Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pearls of Wisdom From The Greatest Generation Part 1

Pearls of Wisdom From The Greatest Generation Part 1

-Select quotes from “Shooting to Live” –

Fairbairn and Sykes

I am utterly amazed that I have not read this piece before now, I’ve seen it mentioned many times over, have seen it available when shopping for other books but have never pulled the trigger on it so to speak until know. The following is just a list of quotes from the book that jumped out at me for a variety of reasons.

“It must not be inferred on that account that we in any way decry the sport of target shooting. On the contrary, we admire the high degree of skill for which it calls and which we personally cannot emulate.”

“Target shooting has its place and we have no quarrel with it. There probably will quarrel, however, when we go on to say that beyond helping to teach care in the handling of fire-arm, target shooting is of no value whatever whatever in learning the use of the pistol as a weapon of combat. The two things are as different from each other as chalk from cheese, and what has been learned from target shooting is best unlearned if proficiency is desired in the use of the pistol under actual fighting conditions.”

Now don't get me wrong here, my reason for quoting this piece of text is not to bash competition shooting in general, during the time when this work was being written USPSA and IDPA were non-existent. Bull's-eye was the pistol sport of the day,  but that being said we still need to reflect on the matter of USPSA and IDPA as well as what commonly passes for training as related to the carrying of arms in this country.

I think we all need a little reminder every now and then that USPSA and IDPA are no substitute for attending proper training when it comes to fighting with a handgun. This is should also reinforce the known that the basic marksmanship class that many take to meet training requirements is just not good enough. I'm very happy to see the widely available training. I think Fairbairn and Sykes would be pleased with the many programs available today.

“…you may find that you have to shoot from some awkward position, not necessarily even while on your feet. There is no exaggeration in this analysis of fighting conditions. Here we have a set of circumstances which in every respect are absolutely different from those encountered in target shooting. Do they not call for absolutely different methods of training?"

Weaver, Iso, Modern Iso, whatever your favorite flavor is, if you sudenly find yourself going for your gun, and incorporate any kind of movement, you're not going to be in your favorite stance. One of the things that I do like about IDPA etc. is that some match directors like to get some unorthodox shooting "positions" in there. 

"To answer this question, we much consider the essential points which emerge from our analysis. They appear to be three in number, and we should set them out in the following order: -

1: Extreme speed, both in drawing and firing
2: Instinctive, as opposed to deliberate aim.
3: Practice under circumstances which approximate as nearly as possible to actual fighting conditions.

Instinctive aiming, the second essential, is an entirely logical consequence to the extreme speed to which we attach so much importance. That is so for the simple reason that there is no time for any of the customary aids to accuracy. If reliance on those aids has become habitual, so much the worse for you if you are shooting to live. There is no time, for instance, to put yourself into some special stance to align the sights of the pistol, and any attempt to do so places you at the mercy of quicker opponent."
 This will be touched on a little more in depth in my review of the Point Shooting Progressions Course I recently attended but some things covered therein and some things seen as something that needs to be addressed in training regarding to close range encounters. Again on the training aspect, I hope this information reaches those that think they're NRA Basic Pistol Course is all they need in terms of firearms training. Don't get me wrong, the Basic Course is fine for teaching fundamentals etc. but it's incredibly lacking in regards to defensive use of the pistol.

"We cannot claim that the system produces nail-driving marksmanship, but that is not what we look for. We want the ability to hit with extreme speed man-sized targets at very short ranges under the difficult circumstances which have been outlined all ready. Nail-driving marksmanship will not cope with such conditions."
I can't say I agree or disagree on this. Again, in the PSP course we worked on a lot of things that I had done in other training classes, such as the Langdon Tactical Inc, Advanced Tactical Pistol Course, some drills / exercises were almost identical expect that we were using sighted fire in one and "point shooting" in another. I would say that I had more accurate hits in the Langdon class, but more hits in the PSP class, and they were not what I would call inaccurate. While we did a LOT of moving in the Langdon class, we did FASTER moving in the PSP course but the lack of waiting for perfect sight alignment / sight picture allowed for a lot more shots on target resulting in more hits, and while they weren't all in the "down zero"

There's a saying attributed to Bill Jordan:

"Speed is fine, accuracy is final."

Where this falls into this moment I'm not quite sure what the correct balance of speed vs. accuracy is. I've been trying to improve my ratio of both speed and accuracy and as of right now I think I have to go with getting good hits and with more time and practice the speed will improve.

"In this training system nothing is permitted to interfere with the development of speed. For that reason we have steadily set our faces against competitions or rewards of any kind. The instant that competitions, with the accompanying medals, badges, etc., are introduced, men will try to shoot deliberately, whether consciously or not, and we find our object is being defeated."
 Man, did this one strike home or what? When you look at the history of the Leather Slappers, USPSA, IDPA, or any kind of scored's impossible to refute the above quote. I got in to IDPA for the "practice" aspect of it and to have a better avenue to apply what I've learned in training and I find myself trying to shoot more for score and competition and I know I'm not the only one. At the end of last season I was pretty determined to leave the game aspect of it behind and I will try to hold myself to that and not care where I place.

"Without adequate knowledge of it’s use, there can be few things so purposeless and dangerous as a pistol. Adequate knowledge comes only from competent instruction."

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but just thought I'd share this quote.

"…the starting point in choosing a pistol should be to buy the best pistol they can afford for the particular purpose in view. If a pistol is needed at all it may be needed very badly indeed, and poor quality contributes nothing to either safety or piece of mind."

After reading I don't know how many "What gun should I buy?" threads and being asked this question repeatedly, I think this is probably one of the best answers to that question I've ever seen.
 " If the long shot gives you enough time to be deliberate, so much the better, because the two-handed position…permit almost rifle-like accuracy. But do not take it for granted that you will have time to be deliberate. It is wiser to assume that you will not, and it will be to your advantage, therefore, to practise all three of the two-handed methods at the same surprise targets as are used for short-range work. ... We have condemned sights for all forms of short-range shooting, but for long shots such as we have been describing, sights offer a distinct advantage. We have little faith however, in those usually furnished. Good as some of them are for use against a white target and a black bull’s eye, there are very few that can be picked up instantly against a dark background, and this difficulty is increased to the point of being insuperably if the light is bad."

They then went on discussing "after market" sights in those days, I think they'd be huge fans of the XS Big Dots and other offerings of high visibility sights such as the Trijicon HD sights.

Stopping Power

"WE approach this subject with considerable diffidence. We regard it as essentially one in which theory should be discarded in favour of practice, but even practice, as evidenced in carefully noted records over a number of years, does not lead us to any finality in the matter. Instead, it provides us with so many contradictions that we eel that anything approaching dogmatism would be most unwise."
 "We have tried to solve by experiment this question of the knock-down blow, but there is no satisfactory way of doing it."

"To sum up, all that we have done in this chapter is to provide instances of how various types of weapons and their loads have not run true to form. Preconceived ideas, based on theory or perhaps hearsay, seem to have been upset."

"We do not know that a big soft lead bullet will not have the kncok-down effect generally claimed. All we can say is there we have never seen it. We do not know for certain either, that a full-jacketed high-velocity small-calibre bullet will always have the effect described in the particular instance which we have given."

"Those readers who have had the patience to follow us fo far will most likely be justifiably irritated by our inconclusiveness. We can imagine them saying “But there must be one or two kinds of pistol that are better than all the others. Why on earth cant they tell us what they are?”"

I find it both disheartening and amusing that we are still some 60 years later caliber debates amongst service calibers are still taking place. 100 years fro now will "we" be debating which is better, the phased plasma rifle in 40 watt range or 20  watt range?

"If that question is asked, we should reply that for ourselves, we should choose the pistol which, while being easy to carry and convenient to use would conform most nearly with the following requirements:-

(1) The maximum of stopping power.
(2) The maximum volume of fire.
(3) The maximum speed of discharge"

I wonder what Fairbarin and Sykes would think of today's guns? Would they be packing Glocks?

"Whatever the position in which the holster is worn, great care should be taken to ensure that its design and method of attachment to the belt provide the maximum of resistance when the pistol is drawn."
 While I know a lot of people like them, this one strums a special chord with me and my dislike of attachment-less holsters such as your various "sticky" holsters.

"Turing now to holster for other purposes, we strongly recommend the reader to be satisfied only with the best and to take any amount of trouble in order to get it."
Just say no to Uncle Mikes and Fobus. 

1 comment:

  1. "3: Practice under circumstances which approximate as nearly as possible to actual fighting conditions."...

    Hence my recent thoughts on muzzle flash and practicing at night or in low-light conditions... which is so often overlooked...

    Great book... "Shooting to Live"...

    Dann in Ohio