Todd points out the interesting phenomenon of “Range Emulation“; where someone will see Todd shooting wicked fast and will also turn into a brass fountain…except lacking the ability to actually hit the target. Tam looks at another facet of the same issue, namely how everyone’s range stories always seem to end with “and everyone was looking at me“. It makes sense that people do this, I’ve seen it happen time and time again on indoor ranges as well where someone will start shooting rapid fire, then sure enough the guy in the lane next to him will similarly go cyclic and spray a magazine at a shaken, but relatively unscathed B27 target.
There’s a similar concept in action shooting, which I’ve taken to calling the GM Syndrome. Take a relatively novice shooter, an IDPA Novice or a D-class USPSA shooter and squad them with a Grand Master or Master Class shooter – if the lower ranked shooter is still relatively new to the sport, there’s a reasonable chance they’re going to try and emulate the GM, even though they lack the skill level to do what the GM is doing. It’s only natural after all – if we see a member of a group that is really awesome at something we also enjoy for us to want to be as awesome as they are.
The emulation syndrome isn’t entirely negative, however. While the guy blazing away at his 5 yard B27 is relatively harmless, he’s not learning anything. However, take that same shooter and make him aware of his skill level and limitations, and then the desire to emulate can become an excellent learning tool. Back to that hypothetical D-class shooter squadded with a GM. Mr. D-class knows he can’t shoot as well as Dave Sevigny, and he’s okay with that. But he still wants to push his envelope and try to improve his skills, and so being squadded with a GM he tries to emulate the GM to the best of his skill level without getting out of control. All of a sudden, that dash of self-awareness has changed the emulation from a waste of money and time in to a valuable training tool.
A personal example – when I was out in Virgina at the end of the July, I had the opportunity to shoot with Todd. Todd is a much better shooter than I am; but because I’m a competitive animal I wanted to push my limits and see how fast I could go on some of the drills we were doing. The difference again though is that I didn’t push myself to the point where I wasn’t learning. The awareness of your own skill level can turn the desire to emulate someone awesome into a learning tool. Of course, for it to work the shooter has to have that awareness of their skill level coupled with a desire to improve. Some people are perfectly happy making loud noises fast with their gun and not really accomplishing anything; but hopefully the gun nuts reading this are the kind of people who are aware of their particular skill level, and when they see the Todd Green’s of this world they try to emulate what they can within their skills.