I have a question …


A friend sent me an email today that I think is very worthy of sharing. He is a twice retired POlice Officer, graduate of the elite Rogers Shooting School, and very seasoned firearms and tactics trainer.

What is your overall opinion of competition preparing you for a real gunfight?

What is your overall opinion of competition preparing you for a real gunfight? 

I have read and discussed (and been CUSSED on-line –mainly by competition shooters) about the benefits of competition re: prepping for a gunfight. But … 

I have shot in a bunch of competitions and while I do believe there is some benefit, I think too many folks really believe they will be able to perform at [that] level in a real confrontation. 

I think the primary benefits are: 

· -Some level of stress inoculation 

· -Weapon manipulations skills 

But, I also believe that: 

· -Life doesn’t give you a walk through before the fight. 

· -There are no fault lines. 

· -Rules? 

· -The only ‘procedural‘ I am worried about is dying. 

Is there any REAL research out there that points to competition being the ‘cat’s meow’? 

Great question – this was my response

There's no information that I know of. A possible source would be Force Science but I'm not a graduate so I can't say for sure. 

Here's my take on valuable skills I think competition contributes to. 

1) Get Ready 

Most people really don't understand this as a concept. In my classes, it's not uncommon for people to take 10 or more seconds to get their guns out to Low Ready AFTER I command Ready, when their instruction had been to draw to Low Ready upon my command. The 'three seconds' metaphor for gunfights also applies to getting ready for a gunfight. 

2) React immediately to a cue or stimulus 

Similar to Get Ready, many times people hesitate rather than getting into action in response to a cue. 

3) You're on your own 

No one else is going to shoot the stage for you, regardless of how complex the problem is. And you have to do it with an audience. 

4) You're not as good as you think you are. 

Many people, especially cops, have a highly exaggerated idea of their own competency. When they get their asses whipped (often last place) in competition, they get an inkling of how woefully weak their skills actually are. 

What they do with that revelation is a different matter but at least they get slapped in the face with a fish by it. 

5) Move safely from place to place with gun in hand and be ready to shoot. 

What people learn in competition about this is entry level but it's the only place they're ever going to get any practice at all. Even 'training' is almost entirely firing squad practice devoid of any movement skills. 

6) Follow safety protocols exactly or you're out. 

The idea that safety protocols don't need to followed in combat (Big Boy Rules) is an extremely dangerous philosophy. Just a little bit of research about the Battle of Jutland can give a stark example of how important this is. The British Royal Navy discarded their safety protocols for ammunition handling before the Battle. Several thousand British sailors were killed within a matter of hours as a result. Relatively speaking, the losses were worse than the casualties at the Battle of the Somme, which were at least caused by the enemy. 

Something else occurred to me after I sent my response to him. 

With regards to ‘Life doesn’t give you a walk through before the fight.’ Before Colonel John Boyd wrote the Aerial Attack Study, fighter pilots, with a few exceptions such as LCDR John Thach, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thach_Weave believed that fighter combat was a ‘seat of the pants’ affair that could only be learned On The Job. Colonel Boyd, through a great deal of thinking and analysis, showed that almost all engagements followed a series of patterns for which attacks and counters could be pre-planned. Something that is obvious in John Correia’s Active Self Protection videos is that criminal attacks occur in repetitive array of sequences. 

What we do have an opportunity to do is our mental preparation as a walk-through. That was the essence of Colonel Boyd’s Aerial Attack Study. Those who read the AAS will note that it is almost completely the opposite of the erroneous notion of Boyd’s Process (aka the OODA Loop) that are parroted within the gun community. Our object is not to think faster than the enemy but rather to think before the enemy. This is a subtle but extremely important nuance.

 Also Rules are an inherent part of the ‘Real World.’ A subset of Rules we have to be very conscious of is the LAW

There's more but that's a good list for a start. To your point about not being able to perform at your competition level, I generally agree. Jimmy Cirillo's first gunfight was an anomaly in that regard, though. I don't think competition is the be all and end all of preparation for countering victimization but there are certain aspects of it that we have no other way of practicing right now. 


I have watched numerous people completely go to pieces the first time they shoot a competition. I’ll turn the ‘competition isn’t reality’ comment on its head. Granted competition isn’t reality but if someone can’t perform under a small measure of artificial stress, what would lead to the conclusion that they are going to perform tremendously better when they think someone is actually trying to kill them?

By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 40 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 40 exclusive posts