Outsmart and Outshoot
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Outsmart and Outshoot

By W. Hock Hochheim


Deliberate fire. Snap-shooting. Rapid-fire. In my Vietnam-era basic training in Fort Polk, LA nearing 40 years ago, my M16 class started with a Drill Sgt. listing these three combat firing techniques- a trio of categories that has existed in world-wide, military doctrine for decades. The differences between them carry abject lessons overlooked by modern day law enforcement and civilian, survival shooting courses.

Deliberate Fire: Defined as shooting right at detected enemies. The general accepted rate of fire is about 5 rounds per minute. Precise. Aimed. Calculated, with minimum or no return-fire stress. Think sniper, or sniper-like situations.

Snap-shooting: The shooter must speed up his actions and firing rate. Less precise. Less aimed. The weapon is snapped up near the face in hopes of using the sights. Less calculating. Return-fire stress has increased here. Think about that sniper's position being discovered and advanced upon.

Rapid-Fire: A much faster pace. Little precision, aiming and calculation. Way more return-fire stress. The rate of fire is increased to compensate for the inability to make deliberate or even snap shots. The weapon may be fired from the hip or on the move. Think about our sniper almost surrounded, or think about you in…the common gun fight.

Developing rapid-fire skills should be a primary concern because most gunfights burn in this third category of high, combat stress, a hot zone where Rudyard Kipling's idyllic hero who “…can keep his head when all about him are losing theirs…, ” is regretfully, not found in the majority of us.

It would almost be foolish to use one of these methods in the wrong circumstances. Imagine the sniper shooting from the hip at a tango 500 yards away? Or, in a close quarter firefight, a shooter scoping in on a charging man 6 feet away. Despite these obvious facts, shooting courses today spend too much time in the deliberate fire mode, and rarely experiment in the snap-shooting mode. Even then, they experiment with levels of very abstract stress such as short-timed sessions, tricky target games, etc. I recall one Federal officer complain that the hardest part of his agency's shooting qualification was “counting bullets” in his multiple magazines, so that he was loaded up for the differing sections of the shooting course. Sound familiar?

If Paper Targets and Shoot Rooms Shot Back

How would we would be better prepared to battle free-thinking, chaotic, fleet-footed enemies? With simulated ammo training. For over two years now I have traveled the world teaching simulated ammo scenarios. I have used everything form rubber band guns, through battery-powered and gas guns, to the painful real-deal sims. All have taught valuable lessons and it often flips a traditional shooter's world completely upside down. You discover that you have to be mobile, hence in shape. Being able to sprint just 10 fast yards is more important than some new spring gizmo on your pistol. You have to learn to be tricky and improvise and have a savvy for the running gun fight, akin to a veteran linebacker in his third Super Bowl. You attain this by living through several gunfights, or through reality-based, simulated ammo, training scenarios. In the above photo in a chase drill, Hock was chased, then suddenly turned and fired on Jeff Laun as Jeff dodges and shoots on the run.

The dreaded slur to a soldier or a cop is that they have not amassed 20 years of experience, but instead, have one year of experience 20 times. How many shooters have that one boring year, 20 times at the shooting range? Learn to outsmart and outshoot moving, thinking, erratic, tricky humans, who are shooting back at you in realistic situations with sims training.

20-year range man? I'll take a one-year range, 19-year sims guy as my partner anytime.

Simulated ammo will revolutionize shooting training!

Got an opinion on this one? I'd like to hear it. Post it on HocksCombatForum.

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