The harsh reality should you react to a deadly force encounter, is it will not be anything like what you practiced. It will be a small sliver of your training and you will more than likely need to adapt to the newness you are witnessing with learning transfer.
Does It Bring Value
For the longest time I have been preaching how as an instructor I’m trying to prepare a student for an unknown and unknowable event. It is impossible to say with a high degree of certainty you will be able to predict the type of deadly force encounter you experience. There are lots of different perspectives on training theories within the tactical community. They are all explorable options, but not all of them are valuable options. The worst thing you could do is to become a specialist. Someone that specializes in a unique area. Even if that area is considered by some to be “trending” or “popular” there are still so many unknowns.
It Shouldn’t Be A Bridge Too Far
Instead, I prefer to teach students how to adapt with the essential skills they have developed. We define essential skills as those necessary to be competent, but more importantly…resilient. I would much rather develop a resilient student. One who can observe his surroundings and realize they are not exactly what they have practiced for, but have the ability to quickly bridge that gap and solve the problem. They must be able to “read the need, the feed the need”. This bridging action is referenced as learning transfer. It makes up the core tenets for just about any initiative based tactics commonly used in close quarters battle.
The Difference Between Practice & Real Life
The very best tactical teams will be expertly skilled at their job. This expert skill level is not quite what many would think. It is more about creating the enviornment for the assaulter to think their way through the problem. To provide an opportunity to observe their surroundings, recognize the subtle difference between what they are seeing and what they have practiced, this is the essence of learning transfer. Then in a split second, make a decision and act. Act with an intention and move with a purpose. Over decades of solving problems we have come to realize there is not going to be an exact mock-up of the target. Only in very rare circumstances do we actually get to train on a replica mock-up. While you would think this is good, there is a down size.
The Advantage Is In Better Decisions
The downsize is when the replica is not an exact replica. The oddity is now a major obstruction. Because of the pre-planned action being front loaded, there is more dwell time. The end user has to recognize the difference, then review the best options and finally act. Many time, the speed of execution produces hasty judgments that don’t really solve the problem. The slightest change can cause the gears to come to a grinding halt. Basically, the assaulter is having to take in the realistic information and accept it is different from what they expected. This type of choreographed activity is not nearly as reliable as an initiative based theory. What is the biggest difference between the two? Time. The time it takes to act with the best outcome is much shorter with initiative based tactics. When we train to a certain standard, then allow the situation to dictate you will be far more likely to act in a timely manner, but here is the kicker. Your decisions will be better suited to the situation because of learning transfer helping to produced a positive outcome. When we train to this level, modifications of learned skills and the ability to adapt those skills when a new context or stimuli without prior training provides us a huge advantage in a critical incident.
There is a time and a place for rot memorization and application, but when you cannot accurately predict the type of deadly force encounter it is much better to adapt. This adaptation and improvisation will survive contact with an unknown, unknowable event.