We talk a little about me and how my life experience has formed my current outlook on training, inspiration, discipline, and doing the work. If you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and questioned why you keep trying even though you seem to suck at your hobby or sport, some of this should resonate with you.
I always used to listen to episodes of Ballistic Radio and think to myself, “Man, if I ever got on the air, I’d drop some real science and inspire some people…” being quite sure I’d never have the chance. Yet here I am. This audio file is getting put into the folder I have been building to leave to my son in the event I can’t be there when he’s old enough to hear this stuff.
Any time you ask a Subject Matter Expert (SME) about the shortcut to getting better, they will almost always include things like, ‘surround yourself with people who are better than you’, ‘If you find you are the biggest fish in your pond, it’s time to find a new pond’, and ‘Work on what you suck at’. These pieces of advice come from the guys you look up to when you’re getting started. And I would give the same advice. But honestly doing so for an extended period can be a very demoralizing and trying experience.
I embraced that concept completely when I started training in 2007. I have been pursuing the core skill sets since that time. It turns out the multidisciplinary approach to self defense has a lot of skills that require competitive spirit and drive. It requires Ego risk. If I’m going to stick with it, there is only the option of becoming comfortable with losing. Because losing is a daily trial.
If I’m doing it right, I’m boxing, grappling, shooting with, shooting at (with simunitions), and doing strength and conditioning with killers. I’m not a killer. I am just a dude who has been throwing myself to the wolves and losing over and over.
How do I weather that? Truth is, I can’t always. I get burnout. I haven’t shot a gun or posted to the blog since the Rangemaster conference in March mostly because I’ve been feeling inadequate and not worthy of my peer group. That’s real talk. I’ve been here before, where I swear I’ll quit if I have one more negative experience. When I get like this, I have to take a step back and evaluate how I’m thinking and approaching the problem. Here’s some ideas if you find yourself there. I’m working through it at the moment.
Take time off. Just unplug from stuff for a while. The fire will reignite.
Motivation is for beginners. Long term success requires discipline. Just show up.
Savor minor victories.
Remind myself that all of those SMEs have gone through the same thing, and maybe are even going through it at the same time. They’re people, despite how they appear online or in class. They’ve just had 20 more years practice at failing.
Remind myself I do this because it’s fun. Keep it playful. Make it fun again.
Work on another hobby for a while.
Performance plateaus are real, the breakthrough is around the corner.
Rather than focus on winning, pick a small facet of the discipline to sharpen. Don’t try to win the match, work on getting zero points down, or not shooting a no-shoot target. Don’t worry about tapping your opponent, focus on a part of your game that needs sharpening.
Reorient goals so they are internal rather than external. When I’m wrapped up focusing on an external goal (with an outcome I can’t control), it’s a downward spiral of frustration. I try to think of it like “Am I better than I was yesterday? Yes? Then you’re improving”.
The only thing you can truly control is how you Think about an issue. Nothing else is truly under your control, and losing is always a possibility.
It’s OK to suck. Most people suck more than you do. If you’re doing anything, you’re running laps around the guy on the couch. There is always a tougher, more skillful, smarter, younger, faster, stronger person. That’s the way of the Universe.
It’s OK to fail. Just have the discipline to start again.
In summary, surrounding yourself with people who make you look like an incompetent fool IS the fastest path to mastery, but it requires the fortitude to keep showing up and doing the work, regardless of how much you realize you suck.
It’s good to feel the fire again. Glad to be back.
John Farnam of Defense Training International gave a great presentation on gun accidents and safely living with guns this year at the Range Master Conference. I made it a priority to attend the old guard’s presentations (Ayoob and Farnam in particular) because I don’t want them to retire before I’m able to hear them lecture a few times.
Mr. Farnam has forgotten more about shooting and tactics than I’ll ever know. It’s a privilege to hear him speak. This topic is of great interest to me, being a protege of Claude Werner, the negative outcome guy. I’ve come to find out that Farnam got Claude thinking about this topic way back in the 90’s. So it was great hearing this material from the source.
I’ll type up my notes in shorthand bulleted form. All material is the property of Mr. Farnam, and I’m only sharing it to hopefully keep someone from negligently shooting something they don’t want to.
We are the most likely person to hurt ourselves with our guns. Why? Because we’re there.
Yes, guns are dangerous. Like a chainsaw. We accept that danger because it’s a useful tool.
We need to get rid of the word ‘safety’. It’s not the word, but the implication of the word.
“What can I do so nothing bad will ever happen to me?” What planet do you live on?
In times of change, learners will inherit the earth. Be a learner.
Once something is written down and canonized, it’s hard to change
From The Walking Dead (which John doesn’t watch)
-you KNOW how I feel about guns!!
-guns don’t care how you feel…
Into the ER ~75% are accidental self inflicted wounds. ~25% are suicide and attempts. and only ~1-2% are between two people on purpose.
Risk attaches itself to guns, our job is to manage that risk. Understand that risk also attaches to NOT owning guns.
In the end, the bacteria win anyway…
Good tactics doesn’t mean taking NO risk, it means minimizing and taking the best risk
There are two times we touch our guns:
-Administratively- At least 2 times a day, It must be adequately secured 100% of the time. Don’t let your gun get into unauthorized hands. If your gun is stolen and used in a crime, you can be held liable if you failed to secure it properly.
-Tactically- Using in defensive situation
The best place for your gun is on you and in your direct control, and it’s also the most useful place for it to be. When it’s not on, it must be secured.
“adequately secure” is an educated guess. John prefers to keep his pistol on the floor of the hotel room. No children in the room, and safer than on the night stand where you could paw at the trigger while half asleep. Have to evaluate your own situation.
Industry standard for trigger weight is 5-7#
Trigger too heavy? No practical accuracy (see NY2 12# triggers. Story: 2 cops shot 9 bystanders)
We don’t live in a nation of laws, but a nation of agendas. What control do we have? We must work within the agendas (laws) to make the most of it.
HOLSTERING is the MOST dangerous thing we do with our guns.
Appendix has distinct advantages, but be very careful holstering. Bow hips forward, look muzzle into holster mouth
Have a strong trigger finger register on the pistol frame.
Watch for students who have sloppy fingers. Not just the trigger finger, but middle and ring fingers during holstering.
Scenario based training has inherent safety risks, but it is so valuable that we accept those risks and try to have robust safety protocols.
Biggest safety issue is ‘condition based gun handling’. “Oh but this gun is unloaded” (as he muzzles everyone in the room). Treating guns differently by the ostensible condition of the gun.
Safe ranges are bullshit
Cooper- Guns are guns, we don’t do condition based handling.
Notes on the fundamental rules
“All guns are always loaded” \
Guns have to be pointed somewhere, choose the best thing to catch a bullet that’s around. Take the best risk
“only place your finger on the trigger when you are prepared to shoot” or “Only touch the trigger when your sights are indexed on the target and you’ve made the decision to fire… right now”
“be sure of your target…” Being SURE will never let you get anything done. You probably will point the gun at innocent people, despite your best efforts
This is the first of several posts that will be a summary of my notes from the Range Master Tactical Conference. All material belongs to the presenters and I am posting my notes for the benefit of the greater body of knowledge available to those who couldn’t make it.
Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs of Hardwired Tactical gave an excellent lecture and range session that is spun off from their previous lecture “Training Secrets of Highly Successful Gunfighters”.
“Train for maximum efficiency at an assessment speed on an acceptable target” -HiTS
Assessment speed-The speed at which you can see, interpret, and choose where to hit a target. Asking yourself, “is my target still there? No? Stop Shooting. Yes? Keep shooting”
Acceptable target- Is a target about the size of a grapefruit – period (The black of a B-8 bullseye target) Heart and brain are both about this size.
Always be thinking you’ll need a failure drill (ending with a headshot) and practice with that in mind.
Why should we shoot faster than we can assess and faster than we can stop? You want to go fast? Then go ‘street fast’.
Draw but don’t touch the trigger until you have a good sight track. This isn’t good for shooting, but it’s good for people management.
Don’t touch the trigger until you have satisfied these three. Target ID, Objective reason to shoot, and your firearm is aligned with that shoot target.
Let’s be right before we touch the trigger.
“Advanced Shooting” is just more difficult problems applying the same fundamentals
They like the overhand rack method to solve multiple problems with the gun.
Train what is hard (50 and 100 yd pistol shooting, for instance)
Train to an accuracy standard, not a time.
Application of lethal force – The only thing going through your head should be front sight, press, follow through
You WILL be able to see movement of your target peripherally while maintaining a hard focus on your sights. Use your sights.
All you REALLY need in a carry gun is sights I can see, a usable trigger, and reliability
Revolvers still work.
If you’re slower than .3 second splits, practice shooting faster
If you’re faster than .2, you don’t need to concentrate on shooting faster
There is almost never a need to perform a slidelock or speed reload
Move at ‘natural human speed’ (the speed that your hands move to catch a sneeze), don’t be spazzy.
LAPD trains to a .5 second split time
It takes about .3 seconds to stop shooting once you’ve decided to
If your splits are faster than .3 seconds, you’ll fire unintentionally until the signal to stop makes it to your hands. (force science)
(Poor Audio. This is Dobbs talking about force science research about the time it takes to stop shooting)
Range and Drills
Ken Hackathorn – Super Test (On b8 from low ready). The Advanced ST is shot from holster, same par times. A good score is 270
15 yds, 10 rounds, 15 seconds
10 yds, 10 rounds, 10 seconds
5 yds, 10 rounds, 5 seconds
Single shot from holster. x ring accuracy standards
5 single shots from a low ready at 7 yds (A legit ready, aimed below the ‘feet’ of your target)
5 doubles from low ready at 7 yards. (10 shots)
These drills are critical for grip, sight usage, trigger control, and follow-through
Don’t give them a free chance. Sight alignment should improve as you progress through a string of fire. Sights/Slack/Hit?(give it about 2 seconds of assessment, don’t snatch it back unless you perceive a slide lock or malfunction)
5yds, 5 rounds, 5 seconds on a 5″ circle
3rds, 3 rnds, 3 seconds from holster with a sidestep