Stop practicing shooting – response

This excellent article was posted recently on the Street Standards blog.

It lists 25 things an armed person needs to be good at to be well prepared for armed self-defense.

  1. You have to be focused enough to avoid potentially bad places, events, etc.
  2. You have to have a gun with you.
  3. You have to be aware enough of your surroundings to notice that something isn’t right.
  4. You have to assess what’s not right to determine if it’s a threat.
  5. You have to – in real time – decide if it’s a deadly force threat.
  6. You have to act on the threat.  Most people freeze or don’t believe what’s actually happening.  You have to employ appropriate tactics such as moving, sheltering a loved one, etc.  Of course you have to be aware of your environment to make the best  choice here (see 1. above).
  7. You have to give appropriate instructions to anyone with you.
  8. You have to access your weapon in time.
  9. You have to employ effective challenging techniques, if appropriate.
  10. You have to track the BG’s movements in real time – we’re talking fractions of a second here – to understand what he’s really doing at that exact fraction of a second.
  11. You have to track what’s behind the BG so you don’t potentially hit an innocent.
  12. You have to be aware of anyone else in the area with a gun who might mistake you for a BG with a gun.
  13. If you have to shoot, you have to hit the BG, preferably COM.
  14. You have to track the just-shot BG to make sure his weapon is out of reach and prevent same weapon from falling into the hands of his buddies or a bystander.
  15. You have to communicate effectively with the now-shocked/hysterical bystanders to keep them safe, let them know what just happened, and make it clear that you – the guy that just shot someone – is in fact a good guy.
  16. You have to get yourself and loved ones to safety.
  17. You have to get your gun out of sight.
  18. You have to call 911 while making it clear that you are the good guy.  Included in  that call, among other things, has to be a description of you so that responding cops know who you are.  You want to do this yourself for what I hope are obvious reasons.  Also of course, you have to know everything else to say and what to include in this critical call.
  19. You have to initiate first aid to any innocent injured.
  20. You have to make sure you’re not shot by responding police.
  21. You have to know how to interact with responding police: how to act, what to say, what not to say, etc.
  22. You have to call your lawyer.  Do you know who’ll you’ll call?  Bail will come later.
  23. You have to call your spouse, partner, parents, whomever, if they aren’t with you to let them know you’re OK and won’t be home for dinner.  Or maybe for a few days.  And to let them know that the press will soon be pounding on their door.  And how to handle that, if you haven’t already discussed it.
  24. You have to call some trusted, competent third party to go and be with your spouse, partner, whomever to help them through this stressful time and to deal with the jackals in the press.
  25. You have to be able to articulate a clear self-defense case to your attorney.  This assumes that you know what those elements are, and what things (witnesses, etc.) need to be tracked down pronto because they will disappear in short order.

The author then points out that very few firearms courses address any of those items except #13.

There are a few national programs that cover more of the items on that list: Craig Douglas’ Managing Unknown Contacts class, Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 classroom course being two of the best known.  KR Training is one of a handful of fixed-location schools that have offered force-on-force and scenario based training for decades, along with InSights Training, Tactical Defense Institute, Firearms Academy of Seattle, Modern Warrior, and other more recently established schools like Lone Star Medics and QSI Training. Other fixed facilities offer live fire scenario based classes using shoot houses, including Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, and the Alliance facility.

In the 1990s the National Tactical Invitational event included a full simulation “village” with multiple interactive roleplayers that covered the entire spectrum of those 25 elements in a way that no other training class or event open to the private sector ever had.  The logistics of running that type of event are significant and since NTI stopped doing it, no one else has attempted anything similar.

The reality of the firearms training “industry” is that the popularity of scenario based classes, particularly FOF, is tiny compared to the demand and appeal of high round count live fire classes. There’s a significant Dunning-Kruger element involved. (I discuss Dunning-Kruger and related topics in this section of my Beyond the One Percent series).  It’s easier to believe that you’ll always make the right decision under stress, and avoid opportunities to validate that hypothesis, than it is to risk having that confidence crushed by making a mistake in a scenario in a class. It’s no different than the D-K element that keeps 99% of gun owners/permit holders from going to any kind of training beyond state minimum. Going to a class with higher standards makes it impossible to insist that they “shoot good enough”. At least on the live fire side, poor shooting is something people know can be fixed with practice — and the infrastructure and tools to do that practice are well understood and available. Becoming better at all the non-shooting aspects of scenarios is harder to measure and harder to train for on your own. But it’s important, and you should seek that training out.  Reality is that the majority of negative outcomes that occur to gun owners are failures of actions prior to the shooting part of the incident, and/or mistakes made after the incident is over.  Even though proficiency is a frequently cited issue (or problem) in law enforcement shootings, draw speed or even precision of hits are almost never cited as the primary cause of a bad outcome in an armed citizen incident. This recent Growing Up Guns post is a great summary of information about training needs.

Some of those elements, particularly 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 15 can be incorporated into live fire training in mobile classes, and many trainers that offer traveling courses do include those elements.  They aren’t present in the standard type of practice most people do, which is standing in one spot shooting one target in a cramped lane at an indoor range, though. 

Those looking for training that incorporates more of those 25 elements should look at the trainers and courses I’ve listed above, or just compare the curriculum of any course they plan to take against it, as a good way to assess the value of the training.  Those topics are woven throughout many of the courses in our 40 hour Defensive Pistol Skills program (made of multiple short courses offered throughout the year) and the state-certified/state developed Active Shooter/School Safety program (particularly our version of it which expands the curriculum to include additional exercises beyond the state minimum).