Monday, August 08, 2016

You can't improve what you don't measure.

There are countless self-defense-oriented handgun classes out there these days that purport to teach you the skills required to use a handgun in a stressful life-or-death environment, or to take the pistol skills you already have and refine them or make them better.

In a distressing number of these classes, you will never shoot to a par time, have a score on a target tallied, be ranked against your fellow students or even assessed against your own performance at the start of the class.
A 271 on the Rangemaster Bullseye Course.
So how do you know you haven't just wasted several hundred dollars, several hours of your life, and several hundred rounds of ammunition? I mean, you can go shoot at the range on your own time and not get scored or graded and only be out the range fee. Sure, you think you've learned stuff, but can you demonstrate what you learned? Can you prove it?

"Well, there's no timer in a gunfight!"

No, but there's some guy trying to kill you and you need to make him stop before he gets finished doing it.

"There're no scoring rings on a bad guy!"

No, but there are a distressingly few square inches on a human body where a pistol bullet is going to have any noticeable effect in the space of seconds that we are talking about, here. As Tom Givens wryly put it this weekend, "Can shooting the guy in the stomach kill him? Sure, but probably not in your lifetime."

Mike Grasso's edge-on 2x4 hidden by a tee shirt starts to gain a whole new relevance when you think of it like that.

If the trainer is not grading your performance, is not measuring your skills against your peers and/or your own performance baseline at the start of the class, it's generally for one of two reasons:
  1. They're probably not as clueful as they think they are.
  2. They don't want to hurt the feelings of customers because that cuts down on repeat business and good word of mouth.
Sadly, the latter is as common as the former; it's the "Everybody Gets A Ribbon" culture as applied to gunfighting. Except everybody doesn't get a ribbon in a gunfight, unless you count a toe tag as a ribbon.