Tactical vs practical shooting and why you need both

Lets have a discussion on the merits of both tactical and practical shooting, maybe discuss any real differences and the biggest reasons to do both. Lets try to keep this civil and more informational instead of making it a shit fest. @brianpurkiss and myself already discussed it a bit in another thread.

I personally like both and will go into detail more on this in a bit but for now here is a video from Rob Leatham ,possibly the best semi-auto pistol shooter of all time (even better than Miculek according to some).


18 posts were merged into an existing topic: The 3 Components of Surviving a Gunfight – Proficiency, Tactics, & Luck

Because we don’t need to. However, some competition stages require us to lean hard. Competent competition shooters have the skill set to lean. In my experience, when they are put into a environment where they have to lean, such as a “tactical” class - they lean and can hit things while leaning.

Which is why many competition formats include moving targets in their stages.

You get good at speed by pushing yourself to the breaking point of speed. You don’t get faster by staying the same speed. Those types of training are critical to becoming faster.

I am a competitive shooter and I am able to comprehend the difference between a cardboard target and a human target. The idea that a competetive shooter would only put two shots onto a human target and then unload and show clear is… yeah - that’s just not gonna happen.

Furthermore, there is complete merit in showing restraint in your shooting. Over 50% of violent encounters involve more than one attacker. It’s possible to empty a mag into a person before they hit the ground - and now you’ve got an empty gun and more attackers to deal with.

What you need is fast visual processing. Assess your own shooting, where your shots are going and what is happening. You practice that by shooting lots and engaging reactive targets - something common in the competitive and tactical world.

Tactical shooters love to obsess over cover. From all of the CCW/civilian gunfight footage I’ve seen, cover is an option in less than half of them. From my observation, most civilian gunfights start in the open as people are engaging with each other and they are over as quickly as the magazine gets emptied.

IMO - being able to get your gun into the fight and quickly and accurately empty it into an attacker is the single most important skill a conceal carrier should have as the gunfight will be over before anyone could get to cover.

My point is - being a blazing fast and accurate shooter is a greater asset in a gunfight than being a mediocre shooter who knows how to use cover.


Not true, I have seen comp guys literally stop/pause after a single shot or switch targets too soon when the COF called for 3 or 4. Again this is not all or even most people and obviously not pertaining to you personally but I have personally seen and had instructors point out these small things that do matter.


The problem is over exposing themselves, it gives an assailant a bigger target. It is yet another thing I have personally seen, easy fix though. Most of this is just small stuff and not a slant at competitive shooting just more a common issues with people who do not pay attention to proper technique in the name of speed. Again, I am not saying all or even most competitive shooters do this but it is some of the common issues. We fall to level of our training, afterall.


the assailant is just as big of a target and that is assuming he/she/it is stupid enough to stand there and be shot.


For good reason, they are not shooting paper or steel targets, their whole mind set is to not get hit as much as it is to hit the target. Shoot and move ,seek cover when you can. Defensive/tactical training is equally as important as competitive shooting. Only gamers say cover isnt important :wink: jk , I like both competitive shooting and taking “tactical” classes.

I really dislike the word “tactical” but I am not sure how to word it less douchy, same with the word “gamer”. It almost feels like a word that undermines that discipline.

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Exactly, making and breaking cover is a skill all by itself. Leaning too far is a bad idea or you expose yourself, same with the other guy.


When using concealment or cover you only expose as much as needs to be exposed. Hitting center of mass is harder when that mass is small, and only there for a moment.


Individual failure doesn’t mean the entire system is a failure.

I understand a good lean and bad lean. My point is, leaning is less important than fast and accurate shots.

“The first person to get shots on target usually wins” is a very common, and in my opinion, true statement.

And I can point to so many issues that the “tactical” side brings to the table. Mainly they are usually rather slow and inaccurate.

IMO, someone who shoots fast and accurate and leans a little farther out will do better in a gunfight than someone who leans the proper amount but struggles to shoot quickly and accurately.

That is doubly important since most civilian gunfights don’t involve any leaning around cover and hardly any tactics beyond when to draw and shoot.

The single most important skill for a civilian conceal carrier is fast and accurate deployment of a handgun. If you can draw and shoot faster than the criminal in front of you, that will end almost all violent encounters against the common criminal.

My point is, (the average “tactical” shooter) obsess over cover more than shooting fast and accurate when shooting fast and accurate is the more important skill.

How many civilian gunfights have you seen where people used cover? Now how many civilian gunfights have you seen where someone leaned in and out of multiple points of cover? Now how many civilian gunfights have you seen where the gun was drawn, bullets flew, and the gunfight was over? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a civilian gunfight where leaning around different points of cover was ever needed, let alone used.

Shooting fast and accurate > leaning 6 inches vs 12 inches around cover

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I agree, I was saying just that. I was originally pointing out how SOME competitive shooters develop a habit of leaning too far and exposing themselves in an attempt to be faster. A lot of competitve shooters do not do this though, its just one of a couple small habits to watch out for that need to be addressed if they occur.


I see a lot position themselves to engage multiple targets without moving. Yes, this improves scores. I always try to keep engagement to a single target and then move. I’m not all that interested in my final score, just my hit score, which is about 75% A

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No they dont. Paul Howe and Jeff Gonzales are both in Texas both are prior SF that concentrate on tactical shooting, go check them out. They know a thing or two and they can both shoot for real.
You are describing fudd instructors , legit instructors emphasize accuracy.

If you think you are ready for a gunfight with just competition training then so be it, seems kind of short sighted. Tactical means tactics, the legit instructors spend years in actual gunfights against real opponents so the fact that they are alive speaks volumes as to what they teach. Which is shooting both accurately and quickly while reducing risk to themselves and others. A gunfight from all ive seen and heard is much much more dynamic then a match. The main difference being you die or get seriously fucked up if you lose and you dont with the other.

I see comps as a legit way refine technique, I see tactical as a way to handle a situation, tactical instructors emphasize accuracy ,if they dont they are fudds. Ecspecially since speed shooting and missing could kill an innocent person, which is kind of not acceptable.


funny thing is, a civilian involved shooting is a surprised defensive action. So either being tacicool or ultimate shootist is moot. You will either draw, shoot and seek cover or seek cover and maybe return fire…Home defense - same thing,


If you want to kick-start your lizard-brains desire to seek/use cover, go play some paintball. Super cereal.


Except home break ins, where knowing how to search a house comes in handy or in a katrina/riot situation where defending your family is more then a few quick moves Or better yet when a few bangers approach you in a parking garage and it goes into a shootout, which happens a lot here in the states. This is not even including the whole prepper thing. Too each his own though, I live in a bad area and train for scenarios that might happen.


Lol try real force on force under an instructor it changes the difficulty quite a bit.


You’re changing over to instructors instead of the average shooter. Good instructors teach both. I have nothing bad to say against good instructors.

In my experience, the average “tactical” shooter focuses so much on cover, the head swivel, and other “tactical” things while their shooting speed and accuracy is quite poor.

Never once said that, or implied that, and have specifically said the opposite. I wrote that article linked to in the other post to directly contradict that notion.

That’s a strawman. Every time I’ve mentioned speed in this thread I’ve mentioned accuracy. Competition shooters work very hard to learn the limits of their speed so they shoot as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Lemme quote my article.

We have to balance all of the components of a gunfight and not over emphasize one thing over another - but shooting fast and accurate is more important than leaning six inches vs twelve inches.

I have never once said leaning around cover isn’t important. I know it is important and have said it is important.

But being fast and accurate is more important for civilian CCWers and the competitive shooters tend to be better about speed and accuracy than the “tactical” shooters by a wide margin in my experience.

Let me say it yet again since it seemed to have been missed.

Fast and accurate > than leaning a little vs leaning a lot.


or try it when the occasional RPG get’s chucked at you. In the end most of us will not be wearing all the fancy gear and plates that we “trained” with in class, Most of us would be lucky to have the pistol in the fore mentioned altercation. The biggest problem with most tactical training - it is offensive in nature and teaches peace through superior firepower, not defensive actions and disengagement,


This is real tactical training , its Paul Howes course overview


This is his basic standards


Competitive shooting will definitely increase your abilities to do this stuff but it will not teach you to do it, imo. Too each his own.