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Weapons familiarity as it relates to ability

Discussion in 'Tactics and Training' started by Deaf Smith, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. Guys,

    I was practicing yesterday out on the open range doing all kinds of fun hip shooting and I noticed I shot better than the other people there, yet I was firing from the belt level at speed with me drawing, concealed, and quite a bit of it was at 15 yards. So it occurred to me this.

    I know we all talk about point shooting .vs. sighted fire, or 'MT', front sight focus, 'flash sight picture', or stances like Weaver, Chapman, Isosceles, Reverse Weaver, or thumbs up .vs. thumbs down on gripping, etc... But in reality it seems to me the technique, or even the weapon, is not as important as how familiar you are with it.

    Not talking about just being able to clean it, or shoot it abit on a square range, but real familiarity. The familiarity to use the weapon at a moment’s notice without thinking.

    I suspect some of the low hit rates on the street have to do with this more than anything else no matter what technique is taught or weapon used.

    Cause you see, I know my hip shooting is an inferior technique, especially at 15 yards, but all the other people there were casual shooters and really they were not truly familiar with their guns.

    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  2. Blaster

    Blaster Hunc tu caveto

    Feb 2, 2000
    I think it is not so much familiarity with the weapon as it is familiarity with how to use the weapon. Deaf, I agree with what you are saying. I am just trying to further define the idiosyncrasies that enable one to do what you did.

    Consider the guy with marginal trigger control (the average shooter). Now ask him to shoot one handed from the hip. The support hand that could have mitigated some of induced poor trigger control is absent. What is the result? It is not going to be pretty, certainly not effective fire. This guy probably has some anticipation going on, flinching too.

    Have you ever spent some time talking to or watching shooters at the range? Many, even some of the more experienced folks will say that they wait to fire when the line is quiet. The guys who have been through formal tactical training and have shot timed drills in a line seem impervious to adjacent gunfire. Again this is the familiarity factor kicking in. Familiarity with the process and the ability to concentrate on the task on hand while blocking out surrounding distractions.

    Now you take a guy who has no issues with trigger control. Someone who knows how to present a weapon. Lets say a Modern Technique guy who has always done it by the sights and ask him to Point Shoot.

    This is where the familiarity kicks in. This guy knows what to do and how to do it. Smooth trigger press from the Weaver or from the hip is still smooth. Indexing the gun from the Weaver stance has become automatic, the sights are used only to verify alignment. Now this guy just has to adapt to aligning the gun from a new location. Yes without the sights in this case but since this guy has a firm grasp on all the basics it is not a difficult task to adapt to.

    I respectfully submit that it is familiarity with the process as much as with the gun. They go hand in hand.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2010

  3. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Good post! It's an issue I have w/ many shooters, including LEO. Just because you carry a gun everyday doesn't give you automatic skill w/ that gun. I see it all the time, civ & LEO shooters. If you only shoot 3-4x a year & never practice even dry firing in bewtween, you are gloing to get rally rusty really quick.
  4. English


    Dec 24, 2005
    Sorry Deaf, I don't think your hypothesis stands up. One of the best and fastest sights shooters I know, and he really is fast, did not manage to hit a large upper body target at 5 yards with a 5 shot string more than two or three times in three attempts. That is, two or three hits in 15 shots. He was so embarrassed at what he expected to be easy that he did not try again. He is very familiar with his handgun and it did not help. On the other hand, less accomplished shooters who were humble enough to take a little instruction were able to make 5 hits in under three seconds from waist level and one was well under half that.

    I think you learn to point shoot by point shooting. If you come to it without preconceptions you learn faster. If you have a little competent instruction you learn faster still.

    Your case is exceptional. You have been denying the value of point shooting for years, it seems like decades, except in two instances. One is retention shooting and the other is shooting in poor light where it is not possible to see the sights. In the latter case you have maintained that all that is necessary is to present the pistol as though you could see the sights and the shot would be close enough. Point shooting is far more varied and versatile than that, but the thing that makes you exceptional is that you train extensively and frequently and in that training you have practised those two forms very thoroughly. In effect you have put yourself through the first lessons of a point shooting course and practised and practised again. You are not just dedicated but highly talented. In the course of this regular practice you have developed much of the proprioceptive skill you need for a much wider point shooting skill set. It is not the least surprising that you discovered that you were better than others. I would be surprised if that had not been the case.

  5. ronin.45


    Apr 24, 2008
    Competition shooters are as familiar with thier firearms as anyone can be. If you took 100 competition shooters to a range and had them hip shoot at a target 15yards away, 90 of them probably wouldn't hit the target. I think hip shooting is much more about familiarity with the technique than with the weapon. Knowing the weapon would make it much easier but most people have never tried to shoot from the hip and it is nothing like any other kind of shooting. You have obviously practiced it extensively to group well at fifteen yards. That is really extreme range for hip shooting.
  6. sapper1911


    Nov 3, 2009
    Great post deaf. here's my humble opinion. I would geuss that it is a combination with familiarity with the firearm, familiarity with the technique, overall confidence in ones ability, and finally an open mind. I would also guess that in English's experince that the shooter may be either too confindent / cocky that he got crushed on the first miss (something I have experinced) or the shooter had already decided that this technique is not as good as thier's and therefor expect to miss (somethig else I've experinced).
  7. English,

    Just because one has a bad day does not invalidate the hypothesis.

    Actually English, I have always maintained that the basic core is a form of sighted fire and retention shooting.

    And once this is mastered then if you want to learn point shooting, or long range shooting, or aerial shooting, etc.. Then I encourage it. It's just not the basic core one learns first and is not an absolute necessity.

    I have been hip shooting ever since high school and reading Jeff Cooper (he wrote about Thell Reed and his hip shooting feats.) But it takes buckets of ammo to get that skill and you have to keep it up more than you would if you just used a form of sighted fire and retention shooting. And that is why I don't push it as a method for most people.

    But a form of sighted fire and retention is alot easier to obtain and keep with, especially with a limited budget. And as Jeff Cooper wrote about his Modern Technique and presentation, "even if you cannot see the sights, you bring the weapon up AS IF YOU COULD SEE THE SIGHTS".

    When you think about it, you do the same thing with point shooting as for the indexing to the target.


  8. This is true. And you will find that if you change weapons that have a different grip to bore angle it will have an effect on where the rounds hit.

    When I use Smtih revolvers I have to cock my wrist down abit, but with Colt revolvers I cock the hand up a bit to compensate. And Glocks are closer to the Smith revolvers than Colts (but not exactly.)

    And since I pack Glocks more than anything, that's my main shooting platform now. I compete with the same type of weapons as I pack. Even down to the trigger pull.

  9. PhoneCop

    PhoneCop TeleDetective

    Jan 6, 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    Could I summarize this as, "10,000s of rounds and hundreds of hours each year matter more than adherance to a doctrine?"
  10. PhoneCop

    PhoneCop TeleDetective

    Jan 6, 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    Please test this, there ought to be a USPSA match near enough for you to visit some Sat and Sun. I'm sure they'd also welcome you to shoot the match with them. Also consider putting both point shooting at 15 yards on a timer and sight fire on a timer. Let us know what washes out.
  11. ronin.45


    Apr 24, 2008
    I might have to set this up at one of our outdoor shoots. It will have to wait til the weather breaks though. We got like three feet of snow last month and it isn't gone yet.

    Having tried hip shooting before I can guess the outcome. At fifteen yards anyone that does hit the paper will be more lucky than anything. We have done speed drills from the holster. We draw at the buzzer and put one round on target as fast as we can. Most of us only hit the paper a few times from the hip and that was only at 15'. We found it was almost as fast and much more accurate to point shoot with the gun almost at full extension with both hands. It slows you a little but having the second hand on the gun stabilizes it and helps get it centered on target. We were able to consistantly get a shot on target in .90-.95 seconds. If you practice hip shooting extensively you could probably shave a couple tenths of that, but it's not worth it to me.

  12. Don't know about 10,000 rounds PhoneCop but mucho hours each year for several years for sure! I'd say maybe 2400 rounds a year, about 200 rounds a month and alot of repetition. will do it over the years.

    Go to a dojo and see some of the better students in any martial art. You will find the ones that can take care of themselves practice alot, both inside and outside the dojo (or boxing club for that matter.) And a few of them can actually do those fancy trick kicks and get them to work on the street.

    And yes, far less adherence to a doctrine that being able to actually do it, do it fast, and hit hard.

    As Jeff Cooper once wrote, "a poor plan, executed so fast your opponent cannot intelligently counter it, is a good plan.".

  13. Ronin,

    Thell Reed would hip shoot coffee cans at 75 YARDS. But Jeff Cooper said he did have to do a 'sighter shot' to get the round on target.