Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Modern Training Methods

On Modern Stress Training Methods

Recently, I have noticed many techniques that defensive shooting instructors have been using to apply stress to their students.  None of the techniques are new, but their implementation is fairly interesting.  Today, I watched videos of instructors simply placing a stick into the ejection port of a semi-automatic rifle while a student is firing, to induce a malfunction in their firearm.  After viewing some video footage of this method being utilized for training purposes, I have decided to analyze it for this post. 

Over the course of five minutes in the video, malfunctions were induced more than 15 times between two shooters.  This made me wonder, what is the actual objective of this training lesson?  If it is to teach the proper clearing of a malfunction under stress, then it is incredibly effective.  However, if the true objective is to teach students the proper techniques to combat an assailant, while employing two weapon systems and maintaining situational awareness, then it falls short.

Believe me, I realize that there is no better way to train the correction of malfunctions than to have them happen at the worst possible moment in training.  That is precisely when we want them to happen, on the range, not in the real world.  This is where I believe the value of this type of training ends.  That is, unless YOU make it more valuable to you by changing your way of thinking in these types of scenarios.  You can spend the entire drill trying to get your primary weapon functioning and forget that you still need to deal with the problem in front of you.  However, there should be much more to learn than just high stress malfunction drills.

Imagine the drill like this: you are not just working through a problem, rather, you are trying to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.  Treat the instructor as an actual element in the equation and work it as such.  For example, do not just think “at some point the instructor is going to jam a stick into my gun and I will have to fix a malfunction”.  Instead, think "this is a problem for my gun and I need to prevent it from getting in there because it will cause an issue that I don’t want to happen”.  Now, this thought process can work against you, so you must consider all aspects of the drill.  If you focus too much on the instructor causing an issue, you will lose focus on the threat.  In the real world, if your gun continued to malfunction, at some point you would have to cut your losses and accept the reality of the situation. 

WORK THE PROBLEM.  Do not allow other things to obscure the end goal.  If the objective of the training is to shoot the bad guy without getting shot, you cannot achieve that if every time you pull the trigger your firearm malfunctions.  If you are sitting behind cover unjamming a gun, you are not effectively defending yourself against the bad guy.  In a real world scenario, if your primary weapon has a malfunction more than twice back to back, logic would dictate that the weapon was not functioning properly and more invasive action was needed.  This malfunction could be from a mechanical fault or defective ammunition.  Either way, are you going to keep messing with the malfunction, or are you going to get your secondary weapon out to combat the threat?  At what point does the secondary training function of clearing a malfunction become detrimental, and simply repetitive?  The simple answer is: the moment it becomes your primary focus in the exercise.  If you spend more time clearing than shooting, you have lost the initiative and failed to achieve the objective. 

A better approach is to possess enough situational awareness to move out of the way when the instructor approaches your weapon with a stick.  Realistically, if you have been in a position long enough for a person to affect your weapon, you have probably been there too long.  Constantly be looking for a better position.  Your position can always be better.  Change your attenuation and elevation to the target and employ alternate firing positions.  While stress training, make sure to get your mind and body out of your comfort zone.  These skills are just as important as training to fix malfunctions under stress. 

If you can effectively engage the target from a position where the instructor's stick cannot reach the ejection port, all the better for you.  The instructor may succeed in inducing a malfunction for you once or twice, but you should still be able to fight through and complete the objective without getting bogged down. If you have a secondary weapon, USE IT, it is faster to transition than to clear.  If you are not shooting and your partner isn’t shooting, it’s not the right time to be fixing a long gun.  Someone needs to be going pew-pew.  If you are out of pew-pew, it is time to get out of dodge.

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