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Marksmanship as a point of firearms safety.


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Marksmanship as a point of firearms safety.

Continuing our discussion on safety, we want to discuss how marksmanship can play a further role in safety on the range and dynamic training.

In order to advance the level of reality, stress, confidence, and perhaps ability, firearms training has to progress beyond a square range mentality. This may involve shooting while moving, shooting at moving targets, and shooting near other shooters that may be ahead or behind what would traditionally be called the firing line. The last situation is what we will be discussing in detail in this article.

There is a lot of controversy over training methods that place studnets downrange during active, live-fire scenarios.

Many words that come up when discussing this type of training are: high-level, advanced, high intensity, stress inoculation, reality-based, force-on-force, team mentality, trust, and acceptable risks.

We are a fan of most of the above, but not the last one. We believe that with prior planning, proper safety precautions, and stringent training rituals we believe the term "acceptable risks" should not be in the training dialogue.

Defining the difference between daredevil and stuntman comes to mind in this type of training.

A daredevil will attempt a death-defying act where the result of failure results in a high probability of great injury or death. In contrast a professional stuntman does everything in their power to bring the odds of failure to the lowest probable percentage of failure because they want to have a long and safe career without injury.

We see a lot of daredevil training masquerading as thoughtfully planned out, or what we call highly choreographed stunts.

Being shot while wearing a bullet-proof vest does not accomplish anything, or prove anything. (The vest is designed to stop bullets so it is simply doing it's job.)

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Returning fire and shooting a round mere inches away from another individual's head requires skill, confidence, trust, and hundreds upon hundreds of repetitions.

This demonstration of skill (or highly choreographed stunt) with a high level of repetition does a few things; one of them being: it removes almost all stress from the exercise and thereby nullifying one of the greatest factors that affects our abilities on the street. (Nothing can completely replicate the effects of stress or rather what most would experience on the streets, fear.)

The next thing this type of demonstration does is encourages less skilled individuals to give it their best shot trying to replicate what they have seen on YouTube - "monkey see, monkey do".  We already see enough videos of individuals injuring themselves to know that this happens far too often.

The last thing, it promotes is an acceptable amount of risk mnetality in the "high speed-low drag", "tactical operator" community.

However we believe that there are many alternatives to live fire wherein if an unforeseen circumstance arises (perhaps even as simple as a weapon malfunction) a potentially fatal injury should not occur, such as the use of simunitions, airsoft, or the MILES system. These are widely accepted as safe practices and accomplish the same level of proficiency in training.

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There is a recent story about a fairly popular instructor who shot one of his assistant Instructors 3 times in an "unfortunate incident" and admits that "he made a mistake, and these things happen."  Another popular instructor called this incident a "terrible accident" and noted that he is glad it did not happen to him and goes on to brag that "even though the two tout the internet reputation of being 'the two worst firearms instructors that you have ever heard of,' well at least you have heard of them." This is not a reputation to be proud of, no matter how "controversial" you want to be.

Does being proficient in marksmanship mean you can overlook safety? How can you measure acceptable risk?

To sum up marksmanship as a point of firearms safety we are going to once again refer to The Universal Firearms Safety Rules and see how many of these basic rules get violated when you let arrogance, ignorance, or acceptable risk enter the downrange picture.

1. Treat all weapons with respect and always handle as if they were loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off of the trigger and outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
4. Know your target and what is in line with it.

and leading into our next article on Considerations when choosing what type of instruction or instructor is right for your needs.

Before moving into more dynamic training like some of the examples stated above we want to again stress how all training should be evaluated, we again need to take a look at the "3 S's"

  1. Is it Safe? (If the training puts an instant pit in your stomach and makes you cringe... perhaps there is another way to accomplish the same results?)
  2. Is it Simple? (Is the technique easy to learn and able to be mastered, or overwhelmingly difficult and complex?)
  3. Is it Street Proven? (Does a reputable firearms training facility, or law enforcement academy utilize this technique? or does it seem like the Instructor made it up on the fly?)

To review all the articles in this series click on the links below:

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