Training Scars: Brass in Pockets

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The “found brass in pockets” story is a popular old saw offered as a warning against developing bad habits or training scars. The legend goes that some police officer was found dead with spent brass in his pockets. Being of the era when revolvers were common, the doomed-but-nameless officer unintentionally stuffed his brass into pockets while reloading during a protracted, long-ago fight – thus slowing him down and sealing his fate. Details are rarely offered, but the boogeyman to avoid is unintentionally developing a bad habit and to only do things exactly as told… or you’ll suffer the same fate! Boo!
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Competition Will Get You Killed On The Streets?

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https://primaryandsecondary.com/competition-will-get-you-killed-on-the-streets/

Choice cuts from a great article at Primary and Secondary

-Is mission planning not a thing anymore?
-Are mission rehearsals not a thing anymore?
-Is having ISR units recce targets and conducting recce handovers to the assault force not a thing anymore?

People who cannot differentiate between competition tactics and small unit tactics are probably not good at either.

Why is it relevant that competition shooters cannot perform at their best level while wearing a basic load, to include PPE? Can most “tactical dudes” perform as well as competition guys using competition gear? Most likely they would get smoked.

Bottom line, don’t get too wrapped up in being tactical or what not. Understand that different principles apply when shooting a match than when you are doing break contact drills in rural terrain.

Creating a divide seems pointless, and only serves to keep people away from an activity that could help them become better shooters. I know that my shooting has improved, with no detriment to my “tactical abilities”.

Realistic Training

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“Gunsite has outstanding realistic training.”

– Ernie Van Der Leest, Gunsite graduate

The Garland Texas Stage at the Gunsite Alumni Shoot

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153895678934453/

Gunsite Shotgun Advanced Tactical Problems Class Shoot Off

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153880407169453/
"Ya gotta remember that safety..." I guess that's needed advice for a student at an Advanced Tactical Problems class. But competition (like a shoot off) is no good because it's not as stressful as the real world...

556 Carbine Shoot Off Drill

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153865187389453/

223 Carbine Class

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153846475654453/

Vehicle Defense Class drill

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153547963679453/

250 Shoot Off

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153494147274453/

Another tactical Gunsite exercise

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10154322850704453/

Another 250 Shoot Off, with the two class winners
https://www.instagram.com/p/BMr3jwHjj5s/

In case you missed the caption, the guy that unintentionally hurled the magazine downrange was among the top students in this class.

A range at Gunsite... or is this set up for a USPSA competition?

Gosh, all of this looks an awful like any number of competitive shooting matches I’ve been to. Like, nearly identical. Well, at least when watching the folks that typically round out the bottom half of the final results…

In case you think I’m exaggerating, here’s Rob Leatham at Gunsite (off camera to the left) shooting against and beating three other shooters:

Question: If I set up these Gunsite courses of fire as demonstrated here at my range and run them as a match, at what point does this become unrealistic and start inducing training scars or bad habits?

Tactics and Training Scars

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Tactics are an expedient toward a goal in a specific environment and may need to change if/when the goal or environment changes. For far too many, “tactical” means “doing it my way” and “training scar” means “doing it different than me.”

People claiming to shoot “tactically” at competitive events by going slow are NOT tactical as their tactics are bad in the context of the event they’re participating even if their approach may be appropriate elsewhere. It will not create a “training scar” to shoot fast if that is what the situation calls for, however, it is bad business to justify poor results due to inappropriate actions by claiming to be more tactical.

Pre-planning, speed, and violence of action can be important tenets for tactics.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_quarters_combat

Here’s an example from Gunsite. The infamous Scrambler:

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153528585499453/

I guess it’s OK to pre-plan a stage and then run through for time and score, but only if the tactical class you pay to be in sets it up for you…

Claiming to be “tactical” needs to include recognizing what an appropriate tactic is in context. The context matters and changes what appropriate tactics might be.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/context-matters/

http://www.exurbanleague.com/misfires/2015/09/30/so-just-what-is-a-training-scar/

What’s Wrong with Defensive Shooting Classes

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Alright, sometimes we have close calls, but this one had to have bit the bullet, literally. I can’t believe I was so close to it also. Could have been bad for a lot of people. Even though everyone is okay here. It’s just a reminder to train and be fully aware of how you operate a handgun.

We were at a dynamic drill day practicing self defense with a focus on moving with a group of shooters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_-MAd0DFI0
You're good, you're good... [Hey Lefty, keep slapping away on your Dynamic Critical Incident "training"]

This video nicely sums up nearly everything wrong with defensive shooting classes. A line dance of lower skilled shooters dumping a bunch of rounds semi-discriminately at large, close targets. Note they’re all circling through a batch of targets shot at by everyone. No attempt to see where (or if) they’re hitting, and with everyone shooting the same batch of targets we can’t anyway. No time or other pressure. And a dude (who probably is convinced competitive shooting causes bad habits) nearly shoots himself before slopping through the exercise.

This is poor gunhandling displayed by a novice. Blaming the holster ignores the true problem. This low-skill shooter would have had this negligent discharge in this tactical class with any holster.

Line dances like this can’t get people more skilled. Despite false promises and outright lies, everyone needs to earn their chops on simple but stringent drills even if nobody seems to want to.

Simple range exercises and competitive events are disregarded as not useful or relevant. Some people, including those hosting such classes, claim they cause bad habits, training scars, and the like. Using a scored and/or timed fixed exercise is claimed as not useful, even meaningless, and to be avoided.

Nobody wants to earn their fundamental skills doing boring, static, range drills and other “circus tricks.” We want dynamic drill day practicing relevant, real-world self defense in context with a focus on moving. Just like this guy.

CCW Lessons From Competition

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My background as a competition shooter has never once been a crutch through any of the realistic training I’ve attended. Instead, what I realized was that, even though I was mostly a race gun shooter, the skills developed in shooting against some of the best in the world translated seamlessly into working with a stock duty pistol, and even gave me an edge when it came to real-world applications.

When I practice my shooting, I don’t run through specialized match stages; instead I focus on specific skillsets that have a direct, positive impact on real-world applications.

Simon “J.J.” Racaza

Racaza’s experience echoes what every competitive shooter with military and police experience has found. People seeking to improve themselves far beyond the minimum standards will excel far beyond the minimum standards most are content to meet. Despite all the fanciful catchphrases and machismo, doing this requires actually participating in something where skills are tested beyond minimums. Cowering behind excuses to avoid such tests accomplishes nothing.

Especially when the excuses are mostly fabrications:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/myth-of-competition-training-scars/

And there are zero examples of any actual problems in the first place:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/training-and-competition-the-dark-side/

Read more:
http://www.recoilweb.com/preview-jj-racaza-discusses-ccw-lessons-from-competition-93359.html

Real World “Experience”

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I often think that we give TOO MUCH credit to “experience.” Someone who has done something a few times, and done it WRONG, but gotten lucky, is a very, very dangerous instructor indeed. I have seen many times a bad decision luckily turn out well, this “validating” that bad decision. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way…

The ideal, of course, is considerable real world experience using techniques that have served not only that one instructor, but a wide variety of end users well over a long period of time. I put very little faith in anecdotes, one-offs, and “well, I knocked out Mike Tyson, so I must be the best fighter ever. Well, yeah, he did slip and hit his head on the curb just as he was about to knock me into next week, but my one experience PROVES that my techniques are the best!” I’d rather have an instructor who may never have had to use his techniques, but whose STUDENTS perhaps have used them extensively and proven their value.

One of my personal favorite instructors (who is a Grand Master competitor and has been in more than one defensive shooting situation in his life) has the opinion that far too many “cool new techniques” are developed by people who did something once and got lucky. The thought applies, “Well, if I survived this one encounter by shooting the gun upside down and running the trigger with my pinky [because specific circumstances forced this course of action], then it must work all the time!” Then you get Bobby Lee’s Tactical Pinky Inversion school.

That’s the extreme, of course, but if you look at any number of would-be trainers on YouTube, you will see plenty of folks emphasizing one specific skill-set as the solution to all defensive shooting. I don’t trust any instructor who doesn’t express some sense of adaptability, and whose supposed wonder-technique doesn’t stand up to a decent amount of poking, prodding, and questioning by the students.

More here:
http://www.defensivecarry.com/forum/defensive-carry-tactical-training/131459-should-he-really-training-people.html

Competition Shooter, Real World Encounter

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This is yet another example of how competition shooting causes bad habits during real world encounters. Oh, wait…


http://bearingarms.com/bob-o/2016/09/19/man-shot-crossroads-mall-terrorist-uspsa-competitor-3-gun-shooter/

Man Who Shot Crossroads Mall Terrorist Is USPSA Competitor, 3-Gun Shooter

USPSA Shooter,  3-Gunner, and NRA-certified firearms instructor Jason Falconer has been identified as the man who shot and killed a 22-year-old Somali immigrant who went on a stabbing rampage inside a St. Cloud, (MN) Mall on Saturday.

The apparent terrorist—who apparently asked victims if they were Muslims before stabbing them—was engaged by Falconer inside the mall.

Too Successful Training

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The rookie is “obeying” the commands he so often got at basic; also the TEAM training: when one goes down, all go down.

I remember one recruit in the rifle shoot house that did a nice job of clearing all the rooms and hitting the targets high center mass…one of which was UC with a clean 223 hole through the badge round his neck.

I suspect “training scar” issues like this occur more from novice skill levels rather than learning a “bad” habit. When academy/basic training remains the totality of formal learning a person has, they’re more likely to repeat such things because it’s the only response available in a rather limited playbook, especially when there is little to no history of performing under pressure where the results truly matter to them.

Example. We shot a series of surprise courses at CAFSAC in the shoot houses at Connaught, Ottawa. Despite shooting these after the fixed, square range courses (the sort that allegedly cause “training scars”) not a single competitor displayed any such mistake. None of the range officers reported anyone inadvertently remaining flat footed when they should have been moving, failing to use cover, unloading before finding and engaging targets, etc. It’s almost as if being more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand. Amazing!

From John Tate:
You speak of a “limited playbook.” My phrase is tool box/tool bag. And I fully agree.

Once upon a time, LONG, LONG ago, I played guitar and 5-string banjo. The fingering is vastly different. But one learns to change “playbooks.”

Your square range vs. shoot house example illustrates identical adaptation to the environment.

The one quasi-counterexample I would give is a person reacting to an instantaneous and severe stimulus where either instinct or habit takes over before conscious thought. I liken these to “brake pedal moments.” BUT – as you said, “[B]eing more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand.”

All of which goes back to the “train to die” model of only shooting the standard, flat-foot, stationary target qual course.

Bad Habits or Lousy Instruction?

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I had a nice young man in a class recently that was very skilled. He was an active USPSA competitor and very quick and accurate. Every time his relay would finish their drills, he would quickly unload and holster his pistol (magazine out, slide quickly to the rear and catch the ejected round in his hand). Even though I told each relay to top off their weapons and then holster prior to scoring and pasting targets… He did this every time, and was never ready to shoot when his relay was called to the line the next time.

Later in the day as his relay finished and everyone else was reloading and holstering, he was still clearing and unloading his pistol. I finally walked over and asked him, “Why in the Hell do you keep unloading your sidearm when you are finished with a shooting task?”

– Ken Hackathorn

OMG, bad habits caused in competition! At least that’s the popular implication. It’s also very wrong.

Why wait until “later in the day” before “finally walking over” to confront a problem that had been already been previously identified? Especially if it was noticed this was happening “every time, and was never ready to shoot when his relay was called to the line”?

This is not a failure of competition shooting causing “bad” habits. It is a failure of an instructor failing to help a paying student.

This student paid money to take that class to learn things he didn’t know before. He already had established proper training procedures as that is the only way he could become “very skilled… and very quick and accurate.” Even if he didn’t overcome this one particular habit on the first try, it is a simple matter of building in a new habit while practicing/training in the future. Given that he was already motivated to develop good habits with regular, on-going practice and motivated enough to take a class to learn something, this particular student is most likely to successfully implement such a fix.

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