The Goldilocks Zone

23-Oct-13 – 00:30 by ToddG


A buddy sent me a link to an article by an instructor that could be summed up as follows:

  • anyone who shoots slower than me needs better training, preferably from me;
  • anyone who shoots faster than me needs smarter training, preferably from me.

I’ll never understand the need some instructors have to carve out a definition of “just right” so narrow that only they and their adherents qualify.

How can you criticize a shooter for identifying, engaging, and hitting a threat too fast or too accurately?

Sure, I might not agree with the specific technique someone uses (or teaches) but I’d never tell someone that he hit a target too fast. Technique and execution are different things. No matter what technique someone chooses — whether it’s what I teach or something totally different — no one should criticize an ability to do it exceptionally fast & accurately.

As an instructor I might think a student is shooting too wildly. And I have tools to address that: target discrimination drills, smaller targets, greater penalties for misses, and the like. But I’d never stand up, say “I can do this in three seconds so if you do it faster, you’re wrong.”

There is no magical Goldilocks Zone of shooting speed. Being faster is never a bad thing. If someone makes an error while he’s going so fast then the issue is the mistake, not the speed. Telling someone never to go that fast isn’t the answer. Addressing the mistake is the answer. Maybe you’ll need to slow down to solve the problem correctly and that’s fine, but doing it right is the goal, not coasting at an artificial speed limit just for the sake of it.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 4 Responses to “The Goldilocks Zone”

  2. My 3 drachmas:

    There’s decision making and shooting…and it’s entirely possible to have excellent shooting skill and decision making processes that are not optimal for an environment where life is on the line and criminal/civil liability follows every bullet you fire.

    It’s also entirely possible that a lot of “tactical” guys want to junk-yard-dog somebody who has better shooting skill than they do by blurring the line between making a solid “Should I shoot this person?” decision and the ability to put bullets into his eyesocket at high speed. Use of force decision making and shooting skill are very different things and after quite a bit of training I’m unsure how much you can really tell about someone’s UOF decision making when the targets are cardboard.

    The bullets don’t leave the gun until the brain controlling it makes the decision they need to shoot. Once they’ve made the decision then putting bullets exactly where one intends to as quickly as possible is a plus, full stop. If their judgment in that situation is inaccurate then that’s the flaw…and given how pitifully few training opportunities there are for most people to practice the sort of judgment calls needed in a use of force it strikes me as silly that anyone would be bitching about how fast people shoot as if THAT’S why people lack experience making judgment under stress.

    It’s not…and it’s stupid to try and put the blame there. It reminds me of something I said in my article about competence vs. excellence:

    “The guy over there who shoots X% lower than me sucks and is incompetent, but the guy over here who shoots Y% better than me is a gamer and his stuff would never work in the real world.”

    If the gripe is that people aren’t learning enough judgment to go along with the shooting skill, then by gum FIX IT. Put a quality program together that teaches sound UOF principles and then puts people in situations where they have to make those decisions against opposing will.

    …oh, but that’s hard. Bitching about it is just so much easier.

    By TCinVA on Oct 23, 2013

  3. Ironic. When I skimmed through the headline I assumed this was about Todd’s article “Spreading Lies”.

    By vincent on Oct 23, 2013

  4. Hey, TCinVA, this is ABinMA. Think I might know you. Maybe not. But in any case, dead on with your comments here.

    Just two cents from a know-nothing here, but the difference between life/death in civilian life is far more likely to center on decision-making than on tactical skill (assuming one has at least the basic tactical competence not to put rounds into one’s own person).

    But what do I know. :-)

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    By Law of Self Defense on Oct 23, 2013

  5. Strength coach Mark Rippetoe jokingly says something along the lines of “I’m 50 and can lift x amount, so if you lift less than x you are a pussy. If you lift more than x you are probably on drugs, and therefore a pussy.”

    There’s a certain aspect of the human ego that pretty much universal in this regard.

    By Chrome on Nov 1, 2013

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