Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

During the last article, I discussed the issue of safety when conducting force-on-force training. These safety considerations apply equally anytime interactive training is conducted when role players are used as targets. They also apply whenever equipment like airsoft or simunitions is used to have exchanges of simulated gunfire between participants. I would suggest setting up procedures using those safety considerations as part of your training protocol and feel free to add to them as appropriate to your particular situation.

In this article, I want to focus on the actual force-on-force training and how this concept of force-on-force training and interactive training drills can increase performance levels and better prepare participants for fighting with their firearms.

Let’s first make sure the proper understanding about how range training and force-on-force/interactive training drills both differ and compliment each other. The training philosophy that is used in the formation of any training program I develop is that the range, force-on-force and interactive drills by themselves is not a complete training model. Each of these three components of the training model is necessary to fully develop an individual’s combat shooting skills. Any one component without the other provides incomplete training. No matter how many trips you make to the range or how many rounds you shoot when you get to the range, only a portion of training is accomplished. I always make the analogy that shooting at a paper, cardboard or steel plate that isn’t reacting within a scenario, not moving and not shooting back is much like a heavy bag when we are striking it. The heavy bag gives us a target to strike and just allows us to practice a movement but doesn’t react to what we are doing. In the case of firearms, the strike is make by the bullet and the target does the same thing as the heavy bag – it allows us to shoot it without reacting to what we are doing. Let’s examine how the three components of the training block work together to increase combat shooting skills and our capability to fight with our firearms.

The range is where we can practice the following essential components of using your handgun for use in combat:

  • Fighting platform (the way we organize our body position to maximize control of the handgun and our mobility during a fight)
  • Grip
  • Proper trigger control and reset of the trigger between shots
  • Proper alignment of the handgun in relation to the target using the most appropriate methodology to maximize rapid hits on the threat based upon the distance to the threat
  • Understanding the appropriate use of “Target-Focused Shooting” and the sight system to ensure combat accuracy and the highest speed possible during an engagement with a threat
  • Develop proper gun-handling skills to include stoppage clearing procedures,
  • Drawing from your chosen carry position, control of the handgun under high speed shooting, shooting while moving skills, shooting at moving targets, low light shooting, use of cover and other essential combat shooting skills

Other skills can be developed but these are some of the essential skills that can be trained under live fire conditions on the range. Now it is important to put the training on the range in its proper perspective.

Let’s go back to the analogy I made about the heavy bag and just substitute a target we use during range training. They both have a very similar characteristic – they allow you to do what you want to them and just stay there and take it without fighting back. WOW, wouldn’t that be nice if all real fights went that way. The suspect just stands there and allows you the opportunity to get your act together and take the time you need to make your shot(s) without doing anything back to you. Wouldn’t that be nice? OK, let’s stop dreaming and continue on.

The range can allow us to operate in a mental and physical state that can be much different from our status when a real, spontaneous attack is initiated against us at the least opportune time. Why is this important to consider? By its very nature, range training is conducted in an environment where we know what is about to happen to us. Drilling on the range requires us to know what the drill is and often, how many rounds will be fired in the drill. We are also guided by safety rules that must be strictly adhered to in order to safely train. Sure, there are times when there may be a “surprise training drill”, but this, in my experience, is not commonplace. Most ranges have difficulties with this type of training due to safety considerations or the range is simply unable to support this type of set up.

Combat shootings that begin as a spontaneous attack initiated by the suspect can affect us in a number of ways. Here are a few:

  •  Spontaneous attacks can have an effect on our perception of what is happening to us
  • Spontaneous attacks can affect our vision, heart rate, degrade our motor skills and our ability to process information in our mind

The significance of this is that what is often practiced on the range cannot be applied in a real combat shooting because the individual is not in the same mental and physical state in the combat shooting as when training on the range. Many things that are not a problem to perform on the range become much more difficult in the spontaneous combat shooting.

So, where does this leave us? As I stated, the range is the place where we learn the mechanics of how to develop specific skills. In my humble opinion, the methods that are practiced on the range must be consistent with how our mind and body will be functioning when dealing with a spontaneous attack. We need to duplicate the environment we will potentially fight in and ensure our methods that we are practicing work in that environment, not just on the range. Lives depend on this and the range is where we can fine-tune these mechanical skills. Once we have the range portion of our training sorted out then we have to take those skills and use them in training that is not on the range and the targets are not paper, cardboard or steel.

Fore-on-force training is a term commonly used to describe training that involves using equipment such as airsoft or simunitions that allow for the participants to “fight” each other in simulated combat. This is normally done in a scenario based format where the role player creates an environment that causes the participant to respond with appropriate force to deal with the problem encountered in the scenario.  

If we go from range training directly into force-on-force training, there is an important sequence of training that is eliminated. This important sequence of training is overlooked for its importance in developing the participant’s ability to better perform in the force-on-force environment and ultimately in a combat shooting. The missing link is what I term “interactive training drills”.

What are “interactive training drills”? These are PRE-ARRANGED DRILLS (much like range drills) that take the skills developed on the range and substitute the targets with live role players. I must include at this point that ALL the safety considerations I listed in the previous article are in place when this training is conducted. This training is idea for using airsoft gear since the cost to do a high amount of repetitions is very cost effective.

I use these “interactive training drills” to allow the participant to become comfortable with engaging a human target. By “programming” the role players, I can create a variety of drills that can work the entire spectrum of combat shooting in real time and in three dimensions. Nothing can duplicate human movement better than a human being. So, when I want to teach someone how to engage moving targets, rather than using systems on a range that do not duplicate human movement, I use “interactive drills” using airsoft and role players to get the participant to learn the nuisances of engaging a moving human target. I can “program” the role player to move in any direction and speed that I want. Also, as the skill level of the participant increases, I can “program” the role to engage the participant in any way I want based upon the skill level of the participant.

As you can see from the example of developing shooting at moving targets skills, there are training evolutions that can be done in “interactive training drills” that simply cannot be done with live ammunition on a range. Here is a key point I want to make:

 “The goal is to maximize on the skill development we can get from live fire at the range and maximize on the skills that can be developed in “interactive training drills”. We become a stronger, more competent combat shooter when we have this sort of depth in our training”.

When “interactive training drills” are properly structured and presented to the participant, the drills can be used to teach appropriate responses to a variety of circumstances and sharpen our ability to rapidly react to potential attacks. The way this is done is to allow our mind to see how certain attacks develop and allow the participant to apply their training in real time against the role player. These drills are pre-arranged and are very similar to the way we train people in combative arts to teach how to move, apply strikes and kicks, create distance and develop proper responses. All we do in these “interactive training drills” is apply that training methodology to firearms. Of course, there is no way to completely replicate reality because the threat of real serious bodily harm and/or death isn’t present but we can sure help the participant see how threats develop and cause them to appropriately respond with proper methodology.

The final topic I want to discuss is the issue of full force-on-force training. This is a training evolution where we place the participant into a completely unknown scenario and require them do deal with what is presented to them using the training they have received at the range and “interactive training drills”. In essence, it is a replication of what people face in a spontaneous scenario that someone else starts. Also, these force-on-force drills can be used for team training for units that operate as a team.

I want to make this point clear. Force-on force training in many instances can do more harm than good based upon the way it is presented to the participant. I have seen too many instances of “no win” scenarios presented. Unrealistic scenarios can force the participant to do things that under normal circumstances would not be done. So, the make up of the scenarios used must be REALISTIC and the goal is to TEST the participant’s ability to apply what they have been trained to do.

From an organizational standpoint, whoever is developing the scenarios and training blocks need to organize the “interactive training drills” to help teach responses that will be useful when in the force-on-force portion of training. The interactive drills have to help the participant increase their ability to perform appropriately when they find themselves in an unknown and spontaneous environment.

In conclusion, all three training evolutions (the range, integrated training drills and force-on-force drills) need to be coordinated to maximize the participant’s ability to develop their skills. This requires the person developing training to understand how this all works together. If it is not coordinated properly, training is disjointed and one evolution doesn’t compliment the other.

I hope this is helpful to you. The better organized our training, the better prepared we will be when violence pays us a vist. Train hard and be safe.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week By


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, yu can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

In this article, I want to cover a few safety points to consider about a term I have used in previous articles and provide some additional thoughts about this tremendous training tool – FORCE-ON-FORCE training. There are many aspects to cover about this training tool so I will focus on a few concepts of safety when integrating force-on-force training into your program in this article. Then I will have a follow-on article to discuss the mechanics of how to drill and organize force-on-force training.

Before getting more specific about force-on-force training, I want to caution everyone about an important consideration when using this tool in your training. When this training is incorporated into a program, there are many benefits that the participant may gain that simply cannot be realized in a live fire range environment. However, I have to add that the training must be administered by people who fully understand the goal of this training evolution, the safety considerations involved in this type of training and how to organize the training. If this training is not appropriately administered, it can be dangerous and can actually be counter-productive for the participant. The reasons for this assessment will become clearer as we continue in the article.

Let’s start off discussing the safety considerations when engaged in force-on-force training. Here are some of the essentials that must be followed to ensure a safe training environment:

  •  Establish a “safe zone”
  • Appoint a safety officer to ensure the integrity of the “safe zone”
  • Complete inspection of everyone entering the “safe zone”
  • Safety officer inspects ALL training equipment that will be used in training to include airsoft gear and protective gear
  • Ensure that nobody can enter the training area other than via the entrance where the safety officer will be located
  • Safety briefing needs to be completed and attended by all in attendance to include instructors and safety officer(s) so that all the rules will be covered
  • Final inspection conducted by the safety officer prior to the beginning of training

Please feel free to add any other procedures that you want to ensure safety during training. The list above has worked exceptionally well for me over the years of conducting force-on-force training. Let’s examine these safety considerations in a little more detail.

Establish a “safe zone”: Select a training site that is suitable for force-on-force training. Regardless if it is airsoft, simunitions or any other system used for training, ensure that you will not damage the facility by the projectiles. BB’s can break windows and mark walls. So be careful and factor this into your selection of training sites. Here are a few steps to establish a “safe zone”:

  •  Establish only one way to enter or exit the training area. This is a control point where everyone, to include instructors and safety officers, must use throughout the training cycle. Also ,ensure that there are no other ways to enter the training area such as a doorway in a different location within the training area. Your goal is to make a sealed area with only one way in or out.

Appoint a safety officer to ensure the integrity of the “safe zone”: This is an important position for anyone selected to fill its responsibilities. The safety officer is positioned at the entrance to the training area. NOBODY regardless of rank or position enters the training area without being inspected by the safety officer. When the participant arrives at the safety officer’s position, he/she SHOULD NOT have the following equipment:

  •  No firearms
  • No magazines or speed loaders
  • No ammunition
  • No knives
  • No impact weapons
  • No chemical sprays

 In short, you should not have anything in your possession that is a weapon. Whatever you need to use for training will be already pre-positioned within the “safety area’ AND inspected by the safety officer.

Complete inspection of everyone entering the “safe zone”: The safety officer is positioned at the only entry point into the training area. It is at that place where each person will be inspected to ensure that no weapons, magazines/speed loaders ammunition or any other gear that is not allowed into the training area is in their possession.. If for ANY reason someone has to leave the training area, the safety officer will inspect him or her again before they are allowed back into the training area.

Safety officer inspects ALL training equipment that will be used in training to include airsoft gear and protective gear: The safety officer will conduct an inspection of ALL the gear that will be used in the training evolution. If airsoft gear is to be used in training, a function check of the air pistols and “magazines” will ensure that the equipment is functioning properly. The safety officer will ensure that enough eye protection and other protective gear is available for all the participants. This not only allows for safety during the training but also decreases the time wasted on problems with gear that is not functioning properly. Anyone in the training area must use appropriate safety gear while in the training area.

Ensure that nobody can enter the training area other than via the entrance where the safety officer will be located: The safety officer must ensure that any entrances to the training area are “sealed” so that no one can walk into the training area. If you are using an outdoor facility, you have to ensure that you can contain your area so nobody downrange or around the perimeter of the area can walk into the training area. Simply stated, you have to isolate the area you using for training.

Safety briefing needs to be completed and attended by all in attendance to include instructors and safety officer(s) so that all the rules will be covered: The lead instructor for the training session needs to conduct a safety briefing to all participants, other instructors and safety officer present for the training session. This briefing covers the administrative concerns and operational concerns specific to the training that will be presented. Everyone must comply with all the established rules to achieve a safe, productive training session.

Final inspection conducted by the safety officer prior to the beginning of training: The safety officer and lead instructor needs to make a final check of the area to ensure that the training area is ready for the start of training. The safety officer will remain on position at the entrance to the training area and the lead instructor will ensure that the participants have the proper gear and are ready to begin the training session.

These are some of the guidelines that will make the environment safe for interactive force-on-force training. The key is the follow the system once you set it up. NO EXCEPTIONS due to rank or position. Rules are there to provide safety and nobody is exempt from following them. Safety trumps rank or position every time.

I intend to continue this topic in the next article and cover some thoughts about training philosophy and organizing training blocks.

I hope this is helpful to you. Train hard and be safe.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master



Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

During the past articles I have discussed many of the training issues relevant to combat shooting and methodology. It is extremely important to understand what needs to be accomplished in our training so that at a critical time the proper responses will lead us to winning the confrontation.

Along with the way we train, it is of vital importance to understand what will follow when force is used against another person in self-defense. There are numerous articles and programs available to read and attend to help sort this information out. I highly encourage anyone who is training in the use of firearms or any other means of self-defense to gain as much knowledge about what to expect once you have used force in self-defense. Y need to ou understand your rights and have an idea of what process you will go through as the incident is being investigated. I don’t intend to cover that here. I do recommend doing your research to find out more information about this critical aspect of use-of-force.  

The purpose of this article is to cover an important issue that can be valuable to us in several ways – documentation of our training. Let’s look at the some of the benefits of documenting our training and why this is important:

  • Documentation will assist us in organizing our training to ensure training is meaningful and essential skills are practiced
  • Documentation gives us the ability to analyze our training
  • Documentation forces us to include training in areas that we need more developed skill
  • Documentation provides a chronological record of your training
  • Documentation provides a way of demonstrating that we are serious about our training
  • Documentation provides a means of negating arguments that you are improperly trained
  • Documentation allows you the opportunity to incorporate into your training the advice and information you learn from your study of how your training will be viewed from a legal standpoint in criminal proceedings as well as civil litigation.

The points I have outlined above provide us with a sound guideline to help us organize our training time and provide a way to document what we have done in our training. You may come up with a few other points but I believe the ones I have listed covers keys points of concern. In the remainder of the article I will expand upon those points I have listed.

 Documentation will assist us in organizing our training to ensure training is meaningful and essential skills are practiced”:

Over the years, I have observed many people who are taking the time to go to the range and shoot. I applaud their desire to better their capabilities and skills. The only issue I have with what I have observed is that what was being done with that time commitment and ammunition expenditure was not often organized and what essentially happens is a plinking session. As a form of recreational shooting, this is absolutely acceptable since the purpose is recreational shooting. It does become a problem when this training time is being used to develop combat shooting skills that will be used as a means of defense of others or us and essential training isn’t accomplished.

When we are using the training time to increase defensive skills, I encourage everyone to take the time to organize your training session by laying out exactly what you are going to practice BEFORE you get to the range. Here are a few guidelines that will help you organize your training sessions:

  •  Set goals for the training session and map out the order of what you intend to do once you begin training.
  • Determine how much ammunition you want to devote to each drill you want to work on so that you can ensure that you will have enough ammunition to practice each drill.
  • After you complete each drill, jot down short notes about the results of your performance of the drill. Also include any thoughts about future training to improve performance of the drill or any points you deem relevant.

The documentation of your training begins with this process of recording what you are doing in training sessions. This applies to any training you do. Dry fire, force-on-force or viewing of training videos or lectures you attend. A short synopsis of what was done physically or topics covered via video or lecture will help form your OVERALL training program. This sort of documentation is very familiar to me since I have done it in my personal training. In addition, during my time as a range master in my agency and with the training programs I teach as part of my company, each training session and its contents is documented so that at a later date and time, the training of anyone attending training can be reconstructed.

In the law enforcement community, training records and what was included in training becomes a critical issue when a combat shooting has happened involving a department member. This documentation is used in both civil and criminal matters relating to the combat shooting. It can be a form of protection for both officer and agency. It is no different for you if you are not in the law enforcement community. Your prior training with proper documentation will be a critical point in your defense if you are involved in a combat shooting.

 This gives us the ability to analyze our training”:

Documentation of our training is a great way to be able to keep track of our progress in the drills we are doing in our training sessions. Analyzing our past performance will lead us to what needs to be accomplished in future training sessions. If you are experiencing any particular problems you are detecting via your analysis, you will be able to seek out information that may lead you to adjusting your training sessions to account for any deficiencies you are noting. This process is difficult to accomplish without documentation to analyze.

Forces us to include training in areas that we need more developed skill”:

Something I have observed in over 5 decades of martial arts and having been involved in training in both the Marine Corps and law enforcement for over 42 years is that people tend to practice skills that they feel comfortable with and have confidence in. It is easy to neglect areas that they are deficient in because nobody likes to feel uncomfortable doing things that they don’t do well. So how do we overcome this phenomenon? A simple way to handle this issue is through creating a training schedule that includes practicing skills that we are not comfortable with or consider our performance not at a standard we are happy with. This requires honesty in evaluating our capabilities when developing our training plan and sticking to the plan once it is developed. Once this is accomplished, I have observed tremendous improvement in both my personal skills as well as in people I have trained. As an example, many people don’t feel comfortable with shooting support hand only (left hand for us right-handed people). It has been my experience that when you just include it in training, skill levels rapidly develop. If it is eliminated or avoided in training, greater skill cannot be developed. The training plans we develop will become part of our documentation since you can reconstruct your training via these documents.

 Provides a chronological record of your training”:

Documentation of your training will provide the means of creating a chronology of your training. It establishes a timeline of not only what you have done in training but also when it was done. Training needs to be organized in a way that creates building blocks that link one training session to the previous training sessions. Continual review and progressively adding more training blocks in the proper chronological order will more rapidly help us develop skills. So by documenting the chronological order of training we can not only have a way to establish the progressive way our training has been accomplished but also allow us to progress though training in a logical and well-thought out way.

Provides a way of demonstrating that we are serious about our training”:

When you take the time to develop lesson plans to guide your training and document the chronology of your training, you demonstrate that you take time to ensure that your training is orderly and organized. You show that you care about what you are doing and that you dedicate the time to increase your skills. This DOES NOT means that if you are not documenting your training that you are not doing the right things or taking the time to train. You can be doing the right things and never write one word down about what and when you are training. So you might be asking yourself, “Then why do it?”

There are a few reasons so let’s discuss a couple. Many people are not as disciplined as others in the way they train. By having a guide to follow, more directed and organized training can be accomplished. Many people simply need a way to guide their training and lesson plans that lay out training sessions can keep training in the right direction. This can demonstrates that the person is seeking self-improvement and is making every effort to improve. Documentation is a way to show others that you take your training seriously enough to take the time to keep track of what you are doing in your training sessions. In the law enforcement community, training officers are diligent in the way they document department member’s training. In the event that someone is involved in a use-of-force scenario, training records are a way of proving that the officer has attended training, the lesson plans record what was trained and the use of force can be examined to ensure that proper application of training was accomplished according to training. For a civilian, documentation of your training can be extremely valuable to demonstrate that you have taken appropriate steps to increase skills and appropriately use force based upon the law and case law.

Provides a means of negating arguments that you are improperly trained”:

In the event of you being involved in a combat shooting, there can be liabilities both criminally and civilly. Even if you are cleared of any criminal prosecution, civil liability doesn’t end there. For law enforcement combat shootings, the involved peace officer’s training records become a key point of concern since they will be discoverable to the lawyers representing the family of the person injured or killed by the peace officer. At the moment the records are “sealed”, there is nothing added or deleted. This means that whatever training has been documented will be there and what hasn’t been documented doesn’t matter.

The best way to show that you are well trained and properly applied your training is to have documented your training prior to being involved in the incident. If someone wants to accuse you of being inadequately trained, your documentation can close that door rather quickly if your documentation is complete. Keep your certificates of training in courses you have attended. If you have the information about what was taught in the classes, attach that information to a copy of the certificate so you can show what training was provided in the course of instruction. Somewhere in your training, you should have specific documentation that you have attended training that deals with the legal and civil implications of use-of-force. A good rule of thumb is to have similar documentation that would be found in an officer’s training record since law enforcement has been doing this sort of documentation for years and have had the advise of their lawyers and expertise of the trainers to form their way of documenting training. The time to start doing this is now. If you haven’t started already it is a great time to start. If you have been doing this concept of documentation, please continue. Your future will be at stake when you get involved in a combat shooting and you want the best way of defending what you have done.

Allows you the opportunity to incorporate into your training the advice and information you learn from your study of how your training will be viewed from a legal standpoint in criminal proceedings as well as civil litigation”.

Once we understand how your training will be viewed from a legal and civil standpoint, you can ensure that you have included in your program the training that will not only help you win the engagement, but help win the aftermath of the engagement. There are many resources available to you that will help you form a great training program and the documentation that will record what you have done.

I hope this is helpful to you. Train hard and be safe.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master



Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.

A question I often receive and have to personally deal with when developing training programs is, “What should I include in my training program when I have the time to train?” At first glance, this may not appear to be that big a deal. In actuality, it IS a big deal. In fact, your performance under the high stress environment of combat shootings depends on how and what you do in your training.

What we do in a fight, any fight, with any weapon system will be a reflection of how we have programed our responses both mentally and physically based upon the way we train and what methods and procedures we have included in our training program. We don’t all of sudden develop skills when someone is trying to kill us. We default to our lowest level of training and respond based upon what has been programed via training. Sure, individuals rise to the occasion and perform great acts of courage in incidents. We see this all the time in the law enforcement, the military and the civilian communities. These events display acts of personal and group heroism to accomplish a particular goal. However, it is important to understand that once the decision to act/react is made, then the developed skills via training will be what is available to the individual(s) to defeat the threat and win the fight. In other words, having the courage to act is separate from having developed skills. This IS the reason why the way we organize our training is so critical.

Within the shooting community, range time is often looked upon as the place where we will develop skills. After all, we are talking about shooting and what better place to develop shooting skills but on the range. At first glance, this seems to be completely logical. The range is where we can launch live rounds safely. However, there are more considerations that must be examined to understand where the range fits into our training program.

In a past article I included the “Firearms Training Philosophy” that guides my programs and personal training. I will included it here again because I think it is critical to the discussion:

“The purpose of firearms training is to prepare an individual to use firearms in a fight against an adversary in what usually begins as a spontaneous attack initiated by the adversary. Our firearms program is not about shooting. It is about fighting. When the concept of fighting is taken out of firearms training, we have forgotten the purpose of our training.”

Often, what can be done on range is very tightly regulated due to safety concerns. Rules exist to control how you shoot on the range to create a safe environment. It is hard to find fault with that process since people with such varying skills levels, training and experience frequent the civilian ranges and the rules that are established have to take this into account so that safety can be maintained on the range. Nobody in his or her right mind can argue that this is not necessary. One session on a range causes one to fully understand the requirements and limitations placed on shooters by range management.

So, the question often asked is, “how can we effectively use the range as a training tool when you may be restricted from doing training that would be considered essential for self-defense purposes?”

Our training program must be often compartmentalized to help develop and enhance skills. This is a common practice in combative arts because focusing practice in smaller components of the system allows for more skill in the overall system when the components are put together. As an example, using a heavy bag to develop better striking skills will help deliver better strikes when applied in other training endeavors or actual fighting scenarios. It’s no different when applied to training in combat shooting.

What needs to be accomplished to develop a training program for our personal use, or for that matter, a department training program is to list the various skills that need to be developed. It is very important to identify the areas that must be covered in training so that specific training can be developed for each of the specific areas.

Here is a list of skills that should be developed via your training program. Add to it whatever you feel is important to your PERSONAL needs but this will get the majority of combat shooting skills covered:

  •  Extremely close quarters shooting positions
  • Close-quarters shooting position
  • Primary hand only shooting
  • Support hand only shooting (and support hand only reloading)
  • Two handed grip shooting
  • Target-Focused Shooting Methods
  • Precision Shooting Methods
  • Dim light shooting (enough ambient light to identify the threat)
  • Dark condition shooting (flashlights needed to identify the threat)
  • Shooting while moving in various directions
  • Shooting at moving targets
  • Shooting at moving targets while you are moving
  • Integrated training where unarmed combat methods are integrated into shooting (this is done with airsoft, simunitions, blue/red handguns or completely safe downloaded duty handguns – this has to be done with extreme care by people who can create a safe environment
  • Force-on-force training.

What I have just listed can keep us busy training for decades. DECADES??? Yes, decades because you can spend an entire lifetime of training in an attempt to maximize your performance in these areas. Just like in martial arts, there is ALWAYS one more level of perfection that must be attained. It is a never-ending quest. If you need motivation to continue the quest, just ask yourself the following question, “if I knew I was going to be in a combat shooting in the next minute, how good do I want to be?” The answer for me is that I could never be good enough so I will keep training and perfecting everything I do.

The more proficient we get in each individual component of the system, the stronger the application of the entire system. This means that as part of our overall training program, breaking down each component of the system and practicing each of those components will strengthen every part of the system. If you can only do static shooting on a range due to the range rules, then structure your drilling so that you can gain additional skills in your hand-eye coordination while getting combat accuracy in single and multiple shot engagements of the target. Use the training time and facility you are working in to get the most training value from it. If you are not allowed to integrate drawing your handgun on the range, then simply leave that part of your training for a time and place that will allow it.

 You can gain great training value from downloading you carry handgun and practice your drawing at home (all ammunition and magazine stored in a separate place and ensure that your handgun is downloaded). As I stated above, each component perfected strengthens the entire system. In combative arts such as martial arts, boxing etc., training tools like heavy bags, speed bags and focus pads allow an individual to practice and perfect the individual components of the particular fighting system. We can develop striking skills that in turn can be integrated with other skills such as footwork that make us an overall better fighter. It is no different from what is needed in firearms training.

I would like to discuss one more issue before completing the article. Many people are relying on smaller semi-automatic pistols for both primary and secondary handguns. I have noticed that proper maintenance of these smaller handguns seems to be an issue at times. Please take the time to keep them clean and properly lubricated if you are going to depend on them for self-defense. I have seen so many users that simply load these handguns and forget about the maintenance needed to ensure reliable performance.

The second point I would like to make is that it is necessary to ensure that the duty ammunition you select to use in these small semi-automatic pistols reliably feeds in the pistol. I have seen many surprised faces when the ammo selected didn’t function properly in a particular handgun. This is something you DO NOT want to find out when you need to depend on that handgun to stay alive.

Using a systematic process in training leads us to higher skill development. The manner in which we train can either aid in this process or cause difficulties.   We have to first determine what skills we are trying to develop. Once this is established, frequent practice is needed to establish proficiency. During this process, we have to use as many training tools available to develop and enhance skills. A blending of live fire, drawing from concealment live fire when possible and dry fire if you are unable to practice live fire drawing at the range is essential training. Once baseline skills have been developed, force-on force training will greatly help learn the application of the skills developed via other training. There is no better way to “test” your skills than facing another person who is trying to win a “fight” against you. The full spectrum of training can be practiced and tested in this force-on-force environment. Training is always a “work in progress”. Diligence and hard work will pay off.

Train hard and be safe.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master