Practicing For The Fight

Gun games will get you killed! Sure they will. It is sad to say that this is a common opinion held on the interwebs. Somehow going out on a Saturday or two a month and getting a high volume of rounds on multiple targets, on a flat range that has been made as dynamic as safety will allow isn’t worth anyone’s time. We hear that fights don’t have rules or courses of fire. By shooting matches we are screwing ourselves by building in so called “Training Scars”. Now I do agree that practical shooting is not fighting and competitions are not places to learn how to fight in a dynamic situations, but what I really don’t agree with is that fights don’t have rules.

You’re a good guy, a “law / rule abiding citizen”. Because you are not a lawless dirt bag your actions in a fight will be regulated by Ethics and Morals. Not to mention Geography, Architecture, Tools and the Law of the Land. Every fight brings along it’s own set of rules, even if it‘s only one of the contestants that abides by the rules of Morals, Laws and Ethics. LEOs and the Military have procedures, Rule of Engagement, tactics, and training to better understand and exploit these rules. So we should also train to have these rules factor in and even hinder our decisions and options, thus making us work harder to produce a better outcome. This is where the square range falls short.

The truth is unless we are participating in some sort of Force on Force training we are being cheated from the actual fight experience. Think about it. Even in our defensive firearms classes we have range rules, drills, administrative procedures, range limitations, logistics and time restrictions. In a lot of respects it sounds like a match where we are not keeping score. Are the skills taught in these classes vital for self defense training? Hell yes! Should we immerse ourselves in defensive firearms tactics and manipulations? Also a resounding Hell Yes! We have training limitations which put us behind the proverbial 8 ball. We can’t safely recreate the fight so we must break our defensive skills down into drills, in which we can use to improve and document our progress. Practical firearms matches serve as a venue to forcibly put some of those skills to test.

Shooting stages that push our skill sets in areas we don’t want to practice or don’t have the necessary equipment to train with will  only be to our benefit. Matches may require weak hand shooting, shooting on the move, maybe shooting moving and even running targets. Those are skills that need to be practiced and perfected. I have yet to attend a self defense course that did not emphasize Strong or Weak Hand shooting as a vital self defense skill. Same goes with shooting on the move. So when we compete let’s not shrug off our poor performance by saying “it’s just a game” . If we take that attitude we are fooling ourselves into thinking that when our life is on the line magically those skills will be there, sorry gang they won’t be.

We all want to feel tough. We all want to think we can handle the gun like a boss. Most of us have found out that just because we attended a class or two doesn’t make us John McLane or even Bob Vogel. In fact one of the unwanted side effects of classes is we can get a false self image of our actual ability. Thinking we are more competent than we actually are is more dangerous than having a realistic self image of our ability. Shooting against others on a even playing field can check our egos in a hurry. I would rather know what shots I can make on command with my pride on the line and not the lives of my family, friends or myself.

Just try to remember to take the reps where you can get them. Most gunfights are short, violent and chaotic, so our skills most be as sharp as possible to prevail. Remember every gunfight is a competition, there are winners and losers. There is a time limit in gunfights, it’s just a unknown par time. Hits matter a lot. Most winners hit first. I’ll wrap this up by saying get good gear. Discipline yourself and dry fire. Learn to manage your mind and take the lessons competition will teach you. Attend defensive firearms training classes to learn weapon manipulation and tactics. Apply all the above, then dominate the fight.

Stay safe and click at the wall,

Tom Nelson