Thursday, February 16, 2012

Training Limitations Part Two

Part 2
The assumption so far is: Training and range activities condition you and me to respond with a strong-side holstered weapon to a very specific signal or stimulus.  What happens to us when neither condition is valid?  And is there a cure or options? 

I see two corrective actions.  The first is obvious.  Train with your carry gun in your carry mode.  Practice dry, slowly at first and then speed it up.  At the range you should work slowly with live rounds.  As ability and smoothness begin to increase, challenge yourself with “what if?”  What if the ankle gun is the trailing leg going up the stairs and I can’t step forward?  What if I’m seated at a crowded table and the gun I need is in a shoulder holster?  I think you get the idea.  

When Pavlov put the dogs in his little apparatus, they were primed for the task at hand.  After a few sessions the dogs began to realize that food and apparatus were somehow linked.  They soon learned that on the bell if they acted right, they got a reward.  What if they had to sort through the signals for the right signal stimulus?   

The second corrective action is also obvious, but more provocative: Use new and different stimuli to initiate the shooting phase of training.  The problem is we can’t put all the possible or plausible stimuli into our training/sport shooting events.  This is complicated by being called to the firing line and told “You’re up,” which puts you in the mindset that the next signal is the go stimulus.

It seems to me the only way to accomplish this is to lessen the impact of the initial set up.  To do this we force the shooter to sort through incoming stimuli for the “GO” signal because the real world doesn’t have a firing line.

John Farnam is a pretty smart fellow.  I always thought his ‘shooting with confusion’ had a lot to offer the shooter.  I don’t know if John still calls it this or if he even uses it.  He has probably found a better system.

The drill is simple.  Start with a holstered gun.  Yes Virginia, it’s loaded.  On ONE, you place yourself in a weapon retention position sometimes called the interview stance and talk to the target.  You might ask if you can help it, or what is it doing here? The important part is you’ve responded to the target and by talking to it, distracted yourself from shooting.

On TWO, you draw the weapon, point the weapon at the target and issue a command: “Don’t move!” or “Drop the weapon!”  You can get cute and use “Armed citizen prepared to defend himself and those to whom I extend my mantle of protection!”  This one is likely to backfire and get everyone around you laughing.  Not always a bad thing.

On THREE, this is a different signal like a whistle or air horn, you engage the target with two rounds to the center of mass.

The key to remember is you shoot only on THREE and not any other command.  The commands should be given in different orders including not giving commands.  Having the instructor shout “shoot ‘em, shoot ‘em now!!” without command THREE is just so much wind.  The order of the commands is up to the instructor, who sees it as his job to trip you up if he can.

I believe one of the end results of this exercise is to desensitize you to the expectation that being on the firing line guarantees discharging your weapon.  I see that as a critical step to being open to other shoot stimuli.

Now we can add different stimuli to open you to the possibilities of self-defense shootings.  How about responding to the sound of a bolt slamming shut or the rack of a pump shotgun?  Your range partner could yell at a target to “drop the weapon” or “No, no don’t do that.”  Of course the sound of blanks being discharged next to you could be a strong stimulus.

I can easily see training that starts with you occupied with some activity like sorting shapes or colors and someone discharges a blank or starter pistol.  You need to look around, evaluate the possible targets and respond.  Heck, I even toyed with the idea of a red paint-splattered target that drops out from behind a barricade as a start signal.

The goal in all of this is to make you ‘unconsciously competent’ with the modes of CCW you use and to get you to quickly recognize the start of trouble as a signal and not the beep of a range timer.

Some of you may and should have different ideas.  Bring them to the table!  I’d like to hear about them.

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