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.

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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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