Glue, its all about the Glue
One of the things you learn attending outside training is the simple fact there are still things to learn. There is always something, even if it’s familiar but expressed differently. Look for different perspectives, it’s what turns you from a trainer to a teacher. That became evident once again this last weekend during a Karambit class I attended at the Artemis Defense Institute in Orange County California taught by Steve Tarani.
Steve has a tremendous training background in both martial arts and firearms training, Along with decades of training with the masters of the Indonesian and Philippino arts he is a well respected firearms instructor. Teaching for several Federal agencies he is also on staff at the Gunsite Academy. Coupled with decades applying this all over the world protecting others brings a very defined credibility.
It did not take long to pick up something, about an hour into his lecture my first gem hit. Talking about training purpose Steve pointed out that “the WHY is the epoxy that holds the What and How together”. Seems simple, but in four plus decades of training, teaching, and working I never recall hearing this put so simply. If I had, it did not stick, that morning it did. As this principal was applied throughout the class it was coupled with another critical concept, speed is a thing, just not the ONLY thing. Minus the “why”, the glue that holds what you do and how you do it together its just time wasted. Before you can apply technique with speed you must learn the technique. Adding speed should not be at the expense of smooth application using economy of movement and accuracy. Sounds familiar, I have been teaching this for a few decades myself. Sadly it remains one of the most often argued concepts in firearms training today.
Timers – Angels or Demons?
Skim the Internet and Social Media world and you will see someone either bowing to the almighty shot timer or burning it at the stake. Each is denigrating the other as a zealot of the wrong stripe. Truth is, that’s the biggest part of the problem, its nothing more than a tool, it will neither save your immortal soul or send it to hell. If used properly it provides benefit, otherwise it’s a waste of the time you are trying to save. It is NOT about the time alone, but how fast you can correctly apply what it is you are doing. If you make it about the “timer” or just the time it is counterproductive at best. Speed without proper application (the why) is just speed. So let’s put that into perspective.
If you are a competitor time is everything, but you shave time first through the smooth and proper application of technique eliminating as much wasted movement as possible without sacrificing accuracy. A huge part of “speed” is economy of movement. The timer is a measuring tool, not the goal, you measure your improvement to reach a goal. You are not training “to the timer” you are using the timer to measure your ability improving your technique so you become faster. You want to push yourself to the edge of accuracy then bring it back. When measuring stage times it’s more often about foot work and movement getting to each section having nothing to do with the firearm at all. The goal is to become better, speed is a bi-product of efficiency and skill. That’s where many go wrong, and where I think those blindly demonizing the timer get off base. The timer is just a tool, how you use it matters the most.
If you fancy your self a “gun fighter” its pretty much the same. Timers are an excellent means to measure how smooth and efficient you are at a given task. Using one is not a path to the “dark side”, you are safe from becoming a Sith Lord because you grabbed a timer. Nor is it going to “get you killed in a gunfight”. Use the timer to measure your draw to a threat, or that first round on the threat. As you lose wasted movement and become more proficient at aiming and trigger manipulation your time goes down. The better you get the faster you are, and yes speed does matter in a gun fight. It may be your NPOA (Natural Point of Aim), or one of a number of things. Your time is nothing more then a measure and a way to focus on a particular area of improvement.
This concept of speed through economy of movement has been demonstrated for thousands of years, long before the advent of firearms let alone a timer. Anyone who’s had someone half your size and four decades your senior clean up the mat using the Gi you’re wearing (with you in it) knows that. Anyone who has been hit four times in the time it took for you to know you were hit by a fist, foot, stick, or other instrument can relate. Shooters who are incredibly smooth, fast, and never miss are impressive. These “masters” may or may not be athletic, but they are fast, and they are because there is no wasted movement with a focus on what gets the job done. Timers are nothing more than a tool to reach that gaol, and it comes with about 100 times as much training without one as with.
So, the next time a trainer tells you a timer is “going to get you killed in a gunfight”, or speed is everything it’s time to move on, you just don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. If thats you, the trainer, get out more, it will surprise you now much better you get when you learn to “master” the skill instead of trying to “become the master”.