Evaluating Skill

A few days ago, I was sitting in my boss’s office talking about an upcoming event. He asked how my weekend was, to which I told him it was, “Uneventful, with only a bit of practice for the upcoming EIC match.” He then asked a question that I’ve been getting quite a lot lately whenever the subject of me competing in matches comes up:

“Are you a good shot?”

I am never really sure how to answer this question. If it was asked a couple years ago, I probably would have offhandedly answered, “Yep, I’m pretty damn good!” But, after now having done a lot more practice and learning, I think it’s just simply too vague of a question. I think everyone’s idea of what constitutes a good shot is different. Some might look at it as the ability to make one ragged hole through the x ring, other might look at it as hitting a steel silhouette at 800 yards. Me, I’m starting to think of being a ‘good shot’ as the ability to hit what you are aiming at under a variety of conditions. Then again, to most people who aren’t into shooting probably think “good shot” is anyone who seems better than them. In any case, my answer now is that “I’m working on it.”

John Buol at The Firearms User Network put up a post today on the Dunning-Kruger effect that made me stop and think about this. Until someone starts to develop real knowledge and experience, they don’t really know what they don’t know. I certainly have a much stronger appreciation now for watching, or reading about, skilled shooters pull off great feats of marksmanship with standard rifles lacking all the match-grade race gun hotness. I see the same thing with my military career field. People show up with a perception of how things will be, and how easy they think it will be to master. Most of them figure out they were wrong before they finish our school. Others will figure it out a couple years down the line when they are schwacked for doing something wrong due to their overconfidence. Others may never ‘get it.’

In any case, his post reminded that I have yet to come up with a standardized marksmanship test that I can administer to myself to gauge progress. This EIC match preparation has been a nice distraction, but shooting tiny groups at 25 meters is not what my original goals were about. It’s been nice to practice positions, and I think that will pay off, but I do need to establish a better benchmark for performance than 10 shots in under a minute at an x ring.

Furthermore, this test will have to be performed on a 50 meter range (maybe 100 meter), which is a good bit shorter than my long term goals.

1 thought on “Evaluating Skill”

  1. I think that’s how Col.Cooper defined a rifleman… as someone who can hit anything they can see with their naked eye or something along those lines.

    Total understanding of the weapon, its manipulation, the projectiles ballistics, and the projectiles interaction with the environment would put someone in a league to answer the question with a “yes.”

    I’m not there yet myself.


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