The “training scar” fallacy
is a popular myth that refuses to die. It typically stems from making unsubstantiated claims against some aspect of competitive shooting. The truth is, increased scores in competition is only possible by improving your Shot Process, which will benefit all aspects of weapon use in every environment - on the range and off.
Watch the videos above.
In “What Right Looks Like” you’ll see an accomplished shooter during sustained fire shooting error free. She keeps her shooting eye open for each shot, allowing the ability to call each shot and followthrough to maintain good control without inducing unwanted movement. Any reaction to a shot displayed in the shooter’s face/eyes indicates unintended movement and a lack of control.
In “Marksmanship Skill and Mistakes” demonstrates that even high-level shooters can make a mistake. However, you can judge the skill of the shooter by the quality of their error: here, the “mistake” still scores a ten!
The infamous El Presidente course of fire remains another popular target. Let’s review how a school like Gunsite uses a drill like this. Set up three silhouette-type targets with an identified and reasonably-sized center zone (about 8 inches across) about 10 meters away. At the command to start, turn, present, and engage each target with two shots, reload, and re-engage each with two more shots.
Gunsite suggests a par time of 10 seconds for self-loading handguns and 12 for revolvers. Score 5 points for hits in the center zone, 2 for shots outside that zone but hitting the silhouette, and 0 for misses. If completed faster than the suggested par time, add a 5-point bonus for every full second faster; if slower than the par time, deduct 5 points for every full second.
Completing the course on par with 12 centered hits scores 60 points. Gunsite Operations Manager Ed Head says, “Jeff Cooper felt anyone capable of performing this drill on demand with a suitable carry pistol and achieving a score of 45 or better was probably an expert with their firearm and carry gear.” Gunsite uses 40+ points as “Good” and 50+ points as “Great” for their students.
By practical competition standards, this isn’t terribly great shooting. Shooting in Production division (which resembles carry gear) this course is cataloged as CM99-11. Earning a Hit Factor of 6 (60 points within the suggested time described above, which is “Great/Expert” among Gunsite students) will be near the top end of the C classification bracket. C class in USPSA is a Level 2 Classification, the second-lowest skill bracket recognized by the organization and the first bracket that must be earned; D class (USPSA Level 1) is earned by simply completing classification courses without a safety infraction, regardless of the score.
The only considerable “training scar” impacting most military, law enforcement, and civilian gun owners is a general lack of skill.
A simple review of the very low standards that declare one as “qualified” on typical public sector courses exposes this. Very few military, law enforcement, and CCW people lacking competition shooting can consistently hit that 40+ point “good” level Gunsite recommends, and even that would put you with the Level 1 (D Class) shooters.
The potential problems highlighted against competitive shooting are interesting to consider but do not become relevant until a base of ability is built. Using the El Presidente course highlighted here, a shooter with a semi-automatic handgun that can’t consistently pull it off with decent hits (all on the silhouettes, most of them in the center zone) in about 12-ish seconds can not have a “training scar” because they have not yet accomplished anything resembling good training.