By Rob Morse : Training
Louisiana- (Ammoland.com)- We don’t train the way we want to fight. When it comes to self-defense, there is always a trade-off between realism and safety. That balance is changing as technology goes up and prices come down to let civilians afford more realism in their self-defense training. For a long time we set aside realism as we made training safer. This affects even the new student who is working on basic skills. This may be true now, but it is changing for the better each day.
Step away from the student’s perspective for a minute. The instructor wants to see exactly what the student is doing. As an instructor, how will you make sure your student is safe as he presents a loaded handgun to a target from inside a concealment garment? Out of sight isn’t necessarily safe, and we’ve been talking about carrying in the conventional position on the strongside hip where the instructor can have a good view. Some carry positions are harder for the instructor to see.
Today we have appendix carry where the gun is holstered between the hip and midline. We have purse carry where holster is carried in an external bag. Add in pocket carry and carrying in a bellyband under tight clothing. Now you see the routine risks we face in training to present a firearm. Even the customary carry position behind the hip can be a concern when you cant the gun to get a better grip angle. From these positions, either the student or people standing nearby can be swept by the muzzle unless the student is already skilled and consistent.
Safe training is an issue that instructors deal with every day.
I’m not arguing against those carry positions. I’m simply pointing out the difficulties of providing good instruction..and we haven’t gotten the gun up and on target yet. How can we train so students safely acquire the skills they need? One problem comes from the fact that we are training with firearms and that poses an inherent risk. Avoiding that risk and not training brings its own risks as well. The alternatives are getting better every day.
Firearms owners are hardly the first to face this training dilemma. There are a number of occupations where live training is impractical because it is either too slow, too expensive, or too dangerous. Airline pilots and industrial plant operators can’t afford to induce real equipment failures and learn “on the job”. As with self-defense training, we can’t afford to let them crash. We can and do expose these students to a vast array of difficult situations in a simulator.
Students gain more experience in a few hours of simulator training than they would see in years of normal operation. Gun owners are not far behind.
We are slowly seeing the same techniques brought to civilian firearms education. The good news is our options are growing and costs are coming down.
- At its simplest, we’ve have blue guns which are inert firearms made of plastic. We’ve had them for several years.
- We can use real firearms that have a barrel block installed. They are routinely used for dry practice training.
- We have laser training “guns” that project a visible light beam as the trigger is pressed. They cost a third the price of a firearm.
- There are dedicated simulated firearms that need to be “reloaded” with a realistic magazine during use. They may emit an infrared optical beam that is easily seen by modified web-cameras.
- Some simulated pistols move the slide as they are fired. Now the training gives the student some of the physical sensations he gets at a live fire range.
- Training with a simulated weapons can be combined with video presentations of a threat. Now the training feels emotionally real.
- Some training firearms are modified to shoot a marking cartridge. These training guns are used in force-on-force training where the participants are padded and masked. We’ve consciously increased the risk of injury in order to get better realism during a training exercise.
- Some software programs augment a training “gun” by adding sound effects that provide the expected bang..or the click of a malfunction that needs to be cleared. We can do this safely indoors.
- We have inexpensive software that runs on a personal computer or smart phone and records where the shot landed and how the simulated “gun” was moving during the shot.
For particular skills, these simulated guns are an improvement over training with real firearms. They are safer because we reduced the threat of a negligent discharge. Students also find it easier to learn from the experience because there is no explosion at arms length. As time goes by, these training aids are accepted by more instructors and more students.
These learning tools won’t replace live-fire training. There is a small downside risk that real firearms could be treated as toys after training in a simulator. That risk is real and manageable. We don’t see pilots crashing airplanes because they once trained on a simulator. A greater risk is that firearms instruction becomes edu-tainment.
Costs for realistic training continue to drop. Flight simulators were once the exclusive tools of the military and the airlines. Now we use them used by general aviation pilots. Firearms simulators were once the tools of elite government agencies and the military. Now they are making their way into civilian use.
We face a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Many instructors teach the same way they were taught. Many firearms students don’t know the tools are available. It takes time to change the expectations of an industry and its customers.
When will armed civilians ask for realistic training? A parking lot at night is one of the most common time and place for a robbery. We could use simulated munitions, rent a parking garage, rent a fleet of cars and hire a number of actors. Few of us can afford that. Instead, we can run a wrap-around video that lets a student walk through the garage. Better yet, we can build an experience where sometimes you’re attacked and sometimes you are not. It is a better way to train. It is coming to a future near you..if you look for it.
How do you train, and how will you train?
The original article is here. Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.