Jeff Cooper on the Weaver Stance

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“There is a great deal of foolish discussion bouncing around concerning the proper arm position for serious pistol work. Jack Weaver’s classic contribution consists in power control. If you crank the left elbow down and pull positive count-pressure, you dampen recoil very considerably. If you use mechanical means of reducing recoil, and if you lay great importance upon very rapid bursts of succeeding shots, this may matter, but in the overall picture, I do not believe it does.

It hardly matters whether you use the Weaver Stance or the Isosceles with both arms straight as long as you get hits and those hits should be delivered with a major-powered sidearm under controlled conditions. The argument is silly, and I wish it would go away.”

– Jeff Cooper
“Cooper’s Corner”, Guns & Ammo November 2005

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Tactical Reload

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http://www.gunnuts.net/2015/07/16/magazines-and-reliability/

Magazines and reliability
by Tim aka TCinVA

Dropping magazines, especially partially loaded ones, on the ground is often very hard on the magazine. Apart from dirt, mud, and other detritus that gets inside the magazine, baseplates and feed lips will sometimes crack, and tubes will sometimes bend or dent. This fact is, believe it or not, where the so called “tactical reload” came from.

I actually discussed this with Tom Givens in his Intensive Pistol Skills class a few weeks ago. In the early days of Gunsite the gun that 99.99% of people showed up with was a 1911. In those days there was no Wilson/Rogers 47D magazine and folks didn’t show up to classes with massive piles of magazines for training. Everyone was using GI or factory Colt magazines in their guns. Dropping these magazines on the crushed granite of the range ended up destroying them to the point of students almost put out of commission because they didn’t have any functional magazines left. If the magazines never hit the granite, then you never have that problem, right? VIOLA!! The “tactical reload” as we know it was born.

Just think: All that arguing about reloads you see on the internet dates back to a practice adopted to get around the fact that 1911 magazines circa 1977 sucked out loud. Stew on that one for a bit without getting depressed. I dare ya.

Guns April 1964
See page 18
http://www.gunsmagazine.com/1964issues/G0464.pdf

Beyond Expert: Competition creates greater skill

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People outside the competition world often fail to understand the sort of skill levels possible. Routine qualification is the most vestigial level of basic understanding. Police and military qualification is the equivalent of a simple arithmetic quiz considered easy by elementary school children. It’s a perfectly acceptable level for a student actually in elementary school and basic/recruit/Academy training because we’re working with a brand-new novice. It is no longer acceptable years later because the student should have progressed.

Even students taking courses at quality shooting schools sometimes fail to gain this. Taking a class is receiving instruction, it is not training. Real skill development takes more on-going effort.

I discuss this at length in my book Beyond Expert: Tripling Military Shooting Skills using U.S. Army qualification standards as compared to NATO combat competition courses. In it I show that anyone interested in competition shooting needs to at least triple 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. Shooters consistently winning need to be better still. For more details, read Beyond Expert: Story Behind The Book

In case you think I’m exaggerating, here’s Rob Leatham at Gunsite (off camera to the left) shooting against and beating threeother shooters in a video posted on Gunsite’s Instagram page:

Rob Leatham beats three shooters in the steel challenge. Fun after the drills are completed

A post shared by Gunsite Academy (@gunsiteacademy) on

Evolution Of Firearms Training

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Start at 20:15

“Why are we going to go all the way out there? We’ve got guys right here that are just as good.”

This may point to how the myth that competitive shooting causes bad habits started to be invented. I’ve pointed out how this myth continues to propagate as people continue to make up reasons/excuses but how did it start? Among contemporary instructors, I believe Jeff Cooper and Gunsite may be among some of the first to blame.

The question was raised about why a person would travel across the country and pay for a class when as-good or better learning could be had locally. Yes, the school has a cadre and curriculum, but the knowledge there is developed in the same manner as anyone learning a subject and practicing skills. When your local shooting club has regular participants as skilled and knowledgable as the cadre in that school, people that have the same variety of training background, real-world experience, and demonstratable skill, there isn’t a compelling reason to spend money and time going. Failing to have a good answer to this response led to some people to manufacturing a reason.

Jeff Cooper first developed his school and curriculum by hosting organized competitive events and testing what consistently worked best. Local groups affiliated with a national body involved in something similar will likely have equally-good and motivated participants.

This video was the first instruction tape (on VHS!) I ever owned. As Cooper mentions, it was filmed just after Jimmy Von Sorgenfrei won the 1979 IPSC World Championship. Notice how his points are based on who wins major competition, as the Weaver stance was the preferred approach by winning SWPL and then IPSC shooters (USPSA and IDPA didn’t exist yet) up to that point.

Within a few years after this, the preferred approach by winning competitors started to change. Interestingly enough, the switch from Weaver to modern isosceles in practical competition in the early 1980s took about as long as the switch from point shooting to Weaver did in the late 1950s and for the same reasons.

In the 1950s, everyone “knew” point shooting was “better” until Jack Weaver consistently won events using a different approach. It took some years but shooters adopted to this new approach as it consistently proved better by actual test.

In the late 1970s, everyone “knew” Weaver was “better” until Rob Leatham and Brian Enos consistently won events using a different approach. It took some years but shooters adopted the new approach as it consistently proved better by actual test. This is the same way Jack Weaver started.

Cooper did another series of instructional videos some years later, right about the same time he declared IPSC/USPSA as guilty of using “rooney guns.” Never mind that 1950s era practical/combat shooters were using competition-specific rooney guns and gear. Of course, those damn gamers were also using an “incorrect” isosceles stance. “Everyone knows” that the Weaver stance is not a “range technique” it is a “street technique” for when you don’t know what type of situation you’re getting into…

Never mind that Jack Weaver says his entire motivation for creating the approach that bears his name was to win the Leatherslap and other competitions organized by Jeff Cooper at Big Bear and the Southwest Combat Pistol League. And success in competition was considered a great point for proven effectiveness, up until competitors started using something different. To continue charging students money to learn The Way, even if a different way might be better, there needs to be a reason why your The Way is best.

Kark Rehn has more info here:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooters-and-techniques-win-fights/

Lest anyone think I’m hating on Cooper and Gunsite/API, my thoughts on this are best summed up in my review of The Modern Technique of the Pistol. It did, and still will, work just fine for anyone willing to put in a little bit of on-going work to learn it. If the bullets go where they’re supposed to when they’re supposed to, the technique used is good. Developing actual, measurable skill with your chosen technique is the most important part. Jeff Cooper adds to this here.

The best approach to evolving your own training is to commit to on-going work, even if it’s just one or two minutes-long sessions each week, and get involved with a group of skilled practitioners hosting regular, on-going events. Attend those events as often as you can, practicing what you learn and training your skills between events.


Start at 19:40
This sort of community exists at every place hosting organized shooting events. Go find those events. Your attendance will improve your ability, put you in contact with the most skilled locals, and support the future of such events and places being held in the future.

Competition is critical. Take a class if you like but you’ll be better served in the long run by going to matches where you’ve got guys right there that are just as good. Even if you do take a class, you’ll still need to go practice somewhere once in awhile.

More here: https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooters-and-techniques-win-fights/

Realistic Training

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“Gunsite has outstanding realistic training.”

– Ernie Van Der Leest, Gunsite graduate

The Garland Texas Stage at the Gunsite Alumni Shoot

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153895678934453/

Gunsite Shotgun Advanced Tactical Problems Class Shoot Off

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153880407169453/
"Ya gotta remember that safety..." I guess that's needed advice for a student at an Advanced Tactical Problems class. But competition (like a shoot off) is no good because it's not as stressful as the real world...

556 Carbine Shoot Off Drill

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153865187389453/

223 Carbine Class

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153846475654453/

Vehicle Defense Class drill

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153547963679453/

250 Shoot Off

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153494147274453/

Another tactical Gunsite exercise

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10154322850704453/

Another 250 Shoot Off, with the two class winners
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMr3jwHjj5s/

Two (2) 250 Pistol classes this week at Gunsite. The two (2) Class winners shoot off. The little things mean so much!

A post shared by Gunsite Academy (@gunsiteacademy) on

In case you missed the caption, the guy that unintentionally hurled the magazine downrange was among the top students in this class.

The new Dozier Drill Bay next to the Shot Quad at Gunsite. Thanks to Gary and Rick for their hard work!

A post shared by Gunsite Academy (@gunsiteacademy) on

A range at Gunsite... or is this set up for a USPSA competition?

Gosh, all of this looks an awful like any number of competitive shooting matches I’ve been to. Like, nearly identical. Well, at least when watching the folks that typically round out the bottom half of the final results…

In case you think I’m exaggerating, here’s Rob Leatham at Gunsite (off camera to the left) shooting against and beating three other shooters:

Rob Leatham beats three shooters in the steel challenge. Fun after the drills are completed

A post shared by Gunsite Academy (@gunsiteacademy) on

Question: If I set up these Gunsite courses of fire as demonstrated here at my range and run them as a match, at what point does this become unrealistic and start inducing training scars or bad habits?

Tactics and Training Scars

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Tactics are an expedient toward a goal in a specific environment and may need to change if/when the goal or environment changes. For far too many, “tactical” means “doing it my way” and “training scar” means “doing it different than me.”

People claiming to shoot “tactically” at competitive events by going slow are NOT tactical as their tactics are bad in the context of the event they’re participating even if their approach may be appropriate elsewhere. It will not create a “training scar” to shoot fast if that is what the situation calls for, however, it is bad business to justify poor results due to inappropriate actions by claiming to be more tactical.

Pre-planning, speed, and violence of action can be important tenets for tactics.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_quarters_combat

Here’s an example from Gunsite. The infamous Scrambler:

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153528585499453/

I guess it’s OK to pre-plan a stage and then run through for time and score, but only if the tactical class you pay to be in sets it up for you…

Claiming to be “tactical” needs to include recognizing what an appropriate tactic is in context. The context matters and changes what appropriate tactics might be.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/2015/05/02/context-matters/

http://www.exurbanleague.com/misfires/2015/09/30/so-just-what-is-a-training-scar/

Operator vs. Competitor Gun Reliability

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“At our monthly pistol match last weekend, our courageous (and now unpopular) match director included an optional thirty-round course of fire, exclusively for legitimate concealed-carry pistols. The only requirement was that the gun, and ammunition, used had to be one that the participant carries regularly. He said, ‘Let’s use what you’re carrying, right now, what you would have to rely upon to save your life… right now!’ No ‘match-guns,’ nor ‘race-guns’ were allowed.

Of the ten who participated, only three ‘carry’ guns functioned normally through thirty rounds!

The rest (all semi-autos) malfunctioned continuously, including light hits, mis-feeds, and failure to go fully into battery. These guns had all been carried in a pocket or concealed holster and were all dirty, full of lint and other debris. Some magazine springs were weak.

It was an eye-opener, especially for those whose guns would not function. To a person, they all piously swore, amid their embarrassment, that they cleaned their guns regularly, but that was obvious a self-serving lie. It was also obvious these guns were seldom, if ever, actually fired before that afternoon.”

http://defense-training.com/dti/readiness/
http://defense-training.com/dti/more-on-pistol-matches/

Let’s pretend this little episode actually occurred as stated and implied.

  • Potential win for all involved. We learned something when the only thing at stake was a score. Good thing to test and find out before it causes actual problems. A good shooter making a mistake at a match can take it as a learning point and fix it.
  • There’s a skill difference between competitors and participants. I’ve met plenty of D-class USPSA participants that have been attending matches for over a decade. No mention of the event specifics or attendees so no way to know.
  • It’s foolish to think this problem is somehow isolated to people at matches. Has he never been on a military or police range? Or ranges with people that never attend matches? How many stoppages occur at “operator” classes? Here are some examples of students at Gunsite posted by Gunsite on their Facebook page:

Tactical class malfunction 1:

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153547963679453

Tactical class malfunction 2:

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153935592494453/

Tactical class malfunction 3:

New electronic target systems at Gunsite.

A post shared by Gunsite Academy (@gunsiteacademy) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLCAnMjD0mI/

But this claim mostly reeks of typical unsubstantiated “games’ll getcha killed” nonsense. This unicorn event that apparently didn’t have a physical location, date, name, or affiliation will appease those that have never attended an actual match into continuing the delusion that such events are “bad.”

>> Most had never been fired, even once, until that day!To be sure, all ten pistols were badly neglected and dirty

Both claims are made in different places between these posts. So we’re to believe brand new, never-fired pistols have magically become so dirty, fouled, and spring-weakened as to cause stoppages.

We’re also to believe shooters serious enough to regularly attend an organized, scored, no-alibi shooting discipline are unaware of the need to check if their equipment is reliable. And that said shooters would have guns for regular carry readily available but never bother to shoot them ever. Because we all know how competitive shooters hate to shoot. Especially when these regular match shooters intend to participate in a scored side match with said gun.

>> My carry guns, pistols and rifles, are all designed and built for serious purposes. Few ‘modifications.’ Most are ‘out-of-the-box.’ I wouldn’t win a typical pistol match with any of them!

Service Conditions matches require as-issue gear. NO modifications are allowed, not even the ‘few’ this fellow uses. Nearly every discipline has a stock or production category available that stipulates using exactly what this fellow uses. There is not that big of gulf when comparing open match guns to production guns as this fellow ignorantly implies. Here are the numbers:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/2012/06/10/race-guns-vs-regular-guns/

Stock or production-legal guns are carry-appropriate and effectively identical to what’s advocated here. He wouldn’t win a typical pistol match with any of them because he lacks the fundamental skill to do so.

Oh, and here’s what a skilled competitive shooter can actually do with a sub-compact .380 from concealment.

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