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.
In this article I want to explore the drilling that we use to develop and hone our skills with the various firearms we use for self-defense. I think it will be beneficial to discuss what drilling is designed to do and how we can maximize on our time spent in practice.
As with many endeavors that we do that requires practice to develop skills, combat shooting is no different. One of the first steps in the process is to define what skills you are attempting to develop so that a methodical plan can be formed to guide the training process.
So to start the process, I would recommend that you make a list of the skills that you would like to develop. This is an important part of the process because it is important to define what you intend to use your firearm for so that you can develop drilling that will assist you in increasing performance. There are many reasons why individuals use their firearms that will impact what drilling needs to be included in training. As an example, a person who is using their handgun for concealed carry purposes will have very specific drills that must be included in training. Likewise, a person who is using their firearms for home defense will need specific drilling included in their program to meet their requirements.
No mater what use we have for our firearms, a baseline set of skills must be developed. These skills will be the foundation of all other applications. The important thing to remember about developing these baseline skills is that they must be based upon simple, straightforward principles that have been tested in combat.
The drills that need to be included in “baseline” training must include the spectrum of starting positions that one can find themselves in at the beginning of hostilities. Also, appropriate methods of engagement based upon the distance to the target must be included in this drilling process. It is important to practice “Target-Focused Shooting” as well as appropriate use of the sight system. However, if you are drilling with methods when at 3 yards from the target that are the same as when you are 20 yards from the target, your drilling may prove to be inadequate preparation if you are involved in a spontaneous close-quarters shooting that someone else starts. Practicing one method and excluding the other (“Target-Focused Shooting for close-quarters engagements and the use of the sight system for extended distance engagements) can be a fatal mistake. Your program needs both and if someone tells you different, simply do what I have done in the past. Throw them into force-on-force training and let them experience what happens when one eliminates methods in their training that are designed to work effectively in specific scenarios. There is nothing like seeing someone who is so adamant about what they believe to be true find out in about one second that what they have believed in simply doesn’t work.
As a quick example (there are many that I can write about), many people do multiple target drills by planting their feet, remain stationary and upon signal draw their handgun. They do a great job putting rounds downrange and hitting the multiple STATIONARY paper, cardboard or steel plates downrange in a known location and distance. They also know the scenario that they are going to shoot. I have seen some impressive shooting done in that mode. The important point is that they know what is going to happen BEFORE they perform “the drill”. Now, I take these same people into a force-on-force- environment (safely done and controlled) where the multiple targets are human, initiate the fight at an unknown time, and have the ability to shoot back. Guess what? The drill doesn’t work like on the range. The point? Drilling is to help develop skills. Those skills have to integrate into appropriate tactics or you may be in for a BIG surprise. Superior performance on known drills doesn’t necessarily translate into superior performance in real or simulated scenarios. I only hope the “surprise” is not in a gunfight with real bullets in the air.
I could go on for a long time with examples of this but I think the point is made. The important thing about training and drilling is that we use that training time to prepare us for reality not fantasy. The real world isn’t a game. The drilling we do must increase our ability to win by increasing skills that can integrate into the scenarios we face and the tactics we use.
So, what should we expect to gain from the drilling we do on the range? I suggest that the range be used to develop “baseline skills” that can be honed by repetition so that when those skills must be applied in unknown and spontaneous scenarios, the application of the particular skill can be delivered with speed and combat accuracy. Here are a few “baseline skills” that need to be integrated into training via the “drills “ we do at the range:
- Smooth, rapid drawing of the handgun into the appropriate position based upon range to the threat (extended position when the threat is not close enough to deflect or attempt to take control of your handgun or a close quarters position where the handgun is not extended but remains closer to your body for retention purposes).
- Develop primary hand only and two-handed grip shooting positions
- Develop support hand only skills in the event that your primary hand is injured or incapable of controlling your handgun
- Develop skills in both “Target-Focused Shooting” and sighted shooting methods to cover the spectrum of distance to the threat as well as account for the affects of the sympathetic nervous system on our mind and body during a real confrontation.
- Develop shooting while moving skills
- Develop the ability to shoot effectively from cover
- Drilling that continually develops greater speed of engagement while increasing the combat accuracy at that speed
Please feel free to add any other skills you want to develop in your drilling. This is just a few of the “baseline” skills that are extremely important to develop in training.
The last point I want to address concerns a trend I have seen developing over time that needs to be discussed to keep this issue of “drilling” in proper perspective. I see many training programs that place a significant amount of time using the “run and gun” approach in the training process. While these courses are fun to shoot, they do not do the drilling that is necessary to help a person develop the skills that I have discussed. While there is absolutely noting wrong with adding these “run and gun” courses into an overall training program, they should NOT be used if the “baseline skills” have not been developed. Also, time management is critical because training time isn’t limitless. Many agencies and individuals only have limited time to train. Priorities must be established and the time available must be used to develop critical skills first. Performance in a “run and gun” course or force-on-force scenario based program can only be as good as the person’s ”baseline skills”. If a high degree of skill isn’t attained in drilling of the basic components of the program, much lower performance levels can be expected when a person participates in the “run and gun” type of course, scenario based training, and most importantly, a live combat shooting against a real threat.
To summarize this article, I would simply advise that “drilling” and the repetition that is done developing the “baseline skills” is the gateway to increased performance in any other training that is presented. In past articles, I have referenced a principle that guides the curriculum I use in training programs. I will include it here again:
“OUR GOAL IS TO PERFECT SIMPLICITY”
I hope the information in this article helps in your training.
Train hard and be safe.
Louis M. Chiodo