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Establishing Hard Standards

July 5, 2017

One of the subjects we discuss in this blog, a lot, is the importance of having quantifiable metrics of performance. A large part of that is what I call “soft standards,” i.e. “I did better than I did last time,” and “I performed the drill/skill correctly.” On the same hand however, there is a time and a place for “hard standards.”
“Hard standards” are simply a published set of metrics that a given group of people are expected to be able to achieve, on demand, without specific preparation or warm-up. As individual practitioners of…dare I say…the “Heroic Ideal,” soft standards really should be more important to us than soft standards, but hard standards do have a very important role to play as well.
In the first place, it allows us the confidence to accept fate stoically. “What is, is.” If I have met a hard standard, on demand, without preamble or warm-up, then I know–without doubt or uncertainty–that I am capable of achieving that. I don’t have to go into a disturbing situation wondering, “Gee, I wonder what I am capable of today?” I can simply plan my fight, however briefly, around that standard.
This ties into the second place where hard standards are important. If I am planning something that requires more than just myself to achieve, I need to make my plans predicated on the known, quantifiable capabilities of those on my prospective team. If I don’t KNOW that Joe Snuffy can hit a given rifle shot, on demand, every single time, then I cannot make Joe Snuffy making that shot, the locus of my operation. Sure, he MIGHT make it, and everything might turn out alright. He is just as likely however, to NOT make the shot, ensuring failure.
If you are part of a group: whether a local prepper group, a “militia,” or a police department or military unit, and you don’t have hard standards in place, you’re not serious about being able to accomplish your mission.
The Issue With Establishing Hard Standards
The problem with establishing published hard standards, especially within the parameters of this blog or my books, is why I have been hesitant to do so. That is, those standards are dramatically subject to our own experiential cognitive biases. As a guy who went to war in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, and then spent the better part of the last decade and a half living in the wide open spaces of the Rocky Mountains, where “300 yards is rock-chucking distance,” I have a considerably different perspective on what are “acceptable,” “realistic” rifle standards than say, a guy who spent 20 years working patrol and SWAT for NYPD.
Additionally, we are subject to the cognitive biases that arise from our own abilities. I am a big, strong, athletic guy, who shoots for recreation as much as for personal protection and preparedness. I have competed in IDPA and IPSC (albeit not at a particularly elite level). We have a dude in our local clan that is a sergeant on our local, small, rural police department. He has never competed, and considers the state and department qualification standards to be not only adequate, but “challenging.” I think they are a joke (seriously, four seconds to draw and fire two rounds, at nine feet?)
For me to tell him that his standards are inadequate, when he has almost twenty years on the job, and has survived, would seem unreasonable to him…even though he has never fired his service weapon in the line of duty. At the same time, he considers my personal standards “absurd, unrealistic competition bullshit.”
Even if we take two guys with the same background–let’s say, two SF dudes, both of whom deployed as 18B, to Afghanistan–if their current situations and environments are different, may come to different conclusions as to what is “enough.” If one guy teaches a bunch of meat-eating, alpha male types who eat barbells for breakfast, and juggle kettlebells for lunch, before rolling for a three-hour jiujitsu session for dessert, and his counterpart trains geriatric housewives to pass their CCW/CHL course, they are going to come to some pretty divergent opinions on what is “good enough,” aren’t they?
So, who is right? How do we overcome that discrepancy?
To be brutally honest, I’m not sure. I know it is hard for regular readers to believe that John Mosby doesn’t think he has all the answers, but it is something that I struggle with regularly, as a teacher, and a writer. I know what I use for standards, but I also know that my buddy on the local PD cannot, even on his best day, hit those standards, without a lot of remedial training and practice (and I know it, because he has tried, and failed).
Common Methods
There are three common approaches to determining standards of performance in the firearms training world, in my experience, each of which has benefits and drawbacks, from our perspective, here on the virtual frontier of a dying empire.
The first of these, that I first heard of when I was a kid, is to use your local law enforcement agency’s table of qualification, whatever it may be. The benefit to this is that, if you have to use your weapon, and end up in front of a jury for some reason, there may be some value in being able to say, “I can pass the local police department’s qualification. I am suitably trained.”
I have a couple of MAJOR issues with this approach however. To begin with, let’s get the obvious out of the way: cops, generally speaking, are shitty shooters. Like the example of my clansman, they may believe they are somehow specially gifted with a firearm, by virtue of their commission, but the reality is, quantifiably, the vast majority of police officers in this country are relatively unskilled amateurs when it comes to shooting performance.
The second issue I have with this is tied directly to the first: while law enforcement agencies, as the enforcing arm of imperial edicts, are not going to go away any time soon, I do recognize that we are going to see a reduced police presence in most places, and less interest in law enforcement, in dealing with many situations. I suspect it is already happening in many parts of many major metropolitan areas, but I foresee an increasing amount of investigations into shootings resulting in a case of, “Meh. So a bad guy got shot, by an unknown shooter, and his body was dumped in the street. Chalk up a win to the good guys.”
This however, will not be the case when the unknown good guy, in the process of shooting at the bad guys, performs on par with police, and smokes a half-dozen innocent bystanders in the process. At that point, the local constabulary really doesn’t have any choice but to investigate and look for the shooter.
(On an unrelated note, this is tied to a conversation I had with some friends the other day, in the industry. I pointed out that if I lived in town, like they do, my home defense gun would be a suppressed pistol. If someone breaks in, in the middle of the night, it might be expeditious to simply shoot them, drag the body to the garage, toss them in the trunk, and dispose of the body in a ditch a town or two away, never even bothering to involve law enforcement. In your house, with a quality suppressor, and subsonic ammunition, there’s a pretty solid chance that nobody in the neighborhood is even going to know anything happened. I don’t need to do that. I regularly shoot four-legged predators on the farm, at all hours of the night, and the neighbors ignore it, as the norm. Shooting a two-legged predator isn’t really going to evoke any different reaction from them, unless I make it a big deal, such as calling the Sheriff’s Department.
When they countered with, “Yeah, but you’re in the right, Castle Doctrine, etc…” I had to point out, even if I end up being exonerated, the costs of being involved in a typical defensive shooting are going to be ridiculously expensive, financially and morale-wise. It would be a lot more affordable to be, oh, I don’t know…self-reliant…when we can get away with it?)
Another common method of using external standards for local qualification is to look at something like the IDPA Classifier as a metric of performance. I’ve done this in the past. The first time I used the Classifier, I shot Master, even doing my reloads out of a pocket. There is some value in this, I think, and certainly more value than using your local police department qualification table.
The major drawback to using the Classifier, or a similar, long course-of-fire, is the fact that it is extremely ammunition–and time–intensive. That doesn’t even get into the logistic support needed. You won’t be running it, by yourself, on your local range. Even running it by myself, for myself, it takes me a solid half-hour to 45 minutes to get all the way through. With a group of a half-dozen to a dozen shooters, I’ve seen it turn into an all-day event.
Taking an entire day to run a qualification is fine, when you are running an infantry company through, and everyone is “on the clock,” and the taxpayer is paying for the ammunition. It is something else entirely when everybody has day jobs, family commitments, and budgetary concerns other than buying ammunition…things like diapers and groceries cost money.
The third method I’ve seen a lot of, is taking a statement about the statistical norm, within defensive shootings among citizens, and building a qualification drill predicated on that. For example, Karl Rehn, down in Texas, has his “Three Seconds or Less” Drill, that I like, a lot, and actually incorporate into my own qualification tables. It is based off the statistical norm of “3 shots, inside 3 yards, in 3 seconds.”
The problem with this approach, in my mind, is two-fold: 1) basing your training around the statistical norm is great, until you discover yourself in a situation that is a significant outlier. 2) Because statistics are accrued over time, anything based on a useful statistical norm is going to be based on old data. We see an increasing number of attacks occurring that are so far outside the statistical norm that as soon as we incorporate them, they are going to skew the norm drastically. Together, these combine to make–in my opinion–the statistical norm approach only marginally useful, at best. After all, what are the statistical probabilities that some dumbfuck will show up at your softball practice–where there are on-duty police officers pulling security–and start shooting the place up with an SKS? That may seem like a pretty extreme stretch, but that is exactly the point: we shouldn’t be training to deal with the statistical norm. The statistical norm says I won’t ever need to shoot someone in self-defense. In that case, simply having a gun would be the most I needed. Hell, I don’t even need to load the damned thing, right?
Thus, as we can see, even when we look at the common approaches, there are some pretty significant drawbacks to them. So, what is the solution?
Again, I don’t fucking know. I do know what MY solution has been, and it seems to be working pretty well. I know, when we meet the standards I have set for my people, they don’t seem to have much trouble hitting any of the above example standards either, so perhaps it is a matter of making sure you’ve encompassed the skills that make up the above methodologies, and have accounted for foreseeable potential outliers.
One Approach
I decided that, within my local training group, I would provide quantifiable, hard standard performance metrics in three areas: clandestine carry pistol, combat rifle, and physical fitness. In addition, each of these three areas would be divided into levels of accomplishment. Not that anybody gets any special awards for achieving any of the levels, but they do notice that they get lots of compliments from others within the clan (one of our guys came to me a couple weeks ago, and mentioned that he had gone out shooting with the police sergeant. He was told, “Man, I can tell you’ve been doing some training! You’re shooting better than me!” He was rather elated at the recognition, even knowing that cops are shitty shooters, as a rule).
Rather than come up with some cute labels (which I will undoubtedly do for the next book) for each level of performance, we simply call them Level One, Level Two, Level Three, and Level Four. The guys and girls that come out and train regularly know why they are training, and they want to be Level Four, or–at the very least, even for the self-admittedly lazy ones–they want to be at Level Three, across the board.
Clandestine Carry Pistol
Level One Qualification: The Level One Qualification is what I demand out of our people if they want to come use the farm’s range, unaccompanied by me. It tells me they are capable of being reasonably safe, and I can rest assured that they will probably not damage any livestock or infrastructure on the place. It is simply passing the qualification for their state-issued CCW/CHL.
Level Two Qualification: For Level Two, I played it safe, and used Karl’s “3 Seconds or Less” test. I can consistently hit this, on our weekly range days, with no problem, and most of the regular attendees achieve it pretty easily, after only a couple weeks of attendance. As I was writing the rough draft of this article tonight, I realized I hadn’t run this in several months, so in the midst of writing this, I went out to the range, right before supper, and shot it. There was no warm-up, I wasn’t “ready” to go to the range. I simply stood up, grabbed my ear protection and shot timer out of the range bag, and walked out to the range shed. I set up a silhouette, and shot the drill, without even particularly trying very hard. Seriously, I almost deliberately went slow, and I felt like I was moving through a vat of molasses.
This test includes the following:
“3 Seconds or Less”
range: As described in stage descriptions.
target: standard IDPA
Procedure:
Phase One: At 3 yards.
Stage One: Hands at side, weapon concealed. On the signal, step left, draw, and fire three shots to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.99 seconds.)
Stage Two: From the Ready, fire two shots to the head, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.2 seconds.)
Stage Three: Hands at side, weapon concealed. On the signal, step right, draw, and fire three shots to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 2.04 seconds).
Stage Four: Take a step forward to the two-yard line. Place hand on holstered gun. On the signal, draw and fire two shots to the A-zone, SHO, while backing away, in three seconds or less. (I felt like this was particularly slow, at 2.21 seconds, even though it really probably wasn’t. I don’t ever practice shooting while moving backwards, for a number of doctrinal reasons, and honestly, I probably don’t shoot SHO as frequently as I should.)
Phase Two: At 7 yards.
Stage Five: Start with loaded magazine in support hand, weapon in strong hand. On the signal, insert the magazine, rack the slide, and fire one round to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (Again, this is not something I would ever practice, outside of a speed reload, and then I use the slide lock lever to send the gun back into battery. I’ve heard that Karl included this stage to cover those folks who, for whatever reasons, do not keep their weapons loaded, in the home. That makes sense to me, on that level, but it is still nothing I would ever incorporate into my own practice. My time, despite that, was 2.68, so I had time to spare.)
Stage Six: From the Ready, finger off the trigger, fire one shot to the head, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.5 seconds.)
Stage Seven: Face 90 degrees to the Left, hand on the holstered gun. On the signal, turn, draw, and fire three shots to the A-Zone, two-handed, in three seconds or less. (My time was 2.62, and I know I was taking my time. I can typically make a 180 degree turn, and still get a first shot hit on a smaller A-zone, in less than 1.5.)
Stage Eight: Hand on the holstered gun, draw and fire two shots to the A-Zone, SHO, in three seconds or less. (My time was 1.95.)
Stage Nine: Start with the gun in the support hand only, aimed at the target. Fire three shots to the A-Zone, in three seconds or less. (My time was 2.73, and again, this is something I just don’t do. The only time I do anything WHO, is when I am fucking around, or demonstrating the fundamentals of solid grip and sight picture).
Summary: This is a pretty low round count drill, and it took me a whopping five minutes to shoot it, even accounting for setting up the target and recording times myself. It is not going to do much to prepare the shooter for the statistical outlier, but it is a solid test of being prepared to protect themselves in the “typical” self-defense scenario.
Level Three Qualification: The L3 qualification is what I would consider a minimum for a community defense force participant, in a grid-down scenario. Beyond that, if I couldn’t hit these standards, despite being able to achieve Karl’s “3 Seconds or Less” standards, I wouldn’t personally feel qualified to carry a weapon every day.
I have three courses-of-fire that make up the L3 qualification for my range. The first is a simple 5x5x5 drill. This is five shots, from five yards, in five seconds or less. It is graded on a simple Go/No Go score. Either you got five shots into the A-Zone, within the time frame, from concealment, or you did not. Period. It’s not a particularly challenging drill, but it is a solid breakdown of some fundamental skills involved in the combative use of the pistol.
I hadn’t run the 5x5x5 in a year or so, when a friend in the industry mentioned that he had just shot it, and it took him two tries to get it, a couple weeks ago. I walked out to the range, and hit it in 4.32. Last week, one day, I started my live-fire with it, and hit 3.74.
The second drill I include in the L3 qualification is Kyle Lamb’s Viking Tactics 1-5 drill, completed in less than 10 seconds. This is not a particularly challenging time for this drill, when you are warmed up, and in the mood for shooting. If you can hit a 1.5 second draw to first shot, followed by consistent half-second splits, it will take you less than nine seconds to complete.
On range days, I can pretty regularly hit between 7.5-8 seconds, and have managed to drop it as low as six seconds. On demand, tonight, immediately after running the “3 Seconds or Less” drill, I hit this in 8.4 seconds. So, even on a shitty night, this is a decent standard. The reason I included this is because I don’t believe single target qualifications are legitimate in today’s world. You NEED to include a multiple target table within the qualification process. The industry standard, for a long time, was/is “El Presidente,” but I think this is a more effective standard in today’s world, for two reasons. Number one, we don’t shoot “double taps,” or even “hammers” or “controlled pairs.” We shoot–or at least the people I know, who know what the fuck they are doing–shoot until the most dangerous threat is no longer the most dangerous threat. This drill helps keep us away from building the motor pattern of firing two and moving on. Second, I don’t think the reload is as critical, in a world of double-stack pistols. My G19 is sitting on the table beside my chair with 16 rounds of 124-grain Gold Dot in it. That is a lot of hate to share, before I need to worry about reloading. If someone carries a single-stack or a sub-subcompact pistol, they are not going to make the sub-10.0 standard, but that’s their issue to deal with. The fight is going to be what the fight is going to be. It is what it is. Deal with it.
The third table in the L3 qual is to fire 10 rounds, without time constraint, to the A-Zone of an IDPA target, at 25 yards. It is graded Go/No Go as well, with a requirement of at least 50% being in the A-Zone, and ALL shots being within the C-Zone or better.
Level Four Qualification:
The Level Four Qualification, or L4, is what I consider a pretty solid level of expertise with the pistol. It includes three tables of fire.
The first table is Ken Hackathorn’s “Wizard Drill” test. This drill has a pretty solid reputation within the industry, as a tough one, as well as being a really good measure of the ability to achieve the needed results in a real-world fight. Combined with Ken’s reputation as a trainer, I was really comfortable relying on this drill as the foundation of my L4 qual. While not technically shot “cold,” I ran this one tonight, after the other quals, and have included my performance times in parenthesis.
Hackathorn “Wizard Drill” Test
range: as per stage description
target: standard IDPA
start: from concealment
procedure:
Stage One: at 3 yards, SHO, head shot in 2.5 seconds or less (My time was 2.2 seconds, which is pretty typical. Looking at the last three times I’ve shot this drill, my times have been 1.98, 2.1, and 2.03)
Stage Two: at 5 yards, two-hands, head shot in 2.5 seconds or less (my time was 1.8. This was S-L-O-W for me. I normally spend 80% or more of my pistol practice at 5 yards these days, using a 3×5 index card for my A-Zone, and am consistently between 0.97 and 1.2 for my draw to first shot at this distance. I *think* that, in addition to feeling particularly slow anyway, because I knew this was a qual, rather than practice, I took the extra time to make sure. It felt slow, even before I looked at the timer.)
Stage Three: at 7 yards, two-hands, head shot in 2.5 seconds or less (my time was 2.2 seconds, interestingly–see Stage One notes above, what are the chances–and this too, is particularly SLOW for me, since even out to 10 yards, my first shot from concealment, typically arrives in less than 1.5, even on bad days.)
Stage Four: at 10 yards, two-hands, two rounds to the A-Zone, in 2.5 seconds or less (my time was 2.37. Again, abysmally slow, even with the second shot.)
PRA 1-5
Although I have told folks in classes, on a number of occasions, that the PRA 1-5 wouldn’t make a particularly good qualification table, the more I’ve thought about it, and looked at my own records, within my journals, and realized, with some constraints, it can be used as such. For the elite level shooter, in the real world, I believe the ability to exercise high order cognitive function, on demand, under time constraints, is as important as pure shooting ability.
Range: 5-10 yards, targets spaced no more than 10 yards apart outside left to outside right.
Target: six (6) standard IDPA
start: from concealment
standard: the standard is to achieve a clean run of the PRA 1-5, with all A-Zone or head shots, within 12 seconds, at this distance.
The third table in the L4 qual is to fire 10 rounds, from the ready, to a reduced steel/ A/C zone steel, at 50 yards, with at least 80% hits, in 12 seconds or less (in the interest of intellectual integrity, I picked 12 seconds because I found that was about as fast as I could run it, consistently, and get 100% hits). One of the major failures in combative pistol training that I have witnessed, is the lack of time spent even acknowledging that shooters might need to reach out, with their pistol, beyond “pistol” distances. It’s not impossible. It’s not even particularly difficult, with proper training, and a little bit of practice. We might “prefer” to grab a rifle, but that’s not always–or even mostly–a realistic option in defensive shooting scenarios, when we are equipped with a clandestine carry pistol.
Getting Better
I feel obligated to point out that, you don’t *practice* these tables, as such. It won’t do you much good to go out and shoot the Wizard every week, hoping to master it. You will probably see some improvement on it, but the real key is to practice the individual aspects that make up each drill. You need to determine what the individual skills inherent and explicit to each drill include, and then incorporate those into your regular training, using the qualification standards drills only occasionally, to measure and see that you are getting better, when you put the individual skills together, into a holistic package.
This is why we don’t use standards such as “draw to first shot in 1.xx seconds,” or “consistent 0.xx split times between shots.” It doesn’t–ultimately–matter what you can do on an individual subskill. It matters what you can do when you put all those skills together.
And yes, before anyone asks, there is a great resource for getting a handle on the individual skills that make up the qualification standards tables; in fact, I can think of three: 1) The Reluctant Partisan, Volume Two: The Underground, which includes not only the skills, but an entire program-of-instruction for learning them. 2) My upcoming Clandestine Carry Pistol course, in Idaho Falls, ID (or a private or open enrollment at your location…) 3) a combative pistolcraft course from any of the reputable trainers working, around the country, every weekend, trying to pass this information on to good folks.
A Note on Splits
One of the common criticisms I see, across the industry, and outside of it, is people complaining about the application of split times, between shots, in training. To a degree, they are right, what your split times are just don’t matter. You need to take as long as you need to take, to be sure you are going to get the hit you need to get.
At the same time, there are guys out there, insisting on sub-0.3 splits, if you want to be “lethal in a real gunfight!” I would argue, there is a happy median. Split times have their application, but I tend to think a lot of people either ignore them, thinking they don’t matter, or they place too much emphasis on them, looking for people to shoot faster.
The ideal split time depends entirely on the shooter. If you need to take 0.75 seconds between shots, to be confident that your rounds are going to go exactly where you send them, and to give yourself time to make sure the shot you are about to take is a legitimate shot, then by all means, you should be taking 0.75. I just want you to be consistent in that time. ALL of your splits should be between say, 0.71 and 0.79.
On the other hand, if you can process the feedback loop from the target and your sights, think your way through the problem, and still hit sub-0.3x splits, awesome! Good for you. I cannot, and most really good shooters find, in my experience, that as soon as they run into a Force-on-Force shooting scenario, one of two things happens when they are used to hitting really fast splits: either a) they slow WAY, WAY, WAY down, or b) they end up with bad shots, by which I mean they end up shooting the wrong person, or they have a lot more misses than you would expect.
I’ve heard more than one person in the training industry refer to this as “outrunning your headlights,” and I think that is an incredibly apt description. You are simply relying on your expectation that everything will be fine, and you can put the hammer down. Then, a deer jumps out into the road, and you are in a wreck, because by the time you recognized it, you were already on top of it. I’ve done this in training, and on the highway.
When my oldest was still an infant, I was cruising down the highway in Wyoming, at 80MPH. Deer suddenly appeared in the road, and I was going way too fast for the available light from my headlights. I managed to process what was happening fast enough to avoid swerving, and hit her with the center of the bumper, but the grill on the truck was jacked.
On the range, in a shoothouse, live-fire exercise a couple years ago in Wyoming, (as some readers who were in the class may recall), I let the students set the targets up, in a problem solving, cognitive load drill. I went in to clear. I shot a legit target, that should have been shot, but they had set it up in a way that was a little tricky. I started blazing away, and halfway through my string of fire, the entire class heard me cuss them, “FUCK! YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!”
Even then, recognizing that I had fucked up, it took me two or three more rounds, to stop shooting, because I was–at the time–specifically focusing my personal training on getting down towards 0.25 splits with my carbine, and it just took my brain that long to catch up.
I’ve also come across some references that claim the FBI HRT unit looks for about a half-second split in their training process. This makes sense to me. That seems inordinately slow, at first glance, to a seasoned competitor, but a) that’s not necessarily the split I’m looking for in my daily training. That is the split I am looking for when I run a qualification table, and/or a drill that requires cognitive loading, such as the PRA 1-5, or Frank Proctor’s Third Grade Math drill.
Ultimately, what your splits are, are not as important as whether or not they are consistent. I explain to students that what I am really looking for is the split between shots, whether on the same target, or on a transition, to all be within about 0.05 of the split to either side of it (this is subject to some modifiers). This, combined with meeting the stated accuracy and precision goals, tells me that you are consistently doing what you need to do to get consistent hits, and not relying on luck.
Last week, I was working some multiple shot strings, at 5 yards, on a 3×5 index card for the A-Zone. My splits were anywhere from 0.98 to 1.26, according to my notebook. I remember being really torqued off that I was being so slow, but I was more miffed that there was such inconsistency. I stopped, took a five minute break, and then got back to it, focusing on my rythm and timing. My first string, coming back off the break, I took my sweet ass time, focusing on consistency, above all. My five shot string, all splits were between 1.26 and 1.29. That is, SLOW!!! But, it is also consistent, so I was able to pick up the pace. Next string, I was consistent at 0.69-0.74. Third string, every split was between 0.42 and 0.44. That’s a pretty typical string for me, on a relaxed practice run. It’s not really where I want to be, on a simple rythm drill, but it was fast enough, and it was consistent. By slowing way down, first, and focusing on the consistency, I was able to quit dicking around, and get back to where I needed to be.
Conclusion
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas on how and why we run the hard standard qualifications (for the pistol) we run, as well as giving you an idea of the “why?” behind the selections. In the interest of brevity, I didn’t include the carbine quals or the fitness quals. Those will probably come in a follow-on article.

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15 Comments
  1. black permalink

    off subject ever so slightly.
    about 3 months back , i changed my diet, started going to the gym a few nights a week after work.
    finally. i started shedding a few pounds. this last week end . i added a lite weight ruck on a 4.25 mile path.

    what is the standard i should be shooting for?

    • Denove Mustelo permalink

      From the previous article “mountainguerrilla.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/fit-for-the-fight-a-conceptual-approach-to-physical-conditioning” we get, “Road-Marching: I believe, at a bare minimum, just counting rucksack weight, you should be able to hump a 65-lb rucksack, at a 12:00/mile pace, for 8-10 miles. That’s on a road, with hiking/combat boots, and full fighting load as well. Cross-country, or on an off-road trail, I would expect to see the proverbial 15:00/mile pace.”

  2. Tyler permalink

    What does SHO stand for?

  3. Admittedly I’m biased as a gamer/competitor, but I’d like to see you include movement in your hard standards. Not necessarily shooting on the move but some box to box movement with shooting on exit and entry would do you a world of good.

    • I have two issues with it, although I don’t necessarily disagree.
      #1: In my experience, moving and shooting is a hugely overrated skill, as I discussed in both TRP books. Be moving, or be shooting, but generally, the dude who shoots first, wins the fight, if he gets hits. I consistently see guys get significantly better hits, significantly faster, by stopping long enough to take the shot. Best cover on the battlefield? Accurate outgoing fire.

      Speed and Violence of Action count for a lot when the fight is on. Getting shot in the face, a quarter second sooner, will do more to discourage the bad guy than catching a round in the shoulder, a quarter second later.

      #2: I have found, if a dude has solid fundamentals, stationary, combined with solid physical conditioning, adding movement is cake. I practice movement on the range, a lot, but I’ve never included it as part of the standards, because it adds too many variables. On the other hand, the first time I ever ran the IDPA Classifier, I shot Master, with a comfortable margin, and with suboptimal gear (a borrowed holster, and reloads out of a cargo pocket, for example), since I had no intention of shooting that day.

      Having solid fundamentals, knowing they were solid, and having good conditioning, and knowing it was good, took care of it.

      • #1: That’s fair.
        #2: This one I have seen the opposite, over and over again. Guys who can shoot decide to come out to compete, and suddenly on the clock and in front of an audience can’t even remember how to walk. Adding movement is definitely not cake imo. Learning how to move with a gun is its own skill, and takes a lot of practice to feel comfortable doing so. For most people it’s a lot like running with scissors, but scarier. This is not even taking into account shooting while moving, we’re just hauling ass from point to point with this death machine in our hand.

      • I can see that, on #2, I suppose. Gods know, I’ve seen enough silly shit in classes to believe it. Maybe my view on it is skewed (see my comments in the article) because of my experience, and because most of the guys I train with regularly, even if not “trained,” have grown up with guns in their hands, running through the woods chasing deer and coins.

        Definitely something I will have to consider.

  4. jim permalink

    Action Shooting International is kind of like IDPA but rather than shooting a thousand rounds per session out of a highly modified “race gun” on a very competitive course, it is geared more for everyday joe using his carry piece. But no “hard standards”… still, it’s an opportunity for joe to use his weapon from somewhere besides a static shooting bench

    http://asi-usa.org/

  5. benreddy permalink

    Excellent. Thank you.

  6. Matt permalink

    Great article, lots of solid useful information. Thanks.

    Matt

  7. Colorado Pete permalink

    Good article that addresses a topic many never even think of. I often hear people say “I’m a good shot” or “I want to be good”. Then to the former I usually just say “uh huh, have you ever competed?” but to the latter I say “define good”. If that leads to a discussion about standards and training I say, “how good do you want to be, and how bad do you want to be that, because it takes work?”
    All that results in a lot of looks of uncertainty. But it starts them thinking about the real issue, which is the prerequisite for everything else.

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