By: Ricky Casner
Is your firearms training adequate enough?
It depends. The answer to this question will very likely differ for everyone as the adequacy of a person’s firearms training depends on what experience and knowledge they want to receive from their training.
For example, if you are new to firearms or participate in shooting competitions, stationary cardboard or steel silhouette target practice may be a sufficient preparation. With this type of firearms training, an instructor can incorporate cover, concealment, unconventional shooting positions, etc., thus, building people’s confidence in their firearms handling skills.
However, if you are interested in carrying a firearm for self-defense, this type of training is likely not adequate enough. Like all live fire training, there are limitations to the real-world preparation this form of firearms training offers, namely, the 180-degree rule and the lack of live opponents.
First, in live fire practice, qualifications, and competitions, a 180-degree shooting arena and firing line is often established for the safety of all participants. But the world is far more expansive than 180-degrees. Second, for obvious reasons, live opponents cannot be utilized in live fire training as this would be extremely hazardous to one’s health, but it is exceedingly unlikely that one would find themselves being victimized by an un-moving cardboard silhouette.
History has shown that, during armed confrontations, people generally perform within the confines of their training. Emphasizing this point are common stories of law enforcement officers handing a firearm back to their opponents, following an effective disarmament, because they trained by disarming a friend and subsequently returning the weapon to practice again4.
Also emphasizing this point, are stories of civilians who, after purchasing a firearm for self-defense, regularly go to the range to practice with that firearm. However, because they have never practiced drawing their firearm during high stress situations, they fail to use the firearm when it is most needed, even though it is close at hand1.
If you train with limitations, it is likely your performance during the actual encounter will reflect those limitations. Therefore, as previously stated, if you are only interested in carrying a firearm for competition and qualification purposes, stationary humanoid targets may be all you need to perform adequately. However, if you carry a firearm for self-defense your training should incorporate the dynamic realities found in the real world. This is the purpose of Reality-Based Training.
What is Reality Based Training?
Reality-Based Training (RBT) has been defined “as any type of simulation training that prepares an individual for future performance through experiential learning”2. Likewise, experiential learning is defined as “the process of learning through experience”5 or, more succinctly, it is “hands-on” learning. Therefore, RBT is training that reflects reality and caters to the “hands-on” experience of the participants for improved retention.
Taking firearms training beyond the traditionally safe, 180-degree, non-dynamic world, RBT instead moves individuals even beyond a 360-degree arena by placing them in situations that allow a threat to come from any location, direction, and angle. It also incorporates self-defense situations that utilize live opponents that move and shoot back. Furthermore, because simulation weapons that fire painful but non-lethal man-marking projectiles are utilized during the training, participants learn how to utilize cover and concealment far more effectively than they would if they were not trained in this manner3.
Because people rely on their training during high stress situations, it is essential to train in a way that simulates, as closely as possible, realistic situations. You need your training to give you the tools and experiences that will allow you to perform as desired during these high stress situations that you might find yourself in. By participating in training that dissolves limitations and harmful repetitions, you will become better prepared to survive a life-threatening situation.
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- n.a. (2015, August 10). You won’t believe what this cop did after disarming a robber, or how to be better at everything. Retrieved 2017, from The Happy Talent. http://www.thehappytalent.com/blog/you-wont-believe-what-this-cop-did-after-disarming-a-robber-or-how-to-be-better-at-everything
- Reality Based Training Association. (2016). RBTA. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from Reality Based Training Association: http://www.rbta.net/
- Taverniers, J., & Boeck, P. D. (2014). Force-on-force handgun practice: An intra-individual exploration of stress effects, biomarker regulation, and behavioral changes. The Journal of the Human Factors Society, 56(2), 403-413.
- Wagner, J. (n.d.). The danger of repitition. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from World Wide: http://www.worldwidedojo.com/reality-based/the-danger-of-repetition/
- Wikipedia. (n.d.). Experiential learning. Retrieved 2017, from Wikipedia.
About Ricky Casner
In 2008, following a two year ecclesiastical mission, Ricky chose to focus his professional endeavors on firearms and firearms education. In 2010, Ricky graduated from the Colorado School of Trades with an associate degree in Gunsmithing. Since that time, Ricky has practiced as a gunsmith, built machine guns for foreign and domestic militaries, and owned and operated a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) business in Colorado. Currently, Ricky is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Idaho in Recreation, Tourism, and Sports Management and is the Marketing Director for Forward Movement Training Center in Meridian, Idaho.