Nov 19, 2008

Levels of Competence in Shooting

Levels of Competence in Shooting

The two best articles I've seen on this subject are from Front Sight and nipponDAZE Here is a synopsis.

There are people who possess firearms, civilian, military and police alike, that either know of their incompetence or refuse to admit to it and refuse to exercise any effort to improve or demonstrate their skills. II gun owners purposely avoid training and participation out of laziness and/or fear. Even when forced the II sometimes cannot be helped much because he simply does not care to learn.

This is worse than Unconscious Incompetence because the UI is merely unaware of something better. The Intentionally Incompetent often are aware but attempt to justify their low skill and non-participation with false reason. A classic example of Intentionally Incompetent gun owners are those who are aware of organized shooting events but refuse to attend or even acknowledge the potential benefits.

Commonly, these individuals delude themselves and others by concocting lies for non-participation:

  • "Competition shooting will get you killed"
  • "Organized shooting isn't real shooting"
  • "Marksmanship for soldiers/police/hunters is different than marksmanship for competition"


The UI does not know that he does not know. The UI represents the majority of all gun owners and includes people (police and military) who carry a gun for a living. The UI is incompetent but does not know he is incompetent because he has had no training or poor training and has not yet experienced a situation exposing his inadequacies. Examples of the UI can be found everywhere.

  • The officer who only practices shooting his weapon a few times per year in order to pass the POST or department mandatory range qualifications is UI.
  • The gun owner who buys a gun and box of ammo, only attends mandatory CCW classes, fires a few shots at the range and then places the gun in his closet, confident he can use it effectively to protect himself is UI.
  • The hunter who only attends mandatory hunter safety and only shoots once a year to sight-in his rifle before going hunting is UI.
  • Most plinkers are UI.
  • Military personnel who only shoot the same course of fire as in Basic training (even with an "Expert" qualification) are still UI.
  • Any gun owner who has never attended an organized shooting event beyond a mandated safety/basic training course is UI.

The next level of competence hits you like a brick because you become suddenly aware that you know little, or previously held notions are incorrect, and that there is so much to learn. This commonly happens when the UI attends his/her first organized shooting event.

If the CI makes the effort to learn, through study, proper training and practice, the CI develops into the CC. The length of time needed to develop from CI to CC is directly related to the quality of the training or events attended and the motivation of the student. Study brings you to the level of theoretical knowledge. You understand the concepts, but to apply them, you have to think about them. In a lot of subjects or skills, you might never move beyond this level. Every decision and action occurs as a result of an intricate thought process and has not yet reached the reflex response level.

When you can do something without thinking about it, you've become unconsciously competent. Your skills operate at the speed of reflex. Riding a bike, driving a car, touch typing and speaking in your native tounge are common skills most people are Unconsciously Competent in. At this level, theoretical knowledge is transformed into practical knowledge. Study might get you to CC, but only proper practice will get you to UC.

The UC has programmed his mind and body (after thousands of repetitions) to react in a fraction of a second with consistent responses that require no perceivable thought process. The UC functions flawlessly even under stressful situations because the UC's extensive training overrides his conscious thought process. As you can imagine, the UC is not common in today's society.

The highest level of competence is the ability to do something without thinking about it, yet retain a level of awareness of how you do it. This level of competence enables you to teach the skill to someone else and is the province of the true Master. Many people who are very good at something cannot explain it to someone less skilled. They are so unconsciously competent, they don't know how they do it. They just do it. The CUC is a UC who can effectively teach others to reach a similar level of skill.

Nov 5, 2008

USAR Shooter Secures CISM Gold

Army Reservist Lt. Col. Rhonda L. Bright competed with Team USA comprised of top marksmen from all military branches and won four medals and the coveted title of Best Nation in the World at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire – called CISM – held this year at the Rodberget Shooting Centre in Boden, Sweden.

The first CISM Gold Medal was awarded to USA’s Women’s Rifle Team Sept. 16. With 17 teams competing in the Women’s 50-Meter Sport Rifle Prone Team Match, the Gold Medal went to LTC Bright along with Sgt. Kelly A. Dove and Spc. Nicole M. Cooper of the Army Marksmanship Unit. Bright scored 596 points, Dove shot 593 points and Cooper got a 586.

A perfect score is this event is 600 with top scores between 590 to 595. Competitors fired 60 shots in 1½ hours at a target with a bull’s eye smaller than a dime. Germany took the Silver Medal and Norway the Bronze.