Sunday, July 05, 2015

Perfect is the enemy of Good

In response to an article about point shooting, I have some opinions about this:

When I was going through Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) in 1969, one day our instructors took my class to the range to show us what Point Shooting really means.

They gave us BB-guns ... spring loaded, so very low powered (and also very inexpensive to teach the lesson) ... and told us that they were going to teach us to shootcoins out of the sky without using the sights.

Actually, the guns had sights, albeit crude ones.  But we soon learned that the instructors were correct.  In one afternoon we learned to point-shoot moving objects without really using the sights, and with an impressive degree of accuracy.

We started out shooting quarters out of the air.  We had to supply our own quarters.

As the exercise progressed (they actually gave us two or three hours to practice), we found that quarters were too easy to hit.

I found that I could get one-shot hits on dimes tossed into the air with a surprising consistency.

Which is to say ... after a while, I couldn't miss!

Of course, this was a confidence-building exercise; so, the Army cheated.

There was a trick, and that trick was that .. even though you threw your own coins, all you had to do was to wait until the coin was almost in your face before you pulled the trigger.  So the distance between the muzzle and the target was a matter of inches, rather than feet. (The size of the target became the least important part of the shooting problem, so dimes were as easy to hit as were quarters.)

We ... everyone in my training class .. recognized that immediately.  But we were having fun and it was a whole lot easier than Calisthenics, so we practiced this for as long as they would let us.  And the funny thing is, as long as we got to shoot, the more consistently we got one-shot hits.

We thought we were putting something over on our trainers, but of course we were not.  They knew what we were doing, which was becoming more confident in our ability to hit the target using easily learned skills.

My experience was not unique.  EVERYBODY in the class found that hitting small change on the fly was so easy, that we eventually became bored.

That signaled the end of the class, and we reluctantly putt the Red Ryder Rifles away, recovered our small change, and went back to the boring world of  Six-Count Burpies and Leg Lifts and D&C.

I'm not sure that the experience actually benefited me during my service, but it did teach me to become familiar with my rifle and trust in my judgement when time needed to acquire and engage a target was paramount.

Because, in a combat situation, if you could HIT your enemy it would at least slow him down, and make him less effective in his subsequent engagements.  If you had the time, you might be able to come back and re-engage him after you had dealt with other, more efficient threats.

Today, when I'm in an IPSC match and the stage is a close-engagement scenario such as "El Presidente", I don't spend much time trying to find a good sight picture and sight alignment with my pistol.  Instead, I look over the slide to see if my pistol is in "close enough" position to get a hit on the target, and then just take the shot.

When time is the most important factor, getting a hit ... any hit at all ... is more important than making a perfect A-zone hit.

Or, "Perfect is the enemy of Good".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I understand that is sort of what happens when people shoot skeet and trap.