Friday, April 13, 2012

Training for success


   I wanted to address something I sometimes see at the range. Guys are showing up to train with no real plan or goal and consequently are getting little accomplished; sometimes even solidifying bad habits. Kinda like the folks that show up at the gym with no real workout regimen....you have seen the type; after about 30 minutes you see them casually curl a dumbbell while staring at the TV on the wall before they completely give up and begin to chat up the girl at the counter. Weeks later you notice the same guy looks even more out of shape than when he started. Poor planning....
   So lets look at some outlines for successful training on the range. You have two basic training criteria from which to begin:

1. Sustainment - Seeking to maintain your current skill level or possibly knock the rust off after some time away. Or to put it another way; shooting the drills you like.

2. Enhancement - Learning new skills and seeking to improve speed and accuracy. Or.....shooting the drills that are difficult and sometimes not much fun.

   I have found it to be personally counter-productive to hit the range after several weeks of no shooting and try to learn a new technique or push the envelope on my speed. Now, I am not saying that it's wrong to go out and test yourself periodically with a "cold" drill as a means of establishing your overall improvement; as the cold drill can be a very useful tool. That being a diagnostic and this being training. That being said; I like to decide beforehand if I am going to work on sustainment or enhancement.
   In a sustainment scenario, I would go back and very methodically hit all the fundamentals with drills such as ball & dummy, distance shooting, dot torture, 2x2x2 reload drills, etc. It also helps to keep a log of your scores and/or times to help manage your baseline.
   An enhancement scenario is where I push the envelope. I try new drills, try for better times and shoot with distractions (ie, other shooters in your space, hood drills, stress fire drills).

   When you finish a day of sustainment training, your targets should have some nice tight groups. After a day of enhancement training, your targets may be a mess. If you have nice pretty groups after enhancement, you are not pushing yourself enough. You must induce pressure to grow the skillset. In time you will improve and this will segway into sustainment training as you move on to harder skills.

   Once you have decided on the type of training you can break it down into the next subset - deciding on the particular skills to incorporate:

1. Accuracy
2. Speed
3. Movement
4. Manipulations
5. Stress
6. Multiples

   The following is a drill I commonly use for my own sustainment training that incorporates all of the above:

Setup:  three targets (IDPA/IPSC) spaced one meter apart. Vehicle parked at 50 meters parallel to the target line. Carbine setup behind (up-range) with a malfunction (bolt over-ride, double feed, etc).

Execution: Start at 10 meters facing up-range, pistol in holster. On buzzer, turn fire one round into each target. Go to high gun, turn and sprint to up-range side of vehicle. Holster pistol, fix carbine, shoot two rounds into each target from urban prone (under vehicle using wheel cover), sprint back down to 10 meter line at low ready or high gun, one round into each target head with carbine.

Scoring: On first run, any hits on the target count (regardless of scoring zone). Any misses is an automatic fail. Log your time. On second run, paste notebook paper in center of chest area and 3x5 card in center of head. On second run only hits in the paste-ons count. Log your time.

I call this drill - "Fight to your rifle". 

Besides working the individual skills of multiple pistol engagements, malfunction clearance, physical stress, unconventional shooting positions and shooting from cover - it aids the shooter in solving the speed/accuracy paradox. Since we are not using the scoring zones on the first run, but rather the entire target - you can really push the speed envelope. The second run requires more control as the target zones have shrunk considerably. On the third run you would go back to full target (speed) and fourth back to smaller target (accuracy) and so on. The goal being to see lower and lower times while maintaining the required degree of accuracy.

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