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Thread: Standards

  1. #1
    Door Kicker Mick-Boy's Avatar
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    Default Drills and Standards

    This post has sprung from a conversation I was having with Darryl Bolke (one of the owners of HiTS down in TX). We were discussing standards as they relate to shooter development and he mentioned that Elmer Keith believed in the concept of a "finished" gunfighter. A person who should shift gears from "improvement" to "maintenance".

    The fact is that most standards on shooting drills are arbitrary numbers. Standards (and by extension the times/scores that make them up) do serve as a quantifiable metric to measure progress. It's a way for me to measure "faster" or "better" and turn those terms into real data. When I say "I shoot these sights better" I can prove it with times and scores. When I say "I clear my cover garment this way because it's faster" I can validate it by times. Does any of this actually matter in the real world? Fuck if I know.

    How fast do I need to be in real life? Faster than the asshole(s) who is trying to rain on my parade I guess. How accurate? Well most gunfights with handguns in the US take place inside of 10 yds (majority at something like 1-3 yds I believe). Does that mean hitting an A-zone at 10 yds is a solid accuracy standard? I don't think it is.

    My belief; I want to be able to shoot as fast as I can process information and hit what I shoot at.

    I don't carry a gun for "most of the time". Most of the time (When it comes to CCW in the US that's my entire life to this point as a matter of fact) I don't need a gun at all.

    I don't particularly care at what distance "most" gunfights occur. I already carry for those outliers. The times things go bad. I have no control over just how bad they'll go. Distances, speed and accuracy required are complete unknowns. So I want to be fast and accurate. My definitions for the words fast and accurate have changed over time. They'll probably continue to evolve. As a shooter I want to push them as far as I can.

    All that to say; Don't get married to a time or accuracy standard. Those can (and perhaps should) change as you get better. Get a shot timer and shoot some drills for score. That will help you find where the limits of your skillset are.

    I had never really considered the concept of a "finished" gunfighter. It merits some serious thought. Either way I don't think I'm anywhere near "finished" in my development.
    Mick-Boy

    "Men who carry rifles for a living do not seek reward outside the guild. The most cherished gift...is a nod from his peers."

  2. #2
    The Red Belly TheBelly's Avatar
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    I don't have a time standard, per say. When I think of time, my time needs to be 'Faster'. That's my mindset.

    One of my favorite drills is the 1-5 drill. I think too many folks have it in their heads that two bullets will be enough. The Army teaches one shot at a full sized 'Ivan' in its qualifications. It really disturbs me, actually. The only gun I've seen be a one-shot wonder was a mk19. I can't ccw a grenade machine gun, though.

    i think the reality is that as long as rounds are getting on target, then I will have SOME effect on the bad guy.

    Overshadowing all this is the fact that you can't miss fast enough to win a gun fight. Get the hits, then challenge yourself to go faster. Use a shot timer to prove that you're going faster.

    All it took for me to get serious about it is one bad experience on a sponsored vacation. Everyone has their own trigger that gets the fire lit.

  3. #3
    Paper Hunter
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    Being better (faster and more accurate) than "the other guy" is the thought that keeps me training. If I am standing across from Doc Holliday I'd like to at least think I have a chance. I am nowhere near there yet.
    I agree that times given in various standards are not the end all of training. However, it does give guys like me an idea of what is possible or average for time and accuracy. In other words, I would be supremely confident in my shooting skills had I not seen Bob Vogel shoot an El Prez in 4 seconds.
    So yes, use time standards as a benchmark, but always push. Also, train with people who are better than you, be it in class, or better yet, informally.

  4. #4
    MODFATHER cstone's Avatar
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    Great observation Mick. There is no such thing as good enough to stop improving.

    No matter how fast and accurate you are at the range, all bets are off when there are rounds coming back at you. Obviously there are ways to increase the stress to simulate some of that scenario, but no training is more realistic than the real thing.

    I train to get better but realize that no training will ever completely prepare me for reality.
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    Paper Hunter Sticks's Avatar
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    In all the training classes that I have taken, the one common statement by the pros;

    "No matter how good you are on the range, in a real world situation, you can guarantee that your accuracy will get cut in half and your time will double."

    Pat McNamera - [paraphrase] "You are always training. Keep pushing yourself to the point where your speed increases to the point where your accuracy starts to suffer. If you are hitting the "A" with every shot you are not going fast enough. If you are all over the target, slow down. Do not just practice what you are good at. Do the drills that you hate."
    Sticks

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    Door Kicker Mick-Boy's Avatar
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    I've been pondering the idea of a "finished" gunfighter for the last couple of days. Here's my take on the idea (whether this is anywhere close to what Mr. Keith was talking about I don't know):

    I'll start by saying that my emphasis is on the word gunfighter. I'm not talking about someone works in an office or someone who wants to be a Grand Master.

    There will come a time when you're done making the "big" leaps in your skillset. Your gun handling and marksmanship are solid. You don't get thrown by weather, movement, awkward positions or a shot timer beeping in your ear. You can run your gun.

    Just as an example, let's say a guy can shoot a 7 sec El Prez clean, from concealment, on demand. 1.5sec draw, 2 sec reload and the rest of the time spent shooting 12 "A" zone hits. Now, this guy can spend the time doing more work to get faster on that drill. Work to get that draw time and reload time down a couple of tenths of a second, the shot to shot splits down a couple of hundredths of a second, etc.

    To this shooter I would ask two questions;

    At what point are you turning a drill into a range trick? We all know that if you shoot the same qual or the same drill over and over again you're going to get better and more comfortable with it. But you're also going to start training your mind to expect that sequence of events. (six shots, reload, six shots) What happens when you need three or four to put someone down? What happens when you work multiple targets and still have rounds in your gun? Ultimately, are you training yourself to shoot faster than you can think?

    My second question would be what other skills are you sacrificing for that incremental improvement? Comms knowledge? Combatives? (Family life?)

    I still don't know where I'm going to land on this idea. Just thinking out loud (or typing my thoughts as it were).
    Mick-Boy

    "Men who carry rifles for a living do not seek reward outside the guild. The most cherished gift...is a nod from his peers."

  7. #7
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    Here's my thoughts on that concept:

    The idea of a "finished" gunfighter is the point where a gunfighter reaches his training plateau. He is no longer increasing his skill set in leaps and bounds as earlier in his career, but making slight changes to increase his efficiency. He is not learning fundamentals, or even practicing fundamentals rather making adjustments to his life to make the fundamentals a more fluid and natural process. Studies change from how to do something to why someone else approaches the same task. Training becomes not to increase speed or accuracy or even to be more consistent, rather to maintain what he has spent years building. Speed and accuracy may increase as a by product, however the difference is often not very noticeable and can be attributed to in increase in efficiency, not technique. I think this can apply to competitors as well, however the desired end result is different than a gunfighter.

  8. #8
    Paper Hunter Sticks's Avatar
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    Hmm...

    A finished "Gunfighter" is a dead gunfighter. Gunfighter to read ~ One who actively participates on a 2 way range frequently. Ever changing dynamics, and no event will ever be the same as a previous encounter. It is how well the operator processes the events on hand in a given environment and the speed that said operator adapts.

    The same can be said for a competitor. All you have to do is see the change in their approach to a "blind" stage. Probably why IPSC shooters don't like IDPA so much. Even as an SO for the IDPA, I would shuffle the order of shooters according to how well they scored in the last stage. Best shooters went first, Result; they did not do so well on the next stage having not been able to walk through it several times and watch what others do during the stage to formulate a strategy.
    Sticks

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  9. #9
    Paper Hunter
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    I have been kicking this concept of the finished gunfighter around for a few days, and am probably over thinking the shit out of this, but for what it's worth... I don't think there is such a thing.
    I don't mean to get all Parmenides vs Heraclitus, being vs becoming on this, but I think anyone serious about, and dedicated to their profession (in this case gunfighter) would say that there is no end to striving for improvement. There is certainly an improvement to maintenance shift in certain areas (speed, etc) but as Mick pointed out, there are so many elements that compose a gunfighter I think it's silly to be able to say you are complete.
    Not that any of that helps us practically... so I gues the complete gunfighter is the guy that makes it home every time.

  10. #10
    Paper Hunter
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    I think the concept of a "finished gunfighter" really speaks toward a goal or outcome focus vs. a process focus. I think there should be SMART (or whatever acronym you want to use) goals for a person, but at the same time I think the process is equally important as it is what leads to meeting those goals. For example, if your goal is to shoot a FAST drill in under 7 seconds you could just practice that drill over and over. Or you could figure out where you're within the time and accuracy standards and where you need to improve and focus on getting better in those specific areas. By just focusing on the goal you may be delaying your progress.

    Along the same lines, I think of the people who have been training in a martial art for years or decades, but couldn't fight their way out of a crowd of caffeine fueled kindergarteners. But, they know all the moves and all the minute details of their art.

    I think, thanks in large part to guys like SouthNarc & Company, we're starting to make a mental shift from "gunfighter" to fighter with a gun. We're starting to see more of an emphasis being placed on non-gun skills and the ability to integrate all of those skills into one package so we don't "die in the gaps." With this in mind, the term gunfighter, in my mind, has become a piece of history, much like the stagecoach or the ability to take a swell gal out to the diner for a burger and a shake for less than a buck.

    To me, there is no finished, but rather a list of priorities, which includes FAMILY. What good is it if you're the baddest dude in the world if you never see the people you love and are training for? Kyle Defoor put up a priority list on his site a while back, the jist of which was to honestly appraise what you're likely to need and what you're good or bad at. Things that you may need, but suck at, get the most attention. Things that you don't need, but are good at, get the least. Makes sense right? but how many people preach "train what you suck at," but don't honestly appraise what they suck at, or how likely they are to need the skills they have or want? At the same time, how many people can actually appraise where they're at? I've seen a lot of people who thought they were hot shit get their asses handed to them. If you don't know what you don't know, how can you actually gauge your level of need on different skills? How can you judge if you're "finished" or still a work in progress?

    In the end I think a lot of us need to reassess and start thinking about being multi-disciplined fighters instead of gunfighters. Even guys like Mick, who spend a significant amount of time overseas will still come back and have to be able to address the civilian world CONUS problems.

    Dig up Defoor's list of priorities and figure out where you fit in there. Add or subtract things as needed to fit your life. Put your good points on maintenance and work on your weak points. Decide where "good enough for now" exists in your list of priorities. If you can shoot a sub 5 second FAST, but have never set foot in a good MMA gym, fix that. If you can run a carbine like nobody's business, but live and work stateside and are about to develop Type 2 Diabetes because of things you have control over (diet and exercise) fix it. Don't buy into your own hype and be honest. If you spend more time worrying about the boogie man than you do with the people you're trying to protect from the boogieman, unfuck your priorities before you don't have to worry about protecting anyone because they've left you.
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