Dying To Be Fast: How The Shot Timer Is Destroying Tactical Training

Ridgeline Shot Timer

Before the collective “everyone” loses their shit, allow me to clarify; every tactical, defensive, competitive, or serious hobbyist shooter should have a shot timer as part of their range essentials (key word). They allow for measurable progress by giving the shooter a metric with which to compare their accuracy. However, shot timers + cell phones + Insta-sham = the perfect storm of bastardizing legitimate progress.

Many shooters that start at the beginning of taking their shooting seriously fall into pitfalls of trying to be too good too soon. We’ve all seen the guy at the range throwing down Jerry Miculek-level splits, but who couldn’t keep all their rounds inside of the D-zone at 3 yards if his life depended on it. He’s not good enough to go that fast yet because he hasn’t developed his visual speed to track his sights, nor has he ironed out the mechanics of his grip and trigger press to ensure he is command detonating the gun when the sight picture is acceptable for the level of work he is trying to accomplish. Herein lies the problem, they’re trying to be the shooter they will be in 30,000 rounds, right meow!

There are many “standards” in the shooting world, especially in the tactical and competitive training realms. Whether these standards are published and scored drills or community-driven rights of passage, they exist. The 1.5-second draw, the 90+ score at 25 yards on a B8 target, the 2-second shot-to-shot reload, a sub three-second Bill Drill, .25-second splits, and on and on. The funny part is that while many of these are accepted standards of our community, they actually do not provide you with any sort of rating.

Accomplish any one of the tasks above in the generally accepted time/distance/target and you are not a Grand Master (or even a D class shooter for that matter), you will receive no award, you’re not awarded any points, and generally no one cares. While it is a personal accomplishment to achieve those sorts of scores, once you do and you see who else is out there and what they can accomplish, all of a sudden it dawns on you how much work it will take to get from those .25-second splits to the hallowed .17-.18 of the GM territory. It has been said, “the more you learn, the less you know”.


The point of all this is that today we are seeing way too many defensive and tactical shooters developing terrible real-world habits, all for the sake of being able to hold a shot timer up to a camera and post it to social media. How many videos have you seen where the shooter has disconnected from the sights and is trying to read the time while the slide is still moving back into battery? 1-reload-1 drills where the re-established grip on the gun is so bad and weak the shooter would not be able to deliver multiple shots on target accurately post reload if the situation required it? But they had to make the gun go bang to make the timer read.

When I was a young Lance Corporal and beginning my own shooting journey in earnest, one of the first books I bought and read was Kyle Lambs Green Eyes Black Rifles. I fully expected to read this book cover to cover and unlock the Game Genie cheat codes of being a Tier 1 shooter (at the time mind you, having no idea of what that even meant … stupid boot). As I voraciously read the pages seeking the path of shooter enlightenment he had a quote written in bold that I will never forget.


I wanted a refund. What the shit was that crap? Are you kidding me? There I was thinking “I just paid 35 bucks for this book written by a D-boy, the highest echelon of combat shooter, and that was the secret? What the hell am I supposed to do with that?”

A couple years of dedicated training later, newly married and moving into our home on base I was organizing one of our spare bedrooms for my kit room. As I unpacked my books I came back across Green Eyes Black Rifles. I leafed through the pages before putting it on the shelf and I came across the page with that quote again, and it clicked.
“Slow down, and go as fast as YOU can.”

“Go as fast as YOU can.” There it was, in bold print even. I’m an idiot.

In the words of my friend and mentor “Super” Dave Harrington “relax your brain bros, this ones gonna hurt”. If you want to get good, really good, focus on doing the Right Thing, at the Right Time, Every Time. Isolate each action to focus on it, do it cleanly and record your time. That is your start point. Now you can decrease your par time for each action to drive your progress.

There are no short cuts in shooting. It’s a work filled journey of incremental progress and the better you get the smaller those increments are. They also come much slower and with a hell of a lot more work. Don’t fall prey to the idea that you have what is takes because you watched some YouTube videos, you have about 30,000 rounds of work left to do and don’t even get me started on the hours of dry fire. Keep in mind this is after seeking legitimate training from known and qualified individuals.

“competent or skilled in doing or using something.”

“achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.”

In closing, use the shot timer as intended, to give YOU a metric.

DO NOT TRADE ABILITY FOR SPEED, you will come up short. Identify and isolate desired areas of improvement YOU need, and then adjust your dry and live fire training plans accordingly. Focus on doing the action correctly and as perfectly as YOU can achieve, whatever your time is does NOT matter. As you continue to practice those actions, your times will naturally get lower as your proficiency improves.

PROFICIENCY BREEDS EFFICIENCY! Before you know it you will be easily accomplishing those standards you had to cheat to do before. You’ll be a better shooter overall and better prepared to use those skills in a fight or a competition. There is no skipping the work in shooting, pay your dues and do things the right way. That is the path to the promised land.

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4 thoughts on “Dying To Be Fast: How The Shot Timer Is Destroying Tactical Training

  1. Pingback: Weekend Knowledge Dump- December 1, 2017 | Active Response Training

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