20 December 2009

It's been awhile

Since I last ranted about shooting.... so buckle up that seat-belt Dorothy!

Once again, I keep running head first up against the wall that is tactical trainers. We've had some new shooters come out to play and despite showing them as empirically as possible that their way of shooting is not the best way, they continue to fall back on the mantra of:
I shoot this way because I'm training for real life and not this game.
And I cannot tell you how nuts this makes me. Shooting poorly, yet tactically, is not an excuse for sucking. And it gets used as an excuse constantly.

I have a buddy who I actually like quite a bit. He started shooting with us a year or so ago, and he recently discovered cigars. He's on one of the local SWAT teams and is a heckuva nice guy. Over cigars a few weeks ago, he told me that the reason he shoots so much slower than me is that because he's had it drilled into him that target acquisition is key and he's willing to take his time to find and verify the target. My response was that if we can teach him to verify the target quicker - to see faster - then isn't that a good thing?

My point is, the guys that fall back on the tactical excuse refuse to accept the concept that there is a better and faster way because that way has been developed in competition in a game.

It's pathetic is what it is, and I'm getting damn well sick and tired of it.

A fellow showed up at our local IDPA match today. In 6 stages I believe he nearly doubled my time. I'm shooting a new gun that I'm nowhere near up to speed with in addition to earning a penalty. And I beat him by over a minute. He was a nice enough guy, worked hard at the match, helped out and was a pleasure to be around. However, just by watching him shoot I knew he'd received some training from somewhere. I asked him and when he told me where he went and had learned from I was not surprised as I have come to expect that kind of skill from that particular school. As we talked over the course of the day, you could see he was not buying the information I was trying to help him with until the end of the day when he hung around while I practiced for a bit.

I helped him with his grip and how he manipulates the trigger. No one had ever shown him how to do that before. He probably learned more, and had more to think about based on 30 minutes of evaluation from a competition shooter than he had in any of the other "tactical" classes he had taken in the past.

Tactical trainers believe that your mindset is the building block, the foundation of your shooting. After mindset comes tactics. After tactics comes skill. I would argue that they are bass-ackward. The foundation, the core of your shooting should be your skill. You can know all of the tactics in the world but if you can't put steel on target and manipulate your firearm you suck. And you're going to lose. Tactics are completely and totally worthless if you can't hit what you are aiming at.

And sadly, I have yet to see a shooter come out of one of "those" schools that knows how to shoot. When asked by new shooters why some folks continue to shoot and train with outdated methods when a better, proven system exists, I have recently come to the conclusion that dogma is king, and they refuse to do anything, to SEE anything that would change that dogma.

For example, the entire world was made aware during the American Civil War that line tactics were a bad idea. Yet nearly 50 years later, The Brits, German, and French were still using line tactics. It only took a few million men getting killed before they realized that they were wrong to fight as they had been taught - despite the evidence from a generation before that line tactics were a bad plan.

I see the fight against Weaver shooting and step dragging instructors to be the same thing. Their dogma sucks and does not stand up to the light of day. Period. End of story.

If you are looking to learn how to shoot, here's how to tell if you need to run out the door as fast as you can:

1. If you are taking a 2 or 3 day class and all you shoot is a couple hundred rounds.
2. If your instructor shoots Weaver - or even uses the ridiculous excuse that it's just another tool in the toolbox.
3. If your instructor does not shoot competition. (believe it or not, there are a ton of well known, well respected instructors who also happen to be phenomenal competition shooters)
4. If you ask your instructor "why" and all that person says is "because I said so" - a competent instructor should, nay, must be able and willing to explain in exquisite detail why they do what they do. If they cannot, DO NOT give them your hard earned money.
5. If your instructor says that their way is the only way. Within the general framework of the way "we" shoot, there are many variables; a good instructor will not teach you the way HE shoots, but the best way for YOU to shoot and have the flexibility and experience to guide you to your top level of performance.
6. If your instructor yells at you like R. Lee Emry.
7. If your instructor insists that if your pistol doesn't have a "4" in the caliber then it's worthless. (I invite any of them to step downrange and catch a mag full of 9mm)

This is just a start. But seriously folks, there's a reason that the best combat shooters in the world - Special Forces, SEALS, HRT, etc are trained by the best competition shooters in the world.

Thus endeth the sermon.
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