Guns and Golf

Those of you who are regular followers of INPAX are probably familiar with Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. After a distinguished career as a U.S. Army officer,  Col. Grossman is widely known today as an author and lecturer on “Killology”. His two seminal works, On Killing and On Combat are required reading for anyone who wants to understand the physiological and psychological processes of combat and the ability to kill.

I first heard Col. Grossman speak several years ago at an INPAX sponsored lecture entitled “The Bulletproof Mind”. If you are at all familiar with Col. Grossman, you know that he does not hold the game of golf in high regard. “Piss on golf” he bellows and laments that golf courses are a waste of perfectly good rifle ranges. His conclusion is that we are at war with the “bad” guys and any down time should be used in training ourselves. Let me say at this point that the purpose of this article is not to refute Col. Grossman. On the contrary, I’m all in. But recently I was asked if there were similarities between shooting and golf and wanted to spend a few minutes on it.As a Certified Firearms Instructor for INPAX, I spend a lot of time teaching tactical skills with firearms. In my spare time, I teach and compete in shooting clay target games, particularly Trap and Skeet. What’s unique about this is that the skills for clays are opposite that of tactical shooting. If you are looking at the front sight of your shotgun, you are not breaking very many clay targets.As the Shotgun Sports Instructor at Oakmont Country Club, I see a lot of shooters who are also golfers. I began to notice that in most cases, the best shooters at the various golf clubs in the area were also the best  golfers. In fact, I can think of three people who are club champions at both sports at clubs with significant programs. So what’s the connection?

First, for the most part, all of these people are good athletes. They excel at many things that involve three skills common to all of the various activities, particularly guns and golf. These skills are hand to eye coordination, the ability to singularly focus on the biomechanical skill set needed, and the determination to win. Now it is important to note that sports and personal defense are not the same thing and I am not suggesting they are. What I am suggesting is that these three abilities are critical to success in both of these areas.

Hand to eye coordination is a tricky subject because it is affected by many things including age, vision, and yes, natural ability. But every one of the people I spoke of has it in spades. And, there are ways to polish this skill.

The ability to singularly focus is a critical skill because it puts the person in the moment and allows only those thoughts and actions critical to the job immediately at hand. Distraction is completely eliminated.

Determination to win is the warrior mindset. Just last weekend, a friend of mine, a former Marine officer, needed to shoot a 24 out of 25 in his final round of Trap to win his club’s championship. After missing the first target, he ran 24 straight to win. I can assure you that he never once thought about losing during that round.

So how does this all relate to learning how to use a firearm for personal defense? Hand to eye coordination translates to training. Proficiency is a perishable skill. Whether under instruction or practice, you need to get to the range on a regular basis. When you do train, turn off the outside world and concentrate on developing the skill to focus on what you are practicing.  They need to become a repeatable skill set that, under stimulus, is an automatic response.  And finally, cultivate the Warrior Mindset. In sports, it’s OK to demand success from yourself. In personal protection, it may save your life.


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