Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just the Basics . . . Be A Thinking Shooter . . .


I categorize my posts on my NAS drive by a couple categories – Just the Basics, Training, Commentary . . . and a handful more. So when this post bubbled up during the day and I sat to put it to “paper” I wondered where to put it.

The catalyst was this video that made the circuit of the gunny community this past week. Take a moment to watch it, then we’ll talk . . .

I’ve not tried to track down the actual IDAP meet . . . I will make the assumption this is real video and not some staged event. Even if it is, lessons can be learned. Primarily . . . be a THINGKING shooter. Hence the category – “Just the Basics”. Keeping your head in the game, thinking . . . is a basic requirement of any shooter. If you’re unwilling to develop that skill please . . . sell your defensive weapons . . . we’ll all be a lot safer.

So how did things go so badly “off the tracks?” Well, let’s roll through the players.

First – the guy down range taping a target. If this is like most IDPA matches I’ve been to, he’s a shooter. Time between running the stage is typically filled by helping and taping a target is one of the endless tasks that need to be done for a match to run smoothly. But that’s all he’s doing . . . taping a target. He’s obviously not observing his surroundings, following the progress of the stage, keeping his head on swivel . . . thinking. One would wonder why since there are likely dozens of folks around him with loaded firearms and live fire can be heard in the background. I suspect where the comfort for him . . . the “safety” for him comes from is that this is an IDPA match and he “knows” it’s safe.

The lesson here? YOU, the shooter is what makes things safe for you! Your attention to detail, your attention to your surroundings, your willingness to keep your head in the game. Should you fail, you can die just as easily in a shooting bay as you can in the “wrong side of town”.

The Timer/RSO. Again, if this match is run like most, he too is a shooter. The assumption has been made in many of the comments that he is also a RSO. That may or may not be true. Regardless his standing it’s his demeanor that’s important. He’s focused on the shooter . . . and only the shooter . . . until the very last moment when it appears to be him that hollers STOP! He is obviously “timing” . . . not thinking. He appears to be paying little attention to his surroundings and I fear luck may have played a larger portion in noticing the shooter still taping a target than his powers of observation. He had a job to do – timing. Because that is what he was assigned to do . . . in a match . . . and that was pretty much all he was doing . . . because shooters “know” they are safe at a match.

Finally, the shooter. If you have a loaded weapon in your hand. If you are sending rounds down range . . . or placing them center mass on an imminent threat . . . YOU are responsible for every damn round that leaves the muzzle of your weapon. Period.

If you watch him he’s focused on loading his weapon and getting ready for the first stage. There is no pause to take in the stage, to glance through it, to even think to check if it’s clear. Because it’s an IDPA match . . . it’s safe.

As he moves from stage to stage he is doing just that . . . moving from stage to stage. It costs little to broaden your vision, take in more of the scene. Just like you would need to so in a real fight. If you become hyper focused . . . you die. Honestly, I don’t think he even saw the guy before the timer called STOP! And, at the very end of the day . . . it’s the shooter who is responsible for the round. Not the RSO/Timer. Not the guy pasting the target. The shooter.

So here are my take-aways from this little video.

You – the shooter – are responsible for every round.

You – the shooter – are responsible for being aware of your surroundings . . . whether it’s a shooting bay on the range, at a match or in a darkened parking lot late at night.

You – the shooter – simply must remain aware regardless of your task . . . be it timer, RSO, shooter or simply helping tape up targets.

You – the shooter – must be a THINKING shooter . . . whether on your shooting range, at a match or in the fight of your life. Because if you stop thinking, if you’re hyper focused on a single task, if you allow yourself to not be aware of your surroundings . . .

. . . you may well have a very bad day.


  1. That is still hard to believe... Rule #1 as RSO is to ensure the stage is clear!!!

  2. That is still hard to believe... Rule #1 as RSO is to ensure the stage is clear!!!