I don’t have combat experience, but I’m not afraid to adapt the wisdom gained by those who have seen the elephant. Here’s some advice from Anthony Winegar. My observation, drawn from my life’s experience, will be in italics. Study these. You’ll find ideas in them.
On the Shoulders of Giants
The words are mine, but the ideas were forged in blood by very special men and women. While most of the influences in my professional career are still alive, I have chosen some photos of those that are not. I try to live as humbly as possible, because no matter how good I get, it is only because I sit on the shoulders of giants who paved the way for me (thanks JD).
Here are some lessons I've learned over the years; I encourage you to develop your own and share them with your comrades.
1. There are three aspects to any violent encounter: chance, circumstance, and the will to fight. The first two are at least partly out of your control and always will be, but the will to win us up to us. To win, we have to fight back and break our enemy's will. Sometimes the “fuck anybody who isn’t us” attitude isn’t all bad.
Many interactions, but not all, have these components. Learn to recognize the difference and when to, literally, switch it on.
2. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. Never confuse enthusiasm with skill. And remember that speed kills, so recognize when it is in your favor and when you are going too fast.
The CCW permit and a holstered weapon doesn’t mean you can walk down a dark alley at night.
3. If you do not possess the skills, tools, or momentum to win the fight, you MUST break contact immediately or wait for a lull in the fight to try and regain momentum. Fight if you have to or are reasonably sure you can win it with the tools that you have at that moment. But be honest with yourself, be capable of applying tactics that fit, and do it quickly and early.
4. Think of your abilities in terms of money - if you only have ten dollars’ worth of skills and you are spending eight bucks trying to make accurate shots, work your holster, etc., than you only have two dollars left for problem solving. It should be the other way around.
Practice the basic skills, the things you aren’t good and the things that seem ordinary.
5. Have a plan for the major things that can go wrong. You can't plan for everything, but you have to plan for major foreseeable problems.
Isn’t this the same as “Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket” your mother told you about?
6. Recognizing what a situation is early and dealing with it quickly is a recipe for success. Novices wait until they are at the threshold to deal with what's in the room.
The key is observing and realizing what is significant. This applies to every day activities as well as armed conflict.
7. End fights as swiftly and violently as rules allow under the circumstances. The longer you stay in a protracted fight, the greater chance that an unknown circumstance will inject weird and unknown variables which you have no control over.
8. If you think you have cover, you probably won't have it for long. If you are being targeted… MOVE! Mobility is your friend and a direct manifestation of unpredictability to your adversary.
Cardboard targets don’t move, but mentally reverse roles. If you were the cardboard targets , what would you do? How would the meat and blood you react to the counter?
9. If you find yourself being targeted inside your vehicle, get out quickly and move away from the vehicle to the next piece of closest cover. There are only so many places inside a vehicle that a human can be, and only one place for a driver. Those bullets are going to hit you eventually if you stay there, so move and then fight. If you are incapacitated inside the vehicle, fight until you die or get rescued. Those are your only options. If you are riding dirty with two, do a head count once you get to cover. If one didn't make it, we will always go back.
Call it what you will: fatal funnel, hell hole, killing zone, sitting duck. Get out and follow the advice.
10. Fight complacency as hard as you fight admin bullshit. We seem to constantly re-learn the same tough lessons as a profession. It does not have to be that way, and learning starts with each of us as individuals.
It’s true in all things, work, leisure activities, relationships, self-improvement, all skills decay. Training and growth are the ways to retain and improve.
11. You owe it to your family, the public, and yourself to train and retain the information you are presented. Training is fun when done right, but it is also for work. If you cannot retain your training, don't get pissy when your performance evaluation doesn't reflect your high self esteem. If you are a supervisor, don't turn into a pussy when you need to be honest with people about their performance. This profession has plenty of room for articulation and there are plenty of ways to accomplish a goal. But it has no room for excuses.