FBI Firearms Qualification

It is December in Nebraska–30 degrees (Fahrenheit) out, with nice gusty winds so that the weather folks say it actually feels like 20 degrees out.  Obviously, it is a good day to shoot the FBI Firearms Qualification outdoors!

I decided to do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. I haven’t shot this in awhile, and I’ve never shot it on camera while freezing, so I thought it might be interesting to see how I’d do, and how much the cold would affect me.
  2. In my last article, I talked about how this is a good qualification to run for “court value,” which is something that Greg Ellifritz mentions in his article, linked above. As such, it seemed like a good idea to show what it looks like for those who don’t know the course of fire.

It was so cold I couldn’t talk correctly.  My face was numb, and I was having problems forming words correctly.  No, I don’t have a speech impediment, but you couldn’t tell that from how I was talking….

Continue reading

Pistol-Caliber Carbine

With the recent addition of various pistol-caliber carbine divisions to the USPSA and Steel Challenge shooting sports, there is an increased interest in PCCs.  While there has always been a small group of proponents of PCC (for home defense or whatever), the addition of PCC divisions in well-known shooting sports (among shooters, at least) has caused a definite increase in both the availability of various-brand PCCs, and the number of buyers. Continue reading

Marine Pistol Qualification

Let’s be blunt here—the vast majority of people in the military either spend very little time with a pistol, or no time at all. There are plenty of people in the military who have never shot, much less qualified with, a pistol. Of those that have, most engage in less than 100 rounds of practice (including qualification) every year.

It is certainly true that there ARE groups in the military that not only put in significant practice with pistols, but are demonstrated high-level experts in their use.  However, those groups are very specific and well-known, and contain a very small number of troops, for only a tiny percentage of the military as a whole.

As such, the comment of “I was in the military” is meaningless in terms of being any sort of indicator of pistol proficiency.  It is similar to saying “I’ve been a hunter for 20 years” — the information given doesn’t tell you anything about the person’s pistol skill level. Continue reading

Why are you so mean?

Periodically, someone asks me why I’m so direct with my replies regarding civil rights such as self-defense.  They get angry because I say what I mean, without cushioning it for their feelings.  I’m not impolite, I just (quite some time ago) lost patience with caring about certain people’s feelings if I tell the truth, back it with facts, and state my conclusions from it, and they get all angry because their defense is purely emotional, with no rational basis.

“Why are you so mean?” I hear. Continue reading

Is 2016 the year you get better?

I didn’t get enough better in 2015.

I did some good stuff.  (Among other things, Tom Givens’s Instructor Development Course was excellent.)  I shot some good things here and there (won a couple of state-level IDPA matches, placed here and there in USPSA matches).  And I got in some good practice and read and mulled over some good research regarding self-defense.

But my physical skills didn’t get enough better in 2015 because I didn’t practice the physical skills enough.  Mental work—actually, I did some really good mental work through the year.  Organized some thoughts on awareness and monitoring (those aren’t the same thing), read some research on predator behavior (both known-person and unknown-person), did some good internal work on reaction choices and consequences, came up with some good teachable moments regarding self-defense.  Oh, and got my 5th degree black belt rank in Hapkido.

But my physical skills didn’t improve as much as I wanted for the year.  Because I didn’t practice like I should have.

Did you?

IDPA Tactical Journal (19.4)…

So, I read the latest Tactical Journal this morning (yes, I know it has been out awhile, I don’t want to hear it) and I thought I’d comment on something I read in it.

For those who don’t know, the “Tactical Journal” is the “whenever we feel like it” publication of the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) containing supposedly excellent articles about the sport, self-defense, and so on.

[cough, cough]

Anyway:  I’ll ignore the fact that Robert Ray’s article* about the 2015 World Championship (by the way, Robert is the editor of the Tactical Journal, and one of the major rule-arbiters in IDPA) completely got wrong the first, second and third place finishers in CCP division.  Not only was he wrong, but he wrote about a third of a page about the supposed winner being the first time someone from outside the US has won, etc, etc—-too bad that guy wasn’t the winner.  His article didn’t even MENTION the guy that actually won the division at the 2015 IDPA World Championship.

But we’ll ignore that.

We’ll also ignore Joyce Wilson’s comment about how the points down penalty will be doubled because two MAs and one EX think we should do it, and how all the feedback that she’s gotten has been positive (all evidence, discussion, commentary, and quotes to the contrary), and how there is no actual timetable for this because they don’t know what they are doing and how it will affect classifications.

We’ll ignore that too.

No, my ACTUAL comment is on the article where they asked a number of female MM shooters what they wanted for Christmas—and one said that she wanted a class from Front Sight, “to improve [their] accuracy and timing.”   Another was getting her husband “something special” — a course at Front Sight.

Front Sight.

Seriously?  Was the point of this article to show that even in the shooting sports, people make stupid choices about where to train, and who to train with?

I wish I could find Tamara Keel‘s comment about training with people or groups like Front Sight, Suarez, and Yeager—it was a great quote, but I think it was in the comments on one of her posts and I can’t find it.

Front Sight. Seriously. Sheesh.



*I note that I met Robert Ray when I went down and shot the Arkansas State IDPA match this past year.  He was polite, seemed like a nice guy, and I saw him make a number of rules decisions that seemed logical, pragmatic, and sensible.  So this comment about his article is not about him as a person, but it certainly is about how the overall editor of the whole magazine shouldn’t be making this kind of egregiously awful mistake in something as easily factually checked as this.

I shot badly at the last match…

Awhile back, my wife mentioned to me that people had told her that it was annoying when they’d hear me mention that I did really badly on a stage–and then would find out later that I won that stage.  Or that I’d say that I only shot well for two stages, but pretty badly on three others–even though I won the match.

According to them, it made them angry or upset because I seemed to be saying that since I shot badly and won, then their shooting must have been horrible because I beat them.

I’m curious:  When you first teach someone to shoot, if they act safely, demonstrate the fundamentals well, and can hit the target most times, don’t you praise them for doing well?  Because they ARE doing well?

If a powerlifter wins a meet but doesn’t actually perform near any of his PRs, should he be happy about his performance?

If someone wins a D-class football state championship, don’t you tell them that they did really well, even though they would have been destroyed by the A-class state champion?

If the USPSA Production National Champion came to a local match, and shot with TWO TIMES as many dropped points as he normally has, isn’t that really poor shooting for him?  Even though it wouldn’t change the fact that it would still be good enough to beat us all?  He would rightfully be unhappy with himself for shooting badly, even though it still left him far ahead of us.

One of the things that I like most about the shooting sports is that while we are competing against other people, we are also competing against ourselves–and the people who get REALLY good are the ones who pay attention to how they shoot, and work on trying to always shoot to their level of competency.  (Preferably above, but in a test situation, if I can shoot to my standard level of competency the entire time, I’m all sorts of happy.)  In practice, we try to raise our level of competency, but in tests, we at least try to shoot to our level of competency.

I won the Production division of the Steel Challenge match we shot the other day.  I wasn’t happy with how I shot, however–it was not up to my level of competency on four of six stages (I was about 2 seconds slower than my normal time on each of those four stages) and I was mediocre on another (about 1 second slower than normal) so while that one stage was ok, I was only happy with one stage in which I managed to shoot Smoke & Hope under 10 seconds for the second time ever. I actually shot slightly above my previous expected competency level for that stage, which made me really happy.

Being under 10 seconds is a big deal to me, as it has been a goal of mine for quite some time. Now, national-level folks consistently shoot Smoke & Hope under 10 seconds.  For them, beating 10 seconds isn’t a goal, it is their expected level of competency.  They would consider it poor shooting for themselves to NOT make 10–and I consider it a wonderful thing if I make 10.

If I say “I didn’t shoot well” it means simply that—I did not shoot well, compared to my competency level.  I can, with perfect honesty, tell someone who got half of my score that they shot really well if they exceeded their normal competency–that would make for a great match for them!  That would be something they should be proud of, and it has NOTHING to do with how well they shot compared to me.

I can shoot badly and still sometimes win a match.  I can shoot really well and not win a match, because if I shot to my level of competency (or above!) for an entire match, I’d be perfectly happy even if I didn’t win.

I’ve shot against Ben Stoeger a number of times now, and have never come even remotely close to beating him.  And yet, several of those times I’ve been happy with my overall shooting for the match.  At the same time, I know he’s been unhappy with himself for some of his shooting during those exact same matches in which he destroyed the rest of us.

Instead of taking things personally, people might instead start thinking about their shooting and rating it compared to their current competency level, as opposed to making everything about how they compare to others.  🙂

Can you consistently shoot to your level of competency when tested?  Then that is something to be happy about.  (It also means it is time for you to up your level of competency through practice!)

…and that has nothing to do with how you did relative to other people.

Changes in PRT Classes, and the 2015 Schedule…

Well, it’s a new year, so of course we’ve got some new things going at Precision Response Training

First off, some good news: For the past couple of years there has been a lot of requests for more short seminars–so that’s what we are going to do.  We’ve started by scheduling three in the first half of the year, and we are planning on at least two more for the remainder.  The topics for the first ones are already set, but while we already have some ideas in mind for the last two, we will entertain suggestions–so if there is anything in particular you want to do, let us know!  (Seminar dates:  Mar 28, Apr 25, May 09.)

Second, as we’ve been teaching the Handgun Techniques and Shooting Skills courses, we’ve found that not only can they be taught at the same time, but also that the people who have signed up for fundamentals analysis (Shooting Skills) could have significantly benefited from some dryfire instruction on technique prior to the live fire section of the class like what happens in the HT course.  In many cases, we see that with a short amount of dryfire work prior to the range time, we could have shortened the time for the improvement process on specific fundamentals.   So—the Handgun Technique course and the Shooting Skills courses have been combined into a single 1.5 day course.  The initial evening will be dryfire in the classroom to work on specifics of fundamentals, and the next day will be on the range the entire time.  (This hasn’t changed for the HT students, but it does add some good dryfire work for the SS students.)

Third, we have put up the schedule of classes for PRT courses through May.  While we’d LIKE to be able to offer a CCW State course every month, we have a limited amount of time and we’ve decided that our other courses are more important–because you can find CCW courses all over the place (and if you can’t take mine, among others I recommend Chris Zeeb at Nebraska CCW Training) but you can’t find our Handgun Technique/Shooting Skills, CCW Lifestyle, or Defensive Tactics/CQT courses anywhere else.  (Though I have been amused at how several other trainers locally have added practical CCW courses scenario training and other aspects of the CCW lifestyle since I started teaching my course. And suddenly CQB-with-combatives have appeared, too. Hm.)

Lastly (here’s the bad news) due to changes in available resources and general costs, I’ve had to raise a few of my class fees.  Seminars are now $40, HT/SS is now $145, and the CCW Lifestyle and Introduction to Handgun courses are now $95.  For those last two, I kept them ridiculously cheap as long as I could (truthfully, $85 is a stupid amount for me to charge for a 1.5 day course in which I have to buy required student packets plus use a huge amount of equipment plus supply ammunition for all students) because I feel that people need VERY BADLY to take those classes.  And I haven’t changed the cost much–only $10 more.  But that SHOULD help me continue to be able to offer those classes because I’m not losing quite so much money on them.

So, get yourselves to the PRT Schedule/Registration page, and sign up for some classes!

Schedule for Jan 2015 – May 2015:

  • Feb 07:  CCW Lifestyle
  • Feb 28:  CCW State Course
  • Mar 13-14:  Introduction to Handguns
  • Mar 28:  Pistol Skills Seminar
  • Apr 10-11:  Handgun Techniques/Shooting Skills
  • Apr 25:  Competition Seminar
  • May 09:  Tactics Seminar
  • May 30:  CCW State Course

(I’ll be adding more details about the seminars later this week…)

How’s your ego?

One of the things I’ve observed while teaching firearms is that in general, there is a significant difference between teaching women and teaching men.

Teaching women is normally pretty easy:  They generally start under the assumption that I know more than they do, they try to perform the shooting techniques as I’ve taught them, and they don’t randomly add extras to their technique because they think they know how to shoot better.

Teaching men is often annoying:  They start with the assumption that they are already competent shooters, they generally attempt to “adjust” the technique I’ve given them because “they know what works for them” and often they make decisions about whether or not they should practice a particular technique or use it based on whether or not “it feels right for them.”

In other words, many men seem to think that genetics has given them an innate understanding of firearms, that plinking at a pop can at 15 feet with a .22 rifle has trained them in solid technique with a firearm, and that their perusal of YouTube videos of High-Speed Operators(tm) teaches them how to Operate since said videos are exactly like what happens in reality.

I wish I was kidding.

Now, this isn’t universal—one particular female comes immediately to mind, who used a bowling draw and a teacup grip to shoot slow-fire at a full-size silhouette at about 10 feet, and when I suggested some different techniques, assured me with strong confidence that this is how she was trained in law enforcement for high-speed shooting.

And plenty of guys actually listen and learn perfectly well.

Nonetheless—it is certainly true that EGO is alive, well, and Operational in the world of shooting.  So–how’s YOUR ego?

Do you have a healthy ego that drives you to be a better shooter?  (There is an assumption here that you want to be at least a competent shooter.  If you don’t, then never mind.)  Or do you have an EGO that requires you to defend it often, that gets in the way of admitting to error that can be fixed, that means that not only will you not ever learn to be better, but won’t even test yourself for fear that you might fail in front of others?

I was talking with a female shooter I know, and she told me about a discussion she had recently.  She was talking about competition shooting to a guy who was “training” a female friend of hers to shoot, and he said he’d never want to shoot competitions because he’d just get too competitive about it.  Her response to me?

“What I heard was ‘I suck at shooting and don’t want anyone to know.’  Isn’t that what you heard?  That’s what I heard.”

You know—I’ve gotta admit, I often think that too.  Because seriously, shooting competitions are FUN.  If you like shooting in general, then you’ll like shooting competitions.  There is something out there that fits what type of shooting you like to do. And they are tons of fun.

So if you give me excuses about how competition shooting will get you killed, or that you don’t want to take time from your tactical training, or that you don’t want to do it because you’ll get too competitive, or whatever else—that’s fine.  Everyone gets to have their own opinions, everyone gets to make their own choices—no problem.

But I can’t help hearing in my head “I suck at shooting and don’t want anyone to know.”

…and my head often adds an addendum:  “And my ego can’t take people knowing about my actual level of skill when I’ve bragged on myself so much.  Matter of fact, my ego can’t take ME knowing exactly what my real level of skill is, because I have this great beautiful picture of myself as The Ultimate Shooter in my head, and I can’t have that destroyed.”

Do you really want to be competent with a firearm?  Want to get better?  Be more skilled?  Do you really want to have a good measure of your level, so you can increase that level?

Or is your ego so big and so fragile that you can’t afford to show your actual shooting skill in comparison with others, in front of others?

Which is more important to you—your ego and fantasy view of yourself, or having a good time shooting while getting a realistic view of yourself?

LEO and Military folks “know” guns…

No.  No, they don’t.  Not necessarily.  (I’m sure this post will make me some friends.)

There are an amazing number of people out there who fervently believe that just because an individual is former/current military or former/current law enforcement, that not only are they expert with firearms (both handguns and long guns, apparently), but A) they know good, solid citizen self-defense tactics and skills, and B) they can teach said tactics and skills.

You know what?  Not only are A and B not necessarily true (matter of fact, most of the time those are not true), but the basic premise of “expert with firearms” isn’t remotely true either.

This isn’t saying that no military and law enforcement folks are good shooters—there are a number of mil/leo people who are outstanding shooters of all types.  However, this is completely separate from saying that being mil/leo automatically means one is expert with firearms.

Are most military/leo better than the average gun owner?  Probably, up to a point.  That isn’t because military/leo firearms training is that fantastic, it is because the vast majority of gun owners aren’t shooters—they merely own guns, and play around with them every once in awhile. As such, it is a very low bar to get over, to say that anyone is better than the majority of gun owners.

This doesn’t make mil/leo folks expert.  Sure, Bob Vogel, Ted Puente, Shannon Smith, Frank Proctor, Pat Mac can all shoot at an incredibly high level.   And yet, if you grabbed your local law enforcement department and closest military company, and had them demonstrate their pistol skills (and their rifle skills), “expert” is not the conclusion you would reach.  (Heck, local departments sometimes have numerous members who have difficulty qualifying each year–and the NE LEO Firearms Qualification is amazingly easy.)

Matter of fact, “safe” is not necessarily the conclusion you would reach, either.  That isn’t a failure of the mil/leo individuals–it is a failure of the way they are trained.  When they don’t get to handle a firearm except when on the line, when they aren’t trusted with a loaded firearm except when given specific range commands, when they aren’t given the funds and facilities to actually practice—and most of all, when the instructors aren’t training them in safe gun handling (merely safe range practice, which is something very different), then of course they really don’t know safe firearms handling.

Military or Law Enforcement experience does not equate to shooting skills, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they know how to teach said skills.  They might be able to shoot better than the average gun owner—but if you are actually going to a class to learn how to shoot better, then you aren’t an average gun owner, and you certainly don’t want to be taught by one.  And when given a choice of firearms training, making your decision based on whether or not the instructor is current/former LEO or military really isn’t relevant, especially if your goal is learning shooting skills and citizen self-defense tactics.  (If your goal is learning military shooting techniques, that is a different story.)

Police officers have VERY different tactical priorities compared to normal citizens.  Military folks have VERY different rules of engagement compared to normal citizens.  And if you think that having an LEO/MIL background means they automatically know everything about guns—-you should get yourself to a shooting course taught by someone who really DOES know how to shoot.

I’ve shot with a number of police/military folks.  Of them, most are perhaps slightly better than your average gun owner if I’m feeling generous—but much worse than your average USPSA shooter.  Not all of them, of course—we have a couple of outstanding local shooters who are military or LEO.  BUT…..most military/LEO that I’ve seen who ARE good at it are only good because of the extra time and training they put into it themselves.

It certainly wasn’t due to their LEO/military training.  And that is completely separate from someone’s ability to actually TEACH the subject.

So sure, like most people I prefer to have an instructor that has experience in the situations that they are attempting to prepare me for—but that preference is a distant third compared to first being solidly competent in technique, and secondly being able to transfer that technique to me via teaching.  (And since most military and LEO folks don’t have experience in citizen self-defense situations and tactics, their experience, while related, really isn’t the same anyway.)


This post brought to you by recent experience with a couple of local instructors who are former military/LEO, one of whom demonstrates frightening levels of not-safe-ness in class, the other of which pontificates incorrectly about “what really happens” by “expert sourcing”* his “facts” (i.e. his opinions are actually facts, because he says so, even in the face of actual research data). 

They both charge about twice what I do for classes. [sigh]  And people take these classes, presumably because they don’t know any better. And continually talk about how they are great instructors because of all their military and law enforcement experience.


*Thanks to Ben Stoeger for the “expert sourcing” phrase.