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Modern Day Minuteman – Thoughts on Readiness

This is the first guest article by Orion Applications’ Brian Bishop in a series called, “Modern Day Minuteman” where he will explore numerous topics of interest to many SSD readers.

Over the years I have constantly heard the term “Performance on Demand “. I have had the privilege of training and continuing to train with some of the best and most credible tactical trainers in the industry, some merely polished the steel on an already sharp blade and some honed a whole new edge altogether, raising my skill sets substantially.

All of them had unique and specific drills to test and measure performance on demand. Some of you may wonder what exactly performance on demand means, well simply put, on the flat range it means being able to pass a time and accuracy standard under stress. It’s a measuring stick. At that given moment do you possess the skills to succeed?
In the real world it means you either go home, or you go to the morgue.

Time after time I watched a percentage of the class fail these drills during training. Sometimes the percentage was small and sometimes it was large, but I always watched in amazement as the spectrum of men, their efforts, and their failings unfolded in front of me.

Lets take a few of the most common types of shooters that I have seen fail.

First the fat guy, he shows up and damn can he shoot accurate. He’s fast out of the holster too, but all that accuracy goes right out the window when he has to integrate movement. Once he has to run, be under stress and his heart rate spikes to 210 BPM his once shit hot static marksmanship disappears.

Next you have the skinny guy who’s in decent shape and is a decent shooter, but just gets a serious case of stage fright. He can make the time by blasting away, but shits the bed on accuracy or he’s accurate as hell, but moves slower than old people fuck.

Last but not least my personal favorite, the guy who shows up decked out head to toe in everything Crye Precision makes. These fine gentleman have the latest and greatest in weapons and kit, but the second the pressure is on and they’re in the midst of the drill, they have a malfunction and, they stop and stare at the gun like it’s got a dick growing out of the ejection port.

After watching this happen several times, at several different courses, the instructor side of me began to assess the problems these shooters had. When taken at face value the fixes were obvious and simple.

Mr. fat guy needs to go on a diet, lose weight and get in shape. Being accurate is great but, if a gun fight breaks out in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly and you have to sprint from cover to cover several times to close on the threat so you can neutralize it, and you arrive at the “Moment of Truth” and blow through that 8 round magazine in your fancy custom 1911 not hitting shit, congrats you get the fuck shot out of you, and die tired and still fat.
The skinny guy who chokes under pressure needs to start shooting stress drills until he becomes proficient at operating under pressure. You think it’s stressful shooting a drill on a flat range in front of 17 other guys? Wait until that nut job at the mall starts blasting away and you have bullets whizzing by you, people running and screaming around you, and dead and wounded bleeding pools of slick sticky bright red blood all over.
Last but not least, “Captain Crye”. Hey captain, great work on researching all the cutting edge high performance gear and state of the art weapon systems. I love good kit too. but put the time and training into learning simple manipulation skills and basic weapon handling fundamentals before you show up to an advanced carbine/pistol course dressed like a Ferrari that drives like a pinto.

Now all that said, I am not picking on my three examples, but rather just telling it how it is. As a matter of fact, I am proud that despite their deficiencies these men still have the balls to come out to train and better themselves. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about, getting off the couch, grabbing your weapons and kit and learning to be a better armed citizen and shooter.

After some reflection on my own training and experiences in high stress situations, I realized that performance on demand drills are extremely important, but are usually presented in a very one-dimensional manner. Here’s a piece of steel, or an A zone on an IPSC target, or a 3”x 5” card. Shoot it, move, shoot it again, maybe throw in a reload and you have “X” amount of time.” The meaning of the drill is important in that, it’s a drill representing what I call the “Moment of Truth”. That’s the moment when a situation requiring the use of deadly force materializes out of thin air and takes a giant shit in your lap when you least expect it. Can you take the situation you have been thrust into and perform on demand to save your life, the lives of your loved ones and the lives of the innocent people around you?

These drills are great and their meaning is certainly important, however true performance on demand encompasses way more than good weapon marksmanship and manipulation skills with a sprinkle of fitness thrown in. It’s a culmination of skills that I call the “Pyramid of Readiness”.

The pyramid contains six core pieces. The first and the foundation is, education. Education is essential and where everything else stems from. Second is Mindset, as many including myself that have been stuck in some real bad situations will tell you, a strong mind will get you through anything. If you are a diehard CrossFitter and an IPSC grandmaster, but you faint or vomit at the sight of blood, it’s a bad thing and a huge hole in your readiness. Third is fitness, not only is it essential for your health, longevity, and mobility, but like my example above, if you’re overweight and out of shape it can drastically affect your performance and mindset, which in turn cripples your readiness. Fourth is marksmanship, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen shooters that don’t understand height over bore! Fifth is manipulation, an airframe helmet and jumpable plate carrier won’t save you in a gunfight if you don’t know how to clear that double feed quickly and get your gun back in the fight. Sixth, and at the top of the pyramid, is force on force. Its what I like to refer to as the “Truth Component”. It is the true test of performance on demand, and will definitely expose your readiness short falls. If you can perform successfully in a force on force evolution, chances are you will perform during the “Moment of Truth”.

Stay tuned, more to follow…….

Brian Bishop served for 8 years as an active duty Infantry NCO in the United States Marine Corps. After being honorably discharged he served an additional 5 years as a defense contractor in support of DEA and USASOC counter narcotics/FID operations. Brian has completed several combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently the CEO of Orion Design Group, a leading industry design firm and the chief instructor of Orion Applications, a training group specializing in, weapons and tactics training solutions.

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15 Responses to “Modern Day Minuteman – Thoughts on Readiness”

  1. Instructor says:

    haha. God this is funny. In a good way. Thanks for the write up

  2. GregG says:

    Looking forward to more Brian.

  3. straps says:


    FoF/Sim makes you another level of shooter–and another level of predator.

  4. Black6ID says:

    Damn this is refreshing to hear. Great no non-sense writing with some analogies im definitely taking.

  5. Red2MG says:

    And I thought I was the only one who rips on cash sales commandos and Tubs the redneck g.i. joe…

  6. Arrow 4 says:

    Great article and all rings true. One thing I have noticed is, when you are no longer in the “game” as in, working in an environment where conflict and danger are present, you loose a lot of whatever edge you had in regards to situational awareness/processing and understanding your ever changing environment. As a 50 year old retired SWAT cop and Iraq Vet…I just don’t get enough conflict in my life (I suppose that could be seen as a good thing) to keep a level of sharpness I used to have…I no longer have the degree of agression I had either.

    • ODG says:

      Arrow, heres my favorite Hemingway quote, thought it describes what you’re feeling.

      “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

      Ernest Hemingway

      • Arrow 4 says:

        ODG, great quote! Oh if I could marry my brain with the body of a 25 year old and go play!

    • straps says:

      When you leave the world where others are accountable for your skills, maintaining becomes EXTRAORDINARILY difficult.

      Cert (and Recert) classes full of former DeltaRangerSEALs, 1st Saturday here, 3rd Sunday there, everyone’s bad back is bothering them when it’s time to set up the steel, dues dues dues and now there’s no damned ammo anywhere to be found…

  7. Jason says:

    LOL @ “dressed like a Ferrari that drives like a pinto”

    The entire article is fucking spot on.

  8. Gary Olson says:

    Yeah, yeah, MuscleBrain. Stress under fire — I am so trembling in my dress khakis.

    When the router cluster loses coherence and hundreds, if not thousands, of young, middle-aged, and old people of all types and sizes start talking, yelling, screaming, whining, and threatening tortures of a type not even the North Koreans would approve, that single bullet to the brain would be a blessing. I may not be able to sprint 10 yds to cover without heaving out my lunch; but I can assess the situation 12 degrees against yesterday in a light second, choose the critical secondary impact element, then with a single bullet shoot the rock which hits the machine which falls over which lights the fire which explodes the ammo dump and kills all the bad guys.

    Or so it says on this here Powerpoint I brought.

  9. David Spicer says:

    This is reality. Good observations and write up. I have been a deputy for almost 19 years now, Tactical team member for a little over 16 and a fire arms instructor for about 8 years now. I like the term Performance on Demand, I’d like to use it as a category for a group of drills I put my officers through. An example of one of my drills is I set up a barricade wall with different heights, and include obsticles on it like a short section of 18 inch diameter drainage pipe placed on the wall at about crouch height to shoot through. I usually build this wall with plastic barrels. There will be places that a shooter can stand and engage targets, crouch and engage targets and engage targets while laying on their side. I place four or five targets and either number them or color them. Each number or color has to be engaged from a certain position from behind cover, either standing kneeling, crouching or side prone and I sometimes put prone positions on each side. I run one shooter at a time and I call numbers or colors and the shooter has to move to the proper position to engage the target. None of my team members nor my wife, who’s fitness level puts most of the guys on the tac team to shame nor either of my teenage sons leave this drill with out being winded. It is both fun to call for the instructor and fun to shoot. I usually do it with multiple reloads. We do it with pistol, carbines, sub guns and shotguns. However DOUBLE BARRELED SHOTGUNS NOT RECOMMENDED. I sometimes also number the position to shoot from on the barrels as I put up the barricade wall, this eliminates the question as to where to engage from. Number of shots fired on each target is up to the caller of the drill.
    It’s good times. It will surly get some panties in a wad and separates the posers real quick. But mostly it is fun.

  10. ODG says:

    David, thanks for the post, sounds like a great drill, I just want to clarify I didn’t coin the term or concept “Performance on Demand”. Also, your wife should be shooting that double barrel blindly into the neighborhood from the balcony to scare away attackers.

  11. Philip says:

    A fine bit of truth, presented in an entertaining manner. My only (small) issue is with education coming before mindset. I’ve seen the right mindset overcome a lack of training. I’ve also seen people with lots of education and training fail when it comes time to do what needs to be done. Of course, 99% of people with the right mindset seek out quality training, so one usually goes along with the other.

  12. AmyF says:

    Great Article ! Shared with all the guys, we can’t waite for the next one to come out.