Thursday, July 2, 2009

Divided Attention

Since I'm fast running out of ammo, and both Wally World and my wallet are doing a poor job keeping up, I'm trying to make the best of my time at the range. It's fun to send bullets down range, but I sure hate to see them go. I figure while they’re headed to the backstop, they better be doing something for me as well.

On top of that, I have been thinking about entering a shooting competition, whether USPSA or IDPA, just to develop my skills and challenge myself. To that end, I have begun reviewing their rules, and trying to develop/practice skills in the necessary areas (all while obeying range rules and not giving the range officer a coronary).

This last time at the range, I wanted to practice reloading from slide lock, so I loaded three magazines with different quantities of bullets, and got to work. Because of the random number of bullets, I never knew when the gun would go empty. So, on top of normal safety rules, I had to concentrate on recognizing slide lock, manipulating the magazines, and quickly returning the gun to service; all while trying to hit the bull’s-eye. I had not done anything like that before, so my target looked horrible.

It was definitely an eye-opener for me. Most of the time at the range, I can line up in front of the target, get in the proper stance, focus on the front sight, and fire when ready. I like the way my groups look when I am able to do that.

Throw in a distraction, though, and my groups go to heck. What did this teach me? I’m not as good as I think I am. I need a whole lot more practice.

But beyond all that, I wondered how I would respond during a critical incident. A critical incident may have multiple distractions, and is, by its nature, unpredictable. As best as I can tell, these incidents don’t check your calendar for the most convenient time. You can’t pre-plan every detail. Instead, faced with a threat, you are forced to drag your mind out of whatever it was doing, and immediately bring all your senses to bear on the threat at hand. All this divided attention means it is highly likely that nothing will go textbook.

How many stories do we read about shoot-outs at incredibly close range, and yet no one gets hit. We hear stories of many rounds being fired, yet only a few finding the desired target. In the thick of the incident, it’s almost as if the body reverts to the lowest level of training. Something that would seem elementary during the calm of the range suddenly becomes infuriatingly challenging.

This is why training is important. The very basic skills need to be ingrained into our subconscious so that we do not have to concentrate on them when the time comes. That will not eliminate all possible mistakes, but it will go a long way to minimizing them.

The upside to this, of course, is that I must now return to the range so that I can practice some more. Then, I really do need to join a competition, even if only to proudly claim last place.

Now, if only I can find some ammo.

3 comments:

Carteach0 said...

Yes... I have noticed the same. Standing up and shooting bull targets is one thing, but add in reloads, motion, draw from concealment, shooting wrong hand... you name it, and the target gets safer with each distraction.

The only cure I have found is practice... complete with all the distractions. Most ranges will not allow it, and I am lucky on the score. My private club is a local place in a farming community with down to earth people. As long as a shooter is safe and considerate, there is no problem.

Anonymous said...

IDPA is really fun- you'll enjoy it and learn tons you didn't know about yourself and your weapon.
Some techniques I use to practice drills is a dummy round loaded somewhere in the mag...gives a chance to practice tap-rack-fire drill...stove-pipe and double feed drills...mag changes when a round FsTF, etc.
We don't change mags on the move- always behind cover- and the wounded strong hand drills are challengeing. My fave is the close target three-tap and the almost immediate double tap on a second near target. The trick for these is to hit the triple tap (these are on the move) with one hand shooting and switching hands for the second (opposite side) target. Too, shooting around the barricade is fun- but learn to do it with weak hand as well rather than strong side-two handed only (there is much less body exposed in such manner).
To me, the extreme close-up shooting on the run is the most fun, and surely the most challenge for me.
All in all, have fun, enjoy yourself and remember: the only person you have to beat (next time around) is yourself.
ShyIII

Lawyer said...

Thanks for stopping by!

Carteach0,

That is so true. Practice is the only way to get better. Unfortunately, the range here is a square indoor range with the normal rules. I'm going to rearrange my garage and set it up for some airsoft training. Gotta check with the boss first, though.

ShyIII,

Those are some great tips! As you suggest, I've got to work in some dummy rounds, since failure drills are another skill I have to develop.