I never wanted to work with an operator who disliked training. Think back to your own experiences, and without a doubt, all of you can remember those who complained, didn’t put forth the effort, or simply had a “medical appointment” or some “personal issue” that always came up during training. Remember those guys and remember when things went badly during an operation. Generally if something went wrong, that person was a huge reason why the failure occurred.
Shoot, Move and Communicate
Okay hopefully I have your attention and now I’ll get to my point. Undoubtedly, or at least I hope, most military and LEO operators’ favorite training day is going to the range for live-fire exercises. I’m no exception! I’ll go one step further and say my favorite live-fire exercises are shooting while moving and shooting from unstable platforms. Think about the times you spend at the range in static shooting positions (isosceles, weaver, or modified weaver).
Sure it has its place in any good training regimen, but this should be your foundation to build marksmanship skills and confidence. Going back to my initial comment, “train how you fight, and you’ll fight how you train.” Think about it. If you’re forced to utilize your firearm, whether in combat or on the street as an LEO, it isn’t advisable to stand there in that static position. We’re always taught to “get off the X”…the “X” is death or serious physical injury to you and your teammates. I mean it’s your choice if you want to just stand there while you exchange gunfire and be a bullet sponge. Actively engaging your target(s) while moving to cover is paramount.
Train how you fight, and you’ll fight how you train.
You should spend the better part of your time at the range moving on your feet while shooting your weapons because your survival and your teammates’ survival is dependent upon it. Start slow and seek instruction from a seasoned shooter and operator. There are some subtle actions and techniques you can learn and do that will make you a proficient and confident shooter while you move.
Such things as taking smaller steps, and as you step, you let your heal strike first and let your foot roll forward to your toes. Over exaggerate this motion during training and you’ll do it when it’s time to do God’s work. Of course I believe you need to learn these techniques with dry-fire. It isn’t about just pulling the trigger. It’s about doing EVERYTHING you do when you’re discharging your weapon — wearing your kit, conducting reloads, and moving while doing all this.
Get Your Sea Legs
Especially for us maritime operators, shooting from an unstable platform is a certainty. Some of us are lucky enough to practice some shooting from vessels while at sea, but many of you may not have this luxury. You don’t want your first time shooting from an unstable platform to be during an actual operation. You need to train from unstable platforms so you know how your shooting is going to be affected and the countermeasures you must take to overcome those environmental factors and stressors. You might say, “Well, how can I do this at my terrestrial flat range?”
You can come up with and build your own unstable platform for minimal costs and time. A simple sheet of plywood mounted on any type of partially inflated bladder system works well, or you can suspend the platform at each corner with ropes attached to some 2×4 railings. For a visual reference, check out season two of Top Shot. They shoot from four different unstable platforms in the tenth episode. The quickest and cheapest way to get some unstable live-fire training is to bring that crazy looking half-ball from the gym, the Bosu ball. It’s a half-sphere with an attached platform.
You can stand on either side of it and get some great training and improve your skill set. The closer you move your feet to the center, the more unstable it’s going to be. Remember to consciously think about weapons discipline and control during this training because falling down could occur. So don’t mount that trigger until the decision to shoot has been made. If you do fall, just keep your weapon down-range. If you so choose, continue your engagement from the ground as you move back to your feet, just as you should during an engagement.
It should go without saying: Perfect during dry weapons training first!
No Parking on the Dance Floor!
When it comes to ballet with a boomstick, remember that whatever you put into training is what you’re going to get out of it. Your teammates’ lives rely on your training regimen and your life depends on theirs. Training should be harder than the actual operation. This way you know your team and you are ready when you accept the mission.
Do you move during your training? Let me know how you do or the reason you don’t.