SOF Week

Frank Proctor On Guns, Gear, Training, And Competitive Shooting

Folks, here are some of my thoughts in regards to guns, gear, manipulations, technique, etc. I’m a fan of gear that works better as long as it’s reliable. I don’t take anything to a match that I wouldn’t take to combat. I would and have set up my guns for combat the same as my competition guns. In the ratio of performance and reliability I find a good happy medium. Mine work better than stock and they always work, they have to. The same goes for any techniques or shooting methodology it must for combat or competition. There is a bunch of weak sauce out there in the statements that competition stuff will get you killed. I disagree, I was a Green Beret and deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq both before and after I got involved in competitive shooting and achieved the rank of Grand Master in USPSA (limited division).

In May 2007 I was the Primary Instructor for Combat Marksmanship for an entire Special Forces Group and trained with dudes from other SF groups and other DOD agencies. I shot my first pistol match in May 2007 and I found out there was a whole lot I didn’t know about shooting. It was very humbling to see what those competitive shooters could do with a pistol. I was not as good as they were and I wanted to be better than I was. I’m still not as good as I want to be. I worked on it and trained and competed as often as I could. I learned a lot from shooting with those guys and competing and being under that kind of stress. I did and still do take away may lessons that make me a better shooter and made me a better Green Beret. Outside of more efficient techniques, gear and manipulations( the stuff that most shooters incorrectly focus on) a HUGE take away is seeing faster and more aggressively. What you see and process and how fast and aggressive you can do it make the biggest difference. An easy translation of me was doing CQB after competing. I am much more aggressive with my vision as a result of competing and it pays huge dividends being able to receive visual information and process it faster. I encourage every person that carries a gun of a living or for self defense to go out an compete, find out if you are a stood at shooting under stress as you want to be. If you are as good as you want to be then quit competing. I wasn’t and am still not as good as I want to be. Also worth mentioning, I find it very easy to separate tactics and shooting.

The visual and mechanical efficiency that you will gain by becoming a successful competitive shooter will make the application of tactics easier when that time arrives. Here’s another factoid and probably will be painful. There are a lot of people that carry guns for a living or in self defense that don’t train to be better shooters or very rarely do so ( my hat is off the the dedicated exceptions, I respect your dedication to your trade and responsibility) On the other every competitive shooters trains to become better because they want to win or they wan to be better than they were yesterday. In my mind that should apply to also apply to the folks that carry guns with the possibility of having to use it in a life or death situation.

Now, let me talk about press checks and putting rifles on safe etc. When I attended the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course (Shooting and CQB course for every Green Beret) It was taught as part of a deliberate load procedure to press check the gun to insure a round was in the chamber. I think that’s a pretty solid PCI (pre combat inspection) I do it and the dudes I went to war with do it. It doesn’t cost anything and I have real good warm fuzzy when I need the gun it’ll go boom. I’ve seen a bunch of dudes that don’t do it and I’ve also seen them step up to shoot with an unloaded gun. I’ve seen this a bunch with the non press checkers. Never seen it with a though that make the press check part of their gun handling habits. I press check my pistol usually after I shoot, this became a habit for me as an adaptation. I shot a Beretta a good bit and with big hands I would override the slide stop and not get slide lock. I started press checking the pistol and prevented that uncomfortable feeling of having an empty mag and empty chamber.

Now, let’s talk about something else that seems to get some “tactical” shooters fired up. Putting the rifle on safe during reloads and when transitioning from rifle to pistol. I live by a very simple rule in regards to safe manipulation of the rifle. If my eyes are not connected to the sights the rifle is on safe. To this date that method has not cost me anytime in an engagement or transition. Over the last 15 years I have had and AR-15 or M4 in my hands nearly everyday. It’s a habit and an easy one. Doesn’t cost any time and prevents any issues. Once again I do it and believe in it an so do my peers. If you aren’t into it that’s cool, but not if you are on a range with me. I think anyone with an open mind would agree. I also believe that if you carry an AR-15 or M4 for a living and putting he gun on safe is an issue for you, then you should train more to make it easy and I’ll be glad to help with that. If you think that putting the rifle on safe when you are not connected to the sights is silly, then I think you need to evaluate what happens on the pointy end of the rifle. It’s only a matter of time and exposure before people with unsafe gun handling skills have their life or someone else’s life changed in a negative way.

Well, that’s about all I have for now I’ll finish by saying I believe win everything I do and teach and I know it works because I have down it and seen it with my eyes and explored it. Not because someone said so or the book said or the forum said etc. Also for a recap on my opinions based on my experiences as a shooter both combat shooting and competition shooting. Shooting has been a part of my everyday life and a passion for the last 15 years. I’ve been a Green Beret since November 2003 and Grand Master Since January 2009. Thanks for reading and I hope to see y’all at a range someday and I wish you the best in your shooting!

-Frank Proctor

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21 Responses to “Frank Proctor On Guns, Gear, Training, And Competitive Shooting”

  1. Agent K says:

    Some good stuff here folks! Well said Mr. Proctor.

  2. TheDude says:

    Over here preachin’!

  3. Mike Mike says:

    Frank understands…..if at anytime you hear some tacticool idiot or instructor bashing competition shooting, please refer them to Mr Proctor. Their negativity usually means they went to a match and (a) They DQed (b) Some 15 yr old GM like Alex Larche waxed their ass so bad it left a mark (c) Out of 26 Production shooter that day they placed 20th. THIS COMMENT IS ESP DIRECTED TO CHUCK TAYLOR….WHO WRITES FOR TACTICAL TRAINING MAGAZINE and loves to bash competition shooters. Read Chucks bashing in the spring issue of Tactical Training under the article Encounters of the Worst Kind. Great article Mr Proctor

  4. Jon, OPT says:

    Good read right there.

    Jon, OPT

    • Chris K. says:

      Regarding the safety during reloads – if you can engage it without issue, then why not do it? Especially for a long gun which you may need to let hang at a moment’s notice.

  5. Thomas Madere says:

    Help me understand. It’s OK to bring my Glock up to reload without my eyes on the sight and no safety, but it not OK to do the same with an AR. I get the safety if I am going to let the rife hang while working the with the hand gun, but during a reload I don’t get putting the rifle on safe.

    • Mac says:

      Better question is, do you lose anything by putting the weapon on safe during a reload?
      It’s been demonstrated that once proficient in it, activating the safety during a reload does not add to the time vs not activating. So if it’s not taking longer, are you losing anything adding it to your repetoire?

      As for the reloading a Glock vs reloading an AR, I’d bet if a Glock had a thumb safety as a standard offering, they would advocate activating it during the reload procedure as well.

      • majrod says:

        Citing manufacturers decisions on how they equip/build guns as dictating how users would feel about a weapon’s function or safety isn’t entirely correct.

        What if 1911 makers did away with a thumb safety?

        Glock would probably advocate using a Glock installed external safety if for nothing else liability reasons but would Glock users? I doubt it. They might be forced to by peer pressure but they wouldn’t like it.

        Have had many comment about the safety on a 1911 creating a point of fail for a shooter as a “con” to the 1911. That mindset becomes perturbed at the thought of not putting a 1911 on safe before it goes in the holster. Why, it’s just as safe if not more so than a Glock which doesn’t have a grip safety?

        Don’t get me wrong, I safe my pistol when I’m not actively shooting but the hypocrisy/double standard is disturbing where proper training makes you safe with one weapon but that same training standartd isn’t applied to another gun. It’s the gun’s weakness…

    • Ben says:

      Aside from what has been said above; a Glock is drop safe, an AR isn’t. You fall and your rifle goes off and ventilates one of your team/family/a civilian etc, your bad day just got a lot worse. Not something that can happen with a drop safe weapon.

      • Airborne_fister says:

        I have dropped my ar well my wife did off the table and it didn’t go off. And I have had my m4 drop outta the turret in an mrap no probs. other then the 203 safety lever broke. But who needs that anyway.

        • MAJ S says:

          Well, then you’re damn lucky. And contrary to Han Solo’s way of getting through life, I’d rather be good then lucky.

  6. Joe says:

    Or its ok to reload my 1911 with the safety off because it can’t be safed with the slide back?

  7. BAP45 says:

    So funny to read the safety part. I remember years ago I used to run a 1911 in IDPA matches and would always flick the safety one when I would move between barricades and the tacticool guys would always make some smart comment about it.

  8. straps says:

    Rifles are slung and Pistols aren’t.

    I’ve been on-scene or part of the investigation chain for 2 NDs involving people who you wouldn’t think it would/could/should happen to. NOT POGues at clearing barrels. Both involved slung weapons, outside the wire, right after TICs. One occurred while a local was getting direct pressure on a bleeder, the other by an M1114 trunk latch when a guy was fetching linked ammo. Miraculously, nobody got hurt (the TCCC ND ricocheted off the ground and at least one wall) and everyone promised to get smarter so both were handled “locally.”

    Gunfights end no more predictably than they begin, and we usually wind up cleaning up afterward. And THAT’S where “good” troops ND:

    Training yourself to sweep the safety from 9 to 12 to 9 again depending on the angle of the dangle–and checking yourself pretty much continuously (which ALSO keeps your dominant hand on or near the pistol grip)–puts you at no deficit.

    • majrod says:

      “Rifles are slung and Pistols aren’t.”

      TRUE but you aren’t slinging a rifle when you are reloading it.

      “Training yourself to sweep the safety from 9 to 12 to 9 again depending on the angle of the dangle–and checking yourself pretty much continuously (which ALSO keeps your dominant hand on or near the pistol grip)–puts you at no deficit.”

      Concur and well put.

  9. Mark Mosier says:

    Hey great info Mr Proctor! Wasnt ever taught to go on safe during reload but am working on it now. Just to get someone lathered up, what about applying the same standard to the M9? Slide locks back, dump the empty mag, reach up and engage the decocker/safety then release the slide. Oh yeah now you have to kick the decocker/safety back off before you can shoot back. That wouldnt make much sense. Way too slow. Just sayin’.

  10. JPfromFinland says:

    Great article. I am not a grandmaster, and know to take heed when one gives sound advice. But I do have to teach people this stuff…

    I too puke in my mouth a little when people in class try to talk themselves or others into not using a safety based on X or Y theory or comparison. It only comes second to not using your sights on my list of pet peeves. It seems like something that makes sense to certain people… If you only operate in a tidy zen-humming environment with no confusion or any harassing factors competing for your limited powers of attention. Yeah. We all know how that works out.

    Having your safety off when not on target or doing a lifesaving manipulation the safety prevents is like having your fly open in public: You sure can get away with it most of the time, but if you are not paying attention to details like that, it will set you up for some embarrassing situations… And it’s something I would not recommend to a friend as a life choice.

    Of course there are platforms that force you to do iffy stuff, which indicates it’s not an ideal choice (but one that you might have to live with for the moment) and you will need to be extra careful with it 🙂

    A Glock will ND when holstering if a cordlock from your jacket hem is in the trigger guard (Wasn’t me, but a good reminder to check your clothing for this eventuality). A 1911 on safe wont. Just to give an example. An M4 will ND if you hang it off safe and that marker / IZLID / knife on your vest is there. Bad tools, no, but awareness and good habits will carry the day over cutting corners…

  11. Joe says:

    I guess Ive got something to practice at the range this week. After practising a few weeks put it on a shot timer and have a look at the times.