Not many people in this business will tell you the truth. This guy does.

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Over the weekend Rory Miller (if you don’t know who he is, check out his author page on Amazon) put an interesting post on his blog. You should go read it before continuing here.

Back already? Did you read all of the article? (Promise?)

Miller makes a number of good points in his article, but there are two that I think are incredibly important in terms of defensive shooting training. First, that no one has had enough experience in the kind of defensive shooting most commonly found in the private sector (Miller correctly refers to it as the “counter-ambush side” of the equation) to really be able to extrapolate anything useful when training others. Without a large data set, singularities rule – and making training decisions based on singularities simply isn’t wise.

“Seeing the elephant” is only valid in defensive shooting if we’re talking about large herds of the beasts. In the absence of that, we’re left with studying the science which tells us how we react, and the objective evidence (video surveillance) which shows how these things actually happen. That’s the best way to increase the sample size and make reliable, fact-based choices.

The second point relates to a term I’ve been using for some time: the importance of context. As he correctly observes, military, law enforcement and private sector self defense are not the same. Yet, a whole lot of people in the training business insist that they are! I can go to any number of training websites and find a large proportion of them touting military and/or law enforcement experience as appropriate and desirable for defensive training in the private sector.

Miller comes from law enforcement, but is one of the very few who understands that what he does is not universally applicable outside of his field. This makes his observations particularly important.

Teaching techniques out-of-context, in other words outside of their sphere of origin or application, doesn’t address the actual needs of the students. This doesn’t mean, of course, that a Special Forces guy can’t adjust what he teaches to fit a civilian context. The conundrum is that if he were to do so, he’d lose much of the value of whatever experience he’s had and his SF position would become relatively irrelevant to his students. (That wouldn’t affect the marketing appeal, however.)

I’ve told many people the story about being nine years (more or less) old and traveling down a winding gravel road in the car of a family friend. The driver was fresh from New York City and found herself going too fast when she over-corrected and slid sideways down the road. Her response to the screaming children in the back seat was that she’d been driving in New York for her entire adult life and therefore knew how to handle a car safely. Even as a third-grader I recognized the foolishness of that statement, as I understood that driving stop-and-go traffic in Manhattan wasn’t the same as what she was (badly) attempting to do. This was my first recognition of context mismatch, and I’ve seen plenty since that time – especially in this field.

If you’re getting the impression that there’s more to this defensive shooting stuff than simply drawing the gun faster, you’re right.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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