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Ep. 27 Should I Shoot? If You Fail to Train, You May Fail to Fight

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Editor’s Note: The following is post is from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.

Check out the last five episodes in this series:

The big “what if?” is, “What will I do when ‘it’ happens?” The only way to really know is if “it” happens or we replicate “what if?” questions in training. It’s been argued at length that training scenarios can be gamed and, since the students know they are in Simunition helmets or other types of protective gear, something is going to happen. I will agree they know something is up, but when put into stressful situations, they will react fairly closely to what they would do in real life.

I’ve been part of a teaching cadre for a class where we put the students into various situations ranging from hands-on defensive tactics to live-fire movement drills. Man-down drills are mixed in to turn up the stress some. The students have to administer trauma aid and continue to fight. As in real life, not every scenario is a black-and-white, shoot-or-run scenario. There is a lot of gray area and they have to process information quickly and accurately and then make the right decision. We record a lot of the training to show the students what they really did when the stress levels were turned up. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video has to be worth a million. “I can’t believe I did that” is often heard during debriefs.

As the class progressed, some of the students who initially showed they could function under the high stress continued to improve, some who showed signs of indecision and freezing up got better as they learned from their mistakes, and a few could not gain traction and would continue to make the same mistakes over and over.

The old adage, “You will fight as you have trained,” is not a cool-guy saying put on the back of t-shirts. I combine it with a quote I stole from Clint Smith: “…The possession of a firearm or knife does not transfer into competence in its use … we all have a brain but each of us uses it differently … you gotta train properly or you are setting yourself up for failure.”

Buying the newest handgun, rifle, tactical knife and all of that other cool stuff only means you possess some expensive gear. Until you learn how to use it properly, it’s just stuff. Please do an honest evaluation of your skillset and find a way to improve on it. If you leave the house every day with a gun on your belt or you keep one in the house for protection, you owe it to yourself and your family to get the best training you can afford as often as you can afford it.

For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Michael Whitehurst November 4, 2016, 7:18 pm

    As a fire arms instructor for the BOP….I feel compelled to help any police officer…BUT a civilian should stay out of it. The best thing is to call 911 AND GET AWAY. On ur property if u have to shoot…UNLOAD THAT MAG until the threat is gone
    …but do not approach…again call 911…that should cover u for rendering aid…above all, practice situational awareness. And secure ur compound.

  • Ken Taylor November 4, 2016, 11:26 am

    Agree. Train like you fight and you’ll fight like you train. I think it’s a God-given mechanism for our self protection and self preservation. I’m in law enforcement and can attest to times I’ve had to respond in life threatening situations. You want those occurrences to be instantaneous and without much thought. The longer you take to decide and determine how to respond the more likely you are to die. Practice, practice, practice those “what if” scenarios until they are boring. Then you stand a better chance of responding almost instinctively and without indecision.

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