Dec 17, 2013

Feel Good Training

Feel Good Training
by Caleb Giddings

When I was shooting Collegiate Bullseye, I was pretty good. Then I started shooting IDPA, and I realized that I wasn’t very good. So I practiced until I was, and made Master class. Then I went to my first Nationals and got wrecked. I also started shooting USPSA and wasn’t very good at that. So I practiced until I made A-class. I thought I was an accurate shooter, until I started shooting Bianchi Cup.

The point is that shooting well is actually hard and there are no shortcuts to the top. I know if I want to win an IDPA Championship, I’m going to have to train my butt off so I can beat some of the best revo shooters in the world.

The difficultly of shooting well is exactly why guys like Robin Brown or Matthew Temkin exist. Guns get wrapped up in ego, so when you’re suddenly confronted by your own suck, it’s awfully tempting to hear the siren call of these clowns. “Shhh, it’s okay” they say as you dump 500 rounds aimlessly into the berm, “that’s how it will be on the street.” Instead of teaching you to excel, they give you an opportunity to hide from your own inadequacies with their pablum of “the streets.” It feels good to shoot a lot of rounds and have a nice old man pat you on the head and tell you that you’re “combat accurate.” It feels good to do drills without a timer and have the instructor (who doesn’t even demo) tell you that he “felt” like it was faster.

You know what else feels good? Masturbation. But it’s no substitute for the real thing, and neither are these fraud trainers teaching meaningless nonsense that not only won’t make you any better with a gun, but could actually endanger yourself or others.

If your instructor isn’t using a timer to objectively measure standard drills, you’re wasting time and money. If your instructor doesn’t believe in using the sights ever, he’s a fraud. I understand the temptation of “feel good” shooting, and there is absolutely a time and place for that. If you want to feel good about your shooting, train for a year. Then go to a public range. I guarantee that you’ll feel smug about your shooting for at least a week. But after that, go to a class that kicks your ass.

Feelings are liars. Your feelings will almost always lead you down the path of mediocrity. The best way to feel good about your shooting is to look an objective metric like a standard drill and see your performance on it. Or look at your match scores and how they’ve improved. Then you have something that you’re justified to feel good about.

Dec 9, 2013

Beyond Expert: Story Behind The Book

I had always wanted to write a book about shooting. Turns out, I would be asked to publish it. While spending 2003-2010 as a mobilized small arms instructor with the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program I noticed a trend in the different range of skills found among typical military-trained personnel and skilled marksmen, such as those involved in competition. On average, skilled competition shooter were able to exceed Army "expert" qualification standards by 300% or more. Military qualification standards are such that even an "expert" score may still be a novice-level effort as the course of fire isn't capable of measuring higher skill. Note I said "skilled competition shooter." Not National champion or Olympian, just a competent marksmen among competition shooters. As one of my fellow instructors put it, a shooter that doesn't finish in the top ten percent at a match isn't competing, he's participating. Now, there's nothing wrong with participation (I still do it sometimes :) but a skilled competitor will manage to top out in the top ten percent of his/her shooting peers. That is good enough to at least earn "leg" points towards a Distinguished badge, earn a Master classification or something similar. After managing to stumble into the Gunzine game and getting some articles published, I queried an Editor at Harris Publications to write this up. He agreed (see, sometimes gun magazines do publish actual marksmanship material.) I originally wanted it to be a series of articles but was directed to make it a single, very large article. I titled it 300: Tripling Military Shooting Skills and it published as Shoot 300% Better (http://www.tactical-life.com/magazines/tactical-weapons/shoot-300-better) Of course, my originally-intended-series-turned-article piece was considerably larger than most. When it wound up in the word processor of a Harris copy editor, he was directed to cut it in half! He sent me the cut-to-fit revision to review in an email with the subject "Buol Chainsaw Massacre." Turns out this copy editor was friends with the Editorial Director at Paladin Press. While lamenting over hist chopping and dissecting assignment, he quipped that she should ask me to write a full length book for Paladin about it because, "he practically wrote a damn book about it already." So I was contacted, contracted and the rest is the ISBN-indexed dead trees package here: http://www.paladin-press.com/product/Beyond-Expert

Nov 19, 2013

American Dream 5.56 Charity Rifle Auction

The SIONICS/LAUER CUSTOM rifle on the cover of Rifle Firepower January 2014 is being charity auctioned at GunBroker.com to benefit MARSOCFoundation.org Harris Publications' Rifle Firepower magazine is proud to have teamed with SIONICS Weapon Systems on its January 2014 magazine cover. SIONICS' Patrol I rifle was custom-DuraCoated by Lauer Custom Weaponry to create what's being dubbed as any rifleman's American Dream 5.56. SIONICS is currently auctioning the cover rifle on GunBroker.com. The auction, which can be viewed under the charity auction section, will last for 90 days and will end on January 17, 2014, the last day of SHOT Show. Of special note, SIONICS will donate 100% of the net proceeds to the MARSOC Foundation (MARSOCFoundation.org) Jump to the auction: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=373959277

Jul 11, 2013

Free NRA Life of Duty Memberships

As a celebration of our American independence, NRA members our thanking our nation's active-duty military, law enforcement and first responders by sponsoring FREE one-year NRA Life of Duty memberships. If you or someone you know is a member of these active-duty communities, sign up (at no cost) at JOIN.NRALIFEOFDUTY.TV and begin receiving all standard NRA benefits, plus EXCLUSIVE discounts on gear, life insurance the NRA American Warrior digital magazine and more!

Mar 27, 2013

Practical Pistol: Fundamental Techniques and Competition Skills - book review

Practical Pistol: Fundamental Techniques and Competition Skills - book review

While it's not good to dwell on poor past performance, the lessons learned can be educational and serve as a motivator for improvement. I went into the final combined arms phase of the 2013 All Army match with solid placement in the more precision-oriented rifle and pistol phases but failed to secure an overall win. The bitter irony of that is this part of the event is speed oriented (scored as Time Plus, like Vickers count) and in a previous life I was a fairly serious, though not particularly successful, USPSA and IDPA shooter, having earned Master classifications from both organizations.

The USAR Marksmanship Program doesn't currently sponsor action/practical competition and it was clear that my lack of participation there caused a drop in my speed shooting and gun handling skills. I “knew how” to do it, having done it somewhat competently before, but things had rusted up a bit in the interim. Realizing I needed a refresher, I came across Practical Pistol: Fundamental Techniques and Competition Skills.

Author Ben Stoeger is a two time national USPSA Production champion. I'm dating myself by admitting that USPSA didn't recognize a Production division back when I was competing in these events, having only Open and Limited at the time. Stoeger managed his wins with a Beretta pistol similar to the rack grade M9 issued by the US military and shot in military competitions. So much for all those low skilled tactical timmies whining about competitors only winning because of unrealistic gamer guns.

This book is a fantastic overview of all the skills needed to excel in practical pistol competition. Stoeger explains the fundamentals of each skill area and discusses the “best” way to do the particular technique with a step by step breakdown yielding the fastest times and the highest scores. Sticking points and potential mistakes are pointed out and the bar is set with performance benchmarks and methods of improvement. Not everyone agrees what is best and controversies are addressed with other schools of thought on various issues by other top shooters, including Bob Vogel, Matthew Mink, Dave Sevigny, Keith Garcia, Blake Miguez, JJ Racaza, Mike Hughes, Brad Engmann, Chris Bartolo, Taran Butler, Jay Hirshberg, and Matthew Hopkins.

Practical Pistol: Fundamental Techniques and Competition Skills is comprehensive, covering every important topic needed to win. Subjects are arranged in a unique, logical order. Rather than organizing by chapters, every topic is listed by page number, making everything easy to find and reference.

While the subjects would prove helpful for beginning shooters, this book really shines for more experienced, serious shooters looking to make big gains in skill. Instead of the thoughtful, no-thought Zen approach taken by Brian Enos in Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals, Ben Stoeger takes a more practical and just as thoughtful approach to teaching readers how to better think about their shooting and make improvements. I hope to write a book this good one day. In the meantime, this book gives me a fresh perspective on how to get my practical shooting skills back up and better than before.

Jan 8, 2013

ALMS Army Online Training

Web-based training is great but ALMS delivery is slow, overly complex and less effective than a simpler solution. ALMS seems to assume Soldiers are stupid and incapable of handling written instruction, thus requiring cartoons and video. It's insulting and wasteful.