Are We Training Ourselves to Quit?

| March 11, 2015 | 1 Comments

Several years ago I attended a force on force training class taught by John Farnam of Defense Training International.

Students paired off throughout the day, and fought through various scenarios.

There was another student from my current city of residence. He’s quite the celebrity on the regional gun forum, and is a very fast, accurate competition shooter. Another attendee was a young law enforcement officer, who had only received fight-focused training. Near the end of the day, they faced off. The command was given to start, and both men reacted.

The competition shooter stood still, drew his Airsoft pistol, and quickly shot the young police officer once in the left shoulder. The law enforcement officer continued to move off the line of attack, and being right handed sent four rounds right into the centerline of the competition shooter.

“Ow! Ow ow ow!!” he exclaimed. “I shot you!”

“I am hit, but I’m not out of the fight!!” the officer responded. He continued to move and point his pistol at the threat until a whistle signaled that the drill was complete.

The object of training is not to land a single shot and stop like the sport of fencing, nor is it to shoot until we hear the ring of steel, nor is it to condition ourselves to fall down “dead” at the first bit of trouble.

When it does not unnecessarily endanger ourselves or our training partners, we should be training ourselves to fight.

One of my training pet peeves is when students count the number of hits on target during a drill. The instructor will say “move. Four rounds on target. Move again.” Students shoot until they hear four “ping!!” on steel. Sometimes students fire more than four rounds. In my case, sometimes this is a lot more than four rounds 😉

This is not what the instructor asked for.

Aggressors will not make “ping!” sounds when struck. They may not react when shot. By counting hits, listening or looking for feedback, we are not training ourselves to what we need to do: shoot, move, and assess.

There’s a story about a law enforcement officer who was training disarms. He would do the disarm technique, and then hand the training weapon back to his partner. The story goes that the officer had to disarm a criminal, and handed the weapon back. I don’t know if this is true or not, but we should do our best to suppress this type of habitual behavior.

When I was at the Polite Society Tactical Conference at Rangemaster, a student asked instructor Chris Fry of MDTS Training how many times they’d have to stab an attacker before they would stop. “I don’t know,” he replied, “so don’t stop until they do.”

At first I felt like this was a dodge, and it set up the students to withstand a lot of punishment during the force on force drills later in the session. But then it occurred to me — Chris was teaching us not only to fight until the attacker was stopped, but also to keep fighting in case we were injured during a fight. He actively discouraged the “ah, you got me” behavior I’ve witnessed in some martial arts schools and self-defense classes. By teaching students that there’s “one shot stopping power” or an “ultimate” technique, we’re putting false expectations on our performance and also conditioning ourselves to accept that if someone does that damage to us that we’re done for.

We should be conditioning ourselves that we may be injured, but we are not out of the fight.

When you participate in fight-focused training, concentrate on the action, not the results. You should be taught to do something, then change your position, then assess the outcome of your technique.

Avoid instruction that is counter to this.

Avoid fancy targets that require timing or are set up for trick shooting.

Avoid measuring your success by points or by time.

We should strive to shoot accurately and quickly, but most importantly we should be training to fight and survive.

This is not an excuse to hurt your training partners, or to go against what you’ve been instructed to do in a class. However, we all need to be aware of what we’re teaching our subconscious and conscious minds. If you feel like your instructor is focusing on artificial measures of success you may want to find another instructor.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

1 Comment on "Are We Training Ourselves to Quit?"

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  1. Kyliewyotie says:

    Good topic, thanks.

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