Does Conventional Marksmanship Win Gunfights?

Does Conventional Marksmanship Win Gunfights?

This is a discussion on Does Conventional Marksmanship Win Gunfights? within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; From PoliceOne.com 01/18/2010 Law Enforcement Firearms with Richard Fairburn 21st century deadly force training for police Conventional marksmanship training has little to do with winning ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Matthew Temkin's Avatar
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    Does Conventional Marksmanship Win Gunfights?

    From PoliceOne.com
    01/18/2010


    Law Enforcement Firearms
    with Richard Fairburn

    21st century deadly force training for police

    Conventional marksmanship training has little to do with winning a gunfight

    We are a full decade into a new century, but the way we train police officers to employ deadly force is no different than we did a decade before the 21st century began. According to FBI statistics, 80 percent of officers killed each year in gunfights die at seven yards or less, a figure little changed in the past 30 years. Officers routinely score 100 percent at the seven yard line on the training range, but in gunfights far more than 50 percent of the bullets they fire miss the target. The low hit rate scored by police officers on the street is not a marksmanship problem.

    One large agency’s officers scored a gunfight hit rate of just 11 percent during a 10-year period I analyzed. That’s a staggering statistic, but another number was even more shocking. Though the sample was admittedly small, the bad guys in those incidents also scored an 11 percent hit rate.

    Their Academy Commander summed it up perfectly: “My officers get a hundred hours of firearms training in the academy and quarterly qualifications thereafter, but are hitting at the same rate as felons with no formal training? We should save all the ammunition, because our training program seems to be worthless!”

    In the late 1990s that agency’s training program still encouraged one-hand, slow-fire, bull’s-eye target shooting at the 25-yard line. After all, if an officer can shoot tight groups at 25 yards, they can easily handle a gunfight at 10 feet, right? Wrong! (89 percent of the time.)
    A raw shooter can be scoring 100 percent at seven yards by the end of the first day of training. But, at least with that one police agency, upping the training time to nearly three weeks only produced 11 percent hits on the street. Recently released data on the gunfight hit rate of officers in the New York City and Los Angeles Police Departments mirror what I found in the mid-west. During a gunfight, about 25 percent of the shots fired by their officers hit their intended target.

    Most programs “train to the test,” meaning they practice the skills necessary to fire a passing score on the qualification course. Many qualification tests are an adaptation of the old Practical Pistol Course. Many agencies are training to a “test” that has no similarity whatsoever to a police gunfight.

    We need to prepare officers for the next gunfight, not the next competitive shooting match. We must train deadly force in a manner that will ensure officers pass the real test — winning a gunfight at 20 feet, not punching tight groups at 15-25 yards. Taking the “top shooter” award in your training class is cool, but winning your first gunfight is way cooler.
    A training program which emphasizes the management of combat stress, without any marksmanship training, would create a better gunfighter than any program based solely on conventional marksmanship training. If they can master stress, even a below average marksman will score hits and win most pistol confrontations. If they master combat stress, marksmanship may prove to be a minor part of the gunfight equation. If they can’t master stress, even the very best marksman may miss — and die.

    The only pre-gunfight way to gain combat “experience” is through Reality-Based Training (RBT). I’m not suggesting we ignore the development of marksmanship skills. Instead, we need to develop and test an officer’s marksmanship skills against interactive threats, not paper images on a shooting range. Once trainees can reliably hit paper targets out to seven yards and load/function/clear their sidearm, we should pit them against stressful computer simulators and human adversaries in RBT scenarios using paint munitions. Only when a trainee can deliver 80 percent hits — under stress, against live hostile targets, while on the move at between five and 25 feet — should we return to the live-ammunition range to develop more refined marksmanship skills.

    Talk all you like about one of the rare 25-yard shots that have been made by pistol-armed officers, but, we still shoot poorly on the street and merely training more of the same won’t change that fact. If we never get back to the range to develop pistol shooting skills at 15-25 yards, so be it! That’s why all cops should have patrol rifles. With rifles, we can develop higher marksmanship skills, building upon the true gun fighting skills they learn with their pistols in the RBT scenarios.
    ______


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Nice write up. The city I work for, their officers train this way. They started about 2 years ago. They really like the training and most feel it benefits them.
    Don"t let stupid be your skill set....

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    Thats some serious scary!

    Their Academy Commander summed it up perfectly: “My officers get a hundred hours of firearms training in the academy and quarterly qualifications thereafter, but are hitting at the same rate as felons with no formal training? We should save all the ammunition, because our training program seems to be worthless!”
    Quote from article

    Maybe you could bring the thugs in and have them become Instructors ,JK

    Glad for the sake of the officers, they are seeing the faults and are doing something about it.
    Hopefully the smaller cities and sheriff's dept.'s around the country will adapt also.WoW


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    Member Array mfcmb's Avatar
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    And did you see this reader's comment following the article?

    Good article, but he should have mentioned point shooting. Point shooting works with your natural instinctive responses under stress, or what's commonly called your flight or fight response. I recently had one of my student firearms instructors contact me regarding a shooting they had at his agency. After being certified as a Point Shooting Instructor, he went back to his agency and taught all of his officers point shooting. Two of the officers were involved in a shooting at less than ten feet. With the bad guy already shooting at them, they returned fire shooting a total of fifteen rounds between the two of them, resulting in fifteen hits to center mass. Pretty much unheard of in law enforcement shootings.
    -- snip --
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    In the heat of the moment, what matters is what your body knows -- not what your mind knows.

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    Member Array JAG45's Avatar
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    From some studies most (80+%) of LEO gun fights are from 0 to 6 feet, yes from contact distance to the ends of the barrels touching at arms length. So it would appear that marksmanship is about the last thing one needs to worry about.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Does Conventional Marksmanship Win Gunfights?
    Applegate, Fairbairn, Boyd, Ayoob, Suarez and others weren't of the opinion it did. Certainly, not by itself. To many, interruption of the opponent's OODA process is integral to changing the traditional formula of a "fight." And you can't achieve that easily by reliance on traditional, conventional tactics alone.

    Of course, if you're so "conventional" that you're truly expert, I suppose it's possible to finish a fight before it's hardly started. Though, that's not exactly conducive to avoiding prison, as a concealed-carrying citizen.

    In my relatively limited experience (at least with non-firearm type engagements), I'm of the opinion that the more explosive, violent and unconventional one makes the response, the better chance one has of coming out on top. I, too, have read of some studies that suggest the vast number of firearms encounters are within a few paces, and your target aim, alone, isn't going to help much in that situation.

    Good article. It brings up some interesting points.
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    Distinguished Member Array Spec's Avatar
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    Good read... I thought that's why paintball guns were made? for tactical training?
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    Accuracy ALWAYS WINS! So carry what you can hit with.

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    The 80% very close shooting number makes me do more training at this range.

    I enjoy putting up 3 targets about 3 to 5 yards apart and starting out at about 6ft from the middle one shoot double taps El Presidenty style.

    There is something about feeling the back blast from target hit your face and working for speed and accuracy that seems the right way to do it.

    At this range even the P3AT in 380 is a very effective weapon for self defense.
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    Good read... I thought that's why paintball guns were made? for tactical training?
    Nope.
    Paint-ball guns were originally made to mark cattle that had been immunized.

    Simunitions that is shot by specially modified guns are for tactical training.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    In the Marines we did a lot of MOUT training which of course includes CQT combat with MILES gear. We usally did it with CS gas being employed. Not as Stressful as real bullets flying but it does add a lot of stress. Even with the MILES gear laser spreading out the hit ratio was lower than on the range. Some of the Expert Rifleman missed a lot of the time. After the First week of training there were great improvments in accuracy. Shooting on the range in one thing when the targets shoot back is another. I think that if the LE agencies adopted the Military style training (Unscripted as well) then we could improve the accuracy. Range is great for teaching basics but not great for combat style shooting. Even with what I trained in I cannot say that I would be prepared if the target was shooting back with live rounds.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by rstrainii View Post
    After the First week of training there were great improvments in accuracy. Shooting on the range in one thing when the targets shoot back is another.

    I think that if the LE agencies adopted the Military style training (Unscripted as well) then we could improve the accuracy.
    One thing I don't do nearly enough of is force-on-force. Due to health problems the past few years, I've had to avoid it. Which is bad, since the benefits of such hands-on, FOF, "military" style training can certainly help to create much of the stress and variation in situations that can help a person learn to adapt and better handle whatever comes.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
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    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
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    Member Array OldLincoln's Avatar
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    I watched the sad video where the LEO was gunned down. It shook me up as I tried to picture how I as a CCW might have handled it from different starting points. I think I would not have hesitated as he did, but let's say it progressed to where the BG approached with sustained fire from his 30 round carbine.

    How do you possibly defend against that with your 7 shot 9mm? What training teaches that? I'm looking at it like the real life situation I saw, not some movie where the BG miss and the GG hits. If you had the nerves to take time to properly aim, would you live long enough to take the shot?

    I visited an IDPA shoot and was impressed, but they didn't have a charging madman. Is this where proper training with paintballs would apply?

    Sorry for going on but I'd really like to know from the pros.

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    The good thing about Simunitions is that it can teach you a lesson and you live to learn it.

    In combat, you dont get the added advantage of learning much because if you screw up, its over or at the very least, painful.

    We do train with Simunitions and have actually had the mad man shooting at you while charging. It does add a different dimension to the training. You learn to shoot and move, shoot from cover, reload when you can.

    I would have never beleived that guys that qualified expert on the range could be standing an arms length away and fired at each other until empty without acheiving a hit, but I seen it several times.I have seen guys both empty their guns and whoever reloaded and got back on target first was the winner. Many times, one little fumble was the difference between winning or losing. You really learn to "slice the pie" when doing clearing drills, because if someone is in there shooting at you, you tend to present the smallest target that you can.

    Its always interesting to see how many hands and guns get hit. It has never failed in any training session that I have been in. I guess we just subconsiously just shoot at the threat. Lots of shots in the face looking over the gun.

    Walking up to a vehicle, the driver shooting at you out the window as you are walking up to it, and it seems like an eternity to get your gun up and out, even if its not.

    Doing drills that have you drawing at the first sound of a shot, and hearing at least 7 or 8 more before you can clear leather.

    I think that using Simunitions in force on force drills is the next best thing to actually being in a gunfight.

    I can honestly say that I have learned more from that than in any police qualification with static targets at the range that dont shoot back. The good thing is, you can learn from your mistakes.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Senior Member Array RebelRabbi's Avatar
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    Stop him!

    Quote Originally Posted by OldLincoln View Post
    I watched the sad video where the LEO was gunned down. It shook me up as I tried to picture how I as a CCW might have handled it from different starting points. I think I would not have hesitated as he did, but let's say it progressed to where the BG approached with sustained fire from his 30 round carbine.

    How do you possibly defend against that with your 7 shot 9mm? What training teaches that? I'm looking at it like the real life situation I saw, not some movie where the BG miss and the GG hits. If you had the nerves to take time to properly aim, would you live long enough to take the shot?

    I visited an IDPA shoot and was impressed, but they didn't have a charging madman. Is this where proper training with paintballs would apply?

    Sorry for going on but I'd really like to know from the pros.
    So I have a charging madman with a rifle and I have a 7 shot 9mm? The odds are stacked heavily against me? I guess I will have to use a combination of :
    1. Accuracy 2. Placement 3. Cover/Concealment and 4. Movement.
    My only option is a CNS (Central Nervous System) Hit. Shoot for the "T" Zone , the eyes and nose. I have to stay off his line of attack using cover or lateral movement. I would like to move towards his shooting side and away from his center. it is harder to hit me if I move against his natural body mechanics.
    Panic will get me killed, stay in the fight until the fight is over.

    Proper training involves training to the point of exaustion and then beyond, this builds muscle memory. You are right punching paper ain't gunfighting.

  15. #15
    Member Array OldLincoln's Avatar
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    HotGun: I hadn't heard of Simunitions before. I can see where that would be intense. As a civilian, however, there's no way to participate financially if not practically. We do have a paintball place or two in town so I wonder if that is used for training scenarios. I imagine that the competition would provide intensity also.

    You mentioned the number of hand hits probably from focusing on the threat. My son had a tough time in the academy with the hostage shoots. He would put a beautiful double tap right in the hostage's head then proceed quite well. He said he kept telling himself "don't shoot the hostage" putting his focus right there. That's like telling a kid learning to ride a bike "whatever you do, do not run into that rock"; or, "you better not spill your milk!" They'll do it every time.

    Rabbi: I know you are right but I keep hearing the screams of the LEO, which make me question my execution of those steps. I haven't even begun to practice any of this stuff. I haven't even shot my current Mustang in years and my new PM9 will arrive this week.

    What I had thought from the video was when he started sustained fire I'd go prone and scoot back behind the rear tire for position and return fire best I could. There wasn't time in the video (at least in my body) to do much else and I'd prefer to return fire than maneuver.

    I'm planning on setting a training path to learn each item alone then put them together in home drills then the range. Since I'm an unemployed Project Manager I'll actually set tasks and schedules to push me into getting it done. I could use an existing training syllabus but have no money so cannot buy instructions. My son understands I'm not a gun guy and will push me into becoming as well trained as I can. I'm giving him that authority and he is a good instructor.

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