Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Miss Faster

By Dave Dargo

No, this posting isn't about a woman with a last name of Faster, it's about what happens under stress - even "easy" stress.

In a lot of the advanced defensive handgun classes I've taken it's common to have a contest. Metal is often used in these contests because of its immediate feedback and satisfying sound when hit. Imagine a number of targets about 30 feet away of varying size from 4x5 inches, to 8 inch circles and poppers.  The drill is often to hit a set number of these targets, perform a speed reload and then down the final target which is usually a split popper.  Fail to do the reload or down your competitors side of the split popper by mistake and you lose.  Properly down all your targets and perform the reload at the correct time and you win.

Because the contest involves an activity where time is critical it's not unusual to see people speed everything up in a very bad way.

A saying we use when we teach drawing from a holster is, "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast".  The smoother you are at performing a proper draw technique the faster you will be on target and will be able to make the shot you intend.  Part of being smooth is being slow; but in a special way.  Deliberate is a good word to use for the description - being deliberate in performing all the steps of the draw stroke will get your sights onto the target much faster than the flailing that will go on when trying to be fast for fast's sake.

In these particular contests, which have much less stress than an actual defensive situation, the contestants confuse speed and smoothness.  They are so concerned about being faster than their opponent that they toss smoothness right out the window.  They certainly get their pistol out quicker than the methodical shooter but they almost always miss.  In fact, they usually miss a lot.

Imagine the contest:  You're standing there and intend to be fast.  You hear the go signal and speed to your pistol in the holster.  You whip it out of the holster with not quite the correct form and you get that first shot off.  You can tell you're faster because you've fired before your opponent.  But you miss.  Your slower opponent performs the correct draw technique, gets proper sight alignment, presses the trigger and hits the first target.

You heard the metal being hit and, even though you were quicker from the holster, know that you're falling behind.  What do you do?  You go even faster because as you hear your opponent hit the second target you realize that you've fired three times at the first target and missed each time.  Now you're really in a frenzy and you go even faster.  Meanwhile, the slowpoke next to you is methodically downing each of his targets.

You've forgotten one of the fundamental rules of shooting.  A rule that can't be violated.  You can't miss fast enough to catch up with someone who is taking their time in knocking down targets.  The same goes for a truly stressful situation such as being in a defensive position - you can't miss fast enough to save your life.

Don't miss faster, hit smoother.

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