Shot timers are invaluable in training and in practice. It's tough to tell what your speed is without the independent confirmation of a timer. They're even handy when you're trying to check speed to first hit with various holsters -- as long as you use a target too.
It seems like everyone gets wrapped around the axle about speed: fastest draw, shortest split times, quickest transitions between targets, fastest reload – fastest back to 'ready' or back into a holster. It's not all it's cracked up to be.
In a fight, one mustn't dawdle: to do so is a good way to get measured for a wooden suit. To attempt to go faster than you can
is a critical error and sets you up for catastrophic failure. Since people are in the process of re-debating "competition versus combat" – a silly kind of controversy as most tend to be – tell me you've never gone faster than you can succeed and ended up with quick misses?
I did that recently in a sort-of shoot-off at a media event. I missed with the first shot and acted like shooting faster would solve the problem. The rounds all hit the back stop and that's a good thing -- but it's not a winning strategy.
There's no back stop out in the world. There are tragic consequences that dwarf any legal considerations and go to the center of one's being. If that's not bad enough, ever round that misses hits the proverbial busloads of nuns, each of them related to high-dollar liability lawyers and district attorneys.
No reasonable person wants to get shot, stabbed or bludgeoned but missing a shot on the street that leads to grave personal injury of an innocent is a deeper wound that can last as long as you last.
So, no speed. How fast is right? Well you have to shoot as fast as you can hit. How can you tell how fast that is?
As noted in a feature a few month back, Dave Spaulding, world class trainer and periodically a contributor to the wires, says the blink of the human eye takes around .32 second. For those who think that split times of .25 second should be measured by a sun dial, the blink of the eye must be eternity. Besides, how can you control the trigger and shoot faster than a quarter second between hits – we're not talking quick noises here, you have to hit your mark.
Rob Leatham is fond of making firearms instructors reach for consciousness-altering substances by saying we have to learn to "jerk the trigger." He's twisting your tail. It's a figure of speech. I prefer "crushing the trigger." The verb "jerk" implies violent, abrupt and uncoordinated movement. That's not
what he's doing. He is staying on target with .14 second splits – not every time on every target, but A-zone at fairly close ranges I'd imagine.
Making X-ring hits on the Gunsite Option target at seven yards in their 250 School Drill -- 2 hits from the draw in 1.5 seconds – requires the "hammer." That's two presses of the trigger with one sight picture. Seven yards is a stretch for putting both those pills in the eight-inch circle.
Again, how fast do you need to make the hits?
Size of the target relates to distance to target. Penalties for peripheral hits and misses are part of the equation too.
Instead of FAST, I prefer SURE. You can't waste time, can't fumble around. You have to use less movement to do the job. You have to clean up the gun handling. You have to have the recoil control – grip and stance, the trigger control – quick manipulation without moving the gun off threat, and the visual on the sights – in soft focus up close, to get the job done. To do those things, you have to be "sure."
Fast to the gun – get your hand moving at the start of the audible tone/as the target begins its turn – sure to the grip. Fast to the sights – get that gun up in the visual cone – sure to the trigger.
Rob Leatham and Dave Spaulding, among others, have good videos out there showing some of their presentations on these topics. Dave also has a series of videos from Panteao Productions. They show how they take elements of each of these skills, working them together in building blocks.
Dave is also teaching at venues around the country. Taking a class sure helps getting the basics – then it's critical to practice those basics. Try to make them second nature.
-- Rich Grassi