Following up on the Standards discussion last month, three different people in three different places recently posted three different comments that all seem related.
- Once you can hit a certain target at a certain speed, it’s time to work on getting faster.
- Once you can hit a certain target at a certain speed, it’s time to work on getting more accurate.
- Once you can hit a certain target at a certain speed, it’s time to work on something other than shooting.
Basically, it comes down to the question of what should you do once you’ve achieved your standard? Let’s suppose our standard was a clean (all A-zone hits) 10-second El Presidente. For a very long time, that was considered an indicator of serious pistol skill. Once you can achieve that, should you:
- try to do it in 8 seconds instead of 10, or
- try to do it at 15 yards instead of 10, or
- stop putting so much time into shooting and work on your <insert other relevant skill here>?
If you read that question and think it presents a false dilemma, I’m right there with you. Someone who’s truly serious about shooting skill is never satisfied with his speed or his accuracy limits. Once you can do a 10s clean El Prez at 10yd, wouldn’t it be great if you could improve and do a clean 8s El Prez at 15yd? Get faster and more accurate. Those efforts shouldn’t keep you from improving your other skills, either.
But once you do achieve a milestone, it’s not a bad idea to stop and think before driving on. Where will you get the most bang for your buck? What are your priorities?
A major milestone I use in terms of evaluating shooters is an Advanced (sub-7 second) score on the F.A.S.T.
Because while you can certainly be better than that — and some folks have reported some pretty amazing times! — is pushing to get a sub-5 score an efficient way for you to achieve your goals? If your interest in shooting revolves primarily around personal defense then as much as it may pain people to hear it, being good enough to turn in a consistent sub-7 on the F.A.S.T. means your skill level is far, far above that of the everyday cops and citizens who regularly prevail against violent criminals. Would being faster be better? Sure… but the likelihood of it making a difference becomes less and less the faster you get.
It’s a simple matter of diminishing returns. The costs in terms of time, money, ammo, and effort to get from being a consistent sub-7 to a consistent sub-5 are significant. For some people it’s worth it. For others, reaching that milestone — or whatever similar milestone one sets for himself — may mean it’s time to refocus efforts on other things.
No one will ever be too accurate or too fast. Improving both aspects of shooting is a worthwhile goal for its own sake. But every once in a while it’s a good idea to think about where the balance point — the “center of gravity for your skill sets” so to speak — is today versus where you want it to be next year.
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG