Timers and Standards for Gunfights

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For the average Joe/Jane on the street who isn’t trying to beat Bob Vogel at the next world shoot, it is possible to expend too much effort developing speed while neglecting other important aspects of self defense but rarely do I see people investing so much effort in refining their ability to deliver fast, accurate hits on demand that they’re neglecting other bits of the equation. That’s much more of a theoretical problem than a real one, I’m afraid.

Assuming you’re not trying to become the next USPSA champion, there’s certainly a rational balance to be reached, but the clichés parroted endlessly don’t encourage the employment of reason in finding that balance. They tend to drive the conversation towards eschewing the use of a timer or the use of standards to measure performance because once you start to put things up against hard standards it becomes pretty clear that a lot of “tactical!” is just suck dressed up with black paint and silly furniture. Nobody likes to admit that they suck.

I don’t know who came up with this concept of “cowboy quickdraw” but that person should be flogged in the town square. Police and ordinary citizens are reaching for a gun IN RESPONSE TO AN AMBUSH. They need the gun NOW.

Situational awareness gives you a few seconds heads up that something is happening…it is not a magical power that repels all boarders so you don’t need to worry about the hard skills of actually using the weapon. There is no situation where you truly need a firearm in which getting it into play slower is to your advantage.

– Tim Chandler

I feel the timer is there to make up for the fact that targets in real life are not standing still indefinitely like they usually are on a range. It’s pretty easy to not take speed seriously when that’s the case.

– Robert Vogel

You’ve got the rest of your life to solve that problem… how ever long that is.

– John Farnam

There is a timer in every gun fight. The other guy is holding it and it has a button that makes a very loud beep. It’s called a gun.

– Nate Perry

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 two 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.

The Lie Against Competition Shooting

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“Not long ago, I supervised a standoff situation where our officers were placed in positions to engage a dangerous suspect. Several officers were armed with M4s. Bystanders were thickly mixed-in! Range to suspect was between 10 and 30m. Happily, our situation was resolved without our officers having to shoot.

As a precaution, I asked all officers to report, with their red-dot-equipped M4s, to the range the following week. I set-up a situation with parer targets that exactly duplicated the situation with which were confronted a week earlier.

Given generous time, stable, braced firing positions, and stationary targets, not one of our officers was able to deliver required shots, even after several attempts! When asked about sight settings and zeros, most officers were not prepared to answer definitively. Some didn’t even understand the question! An examination of the M4s present revealed that, in most cases, the red dot and the back-up iron sights did not agree. Some were not even close!”

http://www.ammoland.com/modern-sporting-rifle-zeros-or-lack-of/

This episode echoes many similar episodes I’ve experienced in the military as well. It isn’t unusual to find personnel in an instructor capacity (drill sergeants, etc.) just as confused.

You know a demographic in the gun world that intimately understands this and doesn’t have this problem? High Power competitors. Smallbore competitors. Pretty much any competitor in any rifle shooting discipline requiring a degree of precision will have a handle on this. It’s the reason such events were created in the first place.

I use this episode specifically because it comes by way of John Farnam, a “name” instructor of the Modern Technique camp that has poo-pooed competitive shooting in the past.

We’re sometimes warned about the “dangers” of competition, even though there is not a single documented incident where competition shooting experience ever caused a problem.

Competitive shooters possess a commodity concerning firearms skill that is rare among public-sector personnel: GAS. It’s a guarantee that a competitive shooter, someone making an effort to obtain improved scores and achieving that result, really does Give A Shit about their skill because they’re motivated to spend free time and money doing it. Hell, they do it for fun!

I worked ranges for over 30,000 deploying military personnel from 2003-2009. My peers were involved in range activity for nearly every service personnel deploying through the Department of Defense during that time. There was not a single problem or concern caused by someone arriving having prior competition experience. Not one.

Personnel having competitive experience are routinely better performers and more knowledgeable than their peers lacking such experience. They had the same tactical/military/police training as everyone else in the unit but performed better by having a heightened capability developed via competitive experience. The same is true concerning physical fitness and those pursuing other sports. Amazingly enough, competitive runners have better run times during unit fitness tests and competitive lifters are notably stronger.

This improved capability happens when one genuinely Gives A Shit and does something beyond required, minimum qualifications and standards. In contrast, every person requiring remedial training was someone lacking competition shooting experience.

Published regulation backs this up. There are many references in military and police policy describing competition shooting as beneficial. There is not a single published regulation, order, doctrine, or policy in any military or police organization suggesting competition shooting is bad or harmful with personnel recommended or ordered to avoid it. None. Not one. Plenty of examples advocating its use as beneficial, but not one saying otherwise.

John Farnam of Defense Training International

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The following editorial is by John Farnam of Defense Training International

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