Oct 15, 2010

Problem Solving at High Speeds

This brief description of my day is just like a fight, except in your typical fight everything is compressed into a few seconds. "Fighting," as Scott Reitz says, "is problem solving at high speeds." You're presented a problem, and you have to come up with a solution for that problem and apply it immediately.

When you have a base of skill that you can consistently apply effectively at high speeds your problem solving ability improves tremendously. I recall shooting with a police officer who struggled to draw and hit a silhouette target at ten yards in under three seconds. Even at this slow pace his shooting was still erratic. On the same exercise I was consistenly getting good hits in just under one second.

Even if the Law Enforcement Academy imbued some magical tactical knowledge into this officer (it didn't and couldn't, but let us pretend anyway) I would still have an additional two seconds in a split-second shoot/don't-shoot scenario to assess the situation and make a decision and still land a better hit, if that's what the situation called for.

Get your basic, fundamental skills and fitness down and your problem solving automatically becomes high speed.

Oct 1, 2010

Basic Pistol Shooting Standards

What is considered skilled shooting with a basic, issue, rack-grade (unmodified) service pistol? Let's use a 9mm, 5" barrel, open/iron sight, handgun, standing, two hands, slow fire at 25 yards (75 feet.) What should the grouping diameter look like?

First, what is the mechanical accuracy of the gun as fired from a machine rest? Most common rack-grade issue self-loading service pistols will be good for about three-inch groups at 25 yards. Some might be worse and others will do better but this is a reasonable guess. Tuned and accurized CMP Service competition pistols ("ball gun") will shoot under three inches at 50 yards or better.

An old standard from practical shooting is to shoot a slow fire group freestyle (standing, two hands, no support) at 25 yards less than twice the size of the mechanical accuracy. So, with a factory gun capable of a three-inch group at 25 from a Ransom rest, a good goal is to shoot freestyle groups less than six inches at the same distance.

Skilled pistol shooters can do better. When preparing for military practical/combat matches (AFSAM, All Army, etc.) one of my training exercises is to shoot slow-fire five round groups (standing, two hands, unsupported) with an issue M9 (Beretta 92FS) on a blank target inside four inches. On a good day I can do this with all shots fired double action as well as single action. Of course, not every day is good. :) With a proper bullseye pistol, do the same thing with one hand.

The most important thing is that you see improvement each trip to the range. I recommend standard bullseye pistol targets (B-6 or B-8) at 25 yards, or the equivalent scaled target at a different distance, and shoot a few slow fire strings for score each range session. When your shots are mostly 9s and 10s, with nothing outside the 8-ring, you're getting it!