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I don't know who originated the following stratification. I have observed its profound application to many subjects with no credit given to an author. Listed below are the five levels of competence that I have applied to firearms training.

INTENTIONALLY INCOMPETENT: Believe it or not, there are those who own and carry firearms that clearly know of their incompetence, but lack even the slightest bit of courage or motivation to improve their skills. The II avoids training out of laziness and fear of further exposing his incompetence to others. Graveyards are filled with the II. Sadly, the II often take those who count on them most— partners, family, and team members— to the grave with him. Unfortunately, the II cannot be helped to any substantial degree due to his lack of motivation to retain any training. Time wasted by coddling the II is better spent on the student who wants to improve. Fortunately, we rarely see the II at Front Sight.

UNCONSCIOUSLY INCOMPETENT: The UI does not know that he does not know. The UI represents approximately 95% of all gun owners and includes people (police and military) who carry a gun for a living. The UI is incompetent but does not know he is incompetent because he has had no training or poor training, and has not yet experienced a tactical situation, which would clearly demonstrate his inadequacies. Examples of the UI can be found everywhere. The police officer who boasts that he has never had to draw his pistol in 10 years of duty is a lucky UI. The officer who only practices shooting his weapon a few times per year in order to pass the mandatory range qualifications is UI. The gun owner who buys a gun and box of ammo, fires a few shots at the range and then places the gun in his closet, confident he can use it effectively to protect himself is UI. The hunter who only shoots once a year to sight-in his rifle before going hunting is UI. Military personnel who receive basic rifle training, but have not handled a weapon with live ammunition in over six months are UI. Unfortunately, the UI often learns of his ineptitude for the first time under the most extreme stress situations. When the flag flies, the UI's first lesson may be his last.

CONSCIOUSLY INCOMPETENT: If the UI survives his first lesson, and is smart enough to place the blame on the man in the mirror, the UI automatically graduates to the level of CI. The CI now knows he does not know and seeks help in acquiring the proper skills in the use of his weapon. The CI is a motivated student of weaponcraft. Although the CI is still operating at a level of incompetence, the CI recognizes his faults, and in doing so can focus his efforts toward reaching a level of competency.

CONSCIOUSLY COMPETENT: With proper training and practice, the CI develops into the CC. The length of time needed to develop from CI to CC is directly related to the quality of the training and the motivation of the student. The CC is able to manipulate his weapon and clear malfunctions in a safe and efficient manner. The CC understands the principles of marksmanship, shot placement, and ammunition management. Quick assumption of field positions and the use of cover are familiar concepts to the CC. The CC has adopted the combat mind set as his own. As the level indicates, the CC is very quick and competent, but must constantly think about what he is doing. Every decision and action occurs as a result of an intricate thought process and has not yet reached a reflex response level. The CC will respond effectively to most stress situations that do not require split second decisions or actions.

UNCONSCIOUSLY COMPETENT: As the fifth and ultimate level of competence implies, the UC has programmed his mind and body (after thousands of repetitions) to react in a fraction of a second with consistent responses that require no perceivable thought process. The UC functions flawlessly even under stressful situations because the UC's extensive training overrides his conscious thought process. As you can imagine, the UC is not common in today's society. This sad fact is due more to lack of proper training than to lack of motivation. Here are a few examples of the UC in action. In the heat of a gun battle, a pistolero, hears a "click" as his hammer falls on a defective round. He reflexively taps the magazine, rack-flips the action, and hammers two rounds into his adversary's chest without consciously recognizing that his gun had malfunctioned. Upon sighting a trophy, a hunter slings up as he drops into a steady sitting position. He fires, manipulates the bolt on recoil--without the rifle leaving his shoulder or his eyes leaving the game--producing a one shot kill and he does it all in less time than it takes to read this sentence. The combat shotgunner, confronted with a rapidly deteriorating hostage situation at 10 yards, immediately aims his front sight at the outside ear of the gunman, then confidently delivers half of the shotgun's pattern to the gunman's head.

At FRONT SIGHT we take the motivated, whether they are conscious of their inadequacies or not, and develop their minds and bodies to a level of competence that transcends 95% of the people who carry firearms for a living. For those who are already competent FRONT SIGHT will challenge your abilities and elevate your competence to the unconscious plane.

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