Defensive Shooting “Standards”

Defensive Shooting “Standards”

What is the context?
Nice group, mediocre group, or Heroic group? What is the context?

What is Good Enough?

Quite often in the learning curve of any new endeavor, and especially after the newness wears off, the new student will begin to inquire as to what level of competence will suffice for their needs; what is “good enough”.  Usually the answer entails entails something along the lines of, “well, what is your goal…right now?”  Then, the rest of the evaluation and answers develop from there.

What is the skill level of the shooter in reference to the featured picture?  What were the marksmanship, mechanical, and mindset problems for the shooter to manage?  Time, distance, distractions, the “goal”, shooter and/or target movement all matter to provide context.  This shot group, all be itself, tells very little.  What is the rest of the story?

I ran across this post, Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol from “Stuff from Hsoi” and wanted to summarize and share the high points with you.  There is quite a bit of detail about some of the evolutions of defensive shooting standards from some very well known trainers, some of their variants, along with the reasoning and pros/cons of developing “standards” in the first place.  This is certainly one of the many areas where I absolutely acknowledge that I am benefitting from the expertise, wisdom, and experience of others so that I might improve myself, and by extension, improve my students.

Read the whole article.

And this is just about the tactical part.  Remember, the best way to win a fight is to not be there…

Short version

  • “Standards” are more often than not of the “Minimum Competency” variety
    • Meaning that the “standard” described is the lowest level of skills competence; not usually indicative of anything else.
      • It never means that the learning can stop; especially if one desires to be more than able to perform the least amount of skill needed to complete the task.
    • And, standard compared to what?
    • Of course, the next step is evaluating the context of the standard.  Does this required skill relate to your likely situation?  Is it representative of something that you may very well have to do based upon statistics and experience of others who have, in fact, had to perform those skills?
  • There are numerous “Standards” published in the defensive shooting industry.  However, simply becoming proficient at all of them may not be the best training strategy for everyone.
    • How does this “standard” fit into your likely set of circumstances?  Do you really need to know how to perform a squad peel-back type of skill?  Will you have teammates that are similarly trained with you to even do this?  What is the purpose of this drill in the first place?  Etc.
    • On the one hand, if you prepare for an “All Hazards” event, and have the budget to acquire the related skills, then yes, they will be valuable to have in the skills resume.  “Gee, I wish I were only minimally competent to handle this life-threatening event”.  Said. No. One…EVER.
    • On the other, if you only have limited time and treasure to expend to acquire the most likely skills needed to defend yourself or loved ones from an impending threat scenario, then you most likely would want to prioritize the needed skills.  What’s Important Now?
  • It is helpful to know your level of ignorance.  You need to find out what you don’t know.  Don’t settle for some minimum “standard” just because some course of fire description is published from an administrative agency and has the word “Competent” somewhere in the title or description. Research and study the facts of violent incidents that reflect an environment that you may reasonably encounter.
    • In contrast, if someone like John Farnam, Tom Givens, and other top trainers use and modifies a simple course of fire that has withstood the test of time, then that might be something to seriously consider as a starting benchmark of proficiency.  Larry Nichols, former Rangemaster of Burbank PD, showed a version of the 5-5-2 Drill to John Farnam over 30 years ago, who in turn showed it to Tom Givens who modified it for his environment.  It was entitled the 3M Drill-Marksmanship, Movement, Mechanics.
  • Realize that your performance (decision making, marksmanship, gun handling, target identification, etc.) on a square range, with a known task at hand, with mental preparation to your advantage, under little true mental and physical stress will be much better than when you are scared, uncertain of the immediate task(s) or duration of same, wounded, and in the midst of deadly chaos.

Defensive Standards, Generally

  • Skills in the “What’s Important Now” category…for the civilian defender
    • Presentation (drawing a firearm) from concealment…and moving off the X while doing so.
    • Getting multiple, combat effective hits.
    • Making those hits on a 5″-8″ area of intended choice-look at the likely target area of an attacker.
    • From a close range that reflects statistical reality-0 to 7 yards.  A large car length-ish.
    • In a relatively short time span-3 seconds-ish.
    • With one OR both hands.  The other hand may be performing an equally important task; like holding a child out of  harms way…
    • Knowing, from your study and training, that this is only a starting point, but, nonetheless, it is a very good starting point goal to achieve.
  • It’s all about balance.  Balancing speed, precision, timing.

If you can shoot a ragged one hole group, but it takes you an inordinate amount of time to do so, your assailant will utilize that time to outfight you because you didn’t make the hits fast enough.  If your firing cadence sounds like full auto, but you miss your hits, then all you’ve done is wasted ammo and made noise…and your assailant will outfight you because you didn’t make the hits effective enough or at all.  “Standards” are all about reference points for the relevant set of circumstances.  Where you go from there depends upon what you want to accomplish.

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