Building  a Better Gun Culture: Marksmanship as Martial Art Part 2

“All the people constitute the militia – according to the Founding Fathers. Therefore every able-bodied man has a duty under the Constitution to become part of the ‘well-regulated’ militia, specifically to understand and perform well with the individual weapon currently issued to the regular establishment …. Thus one who has not qualified himself with the M-16 may not be considered to be a responsible citizen.” – Jeff Cooper

The academic powers that be will have to forgive me, I’m about to cite Wikipedia:

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development.

When we think of traditional martial arts, we almost invariably think about the codified colored belt systems. Not all martial arts share this similarity, of course, but it serves as a nice illustration. These fight systems have ways of designating who are novices, intermediates, masters, and higher.

Of course, the various shooting leagues (NRA, USPSA, IPDA, etc) have their own rating system. But my understanding of these systems is such that they are heavily equipment and peer-group dependent, and they are all oriented around competition brackets.

I would like to see a standardized set of criteria that can be used to rate shooters across all disciplines to give a valid representation of what that individual’s capabilities are. Ranges could hold regular “testing” days where people test for the next “belt” or ranking in the hierarchy. Bottom level could be as simple as showing competent safe handling of the weapon and a rudimentary scoring system at specific ranges. As things advance, shooters have to demonstrate mastery of the basic skills, but also competence in high level skills like longer range precision, or even physical fitness. Tests like Kyle Lamb’s sprinting and shooting from various positions for score could be useful, as well as long range precision tests.

Aside from the question of how would we classify individuals. We have to figure out who would arrange and monitor such a system. My initial thought is to give it to the CMP. That was, after all, their original role in the country: getting civilians proficient in marksmanship. If people want to go above and beyond to compete in things like IDPA, USPSA, NRA High Power or any other variety of shooting contests, then so be it. Just like the basic learning of martial arts skills, the intent here is to provide a general basis for all interested parties to get started, and some percentage of them well get proficient enough to go compete at a higher level.

Hmm….so how would we go about establishing a national civilian marksmanship classification system?

5 thoughts on “Building  a Better Gun Culture: Marksmanship as Martial Art Part 2”

  1. This is an incredible idea…and would encourage discipline in the shooting arts. I would love to have a system to challenge me to produce better results on the range…it would provide a much more goal oriented type of personal challenge…instead of fumbling through it on my own (I am not nearly as self-disciplined and goal oriented as you appear to be!)

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Derek!

      I don’t consider myself particularly self-disciplined, though. I”m just trying to improve at a skill that I’ve long held in high regard. Pete is right in that competition is a great way to get started, even if it’s just informal. That’s how I got started, though it was in more of a IDPA/USPSA style of shooting than what I do now.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Derek, that system is called competition…go participate!

    This sort of idea was common in the past, it needs resurrecting. Regular local shooting matches along with the idea that being a good shot was expected of a grown man.

    1. I agree that competition would would meet some of the goals….as well as be challenging. I just don’t currently have the time to make a commitment to organized competitions at this point in my life. Besides being in competition with others along with myself will not meet specific goals and regimen, and add cost allowing less expenditure to directly improve on certain functions that are important to my personal growth as a shooter. I can see where competitions may become a valuable and fun part of my training, but not at this time…at least not regularly. I see a great value in shooting being followed as a martial art (which it is)…and creating a system by which you pass set goals…allowing me to compete directly with myself and limited only by my own self-discipline, at my own pace, is incredibly intriguing.

      1. “Besides being in competition with others along with myself will not meet specific goals and regimen…”
        Yes it will, because you will be in charge of both the goals/regimen, and how you use the various challenges of X form of competition to both measure your abilities and learn new ways to improve.

        You can create your own system at any time. The challenge is in finding out what you don’t know you need. That often comes from outside your own experience – another thing competition can provide.

        Stick your toe in the water and find out…


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