Honesty: How Good Am I?

18-Oct-15 – 17:02 by ToddG

bestalone.jpgI’ve said for years, 95% of shooters think they’re in the top 5%. They’re not honest with themselves and fall into a spiral of self-congratulatory behavior for being mediocre while pretending it’s excellence.

I’ve realized recently that I fall into that same category. I’ve spent much of the past year telling myself that I was “starting from scratch” but repeatedly saw myself going too fast, whether we’re talking about a single drill or improving in general. And things felt like they were flying along smoothly. Then a couple weeks ago I took a pistol class from Ernest Langdon. This was a class I’d spent a lot of time preparing for. But it proved for naught because I was hands down the most horriblest shooter on this entire planet of Earth. And that’s no exaggeration. I was by far the worst shooter in the class. Embarrassingly so. Like, slowest one shot draw in the class (and I missed the target when we shot for score). It wasn’t just that I was worse than before: I was bad.

After some weeks of soul searching, what I’ve realized is that I’m not ready for the kind of practice I’ve been doing. I still don’t really have my grip automatic on the draw. Heck, I foul my concealment garment on the draw sometimes. These are things that shouldn’t be happening to someone who has over 10,000 rounds of practice under his belt over the past six months.

But it happened. Why? Because I wasn’t being honest with myself about where I needed to be practicing. My reload speed didn’t need improvement. My grip on the gun did. My trigger press did. I was so desperately trying to be better than I am that I flat out ignored something I know very well as an instructor: too many people try to run before they crawl.  There is only one person who can fix that.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 22 Responses to “Honesty: How Good Am I?”

  2. I’ve long assumed that I’m closer to 1% than 5. Out of all the gun “owners” I’m probably in the top 1% as far as skill is concerned. HOWEVER (comma), I also recognize that out of all the folks who take shooting seriously, it’s much more likely that I’m closer to the bottom 1%.

    By Eli F. on Oct 18, 2015

  3. Attending a national level match can give you that soul crushing defeat that brings you back to normal levels of ego

    By PPGMD on Oct 18, 2015

  4. It has to be hard going through this retraining dude. Best wishes

    By Rob E on Oct 18, 2015

  5. I’m good! but there is always someone better, that will put you in your place.
    Reality is crushing!!!


    By Rupe on Oct 19, 2015

  6. Todd,

    I know that must be tough to “start over” as it were — but you’re ridiculously tough to post that publicly.

    I bet now that you’re doing it — again — you are probably going to become an even better trainer of beginners because you’ve been there twice before!

    Looking forward to hearing more about what you’re learning this time through :)

    All my best

    By caleb on Oct 19, 2015

  7. Something else I gleaned from your experience in this article that is often talked about, but likely rarely practiced, is that it is human nature to work on things you are already good at, and to ignore or pass over those things you are weak at. No one WANTS to feel like a failure, so we find ourselves only polishing the shiniest aspects. For you it was your reloads. You may have had the most bad ass reloads, but were having trouble establishing a grip on the gun on draw and with trigger control. It takes hard honesty and high discipline to admit that maybe you can let the shine wear off a little on the reloads, if it means you bring the rest of your skills up to the same level, and to actually do it.

    By Michael D on Oct 19, 2015

  8. I think you told me once, sometimes you have to take one step back to go two steps forward.

    By Jimmy Creed on Oct 19, 2015

  9. I really like someone who can be this candid

    By Joe on Oct 19, 2015

  10. Hummmmmmmm

    By Dale McClellan on Oct 19, 2015

  11. Wow, thats brutal Todd. Thanks for posting. Not to make excuses you don’t want made, but really, I think you have pretty good reason to be where you are at right now. Some of the rest of us, well that is a different story. I was humbled at Ernest’s class the week after you were. I didn’t do bad, but was once again not as good as I thought. Back to the drawing board.

    By Mike on Oct 19, 2015

  12. I remember Ken Good saying (paraphrased) that in order to get really good at a martial art, you have to be willing to risk death, pain, or your ego…

    By Smithjd on Oct 19, 2015

  13. Thanks, all.

    By ToddG on Oct 19, 2015

  14. Right off the bat, I would like to say how much I like Pistol-Training.com! I direct my students to your website and practice many of the drills you’ve posted! GREAT JOB!

    Well, I fall right into the category of top 5% and probably higher. I have a pic on my website of a pink B-27 with two shoot-n-c bullet covers as the eyes. A doctor in a private class with me wanted me to shoot his new Smith & Wesson Shield (I had never shot one before) and as mentioned in class, “you must be confident, competent, and proficient with your weapon & weapon system”. The time to learn what you need to learn to save your is NOT when your life is on the line!’

    At 15 feet, two handed and in 1.5 seconds, I struck the first shoot-n-c dead center (left in the photo). I then took the gun one-handed and in 2 seconds or less, struck the other cover just a little off center.

    As an NRA & concealed carry instructor (13 & 6 years respectively), my first and foremost attitude is comfort at arms. I don’t care about awards, trophies or medals.

    I dry practice nightly and as a reloader (Lee Classic Turret & Dillon 650) I shoot 1200-1500 rounds per month. In my last class of 37 people at Front Sight during the man-on-man steel plate competition, I placed 2nd when I should have placed first…it was close.

    Be Safe and Stay in Condition Yellow,


    By Rick Cross on Oct 20, 2015

  15. When I attended my first AFHF class in 2011, I really thought I was a decent shooter. On the first drill, a dot drill, I showed what I was capable of by putting all my rounds through the same hole. Then came the FAST drill and I proceeded to show how much my draws and reloads really sucked.

    But with the techniques I learned in the class, and a lot of practice, I have greatly improved.

    If it were easy it wouldn’t be fun!

    By Kirk in Utah on Oct 20, 2015

  16. I’ve been a fan of this website for years and I attribute the drills and articles posted here to making me a solidly mediocre (by PT standards) shooter. Your website has provided a baseline against which to measure myself. Sometimes I’m hitting Advanced times clean on the FAST drill, and am working on doing it consistently. The struggle continues.

    By redwal on Oct 21, 2015

  17. I have always been impressd with your candor Todd, which you express regularly. Frankly, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy this site. I greatly admire this most recent post, and the work that you are doing and must do daily in your life. Best wishes as you continue on.

    By Christian on Oct 25, 2015

  18. You’ll be back into the grove before you know it and crush your old records.

    By Mitchell, Esq. on Oct 25, 2015

  19. Admitting failure on the range puts you above the vast majority of shooters. I can’t count the number of times I’ve overheard someone on the range say that their shooting was, “good enough for self defense” or good enough to, “scare away the bad guy”.

    If you don’t rock yourself to sleep at night by telling yourself, “you’re good enough,” then you are ahead of most that own or possess a firearm for self defense or duty.

    By Steve on Oct 27, 2015

  20. Good to hear you’re training again!

    It seems to me that the majority of people have no idea what proficiency in shooting means. Your view differs from the norm in that it uses a *completely different scale*. Perhaps you are no longer on that scale.

    You know what to do and I am confident you will rebuild your skills to their previous levels.

    No matter how a training day goes DO NOT FORGET TO HAVE FUN!

    By Tom RKBA on Oct 28, 2015

  21. In a class that I took from John Farnam, he stated that “you learn nothing from success…you learn by failing. One should always embrace the opportunity to fail magnificently! It crushes your ego for a while when you do, but then the growth occurs so it must be ultimately worthwhile. At least that’s what I keep telling myself!?

    By Sharon on Nov 3, 2015

  22. Todd:
    You are living proof of the importance of the Cardinal Virtues: Courage, Competency, Self-Control (personal humility), and Justice. “It is how high we bounce after hitting the ground” (Patton?) that matters. If I took your mental state to the range every time I trained, I would suck less!

    By David "Bo" Bolgiano on Nov 6, 2015

  23. Thank you, Bo!

    By ToddG on Nov 6, 2015

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