Micro-Compact Versatility

Professional Development 2

The New Multi-tool

With the growing popularity of concealed carry there are more than ever a broad range of options for carry pistols. While there may be a trend for carrying larger framed pistols, sales numbers show an unprecedented interest in the micro-compact pistols.

Defensive Ammunition 2
Small Is Sometimes Better

The Logic is Undeniable

I’ve been a big fan of these pint size blasters for a while. I’ve talked a great deal about the value they bring to the table. A major obstacle for many is the perceived difficulty some will have shooting these smaller framed pistols. Most of the time, this is a perception based on a few observations. These pistols have a shorter barrel length and frame height, making them smaller obviously. The real issue is how much lighter they are and the effect recoil has with less weight. This perception is backed up by the laws of physics. How many will comment the physics involved is irrefutable.

It is Always The Indian

That may be the case, but science isn’t the only reason. Ignorance or lack of understanding come into the picture. I have been shooting these smaller platforms extensively for some time, at least the last couple of years. My round count log on these platforms puts me at several thousand rounds combined. What I have learned is like anything, this is a learned skill. Once you learn how to adapt your stance, mount and grip along with a few common errors you quickly learn the disadvantages often quoted aren’t as signifiant as once believed.

It’s All About the Size

This allows us to then expand on the versatility of these micro-compacts. There are a couple of these platforms that can cover a broad range of carry options. My original thought process was the smaller and lighter pistol made it easier to carry. Without a doubt this is true. It just makes sense from a longevity point of view. Add some extreme weather conditions and going with these micro pistols is a much easier decision to make than previously considered. When you are in it for the long haul, size does matter.

Not Just a Pretty Face

Being able to adopt other carry options such as pocket and ankle carry is a huge advantage. You may frown upon these methods. You may even talk down to those who choose to carry them because they are different from your own methods. That is certainly your opinion, but it is shortsighted. There are several reasons to consider these lesser known carry methods. Wardrobe restrictions, inclement weather and personal choices are all often the reason when you take the time to ask why they our popular.

Don’t Be That Guy

Some will look at these micro-compact pistols and feel they are out gunned and under supplied with ammunition. Shooting like anything takes practice. Someone who is competent and proficient at the fundamentals will not have a difficult time transitioning. The novelty of the new platform takes a short while to “figure out” then it is full speed ahead. It is those who lack the proficiency or ignorance into these micro pistols capability who are the biggest naysayers.

The tricked out pistols are not going to go away anytime soon, but their popularity is much smaller when compared to the popularity of the micro-compact pistols. Some will look at this as a who’s right type of equation. Truthfully, you’re wrong if you fail to see the benefits of both options.

The Art of Close Quarters Battle

CQB Shoothouse

There Is A Method To The Madness

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.

Learning Transfer


Training For The Unknowable…

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

Training never ends, no matter the skill level

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.

Access To Your Firearm Under Pressure

Winston Churchill

The Bad Guy Gets A Say

There is a belief that all you need is a fast drawstroke to stop a threat at close range. There is truth in this view, but it is also less than half the story when you realize access to your firearm under pressure is not nearly as quick as you might think.

It’s All About Balance

One of the great fortunes of being involved in combatives from an early stage in my career was I didn’t have any illussions about what worked and what didn’t work. Playing both good guy and bad guy were almost required to truly understand the balance. The balance I’m referring to is when your opponent is off balance, they have very little success completing their origianl task. This didn’t matter what role you were playing, it was something equally experienced by both sides. This is a huge take away, it says that you must maintain your balance at all times and work to disrupt your oppenents balance with every move.

Action Versus Reaction

Most folks are thinking, how can knocking someone off balance be so valuable. What I’m referencing is not soley about your equilibrium, or the distribution of weight. The balance I’m referencig has a lot to do with your thought process. When we look at one of the most dangerous situations we could face, it would probably look like an ambush at close range. Even worse, would be extreme close range. Sometimes words don’t help paint the picture and we need to assign some measurements. Close range to me is defined as any conflict where the opponent(s) are within five yards. Extreme close range is within a double arms interval. That means if both the good guy and bad guy extended their arm forward the finger tips would touch. At this range it is not about how fast you can draw your gun. It might seem that way, but no matter the situation as a private citizen you will always be in a reactionary mode. Meaning, the bad guys is going to say when.

You Can Touch Them

Why is this important? Because no matter how fast your drawstroke, at this range it is a low probability outcome action when access to your firearm under pressure. Meaning, the liklihood you will be able to out draw his action of drawing a gun or thrusting a knife is often not realistic. Add to the equation, that each sitaution will be different and it makes it far less realistic. Instead, you need to consider how to disrupt the balance to shift the reactionary gap to your side. In my experience, the best way to do that is injury or incapacitation. At the extreme close quarters you as the good guy have one advantage, if they can touch you…you can touch them.

Further Disrupting Their Balance

Striking is not your only option of course. You can attempt to jam up their drawstroke, either through fouling their firing grip or locking the gun in the holster. Both of these are sensible options, but a lot of times to be effective you will need two hands. A natural reaction from your opponent is a reflexive counter. Nothing fancy or taught, just a recognition their action is being impeded and they must do something. That something is simple, use the other hand. So, while this action can sometimes open up a window it is not a guarantee. When both hands from your opponent are occupied trying to complete the original task, you now have the option of disrupting their balance through strikes. Think of it this way, you want your first strike to be effective. If it is effective, you have an even better chance of recocking and landing additional strikes, each further disrupting their balance.

Think of disrupting someones balance not the mere act of shifting their weight, that is a huge part. Disrupting their balance is also about knocking their cognitive weight out of alignment.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England

Dig Your Corners

Some say you will hardly use math skills taught in school other than to balance your checkbook. I suppose it depends on what you do in life.

Its All Fun & Games Until

Maybe math is more important than you think. You might appreciate it more if you have to work tactical problems. Where you need to clear around corners to a dead space at the far end of the wall; what is called a hard corner. Years ago when I was working as OPFOR for my guys I witnessed an amazing phenomenon. The further back into the angle I got, the less I had to expose in order to gain ground down range. I saw the reverse play out when teammates would hug the corner as they attempted to clear the hard corner. While not ideal, both of these skills are important in the grand schemes of tactical movement repertoire. The problem was how this thinking it went against the grain from conventional wisdom.

It Is Not Always The Why

I remember when teaching a tactical team Active Hostage Rescue skills where managing corners was heavily emphasized. One of the members in their previous career was an architect. As I was explaining corners and the approach towards a corner I talked about obtaining the best vantage point. The better the vantage point the more down range hazards you can clear. Leaving usually the hard corner to visually clear with a dynamic movement. As we worked in commercial buildings we had the opportunity to explore a variety of these types of problems. His curiously was piqued and in the evening after class he pulled out his old drawing program. He created a large scale representation of not why it works, but how it works. I remember his excitement rolling this large piece of paper across his patrol car hood and the careful explanation as to the how.

You Can Only Look One Way

While I cannot remember the technical terms, it was impressive. When you are working in smaller and smaller units the ability to cover all the angles becomes more challenging, almost impossible. Since you can only look in one direction the importance behind achieving the best vantage point becomes huge. Of course, there are points of diminishing returns such as when you have to clear a weak side corner. This forces you to expose more of your body since it typically crosses the plane before your firearm does. A maximum we teach is to maximize your distance and minimize your exposure. When you accomplish these in tandem you create a significant tactical advantage. In order to minimize your exposure you may have to develop the skill of transferring to your weak side to help reduce your exposure. I caveat this technique with a statement that focuses on safety and competency. If either of those are suspect, then you are better off exposing more for improved fighting capacity.

See First Always

There will always be those who have a hard time accepting this technique is simple and effective. Going down range to get the bad guy’s perspective helps. Even then it still takes time to accept; which usually comes with application. When placed in a situation where it doesn’t matter how skilled, how cool your gear is or who’s side you are on it generally boils down to who sees who first. If you are exposing less and seeing more you will come to recognize the value with time. If you step back as an observer you eventually see the light bulbs turn on as they perform more and more runs through a simulator.

When you are playing an adult hide-n-seek game, you will come to appreciate the importance behind these maximums. You will develop these skills out of self preservation.

House Clearing

Solo CQB

At some point or another you will find yourself having to clear a structure by yourself. Even if it was not supposed to happen, it will happen and being read is more important.

No More Multi-Tasking

I love the subject of tactical movement within a structure. It goes by various names and the need for this type of movement is equally diverse. I have utilized these tactics numerous times in the performance of my duties, but only a couple of times in my personal life. What I remember is the challenges of being so exposed. Every step placed me in danger and what it boiled down to was calculating risks then exercising sound tactics. Over the years I refined this methodology and even talked about it during a podcast. No matter your background or experience, you cannot secure and defend in more than one direction at a time.

You Are On Your Own

In the early days I was opposed to dynamic only style of clearing. Even with the little experience I had at the time I recognized the dangers. There was a leap of faith you took along even operating with some of the most squared away men on the planet. I still found it problematic. When I left the Navy I struggled to find credible sources to compare notes or expand my knowledge base. There were some solid dudes who shared great wisdom, but there was still the lack of codified methodology. It wasn’t until I would go back into harms way down range it would start to formulate. When at times we were literally on our own.

Do Not Overcommit

The tactical imperative is so critical in this situation. You must understand the situation because you will only be able to execute one tactic at a time. What dictates your tactics is what is the most important thing at that exact moment. Is it moving in open terrain, is it crossing an open doorway, it ascending a staircase to list a few. Each of these examples has a common theme; they are dangerous. In a team format we mitigate those dangers by having overlapping and redundant fields of fire. By yourself it is much more complicated. If you must perform this type of movement the goal is to only bite off what you can chew. Put another way, don’t overcommit yourself. Then when you do commit have your fall back position clearly identified.

Take It Easy

The purpose of tactical movement is to skillfully move when not in contact with the enemy. It is the objective to avoid contact with the enemy, but should you make contact to be in the better tactical position. Once you define the reason for your movement, why you are moving it will help narrow down your options. I typically break the movement down into two categories; slow and deliberate or fast and dynamic. Both have value, both are important. What matters is knowing when to use one over the other. Slow and deliberate is preferred, taking smaller chunks of real estate. Using distance and angles to support your movement and where possible cover. The terrain can be classified as either known or unknown and when I exploit slow and deliberate movement I can work more of the known problems with the tactical advantage in my favor.

There is surprisingly not a lot you need to know; a few movement techniques. What is surprising is recognizing how dangerous this activity is by yourself no matter how calculated.

House Clearing 101

I can remember as a kid when we returning from a family outing, I would dart into the house in an effort to “find” bad guys. I know, not only is that corny, but so damn wrong.

The Honest Truth

Is it important for homeowners to understand advanced assault tactics. Is there an argument to be made these and other similar tactics will be beneficial to their situation. Honestly, not really. I’m not saying it is not fun or you will not learn some cool tactics. I’m saying there is not as close a correlation to what they do and what you will have to do in these in extremis situations. Team tactics are complex and work because of a high level of skill and application of tactics. Without constant maintenance there is a degradation and team safety becomes an issue. For the average homeowner, a better approach is to consider the two most likely scenarios; you come home to intruders or intruders come into your home.

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This

I can speak on first-hand knowledge to coming home to intruders. Half way into clearing my home by myself I realized it was a terrible idea. In the end there were no intruders, but at the time I was under a different assumption. I had the advantage of knowing the layout, the dead spaces and hard corners I would need to clear. What I took for granted was manpower in a situation like this and how it is impossible to safeguard all hazards by yourself. My purpose was to secure the house so my family waiting up the road could safely return. As I continued to probe deeper into the house I took away many things. Distance is your friend, do not go any deeper into the house than necessary. If you identify intruders, back out and call the police. Move to a safe area where the bad guys can escape, do not put you or your family between them an freedom. If there are family members home that is a whole different story.

The Worse Case

Coming home to intruders in your home along with family members present is probably the worse situation. One you need to think long and hard before taking action. Do the intruders know you are present is the first question. If you can maintain the element of surprise do so at all costs. Ideally you would want to move to a location you can strong point, put yourself between your family and danger. Even more ideal is leaving the exit to the bad guys back so they can flee when they realize it is not worth the effort. If however, they are aware of your presence it makes things a lot more complicated. Think long and hard before you act. This is where thinking through the worst case scenario beforehand will pay off. Yes, I mean if you were contemplating advanced SWAT tactics then you better have given this scenario some thought.

Strong Point

If you are home and intruders illegally enter your home you have some decisions to make. If you have some type of early warning to give you a heads up then strong pointing and calling the police is your best move. If you have family members home what next. If movement is required in an effort to place yourself between them and the bad guys here are some down and dirty tips. Retain the element of surprise as long as possible. If you manage to move steathfully to strong point your family then call the police at your first opportunity. If there is no way to get to a secure location to strong point without drawing attention then when you decide to move it’s not about tactics, it’s about covering the ground as quickly as you can and setting up a defensive positions or strong point.


The specific movement tactics will vary, but don’t bite off more than you can chew until you are ready to commit. Use the advantage of knowing your layout and plot your course. It may be simple or it could be complex. Think about your fall back positions should things not go according to plan. Maximize your distance and use cover to the best of your ability. Before you break cover, know where the bad guys are and where you’re going. When choosing the defensive firearm it is easy to think of the big guns; like a rifle or shotgun. However, in confined spaces, having to marshal family members or engage in close combat a handgun will serve you better.

While these types of situations are rare, they are horribly challenging in the moment. There is no easy answer, there is just doing your homework before test time.

Shoot & Move

Shooting on the move is one of those skills everyone enjoys doing, but doesn’t like the results. It is one of the few core skills we see getting attention, but not much improvement.

Lights out…

It takes a lot of work at the individual level to achieve the requisite skills to be successful in close quarters, now multiple that by the number of members on the team. Quickly you can start to see the complexity of the situation. Any tactic needs to be simple at its core, adaptable so when things go sideways you can quickly regain the initiative. Being simple has the advantage of adapting to an ever changing scenario. There is the best case, what much of our training centers around then there is worse case. It is the worse case that needs more attention. Something as simple as turning off the lights can take all but the very best of teams and bring them down several notches.

The old trick question

You also need to prioritize tasks, you won’t be able to do everything at one time, truly simultaneously. You might think so, but it’s not possible. You can switch tasks, but you can’t really do both at the same time. Which is better? Shooting from a static position or shooting while on the move? It depends, if you are required to neutralize a threat by delivering accurate and effective fire to the target zones would you rather have your feet planted or have them moving? You may not have a choice, but put that aside for now and think of it from which would you prefer.

The bullet doesn’t lie

This may seem an over simplification, but it’s really not. Having been teaching CQB for a long time I recognized shooting skills were subpar for many students. This translated into higher risk during live fire CQB runs and as a result we instituted a safety test we administer to all students prior to any live fire runs in the shoot house. The last thing anyone needs is a student who has to think so much on their shooting, there is not anything left to think their way through the situation. I believed this test was pretty straightforward and within reach, the results paint a different picture and many found themselves on the sidelines of sorts. Did they fail because the test was too hard or because they lacked sufficient skill. As we looked closer, I noticed most missed shots were recorded during the movement stages.

Points of domination

I’m not saying you won’t have to shoot while moving, but there are several opportunities for you to shoot planted and it is ideal you take advantage of them to ensure threat neutralization. The initial entry into a space has you doing both, you may need to shoot while you move to your initial points of domination engage threats on your primary & secondary scan then move to the next threat. Up until the point you have reached your point of domination and a few seconds after is when you can expect the majority of gunfire to occur. You are either engaging threats because you have the element of surprise or you are in a gunfight as they prepared for your entry.

The truth hurts

Either case, most of the business will be done in the first few moments of your entry. From there, you will need to prosecute the remaining threats in the space or adjoining spaces and for that you will need to be able to do it on the move until you reach your point of domination. While I would say yes, you need to be able to engage threats while on the move, the performance we see during the CQB Safety Test identities a deficiency in this skill so we emphasis the importance of engaging threat in the initial moments of the entry from a planted shooting platform versus a mobile one. Is it ideal, not really, but it is realistic.

I may want everyone to be dialed in and execute at a high performance level, but they can only execute off their true skill level. Anything else is wishful thinking.

To the Victor go the Spoils

There’s an old saying in my community. What do you get when you put two frogmen in a room together? The answer is…a race.

I love it…

Recently I saw some message traffic about competition and general opinions. What is my opinion of competition….I love it! I know that may sound weird coming from someone who has not discussed it before in the past, but I’m a firm believer in competition. I value the effort, discipline and commitment folks put into competing. Listen I have raced against a fellow frogman to see who could empty a box of packed ammunition the fastest with the loser having to get wet. No shit… You put a group of us in a room and I guarantee they are all jockeying to see who is the fastest at this, strongest at that, most repetitions for this or most accurate at that. It is a forgone conclusion.

If you are not getting stronger

It transcends everything, there is competition between myself and my swim buddy, my squad versus another squad, my platoon versus another platoon, my team versus another team, my coast versus another coast. Are you starting to get the picture. I love it because it pushes me, it drives me to be the very best I can be. More importantly and this is the critical point, I do not want to let my teammates down. Knowing I’m a link in the mission success chain I need to do my part to the very best of my ability when called upon. There is no excuses, you take full ownership of your skills and mindset to ensure you are ready and hold nothing back.


How does that relate to todays shooting competition. First off, I love it. It is great to see so many people coming together. I cannot help but assume these people don’t just enjoy the sport, but they support their constitutional rights and are exercising in a manner than ensures their survival. It is great to introduce people to a wide array of activities and further develop our community. We do not want to alienate anyone who may be interested in shooting, instead we want to encourage them to participate. To find something they enjoy, there is value in pursuing something you enjoy and encouraging it is a win for our team.

The face for the win

How do I feel about it’s relationship to combat. I will answer it in a manner most will be in conflict with. If it does not have a face I don’t eat it or in this case, if it does not have a face I won’t shoot it. If your performance goals entail moving fast, lifting heavy and otherwise improving you need animal protein. The kind that had a face, without it you will fall short time and time again as far as reaching your potential and goals. In the competitive world, you will get out of it what you put into it, but without a face, without some sort of connotation to a human you are killing it has less value than most want to acknowledge.

Taking life

Let’s face it, shooting is a physical act, but combat is a mental game. The most overlooked aspect to competition is the requirement to perform split second decisions around shoot versus no shoot targets. No, a different color piece of paper has little to no value regarding target discrimination. Target discrimination is so much more and I see the failure as an industry in our CQB classes where students must make split second “life or death” decisions. Decisions where you will be taking another human’s life or a human’s life may be loss because you failed to do right. Without the target discrimination and I’m talking something better than different colors, I’m talking something with legal connotations you may be surprised by the results when you are placed in a chaotic situation where how fast you shoot has less to do with how quickly you can process the information.

The biggest mistake we make in this industry is teaching people to shoot faster than they can process the available information. In a competition it is no big deal, you will go home.

Barriers to Learning

As an instructor I am curious how the adult learns new skills/tasks. I find it interesting for one, but it is important to be able to transfer the knowledge I have in order support learning.

The adult learner

There are many ways people learn, but that is not the real issue. The real issue is a barrier that prevents a student from learning. There are all types of barriers, from lack of motivation to lack of interest and what I have noticed over the years is the importance behind the “why” in training. I don’t get too wrapped up these days about specifics of how I teach. Don’t get me wrong, there is a hell of lot of time in the organization and management of our curriculum. What I find more important is helping the student to understand why they are doing something or more importantly why the need to do something differently.

Ready to learn

Students will learn best when they are ready to learn. When there is a clearly defined need to learn something their appetite to learning is big and barriers to learning less effective at hindering the learning process. It is important to impart on the student they why or purpose to learning. When all things are equal, a student who is ready to learn because they have a need will outperform the student who lacks the motivation to learn. There are somethings as an instructor I just cannot manage; which is all the baggage a student may bring to the class. Things like personal issues, work related problems or worries outside the range. All I can do is try to focus them on the why, give them purpose to learning.

The light bulb moment

I work very hard to express the why in all of our classes and in our last Close Quarters Battle class we saw some great examples of the proverbial light bulb moment. I believe the light bulb goes off not when the student figures out the skill or task, but when they understand the why. For example, their is a priority of work we teach to allow students to process all the dangers and critical tasks during internal movement. You cannot get so worried about DEF when you have yet to deal with ABC. There is a lot of momentum working against me at times with many other techniques clouding the students mind so I have to be able to explain the why even more so in these cases.

Prime directives

One of the ways I go about this process is keeping the student focused on two prime directives; mission success and team safety. When faced with a critical decision where a student could employ the less optimum technique I often watch them closely. I know this is a critical situation so I’m looking to see how they process the information. That tells me almost exactly what they are thinking because they are doing what they are thinking. I can then point out how their actions failed to ensure mission success or endangered themselves or their teammates to an unnecessary risk. Boom! Knowledge bombs were going off big time then and learning was taking place. You could see the difference not solely in the application of the optimal skill, but the decision making process leading to the  optimal skill.

Understanding the why is critical to any adult learning situation, but so many instructors fail at this juncture. There is no such thing as bad students, only bad instructors.

Trident Concepts
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