Friday, January 3, 2014

Not-so random notes.

Well, not to me, anyway.  :-)

I wanted to document, if for no one other than myself, a couple of interesting resources.  In doing some not-quite-random research in the YouTube landscape, I've managed to run across two people that I have found unexpectedly interesting.

It's hardly a secret that I've been a Jeff Cooper -phile for about thirty years, and part of that is a cultivated distrust of high-profile shooting experts.  I'm especially distrustful of the gonzo, high-speed-low-drag, tacticool "operator" crowd, so much of which loves to--vocally--treat all that came before it as obsolescence that absolutely will get you killed on the way to the john in your own home.

But there is the competing interest in continuing the learning process, as well, which nobody can ignore and still call himself a serious student.  (The irony in this, of course, is that Cooper would have heartily approved of this.  Most of his detractors love to focus on his obstinate resistance to a few specific things*, and conveniently forget that even the Modern Technique evolved over time--and, that at its core the Technique itself was an evaluated combination of both old and new, discovered elements.)  And so, in attempting a very informal overview search, while I've found some truly horrifying content out there, two people have started to stick out at me as being worthy of further interest.

The first is Rob Pincus of Personal Defense Network.  In short, I find myself liking his style.  As I see more of his work, I continue to be impressed by his presentation as an instructor, and often by the thinking behind what he is discussing.  There are certainly some points I can't quite find agreement with yet, but overall I find him worthwhile enough that I do intend to try even those myself, and give them a chance to play out with my eyes and hands.  Who knows, maybe he's right.

Consider this clip of Rob explaining one of his standard drills.  The principles seem generally sound, and I like that it's even more about the problem solving than it is about the shooting.

Here's another, a solid discussion of balancing speed and precision that seems like it would lend itself to personal practice on a square range.

And speaking of square ranges, I rather like this expedient of using the figure-8 motion with fixed targets...

Anyway, I'll continue looking at PDN and see how it goes.

The other person of interest is Ron Avery of Haley Strategic.  For me, the jury is still out on Travis Haley himself.  No doubt he can shoot--that's obvious--but I'm not sure yet I see him as a master instructor.  But Avery, now, he just sorta jumps out at me.  Haley Strategic seems to market him as "the scientist", and from what I've seen so far, that seems an apt description.

Here he works with a student on the draw stroke.  As an instructor his style is beautiful;  he quickly goes beyond the simple mechanics of the draw and spends most of his time in the psychology of the draw--with immediate and attendant results.

Today I ran across Avery discussing the "triggerstripe drill", and I'm going to bookmark it here as Something Important.  This is a very simple diagnostic concept, and Avery just thrashes it into something that is easily understandable.  Part 1:

and Part 2:

Now that's impressive.  I will have to seek out some more of Avery's work, and see if this impression holds.

Okay, documented.  More research to come.

* Oh, and it's certainly true that Cooper did not always manage these well.  He did seem to suffer at least a bit from becoming his own institution, and thus falling victim to the tendency of all institutions to self-ossify over time.  Nearly all his serious detractors dispense with any further context, and exploit the "old and in the way"** card to its fullest extent.

** Yes, that is a bluegrass reference.  :-)


MamaLiberty said...

Have you ever looked at this?

The real life best of practical and professional method and training, far as I can see. I'd give about anything to be able to attend one or more of these classes. The videos just don't do anything for me, unfortunately. I can't understand what they are saying.

I do have the "Fist-Fire" training manual, and have studied it, practiced it and even teach components of it. Good stuff.

Joel said...

Y'know, I can't knock anything in any of those videos because I don't know. Not saying anything there is wrong. But the word "operator" has been so overused it has become a personal shibboleth of mine. At the words "skilled operator" (1:30ish on the first "triggerstripe" vid) I tune out pretty much automatically.

You're an 'operator?' When did you graduate SEAL school and what were your deployments? Because that's an 'operator.' A 'range queen who could kick Joel's ass with a pistol and a shot timer' actually isn't the same thing as an 'operator.' Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I know it's picky. Words mean things. :)

Kevin Wilmeth said...

ML, I certainly am aware of the Middlebrooks name, but I haven't investigated his work before. Duly bookmarked for a little study when I can manage it. :-)

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Joel: I'm with you, man, although my personal beef may be a bit different. In this case, I really don't care--and I mean at all--about the problems of a technical definition. (I'm sure there is one, probably with matching jewelry and officials who sign certificates.) This isn't because I'm somehow immune to the "words mean things" problem, far from it. It's just that my utter and absolute loathing of the term "operator" has to do with the dehumanizing connotation of the word, rather than any technical value it may lend to describing someone's training or performance resume.

The problem, of course, is that an "operator" is not an independently thinking human being, but rather an automaton, a machine. A remote-controlled tool of another mind.

There is a long history of deliberate dehumanization among the very set that controls and manufactures such "operators", and the whole point of that enterprise is to produce "assets" whose ethics can be supplied from without, in the form of orders.

This is not something I wish to celebrate in any shape, form, or fashion. Mechanical prowess with personal weapons means nothing to me without an independent, human ethic to go with it, and it is beyond infuriating to watch otherwise intelligent people celebrate the teaching of personal weapons with collective ethics.

To wit: a decent person is not a goddamn "operator", (s)he is a thinking person who should bloody well operate independently at the moment of truth.

In the case of my interest in Ron Avery, I've got no idea how much invested he is in the term. Don't much care, either--my interest in him is in what he has to say about efficiency and excellence. Because, whether he intends it or not, his teaching style is addressed to free thinkers. (This of course may not be obvious if you stop listening after he tosses out "skilled operator" like the marketing keyword it is probably intended to be... :-)

After all, the same skills are available to both hive-approved and independent minds. :-)