View Full Version : Training vs. practice & experience

July 10, 2009, 05:27 PM
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?

July 10, 2009, 05:48 PM
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. :D


July 10, 2009, 06:18 PM
I'm one of 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 :)

July 10, 2009, 06:31 PM
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.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 10, 2009, 08:35 PM
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.

July 10, 2009, 09:29 PM
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.

Uncle Buck
July 10, 2009, 09:43 PM
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.

July 11, 2009, 08:27 AM
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.

Deaf Smith
July 11, 2009, 11:24 AM
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.

July 16, 2009, 03:15 AM
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!

July 16, 2009, 06:17 AM
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.

July 31, 2009, 04:05 AM
My uncle shot competition in the old days and suspended a pair of skates from his pistols when he practiced.

July 31, 2009, 04:58 AM
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.

July 31, 2009, 04:12 PM
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.

August 4, 2009, 10:32 AM
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

August 4, 2009, 11:37 AM
Training provides practice and experience. Unless you continue practicing, the skills acquired from you traing quickly fade.

Deaf Smith
August 4, 2009, 09:20 PM
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.

August 7, 2009, 05:11 PM
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.

August 8, 2009, 07:13 AM
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.

August 8, 2009, 08:21 AM
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?

August 11, 2009, 07:03 AM
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.

August 11, 2009, 08:33 AM
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.


Frank Ettin
August 11, 2009, 09:35 AM
....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.

August 11, 2009, 09:47 AM
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.

August 16, 2009, 05:31 PM
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.

August 16, 2009, 08:51 PM
Training is good, compitition is better. I can set out in my back yard range and plink all day, I dont get the same benifit as in matches.

As far a experience, I'm gonna say something others will disagree with, but I'll still stand by my statements.

I'll stick with Rifle but it works equally as well with pistols. As Gen Hatcher and Col Whelen both said, there is no better practice then High Power rifle for the individual soldier. This was proven back toward the turne of the centry (20th) when the army developed the Small Arms Firing School system of teaching the individual soldier at the infantry schools, I don't have the stats but can look them up if you wish. Qualification scores went sky high.

Lets go back to Vietnam for another look. It was discovered a need for snipers, both army and marines. Where did they go for that training, the Army Marksmanship Unit and the marine counter part. Soldiers should know indivudal soldiering and patroling. Its easier to teach a soldier how to soldier then to teach him how to shoot. The respective marksmanship units, from the high power fields conducted the sniping programs.

Years ago, 1991 I believe, I repesented MAC Region VI at the Mac conferance (National Guard marksmanship advisory commettee, whos mission was to set the policy for marksmanship and qualification for the national guard). The Army tried to sell us on the ideal of combat style shooting like our alies used. I was against it, believing composite stype (NRA type) was a better avenue for learning to shoot. It was pointed out that our all guard team went to NATO to compete in their combat matches saying it was good training. I asked how the MTU Rifle Team faired. They won the whole ball game. My contention is, if composite shooters entered in their matches and won, why should we change, maybe they should. The other region directors agreed and we voted to keep the composit style shooting, Only to be over ridden by the army. The NG hasn't been competive in the All Army/Inter service matches since.

As I said, pistol shooting is the same. Prior to going to Vietnam I hadn't been involved in compitition, but I did so my shooting with one hand. The only time used pistols in combat, was in a dark muddy slimmy tunnel when I wasnt able to un-volenteer my self. There was no possible way I could have used two hands laying on my belly in mud, holding a flashing light while crawling.

Later in my live, as a LE officer, I did untold building seaches, agian it was difficult to use two hands while openning doors, using a flashlight, and inspection mirrors (to peek around corners).

Basicly if you can shoot with one hand, you can shoot with two. I'm a firm believer in composite style shooting, NRA HP and Bullseye. Learn the fundamentals first and the rest will follow.

August 19, 2009, 04:29 AM

I spent years target shooting with .22 and .32 S&W .38 Spl. and the famous .45 ACP, it was only in the early 80s going in to IPSC and later IDPA, that I got into Jeff Coopers style of shooting (nice man Col. Jeff) the strange phenomena of tight movement, close up simulated threats in competition, soon showed the one hand weapon, the pistol, lots of time was used in one hand, naturally.

My hits were real good, and fast. With the close qtr; threats that abound in the modern day living we all pass by each day, you had better be one hand literate!

Point and press. close up, works just fine.

August 19, 2009, 08:09 AM
If I had any plans to become a 'high speed, low drag operator', then I would be all over training.
In my current real life existence as a retired guy with a life time of experience with guns, I just can't see shelling out the bucks to play Rambo.

Not saying training is bad, but it is probably over rated in terms of real life cost/value comparisons.

Frank Ettin
August 19, 2009, 08:29 AM
Not saying training is bad, but it is probably over rated in terms of real life cost/value comparisons. Depends on what you want. Besides, training can be fun, and the cost/value equation is purely a personal matter.

August 19, 2009, 08:38 AM
Mannlicher ~

I've heard that before. It's buncombe.

Here is a look at some of the typical skills taught in firearms schools, and how they apply to ordinary citizens in real life. Not to "Rambo," but to regular people.

Most people believe they are already safe gun handlers. Many do not believe they need to be taught the first and most basic lesson most instructors stress: the ability to safely manipulate a firearm. I'm here to tell you, those who haven't had a class from a competent instructor often overestimate their abilities in the safety department. The folks I've seen in classes who are notoriously the most dangerous are the people who've been shooting for years and think they've already got the safety thing down pat. I'd be willing to lay out money, by the way, that 98% of the folks who read this will think I am not talking to or about them -- and the other 2% will be offended that I've insulted their unsafe gun handling because after all, they haven't shot themselves (yet!).

Safe gun handling includes the ability to load or reload your firearm quickly under stress. Again, this one sounds kind of silly to most of us; what are the odds of needing to reload in a hurry? Are we going to take on a horde of invading zombies by ourselves? Doesn't seem likely. How Rambo! But this skill is simply a subset of safe gun handling. If you cannot easily load your firearm quickly under stress, without pointing it at any important body parts, and without losing muzzle awareness, then you have not yet completely internalized how to handle your firearm safely. And if that is the case, you are at risk of negligently shooting yourself or a family member if you ever need to handle your home-defense firearm under the extreme stress of a home invasion.

Accurate shooting is usually next on the syllabus. Again, most people reading this probably already consider that they are accurate enough. Yet a fellow who opines that if he were engaged by a criminal at 15 feet he would simply "fire in the direction of the target" is not only at risk from an attacker - he is a risk to the rest of us. You are responsible for every bullet that leaves your firearm, not just the ones that hit the intended target.

Once accuracy is achieved, speed is often stressed. Firearms instructors show their students how to bring the gun out of its holster and onto target quickly. How fast is fast enough? How much time would you have to draw and fire if you were attacked? When a student asked defensive firearms instructor John Farnam that question, Farnam replied, "The rest of your life." While the answer sounds flippant, it cuts right to the heart of the issue. You do not know, in advance, how fast you will need to be. But it is a good idea to learn to become as fast and as accurate as you are reasonably able to do.

There is another reason to learn how to draw and fire quickly. This is because a fast draw is a smooth draw, and a smooth draw is a safe draw. Not everyone will need to draw fast, but everyone with a holster should be able to draw safely. A smooth draw brings the gun out of the holster without fingering the trigger, it doesn't get tangled up in the clothing, and it doesn't point anywhere it shouldn't on the way up. A smooth draw is a safe draw.

Being able to shoot multiple targets well is another subset of quick and accurate shooting. While being attacked by a herd of rampaging criminals might seem a bit far-fetched, the fact is that few criminals attack when they think the odds are even. Criminals like the odds to be in their favor when they attack. And as Marc MacYoung puts it, "Bad guys have friends, too."

Another subset of quick and accurate shooting is the ability to shoot well with only one hand. This looks like a show-off range trick -- more Rambo activity! -- but the fact is that in real life, it is quite possible that if you need to fire your weapon, you may not be able to use both hands. Maybe one hand will be carrying a small grandchild, or keeping a grasp on a larger child so you know where she is. Perhaps it will be fending off a close attacker, or shoving the door shut while an assailant tries to open it. Or perhaps, heaven forbid, one hand will be disabled in the initial attack. If you carry a gun for self-defense, you should know how to safely draw and use the weapon with either hand alone.

Moving targets are fun and challenging on the range. They really catch the students' attention and they appeal greatly to the Walter Mitty fantasy guys. But that's not why good classes include moving targets. Quite simply, good classes include moving targets because in real life, criminals do not just stand there and imitate a piece of cardboard; they move. If you are unable to reliably hit center mass on a moving target, you are not yet prepared to deal decisively with a living opponent.

Similarly, while it appeals to wannabe warriors to shoot while their feet are moving, that's not why good classes teach students how to do so. The reason moving while shooting is taught is because anyone with half a brain is going to be running for cover when a criminal attack happens. If you carry a weapon, you owe it to yourself and everyone around you to learn how not to shoot the innocent grandmother putting her groceries in her car on the other side of the parking lot while you boogey to cover and get away from the bad guys.

Most criminal attacks happen in the dark. Of course a good class will teach you the most obvious tactic: turn on the lights and equalize the environment if you can. But if you cannot turn the lights on, it's really a good idea to be sure you can hit the bad guy instead of the innocent bystanders.

And finally, here we are back at safety again. People tend to overestimate their own existing level of safety, and underestimate their need for personal feedback. But everyone does need it -- and often the ones who need it worst are those who believe it least.

Last year around this time, another instructor and I were talking about a course he was assisting with. "Rough day!" he confided. "One guy pointed a gun at me--TWICE."

"Twice?" I inquired, "What happened the second time?"

"The first time I didn't see what led up to it. Got there as quick as I could and redirected the muzzle. Gave him the stink eye and the full chewing out. He apologized, felt bad, promised he wouldn't do it again."

"So what happened the second time?"

"The usual..." Deep sigh. "He simply did not have the faintest idea that he was bringing the muzzle around to point behind him every time he reached for a fresh magazine. Honestly did not. Just a complete failure of self-awareness."

Experienced shooters and intelligent people often have a hard time believing how much they need this honest and direct feedback from a skilled observer. But everybody does need it -- and the longer the shooter has practiced without formal training, the more desperately they are likely to need this feedback as it relates to both safety issues and shooting techniques.

When I first began working out of a holster, I thought I was doing pretty well with it. Maybe I wasn't as fast as others, I reasoned, but at least I was doing everything safely. Or so I thought. Right up until a professional firearms instructor stood next to me and said, "Hey. You just pointed the muzzle at your own hand." I did? I hadn't even been aware of it!

Similarly, I have in turn stood next to students who were totally oblivious to their own major safety violations, everything from pointing the firearm at their own abdomens while racking the slide (yes, really), to sweeping the person next to them, to casually leaving their fingers on the trigger. When caught, the universal response is honest bewilderment: "I did? I didn't even notice!"

And that's just for gross and obvious safety issues. Shooting skills are even more prone to this type of personal blindness.

That's why I'm excited about professional training and it's why I beat the drum for it every chance I get. Personally, I'm a middle-aged, out of shape housewife who lives in a great low-crime rural area. I'm not Rambo, I don't want to be Rambo, I have no need to be Rambo, and given my physical limitations I couldn't become Rambo no matter how hard I tried. But I'm not going to risk being unsafe with my firearm, and I'm not too proud to say that there are things other people can teach me that I need to learn.


August 20, 2009, 05:20 AM
A smooth draw brings the gun out of the holster without fingering the trigger, it doesn't get tangled up in the clothing, and it doesn't point anywhere it shouldn't on the way up. A smooth draw is a safe draw.
So true Pax.

Every body wants blinding speed! or as is said of a lot of human skills, they want to run before they can walk. And a truism I have preached in my full time occupation from 1980 till 2003 (which statement I did not invent) as a firearms Instructor "Keep it simple" my bread and butter classes were Private Company's, ATM/Armored Car/Banks, all with mandated Revolvers, .38 Special.

Every shot fired was from the holster, draw and fire, draw and not fire (challenge!) over and over, all reloads, speed reloads, and then back to eye level.

In every instance that happened whilst working, by all. That doctrine was followed, to the letter, why? Because it was simple.

One of my female ATM attendants, confronted by a young man at 0 dark thirty, as she was exiting a bank, "Give it up" hand in baggy winter coat pocket.

She told me the front sight of her Mod 64 S&W centered on his face as she screamed "don't move" happened on it's own! No conscious thought of "Draw gun" Did she see the sight? Even the little lines, she said.

Now as a carrier of a pistol, under various clothing, summer shirt, winter coat, CCW in wallet, after the "Training" you got to get that CCW issued was in lots of cases, without firing a round! Do you need training? Yes you do.