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

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Wisdom from Nate Perry

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From Nate Perry

I love the practical sport shooting side of things because there is nothing to debate about. You either win or you are trying to. You can’t weasel out of anything, because your name has a “XX%” next to it.

In the world of defensive training, the goal post moves a lot. “Cops can’t shoot”, “gamer shit will get you killed”, ” Most military people are dangerous with a gun”, “you work in a gun shop?LOLGTFO” “Dry practice and timers just aren’t contextual”, etc.

If you ever need a good hobby/pastime/art where you can never lose, just claim to be a defensive firearms instructor. If anyone questions you, just play mental musical chairs with their legitimate questions about your credibility or skills until they just go away.

You’ll always have customers and the best part is your ego-cushioning curriculum is a great place for the participation trophy generation. In the extremely rare event you have a student who has to get their gun out and is the least terrible of the two parties involved, you can swoop in and take credit for it.

Cowards and Built-in Excuses

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Competition for competition’s sake is about the truth. In shooting, too many people show up with built-in excuses why the results don’t mean anything.

Nate Perry

It’s arguable that gym and fitness activity likely has as much myth and misinformation floating around as shooting and gun activity. Competition is the ideal, and sometimes the only, way to sort through the nonsense and find truth. Something proven to consistently work in competition is proven to consistently work.

Here’s an example from champion powerlifter Layne Norton.

“If you only compete in competitions you know you can win, you’re a coward. That says something about your level of integrity. It’s disrespectful to your competition and to yourself to avoid showing up.”

-Layne Norton
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