05 February 2013

Training- a shifting paradigm



With the reelection of Obama, and the post Sandy Hook attack of our civil rights, it is no surprise that these things come up more and more in conversation with people who are just waking up.  In addition to that, you always have the rumblings of people who are active in shooting and training.

Recently I had one of these conversations with a longtime friend and training buddy, he had been speaking to another friend who owns a training company about the ammunition shortage.  The theme of the conversation was that from here on out, regardless of the price of a course, people will either not be able to afford or be willing to use up a large amount of ammo.  There needs to be a paradigm shift when it comes to training.

The first thing is that people need to be honest with themselves whether or not they are training as a hobby, or to better prepare themselves for realistic scenarios they are ready to face.  At the cost of hurting some feelings, I am going to say that many train as a hobby.  The easiest way to tell is by the concentration of their training history.  At the cost of hurting some more feelings, I will point out how chic it has become to get all dolled up in a chest rig and shoot stationary targets….really, really, fast.  It is not just the rifle crowd; the entire industry is stuck on “mechanics” classes.  The goal is to make you an expert in running your firearm.  The more classes you attend for a specific type of firearm, the more your pond becomes wider, and not deeper.

Whether or not you are a long time training junkie, or just getting started, start with asking yourself a simple question:  Is what I wore to my last class, or what I plan on training to my first class, an accurate representation of what I am likely to be wearing if I need to use the skill set I am training for, no matter what it is?

As a law enforcement firearms instructor, I would have detectives qualify using their off duty holster, not their duty rigs.  If we were qualifying in cold weather, they had to wear gloves.  During the firearms part of police mountain bike certification, you had to wear the padded bike gloves.   The goal is to make everything as realistic as possible.
If you are not comfortable enough to train with what you carry every day, maybe you should evaluate your everyday carry options.

The second question is:  Does this training integrate more than one specific skill?  In my experience, the most common reason a student shuts down during a scenario is when they are given more than an option besides the one that they are trained for.  An example is staging a robbery as they walk out of an “ATM”.  Instead of walking back inside the building to gain time, distance, and cover, they instead draw their pistol (the focus of their training) and close the distance, usually resulting in a shooting.
Force on force does not always have to mean that someone is shooting at you.  The most important thing is that your actions are in response to those of another living, breathing person.  We can all agree that in real life, once you have drawn your pistol, something very serious is taking place.  In training, drawing a Blue Gun should be treated the same way.  But as many have written before, if the focus of your training is the gun, the answer is always the gun.  Options will not just pop into your head as you are standing there using both hands to draw down on an attacker.  If you have not pulled the trigger, there is a good chance that you have other options, if you have trained to recognize them.  Over the last several years of coming in contact with police and citizens of various backgrounds and interest levels in the subject matter, here is the hierarchy of skills based on the probability of having time and opportunity for their use.

Awareness
Driving
Interpersonal Communication Skills
First Aid
Open Hand Combatives
Impact Weapons
Pistol
Shotgun
Rifle / Knife

I know it will make some people sad that Rifle and Knife are last.  The ability to defend against all weapons, edged and otherwise, is covered by open hand combatives.  It never ceases to amazes me that at contact distance, when people have a malfunction with their pistol, they just stop instead of using the pistol as an impact weapon.  But as previously discussed, if you have not trained that option, it will not just happen.
The same is true with people who carry a gun everyday but have not had any training on how to treat a gunshot wound.

So in light of recent events and the forecasted future, if you are already a confident  “mechanic”, maybe it is time to add some depth to your skill sets.

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