Tactical Application of Competition Shooting

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Listen to Mike. And shut up.

Mike Pannone is a former operational member of U.S. Marine Reconnaissance, Army Special Forces (Green Beret) and 1st SFOD-D (Delta) as well as a competition USPSA pistol shooter holding a Master class ranking in Limited, Limited-10 and Production divisions. He has participated in stabilization, combat and high-risk protection operations in support of U.S. policies throughout the world as both an active duty military member, and a civilian contractor. After sustaining a severe blast injury Mike retired from 1st SFOD-D and worked as a Primary Firearms Instructor for the Federal Air Marshal Program in Atlantic City and the head in-service instructor for the Seattle field office of the FAMS. He also worked as an independent contractor and advisor for various consulting companies to include SAIC (PSD Iraq), Triple Canopy (PSD Iraq), and The Wexford Group (Counter IED ground combat advisor Iraq and pre-deployment rifle/pistol/tactics instructor for the Asymmetric Warfare Group). Mike was also the Senior Instructor for Viking Tactics (VTAC), and Blackheart International. He started his own consulting company full time in late 2008.

Brilliance in the Basics

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From Mike Pannone

When I played lacrosse in college, my coach Bill Tierney (probably the most successful lacrosse coach in history) rode us hard on the simple things. He reminded us that controlling the ball and consistently working hard on offense as well as defense would win over a more talented but less disciplined team that made mistakes on simple things like catching and throwing. We spent lots of time on ball drills because if you can’t scoop a ball, pass and catch then the rest was a waste of time. The principle was what Brian Searcy from Tiger Swan (also my first TL at JSOC) called “brilliance in the basics”. Greatness is the basics done flawlessly and on demand.

On the shooting side I have often been asked what special techniques SFOD uses or favors. I find that a bit amusing since there are no secret techniques nor any secret tactics. There is only one principle that guides the best units or sports teams or for that matter anyone to repeated success. That is a mastery of the basics and the ability to replicate them on demand precisely and consistently. In life and in training there is no Staples “Easy button”, there is only hard precise work.

So in the end, the magic is…that there is no magic.


What gets lost on most is this “brilliance in the basics” is exactly what works in competition. In addition to his vast championship history, Rob Leatham is often hired by the same special operations personnel Mike Pannone discusses here. Good competitors train in the same manner as good, top-tier military and law enforcement personnel and for the exact same reasons.


Mike Pannone: Drills, Scenarios, Tactics

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Wisdom from Mike Pannone

Gunfighter Moment – Mike Pannone

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