Training

Science-y $#!^ as a Red Flag in Gun Training

In my two previous posts, I discuss the perspectives of Lee Williams (“The Gun Writer”) and Bob Keller (of Gamut Resolutions) on gun training and the gun training industry.

I discovered their “Think Aim Fire” podcast recently, and sent a list of questions their discussions raised for me, which they were good enough to answer my questions in a recent episode. Among the questions I asked Williams and Keller was about the role of science in gun training:

[I]n one show you and Bob were down on those who try to bring science into their training (e.g., kinesiology). Are there trainers in particular you would cite as guilty? In my own experience I guess I would think of Rob Pincus and (again) Travis Haley. But I regularly hear trainers talk about myelination and other sciency sorts of things.

As background, I wrote about Haley’s employment of experts in areas such as neurofeedback, brain mapping, cognitive science, biomechanics, and visual eye tracking to teach people to be better shooters (and, more fundamentally, “thinkers before shooters”).

Travis Haley discussing conation. Photo by David Yamane

And Pincus is well-known – either famous or infamous – for teaching students to bring the gun up in a “kinesthetically aligned position” (citing Schmidt and Lee’s Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis as the scientific basis for this method).

Although they address the issue I bring up in my question, Williams goes out of his way not to name names. Indeed, he goes so far as to redact Pincus and Haley when he reads my question on the podcast.

The author on the range with Rob Pincus at Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Conference 2017.

Williams summarizes his perspective simply: “If you hear somebody talking about science, you have picked the wrong instructor, folks.”

Keller offers a somewhat more nuanced position, but also connects the critique of scientific approaches to shooting to the previously noted corrupting influence of the profit motive in the gun training industry:

Some people might actually be able to relate to that because they need that terminology, they need that science to make it make sense. So I’m not saying it wouldn’t work for everyone, but again I think that is just to woo the customer. If you can say those fancy words and those big words that [make them] so confused that you must be bad-ass if you can say all that stuff, I think that’s why most people frickin’ say all those big words.

Williams reiterates the fundamental tenet of their doctrine: “Get the gun up, get sight picture, and pull the trigger.”

Keller: “Yeah, it really is that easy.”

Williams: “So that’s another one on our red flag list: Monkey bars, zip lines, or science-y shit.”

8 thoughts on “Science-y $#!^ as a Red Flag in Gun Training

  1. David,
    I just listened to the Think, Aim, Fire podcast (September 27) which addressed the questions you asked. I must say I am disappointed with the responses. My respect for the quality of information from these two guys just took a nosedive. According to them, everything is BS but the basic “get the gun up, get sight picture, and pull the trigger.” Hell, I practice that almost every day dry fire; practice doing it smoother, faster, and better. Why would I spend way north of $500+ for a class where the instructor doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to understand, and even poo-poos how the body and brain works to make for a better, faster, more accurate shooter. I can just imagine the distain they would have for Dustin Salomon’s work in Building Shooters. What a shame. Their philosophy can be summed up by: “I know what I saw,” said the blind man.

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  2. “Why would I spend way north of $500+ for a class where the instructor doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to understand, and even poo-poos how the body and brain works to make for a better, faster, more accurate shooter.”

    Why would I not want to be able to answer “why” questions instead of saying “because”?

    Knowledge is power ~ Francis Bacon

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  3. People like Edmund Burke has written stuff such as “Science of Cycling” and Hi Tech Cycling”. Burke is one of the myriad of people who have studied how to optimize the rider and the bike using various biomechanical sciencey shit to create more efficient riders. I suppose the same can be said for shooting sports, although I am basically a “Fred” in both camps.

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    • Not sure if they would dismiss Salomon since Salomon is speaking to instructors. Their concern is using science-y language with end users. That said, I dont think they would be much interested in what Salomon is up to.

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