9-Jul-13 – 14:23 by ToddG


Following up on the Standards discussion last month, three different people in three different places recently posted three different comments that all seem related.

  1. Once you can hit a certain target at a certain speed, it’s time to work on getting faster.
  2. Once you can hit a certain target at a certain speed, it’s time to work on getting more accurate.
  3. 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:

  1. try to do it in 8 seconds instead of 10, or
  2. try to do it at 15 yards instead of 10, or
  3. 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

  1. 4 Responses to “Milestones”

  2. It seems like the issue is whether you are just trying to acquire a reasonable competency in a skill, in this case defensive pistol craft, or you have a burning desire to continue to improve, chasing what might be inconsequential increments, regardless of the effort and cost involved. I think this goes not just for firearm skills, but all sorts of pursuits. It is usually pretty straightforward to get decent at many activities, but then increasingly more difficult to get better at the higher levels.

    If you look at the FASTest, as an example, and were to analyze the effort to go from 10 to 7 to 6 to 5 to 4.5 to 4.0 to 3.5 seconds, you would see there is no rational return on investment at the faster times, and the pursuit has to be driven by something that many might fight irrational — pure passion.

    By GJM on Jul 10, 2013

  3. I agree that this applies to many areas of life and training. My main area of firearms focus is precision rifle. After shooting ONLY bolt guns for about seven years, working to get more and more accurate, my return on investment kind of leveled off. I decided that it would be fun to start shooting pistols and carbines where I could improve a lot, quickly, instead of slogging away to incrementally improve my bolt gun shooting. Which is how I ended up here.

    In the gym, I do a mix of movements and time domains, and am decent at most things. There is a hardcore group of olympic lifters who go to the same gym. They do essentially only the olympic lifts and squat, 6 days a week. After doing this for 6 months, it takes a lot of time in the gym to see each step of improvement. If they want to be the best they can possibly be at the clean and jerk and the snatch, they need to keep doing what they are doing. If they wanted to improve their overall fitness, by branching out to include some running or even other lifts, they would see improvement in those other areas much more quickly.

    It’s all about what you want out of it…

    By Carl on Jul 10, 2013

  4. Yes, for example, get a sub-7 second time on the FAST, now get a sub-7 minute time on your one mile run …

    Any takers? Anyone?

    By Ketan Chand on Jul 10, 2013

  5. Once you get there, it takes practice to stay there….so my vote is to keep on doing it. Maybe looking for smaller groups at the desired time, modify the course to add in another skill or shoot it blindfolded….. is a worth goal to have, but I would never say stop trying to do better and move on to something else just because you got there a few times.

    By KennyT on Jul 25, 2013

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