Can You Shoot Better Than A Cop?

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From Tamara Keel

Can You Shoot Better Than A Cop?

He cites a published study that “…broke down the shooters into three classifications: expert, intermediate, and novice. Experts had either finished the academy shooting course or had been trained in the military while intermediates had no formal academy training but had shot before in either recreational settings or had military rifle training. Finally, the novices were just that. Many of them had never even held a gun in their lives.”

You can see the problem already, right? Military handgun training, outside of a handful of job descriptions, is laughable. The handgun training from a typical LE academy is better than that, but still unlikely to turn out any pistol wizards, either.

Then comes the part that doesn’t automatically follow, which is that us non-po-po shoot better than that. Well, we probably do… assuming we’re an active competitive shooter and/or have had some formal training ourselves.

But as far as the general run of the mill shooting public? I go to the public shooting range. A lot. I see how the general shooting public shoots. It’s not very well. The average shooter at a public range finds the 7 ring of a B-27 at seven yards to be a less than clout shot.

I am not a very good shooter. I’m the special ed student at gun school. When I walk the prize table at a match, I find myself wondering if the tablecloth is not the most valuable thing left on the table, since I already have a Bore Snake and a three ounce bottle of CLP. But when I go to the public range of a weekend? I’m almost always a veritable ninja compared to the shooters on my right and left.

The average shooter is never presented with an opportunity to find out how bad they are, because things like scores and timers are foreign to their experience. It is possible to go to the range monthly for years and years and never see any meaningful improvement because it’s hard to improve that which you do not measure. There’s a lot of Dunning-Kruger in the shooting world.

It’s worth noting that Dr. Dunning’s solution to the cognitive bias experienced by novices that bears his name is to do exactly what Tamara Keel recommends here.

Think, Don’t Plink

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https://www.tacticalperformancecenter.com/blogs/the-dump-pouch/110306694-designing-a-practice

One of our mottos here at the Tactical Performance Center is “think don’t plink.” More than just a catchy phrase, there is deep wisdom in this statement: each round you fire should have a purpose.

I have lived by this motto and every shot I have fired, of my own ammo, in the last eight years has had one of three purposes:

Does the gun work?
Did my outcome match my intent?
Did I follow the process I wanted to follow to release this shot?

Unfortunately, this approach is rarely seen at the range. Too often I see shooters simply turning money into noise without gaining performance improvement. Occasionally I’ll even have a shooter tell me something like “Yeah, great practice. 1,000 rounds down range.” They grow quiet though when I respond with “Great! Did you get 200 bucks of improvement?”

As shooting becomes more expensive and the reasons we shoot–whether it be training to defend our life, protect the public, or win a match–have become more pressing, we owe it to ourselves, and those we protect, to be as good as we can be.

The good news is that improving our performance doesn’t mean that we need to spend more money on ammo or even more time at the range. We just need to build better practices!

At our TPC boot camps, we do just this. While we focus on principles and fundamentals for world class shooting, these concepts are new to most and unlikely to stick after just three days of instruction. For that reason, we also teach our students how to design practices that lock in those fundamentals and improve the speed and consistency with which they can deliver shots.

Here is how we work with our students to develop a practice:

START WITH THE FUNDAMENTALS

Start and end with the fundamentals of grip, stance, isolating the trigger, letting recoil happen, calling shots, and active follow through. If these are not holding, stop and work on just them. If you have 200 rounds, use a large percent of them here.

ONLY DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO WITH LIVE FIRE

You can perfect a reload with very little live fire but a lot of dry practice. We can hone technique dry and then measure or experiment live.

THINK SMALL, LOOK SMALL

I recently had a fellow instructor who was visually leaving targets early in a rush to get to the next target. This was causing misses and hurting his competition performance. Together we designed an *exercise using dots focused on follow thru. He did this exercise with 100 rounds a day, over two days. At his next performance at a large competition he found that his problem was solved.

*Note that we designed an “exercise”, not a drill. We want to improve a fundamental skill that we can reuse elsewhere, purposefully, not just as a series of sequences where we can fool ourselves with improvement by memorizing a sequence of actions.

END WITH THE FUNDAMENTALS

We used this process to design a 200-round practice with a group of students at a recent boot camp. Our “look small” goal was to improve our ability to isolate the trigger, including under speed stress. The class had wisely deduced that a lot of low hanging fruit in improving their performance could be found in the trigger pull.

Here is what our practice looked like:

  • 75 dots, dry, focusing on a different element of the shooting cycle on each row
  • 75 dots, live, focusing on isolating the trigger on each dot (3 shots per dot)
  • 40 alpha exercise (from the Army Marksmanship Unit Action Shooting team)
  • ½ USPSA metric target, at 15 yards (this simulates a 30 yard shot)
  • 40 shots, in 5 shot strings, as fast as the sights present what you need to see
  • Strong focus on isolating the trigger
  • 75 dots, live, focusing on isolating the trigger on each dot (3 shots per dot)
  • 75 dots, dry, focusing on isolating the trigger on each dot and active follow through

This practice took 190 rounds and an hour and a half to complete. Every person on the line got 20+ Alphas, with some in the high 30’s. When I asked them “was that worth 1.5 hours and 20 bucks in ammo?” the universal answer was that it was the best experience shooting, in terms of improvement, they’d ever had.

Now imagine doing that twice a week. How good would you get with $40 a week in ammo and three hours of your time?

I encourage you to bring PURPOSE and PLANNING to your practices. You will improve at a dramatic rate and the gains will be more permanent.

Think, don’t plink!

Why police should participate in competitive shooting sports

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Wisdom from Dave Porter

Different competitive shooting disciplines teach different skills, but all use Cooper’s “Speed-Accuracy-Power” to some extent. Even slow fire NRA high power rifle requires 20 shots in 20 minutes at 600 yards. Does anyone think a Police Marksman would be called upon to make faster shots at that distance?

IPSC and 3-Gun, as the author notes in the article below, are very fast indeed, at ranges from very close to intermediate.

I think it extremely noteworthy that, following 9-11, when the Army realized that the average Soldier’s gunfighting skills were generally woefully inadequate, they tapped their competitive shooting teams to design and teach courses like Squad Designated Marksman and Close Quarters Marksmanship. (taught respectively by the Army Rifle Team and the Army Pistol Team)

In my own 26 years of service, the best instruction I experienced BY FAR was taught by competitive shooters. When it became my job to provide weapons instruction for troops going into harm’s way, I modeled my instruction after theirs, and I started competing myself.

If you want top level instruction in ANY field of human endeavor, you find the enthusiast. Teaching an enthusiast/expert how to instruct is far more effective than assigning a trained instructor a task which doesn’t really interest him.


Why police should participate in competitive shooting sports
by Ron Avery
https://www.policeone.com/training/articles/189973006-Why-police-should-participate-in-competitive-shooting-sports/

Speed of Actual Engagements

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When required to do an El Presidente as one stage of an IDPA match I was running, three police officers who had come said, “But we had 30 seconds to do this in the Academy!”

My response was: “You can take 30 seconds here, too. You’ll just be last.”

The slow, low skill levels reinforced in many qualification courses could be called “an unrealistic speed that is not reflected in the speed of actual engagements.”

Police officer and competition shooter Ron Avery discusses this here:
http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/5816232-Will-competition-get-you-killed/

Low speeds and skill levels are to be expected at the academy level. The problem and failure is never addressing this elementary school skill assessment and asking skills to improve during a career.

Jessie Duff Wins 2015 Single Stack Nationals

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http://www.shootingwire.com/story/346428

Sorry, but she did not. Unless my math is off, Phil Strader won the 2015 USPSA Single Stack Nationals. Here are the full results:
http://1911ssc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015-Single-Stack-Finals-finish.pdf

Jessie Duff was 41st place overall and 25th place Master class.

Yes, Ms. Duff was 1st place female, finishing after the first place Master (Jacob Hetherington, 5th overall), first place Senior (Ron Avery, 10th overall), first place A class (Ryan Stinar, 25th overall), first place LEO (Craig Underdown, 28th overall), first place B class (Kenneth Chang, 34th overall), and the actual High Overall first place winner, Phil Strader.

I’m all for recognizing a variety of categories and classes at any match. Only one person is going to win high overall, so having additional skill classifications and categories is a great way to further competition among many different groups of competitors. It’s sort of like a mini match inside the match. For example, in the International Powerlifting Federation a female in the 47 KG class is never going to out total a male in the 120 KG class but they all can compete on the same platform.

High Lady is an important category, but it is one of several other categories. Phil Strader won the 2015 USPSA Single Stack Nationals. Jessie Duff did not “win” the 2015 USPSA Single Stack Nationals any more than Jacob Hetherington, Ron Avery, Ryan Stinar, Craig Underdown, or Kenneth Chang did.

Firearm Training Reality – The Naive Shooter from a Law Enforcement Perspective: Hit Probability

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Force Science Institute published The Naive Shooter from a Law Enforcement Perspective: Hit Probability, a study that identifies the problem with shooters that remain at novice skill levels.

The real risks during deadly police shootouts:
Accuracy of the naive shooter
http://www.forcescience.org/articles/naiveshooter.pdf

Force Science News #280:
Eye-opening study suggests deep flaws in academy firearms training
http://www.forcescience.org/fsnews/280.html

By actual test, an average police recruit completing academy firearms training is only marginally more skilled in shooting than a person who has never shot or even held a firearm. The study found that personnel completing military or police handgun instruction and passing qualification enjoyed a mere 13% improvement over complete novices. Between groups labeled “expert”, “intermediate”, and “novice” there was no effective difference in skill between the identified groups.

Force Science Institute executive director Dr. Bill Lewinski said, “[R]esults indicate an alarming need for improved firearms training for officers,” because despite being academy graduates and passing mandated firearm qualifications the new officers “were a mere 13%” more accurate than novices in shooting at distances where a high proportion of officer-involved shootings occur. What these statistics appear to imply is that officer firearms training is not extensive enough and occurs too sparsely for officers to gain, and maintain, the expert level of accuracy with their service weapons that is expected of them.”
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Will competition get you killed?

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Short answer: No. Being complacent, lazy and unwilling to test things out in a formal, peer-reviewed environment is much more detrimental than any alleged downside competition may offer.

I’ll let experienced law enforcement officers take it from here:
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