People want to do what is fun. If it is not fun or entertaining, they tend to avoid it. As a result, they will get good at the fun thing only. That describes perfectly the state of gun skills in the world today. Shooters is how they identify themselves and the act of sending bullets downrange into cardboard or steel, sometimes for a score, is how their pursuit is measured. And there is nothing wrong with that if that is the end goal itself. But if the objective is fighting skill, that is a very incomplete process.

It is like a race driver only turning left in a big circle and thinking he is a great pursuit driver, in traffic. Or a cardio kickboxing advocate throwing a flurry of punches into the bag (while the score from Rocky plays in the background) declaring himself ready for a street fight. Not quite. In fact, not anywhere close.

What is missing?

Let me make a list.

1). Context in relation to an enemy. A piece of immobile steel or stationary cardboard is never going to be the same as a real adversary. That doesn't make range shooting of no value, but it is only a single part of the total process, albeit a small one. It is a training flaw that can be overcome.

2). Visual start signal from the enemy rather than a Self initiated signal, or audible signal (the beep) to start. Even in proactive events as we discuss, the start notice will eventually come from the adversary and not be self-initiated nor come from an outside source. That is a training flaw that need not be there.

3). Visual processing of information to justify actions. That is the way it will happen in the real world and missing this crucial aspect being integrated into the process makes it only about shooting. This is a mental process that is essential in the decision making as well as in explaining your actions. The standard defaul for range people seems to be to pull out the lawyer card and we know where that leads.

4). Applied reactive movement intended to avoid gunfire rather than contrived artificial movement intended to insure a score. The reactive side of the fight is completely missing from range work specifically due to range safety limitations. That is the most glaring flaw in that area.

5). The ability to develop a mindless execution of complex skills vis-a-vis repetitive practice. The range drills are limited by amount of ammo and by cost. And even then, the drills needing to be limited due to the venue, would not be complete in their development.

Assuming that the objective is becoming a better fighter and a more dangerous opponent rather than gun-based entertainment, how do we fix that?

First we need to understand that all training is false and has training flaws. Those are in place to keep us safe while we develop the skills to win the fight. If those flaws were not there and we elected to make the fight real, half a training class would be dead at the end of the training. So we seek to make the training modalities as real as possible, but keep the flaws in place to keep us safe as we train. Proper training has different modalities that integrate to over come each other's flaws and together they develop a great fighter.

For this process we are assuming the trainee knows how to draw, load, shoot, etc. and has an understanding of the basic to intermediate aspects of pistol. Maybe wishful thinking but there it is.

First Modality - Learn the mechanics, and techniques of the pistol kata. Along with that we learn the strategies and the tactics that support them. This is trained alone, but with an understanding of the context and your place in relation to the opponent. It is done for repetition and physical memorization. This leads us to a point where we can execute the action without specific conscious thought, or mindlessly.

Second Modality - Take the methods shown in the kata and apply them with light pressure with a cooperative training partner. The two are not trying to defeat each other, rather they are working together to learn the skill. As the trainees become comfortable with the applications, the speed and intensity of the drill is increased, up to and including full speed, full force (with Airsoft, UTM, Simmunitions) iterations.

Third Modality - Take the skills learned from the second set of drills and apply them on the range live fire. This is simply to give the trainee a feel for what his weapon will do and feel like when fired under the circumstances trained. This last modality is of the least value and least importance, yet where most trainees spend their time.

Fourth Modality - Learning and internalizing the Flowchart in context of the fight to instantly know where you stand in relation to everything else in an event, as well as learning the tactical articulation to justify the actions taken. Without this last one, the three prior will not lead to a total victory.

So if your goal is simply having fun, don't worry about anything but that.  But if your goal is becoming a better fighter and more dangerous adversary to your enemies, don't try to justify your cardio kickboxing as the equal of proper combat-based development.