Training to Win
By Alex Nieuwland – Suarez International Staff Instructor
As my fellow Staff Instructor Chris Upchurch likes to say: “If I could make you a certified badass in 2 days, I’d charge you a LOT more money!” He is right, of course. There is only so much we can do, even in a 2-day Suarez International training course, to tilt the odds into your favor.
I think of training to maximize the odds of winning your gunfight as a 3-step learning cycle. Some folks seem unfamiliar with this learning cycle, so I thought I would post it here.
Step 1 is gathering credible information. To the consternation of some, watching TV and playing Modern Warfare is NOT considered credible information when it comes to actually winning gunfights in the real world. Attending a Suarez International course IS credible information. Watching the course DVD before the course makes it easier to absorb the information, but is no substitute for actually doing the exercises in class. During the class, focus on doing the exercises correctly, rather than rapidly. Speed AND performing the task at hand correctly every time only comes with practice. Bring a notepad and a pen, so you will remember what to practice during Step 2.
Step 1 is like making the down payment on a particular skill. Step 2 is making payments in the form of regular practice to keep the repoman away, and eventually own that skill. This is why taking detailed notes during class is very helpful. Practice can be done by yourself or with a training partner. And if you can tell me who got voted off the island, or who can’t dance, you’ve definitely got time to do some more dry fire practice.
Step 3 (testing) is where things, hopefully, all come together. In my area, Steel Challenge, IDPA and USPSA matches make for useful testing venues of some of the skill set. The $15 to $25 match fee is money well spent, because the stages or scenarios are often much more elaborate than what you could set up for yourself. You can read more about maximizing your return on investment from IDPA matches here. Steel Challenge is great for testing your fundamentals without the added complication of moving while shooting. USPSA matches allow me to use my primary carry gun (a Glock 19 with an RMR) from my AIWB holster, as long as I do so in their race gun division. Whenever I score better than a USPSA competitor using an actual race gun, I know he’s having a pretty bad day. The true reason for Step 3, however, is not to humiliate gun gamers (that’s merely an occasional unintentional side-effect), but to identify problems in our skill sets. This is credible information that leads to more practice, followed by more testing, and so the cycle continues.
Every time you complete a cycle, you will be more dangerous. Hopefully, when your actual test of this skill set comes, it will be just like you practiced, but it all starts with credible information and a notepad.
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