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Thread: Shooting Standards that Matter

  1. #1
    Site Supporter MGW's Avatar
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    Shooting Standards that Matter

    The excellent discussion in the VP9 trigger characteristics thread really has me thinking about this. This forum has really expanded what I know about shooting a handgun and pushed me to get better. I have a background in coaching, teaching, and mentoring. I look at things a little differently than some people because of that. I try to break things down and figure out what constitutes the fundamentals of any given task and then come up with ways to practice and improve those fundamentals. What I want to get better at is tracking progress over time and determining overall skill level with a handgun.

    Here's what I want to know. When it comes to the self-defense focused use of a handgun, what shooting standards really matter the most? What should a high-level shooter be able to do with their handgun of choice? What skills and standards should be practiced, measured, and tracked to determine progress?

    At it's most basic level it would seem to be a combination of draw to first shot or multiple shots with 100% accuracy and acceptable speed. But there is so much more to showing a high level of competence with a pistol than that.

    So what is it? What standards really matter and what standards do the best job of demonstrating a shooter's skill level with a handgun? What test or combination of tests hit all of the fundamentals?

    To further complicate the question, how do we separate standards tests from drills? What drills build fundamentals and what tests measure mastery of those fundamentals?

    I know there are probably a million answers to these questions but I'm really interested in reading the thoughts from the experts on this forum.

  2. #2
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    Using a Texas context, you have just kicked the top off a huge fire ant mound! I shall pop a bowl of popcorn and get something to drink.
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  3. #3
    Smoke Bomb / Ninja Vanish Chance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreggW View Post
    To further complicate the question, how do we separate standards tests from drills? What drills build fundamentals and what tests measure mastery of those fundamentals?
    Are we talking about the difference between a skill drill and a tactical drill? It seems like most tactical drills (with a pistol) could be listed on one hand. There was a great albeit vaguely related thread about that earlier this year.
    "Trying is the first step toward irritating those around you who know better." - @angry_prof

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    Member Paul Sharp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Dobbs View Post
    Using a Texas context, you have just kicked the top off a huge fire ant mound! I shall pop a bowl of popcorn and get something to drink.
    Mind if I join you?
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  6. #6
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreggW View Post
    The excellent discussion in the VP9 trigger characteristics thread really has me thinking about this. This forum has really expanded what I know about shooting a handgun and pushed me to get better. I have a background in coaching, teaching, and mentoring. I look at things a little differently than some people because of that. I try to break things down and figure out what constitutes the fundamentals of any given task and then come up with ways to practice and improve those fundamentals. What I want to get better at is tracking progress over time and determining overall skill level with a handgun.

    Here's what I want to know. When it comes to the self-defense focused use of a handgun, what shooting standards really matter the most? What should a high-level shooter be able to do with their handgun of choice? What skills and standards should be practiced, measured, and tracked to determine progress?

    At it's most basic level it would seem to be a combination of draw to first shot or multiple shots with 100% accuracy and acceptable speed. But there is so much more to showing a high level of competence with a pistol than that.

    So what is it? What standards really matter and what standards do the best job of demonstrating a shooter's skill level with a handgun? What test or combination of tests hit all of the fundamentals?

    To further complicate the question, how do we separate standards tests from drills? What drills build fundamentals and what tests measure mastery of those fundamentals?

    I know there are probably a million answers to these questions but I'm really interested in reading the thoughts from the experts on this forum.
    I think at its most essential level, you have to look at resources and motivation, and that is going to divide people into two main groups - those looking for 'good enough', and 'enthusiasts.' I think both of those are big tents, and people might switch back and forth at times, depending on current levels of resource and motivation. Where people fall in that span of resource and motivation, and ultimate goals, are going to produce different answers to your questions, not just for different people, but even the same people at different points in their journey. Unsaid frames of reference, oriented more toward people of marginal resource or motivation, or enthusiasts who are going to put a lot more into it, are the source of much of the disagreement people have about the different answers to the questions you ask.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by GreggW View Post
    The excellent discussion in the VP9 trigger characteristics thread really has me thinking about this. This forum has really expanded what I know about shooting a handgun and pushed me to get better. I have a background in coaching, teaching, and mentoring. I look at things a little differently than some people because of that. I try to break things down and figure out what constitutes the fundamentals of any given task and then come up with ways to practice and improve those fundamentals. What I want to get better at is tracking progress over time and determining overall skill level with a handgun.

    Here's what I want to know. When it comes to the self-defense focused use of a handgun, what shooting standards really matter the most? What should a high-level shooter be able to do with their handgun of choice? What skills and standards should be practiced, measured, and tracked to determine progress?

    At it's most basic level it would seem to be a combination of draw to first shot or multiple shots with 100% accuracy and acceptable speed. But there is so much more to showing a high level of competence with a pistol than that.

    So what is it? What standards really matter and what standards do the best job of demonstrating a shooter's skill level with a handgun? What test or combination of tests hit all of the fundamentals?

    To further complicate the question, how do we separate standards tests from drills? What drills build fundamentals and what tests measure mastery of those fundamentals?

    I know there are probably a million answers to these questions but I'm really interested in reading the thoughts from the experts on this forum.
    It depends on the shooter and what will be demanded of him or her when they’re required to shoot for blood. A homeowner will have different needs than a law-enforcement officer, whose needs will differ from those of a Tier-1 face shooter.

    For regular people, I’d start with the Hack Standards. When I shot them in class with Ken Hackathorn, the time limits seemed generous. I suspect that Ken shortens them considerably for more advanced clients, but they’re an excellent start. They include El Pres, Mozambique, and a lot of other classics, so I won’t list them separately. Ken also had us shoot most of the components of the Hack Standards on the move but with the same time limits, which makes them a little more difficult. You can also add low light for another dimension of challenge. If you can clean El Pres in the dark while moving, you’re probably pretty good with a pistol.

    I also like The Humbler. It’s not a set of drills, but it is a good measure of fundamentals. Once you shoot it a few times, you’ll know your score and how it got its name. I get the most good out of it when I shoot it every few months for a long time and track my progress on specific stages.

    If you’re in a hurry or on a range that doesn’t allow holster work, then go with The Test: 10 shots at 10 yards in 10 seconds on a B-8 target from the low ready. Holding the black is a passing score. It reads easy, but it should probably be named "Son of the Humbler".


    Okie John
    Last edited by okie john; 12-05-2016 at 06:15 PM.
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  8. #8
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Here's a more cynical answer, and I wish I could take credit for this observation (not mine), but I think it is often true.

    Ask a firearms instructor 'how good should someone be' - the answer will frequently relate to the skill level of the instructor in question. If you aren't as good as they are, then you should be better. If you are better than they are, then you are preoccupied with irrelevancies.
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  9. #9
    Member John Hearne's Avatar
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    If I had to reduce it to one drill, the single stack version of the test. Draw and fire 8 rounds on to a B-8 repair center at 10 yards in 10 seconds. Only hits in the 8-9-10 ring count.

    For basic, entry level of skill, you need to be able score keep all 8 rounds in the 8 ring. Not 64 points but all 8 rounds in the 8, 9, or 10. If you drop one round out of the 8 ring, I don't care if you put the other 7 in the 10 ring. If you can do that, you have a workable knowledge of the basics.

    For an intermediate/advanced level of skill, I want to see 72 points or all eight rounds in the black. All 8 in the black is a bit harder so that is the highest standard on this test. 72 points with something slipping out into the 8 ring is a good intermediate level of skill.

    If I added one more test, it would be the most recent version of Tom Givens' 3-M drill, which is a variation of the DTI Dance. Prep the gun with six live rounds and one dummy somewhere in the magazine. The dummy should not be the first round or the last round in the magazine. Have a reload of at least four rounds. On an IALFI-Q Target, at 5 yards, draw and fire until the gun runs empty, clearing the malfunction as it occurs. Reload and fire 3 body and 1 head shot to finish. You must side step on the draw, malfunction clearance, and reload. Body shots must be in the 8" ring, head shot must be in the 4" circle in the head. Tom considers passing to be a clean run in 15 seconds or less. Less than 10 seconds is really good. Personally, I'd like to see the same times but at 7 yards.

    These two tests expend 18 rounds and test most anything you're likely to do with the pistol across a good a variety of scenarios.

    As far as a manipulation test goes, Tom's Casino drill, and especially the advanced variations will tell you a lot in 21 rounds.
    Last edited by John Hearne; 12-05-2016 at 06:43 PM.
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  10. #10
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    I've a bag of chocolate, caramel popcorn available - so I will ask:

    What is 100% accuracy?

    Being in TX, it should be chips and salsa but whatever. I've seen national level competitors and trainers miss a target and look sheepish.

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