I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of different teams and see a lot of different ways to solve similar problems. One problem that really hinders some tactical teams is their ability to target discriminate quickly and accurately.

Proper programming prevents poor performance

Any type of tactical scenario is going to have a high degree of stress, even training scenarios can still get the juices flowing when you continue to challenge the operators. The key is in the programming, you have to program the operator to quickly assess the situation, select the correct response and execute accurately. Sounds simple enough, but the most difficult part of that flow drill is the transition from assessing to selecting. This is where we see some bad habits originate that can be quite costly down the road.

The assessment is part habit and part discovery. Through the countless repetitions you develop habits, from how you enter the threshold, to what direction you to what gets your attention first. These habits allow us to discover things along the way. Without the habits of pattern movement we are left to take in and discover the whole problem at once, which is very overwhelming. While doable, the problem becomes how accurate are the decisions being made under those conditions. In an effort to increase the accuracy you have to break things down. The beautiful thing about pattern movement is if done correctly it is predictable, yet flexible. Without getting too off topic, this allows for the highest level of success in a truly unknown situation.

Processing time

Once we have the patterns down and keep in mind that each movement more than likely has a primary, secondary and even backup direction of movement, that the flexibility thing I was mentioning. So, keeping to the primary movements we have to assess everything within our responsibility. Our task is to ensure that all items are processed and deemed either safe, unsafe or unknown. The rest of the team is relying on me to do my job and that means I have to “see” into things. Target systems have come a long way in the last twenty or so years, but I still rely on a simple training trick to truly hammer the point home.

Blue or gold

Repetition is the key to any successful skill, the more times you do it correctly, the more likely you are to do it correctly under stress. Part of stress inoculation is exposing the operator to as many different scenarios as possible, something that I refer to as “the look“. The more looks you get, the better prepared for the unknown you will be, but that’s a pattern problem, the true noodle frying is when we change up the assessment as well as the patterns. While the operator can go through the same scenario multiple times, using a regular set of colored index cards is a great way to challenge and in some cases overwhelm the operator. On run one they are going after all targets with a “blue” card as shoot. They leave alone any other targets, even the shoot ones. You can change the location of the index cards on the target as this will add a degree of unknown. The size of the index card acts as a target filter. The smaller equals more challenging for shot placement and the larger are easier to grow into. After the successful completion of a run, you switch up cards, now the operator is after the “gold” cards. Each target array will be different, some will have a single card, some will have multiple and some will have none. Then the final level of complexity is adding “no shoot” cards. So, a gold card is a shoot and now a “red” card is a no shoot. Flex your brain muscles around that scenario and you will be smoked for sure.

I have had some push back on this from some teams that really didn’t understand the big picture. This allowed their operators to on demand and quickly make good calls. It’s just an index card now, but change that to a mug shot or profile picture and it’s a whole other ballgame.

2 thoughts on “Changing Things Up

  1. evile451 says:

    Our teams used this concept many moons ago on the range and in the shoot house, different colored geometric shapes ,only targeting a specific one called out immediately before engagement, or changing realistic targets up with printed out photosof random people…good stuff, as far as movement and flow, we cleared on the concept smooth is fast and in the words of a small and underestimated martial artist…be like water.

    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Good stuff, thanks for sharing. We found the best results for assaults were during the pre-mission brief. Isolate each shooter to a specific colored index card for that run, it allowed the shooter to repeat his target discrimination process versus the same ID for the whole run. Good luck.

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