Shooter’s Guide to Handgun Marksmanship
by Peter Lessler
Plenty of people seem willing to offer opinions on how best to use firearms but not all those opinions are worth considering. Talk to masters of any art and they will emphasize learning and perfecting fundamentals. While novices are distracted obsessing over minutia, masters focus on those fundamentals yielding the best return for superior results. Part of becoming highly skilled is learning where to focus effort and what is less important.
Peter Lessler offers a good insights on what’s truly important in Shooter’s Guide to Handgun Marksmanship, a great guide to solid practical pistol marksmanship and gunhandling that covers important fundamentals needed to handle a pistol well.
This book will give you what you need to at least get up to the author’s skill level. If you follow this guide you will be good enough to perform competently in organized competition and be measurably better than most military, police and tactically trained gun bearers. Most importantly, it will develop fundamental skills more than sufficiently so that whatever task you intend to pursue, your base of ability will be well developed.
The importance of proper, initial focus is spelled out on page 150.
“Tactics Or Basics?
I have not wanted to delve into the ‘tactical’ aspects of fighting in this book, preferring, instead, to focus on pure marksmanship. This is the building block that comes before anything else, and it is what I see most missing when I observe others.”
The first and most important step in training is defining how to measure skill, assessing current skill and developing a plan for improvement. Once someone has received instruction, training requires this.
Most firearm and tactical “training” is really instruction, an introduction or overview of concepts with hands-on familiarization. This is useful for anyone new to the concepts or in need of a refresher, but it can’t elevate skill levels beyond this. Most people confuse this instruction as training and forever remain at a novice level without even realizing how much more skilled they could become.
Lessler gets this and has entire sections of his book discussing it. For starters, page 148:
“Completing these drills successfully will put you in a very high percentile of overall handgun competence performance, probably over the ninety-fifth percentile of handgun owners and a little under, or close to, mid-level in practical shooting competition.”
Chapter 13 Practice Drills goes into further detail.
Once you’ve graduated military basic, police academy, civilian tactical class, or any other other form of instruction, your skills will forever stagnate, no matter how much instruction you continue to receive, until you organize training. Have a challenging but realistic and useable standard to pursue and achieve with knowledge of how to get there is critical. This book provides that.
Best current estimates claim 40-45 million Americans own handguns. The biggest practical competition shooting organizations in the United States have combined memberships of around 50,000. Lessler is skilled enough to be above average in this select group. Total number of American gun owners pursuing any form of recognized and organized marksmanship activity (not just handgun) is less than a 250,000. There are perhaps this many people also pursuing formal firearm and/or tactical instruction as well, though most of them will never obtain, or even aspire to, the skill levels of the first group.
If we’re incredibly generous we might estimate a million total American gun owners involved in any form of organized firearm activity. That leaves well over 39 million handgun owners desperately in need of what marksmen like Peter Lessler have to say. The gun owning population would be greatly improved if even a few million of these folks read this book and applied it.