Category Archives: training

Special Forces Advisor – The Big Picture

#throwbackthursday

A long, long way from northern Iran. In the airspace over North Carolina, that’s where the story of any Special Forces advisor really starts.

Note that at the time this film was made, Eye-ran was not our enemy.

North Carolina or North Iran, a jump’s a jump. The same tension as you shuffle toward the plane door, the same big lift in your chest as you see that silk billowing out above you, and the same hard meeting with Mother Earth.

And one thing more that’s the same for any Army man who comes down in a parachute, even at a tactics class, one part of our course at Fort Bragg Special Warfare School. When he lands, it may be the safe ending to a flight but his job is just beginning.

You five students know your part in this exercise. You’ve been dropped presumably into enemy-held territory but guerillas friendly to us are operating. You’re to link up with the guerrilla force in your area, train them in the tactics which we’ve been teaching you, and follow through on a bridge destruction mission with them.

My book Shooting Your Black Rifle seems appropriate to this series of films. If you would like to purchase it, click on the image below.

Guerrilla, U.S.A. – The Big Picture

#throwbackthursday

Shortly after World War Two, the country that was formerly known as the United States was divided into three countries; Weston, Easton, and Floridan. The country of Easton has been in the Communist sphere since World War Two.

Throughout Easton, mainly in the inaccessible areas of West Virginia, bands of twenty to a hundred guerrillas have been conducting raids and ambushes against the Easton government forces.

Yesterday, the President of Weston directed the Secretary of Defense to provide appropriate military assistance to these guerrillas.

Men, your mission is to infiltrate into Easton, organize the guerrillas, and conduct unconventional warfare operations.

(Note: their mission was actually to conduct Guerrilla Warfare operations, a subset of Unconventional Warfare.)

This film was produced by the United State Army in 1963 for syndicated distribution to as many as 320 US commercial television stations. “The United States Army presents The Big Picture, an official report produced for the Armed Forces and the American people.” The video is presented as an historical document and in no way represents commentary on the current political situation of the United States.

My book Shooting Your Black Rifle seems appropriate to this series of films. If you would like to purchase it, click on the image below.

Special Forces – The Big Picture

#throwbackthursday

February’s weekly episodes of The Big Picture will feature the role of Special Forces during the Cold War. https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cold-war-history

Guest Narrator for the first episode is Mr. Henry Fonda, the famed screen actor.

This man wears the uniform of the Special Forces. To use the word special in describing him is no mistake as you’ll see during the next half hour. He’s a mature, dedicated, and skillful professional and his line of work is demanding. It takes in a full scope of unconventional or guerrilla operations.

Special Warfare involves three types of activity; unconventional warfare, psychological warfare, and counterinsurgency operations. This last includes the complete range of military, political, economic, and sociological action. New emphasis is being placed on unconventional warfare and the reason isn’t hard to see.

Today, the threat of war takes three forms; general nuclear war, conventional war, and guerrilla or unconventional war. Fortunately, the world has never yet seen a general nuclear war. Conventional warfare, the regular forces of two or more nations in combat but without using nuclear weapons we know all too well but at the moment no such traditional war is going on. Unconventional warfare is a different story.

In a number of key spots around the world intense guerrilla operations are underway right now. It makes little difference to the people of a country whether they lose their freedom to an invading army of regulars or through the action of guerrilla forces sponsored by an outside power.

My book Shooting Your Black Rifle seems appropriate to this series of films. If you would like to purchase it, click on the image below.

Commence Firing – The Big Picture

#throwbackthursday

“Since the earliest days in American history, marksmanship has played a vital role in the growth and development of our country. The rifle was essential to those pioneers who marched westward, often the means of survival. Marksmanship continues to be fundamental right down to this day. Weapons change, tactics change but being able to hit the mark has never lost its importance.  Sometimes it means the difference between life and death. From colonial days, marksmanship has been an American tradition. The right to bear arms was one of the basic freedoms demanded by the Continental Army and rifles and the spirit of the man who manned them were decisive factors in our country’s initial fight for independence.”

STOPP Presentation now available

My Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection presentation given at the Rangemaster 2019 Tactical Conference is now available for download. It is the culmination of several years of research and analysis into the issues that confront private citizens when trying to keep themselves and their families safe from criminal predators.

Many people have expressed interest in training with The Tactical Professor but haven’t had the opportunity. This movie is the next best thing. It is The Tactical Professor as his authentic self and is definitely not “Death by PowerPoint.” There is some coarse language but it has been kept to a minimum.

A short sample is available on my YouTube Channel.

Topics covered include:

  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Options
  • Personal Protection
  • Our end goal (STRATEGY) is to make good decisions
  • Decisions determine outcomes
  • Take charge of the situation, don’t let the situation control you.
  • Priorities
  • Decide ahead of time
  • Choose a response
  • Options for Personal Protection
  • Protecting Others
  • Three inputs to good decision making
  • The fun input
  • Use of Force law
  • Know the rules (other)
  • What were you thinking?
  • Have adequate skills
  • Cognitive load
  • Practicing your skills
  • Understand the situation
  • Inputs to bad decision making

The file is an MP4 movie created from the slides and a full recording of the presentation. The movie is 90 minutes long and includes a Question and Answer session with the audience at the end. The file is about 554MB so a fast connection is desirable to download it.

You can purchase the full movie for download at https://www.payloadz.com/go/view_cart.asp?id_user=337896

I think you will find it’s $14.99 well spent. As with all my products, my ebook Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included.

Training during uncertain times

My friend David Yamane has an interesting blog post about training last year.

https://gunculture2point0.wordpress.com/2021/05/14/shooting-lessons-during-and-from-covid-times/

The NRA Pistol Marksmanship Simulator Training is a really good course. I’ve taught it several times as private lessons and found the results to be very worthwhile. I’m glad David and Sandy got something out of it.

Occupational Hazards

#mindsetmonday

The training community is often obsessed with and overestimates the value of what we do and say. The Most Dangerous Man in the World cautioned me about becoming too enthused about hearing myself talk (not me personally but rather as an occupational hazard) as a firearms instructor. More and more, I appreciate his wisdom in that regard.

Is training a substitute for practice and experience? Even bad practice will generally lead to some action.

Doing anything, even the wrong thing, is better than doing nothing.

Ranger saying

I’m not sure the same is true for training, especially when it occurred more than 30 days ago. That’s the half-life of hands-on training, according to Army Medical Department studies.

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below.

I’m working on the next volume, Tales of the Gauge, about LAPD shotgun shootouts. It’s very interesting.

What is the Tactical Conference?

The Rangemaster Tactical Conference started as an International Defensive Pistol Association Major Match in the late 1990s. The IDPA Indoor Winter Championship, as it was then called, was held at Rangemaster’s facility at that time in Memphis, Tennessee. The organizer was Tom Givens, the owner of Rangemaster, a long time pistol competitor, and the leading trainer for Tennessee Concealed Pistol Licenses in Memphis. It was a large enough event to be featured as a segment on Shooting USA.

Typically, a shooting match consists of a few minutes of shooting and hours or days of idle time. However, the Winter Indoor Championship presented a unique opportunity because it was held at an indoor range with classrooms. Tom Givens’ relationship with the training industry meant that he was able to host various trainers who could present concurrent lectures about Self-Defense and Personal Protection. Some of the earliest presenters were well known names such as Massad Ayoob, Marty Hayes, and John Farnam.

The Pistol Match is still an integral part of the Conference. All attendees are invited to shoot the Match to get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of their skills. Not everyone shoots it, though, because of the wide variety of other training opportunities that are also available during the three days.

Eventually, the demand for the tactical lectures and training necessitated moving to larger venues. The Memphis Police Academy, US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, and DARC in Little Rock have all been sites over the years. The larger venues allowed a wide variety of instructional blocks, including lectures, live fire shooting classes, and unarmed hands-on training. As the Conference grew, trainers held classes such as Managing Post-Shooting Stress and Trauma, Snub Nose Revolver Skills, Tactical Medicine for the Prepared Citizen, and Home Defense Shotgun Skills.The 2021 Conference was held at the excellent Dallas Pistol Club.

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make was inspired by lessons learned in an Experiential Learning Laboratory session conducted by Craig Douglas of Shivworks at one year’s Conference. The Experiential Learning Laboratory has become a staple each year as a well-structured Force on Force exercise specifically for Armed Private Citizens.

Starting from just a few lectures at its inception, the Conference has grown to an extravaganza of educational offerings attended by hundreds of people over a period of three days. A vast number of training opportunities are made available for the prepared individual. The 2021 Conference featured 54 different blocks of instruction by dozens of different trainers. Some of the sessions repeated to allow attendees access to them because there is so much going on at the Conference.

There is no other opportunity like it available for the Armed Citizen who wishes to be prepared to prevent criminal violence against themselves and their families. The Conference is held in late March each year. The 2022 Conference will be held at the Dallas Pistol Club in Dallas, Texas. Registration opens in May and sells out by October every year.

TacCon 2021 Match

The Rangemaster 2021 Tactical Conference is in the books. A small part of the Conference is the shooting match. Of the over 200 attendees, 161 elected to shoot the match. I didn’t bring a gun because of my flight situation, so I borrowed a 642 from a friend and shot with it. Only three of us shot with revolvers.

All shooters have the opportunity to shoot the first two parts of the Course of Fire.

The first part of the match is shot as a standard exercise using turning targets. This was my target for the Standards. My score was 198. The 99 percent score meant I was able to shoot the tiebreaker.

For those who score 95 percent on the standards, a five round tiebreaker is shot on a B-8 target using Comstock scoring (points divided by time). I shot this well, scoring a 49 but using a lightweight snub nose revolver meant I was slower than I needed to be to get into the shootoffs on Sunday.

The top 16 shooters then enter a man v. man shootoff using a double elimination ladder. The shootoff format uses falling steel targets. Each shooter has an array of three clothed steel target with an eight inch steel circle [Correction about the target: The plate is a vertical rectangle, 5.5″ X 6″. If you run a vertical centerline down the mannequin, and a line across at armpit level, the intersection of those lines is the center of the 5.5″X6″ plate] that has to be hit to make the target fall. After knocking down all the shirt targets, the shooter must knock down the mini-popper in back. The popper that ends up on the bottom determines the winner.

It was a fun match and I’m glad I was able to shoot it.

I’ll be recapping the Conference in the next few posts.

Nuances

The Spirit of the Bayonet

The Guard Position

“The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat is the spirit of the bayonet. It springs from the fighter’s confidence, courage, and grim determination, and is the result of vigorous training. Through training, the fighting instinct of the individual soldier is developed to the highest point. The will to use the bayonet first appears in the trainee when he begins to handle it with facility, and increases as his confidence grows. The full development of his physical prowess and complete confidence in his weapon culminates in the final expression of the spirit of the bayonet — fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy.”

Field Manual 23-25 Bayonet –October 1943 edition

Note the subtle distinction between the ‘spirit’ of the bayonet, “The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat” and the ‘final expression’ of the spirit of the bayonet, “fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy.” The first is philosophical, the second operational.

Recognizing how to put a concept into operation is an important step in turning information into knowledge. For instance, how can we operationalize the “O-O-D-A Loop?” My colleague Melody Lauer once asked me:

How do I use the OODA Loop? That’s not clear to me.

At the time, I didn’t have a good answer for her.

Now, I would say that the basis for making Boyd’s process operational is to dig deep into Orient. Boyd himself said:

Orientation is the schwerpunkt. It shapes the way we interact with the environment–hence orientation shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act. [emphasis mine] –Organic Design for Command and Control, slide 16

“I’ll shoot anyone I find in my house” is an example of an input to Orientation, probably a Cultural Heritage artifact from English common law of centuries ago. When we acquire New Information through training, observation, or experience, that also becomes an input to our Orientation. Then comes the hard part, Analysis / Synthesis. All the other inputs to Orientation coalesce through Analysis / Synthesis into decision-making that occurs ahead of an incident rather than during the incident. We may need to modify the plan and decisions as an incident unfolds, but that’s much easier and faster to do than making a plan up on the spot.

Examining, expanding, and integrating all of our Orientation inputs is what allows us to ‘make’ good decisions quickly. When we have formed a solid Orientation, we are actually not making decisions in the moment, rather we are ‘choosing’ from a menu of pre-made decisions available to us because we’ve already considered the benefits, objectives, and consequences and made a rational decision about what’s in our best interests. It’s how we avoid making Serious Mistakes. http://seriousgunownermistakes.com/

My thanks to Melody and Joseph Edward Timbs for provoking me to write this post. Also thanks to Steve Moses, Shawn Vincent, and Don West of CCWSafe for inviting me to participate in a thought provoking podcast about the topic.