A critique of “good enough”

What is “good enough”?

Usually it means it’s sufficient to get the job done, but doesn’t exceed what’s (minimally) needed. But still, what does that mean?

I just came across an article “What’s Considered ‘Good Enough’ Shooting for a Concealed Carrier?” While I think the article intentions are generally valid, I think the article could be improved.

BTW, if you haven’t read “Minimum Competency”, I suggest you detour from here and give it a read. The rest of this article will have greater meaning if you have a fuller understanding of where I’m coming from.

Minimum Competency

About 2 years ago I wrote a series of articles about “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol“. I spent time looking at what happens in self-defense incidents, and from that being able to compile what might be considered minimum competency. It’s essentially the same goal as trying to define what is “good enough”. From that:

It seems when we look at what unfolds in a typical incident and what needs to be done to handle that typical incident, you get:

  • drawing from concealment
    • And perhaps moving on that draw (like a side-step then stop; not shoot-and-move)
  • getting multiple hits
  • in a small area
    • 5″ circle? 6″ circle? 8″ circle? consider human anatomy
  • from close range
    • Within a car length, so say 0-5 yards
  • quickly
    • 3 seconds or less
  • using both hands, or maybe one hand (or the other)

First

The first assertion in the article is to get your concealed carry draw down. Certainly that is important. But the article becomes scattered.

It talks about how targets move and how you don’t want to be standing in one place. But then, when a drill is presented in this section of the article, there’s nothing that addresses movement. Simply discussing side-step on draw is a first step (no pun intended).

The article then presents a drill for concealment draw:

  • Place your hand on your handgun in its holster.
  • Scan your full field of view.
  • Lock on target.
  • Draw your pistol or revolver from its holster.
  • Instinctively put two rounds center mass on the target.
  • Scan your full field of view.
  • Place your handgun back in its concealed carry holster.

I’m trying to understand why you put your hand on your gun, then scan for a target. Generally speaking (both legally and tactically), you  go for your gun once an imminent threat to life has been identified. That likely means the target is already acquired before you put your hand on your gun. So I don’t quite understand this given order of operations.

I’m not sure what “instinctively put two rounds center mass” means.

What is “instinctive”? Humans are not born with any instinct to shoot a gun. Does this mean I should be able to accomplish this feat with my eyes closed? Does this mean I should not use the sights of my gun? Granted if the target is just a couple feet in front of me I can probably get away with a coarse index on the target with just the top of the slide and a general notion of pointing the gun towards the target. But what if the target is 15 yards away? What instinct is to help me there? I’d rather bring the gun up to the eye-target line, with both hands on the gun, and use the sights to some degree (by “some degree” I am acknowledging different types of sight pictures as described by Brian Enos — another topic).

Why 2 rounds? Is it wise to ingrain a habit to always and only shoot twice? What if you only need 1? What if you need 5? Should we be shooting 2 then assessing? Or should we be shooting and assessing and to keep shooting until the threat as stopped?

What is “center mass”? Center mass on me is somewhere around my belly button, if you want to be complete about the typical human body. That is not the best place to shoot something. Instead, one should be shooting where vital organs are, which is well above the center of body mass.

That said, it is good once things are done to scan. Scan for what tho? Don’t just look around, look FOR things. Look to see if there are other attackers. Look to see if there are injured people. Look to see if police or EMS are arriving. Look to see if you are injured. To scan is good, but you need to make the scan meaningful.

And reholstering is also good, but don’t do that until you know the scene is safe. I’d also add that you are unlikely to know how many rounds you fired, so before you reholster I’d reload so your gun is back at full capacity. You do carry a spare magazine, yes?

But here’s another issue with this exercise.

Still, what is “good enough”?

There is some litmus provided:

Shot groups are not nearly as important as developing the mechanics of your reaction.  Your reaction speed is the first priority.  Tight 6″ shot groupings at 5 yards is the second.  Why 6 inches?  If you’re able to place two shots center mass into a target with your concealed carry handgun – while doing all the above things in a timely fashion – you’re doing pretty good.

Very true. Reaction speed matters. And getting the hits all within a 6″ circle is actually quite a good “grouping” for the context. That the author gives a distance for this drill of 5 yards is also a good one, as that’s typically the extent of most self-defense shooting.

But it says “a timely fashion”. What is a timely fashion? Trouble with leaving this open to reader interpretation is they will interpret it in whatever way enables them to succeed. Granted, most people will not say 5 minutes is a timely fashion, but a lot of people will consider 7-10 seconds to be timely enough. Really, it has to be 3 seconds or less. And yes, it needs to be on a timer. That there needs to be a buzzer that sounds at an unknown/random interval so you can only react (you cannot anticipate); that you then draw from concealment, and must get off the hits all within 3 seconds.

It’s important to have some semblance of parameters that actually jive with real world need. Skills that apply to how things really work. Distances. Times, and using timers — because as Tom Givens likes to say, there is a timer in a gunfight and it’s held by the Grim Reaper. And then yes, maybe we can start to say this exercise leads to “good enough”. This drill isn’t bad; it just could use a lot of improvement.

Second

The second exercise involves reloading. Honestly, reloading is not that critical of a skill.

Again, from Tom Givens:

None of ours had to reload and continue shooting.

That doesn’t mean reloading is a skill to ignore, it’s just not as much of a priority.

One thing I do like about the article’s reloading exercise? It has you shoot 2, reload, then shoot 2 more (known as the “4 Aces” drill).

This is a really good drill because not only does it work the reload, but it helps you deal with post-reload shooting, because a common problem is to blow the first shot after the reload.

But still, no standards are given. Check out Ben Stoeger’s take on the drill. And yes… Ben’s times are aggressive, GM-level performance. Still, it gives you something to strive for.

Third

I actually am not sure what the third exercise is supposed to be. It says “move between two targets”. But it never really gives an exercise here.

Am I to be walking between the two targets? i.e. start at position A and move to position B?

Or am I to stay at position A and transition from shooting at target 1 to shooting at target 2?

Or maybe both?

Either way, both are valid things to consider, but for concealed carriers I’d say be more concerned with transitions of shooting 1 target then another target (keep your feet planted while shooting; shoot then move, don’t bother shooting and moving — ask Paul Howe).

Coda

The article isn’t a terrible one, but it’s not the best either. It’s well-intended, but needs refinement.

If we’re going to talk about what is “good enough” then that implies we’re establishing some standard of performance. While some reasonable drills and skills were considered in the article, I didn’t see much that established an objective standard of performance. If you want such a thing, here are some such drills that are better suited towards helping you determine if you are “good enough”:

There’s many more, but those should get you started.

They focus on skills used in combative/defensive pistolcraft. They involve time pressures. They are scored and graded for a performance standard. They allow you to find where you are strong, where you are weak and thus where you need improvement. They allow you a means of tracking that improvement over time. They allow you to be compared to and measured against known objectives and situations, and held to a high standard, so when the flag flies you can proceed with confidence knowing what you can do.

Of course, “good enough” is rarely “sufficient enough”. Always strive to improve, always strive to become better than you were before.

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