Well it’s 1,2,3 what are we training for?

May 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Competition, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training

Take a few moments and watch this video. 

Yes, that is an actual promotional video for a California-based “tactical” firearms training company, and yes, that is every bit as unsafe as it looks. To top things off, all that “training” they’re doing is pretty much useless. 

Why? Because those “drills” they’re doing aren’t really drills, they’re scenarios: Very, very, VERY dangerous (and stupid) “scenarios” and those people are risking their lives performing them for the camera. Don’t just walk away from a trainer who asks you to do something like that, RUN. 

Ok, now that that’s over with, let’s start by defining some terms so we can figure out what we need to learn in a firearms training class and how we’re going to learn it so we can avoid those people like the plague they are. We need to learn…

Skills: The ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well
This is the basic operations required to perform a task. This is what we actually want to perform on demand when needed, be it drawing from a holster, trigger press, reloading a gun, whatever. Everything in training should be based around this core foundation: If it’s something like, “Oh, cool, that looks like fun!”, (Like, say, hanging off a rappelling harness firing an AR-15 when you’re not a SWAT team member), it’s not training, it’s recreation. We’re going to improve our skills with…

Practice: Repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency
Simply put, practice improve skills. You do the same thing, over and over again to get better at the skill you’re trying to develop. This is to firearms what kata is to the martial arts. For every firearms skill you want to develop, there’s a practice routine you can use to develop it. The one thing to remember is that practice is not about doing things FAST, it’s about doing things the CORRECT way every single time. We figure out how well we’re practicing skills with…

Drills: Strict, methodical, repetitive, or mechanical training, instruction, or exercise
Simply put, if you can compare your ability to do a consistent, predetermined practice routine against somebody else, it’s a drill. El Presidente, Tueller, Mozambique, USPSA Classifiers, they’re all drills because there’s only one way to do them and the results of any given shooter can be compared against their past results and anyone else who shoots that drill.
Now, most trainers I’ve seen with shy away from drills because they can have a dampening effect on a student’s desire to learn: If you get your @ss whipped by someone else in a class, it may hurt your desire to go back to that class. However, I think you won’t know how far you’ve come unless you know where you’ve been, which is why I’ve been using the same drills for almost three years now to track my progress, and it’s been encouraging to know that yes, I am getting (slowly) better at this sort of thing. Stringing a bunch of drills together in a bunch of different ways is called…

Scenarios: An imagined or projected sequence of events, especially any of several detailed plans or possibilities
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. All those skills you developed with practice and kept track of with drills now come down to this: Can you deliver the shot when it’s needed under some kind of artificial stress? Simply put, a firearms training scenario is a series of drills strung together in a way that requires an element of problem-solving and critical thinking to complete correctly as quickly and accurately as possible. Scenarios like a shoot house, USPSA stage, IDPA match or a Figure Eight “drill” all require the shooter to put together different skills developed through practice while under some form of artificial stress, such as a timer or “realistic” training environment. 

So if you’re walking into a classroom for a firearms course and the instructor seems to be more interested in talking about about the high-speed, low-drag tactical operations you’re about to do in his class but can’t talk about what actual firearms skills you’ll be developing while doing so, you’re not enrolled in a training class, you’re enrolled in a armed forces fantasy camp. Next time, look for an instructor who can teach, not lead a team of wannabes.