Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stealing content from an away game...

From a discussion of the phrases "there is no timer in a gunfight" and "competition will get you killed" elsewhere:

The following is based on a real conversation that is taking place on at least one range somewhere in America even as I type this, guaranteed:

Shooter A: "Hey, dude, I noticed something about your reload. I learned this thing at this class that should shave a good half..."

Shooter B: "Piss off! Hardcore McFaceshooter* says there is no timer in a gunfight!"

Shooter A: "Oh, uh, hey, cool. You've taken a class from Hardcore McFaceshooter? I've been meaning to take one from him myself."

Shooter B: "Nah, I read where he said it on the internet."
I get the meaning behind it. I will probably never be really fast at "shoot house" type stages in run 'n' gun games because of it.

But: Other than perhaps "Slow Is Smooth And Smooth Is Fast", no other single aphorism has been used to justify more mediocrity and lack of meaningful improvement by the unwitting than "There is no timer in a gunfight."

*Only partially tongue-in-cheek: I used that to distinguish from some trainers I've heard use that line that made me have to bite my tongue to keep from replying "How the #@%$ would you know what there was in a gunfight?" On the other hand, there are people in that thread who tell me that there isn't a timer in a gunfight, and I believe them, because they went and checked. 


Don said...

" . . . 'cause they went and checked."

I love it.

Laughingdog said...

Living in Hampton Roads, it's not uncommon for me to shoot matches with a lot of guys who went and checked on whether there's a timer in a gun fight. Unexpectedly, they don't have the same concerns about competitive shooting as the Tactical Timmy types.

Personally, my attitude on gunfights has been that your par time for the scenario is the time it would take them to deal a fatal blow to you.

sobriant74 said...

Don beat me too it, that comment made me snort my tap water.

"They went and checked"

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Frankly, that footnote is the funniest thing in the whole post.

Which goes along with a prof I once had telling me that the footnotes are more important than the main text...

JustSomeGuy said...

sobriant74, snorting your tap water? So it has begun.



Anonymous said...

Totally stolen quote that also puts it in perspective.

There is no timer in a gunfight, but there is another dude with a gun and he's probably in a hurry!


Scott J said...

I've never gone and checked and pray I never have to but you have to have *some* yardstick to measure performance other than survival since competition isn't life or death.

I used to think accuracy was absolute king and worked on making teeny groups out to 7 yards and staying minute of gallon jug out to 100 all while standing still and taking very careful aim.

I'd occasionally try a little double action to make sure I could at least stay minute of torso with it but it wasn't as fun as teeny groups so I spent more time chasing that.

Then I discovered IDPA in February 2011. There was moving and target transitioning and non-textbook shooting positions with an audience under time pressure. I was and remain hooked and now almost 4 years later I think I'm a far better shooter than I was before and I'm still just a Marksman.

Considering that I've not shot a match since July I suspect I'm really gonna stink it up this coming Saturday. But I'll still learn something. I do almost every match.

Angus McThag said...

No timer in a gunfight...

No gunfight at a match...

Corey for the win.

I remember my reload as fast as you can to get a base line and I was fastest in the class for launching a Glock 21 magazine up over my right shoulder; having missed the gun completely when I slammed it "home"...

I got some points from the teacher for grabbing my other magazine and loading that one. He used me as an example of things can go wrong in unexpected ways.

Motor-T said...

If your gunfight philosophy has to fit into soundbite size.

Competition isn't a gunfight. But a gunfight is a competition.

Unknown said...

Heh. went and checked - most excellent. I've never had anyone throw that particular bit of wisdom at me - about timers in gunfights.

Other things you don't have in a gun fight (No, I haven't gone and checked.)
Time to warm up, or time to practice.
Targets that don't shoot back (well one assumes. If they're not shooting back - does it really count as a gun fight?)

So perhaps the only valid practice for a gun fight would be... A gunfight?

The timer is not there to simulate a gunfight. It's there to keep you from lying to yourself about how much all that practice you thought about doing, but never got around to, really helped.

Matt said...

Pet Peeve. Why is it that some people, on gun ranges or bowling alleys will walk up to perfect strangers and comment on their game and offer advice not asked for? To me, inserting oneself into someone elses recreation like that is the height of rudeness. Unsafe acts should always be taken up, but otherwise butt out.

That said, I don't know why anyone would not want to reload as fast and smoothly as possible and from behind cover.

Tam said...


"Why is it that some people, on gun ranges or bowling alleys will walk up to perfect strangers..."

Pet Peeve: People who don't read my mind and assume that "Shooter A" and "Shooter B" in my example are "perfect strangers" and not guys who've been shooting at the same club or range long enough that they're on a first name basis and are definitely acquaintances, if not special buddies or whatever. ;)

Lewis said...

What does Rick Taylor have to say about this? He's my guru. I done seen the vids.

Matt said...

The language seemed way to polite to be buddies. But then, I don't have any polite buddies.

I don't read minds, print is to small and the lighting is poor.

Tam said...


"I don't read minds, print is to small and the lighting is poor. "

There's not much in here worth reading, anyway; trust me, I looked. :D

Steve Skubinna said...

The very first thing you do in a gunfight is shoot the timer, if there is one.

Everyone knows that.

Ed said...

I have never been in a gun fight, but I imagine that the perception of time would be distorted, as with most events that cause a massive dump of adrenaline to your system.

Timer use in practice is useful if the application of the expression "You get what you measure" benefits the activity and time is relevant. Is being able to accurately respond to a threat in a timely manner useful? Yes. Can you improve on your performance to such a challenge? Probably, with practice and proper feedback on your performance - i.e. are you becoming quicker and more accurate? Knowing that you can do it is reassuring.

One thing that you cannot time is level of preparedness, mindset and situational awareness. I like what Rory Miller had to say on the topic:

"It is better to avoid than to run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than to fight; better to fight than to die. The very essence of self-defense is a thin list of things that might get you out alive when you are already screwed."

Unknown said...

An afterthought... On the aphorism: Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

If taken in the right context it's actually true.

The idea, at least according to people race for a living (not me) is: abrupt inputs to controls upset the car (true), which make your laps slower (true). So, slow down, learn to be smooth, let practice and repetition build the speed of the inputs with out screwing up the smoothness.
Sadly - it never seems to be taken that way. Which indicates the phrase is broken more than the idea behind it.

Timers in gunfights - is just broken thru and thru. :)

Mike said...

I haven't been in a gun fight, but everybody I know who has assure me that there is in fact a timer in a gun fight. And you're running against a par time.

alex. said...

Bill Jordan, who had a bit of experience killing people who were trying to kill him, said of such gunplay, "Take your time, fast".

Tam said...

"Bill Jordan, who had a bit of experience killing people who were trying to kill him..."

I've heard both yes and no on that. (...and festina lente dates to Roman times: 'Make haste slowly'. ;) )

alex. said...

My source is Ayoob, who wrote that Jordan killed a few (the number escapes me) while with the Border Patrol, and quite a few as a Marine in WWII. Neither in No Second Place Winner, nor in any magazine articles he wrote, do I remember Jordan ever discussing killing people.

That sets him apart from fellow Border Patrol alumnus Charlie Askins, who enjoyed telling all hands how many folks he had had the pleasure of terminating. He once bragged that he was the first to kill a man with a .44 Magnum. He bagged a Viet Minh in Indochina while tiger hunting.

rremington said...

I always like the saying "The faster you finish a gunfight, the less you will get shot"

Anonymous said...

I don't know about gunfights, but thinkin' back I'd have to say that firefights last just a few minutes longer than forever. ;^)

Paul said...

Never in a gun fight, but a few fight fights. They we all over quick. Won more that I lost. I don't fight for fun anymore, but it will be over quick if you need the skill.

Skip said...

The reload can be done in time, if you have found cover.

Kristophr said...

I prefer to have others do this gunfight thing for me.

And I encourage them to outnumber the other guys, and generally fight unfairly.

I keep guns around in case I screw up and am unable to get a herd of police to do this chore for me.

JohnnyCarcinogen said...

"Slow is smooth and smooth is fast" works. If you have the time to train constantly. When I was doing that 11B thing, and I wasn't mopping floors or supervising mopping floors, we'd do MOUT training in the barracks. We'd always start with several very boring walkthroughs, and then moved on to half speed, and so on. Eventually, we got it down to the point that we were fast and smooth.

We never did get around to operating operationally, though. :(

staghounds said...

But there is always enough time to get shot. (Para from Ron White)

I have yet to see an activity where ANY kind of practice or competition doesn't improve "real world" performance.

Including mopping.

Taylor proved a century ago that there are some techniques that are better than others for improving efficiency in physical tasks.

WV Willmany repetitions make you fas

Reno Sepulveda said...

Close range and 18 rounds makes up for a hell of a lot of mediocrity. Especially when the two goons only brought one knife to the gunfight.

GMC70 said...

There's no timer in a gunfight?

How do you know?

There is a timer. But you're not aware of it; your opponent holds the clock, and it's ticking, and you can't know when your time has run out.

Faster is always better than slower.

og said...

Aint no socks in sumo either, but damn, those floors are cold.

RAH said...

Heinlein said" get the first shot off fast,that rattles the guy enough to make the second shot accurate."

Tam said...

Heinlein should stick to advice on writing science fiction. ;)

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.
Wyatt Earp

Don said...

Wasn't that a Heinlein *character,*, anyway, not Heinlein hims--oh. Never mind.

mustanger said...

When writing a "high noon" duel, Louis Lamour's version was that the tinhorn, trying to be fast, would put the first round in the dirt between them. The experienced gunfighter took a little extra time and made his first shot count.

The sudden attack... the ambush... the "dry gulching"... is a different story. The defense is not "fast draw" as it's thought of, but rather fast response.

In competition, you win or lose and go home. In a gunfight, you survive or die, and hopefully go home.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people mistake the intent of "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast." It's not intended to advocate shooting slowly when you need to shoot quickly, but rather for the beginning or novice shooter to slow down and focus on the proper technique rather than trying to keep up with the more experienced shooters' speed. It's meant for learning skills, not for gunfighting or winning matches.

When I first started pistol shooting, there were a lot of high-speed IPSC guys and face-shooters at my local range. Being a young lad, I wanted to be as good as they were, and they shot FAST. So, I tried to keep up with their speed, and never hit anything. So one of those high-speed dudes told me to slow down, get my hits, and speed will develop naturally as I built muscle memory. Then he summed it up by saying "Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast."

Eventually, I got to the point where I could start to push my speed without degrading my accuracy quite as much. Eventually, if you want to get faster, you have to push 'till the wheels come off. But if you start out doing that, you'll never get any more accurate. You can't miss fast enough to win a match or a fight.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Yeah, I use the "slow is smooth and smooth is fast" line on newbies at work, right along with the hoary cliches of "Quality is more important than quantity" and "Do it right, and the speed will come." Not on the experienced folks who know what they're doing, mind, but the brand new hires who've never donned gloves and PPE and worn themselves out with hard work.

I am not talking about gunfights, or shooting competitions, as I don't do getting shot at or sustained amounts of shooting. I'm covering driving 5-ton machinery for the first time or learning the processes that we pay the men and women good money to do right every time, at a high rate after the learning curve.

I also pull phrases from aviation, like "the most dangerous times when you're learning to drive this PIT are when you first start and don't know enough to handle the machine, and just after you think you have a handle on it. To quote Han Solo, 'Don't get cocky, kid.'"

Tam said...

"I think a lot of people mistake the intent of "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.""

Because of the way its phrased, its hard for people not to.

I understand what it is saying. Like a commenter above mentioned, I heard it in the context of racing motorcycles back when Clint Smith was still working for H&K.