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The dangers of unbridled emulation: training the wrong stuff because it’s cool.

The dangers of unbridled emulation: training the wrong stuff because it’s cool.

There is a certain segment of the training community that makes quite a fuss about teaching techniques randomly collected from SWAT teams, Special Forces (ours or someone else’s), or SEAL Team Six. (It’s always Team Six, because they’re apparently the coolest. And the only one which the average Mall Ninja recognizes. Good for marketing, you understand. I feel for the guys on Teams One through Five though, suffering with the knowledge that they’re not nearly as cool.) These classes are usually sold to the public as being “full strength” or “not watered down for civilians” or some such twaddle.

I have two concerns with such courses. First is the applicability to prIvate sector self defense and the resulting drain on our training resources. Many of these techniques, such as shooting while running toward a threat, are offensive in nature and require either attaining initiative or being part a large enough group to be able establish and maintain sectors of fire. No matter how convoluted the logic (and I’ve heard some twisted justifications), this doesn’t have much to do with the kinds of self defense incidents that you and I are likely to face. They are a lot of fun, I’ll concede that point, but we need to keep in mind that we all have limited training resources (time and money.) If one spends precious training resources doing things that aren’t at all applicable to the task at hand, it means that something which is really needed won’t get trained.

The second issue I have is that of safety. For any drill or any technique, the benefit of the activity needs to greatly outweigh the perceived risk. Perception, I need to emphasize, is relative. What is risky to a real-deal SEAL is very different than what is to you or me! A SEAL puts himself in extreme risk on every active mission, and as a result his training is correspondingly riskier. That doesn’t mean that they take foolhardy chances, but it does mean that the nature of their job requires them to practice things that are far more dangerous than what you or I need to practice. A drill that would seem boringly safe to them may in fact expose us to an unnecessary — and correspondingly unacceptable — level of risk. A downrange drill (one where students are downrange of other students shooting), for instance, has some value to those guys whose job it is to kill people and break stuff; in my never-to-be-humble assessment, it has near-zero value to those of us who face criminal threats here at home.

Getting hurt in a training drill that has no plausible application to the average citizen’s life is a double fail. How to avoid it? Be discerning in your training. I realize the overwhelming desire to relate one’s reality-show-like adventures to the guys in the office on Monday morning, but being practical will make you better prepared. It will also ensure that you leave the class sporting the same number of orifices with which you arrived.

-=[ Grant ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On July 18, 2011

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