Gun Digest

Dynamics of Efficient Defensive Shooting

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Defensive shooting calls into a play a much different skill set than those utilized for precision shooting.

Will becoming a ‘better’ shooter help in a self-defense situation?

Seeking artificially high levels of precision, beyond what the target requires, during an incident is counterproductive to efficient defensive shooting. Working to simply become a better shooter, in other words spending time learning to deliver artificially high levels of precision, may not be the best way to train to survive violent encounters.

There isn’t a single level of precision appropriate to all encounters. Your need for accuracy (actually hitting the target area) doesn’t change, but the recognized precision (which tells you how carefully you need to shoot) certainly does.

Your highest efficiency in training is attained by focusing your efforts on being able to deliver appropriate levels of precision – no more, no less – on demand, as quickly as you can, without cognitive thought as to the application of your skill. The recognition of the precision needed should trigger a recall of the skills necessary to achieve it.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt of Grant Cunningham's Defensive Pistol Fundamentals.

Allowing yourself to shoot the same target over and over, focusing only on speed, is not practicing realistically. You have nothing to recognize (or, more precisely, nothing to practice recognizing) because the precision needed has been statically and arbitrarily predetermined. Your drills become a choreographed and overly mechanical test of muscle control, and you end up focusing on the anticipation of the shot as opposed to the recognition of the need to shoot.

In order to build the recognition and associative recall ability that makes for expertise, you must reduce anticipation by including options in your drills. Those options must be presented randomly, forcing the you to recognize the precision needed and then recall the necessary skills to make accurate shots inside of that area.

It’s the association of the recognition and the recalled skill that forms the links necessary for this highly efficient decision making to happen. That can’t occur unless for any given drill there is more than one option, and it’s presented randomly.

Any attempt to define a “good defensive shooting group,” regardless of what the definition may be, dooms the process to failure because there is no recognition for you to have.


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