Shooting Under Stress
This is a discussion on Shooting Under Stress within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; ^ If you like Magpul under Costa and Haley, know that both have now gone their separate ways from Magpul - so, essentially, you've got ...
January 22nd, 2012 08:26 PM
^ If you like Magpul under Costa and Haley, know that both have now gone their separate ways from Magpul - so, essentially, you've got triple the opportunity to get their good instruction (i.e. Magpul and their individual respective schools).
I've wanted to shoot Magpul since I saw those awesome DVDs, but for me, my work as well as family schedules makes it, for the time being, rather impossible for me to get too far away from home. Magpul remains on my "bucket list," of-course, but it's going to be a couple of years before I can get to them, unless they by-luck come to my area.
Fortunately, that's exactly what happened with Costa: he will be instructing two sets of pistol courses in my area this summer, and yep, I'm going to take full advantage of it.
More practice, and you'll be fine.
Originally Posted by DocPMD
I find that what DRM's Fist-Fire grip really helps with is controlling recoil during rapid-fire strings. In a dozen-shot+ rapid-fire string, my shots were tighter than anyone else's, in a 9-person class just a couple of nights ago (I'm not saying this to brag - believe you me, I screwed something up, and I'll get to that in a moment, I just wanted you to know where I saw the most improvement), and in all honesty, my rapid fire strings have never been better than after DRM shared his techniques with us here.
Since you're still dropping shots rapid-fire, it's very likely that, as you've self-diagnosed, that you're losing trigger control when you're pressing speed. But based on my experience with DRM's Wrist Lock ("power of the pinky," really!), I think you're also perhaps reverting to a less-"locked" position as you press for increased speed, so trouble-shoot that, too. In either case, now that you've found your failure-point, slow yourself back down again, get it right, and punch right through that failure point.
Also, think about paying for some private or semi-private tutor time, in terms of basic marksmanship. I know that, for me, I could either spend a few hours and a couple of hundred rounds to troubleshoot myself, or I can pay something like $40 to $80, for 2 to 4 hours of semi-private instruction, and get much more out of it.
A few nights ago, I attended a local school's "semi-private tutored shoots." Commence FireARMs Academy out of Cleveland routinely hosts its "Shoot With Instructors" and "Advance Shoot With Instructors" classes. I've attended several of these sessions before - a great way to spend 4 hours on a weeknight. I still maintain to my locals that it's the best buy for the money - $40 per session, and the ammo count is usually low (stressing quality over quantity).
During the first hour, the basic "Shoot with Instructors" session - which is ostensibly designed to take absolute beginners and get them comfortable with their pistols. Yet, it also accommodates more advanced shooters, to help them improve - I figured out that me fighting my natural point-of-aim was what was throwing my shots off to the 3 (about a half-inch off the bull, at 7 yards).
Over the last couple of months, it had probably been a combination of my reaction/support-hand thumb steering the gun during recoil (I favor the modern "both thumbs forward" grip, with my support/reaction thumb resting against the top surface of the takedown lever on my XDms, as the index point on the frame - yes, I'm right-handed) as well, but I thought that I had that worked out on my last (solo) range session, so when it manifested again last night, even after I'd taken specific steps to insure that I wasn't creating the problem, well, I was pretty concerned. Thanks to the coaching of two of their instructors, Chris and Kip, we figured out that it was my trying to fight my natural point-of-aim that's actually causing me troubles.
So, what, exactly, was the problem?
I was trying to get more squared-up to the target, to, in effect, make my body "more isosceles."
Unfortunately, that's not where my natural point-of-aim hits: each person's musculoskeletal setup is a little different from another's, and mine just happens to be set up, with my cross-dominance, so that my right foot is a bit farther back, in a neutral stance, than otherwise "proper." In referencing D.R. Middlebrooks's "The Evolution of Grip/Stance" YouTube segment, my lower body rotation lands somewhere between the reverse-Weaver and reverse-Chapman.
And yes, while I agree with the top coaches/trainers in that it's the upper body that matters most, the problem is that if/when I take that more instinctive shot (Chris noted that I shot better if I "announced" prior to shooting - in this particular school, we are instructed to yell "Stop, I have a gun!" as the announcement, and this gets me a good second to get my sights perfectly aligned, when shooting from a static, stationary setting; the announcement slows me down just enough that I can get a "perfect" sight-picture), the miscued natural point-of-aim means that I end up, like Middlebrooks points out, fighting myself to deliver the surgical shot.
Now, could I have figured this out by myself?
But it would have taken me several range sessions and many more dollars, in terms of ammo consumed (for this class session, we used only 35 to 40 rounds of ammo).
The fundamentals of pistol marksmanship is what everything else builds on, you've got to be sure that you've got this part of the equation absolutely and totally right, before you can progress.
In getting back to the OP.....
I completely agree that "stress inoculation" is a necessary component of training, and that it is a very necessary component of being a concealed-carrier who will be able to properly function under-pressure, and survive - win - the encounter.
Certainly, this does not, at all, mean that I do not agree with kelcarry's post above. I can't agree with him more: I really think that for the average person - for someone who is not forced by occupation to face the ugly side of humanity and to deal with violence - the best thing to do is to simply practice avoidance and awareness.
Nevertheless, this does not obviate the need to train towards a higher standard.
In the spirit of this thread, I'll share a recent training "failure" I experienced.
The above mentioned class was followed immediately with their "Advance Shoot with the Instructors" mini-seminar. We move forward of the line, adding movement and, for those who desire it, drawing from-concealment. I've attended two of these sessions previously, and have picked up good tips; at the low cost, I figured "why not," and decided to make a night out of the two classes (the SWI class prior, and this ASWI class following).
Attending this session probably saved my life.
For as much as my lessons at Three Tango Firearms Academy, another local school, corrected me from dropping shots after a reload, last night, Chief Instructor Keith Campbell and Instructor Ryan brought to-light the fact that I am relying too much on the capacity (moments before, I'd been cheering: "Yeah, 19+1, baby!" ) of my XDm9 Compact.
In having run either with the gun topped-off or with shorter/less-round-count drills, I simply don't have that much experience reloading, and while my full-sized gun disguises that nicely since it virtually always drops free its mags, when it's my Compact, the meat of my palms can temporarily weld the magazine extension to the frame, causing the magazine to not drop free. That created a whole bunch of problems for me, for the execution of the reload.
The magazine hanging in the well really caught me off. I had not experienced the phenomenon nearly this much before. I really think that since my support hand has gone to the Fist-Fire Wrist Lock, it's somehow stressing the magazine-extension interface with the bottom of the grip (of my Compact, my carry) a little more (i.e. that my pinky is leveraging the magazine so hard), and that along with the meat at the heel of my gun-hand palm, is allowing for a temporary "weld" that gets more solid as I fire more rounds. It virtually never presents itself when I dry-practice reloads, and I'm now trying to find a way to simulate it.
I think that had this been a problem when I shot my carry in an intermediate-level class last summer that I would have noticed, since that class was very rigorous, in terms of manipulations.
Certainly, the fact that for the vast majority of last year, I shot my full-sized pistol exclusively (17K+ rounds versus 8K rounds; full-size vs. carry, respectively), and that virtually always drops free its mags, it may have made me weaker on the reload than someone who is a single-stack operator. This is definitely a failure that I'm glad I encountered in a training atmosphere!
Needless to say, that's something that I will be working on, *A LOT.*
Since I have something like 12 range magazines for the gun, I think I will down-load the pistol from now on, so that I can get in more magazine-change practice.
In reviewing things, I think I will go to the Fist-Fire "practical" reload, and make that my "usual." I am still on the slow-motion muscle-training portion of my drills, currently, and I think I can achieve certainty as well as good speed in using my support hand to punch the mag-release, sweep the mag out of the well, and access my spare in one single motion. To-note, this is not just a competition practice: TDI and Paul Gomez also advocate this two-handed reload method, actively ripping out the spent magazine from the gun's magwell (although TDI, in at least the one video I saw, did not instruct the student to utilize their support/reaction-hand thumb to drive the magazine release button).
Comparing the material between DRM's Fist-Fire DVDs as well as that of Magpul's "The Art of the Dynamic Handgun," where Costa's remediation of the non-clearing magazines (striking it out with the fresh magazine) - in terms of speed, I think that Middlebrooks's proactive method is both quicker and smoother, and will also adapt well to clearance of double-feed malfunctions. This change in my techniques should also allow me to consolidate to a single set of motor skills rather than require actual brain processing power under stress.
Oh, and speaking of malfunction remediation:
To show you how much I relied on the XDm's capacity, during one of the exercises where the Chief Instructor purposely "mind fingered" me, the first time I dropped the striker and the gun didn't go off, I automatically assumed that it was dry, and ripped out the magazine. I was so lucky that my instincts had been right - otherwise, Keith said that he'd have put his boot up my ass, had he seen even a single good round left in the mag. But that was embarrassing, still, because I know how to run malfunctions - at one point this last year, I had a bruise on my support hand that matched, perfectly, the base-plate of my magazine: I'd done so many malfunction drills that day.
Nevertheless, that's a training scar that I need to overcome. I'm currently examining and self-debating the various techniques that I've learned, to see if they really mesh with "reality," or if they are somehow playing more into my range/class/training, instead. There are techniques which I suspect that while they may help me do better - or even excel - in a class setting, they're actually going to be more of a liability, "in reality."
I'm trying to work towards reality.
January 22nd, 2012 08:26 PM
January 22nd, 2012 08:39 PM
More important than shooting accurate is safe and quick unholstering. Accurate shooting is nothing if you fumble the gun. God forbid you drop it and get shot with your own weapon.
January 23rd, 2012 01:43 PM
After becoming confident in the basics, Force On Force will probably provide the quickest and most reliable route to self defense proficiency. To paraphrase Gabe Suarez, shooting a target is like hitting a heavy bag, FOF is like sparring. Bruce Lee compared learning to fight without a partner is like learning to swim without getting in the water.
When I started learning to fight, along with the all the conditioning they put me on a heavy bag. I loved hitting the bag and I got pretty good at it. When they put me in to spar the first time all the conditioning, technique and power disappeared all because now I had to deal with an opponent. I was now also forced into a reactive mode where before I had only been proactive. When I got my CCW I began going to the range regularly and became a fairly proficent paper shooter. Then I did a really good thing, I went to a Suarez class that included FOF. FOF introduces a real opponent into the exercise and while the FOF drills are done within a predefined set of parameters there was still a great deal of confusion shown by almost all of the participants. People missing safeties and fouling draws on their concealment garments were common. Some fouled their draws so badly they dropped their pistols. Missing their opponent at a matter of feet was not uncommon. In the live fire portion of the class we had done previously everyone showed an above average level of competence. Some were LEO's and a significant number were competitive shooters. Given that everyone was competent and had previous live fire training and there was no real threat causes me to conclude that the failures experiened by so many were related to a real opponent. If the goal is to cause stress in training, a real opponent seems to be the best way to accomplish it.
January 25th, 2012 01:01 PM
I promised an update, so here it is.
Originally Posted by DocPMD
Last night was Night 1 of the tactical pistol class. It was entirely focused on drawing from the holster and firing, and on reloads. I'm glad to report that I was a lot less nervous this time around.
I was definitely in the bottom two students in the class in performance, both speed and accuracy. All of the students in the class were more experienced than me, which accounts for most of their superior performance. But I was the only one in the class that was using a compact pistol in a CCW holster. The other students all had full sized pistols and were using Kydex type holsters that make getting a grip on the gun a lot easier/faster. I had my M&P9c in a Galco OWB that keeps the grip of the gun very close to my body - great for concealment, not so great for the draw.
I was a bit disappointed in my accuracy. It was definitely better than 7 weeks ago in the first class, but not as good as I would like. Most of it had to do with my grip. Too many new things to learn, so I found myself focusing on getting the new things right and forgot about proper grip. Boils down to doing a whole lot more dry fire practice to get that muscle memory thing going.
Tomorrow nights class will incorporate movement into the mix. And there is going to be some sort of "test" which I will likely fail. But I don't care about that. I am having fun and learning along the way. No doubt that I am improving.
January 25th, 2012 01:08 PM
Doc, its not about passing or failing. You are receiving valuable training. Take that away from it. Also, with your draw, slow down a bit, get a good grip on the gun. Your accuracy will improve..Good luck. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.....
Originally Posted by DocPMD
Don"t let stupid be your skill set....
January 25th, 2012 01:21 PM
We do this all the time at the local paint ball range. It really gets you pumped up and you have to learn to control yourself or you'll quickly find you can't hit a thing.
Originally Posted by Bill Lindsay
January 25th, 2012 01:29 PM
This is the reason I rarely, if ever, practice aimed fire. Nearly every time I'm at the range I do nothing but start from a low ready and point at the target and start firing.
January 25th, 2012 01:36 PM
^ Exactly. Harry's always got great advice.
Originally Posted by Harryball
Remember, Doc, right now, it's about your exposure to new things, but also about getting the absolute fundamentals burned-in in the right way. You don't want to pick up "training scars" from not doing things right. Pushing the envelope and failing is what makes us learn where we can improve, and you'll want to fail in training rather than out on the streets.
Don't let your marksmanship worry you too much. Each time you add a new skill, you *will* see some decrease in your basic marksmanship as your brain tries to incorporate the new information. You only have so much brain power to go around. Focus back on your absolute fundamentals: sight-alignment/sight-picture, grip, trigger control, breathing, stance, etc., when you're on a static range - think of that as your boring homework that you MUST do so that you can tackle the more advanced skills they teach in classes. If your range lets you work from your holster, you can do so there, too, but remember, once the gun comes out, it's again back to the basics of shooting, so that actually matters more, and the more work you devote that area, the more you'll see a pay-off, regardless of anything and everything else.
From the holster, be sure that you can draw - as well as (re)holster - safely. That's the most important thing. Go slow, and if anything doesn't feel right, don't force it: take a look and see what's wrong, particularly when you're holstering. Remember, you're in class, you're there to learn, so it's better to take all the time you need to learn what you may be doing wrong, rather than to try to force it.
On the draw stroke, if you get a bit of clothing with your grip, as long as you are safe, you may want to just go ahead and shoot. Yes, the shots might be poor and your clothing may take a bit of damage from the slide or powder, but when you're out on the streets, that kind of thing can happen, and you should know how to deal with it, because you won't get a do-over when you're in front of a bad-guy, in a bad situation. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Eventually, you'll build up your speed (and eventually, you should also specifically work on your speed - yes, being slow and smooth is important, but after a point, you won't achieve speed without training for speed: i.e. shot-timer), but for now, don't worry about it. And just like you said, coming out of an open rig is different from coming out of concealment - even the best shooters' concealment draws will be slower than their open draws, it's a physical fact of having to move cover clothing out of the way.
Don't worry about speed now. The other half of that "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" mantra is "fast is fine, but accuracy final" - no matter how fast you are, you MUST be sure that your shots are on-target.
And again, like Harry said, it's not about passing or failing. It's not about measuring up to other students in the class. It doesn't matter if you're the worst shooter in the class or the best. Like Magpul advertises, this isn't about a gold-star on your report-card, it's about pressing to *your* point of failure and then pushing through and beyond. Every person will be different, and you should never stop challenging yourself - you can always be better.
During the static, basics-skills portion of the "mini-seminars" I attended last week, like I said, I was shooting just a quarter-inch off the bull at 7-yards, from low-ready. Given the consistency of the group (shots touching), my instructor kept praising me. I turned around to walk off the line (it was my lane-mate's turn), with what must've been a look of disgust on my face, and the instructor said, "What's wrong? You're shooting great!" I chuckled and said, "No, I know I can do better, I want to hit that little dot that's the bull's eye. I know that there's something I'm not doing right." He looks at another fellow instructor, and goes: "This guy gets it." They then spent some dedicated time with me, and got me through that roadblock.
And like I said above, with my reload failures - I don't mind failing in class. That's where I *should* fail, because I should be pressing right up to the edge of my personal limits, there.
There's no shame in failing, as long as you strive to do better.
And hey, I give you props, Doc - you shot from concealment. Those other guys in class, unless they go with their Bat-Belts all the time, they're not doing themselves any favors.
January 25th, 2012 04:48 PM
There are a lot of great kydex concealment holsters that allow a full grip as well.
The other students all had full sized pistols and were using Kydex type holsters that make getting a grip on the gun a lot easier/faster. I had my M&P9c in a Galco OWB that keeps the grip of the gun very close to my body - great for concealment, not so great for the draw.
I carry a Glock 19 or 26 in a kydex appendix-iwb holster that has very good concealment as well as a full grip on the gun and a very fast draw.
January 27th, 2012 12:48 PM
Thanks for the guidance and words of encouragement. Very helpful.
So, just to give you the timeline again. The idea for this thread was prompted by my performance in the basic pistol class that I took in early December. I was able to practice my grip and other things between then and now, and noticed improvement. The first night of the next class (tactical pistol) was Tuesday night, and I did much better, but still very challenging. That's where my last post left off.
Wednesday night I spent about an hour and a half practicing my draw with dry fire drills. I started off very slowly to make sure that I was doing the mechanics properly. I slowly increased speed and really started to get it down.
Thursday night (yesterday) was the second and final night of the class. We spent some time practicing how to deal with malfunctions, then moved on to shooting with movement, and the ended with the "test". The test was a series of five drills. Passing 0-2 classifies you as a beginner, 3-4 intermediate, and all 5 advanced.
The first two drills were timed draw and fire. The first one I made the time, but barely missed the COM - fail. Only one person in the class passed this one. The second one I was only one of two people in the class who passed - I was thrilled, especially given my performance on night 1.
The next three drills all incorporated rapid fire and reloads - failed badly. I tried to maintain my accuracy and not worry about the time. I actually did pretty well at that. But times were slow. The biggest thing is that I really fumbled the reloads. Not surprising given the fact that I haven't spent any time practicing reloads.
Overall a very fun time. I feel like I am learning at a good pace, and now I have some things to work on. The nerves settled a bit, which helped my performance. But I'm not sure that was a good thing because I recognize the value of attempting to perform under stress as it relates to potential real life situations.
In any case, my adventure isn't over. I'm glad to have started this thread because it seems that many appreciate it. I definitely appreciate all of the comments and suggestions.
P.S. Although I mentioned the test results here, please don't get the impression that I am focused on performance on the test. I couldn't care less. I just want to learn!
January 27th, 2012 03:02 PM
its been said over the years by many different people cause its true--
Smooth is Good
Smooth is Fast
you just practice that your motions:
clearing the cover garmet
acquiring the grip
drawing the gun
clearing the holster and
getting the other hand on the grip (*)and
bringing the gun to low ready
trigger finger along side the slide/cylender and your eyes
where you want the bullet to go
practice deliberate movements; slow and deliberate
speed will come naturally without you trying.
(*) weak hand palm near your body so that it never gets in front of the muzzle--
Arthritis sucks big-big
Why do those elected to positions of power than work so hard
to deny those same opportunities to the same people who empowered them
January 27th, 2012 08:14 PM
That's great, Doc! Good for you!
Indeed, you have to be pressed for time and to "qualify" - more like quantify! - your performance. Data is the only way you'll improve. Look at car racers: their vehicles (and even the drivers themselves) are hooked up to telemetry so that their every move can be quantified and scrutinized. While racing is still very much an art-form, top drivers will readily confess: without data, it's hard to be sure that you're absolutely at your and the vehicle's limits. These "tests" that you are taking are a way of quantifying your performance, there's no shame in being thrilled that you passed, or to see how you measure up to your classmates, as long as, like you said, you're in the right mindset about how to interpret their results.
If you'll search up my other posts here (and elsewhere), you'll find that I also very much share your thoughts about stress-inoculation via these training classes. This is a part of the reason why I keep seeking out different schools/instructors, so that I'm never fully comfortable. This is one thing that you can well control in your efforts to push the edge of your envelope.
And at the risk of repeating myself and sounding like I'm nagging you - as a fellow armed citizen, I would like to encourage you to continue to attend classes with your everyday concealment gear (when such classes will allow, of-course!). There are numerous extra little details of our concealed gear that do not become apparent until we've tried them under stress. Sure, you'll be a little slower than the Bat-Belt guys, but unless they are professionals who actually get to use their Bat-Belts on the job every day, they're not really doing themselves any favors in the real world. Strive towards reality.
We're not that far apart, in terms of our paths. I hope that we'll come across each other one day, I'd really like to shoot with you. Keep up the great work!
January 28th, 2012 12:06 PM
I target shoot with 3 other guys and they are going thru the slow aim and be perfect scenario with their defense firearms--hey to each his own--I do not get it. Usually, I bring a second target with me just for me to play defense on a target. If I am within center mass within say a 4 or 5 inch dia wirhout spending time aiming slow, I am happy. When I am using my 22, now I follow their lead with the old deliberate aim and be perfect technique.
Last edited by kelcarry; January 28th, 2012 at 06:57 PM.
February 11th, 2012 01:44 PM
If that's your choice, I'd recommend using the "Over Hand Rack" in conjunction with the "Practical Reload". We didn't cover that on the DVD's (actually we did a segment on the overhand rack, but it got edited out by mistake on the final version )...
In reviewing things, I think I will go to the Fist-Fire "practical" reload, and make that my "usual."
"...with liberty and justice for all..."
(Must be 18. Void where prohibited. Some restrictions may apply. Not available in all states). - D. Stanhope
D.R. Middlebrooks - Pro Shooting Coach & Custom Gunsmith
Tactical Shooting Academy & Custom Shop
February 11th, 2012 01:49 PM
DRM, is that your version of the "tap rack drill"
Originally Posted by DRM
P.S. This is a serious question...Not busting your chops...
Don"t let stupid be your skill set....
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