Three pistol targets after some training of speed while still being accountable for accuracy. Photo courtesy of Shin Tanaka.
I was recently surprised by the insight of a Facebook post on the topic of balancing speed and accuracy in training. Not surprisingly, however, was that it came from my buddy, Shin Tanaka. A USPSA Limited Class Grand Master, gifted machinist, 1911 gunsmith, and contributor to Recoil Magazine, Shin is about as well rounded as they come. His post caught my attention as it quantifies a method of balancing your speed and accuracy when it comes to training. According to his post, using USPSA scoring zones, he uses the point system in USPSA to measure whether or not he is being too conservative or pushing his limits. So assuming 5 points for A zone, 4 points for BC zone, and 3 points for D, and 0 points for a no shoot or miss, Shin uses a percentage score to determine whether or not he is pushing his limits. 93-97% of max score is the goal. Above 97% means you need to push the speed harder, and 93% means you need to dial back the speed.
I was once asked by a student, “Why don’t we train to shoot on the move?” I replied, “We need people to be able to shoot while stationary before we can expect to combine moving and shooting.” That is an oversimplified overview, but hits the crux of the matter. Our previous article hit the basics of the ideas surrounding shooting and moving, and today I wanted to offer a counterpoint focused primarily on the training considerations. Continue reading
To be or not to be, that is the question…or for us, it’s should I shoot on the move?
As a law enforcement trainer, I am routinely asked to incorporate shooting drills that have the officers shooting while moving. In class, there are always students who push for that type of training especially in anything considered Advanced. But what is shooting on the move? Continue reading
One of the most overheard phrases in firearms training is the old adage of “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” In my career as a trainer and shooter, I seem to recall it most often told to me by people who were slow and maybe smooth and honestly had little business telling me what actually was fast. Words have powerful meaning, and as an instructor, it is important for us to use the correct ones when trying to impart skills and knowledge to our students. Continue reading
In my firearms training, I have always placed a high value on technical competence. This is not because I don’t recognize the importance of judgmental shooting training. The two go hand in hand. But technical skill and the confidence that results gives the officer or citizen precious time to make that critical decision under pressure. Confidence lowers stress levels and fosters better decision making. I truly believe that many officer involved shootings that have gone wrong were due to the officer panicking because they did not have confidence in their skillset. They felt that they were “behind the curve” and therefore had to react “faster”, which could result in a questionable shooting. Continue reading
From “No Second Place Winner” (© 1965), by William H. (“Bill”) Jordan (p.101):
“There is no second place winner in a gunfight! That sage remark is of unrivaled importance to an enforcement officer. Nothing he can buy from a life insurance firm takes the place of his ability to shoot fast and accurately. Storebought insurance will make his wife a rich widow, but it will be someone else who helps her spend the settlement. Not too attractive a proposition from the masculine point of view. The kind of life insurance he can buy with competent gun handling ability is obviously much more practical.” [You can read/download Jordan's book, HERE].
MSW posts urging weapon reliability and “get out and train” (whether specialized classes with the been there done everything hardcore trainers, shooting drills on the clock on your own, physical conditioning, and yes, competing) really speak to one thing, winning a life threatening encounter. I wanted to write a post to put out my long-held lament on the subject. It strikes me often: I see streets named after and plaques honoring LEOs killed by the gunfire of evildoers. (I was casually acquainted with several of the deceased LEOs, and a bit more with a couple). But I never see what would inspire and make me feel much better — a street named after an LEO who WON a gunfight. So here it is, to be filed under the CAN element (mindset) of my paradigm on deadly force. Continue reading
Here of late, I have been involved with some interesting conversations on active shooter problem solving. I will acknowledge up front that this thought process is somewhat flawed, and borderlines on the academic. I will also acknowledge that I don’t have all the active shooter answers. The answer I think we all can agree upon is the fact that good guys with guns is the answer to the active shooter/mass homicide problem. Continue reading
One of my responsibilities at the job that pays my bills is to write the monthly qualifications for our personnel. I am always trying to come up with suitably practical, challenging, and reasonable standards. My goal is always to challenge folks to improve their skillset without demoralizing or frustrating them, which is always a fine line. Continue reading
Whenever discussion of pistol sights comes up, the question inevitably arises about whether such and such sights hit (Point of Impact or POI) to the point of aim (POA). This can be a somewhat subjective thing, as everyone seems to have different expectations. Continue reading
Okay…what is he talking about….
Too often it has been my experience with law enforcement shooters (and competition too) that the need to pull the trigger “now” supersedes the requirement of hitting the target. It’s like a building pressure in the mind that shooters will settle for less than an acceptable sight picture and blast off a round..or two..or three. It’s almost as if a self gratifying sound and feeling overwhelms what the process should be. Continue reading
I had a fellow in a class back in the spring who showed up in head to toe multicam. He wore a shemagh, a plate carrier, Oakley gloves, and Salomon boots. He carried a state of the art LWRCi rifle, complete with BAD lever, 45 degree sights, EoTech and magnifier.
He had a very narrow stance, and when he fired more than a couple shots in a string, he would begin to rock back throwing his shots out of the 3×5 card at seven yards during rapid strings. Continue reading
People are often prone to advocate that we should do everything in training exactly as we would do it “for real.” And in the vast majority of instances, I believe their argument has merit. However, we need to adjust our behavior sometimes based on safety concerns, range limitations, and other less than real factors, such as training ammunition. Frangible ammunition has been discussed here in the past but I am here to give you another example of how we need to be attentive at the range. The photo above shows a comparison photo of the front portion of a frangible round that was recovered from a shooter’s AR style rifle. Yes, the rifle type is important here. Continue reading
Executive summary: Usually a bad idea, often a very bad idea.
[This is a follow on to prior posts, THREATENING DEADLY FORCE : MUSINGS ON “BRANDISHING” AND “WARNING” SHOTS, and “CASTLE” DEFENSE: WHAT CAN–MAY–SHOULD–MUST YOU DO]
“Can/should I hold someone at gunpoint?” A common question when the topic of guns and defensive use of deadly force is discussed. The questioner’s “gunpoint” hypothetical usually poses a home invasion, robbery attempt of the questioner, or “in progress” interdiction of someone committing a property crime, or a violent crime against the questioner or another person. The question is another one to which I respond with my smart aleck lawyer’s answer: “I don’t know, can/should you?” It lends itself to analysis similar to what I discussed in prior MSW posts on the use of deadly force – my paradigm:
CAN / MAY / SHOULD / MUST
For the purpose of this post, holding someone “at gunpoint” is not necessarily muzzling the threatened person(s), openly holding an exposed firearm in any specific “ready” position, or a mode of “display” permitted or prohibited by a state “brandishing” statute. I use the phrase here to mean the display of a firearm coupled with the express or implied threat that a failure to obey commands will result in the use of deadly force, that is, the gunpointer WILL shoot. (If unprivileged, usually considered a serious felony, such as an armed assault or assault with/by deadly weapon). Consider the following for your analysis of the SHOULD element of the paradigm. Continue reading
At some horrible, fateful point in the late 80′s or so, the 3 dot sight system assumed the throne of its seemingly never-ending reign of terror. Yes, I hate 3 dot sights, and so should you.
The basic rationale behind the 3 dot sight system is that it speeds up sight alignment by allowing you to theoretically line up the dots and fire. It’s not so simple, and let’s look at some of the issues.
Do I line up the top plane of the sights or the 3 dots when I aim? You NEVER ever ever ever ever ever line up the 3 dots to aim. Ever. Well maybe that’s a bit broad, but novice shooters should just reread that and stick with it. The 3 dots serve only to theoretically speed sight acquisition, but there is no guarantee that the 3 dots are actually in a correct line relative to your point of impact, so there is no reason to use them in such a manner. The most accurate and correct work is always to be done with the top plane of the sights. The only real exception is if you are in pitch darkness and the only elements you see are your 3 glowing tritium dots. However, that is fodder for a different article so don’t steal my thunder for part 27 of this series.
Those 3 dots are so easy to see and line up! When the gun is clean and you are dry firing in a relaxed manner in perfect lighting, sure. Once you start shooting, the front sight – where your attention should be – starts to get dirty from muzzle blast and the nice clean rear dots really jump out at your eye instead. When white outlined tritium dots age, it is easy to end up with three dots that are different colors and shapes thanks to paint outlines fading and chipping. Your eye wants a single area of focus, not three different ones.
Under stress you can line up the dots wrong by putting your front sight outside the two rear dots. Well I suppose that could happen, but go try it right now and look how wildly wrong the pistol needs to be aligned to have that happen. A little more dry fire time is in order if this happens to you regularly.
You’ll notice that the pistol in the photo above has the two rear dots blacked out with magic marker. It is a cheap fix, and one that I recommend be done on every factory sight set. This simple trick was passed on to me years ago by friend and mentor Ken Hackathorn, a guy who has forgotten more about handgunning than most will ever know. Marker does rub off easily, but the advantage of using marker instead of paint is that the rear tritium inserts will glow through the ink if you still want to use the tritium. Try this little trick and you may find that your front sight suddenly jumps out at your eye when you shoot.
I was recently going through my bookshelf throwing away some old catalogs and magazines and came across a few gems that I particularly enjoyed reading, not only because they were entertaining, but had a good amount of educational value as well. None of these books are exactly hot off the press, but if you’ve missed any of these, do yourself a favor and grab them from Amazon. Continue reading