Everyone needs a Jeff Gonzales in their life. A proficient firearms instructor with his venture, Trident Concepts, Jeff draws from his military experience and years of pursuing perfection on the range. This week John and Tex discuss the details of executing the optimal shot – from fitness, to body position, to sights, and trigger press. A decorated vet and former SEAL, Jeff has mastered the discipline of combat and precision shooting making him one of the most sought after instructors in the field. Hear more about his evolution and philosophies of combining strength training and tactics.
Later in the show, the guys transition to a more topical discussion about politics. It’s the kind of high brow shit you’ve come to expect from the Premier Podcast in Strength and Conditioning.
EMPOWER YOUR PERFORMANCE.
You can find Jeff Gonzales on his website www.TheRangeAustin.com or by DMing him on instagram at @TridentConcepts. Ok Ok, he clearly stated that he didn’t respond to DM’s but did hint at being an excellent pen pal.
There are many general truths in this world that I follow on a regular basis. One of my favorite maxim is “you get out of it, what you put into it.”
Winning Means Sacrifice
During the pandemic we all had to suffer and many things changed. We changed the way we see the world and we changed the way we see many of our politicians. Some not in a good way. One thing that didn’t change for me was the drive to train. It might have been modified a little, but at its core it did not change. When I say drive to train I’m talking about the urge to improve or what I sometimes reference as an insatiable act to win. Winning can be defined differently for many people, but I define winning as in some way, shape or form related to victory. Consistency putting in the effort to improve is about a lot of things, one thing often overlooked is sacrifice.
No Such Thing As A Natural
If you want to be better at something, anything it will take practice. No amount of natural skill will ever replace hard work. So, what happens when you don’t want to put in the hard work, well is is pretty simple. You continue to suck. I put a lot of clout into the importance of live fire training, how it is irreplaceable for shooting skill development. What happens when you cannot conduct live fire training. Like during a pandemic when not only did we have to deal with lockdowns, but an ammunition shortage. I know I’m not the only one who saw a dramatic decrease in their live fire training during the pandemic. It seemed to me a perfect time to evaluate how well dry fire really works. Nothing like a semi-forced experiment to shed some light on a subject.
What Reality Really Looks Like
Before the pandemic it was quite normal for me to shoot around 200 rounds during each range trip. I would often get one maybe two range trips in per month. A low end average was approxmately 3,000 rounds per year, per weapon system. This excluded the rounds fired for demonstrations during training or insturction. This was my own private professional development. The number dropped to maybe 800 on the low end, 1,000 on the high end during the pandemic for my an annual expenditure of live fire training. That is about an 65% decrease for those wondering. This could have incredibly important implications. My experiment was simple, is there a way to sustain your current skill level or better improve your current skill with dry fire training only?
The Heart Of The Experiment
One of my pet peeves is when someone who really cannot help a student, presumably an instructor will tell the student to just do more dry fire practice. They make this suggestion partially because they don’t know how to solve some of the stubborn shooting errors. In this case, I wanted see how much dry fire would sustain my skills. I purposely went to a specific dry fire routine to discover for myself what was really going on with my skills. Then, when I spoke with a student about dry fire I could put something more tangible other than “because” as to the why. The length of the experiement started at six months. It included a live fire baseline assessment of various shooting drills in the beginning. The baseline was designed to have a wide scope of evaluation and was only 50 rounds total. This live fire along with the dry fire routine was repeated for three months, then for the remaining three months dry fire only.
Confused By The Data
Some very intersting things happened. First, my dry fire was daily and consisted of approximately 50 dry fire trigger manipulations from a variety of conditions. On target, at a ready position and from the holster both open and concealed. Once I had my system down it took 15 minutes from start to finish. Some drills were timed while others were subjectively based as to whether I considered it a good repetition or a “no rep”. At the end of the six months I shot the baseline drill again and I saw a 3% decline in my performance. Well, that wasn’t what I expected, but there was still a nagging question.
What The Numbers Really Say
What if it was more about sustainment. In other words, I only lost 3% of my observed skill level over a six month period with dry fire and 200 rounds fired. I don’t know about you, but I see that as a big win. I extended my experiment for another six months without any interruptions. These next three months were again dry fire only bringing the total to six months. At this mark, I saw something interesting. I was looking at a 2% improvement, I had somehow made up a 5% increase in the nine months of this experiement. I’m not going to lie, I was giddy as all get out and I could hardly wait to see the end of the experiement a full 12 months to see what would happen. At the end of my experiement my total rounds fired was 400 rounds and I saw 5% improvement for a grand total of 8% over the period of the experiment.
Easy Come, Easy Go
What did all this mean in the end for me. Consistency. Let’s face it a 5% improvement is not that big a deal. Or is it? When you realize I was not training nearly as often nor to the same volume it is pretty damn impressive to see the improvement as far as I’m concerned. It also puts to bed the question “does dry fire help.” I don’t think anyone doubted it, no one had any data or figures to help show a tangible benefit or justication for your time, talent and treasure. Now, here is the bad news. Shortly after this past holiday I got a nasty case of bronchitis. Add to that my voluntary time off from training, all training and it was about 30 days. I literally threw all that work out the window in 30 days. My skill level dropped significantly in that time period. I believe that is more telling than the 5% improvement. I wish I had shot the same baseline but I didn’t. What I observed instead was a massive failure. Five out of the eight drills I failed to meet the standard. Those who know me, know that is huge.
The lesson to be learned here is don’t go crazy, keep it short and simple, but above all else…be consistent. Dry fire can at the very minimum help sustain your skill and depending on the individual even help improve over time.
Since the beginning of the Pandemic over 17 million guns have been sold throughout America. In addition to this staggering number, another 5 million NEW gun owners have been added to the rosters of legal gun owners. Rough estimates suggest that there are anywhere from 350 to 420 million guns now existing in American houses, automobiles, apartments, concealed underneath clothing, and in the hands of criminals. The Froglogic Podcast is honored to welcome CEO of Trident Concepts and director or training at the Range in Austin, Jeff Gonzales to this week’s show. Jeff is a former Navy SEAL and Government contractor who’s been teaching tactical firearms training for the past 25 years. Rut and Jeff are long time friends and teammates. In this episode these two frogmen explore the importance of the 2nd Amendment, quality firearms training, increasing crime rates, and the future of guns in America. Don’t miss this insightful and educational show. HOOYAH
Award-winning Podcast Host, David Rutherford ignites his Froglogic Podcast by answering life’s greatest questions regarding the human condition. Listen to this former Navy SEAL Medic, CIA Contractor, best-selling author, and World Series Champion motivational performance coach, give his unique and profound insight about the world as he sees it. For more information about David please visit www.teamfroglogic.com or to seek out your truth please visit his online training company at www.froglogicinstitute.com
I have been a student of assaults for the better part of my adult life. I’ve studied, practiced and perfected the art and managed to infuse a little science to the affair.
Seeing The Big Picture
When you are first learning how to conduct CQB operations or assaults there is so much to take onboard. I’m not going to lie, it is overwhelming. Every action or inaction has both a postive and negative outcome. If you go to the right, you miss a target to the left. If you fail to clear this deadspace you expose your teammates to deadly force. The list is mind boggling, but the answer lies within the chaos. Underneath all the crazy there is a simple yet effect symphhony of movement that reduces the dangers you face, while increasing the danger the bad guy faces. The real question is how do you get tickets to the symphony?
Practice Makes Perfect
It all starts with an acknowledgement it will take time. While every force, unit and team will vary there is an agreed upon notion it is weeks, sometimes months to grasp a minimum level of competency to be safe among those who have mastered the art. One of the greatest dangers as an experienced operator is being in close proximity to someone who is still learning. Obviously, the dangers increase as you add live fire practice, varous explosive and of course a living, breathing advesary. So, what is the secret? It’s really no secret, it is practice. What you have to understand is what type of practice. There are various forms of practice, but the type of practice that produces the best results is a deep type of practice.
Working From The Known To Unknown
Within this deep practice, the student is given a set of parameters to work within. Then, they are put into practicals they must apply their understanding of the parameters. It is impossible to get it right on the first attempt, even the 1000th attempt for some. But that’s the point, there is sciene in failure. Failing is a key ingredient to success. You have to be put in these situations often and fail often. This failure brings about a problem solving mindset that is constantly adapting to the environment within the type of individual that makes a good operator.
Understanding The Look
The ideal environment for CQB is one where it starts simple and works to complex. That should come as no surprise, but even a simple square room can get uber complex when you start adding doors, oddities and dead spaces. The trick is to incrementally expose the operator to each of these scenarios. To provide them with what I call “the look”. This look is essential because it gives the operator a frame of reference. In the real world, no live target building will look like the training kill houses we virtually live in when practicing. What you are trying to accomplish is to build a database the operator can quickly review. What they are looking for is not the exact copy, but something close enough. This close enough will allow decrease the reaction and processing time. Providing a workable solution. It may not be perfect, but perfection is the enemy of good.
Being Disciplined and Hungry
How does this help the average person. The lesson to take away is anything you want to be good at is going to require hard work, practice. But not just any practice, deep practice. The type of practice that will produce errors, that you can review and reflect upon. Then try to avoid repeating the same errors in the future. I teach a four part system. First you have to identify the error. Then you need to intercept the error before it occurs. Replace the error with the preferred action then repeat until reliable. What I mean by reliable is repeat until this new action becomes the new habit. I’m always pushing our students to fail, I want a 20% failure rate. This gives the student enough positive to stay motivated and enough negative to stay hungry.
I can go on and on regarding teaching CQB, but that is for another day. What I love is within all the chaos is simplicty.
Jeff was a decorated and respected US Navy SEAL for 12 years. He graduated from BUDs class #155 and was immediately transferred to SEAL Team Four. He served at ST4 as an operator and trainer where he routinely participated in numerous combat operations that led to the successful and timely accomplishment of strategic operational objectives.
While at ST4 he was responsible for training fellow team mates in various combat related skills such as weapons, tactics and demolitions. Selected for the teams training cell he was instrumental in developing several blocks of instruction that increased the Teams overall combat effectiveness.
Ranked as one of the senior Petty Officers of his command he strived to not only improve upon himself, but his community at large. For his efforts he was recognized on several occasions and was presented with awards in appreciation of his service.
In this episode I explore with Jeff three main topics, namely,
Over the years I have trained thousands of students. The most valuable skill I can offer is not some super secret or high speed technique, it is nothing more than the fundamentals and it is these fundamentals that create the beginner’s curse.
What Is Mastery
The biggest challenge any instructor has is in their efficacy for behavioral change in their students. Students bring a lot to class, they can be motivated, ready to learn and physically active. Or, they can be none of those. It doesn’t matter because your charge is to train them in whatever skill set and skill level they selected. When I look at the effectiveness of my curriculum I’m looking to see how well we produced the desired result. The best results have always come from our insatiable drive to focus on the fundamentals. While many things have changed over the years, this philosophy of minimalism has stood the test of time. When I reference a minimalism philosophy what I mean is strict adherence to mastery of the fundamentals and nothing else.
Don’t Do Things To Delay Mastery
Here is the hard part as an instructor. Sticking to your guns. If you believe mastery of the fundamentals is what the student needs, then deliver it in the best way you can. The problem is when the student who is nothing more than a customer wants something that might be considered excessive, unnecessary or down right silly. What i can lead to is weak fundamentals or what I consider the most overlooked key. Delayed mastery. Folks wonder why mastering something is so difficult. The act or skill itself may not be difficult, but the difficulty comes in the form of time. The time it takes to master is whatever it takes to master. There are no shortcuts. There is simply working hard to perfect the fundamentals. When a student gets wrapped up in current trends, new equipment or even sophisticated or overly complicated tactics or techniques they fall victim to the beginner’s curse.
Quality Over Quantity
Whether a beginner or elite, the fundamentals do not change. The steps that make up a skill are still the same. The steps did not disappear, they became effortless to the elite and that’s the difference. But, when you begin your journey it is easy to fall victim to the flash and hype to the beginner’s curse. It is human nature. You have identified a goal and now just want to get to that goal faster. I get it and have been there myself. The harsh reality is will take time, lots of time to master a skill. The secret to mastering the skill is wanting to master it in the first place. If you are not committed to mastery, you will never achieve mastery. I don’t think it is fair to state mastery will be achieved within a set time period. Whether it is 10,000, 1,000 or 100 hours what makes the difference is your dedication to the practice. I would rather have 100 hours of high quality practice versus 10,000 of low quality practice. If I can add a feedback loop to those 100 hours to help ensure each one is achieving the very best outcome that is even better. Then, take what I have discovered in my 100 hours of deliberate practice and share it with friends, families or peers. Being a “teacher” teaching someone what you discovered in your 100 hours is hugely valuable. What ties all of this together is those 100 hours were focused on mastering the fundamentals. Let that soak in because that is the most important sentence you will read.
I love the idea of mastering a skill, it is a drive that pushes me to be the very best. No matter the skill, mastering the fundamentals is the number one goal. Everything else is a distraction.
Gun ownership is such a polarizing subject. And, with the increasing gun ownership in America combined with the tension and friction we’ve seen between people, it’s only going to become more so. That said, gun ownership is a fundamental right protected by the United States Constitution but that does not absolve us of the responsibility we, as gun owners, have to be safe and make ourselves proficient with our firearms.
Today, I am joined by former Navy SEAL, Jeff Gonzales to talk about both our rights and responsibilities as gun owners. We also cover recommendations for new firearms owners, how much time needs to be dedicated towards training (including training without having access to a range), why the beginners’ mindset will help you become a more proficient gun owner, and metrics for improving your accuracy and effectiveness should you need to use your firearm.
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.
I had a great time talking to Jeff, who I have known for years.. Jeff has a great story and another great example of a Man who never settled, drives forward and continues to live in that ALWAYS FORWARD mentality. From how he joined the Navy, becoming a Navy Seal, his training, business and body slamming dudes on car hoods over seas… The good stuff. Hope you love it as much as I did and I look forward to your comments! Thanks for the listen
This week Mike and Stan have Trident Concepts owner and former Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales in studio to discuss training for concealed carriers, the influx of new gun owners and the new video series that Jeff is doing for CCW Safe.