Tag Archives: Range Life

SKILLS: Chasing Time

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“The very first step to shooting fast is not to go fast at all but to literally stop the gun!” Steve Tarani explains all that next… READ ON

tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

As a sworn deputy and later a federal employee, it was incumbent upon those of us carrying firearms to qualify with those weapons, meeting the minimum standard as set by that agency or department.

Technically speaking, you could squeak by your in-service qualification with a barely-passing score. However, to the rest of the team you’d be considered a second-rate schmuck if you didn’t hit close to that perfect score. The boys might let you slide if you were down one or two points, but any more than that was considered pedestrian, and you’d pay the price of choking on a giant mouthful of humble pie.

TO TOP QUAL OR NOT TO TOP QUAL
To keep your qualification scores near, or at the top, you must maintain your skills.

To do that, you need to train.

Whether defensive tactics or shooting, all physical (hard) skills are perishable. Although we would like to think that we would rise to the occasion, it was the ancient Greek philosopher Archilochus (680 to 645 BC) who said, “We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

As state employees, we were subjected to, what one of my esteemed colleagues refers to as, “institutionalized inbreeding” — that which is taught by rote from generation to generation of department/agency — without question or personal edification. “Son, this is the way we’ve done things since the last world war.”

As an employee you are required to adhere to the institutionalized system.

TRAIN TO MAINTAIN
Again, if you want to maintain your current skills you must train — you don’t have another choice in the matter.

If you want to raise your skill level above the standards set by your organization, you need to step outside the proverbial box and seek outside instruction.

Receiving outside instruction can expand your knowledge base and raise your level of understanding, which, in turn will eventually help raise your level of performance.

TRAINING OTB
Recalling one of my first ventures outside the box, my instructor, Rob Leatham, asked me point blank, “What do you want from this training?” My response was, “To shoot faster and be more accurate.” To which he replied, “Don’t we all!”

After much contemplation, trial and error, sweat, blood, tears, and countless rounds, it turns out the very first step to shooting fast is not to go fast at all but to literally stop the gun! Hailing from an institutionalized training perspective, this was a completely foreign concept.

Ensconced in systemic protocol, we were programmed to “beat the clock” and indoctrinated with “Your passing score is 80%” dogma. Passing the qualification test (QUAL) meant you had to complete each string of fire meeting a par time. So, what was our mental approach to shooting? Chasing time.

PARADIGM SHIFT
Stepping out of the box also meant a paradigm shift in our mental approach to shooting. The goal was to be a better shooter. Whereas, inside the box, the goal was to pass the qual. Two very different mission objectives.

Back in the box, the range master would bark out commands for the next string of fire. “Shooters on the line, facing down range at the ten-yard line, deliver two rounds to the body in two seconds from the holster — stand by.”

Outside the box, you might here something like, “At ten yards, I want you to guarantee placement of two rounds in the “A” box of the body from the holster. No time.” If you can’t complete that task on demand minus a par time, then you have no right to be on a clock. Weak performance does not warrant measurement.

Inside the box we tried to “be better” but that translated to going faster. We tried hard to beat the clock. “Trying harder” meant chasing time.

BUT FIRST, SKILL
On the outside, the training objective is to develop your skill to complete the task. Once you can do this, on demand, and without error, then you have gained that skill. Only after you’ve gained that skill, can it be measured.

Outside the box, time is a measurement of skill.

Inside the box, skill is a measurement of time.

Let’s take this task:shoot a five-round drill:

All rounds inside the “A” box…
…at ten yards
…from the holster
…in under a three second par time

You have at least two diverging training approaches. One, is to really “try hard” to hammer those five rounds into the “A” box under three seconds. Running the same drill over and over again “trying harder,” you either drop a round or two or fail to meet par time. Either way your only remediation is to “try harder.”

Using this training approach, you chase time.

The other is to put your timer away for a while, and train to guarantee placement of your first round, then guarantee placement of your first and second round, then your first, second and third round. Who cares if it takes you seven or even ten seconds — you’re developing a new skill!

tarani timer

Training with the “get your hits and forget about time” approach, eventually you will develop the skill to guarantee all your hits. Each time you train, you consistently put all your rounds right where you want them — not by luck or by chance, but by repeatable performance.

Over time this becomes more comfortable. Eventually you develop confidence in your newfound abilities.

The day you feel comfortable and confident in your performance of that task, is the day you can dust off your timer and take a measurement of your skill.

To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:

HandToGun.com

SteveTarani.com

About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.

 

SKILLS: Dry-Fire Practice With Lasers

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Not everyone agrees on laser sights for handgun defensive use, but Kyle Schmidt thinks it’s a great training tool. READ WHY AND HOW

SOURCE: Team Springfield,  by Kyle Schmidtlaser sightAlthough some people seem to disagree on whether or not a laser on a pistol is a “good” aiming device for self-defense shooting. One thing about them is undeniable: lasers are a great training tool.

Occasionally, when I am training friends, clients, or co-workers how to shoot, I will attach a laser to their gun to help them better understand some basic shooting concepts.

Before using the laser though, I like to make a target that has multiple areas to aim at with some level of contrast so it is easier to identify exactly where the laser is aimed.

LASER TARGET TIME
I make a dry practice target out of 2 USPSA targets. I use USPSA targets because they are different colors on each side. USPSA targets have an upper head with an A and B-zone and a body with A, C, and D-Zones. You will need a razor or a pair of scissors. You will only cut one of the targets, the other will remain intact. For simplification, we will refer to the target that we are cutting as Target 1 and the target which will remain intact as Target 2.

TARGET 1 CUTS:
Cut out the A-zone of the head (upper target zone).
Cut the C-zone out of the target. The body A-zone is included in this cut. Be careful to leave the head attached (don’t cut off the head); You need to razor / cut under the perforations while trimming near the head.

Target 1 should now have two big holes in it; one where the A-zone head was and one where the body C and A-zones were.

Cut the body A-zone out of the C-zone piece you previously removed (Step 2). Keep the body A-zone, but discard the left over C-zone piece.

COMBINE TARGETS:

target 1

Stage Target 2 with the shoot side (tan side) facing up.
Stage Target 1 with the no-shoot side (white side) facing up.
Place what remains of Target 1 on top of Target 2.

This should make a white colored target in the D and B-zones, with the tan colored target in the C and head A-zones. Use small pieces of white tape to tape the top, bottom and sides of the two targets together.

This is your new Laser Target 1.

ALMOST DONE:

target 2

Flip the targets over so Target 2 (white side) is facing up. Place the tan colored side of the body A-zone (that you cut from Target 1, step 4) on top of Target 2 A-zone. If you have trouble lining up the A-zones, you can push a small push pin through the diagonal corners of the A-zone on Target 2. Use the push pin holes to align the corners of the body A-zone.

To finish the dry practice target off, I add a one-inch black square piece of tape to the center of the corresponding scoring zone. I like to measure the center of the C-zone’s height, as the perforated “A” is NOT the center of the A-zone.

This is your new Laser Target 2.

Now you should have one practice target that has 5 distinctly noticeable scoring zones; A-zone body, A-zone head, entire head, C-zone body, and the entire target. Additionally, you have a one-inch black piece of tape on each side of the target.

ATTACH AND ZERO LASER
Before you begin your laser dry practice, attach and zero the laser at the distance you plan to practice. This is critical for some of the drills we are going do with the laser. (Check out sights HERE.)

Here is how I zero the laser for dry practice:

Choose your distance and target.
Point / aim gun at specific spot on target.
Line up the fixed notch and post sights on target.
Adjust the dot (from the laser) so it is 1) centered (left and right) on the front sight and 2) the front sight covers half of the dot (up and down). Only the top half of the dot will be visible.

Because the laser is mounted so far below the fixed sights, the laser will need to be realigned with the sights if you want to try a drill at a different distance.

HOLDING / AIMING LASER DRILL
When I was writing this, I had just returned from Camp Perry where I was learning about shooting the sport of Bullseye. This is the ultimate challenge in fundamental pistol accuracy. It requires execution of some of the most fundamental techniques required for extreme accurate pistol shooting. If you are not familiar, all of the strings of fire are shot with your strong hand only, at 25 yards and 50 yards, on a target with the 10-ring measuring just under 2.5 inches. Bullseye, in short, is a very difficult shooting discipline.

One of the things I noticed as I am trying to shoot the 50-yard line strings is how much my gun is moving (or appears to be moving) compared to the center of the target. This is not only a problem in bullseye shooting, it is just greatly magnified due to the distances.

A shooter must know what their ability to “hold” on a target is, with varying degrees of difficulty. One of the best ways to test this is with a laser, and generally, it is easiest to see the laser in reduced lighting. Try this “holding” drill:
Get your Laser Target 1 — with the C-zone side visible.
Set the target up at the distance of your choice, let’s say 15 yards for this example.

With the laser turned off, use the iron sights to aim in the center of the C-zone. Make note of how stable the gun is while you are aiming in the middle. We are not pressing the trigger yet, only aiming the gun.

Now turn on the laser and shift your focus to the laser’s dot on the target. Make note of how stable the dot is on the target while you are aiming. It’s probably moving around more than you would think or like.

Try to keep the dot inside the C-zone — hopefully this is fairly easy. It should be readily apparent when the dot leaves the C-zone and enters the white background of the D-zone on the dry practice target.

When you can easily do this, flip the target over to use Laser Target 2, and repeat the drill.

First steady the dot in the body’s A-zone.

Once you are able to keep the dot in the A-zone of the body, move up to the head and see if you can “hold” the dot in the head reliably. This may not be as easy as it seems.

Once you have mastered the entire head, move to the head’s A-zone (on Laser Target 1).

Finally, test your hold on the 1-in. black square of tape.

target 3

You can continue to experiment at different distances to see how well you can hold in the different scoring zones.

WHY DOES HOLDING MATTER?
Quite simply, if you can’t “hold” or keep the gun aimed in a particular target zone, it is unlikely that your bullet will impact the desired scoring zone reliably.

You can use this dry practice tip to determine if you are improving your ability to keep the gun steadily aimed in the intended target area.

HERE is a great laser sight!