This may be the longest standing argument in the police and self defense training world. It survives across the spectrum of training but is practiced most visibly during force on force, combatives, and firearms training. What will we encounter “99 percent” of the time, and lets focus our training there. Seems like a no brainer, right? Well, its not that simple, and unfortunately it is more often used to “keep it simple”, “make it easy”, or save training time or money. Mostly it allows lazy, untrained, or dogmatic instructors to ignore reality. Or better yet, sell DVD’s, make Youtube videos, and fill classes.
I first encountered this in the police world teaching arrest control. No matter how hard I tried to teach anything resembling fighting it all came back to “we never do that”, lets focus on searching and handcuffing cause “we do that all the time”. Besides, “we seldom get into an actual fight” so no need to “waste” training resources (money) on that. Uttered by administrators that forgot what we actually did every night! Or, heaven forbid, they may get hurt. So, each training I was forced to spend all my time training officers to do what in our jurisdiction they did half a dozen times or more a shift. I would get a brief nod to expand training shortly after an officer got their asses handed to them but that did not last. The directive was always “We only have so much time so make sure you cover what they use the most” and above all DON”T GET ANYONE HURT!
Another area was pursuit driving. We would take the entire department to the range and train them to back through cones and parallel park. Eight hours on the driving range and we spend an hour actually learning how to “pursue”. Well, I get it, pursuits are rare, but officers back up, park, and move slowly through the parking lot every day. Again, an officer would wrap his car around a fence or get into an accident during a pursuit and for awhile we would mostly talk about doing more pursuit driving, just never actually did it. Besides, it was hard, and dangerous right?
The one that got me started on this blog was firearms training. For years all I heard was “shootings occur up close, so why train at distance”. After 20 years training outside the LE world its the same damned thing! All the time is spent 10 yards and closer because well, thats where “real fights” happen. Don’t waste your time on training at 25 yards or longer. True “experts” with decades of “gunfighting” experience and extensive training in the “real world” tell you don’t shoot passed 15 yards. Or better yet, don’t add an RDS (Red Dot Sight). Why, cause you are not any “faster” at 5 yards. Well NO SHIT!!!! In the same breath they extol the virtues of the RDS at longer ranges, But the “juice is not worth the squeeze” or some other stupid saying gets blurted out. So don’t improve your chances of hitting at 25 yards because it does not make you faster at 5 yards? Never mmd you are over 50 and have not had a “focused front sight” for ten years. Oh no, lets not take advantage of the RDS. Give me a break!!
Want a saying here is one from Clint Smith from some 20 years ago, “at 5 yards you don’t need to be good, just lucky”. Train yourself to shoot at distance because “distance favors the marksman”. Now THAT makes some sense. A skilled shooter has little advantage at 5 yards or closer. Bad guys kill good “trained” people all the time with POS guns lacking usable sights at close range almost daily. Skilled shooters may be faster, maybe not? Force Science Institute pretty well put that to bed a few years back. Their testing found shooters with little to ZERO training had similar or better hit rates out to as much as 10 yards compared to trained officers. When did they drop off, after 10 yards, with serious declines beyond 15 yards. Anyone spending 10 seconds investigating real homicides sees it all the time. Want real world? One of my officers was forced to shoot a suspect at 25 yards through a fence, yep, funny how real life works. Lets be clear, this was not the top shooter in the department, but I required shooting at that range, and yes I had them shoot through chain link at training. He tagged the guy ending the fight possibly saving the officer pinned down that was closer. His comment to me after the shooting ” thanks sarge for preparing me”, never thought I would actually have to do that. Does that mean he could not end that fight at 10 yards, of course not! He was just prepared for something else and decided not to get himself killed trying to get closer because he was untrained at distance.
Don’t get sucked into the black hole of training for convenience, or bowing to the guy telling you what you “need”. The world is full of “experts” these days, many of them clueless without regard to experience. Some of the stupidest crap ever uttered on a range has come from “experts” with pages of qualifications. For close to 40 years training people as martial artists, swordsman, and shooters my mantra has always been to spend precious training time improving your weaknesses not your strengths. Don’t neglect those strengths, but don’t focus on them to the exclusion of your weaknesses. Even more critically NEVER assume you will “rise to the occasion” when you encounter that 1 percent or your weakest skill. Sounds great, reality has proven different. Its the famous last words of many.
Never dismiss mechanical advantage for the sake of some hackneyed, dogmatic quip uttered by some “sage”. Each advancement in fighting technology has suffered the same fools telling everyone they lower your basic skill set. Revolvers had too many moving parts. Repeating rifles were evil because shooters will “waste ammunition”. Semiautomatic pistols will never work when you need them. Night sights are distracting and will give you away. Red Dots on rifles will never surpass iron sights. Night Vision and IR lasers are a gimmick. Lasers will burn a hole in the suspect, or confuse you. It goes on and on and on! Train for the lowest common denominator, learn to use your iron sights at close range but only an idiot ignores mechanical advantage. And yes I get it, the “final weapon is the brain, all else is supplemental”, great saying, but there are a bunch of dead and buried warriors with that ethos killed by the supplemental applied by a weak mind with no skill. Sayings are for fortune cookies, fighting is real and only a moron fails to take every advantage they can.
Keep working on those skill sets that you will use 99 percent of the time. Practice with equipment knowing it may not work, Just don’t ignore the 1 percent, and spend time working on what you don’t do well more often. If adding something to your weapon adds to your ability then do it. Maybe, just maybe when that threat confronts you at something farther than arms reach you will live to tell someone about it, or post it in your blog!