Okay, guys, I'm going to lead this off with, “It’s going to be a long one,” and I am going to break this down into 3 parts – the overarching article. Then, I will tailor it to individual/civilian training. After that, I will probably throw the 3rd one into the LE/Mil section (sorry ahead of time if that doesn’t apply to you, but it is what it is). With that being said…here we go…
So, after a month of training with a foreign military group whose unit, country, and identities I'll keep anonymous for operational reasons and by request from their commanders and themselves, I was re-awakened, you might say, to what is considered effective and ineffective training methods. I had trained a certain way for so long, which in my eyes is the "proper" way to train that I forgot what it is like when you are not in charge of the training venue and are at the mercy of the "parent unit".
This was very apparent working with this group based on the intentions, expectations, and wants/needs of each half of the unit (Leadership & Troops). The leadership prioritized unconventional training in a location that allowed extensive experimentation, stretching the unit's capabilities. It was all about testing the limits, doing things that the unit has never done, trained, been taught, or even been exposed to in any manner out side of maybe photos, videos, or hearing someone else talk about what they've done.
Whereas the troops desired revisiting basics to reinforce fundamentals, saying that they do not get to shoot enough to do such “advanced” training. Which showed in their performance after the few few days when we shrank target sizes, implemented time constraints, and placed them in these evaluated drills to see where they were at.
Both perspectives, in my eyes, are valid in their own rights. However, finding the equilibrium point is crucial, akin to balancing a rifle's position for optimal performance.
I found myself mediating between these differing views, advocating for a method I've previously utilized, emphasizing teaching, demonstration, practice, and then evaluation.
While exposing professionals to new challenges aids in adaptability and problem-solving, solely focusing on such scenarios isn't always ideal. My biggest concern with this method is that if you only evaluate and never revisit the topic, then we lose out on an opportunity for learning, growth, and development. That does not mean that it does not hold value; if we do not put ourselves, our team, or our subordinates through these “tests,” then we lose an opportunity for the exact same thing! Because there is an amazing opportunity for warriors, competitors, professionals, and even hunters to truly test their proficiencies if they are thrown into the fire and must adapt and overcome hardship. Difficulties allow them to make on-demand decisions at every level.
I would argue that this needs to be communicated to the training audience specifically (at some point) to allow them to know what the purpose of the training is. Sometimes training is legitimately just to test the individual or team’s ability to problem solve and come up with a solution in real time. For those of us that are competition shooters it's a pretty obvious answer, GO TO A MATCH that someone else is hosting, that someone else built, that someone else designed, that someone else tested, that someone else implemented time standards too, and that someone us is evaluating your performance!
On the opposite side of the spectrum, I do believe that revisiting the fundamentals is always a good method of training as well, BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE THE SOLE FOCUS OF THE TRAINING EVOLUTION. I can see the argument for having 1-2 or maybe even 3 days of focus on fundamentals depending on how long the training package is allotted. For those of us that are competition shooters again I think the answer is pretty obivous, GO TRAIN... I will explain this in depth in PART 2 of the series where I break down my method of training when I go to the range as a individual and self-training.
So ultimately, the biggest thing I am stressing in this opening article is that being able to balance the two opposites correctly is crucial in the development of skills, mental acuity, and execution of tasks on demand! As I move into the next two articles, I will tailor each to how I trained and continue to train for the objectives I am striving to achieve, although they are similar each one is inherently different in the marksmanship world because I am training operators and competitors and both have very different triggers required to get the response I want from each in their respective professions.
I know we say this A LOT "SHOOTING is SHOOTING is SHOOTING" but realistically THAT IS NOT TRUE... the core of the statement is sure... but the methods, decisions, severity, moral and ethical structures of each is VERY VERY DIFFERENT...