Saturday, August 18, 2012

Real Training

I've posted a number of negative articles on what isn't training. Well, today, since I'm on my way to the State Fair to get a double-bacon corndog, I'm going to be positive. What is training, and what you should look for in a good school.

I'm nobody's fanboy, but I think Travis Haley has the market cornered on good training right now. I also like Clint Smith, and I like them for the same reason: simplicity. Good tactics are simple above all else. Simplicity makes it easy to achieve muscle memory. Muscle memory becomes an automatic response under stress, and the way to achieve that is simple repetition. Here's a YouTube clip of Haley on reloading, then a personal story about muscle memory.

So there I was, at Camp Shelby, MS. We were running a squad live fire, and the mission was to clear a three hut "village", then react to contact on the far side. There were three phases: dry, blank fire, live fire. I had already done the course with my squad, and being super high speed, I was selected to lead the HQ section on their iteration. I had been living on the range for three days, and had been averaging an hour or so of sleep a night (you did a day iteration AND a night iteration with all three phases. YAY!) sleeping in a hummvee.

It was dusk on the third day, dry iteration. I was exhausted, hungry, and utterly soaked with sweat from Mississippi's unique 15000% humidity. We made it to the second hut, and I was the #2 man in the four man stack outside the door. We busted in and I hit my corners. The OC (the guy who ran the range) had moved the targets, and one was now in my sector. I flipped my selector to "FIRE" and pulled the trigger to hear a click. I performed SPORTS without thinking about it. I heard a "click" when my exhausted brain wanted a "bang" and did SPORTS. This is a prime example of how simplicity and repetition come together to save you under stress.

Now, watch Clint do some reloading. I think Haley is faster, but Clint may have a point on not using the slide release. Why not use the slide release? Clint's line is "I just reloaded every pistol on the planet". Compelling reasoning, but probably not advice for competition. Ultimately, the choice is yours. I'm going to play around with Haley's way and Smith's way and see which one I like more.

In any case, a great litmus test for training is "is it simple?". If the answer is "no", then save your money and find a new trainer.


Al T. said...

FGN, agree. Even some of the very best guys have variations and differences from one to another in how they teach certain techniques. As a for instance, I like Pat Rogers TTP for ensuring the chamber is loaded and Travis's rifle reload better than most. (I do disagree with visually checking that the bolt is back - no work in dark)

I think the top instructors are kind of like Chinese buffets - try it, if you like it, get more. If it does not work for you, drop it. The top tier guys always encourage students to train with different guys to get their personal TTPs (or Kata) to fit the students needs or mission.


Al T.

The Flatland Gun Nut said...

I have serious concerns about a lot of the upstart schools. I've seen a lot of YouTube videos of "instructors" teaching their students nothing but how to do action movie stunts with guns. The other thing that annoys me is ultra-high round count courses. If you need 2000 rounds for a two day course, you aren't going to learn anything. You'll just be blasting away--and getting tired doing it.

There's a surprising amount of good instructional videos like these for free on YouTube. You just have to know who to look for and have a good bullshit detector.

Glad to have you reading the blog.

Al T. said...

It's a great blog dude. FWIW, I've done 1k (Tom Givens) over 2 days and it was pushing things. The guys rocking .45s were toast by Sunday late afternoon.

James said...

I disagree with the least common denominator mentality of using the overhand slide release. "Every single pistol on the planet" - bullshit, what about pistols with a European (heel) or German (lever) magazine release? Why ignore that if you're going to train to use your own firearms as if they were firearms you yourself don't own or carry JUST IN CASE you pull your 1911 one day and it's transformed into a Walther PPK? If Clint Smith applied his own maxim consistently, he'd be activating every magazine release known to man on that gun, including the funky Uzi release. Just to be sure that he can reload every single pistol on the planet.

Additionally, loading a round by manually actuating the slide is probably the easiest way to instigate a misfeed on a pistol that is intolerant of even the slightest riding of the slide. My buddy's Ruger SR9c was this way before Ruger replaced the barrel - if you weren't slingshotting that thing perfectly, it wasn't going into battery.

Last, having made the mistake a few times of trying to activate the nonexistent external slide lock on my P64, my immediate reaction was to slingshot the slide. I didn't stare at the gun or look on the ground for my missing slide lock. I will take a few fumbles over intentionally ignoring the better method any day.

The Flatland Gun Nut said...

I spent a lot of time on Sunday trying Clint's way, and I think I like it more--but only on the 1911. In order to use the slide release on the 1911, I have to cant the gun 30 degrees (losing my firing grip), drop the slide, then reacquire my firing grip. Going over the top, I slingshot the slide and shoot. Clint's point is that it's simpler to train one single movement. To clear a stovepipe, you powerstroke the slide. To clear a doublefeed, you drop the mag and powerstroke the slide then put the mag back and powerstroke the slide. Less to think about while your brain is soaked with adrenaline.

However, in a USPSA/IDPA/IPSC match, if I had a modern firearm with the slide release in the proper spot, I'd probably use it.

The Flatland Gun Nut said...

James--looks like Travis Haley agrees with both of us.

James said...

Have to agree on a 1911, I can't reach the slide release for shit and hitting it with my support thumb is unnatural.

One of the things I've been looking for is some consistency between my pistols, which is part of why I ditched the P64, don't carry the Steyr, and modified both my Glock and LC9 to be more like my M&P. On the Glock, this meant changing the slide release and on the LC9 this meant ditching the random useless safeties that aren't present on the LCP.