Active Shooters …. Sexual Assaults …. Terrorist Attacks …. Robberies ….
Are You Prepared? Think so? Read on ….
There are times when I think I am just spitting in the wind when I discuss firearms training and what it takes to become truly proficient with one (take your choice - handgun, rifle, shotgun). I often receive phone calls or e-mails from individuals who are looking to get some ‘basic’ training for themselves or a wife/girlfriend, etc. When I explain what our entry level class consists of, they invariably say, “Oh, I don’t need that. I have my CCW and go to the range all the time. Do you have anything more advanced?”
Of course I’ll tell them about other courses and often they’ll sign up for one. When they show up and start shooting, they quickly realize they are a bit out of their element. Not because the course is too difficult, but rather because they don’t have a firm grasp of the fundamentals.
In a recent piece by Jeff Anderson, Editor of Modern Combat Survival Magazine, he clearly illustrates the importance of mastering the fundamentals.
Bullets & Basketballs: How to be the "Larry Bird" of Combat Shooting
Swish! Swish! Swish!....
Once again, my 22 y.o. son kicked my butt out on the driveway basketball hoop in another game of "Around The World".
(If you're not familiar... you take turns shooting the basketball one-by-one from positions around the basket. If you make it, you go on. You miss - you go back to the beginning. First one to get all the way around wins.)
I never even got to hold the ball more than twice because he made almost every shot.
But after he was done gloating, it was time for a pick-up game of one-on-one.
Just me against him... skills vs. skills...
We're both the same size (though he outweighs me) and I obviously have several years on him.
So you'd think with that "magic shot" of his, he's wipe up what's left of my sorry ass all over the court.
Not so fast there Sparky...
Score: 15-0. Dad wins.
Because when I first saw Larry Bird play for the Celtics back in 8th grade, I was hooked on basketball.
Bird had a picture-perfect jump-shot that seemed to defy the laws of probability and all I could think about was mastering the "science" of shooting.
Every day - even if it was just for 10 or 15 minutes - I would perfect my jump-shot... my hook-shot ... my passes.
Everyone in school knew me as "Bird" and I would train against guys who were much larger than me and had 3-4 years more experience.
I got my butt handed to me day after day... and it made me better... and better... and better... until I was the "best" in my school.
But my son took a different approach...
When my son first picked up a basketball at an early age, he learned the "wrong" way to shoot a ball.
Instead of keeping the ball in front of his forehead like the pros do - where he could line up the basketball with the hoop and build muscle-memory for the perfect jump shot every time... he would swing the ball way back behind his head (almost to the back of his neck) and "catapult" the ball toward the basket.
No matter how many times I tried to correct him and teach him the right way, he would just tell me, "My way works fine for me".
And he was right...
Eventually he got really good at it and could hit a high percentage of his shots... when it was just him, a ball, and the basket.
But put him against an opponent and "his" way made it real easy to steal the ball every time and he just couldn't make it work when under pressure.
He had built in bad shooting habits that failed him whenever it was him against another player.
Hey... I get it... it's really all about "fun" and as my son's coach for 5 years, he had a blast even if he didn't make a lot of shots in the actual games.
But you're probably sitting there, thinking "what does this have to do with me"? Right?
Well, my son is like a lot of pistol shooters I see down at the range...
They pick up a firearm... learn a few basics... and shoot at the paper target until they get a nice, tight shot group.
They "think" they're a good shooter and ready for "the real thing".
Sadly, most aren't.
Shooting at the range is NOT the same as shooting at a violent attacker and programming bad shooting habits at the range will only create dangerous muscle-memory that will fail you when it's life-or-death.
My son doesn't listen to me.
He'll always shoot the way that HE wants to shoot - even if it only works in a relaxed game of "around the world".
Even as a martial as instructor I have been asked many times, “Why are we doing basic junk? I want to learn the advanced stuff!” Well, in reality, the advanced “stuff” doesn’t exist.
I’d ask them, “What exactly is the ‘advanced stuff’?
“You know, the jump kicks and stuff.”
“Oh, I see. Can you do a front kick?”
“Then how can you expect to learn jump kicks when you can’t even stand on the ground and kick?”
My explanation goes further when I say the difference between a white belt and a black belt is not so much the techniques, rather the ability to apply them when the variables are constantly changing. So, without sound fundamentals, it is impossible to move forward and develop your skills.
So to with shooting. Many people can stand still, on a 75 degree, sunny day and systematically punch holes in a non-moving paper target with boring regularity. But, change ONE variable (light, temperature, movement, target size, other people moving around, etc.) and things rapidly deteriorate.
I have seen folks at the range shooting and sometimes feel compelled to offer a suggestion or two to help them out. But, instead, I stay away and enjoy the show. I have never put myself out there as an ‘expert’ or a ‘master’ of anything. What I am is an individual who has spent a lot of time making mistakes (i.e. gaining experience) and training and I may know a little more than the average ‘Joe’. I try not to let my ego inhibit me from learning something from anyone at any time. Doing so may prohibit me from an essential piece of information that could be vital later on.
Again, many people think that just because they have a CCW permit, own a gun and have decent marksmanship skills, this will allow them to prevail in a real fight. They often never consider all of the other variables that can negatively affect their marksmanship. One of my favorite quotes that sums this all up pretty well is from Mike Tyson. He said,
“Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth!”
Don’t get hit in the mouth.