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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2012 Digital Edition - Page 30
REALITYCHECK TM FIrst-PersoN tHoUGHts oN sUrvIvING IN tHe reAL WorLD cLINt sMItH Credentials, Science and Safety Bull I once was told by a grumpy reader not to use this column as a podium for my personal opinions. This seems odd because if I write about tactics or review a gun, I think it would be my considered opinion, correct? Every once and awhile an opinion is a good thing. We all know opinions are like butts and brains — everybody has one, although the latter is sometimes not used well. Here are some opinions about subjects I have dealt with for 40 years. You’ll need to decide if this works for you. If you’re going to a local gun school because of limited funds for travel distances, everyone can understand those issues. It would be a good thing to know the person next to you on the firing line wasn’t a prior felon, so the school you attend should at least require documented credentials for students. You should be able to stand next to someone and train without having to consider the strong probability of having to shoot him next week while attempting to rob you on the street. It would also be nice if the instructor had credentials or exposure. It matters not if they wore an eagle globe and anchor, a beret of any color, a set of flippers or a badge, and none of these items means they can teach. Today there are bunches of people who pushed up berms from Washington State to South Texas, who really get bent when you ask for credentials. Credentials are like a birth certificate — if you got one, show it. Oddly, sometimes simply credentials just don’t do it. Just because somebody belonged to spec-ops something — remember parachute packers, cooks and plane loaders belong to the same organization — are they trigger pullers or cooks? And anyone of them can instruct shooting because of why? When you go to a school it isn’t actually all about what the instructor did in the past or even knows; it’s about what the instructor can teach you. Ask for credentials, and be willing to give some right back. science And safety I just glanced at a magazine about concealed carry guns where the editor talked about how they attended a school and the instructor was teaching all kinds of cool moves, as well a dose of magic focus stuff, “… cause you ain’t gonna’ look at the sights in a fight.” The finger off the trigger, instructor confirmed this information to solid sight picture, the class as being correct because it was strong weaver and based on his or other people’s scientific the taped thumb studies. So is this like global warming? means suzi’s been Show me the study done by whom, over practicing — again. what period of decades. For every one you should too. of these studies, I will give you someone who did look at the sights. The difference mostly being my non-scientific study group hit the target. Often “science” is like figures, and sometime figures lie, and liars figure. The safety part comes to this: The four rules Jeff Cooper wrote down. Like him or not, he was the consummate documenter of practical pistol craft. No one worth any salt teaching today cannot trace some linage back to Cooper. We all stole something from him, if you were smart. Often, instructors of today who can’t go there linage-wise, tend to want to make up “new” safety rules trying to be “innovative” or “evolve” … Evolve to what? Keeping your finger off the trigger? Was keeping your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target so hard to remember it had to evolve? You can outsmart yourself too. I was teaching in Texas and a student, who is now a self-declared instructor, decided to reload by tactical load even though it wasn’t needed. With a finger on the trigger she reloaded and blew a hole through the simulator wall, spraying Heidi and I with wood and projectile fragmentation. So the “instructor” treated the rifle like it was loaded, the muzzle was pointed somewhere, the finger-trigger thing was supposed to be in effect and the backstop was …? Looks like the instructor whacked all four of those old archaic rules. Here’s a revelation and evolution for you. Keep your finger off the trigger unless you are going to shoot, and don’t load weapons when they don’t need it. ew gun people often remember one thing — they saw it on TV. Because they saw it on TV, a DVD or read it in a book doesn’t make it true. There are ex-cons, non-incarcerated frauds and undocumented expert “instructors” out there in the firearms industry teaching, and on TV. This is like Charlie Sheen and Demi Moore playing the part of Navy SEALs. Because you saw in on a screen or TV doesn’t make it true. Skill and proficiency does not buy television time slots — money does. As I wander closer toward retirement of some kind, I’m truly amazed after 40 years; instructors and students are still looking for short cuts to shooting well. Here’s a tip: Line up the sights, look at the sights while you press the trigger without moving the sights on the target, then repeat as required. If a bad person is choking you, you’re too close and won’t be able to look at your sights. Shoot them at the end of the muzzle until they let go of you, then back up and look at the sights and shoot them some more until they leave you alone or go away. The sights are always going to suffer under duress in a fight, and that’s exactly why trigger control and proper application of the trigger is critical. You want magic? Go to the county fair. You want firearms skill? Practice, and practice some more. You’ve all heard the adage, “Life is hard. Even harder if you’re stupid.” The problem of shooting well is hard; and you can make it even harder if you want to. N A Couple More ThiNgs * 30 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY2012