Category Archives: standards

Why I Like to Measure Things

#measurementmonday

Why do I like to measure things? Because until I do, I don’t really know what’s inside.

I dislike soupy oatmeal. Although I followed the package instructions, it still turned out like soup. When I used the package measurement, it didn’t. Measuring the actual amount of water from the package’s marker doesn’t hold as much water as it says and which the directions specify. One half a cup is quite a bit less than two-thirds of a cup.

What does soupy oatmeal have to do with personal protection? How would we know whether we’re “good shooters” https://youtu.be/qB7NKXEKewM?t=599 unless we measure our own level of competency?

There has been debate within the training community for a long time about standards of competency. Those arguments will probably never be settled. One possible starting point could be the level of marksmanship necessary to pass the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Course. To pass the Course, a shooter needs to be able to make five hits inside a 4 inch circle four times at 10 feet, no time limit.

The NRA doesn’t require that a shooter make the standard in four consecutive attempts. Someone keeping or carrying a pistol for personal protection probably should consider being able to do it every single time. Shooting the BOPS test would at least give you an idea of where your competency is. Here is a target for you to use.

My Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting Tier https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor?fan_landing=true is $1 a month on Patreon. The kickoff post, Dry Practice Circle Drill, is available to the public without subscribing. https://www.patreon.com/posts/64582173

100 percent standards

‘Tragic’: Teen apparently killed by stray police bullet in LA Burlington dressing room identified

https://abcnews.go.com/US/14-year-girl-dressing-room-killed-stray-bullet/story?id=81919639

This is an example of why I believe in 100 percent standards, not 70, 80, or anything less. My guess is that those officers will not last long on the LAPD and it’s not because they will get fired.

They will leave because the overwhelming majority of cops are decent people who want to do the right thing in life. That poor girl’s killing will haunt those officers forever. Whenever they put on their duty weapons, it will remind them of the consequences of the incident. No decent person wants to be reminded of that every day.

I’ll be following the investigation of this one closely.

Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 6)

#fridayfundamentals

How do we know we’re doing the Fundamental of Pistol Shooting correctly? That’s where Standards and measurement come in. The term ‘Standards’ is intimidating to many people so if it makes you more comfortable, say ‘baseline’ instead.

The most important thing is to have a Standard, any standard. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, there’s no road that will get you there.” Even the gurus of 20th Century ‘point shooting,’ Fairbairn and Sykes, had standards their officers had to meet.

Another aspect of the situation is that Standards introduce pressure. Pressure brings about failures, both human and mechanical. The book Holloway’s Raiders https://www.amazon.com/Holloways-Raiders-Captain-R-Walt-ebook/dp/B01LWMDZ4D has an excellent example of a pistol that worked fine at the range but malfunctioned when the officer got into a gunfight. The gun was no different, it was how the officer handled it under the pressure of a gunfight that changed the pistol’s performance. Chuck Haggard https://agiletactical.com/ and I have both observed that malfunctions are far more common in POlice gunfights than is generally acknowledged. This phenomenon is well documented in the LAPD Categorical Use of Force reports. https://www.lapdonline.org/police-commission/categorical-use-of-force/

When shooters enter competitions, it’s very common for malfunctions in their pistols to show up. “I don’t understand it, my gun never malfunctions when I practice but here I’m having a lot of problems” is a frequent comment by new competitors. Consequently, the Standard you choose is less important than simply having one, and the pressure it brings about, in the first place.

The most relevant shooting task for those who want a CCW is to pass the Qualification Course, if their State requires one. Millions of people who obtain Licenses to Carry have had to qualify with their pistol to get the license. Only a few thousand, a tiny fraction, will ever fire a pistol for Personal Protection.

A Qualification Course example

Experienced shooters often tell new shooters “It’s easy; blah, blah, blah” with regard to shooting a Qualification. No, it’s not. For someone who’s never fired a pistol before, it’s a daunting task. Most people have not taken any test at all, even one on pen and paper, since high school. Testing of any kind is a process that is usually hated and feared. Add in the presence of a deadly weapon and the test becomes a huge psychological obstacle.

Time is an aspect of any deadly force encounter. The saying “There are no timers in a gunfight” is foolish. The most important timer, your life clock, is running the whole time. It can be stopped if you don’t react in time. One POlice who was involved in an extended gunfight said to himself, “Hey, I need to slow down and aim better.” What he meant was ‘I need to apply the Fundamentals, shoot better, and start neutralizing my opponent with bullets.’ He came to realize the concept that time matters.

If you don’t take the time do it something right in the first place, how are you going to get the time to do it over?

My mother

Until the invention of electronic timers, there was no way to accurately time individual shots. Timers didn’t exist in the Fairbairn/Sykes/Applegate era, only stopwatches. And yet, even Shooting to Live mentions that an observer with a stopwatch can be a tremendous aid to improving performance.

Pick a Standard, any standard, and see how well you can meet it. If your State requires a Qualification Course, that’s a good place to start. If not, pick some Standard, they’re readily available on the Internet, and use that. Then, over time, improve your performance against the Standard. For instance, using 100% as your goal on the Qualification instead of the minimum passing score. You’ll be better prepared if you do have to defend yourself and you’ll feel more confident in general.

The final two parts of this series will feature guest articles about the Decisions aspect of the Fundamentals paradigm.

Part I     https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/05/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-1/

Part 2    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/12/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-2/

Part 3    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/11/22/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-3/

Part 4    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/03/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-4/

Part 5    https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/12/10/fundamentals-of-pistol-shooting-part-5/

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting (Part 1)

#fridayfundamentals

Fundamentals Bookmark

During my time teaching at the elite Rogers Shooting School, I refined the Fundamentals of Pistol Shooting down to Four elements. In order of doing them, they are:

  • Grip the pistol firmly.
  • See the sights.
  • Press the trigger smoothly.
  • Follow through.

Any time a shooter missed a target before it went away, (disappearing targets do that) not performing one element on that list was the cause.

Over time, nuances of those elements have changed in my mind about how to explain them but the basic concepts remain the same. Now I break the process into two phases, ‘Preparing for the Shot’ and ‘Making the Shot.’ The reason is that between the two mechanical, i.e., physical, phases there are two decisions that have to be made; 1) the Don’t Shoot/Shoot decision and 2) whether the preparation for the shot is adequate to make a hit. The concept of making a decision about adequate preparation was developed by my colleague Brian Hill of The Complete Combatant http://www.thecompletecombatant.com/ and it’s right on target, no pun intended.

The overall process could be described as:

  • Prepare for the shot
    • Grip the pistol firmly
    • Visually index the pistol on target
  • Decide
    • Don’t Shoot/Shoot
    • Whether there is adequate preparation to make a hit
  • Make the shot
    • Press the trigger smoothly and straight to the rear
    • Follow through

The decision step is a mental process, not a physical one, so it will not be included in this series.

Training aids and Memory aids are useful tools. As a Memory aid for the Fundamentals, I’ve created the bookmark shown at the beginning of the post to provide a quick reference guide to the mechanical aspects of the Fundamentals. The PDF is attached so you can download it, print it, fold it, and use it as an everyday reminder to keep the Fundamentals fresh in your mind.

This series will have an additional four Parts on the next four Fridays. Each post will explain one element of the Fundamentals in greater detail. I hope you will find the series useful.

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

The direct purchase link for the STOPP Presentation is https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

The LCP Project – Ill-Annoy CCL Qualification (5 yard stage)

Continuing The LCP Project, this video shows the 5 yard stage of the Illinois (Ill-Annoy) Concealed Carry License Qualification shot with a Ruger LCP. This stage was shot by drawing from a concealed holster, although a concealed draw is not required when shooting the Qualification to obtain a CCL. The 10 required shots were fired as 3 shots in 3 seconds 3 times. The 10th shot was a shot to the face in 3 seconds.

The 5 yard face shot reminds me of something my Dad once said to a would be robber, “Do you want it in the belly or the teeth?” The robber suddenly remembered an appointment he was late for and left. No shooting was necessary in that incident. My shot placement on the Qual was unintentional but brought back a memory.

Ammo for the LCP Project was furnished by Ammoman https://www.ammoman.com/

The 10 yard stage video can be seen at https://youtu.be/3EKAoExWDE0

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

The LCP Project – Ill-Annoy CCL Qualification

The Ruger LCP is a far more capable gun than it’s given credit for. The LCP Project is intended to show what the gun is capable of and some modifications and equipment that are useful when carrying and shooting it.

This video shows the 10 yard stage of the Illinois (Ill-Annoy) Concealed Carry License Qualification shot with a Ruger LCP. The target was a standard B-27 with the addition of a legal size sheet of paper. The sheet of paper is the size of the scoring area of the Illinois POlice qualification that the CCL Qual is derived from. The score on the legal sized sheet was 100%. Note that when the Course is shot to obtain a CCL, hits anywhere on the silhouette count and only 21 hits (70%) are required to pass.

Ammo for the LCP Project was furnished by Ammoman https://www.ammoman.com/

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

STOPP Presentation at Rangemaster Tactical Conference

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3381307

Trigger Press or Alignment on Target?

#fridayfundamentals

In the context of Three Shots, Three Seconds, Three Yards https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/2021/05/08/3x3x3-level-one/, which is more important, trigger press or alignment on target? The conventional wisdom is that trigger press is the important factor in making hit in a self-defense situation. I’m always cautious about the metrics that underlie assumptions and doctrine, though.

Certainly, when shooting a B-8 target, trigger press is an important skill. However, if the gun isn’t in line with the target, does a smooth trigger press have any value? While this may seem like an advocacy of point shooting, it’s not, but that discussion is for another post.

This video is a preliminary experiment of aligning the gun on the target and then yanking/jerking the trigger. The pistol used is the gun with the trigger everyone loves to hate, a KelTec P32.

At this point, it’s just an experiment to me. What I’d like to have is more input from other shooters because I’m no longer neurologically equipped to yank/jerk the trigger.

Doing the experiment is fairly simple and only requires five rounds. A target is attached to this post.

At 3 yards, aim at the heart on the target, touch the trigger face, and then fire 1 shot with a trigger jerk. Repeat 4 times for 5 shots total. Email me, tacticalprofessor@gmail.com, a picture of your results. I’ll randomly award a package of my books to one person who sends me their results.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Purchase of any book includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

The Magic of Knowing that You Can Shoot Quick and Straight

#mindsetmonday

J. Henry Fitzgerald’s book Shooting was published in 1930. Some things in it are dated but most of the book is still very worthwhile. The entire book is available online, courtesy of Sportsman’s Vintage Press.

http://sportsmansvintagepress.com/read-free/shooting-table-contents/

The chapter on The Magic of Knowing that You Can Shoot Quick and Straight is an example of practical mindset. Many times, explanations of ‘mindset’ are vague and nebulous but Fitzgerald’s is straightforward and actionable.

http://sportsmansvintagepress.com/read-free/shooting-table-contents/shoot-quick-and-straight/

Some things related to human nature and performance haven’t changed one bit. Fitzgerald’s commentary on the Dunning-Kruger Effect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect is a hilarious example.

I have listened to many officers explaining how good they could shoot and when they got on the firing line they couldn’t hit a cow in the head with a snow shovel.

J. Henry Fitzgerald

It’s not necessary to be a great shot to defend yourself but having a degree of demonstrated competence is a valuable asset to your mindset. Drills like 3x3x3 are one way to demonstrate your competence to yourself. Shooting some of the drills from Indoor Range Practice Sessions and Concealed Carry Skills and Drills are another. Click on the images to purchase either or both books.

FTC notice: I am not affiliated with Sportsman’s Vintage Press and receive no commissions from them.

The Importance of the First Shot

#fridayfundamentals

Some principles are just as fundamental as is technique. One of the unintentional themes of the 2021 Tactical Conference was the importance of the first shot. One class even had that as its title. Several other instructors touched on it as part of their classes and presentations.

Rolf Penzel and Mike Treat titled their class Making the First Shot Count.

John Murphy made the comment “It’s not a ‘one shot drill,’ it’s a ‘first shot drill’” in his class.

During his presentation Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters, Darryl Bolke stated “training efficiency means using the sights.”

Chuck Haggard used the term “Target Picture” to illustrate the concept of placing the sight picture on the part of the target we want to hit initially.

In his AIWB Skills class, John Daub instructed his clients to “think about where you want the muzzle to end up” at the conclusion of the draw.

Scott Jedlinski’s comment “The original 1911 sights were suggestions” in his class was a humorous illustration of why point shooting was so common in days gone by. Tom Givens has also written about the dismal quality of factory sights on pistols and revolvers of yesteryear and how that affected technique training of a century ago.

One of trends that is apparent in the Categorical Use of Force Reports by the LAPD is how often one or two shots solve the problem. This is true through the entire database of over 1,000 incidents, not just the off-duty incidents chronicled in my first book about LAPD Shootouts. LAPD’s emphasis on marksmanship and frequent scored qualification is no doubt responsible for this difference from other large departments that have minimal standards.

In a gunfight, the shooter who first scores a hit above the diaphragm of his opponent is the one who seizes the initiative in the incident. Making a good hit with the FIRST SHOT fired is key to seizing the initiative and then retaining it until the incident is over. No one’s performance improves after he gets shot in a vital area.

In terms of operationalizing this principle, the fact that most common autoloaders don’t have a second strike capability during dry practice becomes irrelevant to the fundamental of making a good hit with the first shot. Your dry practice should mostly focus on the first shot anyway.

During live fire, the majority of our practice should be ‘first shot drills.’ Do a little recoil management practice but don’t overestimate its priority relative to the first shot in the real world. As John Farnam put it, “Our desired range product is victory.”

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below.

What is the Tactical Conference?

The Rangemaster Tactical Conference started as an International Defensive Pistol Association Major Match in the late 1990s. The IDPA Indoor Winter Championship, as it was then called, was held at Rangemaster’s facility at that time in Memphis, Tennessee. The organizer was Tom Givens, the owner of Rangemaster, a long time pistol competitor, and the leading trainer for Tennessee Concealed Pistol Licenses in Memphis. It was a large enough event to be featured as a segment on Shooting USA.

Typically, a shooting match consists of a few minutes of shooting and hours or days of idle time. However, the Winter Indoor Championship presented a unique opportunity because it was held at an indoor range with classrooms. Tom Givens’ relationship with the training industry meant that he was able to host various trainers who could present concurrent lectures about Self-Defense and Personal Protection. Some of the earliest presenters were well known names such as Massad Ayoob, Marty Hayes, and John Farnam.

The Pistol Match is still an integral part of the Conference. All attendees are invited to shoot the Match to get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of their skills. Not everyone shoots it, though, because of the wide variety of other training opportunities that are also available during the three days.

Eventually, the demand for the tactical lectures and training necessitated moving to larger venues. The Memphis Police Academy, US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, and DARC in Little Rock have all been sites over the years. The larger venues allowed a wide variety of instructional blocks, including lectures, live fire shooting classes, and unarmed hands-on training. As the Conference grew, trainers held classes such as Managing Post-Shooting Stress and Trauma, Snub Nose Revolver Skills, Tactical Medicine for the Prepared Citizen, and Home Defense Shotgun Skills.The 2021 Conference was held at the excellent Dallas Pistol Club.

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make was inspired by lessons learned in an Experiential Learning Laboratory session conducted by Craig Douglas of Shivworks at one year’s Conference. The Experiential Learning Laboratory has become a staple each year as a well-structured Force on Force exercise specifically for Armed Private Citizens.

Starting from just a few lectures at its inception, the Conference has grown to an extravaganza of educational offerings attended by hundreds of people over a period of three days. A vast number of training opportunities are made available for the prepared individual. The 2021 Conference featured 54 different blocks of instruction by dozens of different trainers. Some of the sessions repeated to allow attendees access to them because there is so much going on at the Conference.

There is no other opportunity like it available for the Armed Citizen who wishes to be prepared to prevent criminal violence against themselves and their families. The Conference is held in late March each year. The 2022 Conference will be held at the Dallas Pistol Club in Dallas, Texas. Registration opens in May and sells out by October every year.