault force not a thing anymore?

People who cannot differentiate between competition tactics and small unit tactics are probably not good at either.

Why is it relevant that competition shooters cannot perform at their best level while wearing a basic load, to include PPE? Can most “tactical dudes” perform as well as competition guys using competition gear? Most likely they would get smoked.

Bottom line, don’t get too wrapped up in being tactical or what not. Understand that different principles apply when shooting a match than when you are doing break contact drills in rural terrain.

Creating a divide seems pointless, and only serves to keep people away from an activity that could help them become better shooters. I know that my shooting has improved, with no detriment to my “tactical abilities”.

Training: The value of competition shooting to your type of shooting

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This is a great write up by Andy C at about the value of organized shooting as found at competitive events. If you’ve never been to a match or have gun-owning friends that haven’t, do yourself a favor and read this.

Some choice quotes:

I guess you might develop a “training scar” from habits like moving around an IPSC course without taking cover, but then, I might also forget to wear pants to the grocery store because I never wear them inside if I can avoid it.

While competitive shooting may get you killed on “the street”, some training looks likely to kill you on the range. (Photo: Everydaynodaysoff)

There’s a spectrum of investment with shooting, like any sport. My wife shoots IDPA with a hoodie, a holster she made and a police surplus S&W Model 10. She shoots next to a guy who spent thousands on his Sig X-Six, a custom Kydex holster, a 5.11 vest, and a camera on his head. There are certainly shooting games that let you use what you have, and if you like it, you can slowly invest in specialized gear.

Speaking of investing, I often find that the people who lament the expense of competitive shooting own dozens of different guns. Instead of buying another rifle that gets shot twice a year, why not invest that money in competitive shooting fees, ammunition and equipment?

The main reason is it provides a reason to go and shoot. There’s a date on the calendar that says “use your gun.” This is a pretty strong motivator to get said gun out of the nightstand. It also provides meaningful feedback with scores and rankings. Whether you try to beat personal records or develop a competitive edge, once values are assigned to the quality of your shooting, it’s a natural to try and improve those scores. That has a good chance of leading to more frequent range time and may even lead to that most secretive of arts, dry fire practice… For a lot of people, it’s more important that it’s “organized” than “competitive.”

The Best 308 Shooting Practices and Tips

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Author Bio:
Kevin Steffey is an avid hunter and freelance writer. He loves spending time in the field with his rifle more than almost anything else, and occupies his off-time discussing deer and their habits online. He is a founder at

Service Personnel and Shooting Skill

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How Important Are Uniforms To Shooting Skill?
So that means as a normal citizen [competitive] shooter my [cold] performance was a bit over six and a half times better than the best SWAT team shooter in a multi-state area.

So let’s get away from thinking you need to be a cop or soldier to have great skill at arms. Let’s also get away from thinking that wearing a particular uniform. or having a particular job. automatically makes a person a shoot shooter.
Duane Thomas

This article by Duane Thomas nicely sums up something I discuss this at length in Beyond Expert: Tripling Military Shooting Skills using U.S. Army qualification standards as compared to NATO combat competition courses. This is another data point further demonstrating this.

Shooters interested in and pursuing competition shooting will likely triple the skill needed for military qualification “expert” (or even “perfect”) standards as a starting point. For handgun events, this can be increased by a factor of five or more, as Thomas demonstrates. Neither Mr. Thomas nor I are national champion shooters, which means that the actual champs are even more skilled. It also means every gun owner could shoot as well as us if they’d put in the work.


Humorous and related side note…

Halfway through the stage. Half the targets still left totally unengaged, he is completely out of ammo… We score the targets. He has not hit any of those three targets. Not. Even. Once. Not after blowing off 40 rounds in their general direction. Not even T1 he was practically standing on to start.

I say to him, “Y’know… you only had to fire two rounds per target, right?… And you do know, you have to actually hit at least one target at least one time to get any points on-target, right?”

He puffs up like a banty rooster and says, “I’m training for COMBAT.”

“Oh… okay. You do know that in COMBAT you actually have to hit the targets, too. Right?”


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