Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Derp sells well.

Some clownshoes stuff over here. A friend elsewhere wondered why sometimes some very smart people can be taken in by some of the more woo-woo shooting instructors. I replied:

You know, I've gone over this in my mind many times and I think it boils down to the fact that shooting a pistol even moderately well is hard, and takes practice. I mean, compared to the average shooter on the public range, I shoot like a frickin' ninja, and then I go to a match or gun school and it's like going from watching Wheel Of Fortune to Jeopardy. One minute I'm on top of the world, at least relatively speaking, next thing you know I'm struggling to get a "Thank You For Participating" prize.

It can be a cold bucket of ice water in the face to find out that, yes, one does really suck with a pistol, and there are two ways to deal with this: Put in the work to make yourself at least reasonably un-sucky, or go to some guy who'll let you dump a bunch of unsighted, un-timed rounds into un-scored targets at arm's length and tell you reassuring things about "Yeah, that's how it is on the street."

And, you know, he's probably right, at least inasmuch as the monthly NRA rag is full of the stories of Ida Blascowicz, who scared the baddie off by fetching her dead husband's service revolver from the sock drawer. It doesn't take a high degree of skill to survive that encounter, and that's what people want to hear. They don't want to hear tales of bad guys that return fire or don't fall to hardball, or whatever. It makes their .45LC/.410 lucky rabbit's foot feel less reassuring.

People talk about police handgun qualifications like they're hard; they're not. Similarly, every state handgun permit qualification test I'm aware of is pretty basic; back in TN I used to tell people not to worry, because if they could stand flat-footed and shoot at the ground and hit it, then they were golden.

Massad Ayoob has a qualification in his MAG-40 class that serves a real purpose, in that it's basically cobbled together from stages of well-recognized LE qualification courses, which looks good to juries. My first thought looking at the course of fire was that if you didn't get a 300/300, you should know why. I got a 300/300. I also shoot in the bottom half of the class at TLG's AFHF and the last time I walked a prize table at a match, I had a hard time picking between the prizes that were left and the tablecloth, which probably cost more.

Being good with a pistol takes work, and defending yourself with a pistol, at least statistically speaking, rarely requires being very good with it. But what if it does? How much time and effort are you willing to expend on being good with a pistol? I guess a lot of it boils down to how enjoyable you find it.

At the end of the day, I do this because it's fun, and because I don't like being sucky at things I think are fun. And who knows? It might even come in handy some day.

37 comments:

Scott J said...

"compared to the average shooter on the public range, I shoot like a frickin' ninja, and then I go to a match or gun school and it's like going from watching Wheel Of Fortune to Jeopardy. One minute I'm on top of the world, at least relatively speaking, next thing you know I'm struggling to get a "Thank You For Participating" prize."

This. A gazillion times this.

I have said at several IDPA matches "I thought I was a good shot until I started playing this game".

I could stand and make quarter sized or smaller groups out to about 15 yards single action. Palm-sized out to 25 and 8" circle at 50.

Turned out to be completely useless for action pistol. Although some of my fellow competitors disagree. They say I'm plenty accurate. I need to work on speed.

John Balog said...

I think self defense (and many of the SHTF/tikiwiki scenarios are less realistic assessment of needed preparation, and more convenient excuse to spend a bunch of money on a hobby coupled with people being bad at or unaware of the actual probability. Hence all the "I need a $2000 AR cause when I'm alone in the wilderness fending off the hordes of mutant zombie bikers whether or not my bolt was HPT/MPI is all that will stand between life and death."

If people really wanted to extend their lives they'd take every defensive driving course they could and work out regularly. But car wrecks and heart attacks aren't as exciting to think about as shooting the gang of home invaders (or blue helmets etc etc) so they don't get the time and money.

Tam said...

John Balog,

People spend money on gear because it's easier than working to build skill with gear.

(The corollary to that is the Cletus who assumes he can shoot because he has a shitty gun instead of an expensive one, when really it just means he shoots a shitty gun shittily.)

Scott J said...

Have to admit point shooting is lots of fun though.

One of our stages this past Saturday had all its targets at maybe 7 yards max. All triple taps. I flew through it (well flying for me anyway) and still only managed to be 15th of 29 shooters. My best stage rank of the day.

KevinC said...

As Unc said awhile ago, you don't have to be Todd Jarrett, because it's not going to be Todd Jarrett shooting at you.

Tam said...

It might not be Captain Derp, either.

You don't know what it's going to take until it happens. (cf. Jared Reston.)

Scott J said...

What's really depressing about it all is how quickly the skills perish.

I'll notice some degradation if I skip a week and even more glaringly so at two weeks.

It's amazing how quickly time can slip by us too. I don't maintain logs for my handguns but do for rifles and more than once have had the experience of putting the gun away thinking "I remember being able to make smaller groups with that thing" then going to update the log and thinking "holy cow, it's been a year, no wonder I'm stinking it up".

There just aren't enough hours in the day.

Robb Allen said...

" I also shoot in the bottom half of the class at TLG's AFHF and the last time I walked a prize table at a match, I had a hard time picking between the prizes that were left and the tablecloth, which probably cost more."

I laughed harder at this than I probably should have, but mostly because I saw myself behind you going "Shit. Tam got the tablecloth. I wanted that"

Robin said...

Very well said, Tam.

And then, the one gunfight in a billion literally, there is that Air Force guard that Mas wrote about a few years ago that takes an AK wielding perp out with an M9 at 50-70 yards ...

More seriously, what wins gunfights is situational awareness and will, and we pick that up a tiny bit at a time while putting rounds in targets.

bluesun said...

Anyone can shoot a pistol reasonably well (ie, be able to know which direction to point the barrel) with a bare minimum of practice, and like you said with the little old lady and her husband's old revolver, that's all you'd probably need most of the time. It's the old "do I prepare for the most likely scenario or the worst case scenario?" Seems that most people, whether they are consciously realizing it or not, go for worst case.

They probably should be trying to get a lot more out of the classroom side of MAG 40 than the shooting range side, though.

Anonymous said...

I agree Tam, in the time he takes to draw and point an attacker would have closed and knocked him to the ground. Far better to sidestep to avoid the attack during the draw.

A question that the DA might ask would be "So you drew your gun while he was behind you? How could you possibly determine without looking that he posed a threat to your life?"

Al_in_Ottawa

Joseph said...

To me, the worst part is just how perishable a skill it really is. I haven't seriously shot a pistol in a month and I'm dreading the next trip to range to find out how I've regressed.

Scott J said...

And not to detract from the wondrous things Jerry Miculek does (I still think he's a space alien) but he revealed his secret in one of his You Tube videos I was watching a couple months ago: "over a million round's downrange".

I've been a shooter since 1992 and I'd be amazed if my count was over 10K.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Economics go into it as well. For years, I owned no guns because they were simply a luxury I could not afford. Lately, I cringe at the thought of how long it's been since I practiced the skills as it's more important to pay the mortgage and put food on the table than it is to put a box of ammo down range. This is less of a whiny-assed complaint than it sounds though. Looking forward to the next range session.

Also, I shoot like a rock star next to a lot of people I take the range next to. When I shoot beside you however, I feel like a handicapped child with ten thumbs. I hear what you are saying on perspectives, but the range of skill levels out there is simply staggering.

global village idiot said...

"And who knows? It might even come in handy some day."

It has already (well, almost), hasn't it?

gvi

Anonymous said...

First time I ran an exercise against the brandy-new video trainer I had the thought about halfway through "gee, I wonder how much I could get from selling all my guns, and can I get a desk job in the basement."

Then I watched everyone who came after me. Initially I felt relieved, then quite fearful, realizing I was among the "best of the worst." A few years of personal practice, IPSC and IDPA (and the $%@# video trainer) and I noted a substantial skill improvement.

Then I took up 3-gun......

One never stops learning, to "stay steady" is to fall behind.

global village idiot said...

That helmet thingamajig...

Oy gevult.

I mean, accessories make the outfit I guess, but I know *I* couldn't pull it off.

gvi

Tam said...

gvi,

"It has already (well, almost), hasn't it?"

I had no idea what I was doing back then. I was a classic example of Dunning-Kruger.

tailwind said...

"People spend money on gear because it's easier than working to build skill with gear."

Amen to that, Tam.

I have observed that it applies to any endeavor that requires a tool or other piece of equipment.

Then again, there's the one-upsmanship factor to consider.

Anonymous said...

My co-workers think I'm an great shot with a pistol but I would give myself a C-.

If you have shot with some good instructors and competition shooters, you either go to immediate denial about your skill or try and get to a higher level of competence.

A great pistol shot is a joy to behold. This guy, not so much.

Gerry

RevolverRob said...

I always want to get better, but lack the time and cash to do it. That's the sad reality for many.

With respect to defensive training, the courses I have taken focused on skills I needed at the time (drawing the weapon, reloading, shooting at night). Now, I focus solely on getting faster, smoother, more accurate. And at this point 1000-round blasting sessions don't help. Instead a timer and a challenge helps.

Speaking of TLG AFHF, I've been using the FAST Drill as a dry-fire benchmark with my revolvers lately. That is a fun challenge for you.

-Rob

TBeck said...

Mas' "perfect score" is everything inside of the 8-ring. When I took his class he accidentally dropped a shot, making it theoretically possible to beat him and thus earn the signed $5 bill. Nobody did. I've wondered before how many autographed five-notes are out there.

Scott J said...

Rob, what's your average FAST time with the wheelgun?

I stink. I average low 7s with a 1911 from 7 yards.

It's been awhile since I did it with wheelgun but I think I was in the high 9s on average.

Tam said...

TBeck,

"Mas' "perfect score" is everything inside of the 8-ring. When I took his class he accidentally dropped a shot, making it theoretically possible to beat him and thus earn the signed $5 bill. Nobody did. I've wondered before how many autographed five-notes are out there."

He shot a 300/300 (596) or something like it this past June. Somebody got a fiver shooting a 586 and a perfect score, 300/300 (600), but Mas was running that Nighthawk pretty damn well that week. By contrast, my 300/300 (577) was, like, sixth or eighth overall, IIRC.

Scott J said...

Just realized I can share this here and this crowd will appreciate it.

Pulled this off last month. Mozambique from 7 yards with concealment. 3 flat, zero down.
pic that non-shooters don't get

No, not Vogel fast but I was proud of it.

RevolverRob said...

@ScottJ

My dryfire, no stress times, are down around 5-seconds. My livefire, high stress times, are about 7, my personal best was 6.89, I tend to however around 7.10.

I like to use the drill as a dryfire drill, simply because it has me practice at speed multiple components (draw, sight alignment, trigger, reload). After chatting with Todd about it he proposed bumping the par time to something close to 7 seconds. I keep my par time at 5, maybe someday I can break the mythical speed barrier and start getting really fast. It's only going to take more training and more repetitions...and more training.

-Rob

Steve Skubinna said...

That's why a pump shotgun is the only reasonable defensive firearm. For one thing, just jacking the slide causes the bad guys to make wee-wee and run away, and if you do have to shoot...

You Don't Need To Aim.

Scott J said...

Rob, do you use dummies or snap caps for the reload?

tweell said...

Pump shotguns do need aiming! You can cover a double-ought pattern with your hand at 15 yards.

RevolverRob said...

Scott,

A-Zoom aluminum snap caps.

-R

Steve Skubinna said...

tweell, I realize that everyone looks alike on the Internet, but it's Tam whose Indian name is "Tells Jokes to Aspies," not me.

Bram said...

No different with a rifle. I used to think I was hot stuff because I qualified Expert a few times in the Marines. Then shot next to some real shooters and had a giant serving of humble pie.

The fact is, I have a job, a limited ammo budget, and I'm not getting younger. So I will never be that good unless they give me rejuv drugs after I retire.

Anonymous said...

I remember well walking out of a Front Sight class about 30 minutes into the entertainment.
This was after being flagged by the "Head" instructor not once but three times in about 2 minutes.
The cry of "We don't give refunds ." was met with my retort of "That will narrow the gene pool."

Tango Juliet said...

Derp sells well.

That's how it is on the street.

Anonymous said...

"People talk about police handgun qualifications like they're hard; they're not."

and...

"I mean, compared to the average shooter on the public range, I shoot like a frickin' ninja, and then I go to a match or gun school and it's like going from watching Wheel Of Fortune to Jeopardy."


Dead on target. I don't feel qualified to do much more than keep practicing safely, but I got cops who come by our little home range-in-da-woods and ask me to help them get better qualification scores. For the record...I ain't no ninja or even a qualified anything. Just a dood who shoots more than average.

Every time I think I know what I'm doing, someone ups the apple cart and shows me the rotten ones at the bottom. But at the same time, it's nice to help people with more rotten fruit than me.

In defense of (some) bad cop shots: I think any state that makes a plainclothes trooper carry a concealed Glock 27 with a 9 pound trigger, should lose the lawsuit when a cop misses their intended target and hits mama bear instead. Their guns vs. my gun. Same model, same ammo, same targets but that trigger opened groups over a foot. It took weeks to unfuck those shots (new gun regs for them this year required the new trigger). Worst is they have to carry this same gun when off duty - no personal arms allowed anywhere but in their home. And this makes us safer, how?

Rant over.

Don said...

There's a lot of chatter about how lame the qualification for the new Illinois CCW is. And it's true, it's not a big challenge for the average shooter who competes a little; it's 30 rounds, ten each from 5, 7, and 10 yards, into an enormous B-27 silhouette. There are ranges where instructors have had problems using the B-27 because the range is concerned that qualifying hits on the silhouette could go into the floor when it's hung on their target holders. In fact, an instructor friend used me to demonstrate that the B-27 has a silhouette roughly the size of me--now about 6'2" in shoes and 270 pounds of rugged, yet vulnerable handsomeness--and thus actually larger than the average man (but not, I should point out, larger than the average mugger, who studies have shown is roughly 6'6" tall, weighs 320 pounds, knows Krav Maga and is most likely high on angel dust and PCP.)

It takes 70% of shots on the silhouette to pass, and there's no time limit. You can hit ten from five yards, ten from seven, and one shot from the ten-yard-line anywhere in the black will get you through.

But you have to remember that it serves the same purpose as the MAG qualifier (and I didn't shoot 300 on that, but in my defense, I know why.) In this case, there was a political negotiation between people who thought there should be no qualification or training requirement because principles, versus people who thought there should be an 80-hour law-enforcement course followed by a shooting match at which the top three finishers win the right to go before a police board to defend their need for a permit.
Our side mostly won, but there's some stuff that gets included just because it makes people feel better . . . and it makes them feel better because they don't have any idea how it works, and they can go back to their sponsors who have no idea how it works and claim victory. Yay democracy!

Goober said...

I guess I look at it differently.

Put me in an IDPA match, and I won't even make it past the first round.

Put me in a situation where I'v egot to fire my pistol to effect and defend myself against anyone less than an IDPA shooter, and I'm going to be in the 95th percentile.

I'm a really good water skiier. I impress my friends every summer with my ability to water ski like a boss.

Put me in a professional water skiing match and I'm going to look like a chump.

There is a difference between being good at something (say, 95th percentile) and being a professional at it (say, 99th percentile).

If 95 out of 100 times that i get into a gunfight, I am going to win because of my skill with a shooter, I can live with that. Since I'm not planning on being in any gunfights, and hopefully worst case scenario, only one, maybe, I think I can live with those odds.

I doubt I'm going to get sideways to the point of murder with any IDPA shooters anytime soon, and since I can shoot the center out of 4 oout of 5 clay pigeon targets at 50 yards with my pistol in a few seconds, I think I'm doing okay.

I don't have time top practice to IDPA standards because I don't shoot for a living, and also because I spend more time practicing with my rifle, because that's more important to me, anyway.

I kill several animals a year with my rifle. Chances are I'll never fire a pistol in anger, or even to effect, ever. So the rifle practice makes more sense.