Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sick Of Being In The Bottom Third

Allow me to get personal (because I don't do it often)!

I recently began competing in IDPA again. I shot my first IDPA match when I was 22 years old and sporadically competed throughout the years whenever I'd catch some free time.

Last year I took a serious break from firearms. I realized that I was too dependent on my handgun to save me and I decided to avoid my gun for a while. I knew I was going to come back to it but only after I fleshed out other areas of my defensive training and reevaluated the roll I wanted my gun to play in my own defense.

I put down my gun for a year and took (and continue to take) hand-to-hand training. I started working out. I read more and worked on my awareness and interactions with others, my personal boundaries and confidence. I trained with other defensive tools like knives and impact weapons. I'm not done fleshing out my training by any means but I feel much better with where I am now than I did a year ago.

So when I decided to pick up my gun again I did it with a new kind of conviction. I was good before. I have a great mastery of the basics. I'm good but not good enough.

Without an ounce of too much pride I can say that I can pick up any handgun out there, run it confidently and get a consistent group. I can switch between platforms pretty effortlessly and even teach others to apply those basics. I can work from the holster, move and shoot, do reloads and malfunction drills effectively, use cover and concealment and shoot almost as equally well with either hand. I'm an accurate shooter who knows how to run a handgun.

I can dry fire with the best of 'em!

But I'm not good enough.

Not for my own standards.

When I compete I rank somewhere in the middle to lower third of the shooters. My biggest issue being speed. No one will argue that I can shoot. And no one has said that I'm not good or not good enough. I often get much congratulations for my accuracy but when I see my times compared to what others are shooting I get irritated with myself. 

It's time for me to step it up.

One issue has been forearm strength.

I'm a little person who has a history of taking my size as an excuse for not being strong. Not any more. Developing strength has been a huge priority in my life the last couple of months and I'm already seeing vast improvements in many areas of my life, including gun handling, because of it. I have a long way to go but at least the journey has begun.

Next is to stop getting hung up on my accuracy. Of late I've been training until I get it right and calling it good. Time to train until I fail and then work past that. The only way to get faster is to shoot faster.

It also means going to more training. Which is going to mean more money for more ammo and more classes and more matches.

I don't use the matches to get caught up in the competition. I use the matches to work skills and to learn and practice. While it's true that a good competitor is not necessarily a good tactician or going to be 100% prepared for a self defense situation no one can deny that a good pistol competitor is a good shooter.

I'm sick of lagging behind the better guys. I'm tired of being ok with being "top lady" but not posing any real competition for the long-time male shooters. This may sound a little sexist and a lot competitive but truth be told I want to be serious competition to the top five guys at our local club. I want to go to a state match one day and rank in the top third in my division and then, in the years to come, blow out of my division.

And my goal is not limited to competing alone. I want to be a better trainer. I am in no way satisfied with just teaching basic pistol classes. I want to keep progressing so that I am an adequate trainer in many different aspects of the use of firearms in self or home defense. I've decided that I have a goal of building a reputation for being a quality firearms instructor who is worth seeking instruction from.

I don't know how far I want to go with it, but I'll start with just being better than I am now.

I don't even want to think about how much money in ammo and training I'm going to have to spend to accomplish these goals.

I've got at least one, maybe two pistol classes coming up this fall. Planning my 2014 training schedule has been an agony of determining what I can afford and who I most want to go train with and what I want to learn and what I'm willing to wait on.

So there it is.. my written mission statement for the upcoming year/s.

Now, off to call for availability on another class and look at ammo prices.

Friday, July 26, 2013

So You Think You Can Outrun Him

We took our kids to the park. And not just any park. One of those parks with the play-land that is constructed like a mighty fortress for kids. There are bridges made of ropes, chains, rubber and tires. There are towers and lookouts and slides and hiding holes. Tunnels and passageways connect a maze of fun that could keep any child busy for hours. It's a great place to wear your child out.

After watching our children play on their own I volunteer to chase our son. He returned the favor and after a bit of that Daddy volunteer to chase us both.

Our son and I started out at a mad dash and of course my husband caught up with our son presently. The tickling commenced and I stopped to enjoy the sights and sounds of my son and husband playing. Then my husband looked at me.

He had a look on his face similar to what I can imagine a lion has when he looks at a gazelle. I took off running and the sound of heavy footsteps behind me told me my husband did, too.

I squealed as I weaved through tight corners, ran across bridges and jumped over tires. I thought I was making pretty good headway until I felt his hands on my arms.

Down into the gravel I went and my husband jumped on top of me, tickling me.

Because we are both fighters and have a tendency to escalate even when having fun it wasn't long before I had my forearm across his throat and was trying to keep myself from elbowing him in the face while also finding a foot hold in his hips to kick him off of me.

All while laughing hysterically.

Somewhere in that process I lost my shoe and I had to ask him to stop before we ended up breaking my brand new glasses.

But I was also kind of ticked.

No, I'm no runner, but neither is he. He shouldn't have been able to outrun me so fast.

I decided we needed a second round.

I took off my glasses and my cell phone, put them in a safe place and bolted for it.

This time he caught me on one of the bridges. The tickle-fight commenced and I found myself, again, fighting the urge to elbow him in the face.

This got me thinking. I'm a pretty fit gal. I was wearing very practical shoes and jeans and a t-shirt. There was nothing that would be inhibiting me from outrunning someone dressed similarly to myself and with as little experience as a runner.

When discussing self defense incidents a lot of women claim they will "just run away" from danger.

So I decided to do a little googling when I got home and what I found is that men regularly outrun women. Or, in other words, take a man and a woman who are similarly trained (or untrained) and sans any kind of injury that would keep them from performing and the man will generally be faster than the woman.

Now, take into account that most violent offenders are male between the ages of 15 and 21. There's a reason the military and sports teams and police forces wants men in that age bracket. They are at the prime of their lives. They are strong and they are fast!

According to some running websites I have been look at, even with training, a woman can expect to be (on average) over a second slower on the 100 meter dash and up to three seconds slower at the 200 meter dash.

What's my point?

You, as an average female, aren't going to be outrunning your average violent criminal.

And if you're wearing impractical or non-running shoes or clothes that would constrict your movement at all then you're definitely not going to be outrunning your average violent criminal.

Are there going to be exceptions to that rule? Of course. You might be lucky enough to be an exceptionally fast female. You could have legs that go all the way up to Canada and have trained them for speed (note: I said SPEED, not endurance.. there's a mighty difference). You could also be fortunate enough to have a clumsy, overweight and slow attacker. Perhaps you have a combination of the two.

But if you aren't that fortunate you have to be aware that if you are in a foot chase you are likely not going to win it. Which means only one thing: You're going to have to know how to fight the guy when he catches up to you.

Does that mean you shouldn't try to run? Absolutely not! If you can run toward safety and have a chance of getting there then go for it.

But be aware that running also encourages a predatory chase response. And killing people who's backs are turned and fleeing has been proven to be psychologically easier than killing people who are facing you (per Grossman's research in On Killing). But I'm not going to get into that too deeply.

Knowing that my attacker is likely to run me down and it's psychologically easier for him to stab me if I'm not facing him does that mean I'm going to turn my back on a young man holding a knife? Should I turn my back on someone holding a knife anyway?

What if I'm not aware of any weapons. How does running affect my ability to fight if/when he catches up with me? Is it more advantageous to take him head on or risk him grabbing me from behind?

Certainly some things to think about.

I don't have all the answers but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Have you thought about the fact that men are, in general, faster runners and what that means for your defense? Men, are you faster than your average 15-20 year old?

Greg Ellifritz wrote about the same issue a while ago and constructed a workout for speed. Check it out: Are You Fit Enough To Escape