Training is a Very Personal Thing

By ninpo_student of The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

Training is a very personal thing. You have to tailor your training and resources to your particular mission set. Figure out your needs and build a program to support that. I’m a huge fan of the 90% solution. Give me a technique, tactic or procedure that covers 90% of what I may be faced with and I’ll audible it to work for the other 10%. Software is the most critical component of any training program and you should try to address shortcomings or flaws in your game through training first. However, not all problems can be fixed that way. Hardware is also a critical piece of the puzzle. My take on equipment is to use what I need to fill those voids I can’t address through training. Some things are so useful that they are mandatory in my opinion, such as lights, lasers and optics on carbines or lights and optics on a fighting pistol. With a quality product, those categories are incredible force multipliers.

Using a war belt setup, bandolier or bag setup to address carriage issues for equipment is another place where solid equipment choices reap benefit. A thought out and well configured setup enables you to fight and train without the distraction of equipment issues. We’ve all been at a class (or gunfight in my case) with a sub-optimal setup that required bandwidth to deal with, taking away focus and attention from the problems at hand. What you consider unnecessary may be something another dude considers critical. Something else to think about on the equipment side is that the private market has been driving the evolution in the gear market for a while. Companies like Velocity Systems and Blue Force Gear saw deficiencies on the soft goods side based on experience and addressed them, raising the bar across the board. The .mil could give a care if your stuff is comfortable or even reliable as long as it checks the box that you got it. Without the large civilian market, .mil guys would have no recourse to rectify those issues.

I spend roughly 60-70% of my training time with a pistol, for a couple of reasons. One, those same skills that work on a pistol effectively translate over to the carbine fairly well, while the reverse is not true. Two, the pistol is more difficult to shoot well and tends to deteriorate faster without sustainment training. Lastly, if I ever have to shoot someone again, it will likely be with a pistol, so I want to be up to speed with my likely weapon. I still spend time with a carbine, because those skills need sustainment training as well. Here again is an area where the .mil and LE benefit disproportionately from the civilian training market. Outside of SOCOM in the .mil, training methods and TTPs are outdated and archaic. The prevalence of excellent training choices today allows the dude who wants to master his profession a way to do so. This was not the case in the late 90’s and early 00’s. I wish it had been, the early GWOT would have been different for a lot of dudes who died because their training failed them.

Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate for you and your situation. Like Sammy, should someone enter my home without permission, he’s getting the bees from a carbine, it’s far more efficient to use in close quarters than a pistol and kills people better. The go bag located with it holds extra ammo should it be required, marking equipment for danger areas and casualties and first aid gear in the event myself or a family member is injured in the encounter. I carry two spare mags and a blow out kit with my pistol everyday in the event I happen to be in the same place as a retard intent on doing stupid stuff. To me those things aren’t over the top, they are reasonable solutions to potential problems. While I do use armor at work, if I had the chance to jock up before a gunfight I’ll do it in a heartbeat, I’ve seen it save lives, mine included.

Lastly, your argument is the same one made to restrict our 2nd Amendment rights by the opposition ( I’m not making the argument that you share their beliefs, only that it’s the same logic applied ). Why do you need that ? Why do you need to train for that ? Most gunfights are over in a few seconds with only a couple of rounds fired at close range. However, not all of them are. Without training and experience, those outliers are much more difficult to mitigate successfully. Hard, realistic training builds confidence which gives you options not available to those without. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of people who I could have shot under the ROE that I didn’t because I knew I had them if it went to guns. That confidence from solid training gave me that leeway. Folks spend their time and money where they deem appropriate. It doesn’t always make sense to others. If these things aren’t for you that’s awesome. I hope that you are pursuing training avenues that cover the things you do need to shore up. Just don’t be surprised when others have different priorities. Yours may seem just as odd to them.

Gun Safety Rules and Working in a Team

By ninpo_student of The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

Safety is one of those things that is misunderstood as it relates to gunfighting. I hate the term “Big Boy Rules” because it is invariably followed by some retarded stuff that has no business on a range at the level of students its being taught to. We used the term frequently where I used to work, but it was understood there, that it didn’t mean a complete lack of safety for “reality based training”. It simply meant that we were aware that tough realistic training can have severe penalties should something go wrong and you were expected to bring your A game to work everyday to mitigate those risks as much as possible.

Here is my take on the traditional safety rules popularized and simplified by Col Cooper

1. You are responsible for knowing the status of your weapon 100% of the time. We know that all guns are not always loaded, you are required to give it respect due as an instrument of lethal force. People get killed by others doing dumb stuff with “unloaded” guns all the time. Be responsible about it.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger and the safety engaged until your sights on target and you’ve made the conscious decision to shoot. Every round you send downrange in a fight has to be the result of a conscious action on your part. If you don’t want to buy it, fix it or be responsible for it, don’t shoot it.

3. Never let the muzzle sweep anything you are not willing to destroy. In the real world, this is very difficult if not impossible to do, nor is it necessarily desirable. Sometimes you have to point your weapon at someone until you’ve determined if they are a threat or not. If they are, get to work, if they are not, stop pointing your weapon at them.

4. Be aware of your target, its fore and background and what is surrounding it. In a fight, there is going to be screaming non combatants running frantically in all of those areas. Understand the environment you are fighting in and adjust your position in relation to your target to ensure you’ve got the cleanest background you can get and don’t miss.

As you can see there is a great deal of ambiguity in those rules, just like a gunfight. They are a good system, and if you were to break one of them while maintaining the integrity of the others, you will be ok should something bad occur. Break more that one, and all bets are off. We had a couple of absolute no go’s that would send you packing from the assault teams if you broke them. Number One was do not muzzle a teammate. You muzzle should never come closer to a teammate than 1 meter. You generally have about a 15 degree spread off the muzzle to work with, depending on the environment. Muzzling a teammate was a quick trip to the job fair if you did it. Number Two was disengaging the safety without a target or sight picture. It was ( and probably still is ) common for new guys to try and shortcut the system to keep up with veteran assaulters by disengaging the safety when entering the room for the perceived speed advantage of doing so. This one you may survive the first time someone caught you, depending of whether or not they thought you were salvageable. There would be some painful and humiliating punishment to remind you of your failure to reinforce that this is not acceptable. Do it again and you were looking for a new job.

CQB is a thinking mans game, much more like chess than checkers. In addition to the safety rules ( always in effect, you have to fit them to the environment you are working in ), there is the structure, your teammates, non combatants, potential IED threats, victims, enemy combatants, and a thousand other things. You need to internalize the safety rules ( or principles really, because that’s what they really are ) and understand how to apply them and when. Put in the work to do it right, spend the time thinking about the principles and what they are designed for. Avoid the commercialized version of “Big Boy Rules”, it usually means something with little to no training value with a severe penalty for failure. Big Boy Rules simply means you understand the application of the safety principles and are ready to bring your best game to the show, while understanding the penalty for failure……..

On the Trigger Reset

By ninpo_student from The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

The problem isn’t trigger reset as much as how it’s taught. Done properly, the end goal is the trigger resets under recoil, allowing you to pick up the sighting system and press off the next round as soon as the sights settle to an acceptable picture. We as an industry in general do a piss poor job teaching that, same with the draw stroke. Both, the way they are taught, are done so the student learns the proper motions in the proper order. We fail to explain to them that the end goal ( for trigger reset ) is to reset the trigger as the slide cycles so the followup shot ( if necessary ) can be taken immediately, without the extra step of resetting the trigger prior.

Both trigger reset, properly executed and slapping, for lack of a better term, the trigger both work to shoot fast. The key with both of them is a firm grasp of the fundamentals ( specifically grip ) and the ability to apply them at speed. To successfully “slap” the trigger and make good hits, you need to grip that gun like a 14 year old discovering masturbation for the first time or the sights will bounce all over hell and back. To reset the trigger at speed, the gun almost needs to float in your hand a bit and reset off a firm trigger finger if that makes sense. It’s easier to show than explain. The guys who came to Roger and I’s carbine class last year got a demonstration of what I’m talking about, albeit with a carbine vs a pistol.

All of which begs the question, how fast is fast enough ? The answer, like nearly everything in the application side of training, is it depends. The speed I need to successfully win a match is not the speed I need to win a gunfight. While the two are similar in that I need to engage a target under stress against the clock ( the bad guy in a fight and competitors in a match ), the other variables are vastly different. In a match I know I’m firing a certain number of rounds from this position at theses targets, and barring a miss or malfunction I’m off to the next firing position. In a gunfight I’m constantly evaluating the environment, the effects or lack thereof my rounds are having on target, the relative positions of my teammates or other bad guys, non-combatants in the mix, etc. those additional environmental details require time, however minuscule an amount, to process and act upon. Those factors control the speed you can engage at.

The shooting part of gunfighting is only 10% of the game. It’s a foundational 10%, obviously, but only 10%. Those other factors I mentioned above and a thousand things I didn’t are all in play too. If it’s your first gunfight you’ll have the added stress of that. That’s why we should be continually building up our foundation. Now, as a shooter, I’m never satisfied with where I’m at, I’m always looking to improve my game. I’m never as fast as I want to be, never as accurate as I want to be, etc., simply because I don’t know what particular sub-skill will be required to win my next gunfight ( my wife says no more, but I’m not too old yet…… ).

The other part of the problem is that we tend to isolate speed and precision when in reality they exist together as two sides of the same coin. Part of the issue is the YouTube and Instagram heroes who spend an afternoon shooting so they can post the one good run they had that day, or speed up the runs they did to make them appear faster. If you notice, most of them rarely show the target they are shooting at, for the simple reason at it either looks like a shotgun patterning at 25m or they flat-out missed. Speed is the byproduct of smoothness and accuracy. It’s the end result of eliminating excessive motion and ingraining a solid neural pathway for the skill in question. When speed is our end goal, we sacrifice smoothness and the elimination of excess motion to do it fast.

Watch dudes trying to go fast who don’t have it down and they look like they are having a fucking seizure. Now watch Leatham, Defoor, Chapman, etc shoot and it looks slow as fuck until you check out the timer. That’s what the proper combination of speed AND accuracy looks like. It’s what we should be striving for. Unfortunately it’s hard work and past a certain point gains are increasingly incremental and harder to come by. It’s so much easier to just rip it out of the holster and slap the shit out of the trigger and explain away the shit show the target is displaying…….