"Train as you fight...fight as you train," this link has been proven in countless battles in foreign lands and the streets of America, in ancient skirmishes by warriors of old to today's wars against terror and crime. But within that absolute truth we still have training failures. Failures of lack of relevancy, realism, intensity and frequency, to name just a few, set the recipient up for operational failure. You see, it is not enough just to train; hard thought must go into what you train (Is the skill worthy?), street performance (Can people actually do it?), and the effects of a SNS response (Can someone perform the skill in fight or flight?). In addition, there is the law of diminishing returns (Skills deteriorate post-training; how much maintenance is necessary to be able to perform the skill?). Throw charlatan instructors, lack of substantive research to support the material taught and just plain goofs in the training mix as well, and what could have been training that saved your life is now something that will fail you when you need it most!
Simply stated, the end goal of your training is that a suspect that attacks you is in more danger from you than you are from them! Training, then should improve performance and give you the advantage in an altercation--otherwise, why train? Almost any untrained citizen on the street can throw wild punches, wrestle around with no technique, swing a baton like a caveman and blaze away ineffectively with a pistol. Once again, improved performance in actual incidents is our desired goal. High performance increases our chances at winning the incident, reduces our potential injury and lessons the impact of luck. To win the altercation we must first win in our training quest.
The Value of Training Activities
Each and every repetition in training is the chance to perfect a lifesaving skill. Take the simple act of loading and unloading your pistol as an example. Now, we can approach these skills as routine, but in addition to setting us up for an unintentional discharge (anytime handling a firearm activity becomes "routine," an accident and tragedy is just around the corner), by engaging in these skills as administrative in nature, you rob yourself of several chances to perform a perfect draw stroke, sight alignment/sight picture, reload, recovery to the holster, and several other skills as well, but that is not the subject of this treatise. If you treat these acts as routine, they have no value and the repetitions you engage in are worthless. Approach these actions and others correctly, and you build a successful motor program. The value of that is priceless!
"Advanced techniques are the basics mastered." Dissected, this quote has a few important facets:
- You have to find out what the basics are
- You have to train them
- You keep training to mastery level.
Mastery of skill (besides God-given talent) is what separates LeBron James from a basketball player in a recreational league. Yes, LeBron has been blessed by the Almighty with great genes, but he would not be where he is if not for an intense work ethic. Any military SpecOps operator has the same work ethic at attaining mastery. It's just the field of play is a little "different" and the outcome of the "event" a little more serious, but they still plug away at the basics. A friend of my partner is a covert operator with a lot of experience in the world's hot spots. Once while at the range, I watched as he "ran the pistol." There was nothing fancy; I had learned what he was doing, and pretty much from the same sources. Watching him shoot was like watching a machine operate. There was no extraneous movement; matter-of-fact, it didn't even look fast. His movements were so practiced and so smooth, they looked robotic. My fellow instructor, Chris Cerino from the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy--Richfield Campus, has the same mastery of the pistol. Chris, a former Federal Air Marshal firearms instructor, and I have been teaching quite a few firearms and tactics courses for the State of Ohio. What we try to give our students is the foundation upon which they can build skill mastery.