Louis Awerbuck on Sensible Shooting

Q: There’s definitely a proliferation of so-called firearms academies, some of them run by IPSC guys who win a couple of titles and open a school.

A: IPSC guys are very good shooters. Obviously, IPSC has changed from the early days, from what Jeanne-Pierre Denis and Jeff [Cooper] and the original guys set out to make it. The P was meant to stand for practical. The arguments went on in the 80s and very early 90s about whether it’s practical or it isn’t. Finally, IPSC got to a stage in the early 90s where they said, No, we’re not being practical, it’s a sport. But the bottom line is, if you get somebody like Rob Leatham, Jerry Barnhard, guys like that, they’re tremendous mechanical shooters. And if they open a school and teach mechanical shooting, which a lot of them do, I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

Q: But is mechanical shooting what is needed by most people who get their concealed carry permits and want to protect themselves?

A: How many people who get concealed carry permits do you think are serious about it? How many do you think want to punch a piece of paper so they can legally have a firearm if one day they might need it. Most people buy a gun, take a concealed carry class, buy a box of fifty rounds of ammunition, and the firearm and fifty rounds of ammunition are found in their estate thirty years later. In a drawer somewhere.
I’ve got a problem with flat, non-representative targets. We’re talking about shooting people, and if the target is an 18 by 30-inch piece of flat paper, this has nothing to do with reality. All males from the shoulder line to the waist are the same height, whether it’s me or a basketball player. And from nipple to nipple they’re all nine inches wide. So in a full frontal shot, if you’re out nine inches here you’ve got nothing. And if people are going to be kind enough to stand like that, why are you shooting them? They’re probably twisted in like this with an AK or a blade and you’re down to three or four inches of target.

But you’ve got to start somewhere. If you’ve got a neophyte you’ve got to teach him the basics. The problem is, what is an advanced gunfight? There is no advanced gunfight. I’m running with curved targets, graphic targets, angled this way and that and everything else. But you’ve got to start somebody off with flat paper, explain this is the trigger, these are the sights, this is the follow-through, get them to shoot a group on a piece of paper. You can get an organ grinder’s monkey to shoot a group on a piece of paper, he can take his paw and pull the trigger back and he can shoot accurately. That’s all there is to it. Has this got anything to do with shooting people, when the target is that big and three feet away from you and is about to turn you into a little brown spot on the ground?

People are very, very hard to hit because a lot of shooters cannot transpose the angles of a biped as opposed to a quadruped. You were talking about dangerous game earlier on. What comes at you like a human? Maybe a polar bear, that’s about it. Everything else runs on four legs, but a human is usually on his hind paws most of the time when you have this problem. People have trouble transposing this concept into a vertical instead of a horizontal problem. I bend one piece of cardboard, interstice it into another and then staple a target over that, then I angle them some way or twist them or turn them. Now you’ve got to start thinking about going into the ribcage, side of the head, simulating a flight of stairs. If the guy is lying in a bed, say the head’s facing you and the feet are away, you have to go in real high, because if you shoot at the chest and miss by five degrees you’re going to miss him entirely.