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Thread: Are Classes the Only Way to Become Proficient?

  1. #101
    King of Craft Clusterfrack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David S. View Post
    Shooting is only one of the skillsets that a well rounded personal defense practitioner ought to be familiar with, and arguably the least likely to be used in a personal defense encounter. Being physically strong and healthy, along with competency in...
    Great points. The intersection of shooting skills, MUC, and combatives is where I want to spend more time. One of the most interesting training sessions I've had recently was with a DT/EP instructor. We worked on some shooting skills on a random threat/non-threat target, and then he said "Keep shooting this drill and I'm going to hit you a little." Then he gave me some solid spasm-inducing punches to the plexus, while standing at my side. It sucked. Hard. But it was a great drill.

    Obviously, this sort of thing can't be learned by yourself... We need instructors to learn some important skills.
    "BJJ is sort of like nonconsensual yoga"
    "You don’t really graduate from certain problems or certain things… like you always have to work on trigger control and pulling the trigger straight. " --Ben Stoeger 1/24/2018

  2. #102
    Quote Originally Posted by David S. View Post
    Your "opportunity cost" comments in post #70 of this thread seem to conflict with the metrics you've set. If resources are very limited, you should probably narrow down and focus your "why."

    Acknowledging that this is the "Competition Skills" sub-forum on Pistol-Forum, I should be clear that "it's a free country," as they say. If you want to get really, really good at the shooty stuff, just because, then rock on with your bad 'ol self. Set whatever kick-ass standards you want get after it.

    That said, if you're primary goal is personal defense, I suspect you'd do well to look to the standards of instructors like @Tom Givens, @Darryl Bolke, @Wayne Dobbs, and commentary by guys like @Cecil Burch @SouthNarc, @Paul Sharp and Varg Freeborn, for instance. I suspect that anyone on the high side of "C" class has sufficient raw marksmanship skill to do really well in those standards, and therefore do well in a personal defense shooting. To that point, The Tactical Professor Claude Werner's minimum effective standards are even more modest. Fortunately, acquiring and maintaining that level of skill probably won't require a ton of practice, ammo and time away from family.

    On the other hand, personal defense is multi-disciplinary. Shooting is only one of the skillsets that a well rounded personal defense practitioner ought to be familiar with, and arguably the least likely to be used in a personal defense encounter. Being physically strong and healthy, along with competency in

    Awareness and Avoidance
    MUC (Managing Unknown Contacts)
    OC Spray
    Hand to Hand fighting (such as BJJ or boxing)
    managing in-fight stress response
    medical training
    low light shooting
    defensive weapons flow
    force on force validation
    managing the after action
    use of force legalities

    are more likely to affect the outcome than having "A class" shooty skills. IF personal defense is the primary goal, I suspect getting "C class" competency in most or all of those skillsets is more valuable than becoming A, M, or GM in just shooting. If you can consistently pass the more respectable LE quals or Tom Givens standards, for instance, then time and resources may be better spent pursuing family time, health and wellness, general preparedness (food, water, power, shelter) and competency at those other defensive skills.

    Of course, you do you.

    ***I am in not remotely an expert on any of this. That's why I qualify everything with "I suspect..." This is my imperfect understanding from listening those who are. I hope the knowledgable folks will push back if I'm full of poop. ***
    Thanks for taking the time to break things down point by point and in depth! Regardless of eventual path I really enjoy chewing on the nuances of discussions like this. You raise a lot of interesting points, I'll try to touch on a directly but I might miss a few...

    Obviously being "good at shooting" means different things to different people. And that's normally a goal post we keep moving as we learn more about any skill development. For instance, when I was doing BJJ regularly, if you were a friend of the family and asked me if I was "good" I would have most likely just said yes. If I was at the gym I would said I was trash as there were literal world champ black belts training there. If my training partners were around I would have said "I'm a serviceable brown belt". So even in my own mind "good" isn't necessarily consistent.

    Heck, compared to most people at the range, and my friends who own guns but only shoot a few times a year I'm probably already "good" and by the objective measures of C Class and defensive shooting you touch I'm probably already "good enough". I think I should note as well that this thread is in the "Competition Skills and Development" section so I generally addressed my opinion on the notion of building skills that are tested in shooting competitions. I carried a G19 for about 1500-2000 miles on local trails last year. If I'm going to lug around that much iron that far I want to be "good" with it.


    Awareness and Avoidance
    MUC (Managing Unknown Contacts)- IMO, these 2 are basic life skills.

    OC Spray-
    Typically if I am outside I am in the woods or on a trail with a shepherd dog and big bottle of bear mace on the pack strap. I am familiar with the bear mace, and have used it on several necessary occasions over the years. I am familiar with the way in which the wind affects my particular brand and have experienced its effects from minor blowback several times. I was also quite dismayed to find it ineffective once when being actively stalked by a 90+ pound wolf for 2 miles of a trail.

    Hand to Hand fighting (such as BJJ or boxing)- brown belt in BJJ, former Olympic trials competitor in TKD, entered and fought in a number of "tough man boxing and kickboxing" contests both at my weight and heavyweight to test myself over the years.
    managing in-fight stress response- see above

    medical training- my wife is a full time medical professional, I have several basic Red Cross classes. Planning to take the "stop the bleed" classes at the range after I am vaccinated
    low light shooting- I carry a flashlight and have practiced a bit to know how it affects my ability to see my sights in various lighting conditions. I am not at a point where I want to attach a light to my pistol yet to have another variable in the gun operation equation.

    defensive weapons flow- first BJJ instructor was a highly rated JKD blackbelt. Some stick and knife training there. 8 years of Hapkido from 10-18 where I was the instructor for most of the last years. IMO, weapons (non-gun) training isn't really where it's at if we're divvying up time for defense.
    force on force validation- I feel pretty comfortable here actually. Most people who look at my severely cauliflowered ears and train tend to accept that.

    managing the after action
    use of force legalities- These two top my list for classroom work as valuable things to understand for anyone choosing to carry a firearm through their daily life.

    None of these are really related to becoming proficient at shooting for the sake of competition skills development though, IMO. If personal defense shooting stops at around C class skills and that was all that motivated me I'd probably be able to call it done, do a little dryfire here and there, and shoot a hundred rounds with some buddies every few months.

    Generally when it comes to force on force, there's a bit of a logical plateau. The UFC fighters that I used to roll with are going to beat me to a pulp if it's a real fight in "da streettz". I'm also not going to close that gap at my age and size. I spent a good bit of time trying but my body just doesn't keep up with that level of abuse anymore and I was ending up unable to enjoy a day hiking.

    As to being physically strong and healthy, I'm not a very big guy. But I'm generally in the top 1% of my age bracket for general fitness testing purposes. (Benchpress my bodyweight more than 10 times, ruck 10 mountain miles at 7K feet elevation with 25 pounds of gear without issue type of metrics).

    At this point, it's mainly "get really good at the shooty stuff" that appeals to me. Typically I've found that the best way to build the best skills is through competition and a drive to get better at them. It's why Krav Maga blackbelts get wrecked by BJJ blue belts pretty much always. Because Krav is all tactics.


    I think I'm not really looking at the discussion of "getting proficient" on the competition skills forum through the lense of tactics or personal defense. More as a "hey, are you any good with that thing? Let's go shoot some targets and find out" type of metric. For that, some basic metrics like the Gabe White standards seem like a decent intermediate test. Things like "the Test" at 10 yards seem like a good basic metric for beginners. And USPSA seems like where you can go to test yourself to see if you're really "good" with a pistol compared to other guys also trying to be "good with a pistol."



    Not sure I really hung that all together too well. Just wanted to get some responses to the points you raise to keep the discussion moving one those points. Hope that's ok.

  3. #103
    No matter how much training you have done on drills, or how competent you think you are with your weapon handling skills...

    There’s nothing quite like getting smoked a few times with Simunitions rounds at the hands of skilled force on force opponents to make one a lot more humble about their skills, drill accomplishments, level of training, IDPA/USPSA rank, and knowledge base.

    I’ve done Sims about 9 times since 2000. Never was hit, always “won” my engagements (though a couple of times my tactics were not correct, and a few times “winning” meant zero rounds fired.).

    For nearly 21 years, since my first Simunition runs, I had always felt pretty confident about my ability to handle both pressure and marksmanship in that kind of environment.

    Last year reality slapped me in the face, hard.

    I got waxed twice in September in a repeat Gunsite 499- and that opened my eyes in a big way.

    For me, there is no substitute for actual training classes for that level of learning. If I had stopped training after a certain point, I might never have learned those hard lessons.

    I don’t regret a single dollar spent or round expended for the training I have received from my instructors over the years. Good instruction is vital to not only becoming proficient, but for understanding what proficiency really is in the first place.

  4. #104
    I haven't read any of the previous comments so this is in response to the title.

    First I think we need to define what 'proficient' really means. Proficient at what?

    In short I think it's all relative. If you show up to an advanced combat pistol course and you don't know how to load a mag--- you will gain very little from the class vs what it could have been.

    Proficiency means different things to different people. I consider myself very proficient in loading mags, safety, shooting, etc and all that is pretty much self taught. That said if I spent a day with John Lovell I would become a whole lot more proficient in a lot of different things that I might not have even thought of.

    Proficiency is a moving target. It varies from person to person. For a new person that just took their concealed carry class 'proficiency' means one thing but for a Navy Seal that graduated BUDS a few months back 'proficiency' means a whole different thing.

    I have never taken a class yet but not from a lack of wanting to. That said depending on the class you should probably take a certain level of 'proficiency' with you in order to get the most out of it.

  5. #105
    Site Supporter David S.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David S. View Post
    ***I am in not remotely an expert on any of this. That's why I qualify everything with "I suspect..." This is my imperfect understanding from listening those who are. I hope the knowledgable folks will push back if I'm full of poop. ***
    Understatement of the century.

    So, after posting this morning, I listened to a couple podcast interviews with Darryl Bolke, and am now somewhat embarrassed by my levels of Dunning - Kruger. I'll shut up now and move back in my lane, which doesn't include any of this.

    At any rate, if you're interested in a couple about 3 hours of solid gold DB

    Off Duty On Duty Podcast Ep 18: Darryl Bolke- Everything old is new again.
    Off Duty On Duty Podcast Ep 25: Bolke likes front sights. . . you should too.

  6. #106
    Quote Originally Posted by AlwaysLearning View Post
    Very good point. Gravel pits have accidental dangers as well as predator dangers. For the noob folks, a gravel pit is where Platt and Mattix picked up a car they used in the first of their (known) robberies that led up to the 1986 Miami Shootout.
    In more recent news, in Feb. 2021, several people were shot and and (one?) killed at a gun store. In Jan 2021, there was an armed predator and death at a gun range.

    Gun stores and indoor supervised ranges have accidental dangers as well as predator dangers that also make the news. Should we tell new gun purchasers to avoid their LGS and not patronize their local indoor ranges as well?

    Or should they use their "situational awareness" to assess the likely dangers of each on a case by case basis?
    Last edited by NoTacTravis; 02-22-2021 at 08:40 AM.

  7. #107
    If I drew and engaged everyone who has ever pointed a firearm at me in a gun shop, I would make Audie Murphy look like a Quaker.

    Stern verbal engagement solves that sort of thing, but, yeah, the LGS environment can be hard on one’s nerves.
    Last edited by Archer1440; 02-22-2021 at 12:52 PM.

  8. #108
    Quote Originally Posted by NoTacTravis View Post
    In more recent news, in Feb. 2021, several people were shot and and (one?) killed at a gun store. In Jan 2021, there was an armed predator and death at a gun range.

    Gun stores and indoor supervised ranges have accidental dangers as well as predator dangers that also make the news. Should we tell new gun purchasers to avoid their LGS and not patronize their local indoor ranges as well?

    Or should they use their "situational awareness" to assess the likely dangers of each on a case by case basis?
    Situational awareness is clearly the way to go.

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