How much training do you need?

Claude Werner writes in the 26 June 2012 edition of The Tactical Wire regardign how much training people actually need. He argues that it’s not as much as we in the “pro training” community might advocate:

Still, every year hundreds of thousands of people, who have had no training whatsoever and who seldom practice, successfully defend themselves with firearms, often small ones, from villains intending them harm. Accordingly the statement: “But you need to actually train with said gun and practice often if you expect to save your life with it one day” isn’t necessarily true. In fact, there’s not much real evidence to back up that kind of statement at all.

Claude’s analysis of why we have this skewed perception:

The essence of the problem is that those of us who study mortal combat professionally have constructed a fusion of the worst possible law enforcement and military incidents. The resulting amalgamated adversary is an extremely formidable boogeyman who a T-1000 Terminator would have difficulty defeating. Actually finding a criminal who remotely resembles that boogeyman is quite a different matter.

He’s right on that point. I think this is in part due to the fact we don’t always have reports of incidents. Police don’t record non-events. The newspaper doesn’t report non-events. Example: I know someone who has to pull his vehicle over to handle a phone call and some paper shuffling. While sitting on the side of the road, a vagrant emerged and approached the truck. My friend had his mental alarm bells going off, so he rolled out of the door with his gun drawn. The vagrant stopped, postured a bit, then left. Did anyone other than my friend’s friends hear about this incident? And it’s not like the vagrant was searching for Sarah Connor.

But if I may toot the KR Training horn a bit, this is one thing I’ve always appreciated about Karl’s approach.

Many, perhaps most, criminals are capable of committing the most unspeakable acts against pliant victims. Once defensive tools come into play, the criminal’s motivation tends to flag quite rapidly. Economically based criminals are in the business of victimization not fighting. As soon as a gun comes out, it’s an obvious clue that the victimization has gone sour and turned into a fight. Not good from the criminal’s point of view. The most common response is to point to their watch – “Oh, look at the time. Have to go now.” Actual gunfire makes the souring of the process even more evident.

This is what we know, and this is what we teach. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Tom Hogel bring up the “oh, look at the time, I just remembered I have a dentist appointment” line. KR Training strives to bring reality to the table by looking at as much data as we can, not just further the hunt for Sarah Connor.

It’s an odd statement coming from someone who makes his living doing firearms training, but, as I see it, the NEED for training and pistols whose caliber begins with 4 is much overblown. And often what is taught is of questionable relevance to the needs of a mainstream person. If we in the community want to see more people get trained, we need to adopt a “less is more” philosophy and make our training relevant to the mainstream’s needs and resource constraints.

Here’s where I think we need to look at Claude’s words carefully.

Is much of the training overblown? I think so. Look at endless YouTube videos of people visiting training schools. Look at the things being taught. Is it really Red Dawn? Is there really a worry about zombie apocalypse? Many tools and techniques aren’t NEEDED for someone to defend themselves successfully. But I’d also agree that “what’s need got to do with it?” because if you want to learn as much as possible, that’s fine. The only reason I’ve wanted to learn long range “sniper” shooting was for long-range hunting, like up in the mountains where maybe I’d have to take a 300+ yard shot. But who knows if someday that might be relevant in other contexts.

But don’t let Claude’s words fool you. He’s not advocating NO training. What he’s advocating is the training community looking at what we’re teaching and ensuring it’s relevant and meaningful. Again on the KR Training front here, I like how Karl created a graduated curriculum, each class rather focused on one or just a few important concepts, and ensuring the most important things are covered first. For example, Defensive Pistol Skills 1 works on the basics of “gunfighting” like getting fast accurate hits from 0-5 yards and drawing from concealment. Reloads are just not that important at that level and most people aren’t going to need to reload in a fight. But reloads are discussed in DPS2.

How much training do you need? Probably more than you think, but probably less than some might have you believe.

6 thoughts on “How much training do you need?

  1. There are far more people willing to invest 4 hours and $80 than there are people willing to invest 2 days in a local weekend course, or travel to a remote facility for a weekday 3-5 day class. There is definitely a baseline set of skills and topics that any armed citizen needs to know, and whether you look at the NRA program or other sources, most of them take 2-3 days to cover that material and get students to a practically useful level of shooting and gunhandling skill. In our program that usually looks like Basic 1 > Basic 2 > CHL > Defensive Pistol Skills 1 > Personal Tactics Skills, which is a 3 day block.

  2. I agree with him but would focus more on competency then training. How a person achieves that competency is up to them. Some prefer training, some have innate ability, some can read/see then model the necessary behavior.

    The resulting amalgamated adversary is an extremely formidable boogeyman who a T-1000 Terminator would have difficulty defeating.

    Laughed out loud at that line. His reasoning is sound but I’ve seen very few instructors willing to admit that is what they base their “everyone needs to get trained” mentality on.

    I appreciate the approach you and KR seem to take — let’s achieve the minimum competence first and then prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse later. Hopefully I’ll be able to get down and take some training from you folks one day.

    • I disagree with your comment about “innate ability”. The only way to learn how to properly grip a pistol, or run a trigger, is to learn how from someone that already does it well. I see a LOT of “untrained” shooters in our Basic 2 and Defensive Pistol Skills 1 classes who *think* they have “innate ability” by virtue of a Y chromosome and a Texas birth certificate, who simply don’t know what they don’t know. A lot of DPS1 students who think they are “beyond” Basic 2 end up coming back for Basic 2, because DPS1 exposes all the weaknesses in their fundamentals. Some learn from online videos and competent friends, but there’s no such thing as a “natural born shooter”.

      Gun hobbyists who have put in the time to master the fundamentals correctly like classes that challenge their skills and look like fun, even if the skills taught aren’t directly applicable, and I have no problem with that kind of course, taken in context. It’s no different than martial artists learning 16 different ways to block a right punch; you have to do something to stay interested and motivated once you have the core skills in place.

    • I knew you’d chime in on this one. 🙂

      I would agree that competency is more important than training… because training, in many respects, is just going and listening to someone and doing something for a little while. It’s what you do afterwards that matters, to help you “move up a level”. To use that training to achieve your goals.

      But I’ll also side with Karl here, about innate ability and read/see and model. Innate ability? Perhaps it can exist, and perhaps I’m biased because I see what Karl sees because I’m assisting his classes… but it’ll be a rare thing and most people who think they know are really more a case of they don’t know what they don’t know. So I gotta call you on this one. Read/see and model? Well, perhaps. I think about empty hand martial arts training, and how despite the mystical b.s. of “my style has 3608 techniques”, really in the end the body does 3 things: push, pull, twist (thank you Master Marlin Sims) and everything’s just a variation. So once you’ve done enough martial arts, picking up a book or watching a video on some other technique demonstration can take you somewhere because you’ve already got the foundation and understanding. A beginner? Forget it… there’s too much to miss and that cannot be conveyed without someone actually there working on/with you. Even for a very experienced person, they may miss a fine point because again, there’s nothing like understanding a joint lock because it was applied to you. No movie, no book, no nothing other than experiencing the pain will convey it properly.

      In the end, you just can’t beat a good teacher.

  3. Pingback: Tony Blauer on Street Survival « Stuff From Hsoi

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