I had a unique opportunity this past weekend to observe two very different firearms trainers on back to back days. Sunday, I was invited to a Back Up Gun class conducted by Ken Hackathorn. Monday, I was able to observe the last two hours of Introduction to Combat Focus Shooting by Rob Pincus.
Hackathorn and Pincus have backgrounds and philosophies that are probably as different as can be found in the training community. Both are good friends of mine and I have noted that despite their quite divergent backgrounds and philosophies, neither gentleman speaks ill of the other. In fact, both have good things to say about each other.
I believe they both recognize what are commonly thought of as ‘facts’ in the training community are actually opinions. Every trainer’s opinion is based on his or her background. As a result, we are all victims of our own experiences and bring our own biases to our training curricula.
As I watched and listened to Pincus, a number of items struck me as echoing things I had heard the previous day in Hackathorn’s class. The parallels between significant parts of their expressed philosophies and desired training outcomes were quite interesting.
Pincus posed three questions to the students during the class. He wanted them to express, at least to themselves, some answers at the close of training.
- What are you capable of with your gun? (I.e., what are your limits?)
- What SHOULD you be better at?
- How do you get better at the answer to #2?
Questions 1 and 2 mirrored primary questions Hackathorn posed to his class the previous day. “What are you capable of doing with the equipment you are carrying?” “What real world problems might you have to solve?” At the end of Hackathorn’s class, he made the statement “Training teaches you what to practice.” This is philosophically not far removed from Question 3 posed by Pincus.
They spoke about it in different ways, but they both emphasized the need to be able to hit the target. Further, they both made the case that reality will dictate defensive shooting requirements. This is very different from being able to pick our cadence and circumstances when we go to the range by ourselves. Both made comments about the difference between training and competition and not confusing the two.
Often in the training community, we become obsessed with differences, sometimes minor, in style or technique. Periodically, the observation is made that it would be more productive to focus on what we have or espouse in common. Approaching both classes with an open mind was a good indicator of the latter.