The Disconnect Between Combat and Competition Shooters

It has been noted that a sharp disconnect can be seen between combat shooters, and competition shooters.

I wish it did not! Both groups would benefit if we just tried to learn from each other.

I think the disconnect occurs because people blur “good marksman” and “good warrior” together when they are not directly related. A champion marksman may be a lousy warrior and a veteran warrior (even a sniper with solid combat experience) may be a lackluster shooter.

The problem is some people wrongly think pointing out a warrior (combat vet, Ranger/SF, sniper, etc) is less than a perfect marksman some how implies they aren’t a good warrior. So excuses against competitive shooting are concocted.

A firearm can’t tell what/where/when/why; it only launches bullets as directed by the skill of the user. Those bullets will hit the same on steel, cardboard, flesh or paper.

I view organized shooting (competition, classes, etc.) as a venue to learn marksmanship from, no more. A Distinguished badge/President’s tab/Master classification holder is a person who has bothered to study and test marksmanship skills in a formal, peer-reviewed setting. Just like a scholar with a degree, such a person is a demonstrated expert in his field. But that doesn’t make him expert in other fields. The competition shooter should be coaching and teaching marksmanship, not tactics. Similarly, a drill sergeant or Ranger may not be the best person to teach marksmanship.

“Yeah, but can he fight?”

Also true. Shooting events are not warrior training.

Unless he developed sufficient fieldcraft and tactics skills, G. David Tubb wouldn’t cut it as a sniper. However, an expert sniper may not cut as a high-level marksman without additional training, either.

Read: A Sniper’s Confession: The Importance of Competitive Shooting to Sniping

Of course, a champion marksman who is also a true warrior is devastating. Witness Carlos Hathcock and Sam Woodfill.

2 comments on “The Disconnect Between Combat and Competition Shooters

  1. Jake Probst says:

    During WWII marksmanship training consisted primarily of shooting at a KD range. I would bet solders were the most accurate during that time period. The problem was that on the battlefield firing rates were only about 15-25% (not hits but the actual percentage of people firing at the enemy). Through the research of S.L.A. Marshall and others, it was determined that a different style of training should be included to increase the firing rate. When soldiers started doing more realistic training (pop-up targets) during Vietnam, the firing rates went up to about 95% in combat. The problem now is that we have soldiers shooting but 57% hits is acceptable. A combination of BOTH systems would be ideal.

  2. Brian says:

    Marshall’s work on firing rates has been widely discredited by scholars. Please see the Autumn 2003 issue of Parameters; the Army War College Quarterly. Can’t post a link but Google should get you there with out too much difficulty.

    My research on Army quals. shows that in the early 1900s we had a system that utilized shooting at traditional bullseyes as well as Skirmish Fire that involved 600-200 yard run downs on realistic targets. The Small Arms Firing Manual of 1913 and any of the numerous changes are available on line and outline the courses of fire for the active and reserve component. Interesting reading for anyone interested in Army marksmanship reform.

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