Ralph Mroz liked my article!

Ralph Mroz liked my article about expertise, where I discussed some of the things Tom Givens said about who is qualified to have an opinion in a technical field.


…and he and Tom Givens made some interesting comments as followups, too.    In particular the important question: “What constitutes “experience” in a civilian context?”

This is one of the things that I’ve talked about before, regarding military or law enforcement “experience” when talking about people who are qualified to teach citizen CCW courses–which Tom Givens discussed also, and I mentioned in my original article.

Mr. Mroz brings up an important point also, which is:
“No one has had enough statically valid experience, accounting for all the variables, in lots of different kinds of environments.  Therefore, no one’s experience is universally extrapolateable.”

…in other words, if your instructor is telling you “this is how it is, because it happened to me like this” then he’d better be talking to you ONLY about a situation that matches exactly what happened to him.  Chances are, if he is talking that way, he’s actually trying to generalize based on his experience—and that may not be germane to your situation.

There’s a reason why paying attention to the current research in the field is incredibly important—it is the only way to get a large enough dataset to actually draw supported conclusions.  (Put it this way:  If your self-defense instructor has been in enough self-defense situations to create a large dataset, do you WANT to do what he’s doing?  Why in the world has he been in so many self-defense situations?!)   This doesn’t make it EASY to draw conclusions (sometimes the research doesn’t cover what you need it to cover, so their conclusions aren’t valid for what you want), but conclusions drawn from large datasets are simply more robust in terms of removing the “we succeeded due to luck or incompetence on the part of the criminal, but we think it is because our technique was so good” responses.

I’ll note the “this worked for me once, so it is the right answer, and it’ll work for you” occurs a lot in unarmed self-defense classes, too.  Unfortunately, sometimes concepts taught for that reason can also catch on and become well-known, because most people will never NEED to find out if it’ll really work.

I personally hope that none of my students ever have to test whether or not what I’ve taught them is going to work.  At the same time, though, I try to make VERY sure that what I’m teaching them is as effective, realistic, and as practical as I can make it–because if they need it, it is going to be IMPORTANT.


Ignorance and the Internet, Part II…

In the continuing saga of “people making things up, assigning them to other people, and then attacking them for the things they’ve made up and assigned to other people” along with the serving of “making comparisons that people don’t make, and then saying those comparisons are wrong” we have yet another person attacking competition shooting as something that will get you killed.    (This article also showed up on war-doll.com, which should also tell you something.)

As before (in Ignorance the Internet Part I), the original article will be in italics, and my words will be in standard font.  As as before:  I don’t know “Shaun A” who is the author of the nonsense I am responding to (though I do know a bit about what he does currently to pay the bills, but I’m going to leave that out of this) so I don’t know his skill level, what he is like as a person, etc.  I’m just responding to what he said in his article.  I note also that I’m quoting his article directly, so any typos, grammatical errors, etc, are what he wrote.

“Competiton shooting vs the two way range:”

If you are going to be attacking something, you should probably at least spell it right.  Ok, I won’t make any more snarky comments about typos.  (Since I’ll probably make some myself.)  But seriously, you should at least be able to type your title correctly.

“A disturbing trend has recently developed in the tactical world.  Sequenced matches against a shot timer have started to set the bar for how gunfighting is taught.  As the 3-gun sport starts to evolve, the art of gunfighting is being lost.”

The problem shown here (and the main problem throughout his ENTIRE ARTICLE) is that his premise is simply wrong.  I can’t think of a single trainer (literally, none) who think that drills on a timer does anything but teach shooting skills, and none of them think shooting skills = gunfighting.  In a similar fashion, I can’t think of anyone (trainer or competitor) who think that 3-Gun (or Multigun) competitions teach gunfighting.  As such, any changes to those sports make no difference to any aspect of gunfighting.

Matter of fact, as those shooting sports evolve (and include more people) it means that the number of people who spend more time learning gun handling skills and shooting skills, and learning to shoot with speed and accuracy, increases.

Now, that isn’t the same as gunfighting–but since those same people before didn’t study gunfighting AND couldn’t shoot quickly and accurately, I’m not sure how increasing their shooting skills is a bad thing.  It certainly has nothing to do with changing anything about gunfighting.

Matter of fact, in his premise here he has two qualifiers that he never clarifies:  “recently”, and “evolve“.

Recently what has changed?  What evidence is there for his contention that recently “sequenced matches against a shot timer have started to set the bar for how gunfighting is taught“?  What trainer does this?

What about 3-Gun has evolved?  That is relevant to the way trainers teach gunfighting?

Watch for the answers to those two questions in the rest of what he wrote.  If you can’t find them, then his premise is undefined in addition to being flat-out incorrect.

I’m am all for speed and proficiency with any firearm.  Reloads and all Immediate Actions should be done fast and smooth with the end result to get accurate fire down range fast.  Competing against other sport shooters does induce stress and is valuable training to build the basic mindset required.


This is training and it should be emphasized as just that – training. 

What, what?  A competition isn’t training—it is a test of training.  Shooting in a match is a test of your shooting skills, your match ability.  It is where you find out if your shooting skills training was any good.

But…even if I agree with him that matches were training (and I really, really don’t) what he just said was that competition shooting was good training for speed and proficiency with a firearm, and to build the basic mindset required.  But then…

Gunfighting isn’t just about speed it’s about awareness.  He who is most aware of the environment around him the fastest, wins.


The layout of the 3-gun matches and how they are sequenced help competition sport shooters become lighting fast. 

Certainly true in terms of the top shooters.

They sacrifice awareness for speed. 

Hm.  Assumption–and not supported.  Now, had he said “in competition, their awareness is focused on specific things for speed purposes, and they aren’t maintaining full situational awareness” I’d agree with that.

But…that isn’t what he said.  He said they sacrifice awareness for speed, with the previous assumption that this is training for gunfighting.  And if someone is training for gunfighting, sacrificing awareness is a bad idea.

The problem is:  This isn’t training, it isn’t training for gunfighting, and they are sacrificing full situational awareness and focusing instead on awareness within a stage.

As such, his entire point (that this is a bad thing) actually is meaningless.  If you aren’t training for gunfighting, then doing this isn’t bad for your training for gunfighting.

We have all seen videos of 3 gun shooters running and gunning with incredible effecinecy and speed. What allows them to be so fast and accurate is the fact that it’s a sequenced range.  With pre set targets and a set number of rounds to use on each target, transition and move to the next. 

Hm.  “A set number of rounds to use on each target” isn’t actually right.  I can’t tell if he didn’t know what he was talking about (truthfully, that’s my belief) or instead he simply didn’t word it well.

It is certainly true that on any particular paper target, a certain number of rounds are scored.  This is separate from how many rounds you can use on each target–so rather like in a gunfight, you need to be aware of whether or not your rounds are hitting where you need them to hit, and if they aren’t, add more until they do.

I’m glad he thinks that competition shooters have incredible efficiency and speed.  On the other hand, he then damns them with faint praise by saying that it was only because it was a “sequenced stage”.

This is of course ridiculous, because the same people will ALSO be incredibly efficient and quick on blind stages compared to other people, because their shooting skills are high.

Put it this way:  If they are so much faster than you on stages where you both know where the targets will be (in other words, you have the same advantages they do) why would you think it would be any different when you both are at the same disadvantage?

Little tactical awareness is required, you can train for and memorize the range.  No different than a ski racer training for the Olympics.  Your awareness is not being tested.  Your proficeny and speed are.  The one who has the best mental preparation and reaction time that day wins.  

And also the best shooting skills.  But sure, little tactical awareness is required.

That’s because it isn’t training for a gunfight.  Nor is it supposed to be.  Nor is it treated that way.

A gunfight is a completely different world.  The only factors that you can control are that of ammo you currently have and yourself. Everything else in this environment is now as random as rolling a pair of dice in crap shoot.  

I’m pretty sure that his absolute state of “everything else is…random” is incorrect, but okay.  If you can control your ammo and yourself, it is certainly true that having high level shooting skills (high speed and efficiency) will help you there.

Saying it is a “completely different world” is both true and misleading.  In both competition shooting and gunfights (whether combat or self-defense, and those are NOT the same thing) having high-level shooting skills means an advantage.

This is not a competition where everyone goes home at the end of the day.  If you are slower or have an “off” day it’s not really a huge deal in the sport shooting.  In this world of gunfighting second place takes home a casket not a silver medal.

Thank you, Captain Obvious.  What’s the point?  How does this have anything to do with your premise?

Here you would be a fool to assume your enemy is not equally if not better trained than you.  He has watched the same YouTube videos and run the same ranges you have. 

If his training is from YouTube videos, my enemy is not better trained that I am.  But…what’s the point?

His weapon proficiency and accuracy is likely just as good as yours. 

Didn’t you just say that competition shooters have high accuracy and speed, and incredible efficiency?    But again, what’s the point?

Like you he understands the concequence of losing this fight and is motivated to be the winner just as much as you are.  Bullets travel 2 ways here, only winners walk away from here.  Let’s make no mistake this is a gunfight someone will die and there is a possibility that will be you.

Again—so what?  The author’s premise was that recently, evolving 3-gun sports have changed how gunfighting is being taught, and that the art of gunfighting is being lost.  As so far, he hasn’t come up with any sort of support of any trainer doing anything like this.

He hasn’t given any examples of how gunfighting is being taught, he hasn’t shown anything regarding how gunfighting training has changed, and he’s been wrong about how matches are training.

Not only in this complex world, are you having to find the threat and engage but also identify if it is a shoot or no shoot situation. 

Yep, in general that isn’t done in competition matches, or rather, people do that before the stage starts.  So?  (I’ll note that some Multigun matches actually have stages where the target layout isn’t know, and you follow the trail and engage as you see them.)

Add the distraction of communicating with your team and finding cover. 

I find that since most people don’t have a “team” this is less of an issue.  But hey, if he is talking about the military, I’d REALLY like to see ANY information he’s got about how 3-Gun has changed military team training for the worse.

Your awareness becomes so crucial here because regardless of your plan before its guaranteed to changed as soon as bullets start flying.  In order to gain the initiative and win this gunfight you need to have the awareness coupled with the instinct and ethics of a professional warrior to ebb and flow with the fight.

Ah, it wouldn’t be an anti-competition screed if it didn’t summon the spirit of the “professional warrior.”

Hm.  Ethics of a professional warrior?  I’d really like to see how he works that into a gunfight.

I’d agree, though–in a gunfight (whether combat or self-defense situation) awareness is important.  What does that have to do with the subject of his article?

Unlike 3 gun competitors your barricades and cover are not standardized. 

I take it he’s never been to a 3-gun competition?  Sure, there are a couple of things like Bianchi barricades that are pretty standard, but….mostly, Multigun competitions pride themselves on new and unique shooting problems.  As such, claiming they are “standardized” is about as far wrong as you can be.

The layout and the room your cover will provided as well as the state of the ground are completely random.  Sometimes cover is man made, some times it’s based on terrain.  You have to adapt and make things happen here. 

Well duh.  And here I thought that I could just sit there and magic would happen.

Couple this with potential driving rain, humid desert heat, or snow and ice.  There is no well maintained clear of trip hazards range environment. The dynamics of this environment are complex and completely random.  Your enemy is not a clock, it’s a human trained just like you in the art of warfare and gunfighting.

Again with the completely random–and yet, that’s not really how it happens for most people.  Or do soldiers not train for room entries, pie-ing doors, etc, in the same fashion until they get it right because they know they’ll run into doors and rooms?

And…what does this have to do with the topic of the article?

The equipment you carry isn’t designed for competition speed either. 

Huh.  And yet, several of the things that are currently in use in the military (red dot optics, for example) came literally out of the competition world.

But as has been said before….what does that have to do with the topic of the article?

It is designed for practicality.  The IR lasers, lights, and optics are not with you to be tacti-cool.  They are there for a tactical and practical application of violence.  

Yes, because competition shooters carry extra crap for non-useful purposes.

Non-relevant to topic.

Holsters and magazine pouches are designed for retention.  They need to retain your ammo and your sidearm from the shock and intensity of exiting an aircraft and in the chaos and unpredictability of a gunfight. Let’s face it you are potentially crawling in mud, rolling around in sand, or trudging through knee deep snow.  You are not moving through a range where saftey is the number one concern not survialbility.  Where speed is more important than retention.

I take it he’s never seen a retention holster in use in a Multigun competition?  Ah well, considering what he has said before, this isn’t surpring.

And still non-relevant to topic.

The encumbrance of your equipment is incredible.  Ballistic armor, helmet, ammunition, water, radios, batteries, night vision, more batteries, IFAK, grenades the list goes on and on.  The weight is distributed as best you can however it’s not even.  The physical demand here is huge.  Your fitness level directly effects your awareness here.  If you are not fit here you die.   War fighters train with all this weight in their training environments.  Train the way you fight is your mantra.    This makes fitness a huge key in how aware you are.  It’s the dertmining factor on wether you live or die in the combat environment.  Fitness is not an option here it is life.

Ok.  And your point is?

3 gun sport Shooting and gunfighting are completely different worlds about the only the thing they have in common is accuracy and proficiency with a gun. 

Indeed so.  You see, the problem here is that the author of this nonsense is the only one attempting to claim anything different.

Remember, HE is the one who said that matches are training, that 3-gun matches are evolving, and that their evolving is change how people train for gunfights.

And yet—NO WHERE has he shown that being true.

As a armed professional it’s your responsibility to train the way you fight.  Increase your awareness by realistic training with your team.  Discussing real world situations and recreating them in train environments. Your range training needs to simulate your fighting environment.  Train in the rain in the snow and in the suck.  Remember when you are not practicing someone somewhere is and when you meet them they will win. For us that stand in harms way this type of training, mindset and awareness means living or dying.  It’s not a medal or points on a 3 gun circuit.

Well, duh.

So here we are at the end of his article, much of which was non-relevant to his topic, parts of which were factually incorrect—and NONE of which actually supported his premise.

If you are going to claim:

A disturbing trend has recently developed in the tactical world.  Sequenced matches against a shot timer have started to set the bar for how gunfighting is taught.  As the 3-gun sport starts to evolve, the art of gunfighting is being lost.

…then somewhere in there you need to show that ANYONE trains gunfighting the way you say it has changed to (which no one does), and you need to show that 3-gun sports have made that difference (which since it hasn’t occurred, obviously 3-gun isn’t why).

In other words, here again we have an article written by someone who has no experience with the shooting sports, making up random nonsense.  He might be better served to read my article about What Makes An Expert? and pay particular attention to the fact that if you don’t have education, experience, or training in a particular field, then you aren’t qualified to have an opinion that anyone should care about for that field.

Not only does the author (Shaun A, who you should REALLY look up in terms of what he does for a living) seem to have no experience with competition shooting, he also should work on his ability to use logic.  If you state a premise that isn’t supported in any way (literally every single sentence in his premise has no support) then your article itself is going to be demonstrating ignorance.