It’s pretty easy to get stuck within the confines of a certain method. Adopting a method is a necessity to develop skill. Dabbling without committing to a way is a good way to stay in the “suck zone”.
A method can become a problem when the shooter attaches a portion of his ego to it. It’s really easy to get stuck in the trap of this versus that in subjects as minute as trigger control, positional shooting, equipment, etcetera. Sometimes the attachments are for really weird reasons too, such as tradition, because whatever way is the right way, primacy (what you learned first), because of hero worship, or other impractical, emotion-driven nonsense.
I’ve also noticed the need in some people to take extra, unnecessary punishment. If it wasn’t really hard, it must be crap! I have had that problem (see four years of preceding blog entries).
Why are those things problems? Let’s start with emotional attachment to a method. Things evolve. Methods become more effective. People get better at stuff and the state of the art changes. Getting stuck is a pretty effective way to become obsolete. You are likely to disregard effective changes as being flash in the pan trends, while you are actually being left behind. Obsolescence = BAD (unless you want to be a living museum).
As for the gluttons for punishment, I think it is obvious that if we can get a task done as effectively or more effectively with less effort, that is GOOD. I’m gonna break the rules and leave that paragraph as one sentence. Oh wait!
Here’s an example to cover both of these problems. I learned to shoot in sitting position the right way. Some could call it the best way. It was a time tested method proven in competition. I always like something a little different, and cross ankle sitting with a sling is a little off the beaten path while still being an accepted method (it is, in fact, the right way, is it not?). It also takes a bit more effort to learn properly, and it’s not common to found it done properly. How perfect is that? Difficult, uncommon, traditional, works well enough to impress, just doing it correctly puts you in some elite group right off the bat. About as perfect as perfect can be, that’s how perfect it is.
Then I notice some dupes shooting in sitting with their feet stacked on top of each other and the rifle sitting on top of the feet. These people must have missed the history of seated rifle marksmanship. Skipped day 7 of Deadly Sniper School did you? Violating all the rules of sitting position. Hah! Not using the sling as a marksmanship aid. Hah! If you want to know the right way you can ask me. I’ll show you…
After I noticed people I actually know using this bastard of a sitting position, I decided I had to do something and I set out to test it to show just how bad it was. If you read the linked article, you might have noticed that in my comparison the little bastard actually did better than the distinguished gentleman of a sitting position. It’s also a lot faster to get into. Follow up shots are quick too.
While I was impressed, I still felt as though it should be a requirement to learn an orthodox technique. The real question there is why? Does the target care? Well, it actually might, but we can probably be safe in assuming it doesn’t share your priorities if you’re shooting at it ([sarcasm off] that should only be construed within the context of a lawful shooting situation). I think the ‘why’ in that case was that learning the positions was, for me, a rite of passage in becoming a rifle shooter.
For practical purposes of hitting a target with a bullet, rites of passage or rifleman titles have no relevance. What your finger does as it pulls (or squeezes, or presses) the trigger doesn’t matter as long as the sights aren’t disturbed during the act. The position is irrelevant so long as it affords clearance for the lines of sight and trajectory, and affords the necessary stability. How difficult, exclusive, or cool something is also matters not one bit. Most of the crap that we obsess and fight each other over is probably not very important.
What does have relevance is whether the bullet hits the target within the time allotted. That’s really about it. If something accomplishes that more effectively, it’s better. If what your ego is doing is holding you back then drop it.