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)
- 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