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Old July 10, 2009, 05:27 PM   #1
BlueTrain
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Training vs. practice & experience

I'm really going to raise two different issues here, though they both have to do with training.

The first thing is, as the title says, whether or not people think training is more important or the other way round or somewhere in between. The reason I bring it up is that I gather both from some personal experience and those related to me by way of first person conversations and even here, that those who grew up in rural areas and had had long experience with firearms, chiefly long guns, were better shots, particularly under off-range conditions. It may not even be true but merely something people just assume. However, there are many things that are difficult to learn without long practice and experience, so much so that training almost can't make up the difference. I'd be interested in other's opinions on this.

I should mention that I'm only referring to the ability to hit the target, not any of the other things that may be required in the field and also, I'm mainly interested in this from a military perspective with rifles. The sorts of things I'm referring to are target identification, range estimation and allowance for movement. Basically the skills a good deer hunter needs.

The other point I wanted to bring up, which may deserve a different thread, is training aids to shooting. The ancient Romans supposedly trained with heavier weapons than they took into battle. I've been trying to think of something similar that relates to shooting but I haven't thought of anything beyond wearing weights on your wrists or ankles . Any suggestions?
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Old July 10, 2009, 05:48 PM   #2
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Take up benchrest, hunter rifle competition and 3D archery.

You'll gain rifle skills (and increased knowledge of what it takes to create a truly accurate rifle), intense reloading knowledge, major wind and mirage doping skills, excellent target identification and range estimation skills, breath, body and "flinch" control (if you want to be even remotely competitive), kill zone knowledge from a variety of animal/shooter positions and up and down slope correction knowledge.
This is only a partial list as it pertains to your question. I can actually add a number of other benefits as well.

About the only benefit you don't get from the combination of benchrest, hunter rifle competition and 3D archery is your allowance for movement skills... although I've shot 3Ds in the past where they did have an occasional moving target.
There are special classes and competitions for that... although I'm not very familiar with the who and where. Perhaps someone that's participated could chime in.

Just a little fun fact... In parts of Scandinavia, you have to hit a very fast "moving moose" at some distance to get a hunting license.

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Old July 10, 2009, 06:18 PM   #3
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I'm one of
Quote:
those who grew up in rural areas and had had long experience with firearms, chiefly long guns, were better shots, particularly under off-range conditions.
people. And even among the circle I traveled with (other people who fit the quoted description), I was without question "the best shot" with long or short iron (& the boys I traveled with were no slouches). I was in my mid 30's when I took my first "training" (a 4 day affair). I learned more the first 4 hours then I thought there was to know (& that was *before* we started shooting live ammunition). By the time the class was half over, I had firmly realized that "experience" is a good thing, but without "training" one will truly never know what one is lacking (a LOT). I finished that class with a MUCH higher level of skill, and the knowledge and acceptance that I really didn't know much before I attended. 20 or so of those classes later, I'm reasonably confident in my knowledge and ability, but without regular practice the ability part rapidly declines. Sure, I could still knock off a skunk at 100 yards even if I haven't had a rifle in my hands in 6 months, but for serious hunting or self defense I'm sure that my skills would only be about 80% of what they are when they are honed regularly.

I think that the scariest thing in my life was the realization of how much competence I lacked before I gained proper training ("confidence" and "competence" are not interchangeable). The old saying "practice makes perfect" only applies when the practice IS perfect

As far as the Roman method, practice with an M-1, then use a Mini-14 for hunting/self defense
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Old July 10, 2009, 06:31 PM   #4
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Training or experience? My answer is, "yes."

Seriously. The guys who have been there known more. But if they hadn't gotten the training first, I suspect that many of them wouldn't have survived the experience. Since I have little control over when and how I would get experience with a self-defense situation (no, I am *NOT* going to walk down a rough neighborhood with lots of gangs at midnight on purpose looking for experience, thankyouverymuch), I figure I'd just better train as well as I can.
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Old July 10, 2009, 08:35 PM   #5
Bartholomew Roberts
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Training. Experience sure doesn't hurt; but I've lived around firearms my whole life. Had my first BB gun at 7 (a Daisy 881) and my first .22 at 12 (Marlin Model 60). I've been shooting my whole life. I hunted turkey, squirrels, rabbit, quail, etc. I worked for a SOT building M16s in college and had already shot full-autos. I served in the military for five years and got even a little more training.

My first formal training experience taught me more about shooting in a day than my entire lifetime of experience at that point. And it isn't just me... I've seen it happen in guys who have been building, using and shooting firearms their whole life. Good instruction makes a tremendous difference in your abilities and teaches you a lot about using the rifle.
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Old July 10, 2009, 09:29 PM   #6
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Training vs Practice

Training vs Practice:
Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice the better you may be. With that said if you practice *BS* then all you have done is perfect *BS* bad habits and all sorts of odd things. It's the same theory of the blind leading the blind. You'll stumble quite a bit but on that same thought you can learn from your mistakes.

For newbies out there. The best route is to get some good training and then you have a solid foundation to practice what you have learned and take your skill set to a higher level.

Get some good instruction from a qualified instructor!

Another way to think about it in terms many of us will better understand. You can waste a 1000 rounds to get the idea of sight picture, grip and recoil because you may eventually figure it out but how about learning it the first time with someone experienced and you can apply those 1000 rounds to building on those skills.


Training Aids:
Practice and train with what you intend to use. The Romans trained with heavier equipment but that was to increase strength. We have the advantage of quality modern firearms. For anyone that thinks they will be using any firearm for self defense - best bet is to train and practice with what you have.

When stressed you'll default to what and how you trained. You gotta use the same equipment. You'll build muscle memory, the locations and functions will be the same.
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Old July 10, 2009, 09:43 PM   #7
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Interesting thread. I grew up being able to buy a box of .22lr for a $1.00 and going to the town dump and shooting rats. That taught us distance, shooting positions and lead time on a moving target.
My Dad and Uncles always stressed safety. Safety. Safety. I guess I was lucky because when I joined the military, they just re-enforced everything my family had taught me.
We had a sandbank that we could roll tires off of the top, they would roll down the bank and half way up the other bank (sort of a U shape) and then back down to the bottom. We put pieces of wood in the tires and someone would roll them off the top of the bank and others would shoot at them as they moved. I do not know how many times I saw my father blow the wood out of the tires while they were moving.
Practice and competition made me a better shooter. Even today, before we begin shooting (target or hunting) we still go over the basics of safety.
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Old July 11, 2009, 08:27 AM   #8
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By practice and experience I was referring only to the shooting part, either plinking and hunting, not combat or competition. Some people supposedly believe that if you have had no experience with firearms, you would be easier to train because you'd have nothing to un-learn, so to say. But that's probably only of relevance to average soldiers. And you usually don't draw your chosen riflemen from among average people.

As far as combat soldiers go, several different sets of skills are taken into action, and shooting is only one of them, although it probably ought to be the most important one.

For the training aids I was referring to things that might make shooting easier. Strength training or the like. Unfortunatly, nature doesn't hand out abilities to everyone to the same degree. Some of us have extra long arms or small hands or so-so eyesight, none of which you can easily overcome or allow for. I keep remembering how Elmer Keith recommended the .357 Combat Magnum (later the Model 19) for those with small, weak hands.
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Old July 11, 2009, 11:24 AM   #9
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Well Von Bismarck had this to say about experience:

"Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others experience."

See it's like Murphy's Law. "Learn from the mistakes of others... cause you won't live long enough to make them all yourself."

Your experience on any subject you have gained by firsthand doing is limited. Yours, mine, everyones. And you won't live long enough to learn it all.

Same goes for others. No one has all the knowledge. They gained theirs from others as well as from things they had done.

If the training you receive comes from people who have gained experience (and no doubt studied others who had firsthand knowledge on the subject), then your training will be quite valuable.

Training I consider a form of experience (and so do colleges.. 4 yrs = 1 year of street experience.) Practice, like studying, is mearly taking the lessons you learned in your training and interalizing them. Pure street experience fits it all together.
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Old July 16, 2009, 03:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Interesting thread. I grew up being able to buy a box of .22lr for a $1.00 and going to the town dump and shooting rats.
Back in the 1960s as a member of a Outdoor Range outside Liverpool UK, we got to shoot rats with our handguns. We only could shoot on the week ends, next to our range was a old stone quarry (worked out) then used as a rubbish tip.

So trucks were dumping during the week. Thinking back, I do believe we could shoot after 5PM. The rats would come out when the sun cast a shadow, they thought they could not be seen (I think) a Browning Hi-Power was good at 50+ yards, even with those dinky little sights.

As a teen I boxed at the Low House Boxing Club, a Catholic Club.

I learned more about fighting in two weeks as a bouncer, than a year of standing in a square ring! Bouncing was a part time job (5 years) if you receive no draw and fire training from a competent instructor, carrying a gun can be a method of moving a gun to and from home!
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Old July 16, 2009, 06:17 AM   #11
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Interesting number of good responses here. I once lived where I could put in a lot of hours plinking with a .22 Lee-Enfield, which was a single shot, on a strip mine in West Virginia. Although good practice in gun handling, I also recognize the limitations. In that case, I was merely getting good at plinking with a .22 rifle. I never killed anything and never shot at anything that moved. As it happened, that happened after I'd already done my three years in the army. Also, I never shot a pistol under those circumstances. A short exericise with a tape measure will show how short 25 yards is in the field. But chiefly, it is only a limited sort of experience.

I realize that without some form of training, and there are certainly many competing forms and schools of training, if it happened that you ever needed to use your carry gun in a hurry, you might become all thumbs. At the same time, there are natural limitations to training, in that it is usually a rather artificial environment and safety is generally of the utmost concern. It has been pointed out that you will have a stress factor introduced in formal training (more so in competition) that you'd never have in other forms of practice but, in a way, even that is artificial. In competition especially, you are under pressure, to be sure, but the emphasis is always on shooting, and alternative possibilities are eliminated. Alternative possibilities are running away, not shooting, shooting later and so on. But that's just a shortcoming of training and competion and has to be accepted.

As far as "street experiences" go, again you have to recognize the narrowness of your experiences and, perhaps, those of others.
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Old July 31, 2009, 04:05 AM   #12
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My uncle shot competition in the old days and suspended a pair of skates from his pistols when he practiced.
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Old July 31, 2009, 04:58 AM   #13
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My uncle is a better shot than me, sorta. He's been shooting for about 40 years, and he can benchrest better than anyone I've ever seen. However, as a snap shot, or in a timed quick shoot, I'm better than he is, hands down. I learned to shoot at "targets" in Iraq, shooting quick and dirty, and the pressure of time constraints and such don't affect me. But when it gets to slow shooting and bench resting, I'm garbage.
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Old July 31, 2009, 04:12 PM   #14
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Since you originally brought this up from a military perspective: in many ways, the novice will adapt to military shooting faster than the hunter. The various branches of service each have their own way of training shooters. Very few people shoot the "Army way" or the "Marine Corp way". You have to be trained to shoot by the numbers.
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Old August 4, 2009, 10:32 AM   #15
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Experience helps tremendously,but Training and Practice go hand in hand with out Practice any training will start to deterioate at a rapid rate!
That being said which is better of the two, Training or experience............ having both,being raised in the country and been in the military.Experience learned will definetly give a person an edge but nothing can beat excellently taught tactical training that is constantly reinforced with daily training,thats how it is done correctly,NUFF SAID
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Old August 4, 2009, 11:37 AM   #16
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Training provides practice and experience. Unless you continue practicing, the skills acquired from you traing quickly fade.
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Old August 4, 2009, 09:20 PM   #17
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BTW guys,

You know that Jim Cirillo was a PPC champion BEFORE he got into the stakeout squad and all those gunfights?

And in his book he creditied that with part of his ability to do what he did.

It all matters, training, practice, and, yes, experience.
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Old August 7, 2009, 05:11 PM   #18
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fastforty
and
Bartholomew Roberts,
Please tell what kind of training you got.

I grew up on a farm and started shooting rifles and hunting at young age, as did many of the farm boys I knew. While in high school I was very fortunate to be trained by an NRA certified instructor and that training made a big, big, difference. Practice without training will only get you so far.
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Old August 8, 2009, 07:13 AM   #19
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Not much I can add.

But both are good.

I've got the "Experiance" of just being in a rural setting, and doing a LOT of shooting. Would training be worthwhile? Maybe, I'm thinking about taking a carbine course sometime, but.....I dunno.
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Old August 8, 2009, 08:21 AM   #20
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I'm going to ramble a bit and disagree a bit with the notion of "perfect practice makes perfect".
There are areas, such as music, arts, and visual things that are more apropo to this saying.
Generally speaking, in shooting, the only goal is to put the bullet in the smallest area possible. With enough practice, I'm fairly sure that someone could shoot gangsta style quite effectively.
Perfect practice would certainly seem to be the most efficient method to gain expertise in anything. But I maintain that there is more than one "right way" to do a lot of things. So what is the "perfect" method that one must use? Training is definitely a shortcut to good results. If you are handed a rifle and only know how to load and function the gun and only know that the sights have something to do with making the bullet hit where you want it to, you will expend an awful lot of ammo trying to determine the cause and effect of every little thing you do while trying to put a hole in the X. But eventually, it should be feasible.
If a person shoots a perfect score, does that mean that he practiced perfectly?
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Old August 11, 2009, 07:03 AM   #21
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I think formal training is important but practice is more important. Regarding experience, When it comes to combat, winning confrontations (experience) leads to what is called the "Ace Factor" The more times you survive mortal combat, the better skilled you are to survive the next confrontation. However, I don't believe you could get to that point without good and frequent training. For example, the old west gunfighters of fame, practiced regularly, honing their skills for the next deadly fight.
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Old August 11, 2009, 08:33 AM   #22
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Practice is essential.

Practice is useless if you are not practicing the right things.

Training teaches you what you need to practice.

By the way, practice doesn't make perfect. And there's no such thing as truly perfect practice, so the bit about perfect practice makes perfect is just -- well, hopeful but not realistic.

But practice does make permanent. What actions do you want to make permanent? The ones where you smoothly & efficiently do the job because you already know and understand the efficient way to do things? Or the ones where you fumble around and waste time because you're just trying to figure things out on your own?

Get some training, then go practice.

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Old August 11, 2009, 09:35 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitetrane98
....Generally speaking, in shooting, the only goal is to put the bullet in the smallest area possible. ...If you are handed a rifle and only know how to load and function the gun and only know that the sights have something to do with making the bullet hit where you want it to, you will expend an awful lot of ammo trying to determine the cause and effect of every little thing you do while trying to put a hole in the X. But eventually, it should be feasible....
It depends on what kind of shooting you're interested in. If it's just a question of going to the range and putting holes in paper -- that's one thing. Practical use of a firearm, for self defense, in the field for hunting, or for action pistol games, etc., is another thing entirely; and additional skills are involved.

Let's consider the use of a handgun for self defense (or IPSC/IDPA). Can you draw your gun from concealment smoothly and get good hits quickly? Can you shoot quickly with acceptable accuracy? Can you move quickly and safely with a loaded gun in your hand? How are you at moving and then shooting, or shooting while moving? How are you at engaging multiple targets, reloading on the run, shooting from unconventional postures (kneeling, squatting, from behind cover)?

In the field, how smoothly and quickly can you take your slung rifle and put it to prompt and effective use? Can you smoothly and quickly assume a steady shooting position, prone, kneeling or using an improvised fleld rest? Can you operate the action of your rifle in shooting position to be quickly ready for a follow-up shot if needed?

These are some of the skills beyond lining up the sights and pressing the trigger that make up practical weapons craft. Good training helps one learn them.
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Old August 11, 2009, 09:47 AM   #24
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I'm going to approach this from a self-defense perspective (vs. a hunting or military one).

When I worked in LE I was given a fair amount of mandatory training with the option to take more anytime I wished. Then you were out on the street to learn from more experienced officers and to gain some experience of your own.

I have to tell you that the vast majority of the time what my experience taught me was that I needed to take ALL of the extra training that I could possibly take because the worst feeling IN THE WORLD was to be caught on-the-spot absolutely flat-footed in a situation without even the faintest hint of a pre-defined game plan. The resulting paralysis while your brain tries to come up with an appropriate action is HORRIBLE.

You can't train for every possible situation, but eventually you build up enough of a "library" of plans to seriously reduce, if not eliminate, that "pause" before you can react.
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Old August 16, 2009, 05:31 PM   #25
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In spending 23 years as a full time professional self employed Firearms Instructor, I have come to the conclusion, you have it or you don't!

Instant, built in violent aggressive response to a threat!

It can be vastly improved this ability, in one who does not have it naturally, the training into reflexive response can work wonders.

Warriors have it from the get go. Lots of people have it, but do not know they do, never had the trigger of violence pulled so to speak.

These triggers come in different forms, threats to you, your loved one, a child, real body damaging threats. Fight or fight is REAL! Total shut down, and then freezing on the spot, is also one mode of response, may hap not a desired one.

Add to the natural ability of instant aggressive response, the learned smooth, rapid presentation to the sight line of a fighting pistol! You are on your to becoming a warrior.
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