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kraigwy
March 24, 2009, 11:52 AM
I believe this can better be understood by quoting from MG Jullian S. Hatcher’s book, TEXTBOOK OF PISTOLS AND REVOLVERS.

Many practical users of pistols are fond of making fun of target shooting, and of advice given on how to learn this branch of the sport. This attitude is well understood by the psychologist. It is founded on the unconscious jealousy of feeling of inferiority that the poor shot feels when he sees a well trained marksman making scores out of his power to equal. Unconsciously he will try to belittle that accomplishment that he does not possess, so that he will seem to his audience to be just as important and well equipped as the good marksman whom he ridicules.

It is true that practical shooting differs greatly from target shooting in several important ways, and that a target shot who has never had any experience or training except at bull’s-eye is apt to give an ordinary account of himself in a gun fight. But just the same, instruction and practice in accurate target shooting is the foundation of all success in practical shooting as well as in target work.

What instruction and practice in slow fire and then rapid fire target shooting does is to drill into the marksman’s physical makeup an ability to contract the muscles of the hand easily and smoothly, to let off the shot without twitching the pistol in one direction or another. Trigger control is only one foundation of good shooting with the pistol or revolver, whether its target or target or practical shooting.

The practical sot who has learned to soot without any target training is likely to possess only a sketchy degree of accuracy. Most likely he will be what is described as trigger snatcher. Able to register a percentage of hits on a man size target at ten feet, but will have many misses on the same target at twice that distance.

On the other hand, the target shooter who has graduated to the practical stage is like to be a first class marksman at either target or practical shooting, at standing or moving targets of any kind.

The Practical shot, who had no knowledge or experience of accurate target shooting will find himself at the mercy of a good target shot, regardless of what the target shooter knows or doesn’t know about practical shooting.
This subject doesn’t just relate to pistols, but to rifles also. In Col Whelen’s book on rifle shooting, he describes military rifle shooting where as the Infantry board adapted a course of study (We now call the Small Arms Firing School or High Power Rifle Clinics put on my many CMP Clubs and at Camp Perry). This training greatly increased the overall qualification scores fired at the Infantry School. As Col Whelen calls them, the rifle shooters you find at Perry are the greatest rifle shooters in the world.

We don’t have to go back in history to study this subject, its being proved every day by the Army Marksmanship Unit. When we needed snipers in Vietnam, who did the army (and Marines) turn to? High Power shooters. Look at the International Sniper Competitions held today, The High Power Shooters of the AMU always place well, in not winning the compitions. Or looks at the Steel Challenge and other practical compitions across the country, and see how the AMU pistols shooters fair.

I know this post is going to grate against many close up practical shooters on this board, but if you are truly honest with yourself, you can see that Gen Hatcher is correct.

David Armstrong
March 24, 2009, 01:47 PM
It is true that practical shooting differs greatly from target shooting in several important ways, and that a target shot who has never had any experience or training except at bull’s-eye is apt to give an ordinary account of himself in a gun fight.
That is the key concept, IMO. I'm not aware of that many who make fun of target shooting, assuming that you use "practical shooting" to mean typical SD DGU issues. Target shooting is a great game and lots of fun. The conflict seems to come when either side overstates its position. Target shooters will frequently argue that because they can shoot well they don't need to know tactics, while practical shooters will argue because they are so good with tactics they don't need to shoot well.
you can see that Gen Hatcher is correct.
I think Hatcher generally knows his stuff, but I have to question your extension of it. Rifle shooting, because of the distance involved, generally does require a high level of skill to do good at it. Practical shooting for SD is far more a tactics issue than a marksmanship issue. How much marksmanship is needed to hit a man-sized target at 10' is open for discussion.

MrBorland
March 24, 2009, 01:58 PM
Lots of good stuff here.

The way I look at it is that the fundamentals are just that...fundamental. No matter the form of shooting, only through application of the fundamentals will your shot hit true.

Brian Enos, the great practical shooter wrote a very popular and influential book, Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals. Over on his forum, I recall him mentioning that perhaps he shouldn't have titled his book as he did, as it implies that, at some point, the fundamentals don't apply or that one somehow grows "beyond" them, whereas, in reality, you just apply them better and faster.

Deaf Smith
March 24, 2009, 07:19 PM
Brian Enos, the great practical shooter wrote a very popular and influential book, Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals. Over on his forum, I recall him mentioning that perhaps he shouldn't have titled his book as he did, as it implies that, at some point, the fundamentals don't apply or that one somehow grows "beyond" them, whereas, in reality, you just apply them better and faster.

This is truth!

PDXGS
March 24, 2009, 09:56 PM
I shot high power for about five years on and off. Lately,mainly because there's no high power at the nearest range, I've taken to Practical Rifle.
What a blast! It turns out that all those years of semi-serious High Power have paid off in accuracy on the Practical Rifle range....I scored 13th of 57 shooters two weeks ago and 2nd of the 12 iron sights shooters in that 57.
Now Ive got to improve my skills to topple the remaining 12!

I guess my point in all this is that mastering the fundamentals is critical to any shooting discipline.

Some pics of this months competition:
TCGC PRACTICAL RIFLE PICS (http://deacon.smugmug.com/gallery/7598714_MUGx4#491301614_uCXkh)

kraigwy
March 24, 2009, 10:21 PM
Just to make my point, the AMU just won this year's International Sniper Compitition at the Benning School for Boys.

They also won the pistol stage which required long range pistol shooting.

Zak Smith
March 24, 2009, 11:11 PM
Suffice to say, both types of shooting require some unique skills, and they have some skills in common. It is a fallacy to classify those who do not proscribe to your point of view about which is "better" as having a psychological defect (ref: it's ad hominem).

Or looks at the Steel Challenge and other practical compitions across the country, and see how the AMU pistols shooters fair.
It is interesting to note that AMU 3-Gun shooter who always "wins when he shows up" grew up shooting 3-Gun as a civilian and was recruited by the AMU to do it for them.

It is founded on the unconscious jealousy of feeling of inferiority that the poor shot feels when he sees a well trained marksman making scores out of his power to equal. Unconsciously he will try to belittle that accomplishment that he does not possess, so that he will seem to his audience to be just as important and well equipped as the good marksman whom he ridicules.

We all get "learning opportunities" from time to time.

http://coloradomultigun.com/local/CGMG-2007.04.html

;)

glockopop
March 24, 2009, 11:56 PM
In 5 years of shooting USPSA, IDPA, and more recently, steel, I've found that the only practical shooters who sneer at target shooting are those that aren't very good at either. I know plenty of practical shooters who shoot bullseye, and the ones that don't haven't got anything against it, they just don't have the time or they find practical shooting more enjoyable for various reasons.

One of the things Brian Enos talks about in his book is how he came from a PPC background, which stresses accuracy more than most any other pistol competition save pure bullseye. His approach to IPSC shooting wasn't really any different, just get those same good hits in the least possible amount of time. For some shots, the time required is only tenths of a second. For others, it will be longer. If you haven't read Brian's book, you should.

Erik
March 26, 2009, 09:04 PM
"It is true that practical shooting differs greatly from target shooting in several important ways, and that a target shot who has never had any experience or training except at bull’s-eye is apt to give an ordinary account of himself in a gun fight."

Define "differs greatly." I've observed some awfully impressive practical shooters who were what most people would consider very accurate and some awfully impressive target shooters who were what most would consider very efficient.

If forced, though, I'd give the nod to the practical shooter who typically brings a broader range of skills to the fight.

Dingoboyx
March 26, 2009, 09:43 PM
Everyone is an individual, and learns better in the style that suits them best. If a shooter enjoys popping paper, increases his skill & has lots of fun.... this is great. The next guy isnt interested in popping paper, he wants to shoot practical, he also improves his skill & has a great time too.... this is great too.
My guess is that the best of both worlds is to do a bit of both, because in the real world either situation can occur at any given time and it would be good to be able to draw, locate, identify and fire on targets with reasonably good accuracy in a short time...... It would also be good to be able to make a shot count (perhaps over a little longer distance) when speed and pressure arent an issue.
Even someone who "Hates" plain old target shooting and "Never does it!" should think about this point. When that person first got their gun, they usually went to a range, or into the woods or somewhere.... lined up some soda cans or other objects at a suitable distance, and starts shooting at them (that is no different from paper popping really, is it?). Everyone has done this at some stage.... it helps with your motor skills, aim, stance proper gun handling and all the associated stuff we take for granted when we shoot.

I believe paper popping is good, it teaches the shooter finess, gets him/her used to the gun, smooth trigger action, learns the sight picture, how to allow for windage and all that stuff. IMO, shooting practical is like the next step. Some folk are happy to stay target shooting and refining their skills there, others get bored and want to do more action stuff, sinerio's and seeing plates fall or hear bullets hit steel..... Its completely different, but exactly the same too... everyone has fun :D

But being human is really wonderful. If your desire is to shoot practical and not pop paper, people have become great practical shooters without shooting at bullseye targets at all. They just adapt to what thy want to shoot and become good at what they do.

To me, it is like 2 different roads to the same place.... the place is competing and having fun :D Some choose the road of popping paper and have fun, others enjoy timed (pressure) shooting of plates, cutouts/silhouettes and falling targets and have fun too.

So I reckon, each to their own.... its all good fun:D

Muzza

BlueTrain
March 27, 2009, 08:30 AM
I think this is a particularly interesting and relevant thread. One issue not mentioned so far, however, is how "practical" practical shooting actually is. Naturally that topic is controversial among practical shooters. Then, too, there is the natural limitations of typical shooting rangers, including rifle ranges. There are practical (you could say impractical) limitations to competitive practical shooting, too. And it becomes a game, too, just like target shooting but ultimately, it is target shooting, just with different rules.

Older writers were hardly all in agreement on the value of target shooting. Some clearly believed it detracted from gunfighting skills (for pistol shooting, that is). Others believed you needed to be an excellent target shot before you were ready to advance to combat level shooting.

It might be worth pointing out that an interesting comparison might be made with respect to hunting, at least with firearms, and combat skills. Generally speaking, it might be expected that those who grew up handling firearms and especially hunting would make better soldiers. Probably that's true. The rub is that not all combat is confined to soldiers in battle. A policeman probably has different conditions to operate under and different equipment at hand, so the results might not be obvious. On the other hand, I suspect there are fewer and fewer people growing up on farms anymore anyhow.

HiBC
March 27, 2009, 05:45 PM
kraigwy

Recently there was a post by a gentleman asking advise about buying his first handgun .He was going to pursue an LEO job and wanted to gain proficiency.
I started to answer,but backed off,as I am not LEO or a marksmanship instructor.
The advise I was going to offer(others said the same) was to get a Ruger .22 with a .45 frame or a .22 conversion for his likely duty gun,and learn to shoot classic bullseye with it as a foundation dicipline.

I agree gunfighting is very different than bullseye shooting,but trigger control,etc skills are best perfected by that honest,objective feedback provided by a target.
Some advised a 9mm,I think recoil greater than a .22 makes it much harder to spot bad habits in the making,and helps develop other bad habits.

I have heard of a progression of learning:

Unconscious incompetence (Don't know I'm screwing up,bad habitville)

Conscious incompetence(Accepting I am screwing up,facing bad habits)

Conscious competence(retraining,thinking about doing it right)

Unconscious competence(doing it right without thinking about it)

Classic,unconscious competence,one handed,slow,timed,and rapid seems a starting place for learning to fight.

And,If you have a .40 and some whack with an AK and body armor is robbing a bank and gunning down cops,the skill to break a femur a 40 yds one handed might be useful.

Good post.

Michael Bane
April 2, 2009, 08:29 AM
Interesting..I've been privileged to spend a lot of time with men and women who might be honestly defined as "gunfighters," and a huge majority of them routinely compete in various shooting sports.

My good friend and mentor Jim Cirillo was a life-long competitor, although he used to admonish me to always remember that targets never shot back.

Michael B
Outdoor Channel

bds32
April 2, 2009, 10:11 AM
"Target Shooting" is the foundation for all other shooting skills in my opinion. Whenever you teach a new shooter pistol skills, you teach them sight alignment, grip, stance, and most importantly, trigger control. "Practical shooting" is nothing more than speed on top of fundamentals.

Most of the "practical shooting" I see now is not gunfighting training. Standing in one place, without moving or seeking cover, and firing at 10 to 15 steel targets as fast as you can is not "practical" to me. Lateral movement, using cover, outflanking and manuevering, good controlled hits, good weapon handling skills, and one handed shooting are very practical skills that get left out of alot of practical shooting competitions.

Unclenick
April 2, 2009, 11:15 AM
Agree with Bds32. I shot bullseye matches for at least a decade before my first trip to Gunsite. I'd presumed I was well prepared to defend myself with a firearm (and probably was better prepared than joe average handgun owner), but that first week at Gunsite told me I needed a whole different set of skills I'd never previously considered. It was very eye-opening to be running simulators and shooting against a faster clock than I was used to. But on exam day at the end of the class, I was the only student to "clean" my target in the school drill, so the target shooting experience didn't hurt. I've also shot high power matches for a good number of years. At Gunsite's 270 class I was one of only two people using iron sights (on an M1A) but I won the shoot-off match at the end of the class. At the PR1 class (tac rifle) I also won the shoot-off. Target shooting helps when you take up practical training.

All kinds of match training help with shooting under stress. When I took my NRA instructor's certification my class's councilor was Web Wright, a bronze star decorated combat veteran who still had a couple of world records standing in 300 meter International rifle competition at the time. He said he had been asked whether he found combat or match shooting more stressful? He said, to him, hands down, it was the matches. He said that in combat he went on autopilot and just did what had to be done, with all the commotion not giving him a break to contemplate what was happening. The match, on the other hand, gave him all the time in the world to think about whether or not he was shooting well, what he was doing wrong and to anticipate mistakes he might make to ruin the day. Much more nerve rattling to overcome, in his opinion. I'm not suggesting this would be true for everyone, but just not to discount bullseye match shooting as an exercise for maintaining control of the basics under stress.

Re4mer
April 2, 2009, 05:16 PM
I think it really comes down to what you mean by target shooting vs practical shooting. I have only taken one combat shooing lesson but it was far different from the marksmanship type class that I had taken previously. As far as people making fun of target shooters I have never heard of such a thing, however many of the high level competitive "target shooters" I have known did have an ego about them which is perhaps why they get some flack from time to time.

Basically, it is like comparing apples to oranges. Although the fundamentals are essentially the same the application differs greatly.

NRAhab
April 2, 2009, 05:56 PM
Lateral movement, using cover, outflanking and manuevering, good controlled hits, good weapon handling skills, and one handed shooting are very practical skills that get left out of alot of practical shooting competitions.

I'm not sure what "practical shooting" competitions you're talking about, because both IDPA and IPSC heavily emphasize shooter movement, use of cover, single handed/weak handed shooting, and getting "quality" hits on target. Just because it looks like Dave Sevigny is just hosing bullets at the target doesn't mean that he's not putting all his hits in the A-Zone (he is, trust me).

I guess Steel Challenge doesn't really involve movement or single hand shooting, but Steel Challenge is basically drag racing with a gun. Which is to say that it's awesome.

Deaf Smith
April 2, 2009, 06:16 PM
Interesting..I've been privileged to spend a lot of time with men and women who might be honestly defined as "gunfighters," and a huge majority of them routinely compete in various shooting sports.

Bill Jordan, Jelly Bryce, Charles Askins, Cirillo and others most certinaly competed in many matches.

Even the great sniper, Carlos Hathcock, competed in the TOP matches with rifles.

Trigger time always helps, and competition puts some pressure.

Most of the "practical shooting" I see now is not gunfighting training. Standing in one place, without moving or seeking cover, and firing at 10 to 15 steel targets as fast as you can is not "practical" to me. Lateral movement, using cover, outflanking and manuevering, good controlled hits, good weapon handling skills, and one handed shooting are very practical skills that get left out of alot of practical shooting competitions.

You must be watching IPSC, as they like high round counts. But, even they move while shooting, do very fast reloads, and one handed shooting.

How bout you attend an IDPA match. It has all you seem to be looking for. No race guns, concealment, fast and short range shooting, moving, use of cover, one handed and weak handed shooting, and lots lots more.

Japle
April 2, 2009, 06:21 PM
Last weekend, I shot in the Steel Challenge Nationals here in Florida.
What I find interesting about the game is that the targets are pretty big and pretty close compared to some pistol games. Still, hitting them requires all the basics; correct grip and stance, sight alignment, trigger control and follow-through.
Not only do the top shooters have these skills, they have to average 0.4 seconds per shot or better to finish in the money! They can apply the fundamentals very, very quickly.

Here's Jerry Miculek shooting a 2.51 second run on Pendulum.
Try that with a revolver sometime!
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y145/Japle/Guns/JerryM.jpg

darkgael
April 2, 2009, 06:29 PM
An absolutely wonderful thread to read through.
Very much appreciated that anecdote about Web Wright.
About Miculek - he's shooting a revolver probably because he doesn't want to have to wait for an automatic to cycle.
4/10ths sec. per shot.....geez!
Pete

Slopemeno
April 2, 2009, 07:11 PM
I don't think it's an either/or sort of situation. I think it's more of a "building-block" approach. You start with bullseye on a square range, then Action Shooting, then scenario-based shooting with simunitions, etc.

In my years in Action Shooting I found the best shooters were the guys with a solid bullseye background. As dry and boring as it is, it burns in the muscle-memory of "front sight-press". If you think bullseye is easy try winning a match sometime.

SigSauerIsBetter
April 2, 2009, 07:26 PM
Thanks to all. This was a very enjoyable thread.

Japle
April 3, 2009, 07:17 AM
About Miculek - he's shooting a revolver probably because he doesn't want to have to wait for an automatic to cycle.


That's probably true. Jerry had the best time of all the competitors on the Pendulum stage. The other top shooters, including Max Michel, B. J. Norris, Dave Sevigny, Shannon Smith, Doug Koenig and Phil Strader, all shot "Open" class semi-autos with dot sights.
Jerry outshot the next best shooter by 0.89 seconds!

firsttimefirearms123
April 3, 2009, 12:46 PM
Can anyone define the difference between practical and target shooting in simple terms? Is it the element of movement?

Zak Smith
April 3, 2009, 12:50 PM
http://www.uspsa.org/dw/whatis.html

Google. It's a wonderful thing.

darkgael
April 3, 2009, 02:45 PM
As dry and boring as it is,

Bullseye? Boring? Not for this boy. Every shot is interesting. (It may, though, be boring to watch). Then again "Beauty is in the eye......"
Pete

Zundfolge
April 7, 2009, 05:59 PM
Many practical users of pistols are fond of making fun of target shooting, and of advice given on how to learn this branch of the sport. This attitude is well understood by the psychologist. It is founded on the unconscious jealousy of feeling of inferiority that the poor shot feels when he sees a well trained marksman making scores out of his power to equal. Unconsciously he will try to belittle that accomplishment that he does not possess, so that he will seem to his audience to be just as important and well equipped as the good marksman whom he ridicules.


Surely I can't be the only one to see the irony in that paragraph. The OP and Gen Hatcher manage to accomplish the very thing they are deriding .

James K
April 7, 2009, 07:46 PM
I haven't heard that so much about SD vs target as about hunting vs target. Many a hunter has told me that he can't hit a target at all, at any range, but that he is deadly on game. I nod and smile, as I do at a lot of BS when I know arguing will do no good. (These guys almost always still have their deer tags at the end of the season, with good excuses, of course.)

If a shooter can't hit a stationary, non-dangerous target at 10 yards, there is no way in hades he is going to hit a moving, shooting target at that range, except by luck.

I don't know Jerry Miculek, but I wonder if his skill would transfer easily to self defense. The difference is the willingness to kill. The famous Ed McGivern was once asked if he thought his legendary speed would have made him feared in the Old West. He replied that he would have failed as a gunman because those men were killers and he was not. He said something to the effect that in a gunfight, the willingness to kill was more important than technical skill in shooting. Something to think about.

Jim

Zak Smith
April 7, 2009, 08:13 PM
Mindset is usually identified as more important than skill or tools in a fight. However, this thread is about skills: "practical" vs. "target".