You’ve seen it before. A guy who only “trains” like he would fight. I used to be that guy after I left the Corps (Honorable, infantry for those interested). In a way, it’s easier to simply go take a carbine/handgun “tactical” class than it is to decipher UPSA/IDPA rules, match times, and more importantly to find a match local to you and to set aside the hours needed in order to attend a match and shoot for seconds.
There’s a lot of pluses to “tactical” training classes.
- You start off from zero. With a competent instructor, so long as you’re safe, you will learn.
- It’s a much better use of eight hours with regards to learning purposes. You will be shooting or learning in some form for eight hours a day, roughly.
- Although gun gamers deride “Tactical Timmys,” there’s something to be said for learning how to draw your weapon from concealment, use a white light for target ID properly (safely), and to how to shoot and move. Though we live in a fairly safe nation, being ready for home defense is a good thing
- You get to shake out your gear, see what works, and benefit from having an instructor there to guide you. Roughly akin to going to college as opposed to trying to self educate.
- Plateaus. Folks hit a certain plateau and stay there. I’ve been to my fair share of “tactical carbine” classes and I’ve learned at least three different versions of where to place my legs when shooting from barricades. I didn’t really get better at doing this. The carbine classes where I got better involved being held accountable for times on drills and accuracy. In other words, if your instructor isn’t sporting something like this, you may be attending a “bro fest” or “entertrainment” (hat tip to Mr Vickers for coining that term) where you won’t progress as a shooter. If you’re not improving over the years, you might be wasting your time and ammo.
- Stagnation. Seems similar to “plateaus” but if you see the same guy only attending “tactical” classes for literally years, it’s a safe bet he can scan and assess like a mofo’ while wearing his carefully chosen multicam but won’t be placing well in an environment where the drills are “stages” designed by someone else, and his peers or competitors are shooting these stages with a wide variety of weapons types, concealment (or not) gear, and sights. My first USPSA match was bewildering. There was no set way to do anything. I had to think, I had to try different things in order to succeed (not that well either, but I’m still learning this whole “competition” thing). It may be time to try something different when you see the same circle of people doing the same thing for literally years.
- Jeff Cooper honed his pistol skills in competitive matches in California after he saw combat.
- Combat veteran Ernest Langdon bought a Sig P220 and used it to make history against very expensive 1911s, being the first person to win IDPA Nationals in the Custom Defensive Pistol division with a double/single-action pistol (SIG P220). He also has a habit of winning 3 gun matches.
- Personal friend and stellar carbine trainer Jack Leuba knows a thing or two about combat. That doesn’t keep him from getting out there and competing with a carbine and a pistol. This year, he did something crazy and competed in a carbine match with a 7.62 AR. The only person who beat him (in the complete match, using a much easier to shoot AR15 no less) was Jerry Barnhart. Match results here. Folks, that is beyond amazing shooting.
So, if you want to progress as a shooter…don’t get hung up on being tactical. It’s OK to have fun shooting. It really is. I know that serious folks like serious training but I’m the self deprecating type so I’ll go out and get my ass kicked at USPSA. I’ll follow that up with another Pat Rogers class. Why another tactical class? Because I go to where the great instructors are. I’ll happily admit that the tactical and competitive shooting worlds can overlap. Also….Pat Rogers classes are fun. Some of the students are serious people doing serious training but the instructor (Pat) somehow makes being professional yet humorous and positive a better way of learning how to be a better tactical shooter.
One real world example is the infamous “Rangetime with Cory and Ericka” debacle. Cliffnotes: Cory and his wife Ericka had a nice little business providing “tactical” style training with pistols and carbines. Cory lied and said he was an 11B (Army infantry rifleman). He was disproven of this very publicly (never made it through Basic). Now both of their names are mud and rightly so. Imagine if Cory had withstood the allure of camouflage, being tactical, and so on; perhaps focused on say…..shooting. He might be in a very different place today as say, a 3-gun or pistol champion with no pretensions and no lies to his name.