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Archive for the ‘Gunfighter Moment’ Category

BCM Welcomes Mike Glover and Aaron Barruga to the Gunfighter Program

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

January 2, 2018

Hartland, WI – BCM welcomes US Army Special Operations combat veterans Mike Glover and Aaron Barruga to the Company’s Gunfighter Program.

Established in 2014, the Gunfighter Program has been a means for BCM to highlight some of our industries most experienced and skilled teachers in both tactics and the manual of arms. Each instructor in the program is a combat veteran that has provided years of instruction to our community of professionals and responsible citizens alike, after their military service concluded. These men are some of the finest our nation’s military has produced and it has been an honor to know and support them all.

Mike Glover – Fieldcraft LLC


A US Army Special Forces veteran with more than 18 years of military service, Glover has operated at the highest levels of the US Special Operations Forces, serving as a Weapons Specialist, Sniper, Assaulter, Recon Specialist, Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), Team Sergeant, and Operations SGM. Glover’s last position was as an independent contractor for a US government agency, where he provided security services OCONUS in semi and non-permissive environments.

Today, Mike is the owner of FieldCraft Survival LLC, providing consulting services for companies in security, management and leadership, as well providing knowledge and equipment resources related to outdoors survival and lifestyle.

www.fieldcraftsurvival.com

Aaron Barruga – Guerrilla Approach

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Enlisting after the 9/11 attack, Aaron enlisted and served as a Green Beret in the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Group. After leading militia fighters in Afghanistan, conducting raids with Iraqi SWAT officers, and training foreign commandos in Asia, Aaron learned an incontestable truth about war: everything comes down to brilliance in the basics.

After completing his service, Barruga founded Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he is among the vanguard of GWOT veterans that are modernizing contemporary tactical training for US law enforcement and self-reliant citizens.

guerrillaapproach.com

Gunfighter Program
Meet the rest of the Instructors in the BCM Gunfighter Program here: bravocompanymfg.com/gunfighters

Gunfighter Moment – John Ellison

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Scoped Combat Carbines
Urban/Suburban

Close Quarter Battle is the most dangerous mission that anyone can undertake, so it is important to mitigate risk en route to an objective and to gain every advantage possible before committing to a fight. Above all else, maintaining surprise is paramount. There are configurations and components that will help end users retain this advantage in the field.

The weapon system can run as short as an 11.5” 5.56×45 given the 50-200 meter range that most engagements will occur, but typically a 16” barrel is the maximum length manageable without potentially degrading shooter performance.

Fired from a 11.5” BCM carbine, the Barnes VOR-TX 70 gr Triple-Shock X(TSX) bullet delivers an average muzzle velocity of 2500 FPS. Barnes internal testing has demonstrated repeatedly that the 70 gr TSX performs as designed at velocities down to 1800 FPS. That means when fired from an 11.5” upper, reliable terminal performance can be expected out to 220 meters.

When employing a defensive marksman type rifle, ie a 16” BCM, a 77 gr SMK Sierra Match King delivers a muzzle velocity of 2671 FPS. Ballistics testing performed by Crane indicate that the round will yaw and fragment as designed reliably out to 300 meters. The match characteristics of the round improve hit probability on targets out to 600 meters.

Suppressors both reduce visual signature from a shot and give the bullet a potential 15 feet per second(+/-) bump in muzzle velocity (which is essential for lethal effect on target out of short barreled rifles). There are also shorter CQB suppressors(4” +/-), built specifically for 14.5” carbines, that will reduce the visual signature of the weapon, but will have less of an effect dampening the report.

Variable power scopes can look into buildings, through windows, sometimes 1-2 rooms deep depending on the layout of the structure. This means seeing who is present inside a structure and if they are armed. Gathering this information before the element enters a building allows them to plan and prepare detailed first hand data about an area before they commit to owning it.

Today, there are 1-6 scopes that are compact enough to work on a short carbine with an eye box generous enough at 1x to be employed as fast as a red dot with some good training reps. Adding a Throw Lever – referred to colloquially as a cat tail – to a scope will allow the end user to quickly cycle from 1x to max magnification and back, giving the shooter the best platform for their situation as it evolves.

Today’s raids are often conducted from an offset position, requiring the element to patrol into the target from as far out as 10 kilometers. This adds to the likelihood of maintaining surprise, and allows for a continual reconnaissance with scopes, gathering detailed information on nearby structures as the element approaches. If a threat presents itself, suppressed weapons do not produce sounds typically associated with gunfire and reduce the likelihood of alerting the local population.

Once at a target structure, commandos will often spend only 60-90 seconds inside clearing and capturing the building before establishing and maintaining security in and around the location. This can take the form of both rooftop overwatch or blocking positions on the street itself. Time on target can range from 10 minutes to 48 hours, depending on the objectives of the raid.

During this time, it is not unusual for nearby neighbors to observe the scene from their rooftops or leave their homes entirely, and approach the target on foot to further investigate. With variable powered scopes, security teams can quickly and accurately scan for the presence of weapons, web gear, radios, phones or threatening actions and respond to them before they can be employed against the element. There are also clip-on thermal and night vision scopes that can be added to a carbine that will allow the user to collect this information even in low light/no light settings.

There is no one-size-fits-all weapons system. Optics and carbine should be tailored to your setting and objectives to increase your performance and survivability in situations the user is most likely to encounter in that setting.

John Ellison
Instructor – Marksmanship, CQB
Northern Red

John is a Special Forces Combat Veteran With Service in 3rd Special Forces Group’s Commanders In Extremis Force. Currently, he’s a Marksmsnship and CQB instructor with Northern Red, a Private Military Firm specializing in training elite military and law enforcement units for counter terrorism, hostage rescue and close quarter battle missions.

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they regularly bring us different trainers to offer words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Monday, November 27th, 2017

We normally offer Gunfighter Moments on Saturdays but due to last weekend’s holiday, we have resheduled for this morning. Enjoy!

A little about Aaron Barruga. Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

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www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they regularly bring us different trainers to offer words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

You Won’t Become A Better Tactical Marksman Until You Become A Stronger Tactical Leader

Aaron Barruga

As a twenty year old Special Forces sergeant, I was predictably overconfident and periodically arrogant. I was strong and fast, but that was mostly because of youth. I was great at shooting drills. But only because I could learn sequences and had no clue as to which skills impacted my performance overall. I exploited my status as “Special Forces” and allowed conventional soldiers to mistake my confidence with competence, when in reality I was often winging it.

My performance in controlled environments—or training—was only an indicator of just that, my performance in training. I was strong, but couldn’t lead. I could shoot fast, but couldn’t train others to do the same. My first trip to the Philippines changed these realities through a healthy bruising of ego.

My team was working with a Philippine Army infantry unit and teaching them US small-unit fighting techniques. During the trip, I was tasked with teaching a 2-hour block of instruction on hemorrhage control and care under fire. Fortunately, my team already possessed a slide deck for the class from a previous deployment, so most of the preparation for my course was already accomplished.

I bombed my presentation.

I failed because I committed the most annoying error as a lecturer, I read off slides and when questioned I simply restated what I had already said previously. Although I understood the steps to take during care under fire, it was only because I had learned to follow sequences. I knew the answers to questions, but not because I knew the answer, but because I knew what phrase to regurgitate. Fortunately, the practical exercises and hands-on portion of the class allowed students to work through what I failed to explain.

Transitioning to the range, I was allowed back in my comfort zone of shooting drills as quickly as I could. This satisfied my vanity, but again demonstrated that I didn’t really know anything. One of the Filipino soldiers I was coaching needed serious improvement on his application of trigger control. Attempting to coach this soldier, I executed the same error as the day prior in my medical class. Rather than teaching, I was simply regurgitating the right answer.

The Filipino soldier experienced issues because he was shooting too quickly which made him sloppy. My solution was the regurgitated answer of “slow down.” Although slowing down would have helped the shooter, it was supplemental and not the primary solution. Watching us run racetracks around the same problem, a senior teammate came over and mentored me through how to teach the right answer.

To truly mentor a student, whether in the gym, the classroom, or on the range, you have to encourage him to pursue a line of thinking in which he arrives at both wrong and right answers. During this process you must guide him through the critical thinking process that allows for real learning.

However, the military and law enforcement are not accustomed to this style of teaching. The martial and conservative nature of these organizations often results in teaching that is a one-sided dialogue. Although a recruit might have a question, he dare not ask it and seem stupid, or become the center of attention for a bad instructor that is more interested in punishing basic trainees. Consequently, a majority of tactical professionals are indoctrinated at a very early point in their career to seek regurgitation, not actual learning.

My teammate had been shooting longer than me, but that’s not why he was able to remedy my situation. In diverse environments working with individuals of different skill levels and different levels of being coachable, he learned that being a subject matter expert doesn’t mean knowing the right answer, it also means knowing the wrong answers, and how they all tie in together to support the broader learning objectives.

Leadership forces a type of accountability that cannot be learned as a lone-wolf. As a junior Green Beret, I had minimal responsibility and made decisions that supported my missions, not the performance of others. At company-level range days, if the primary instructor taught something I thought was boring, I would physically roll my eyes in the back of the crowd. Rather than focussing on the basics, I wanted to perform exercises that I thought looked cool.

Of course, the principle issue with exercises that look cool is that they are often self-serving. We see this dynamic a lot on Instagram now. Shooters running around, tossing kettle bells, throwing rocks at students, and punching rubber mannequins. Although these actions are enticing and appear purposeful, they typically develop no compoundable skills and lack external applicability. Under these circumstances, performing these drills only makes you good at performing the drills.

Shooting cool drills did nothing for me because I couldn’t deconstruct and identify the different skills being exercised. Again, I could regurgitate what the right answers were, but that was not always significant as previously demonstrated. It wasn’t until I was given more responsibility and promoted to higher positions of leadership that I was able to identify what was truly important about any skills development.

As an individual, you can default to the regurgitation fallacy and not even know it. This is simply because your focus is narrow. But if the collective performance of subordinates impacts mission success—or life and death—it forces a comprehensive examination of how you develop stronger troops. This allows leaders to transcend teaching methods that are self-serving and approaches that encourage drills that only satisfy drills.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to shoot the fastest, or being able to lift the most weight. But focussing on narrow end states undermines our overall growth. For example, who wins a gunfight, the police officer that can deadlift 550lbs or the one who can only deadlift 325lbs?

Regurgitators want to shoot drills that demonstrate speed, but they can’t explain how to develop consistent speed, and not just a one-time shot timer success. They want to argue over bumper sticker tactics and subjective performance variables such as “how much finger you place on the trigger because such and such said so.” None of these actions require accountability that is learned through leadership, it just demands that you shout louder than the person you’re arguing with.

Leadership also forces you to examine the possible second and third order of effects of a decision. Whether intended or not, every action creates reactions. In the heat of the moment, predicting unintended consequences can be difficult, but is an indicator of your value added to the team and the mission.

As a junior Green Beret, all I brought to the table was an enthusiasm for lifting weights and shooting. As a result, I was not a long-term asset. In order to truly improve your ability as a tactical marksman you must become a stronger leader; because leadership forces professional maturity that cannot be achieved alone, no matter how many reps you put in at the range or in the gym.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

AS VEHICLES BECOME THE PREFERRED WEAPON OF TERROR ATTACKS, PATROL OFFICERS SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH THESE 5 CONCEPTS

Aaron Barruga
August 18th, 2017

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Since Thursday, 13 people have been killed and 100 more injured as vehicles were driven into crowds in Eastern Spain as part of terror attacks executed by the Islamic State. In March, a car plowed through pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge in London, killing 5 and injuring 49. Last December, a truck driven through a crowd in Berlin killed 11 people and injured 56.

For terrorists, vehicles pose numerous tactical advantages over traditional small arms or explosive attacks. For these reasons, law enforcement officers should consider the following five concepts.

1: PRE-STAGING A VEHICLE PATROL RIFLE
Whether in the trunk, the center console, or the back of a motorcycle, officers must be familiar with the rapid employment of carbines or any weapon capable of defeating windshields and door panels. Simple dry-fire exercises such as releasing the carbine from its mount and dismounting the vehicle can help with minimizing officer response times during crises.

If responding to crises, officers should consider releasing the carbine and staging it for quick access on the passenger seat of their patrol car. The ability to arrive on scene and immediately step out of his vehicle with a patrol rifle allows an officer to be an immediate force multiplier when responding to crises.

Stow your sling with rubber bands or similar retainers. Slings that hang loosely inside of vehicle mounts can create unnecessary headache should an officer need to rapidly dismount his vehicle. To ensure a patrol rifle’s sling doesn’t catch on dashboard equipment or the steering wheel, slings should be stowed against the patrol rifle with rubber bands. When stowing a sling with rubber bands, remember to build in a quick release by “s” folding the sling. This allows it to move freely of the carbine when an officer decides to sling his patrol rifle.

2: UNDERSTAND SAFE WEAPON READY POSITIONS
Vehicle attacks are most likely to occur in urban environments because of the target density available to terrorists. Responding officers will need to navigate through crowds, possibly with weapons at the ready. Officers must feel confident running with both carbines and pistols in these confined areas. The ability to move aggressively in and around terrain without flagging bystanders or fellow officers is critical for a safe response.

When teaching ready positions, competency should not be sacrificed in favor of misinterpreted simplicity. Despite sayings such as “more tools for your toolbox,” during a stressful situation individuals fall back on the technique that they have the most repetitions performing. Furthermore, utilize common sense when validating ready positions. If a technique contradicts the tenets of developing competent shooters (such as placing a pistol against the shooter’s forehead for “safety”) avoid these methods so that you can instead develop more well-rounded tactical responders.

3: THE DANGERS OF SYMPATHETIC FIRE
Our senses are overwhelmed by stimulus in urban environments. In close quarter engagements, over saturation may cause an individual to pull a trigger as part of a sympathetic reaction to another officer shooting. It is paramount that officers always understand what lay in front and behind the threats they are engaging.

4: HOW TO CLEAR A VEHICLE AS A SINGLETON
The exigent circumstances of terror or active shooter attacks might demand that an officer individually clear vehicles containing suspects. Although certain protocol might advise officers to wait for backup or even SWAT, in his dying breaths a terrorist’s resolve might be to continue killing bystanders. For this reason, an officer must feel confident in his ability to clear a vehicle by himself. This does not suggest that officers unnecessarily put themselves at risk, but it also does not excuse them from performing the task should it be necessary.

5: IMPROVISE, ADAPT, AND OVERCOME.
In preparing for urban terror attacks, perform scenario training that encourages adaptability and abandons rigid training approaches, or “if this, then that” mentalities. Despite being labeled as “stress induced” or “unscripted,” a lot of scenario based training fails officers because the techniques taught only work under the very narrow guidelines of the specific training scenario. This produces officers that are great at navigating artificial training environments, but these individuals are more likely to freeze when responding to the spontaneous nature of a real fight.

It is impossible to predict exactly how an attack will be executed, or what exactly will transpire on the ground during the attack. For these reasons, it is critical that officers participate in training that encourages both flexibility and decisiveness.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment – Frank Proctor

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Train like you Fight

Hey Folks, we’ve all heard it or said it: Train like you Fight. A lot of times, folks think that means wearing full kit in order to train to better shoot your gun. I disagree with the party line that you have to wear full battle rattle to train to shoot better.

For tactical shooters I would strongly recommend shooting ‘slick with no kit’ and learn what they can truly do with their guns, what their full capabilities are, how fast can they really put bullets on targets, maneuver through a challenging course of fire, get into positions, etc. Once that base line of what’s possible is established then put your duty gear on and see if you can still do the same stuff.

If you can’t, why?

If it’s because your body armor is too restrictive, there are plenty of ways to keep the defensive capabilities of your body armor AND be mobile and able to mount your gun to shoot well, and give yourself and your team mates some valuable OFFENSIVE capabilities. This concept applies to all the gear you carry to duty; if it hinders your optimal performance I would fix it or get rid of it and stay as light as possible.

Here’s a proven concept that we all as tactical shooters can use to ‘Train to Win’. Every organized sports team in the country (especially the ones that win) use a similar concept to train. Football teams don’t go full speed in pads everyday in practice. That would be the conventional shooter’s wisdom of “train like you fight”. What they do instead is break down individual skill sets and train them to perfection. Then they’ll put on the pads and put all those things together and scrimmage. They take note of what went well and what didn’t go well, and then they take off the pads and train again. When it comes game time they are prepared to WIN.

That’s my ramble for now, maybe I’ll put together a video explaining it some more.

Thanks y’all!

-Frank Proctor

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Frank Proctor has served over 18 years in the military, the last 11 of those in US Army Special Forces. During his multiple combat tours in Afghanistan & Iraq he had the privilege to serve with and learn from many seasoned veteran Special Forces Operators so their combined years of knowledge and experience has helped him to become a better operator & instructor. While serving as an instructor at the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course he was drawn to competitive shooting. He has since earned the USPSA Grand Master ranking in the Limited Division and Master ranking in the IDPA Stock Service Pistol division. He learned a great deal from shooting in competition and this has helped him to become to become a better tactical shooter. Frank is one of the few individuals able to bring the experiences of U.S. Army Special Forces, Competitive Shooting, and Veteran Instructor to every class.

All this experience combines to make Frank Proctor a well-rounded shooter and instructor capable of helping you to achieve your goal of becoming a better shooter.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

It is of interest that changes in the ‘gun culture’ are always in flux. When the market was concerned about the lost of gun ownership rights, we tend to purchase guns that reflect utility. Examples are the recent high demand for AR-15/M4 style carbines and CCW handguns. Guns chambered for 5.56 Nato, 7.62×39, 308 and pistols in 380, 9X19mm, 40 S&W, and 45 auto all become desirable because supplies of ammo are typically good, prices reasonable, and ballistically effective.

With increase in demand, prices soar and supplies shrink. That is the result of a free market. Now, with changes in politics, demands for certain types of firearms have begun to modify. One factor is that many folks have stock piled guns and ammo over the past decade in fear that they would be prevented from getting them if the anti-gun left had their way. Now, this fear has subsided to most peoples concerns. Sales of ‘utility’ arms and ammo are stagnant.

What has began to take over is the demand for ‘collector/investment’ guns. Simply put, many people have chosen to invest in items that they feel will appreciate with time. Older guns, those that will never be manufactured again due to the craftsmanship or cost of manufacture have become attractive. Old pre-1964 Winchesters have a special following. Smith & Wesson revolvers made prior to 1980, or Colt revolvers made prior to 1990 have taken on increased value. Everyone is aware of the increase in the price and demand for Colt Python revolvers. Without doubt one of the most overpriced and overrated handguns of all time. In the 1990s when Colt was still manufacturing the Python revolver, they couldn’t give them away. They offered them to dealers as a bonus for buying quantities of other Colt firearms.

Certainly, older military firearms have a great interest in the collecting community. As a youngster I used to buy GI 1911 pistols for less than $100 dollars. My first was a Remington Rand 1911A1 that I paid $22.50 for. Nowadays, check out the price of a nice original GI 1911 pistol. The point here is that if you have a closet or safe full of ARs, AKs, and Glocks that will last you for a lifetime, buying quality collectable firearms may be one of the best investment plans you can have. Remember the golden rule of collectable investments; whether it is cars, watches, art, or firearms, don’t buy something that you have to apologize for when you show it to a friend. Condition is the most important factor. Rare is a misused term in the firearms world. Condition is always the goal. A rusty piece of junk, regardless of how rare it is will always be a piece of rusty junk.

If you have interest in US Military history, then consider adding a nice M1 Garand or M1 Carbine to your collection. Even 1903A3 Springfield rifles are still to be found for reasonable prices. You can’t help but feel something special when you handle one of these arms that in the hands of ‘the Greatest Generation’ went off to save the world. Whether it is an M1, Springfield 1903, or M1911 you can actually take them to the range and enjoy the experience of shooting these pieces of history. One of the best kept secrets in military history is how outstanding the British No. 4 Enfield rifle was as a battle rifle. They can still be had for very reasonable prices, and again taking one out to the range for an afternoon is a joy. Don’t be afraid to study some of the excellent books about the history of small arms. I don’t care if you are a treehugger or not, the history of the world is pretty much centered around the use of weapons.

One of the most troubling things I encounter is the number of people that are new to the the gun culture that have no clue about firearms in general and only know what they have experienced in the last couple of years since they became a gun owner. Likewise, vast numbers of vets know about the arms they were issued, but know very little else about small arms. Of course there are hoards of folks that have gotten much of their firearms knowledge from the internet forums. This can sometimes be a good source of information, but sadly it seems to breed a level on knowledge and understanding that is lame at best.

As a firearms instructor, I have always felt that it is not necessary to be a good shot, but it doesn’t hurt if you can demonstrate what you expect your students to do and be able to do it well. Likewise, if you are going to train people about the use of small arms, having a solid knowledge about firearms and their use/history is a desirable goal. Even at my age, I am still learning. I consider myself a ‘student of weapon craft’, and part of that is knowing what the whole ‘gun thing is about’.

It can be an enjoyable journey, why not give a little ‘gun’ knowledge a try.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

YOU ARE ALREADY FAST ENOUGH

Aaron Barruga
May 2017

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By his 20th iteration, an Afghan guerrilla with minimal marksmanship training was shooting the 2x2x2 exercise just as efficiently as Instagram tactical celebrities. Only an hour earlier had we discussed some key points of marksmanship, then I gave him a crate of ammo and coached him through each repetition of the exercise. Two weeks later, that same guerrilla fled his checkpoint during the initial phase of Taliban attack. So what happened?

Obviously there is no link between how quickly we can shoot an exercise and our performance in battle. Regardless, as tactical shooters we can be notoriously bad at searching for significance where there is none, or misreading the real importance of a shooting drill. We see this happen quite a bit with speed. Everyone wants to be faster, which is fine, but faster does not always correlate with better.

For novice shooters, static speed shooting exercises help develop confidence and proficiency. For experienced shooters, speed exercises become a measurement of how well we can learn a sequence and perfect our movements. Neither of these are bad, however, the seductiveness of a rapid rate of fire can cause shooters to focus on the wrong aspects of their performance. Moreover, while pursuing speed it can become easy for us to neglect the development of discipline that forces us to proactively see our sights.

We retroactively see our sights by hijacking our natural point of aim. I see this happen a lot at the seven yard line. Whether with a pistol or carbine, shooters just point and squeeze their trigger as soon as they “feel” their sights are in the right spot. We become so focused on beating a time standard that we neglect the unintended development of bad habits. Although it is important to understand where your body naturally presents your sights, it can build a false positive regarding performance feedback.

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I experienced these effects as a junior team guy. As a novice, I obsessed over how quickly I could shoot a string of five rounds at two targets, perform a reload, and then shoot the exercise again. Although I was developing confidence, it was at the expense of incredibly sloppy speed. During a force on force scenario I rushed my shots in a shoot house and either missed or landed wounding shots that would fail to neutralize a threat. The cadre pulled me aside and told me to discipline my fire and see my sights. Roger that, see my sights, no issue. The next run through I continued to rush my shots and not enforce any discipline because I had performed so many garbage reps shooting for speed.

Because I had developed quick, but sloppy hand speed, I assumed that the cadence at which I shot rounds against cardboard represented how quickly I needed to shoot a gun against a real threat. The next day, the cadre demonstrated their run through the force on force scenario. None of their shots were rapid fire and their cadence was entirely sporadic. They only shot when they saw center on the OPFOR, and instead made up for speed with efficiency moving in between rooms.

From a tactical marksmanship standpoint, everything comes down to whether or not you can present your sights, and then exercise discipline when squeezing the trigger. That’s it. Marksmanship exercises ensure we understand how to use a weapon, but it is actually really hard—as demonstrated by the Afghan guerrilla and myself—to design shooting exercises that create a reliable baseline for real world performance. Yes, trim the fat and sharpen your mechanics, but do not assume a sub one second draw, or a sub two second 2x2x2 signifies the most important aspects of training.

Unfortunately, it can be incredibly difficult to convince a shooter of the aforementioned. The martial nature of combat marksmanship encourages us to seek out sequences, and then shoot those sequences as fast as we can. Learning a sequence, then following all of the steps to perform that sequence makes us feel good about ourselves. This is also why so many shooters never break their plateau. Because they have a pre-shooting sequence, and a post-shooting sequence, shooters can poorly perform a shooting exercise by shooting as fast as possible, but because they did their pre and post sequences, they mentally check the box and reward themselves for following a list of steps. Pre and post shooting sequences are not bad. However, assuming they signify proficiency is akin to assuming that the pre-lift act of adding weights to an olympic bar, then the post act of removing them signifies our ability to power clean.

We must encourage shooters to develop speed through exercises such as 2x2x2, but all speed must be followed up with discipline. Aggressively driving our sights to the center of an easy hit target helps develop novices, but plateaus the seasoned marksman. Worse, it is easy for experienced shooters to slip into auto-pilot in which they are not truly seeing their sights, and are instead seduced by the rapid rate of fire in an exercise.

Although we need to develop the confidence to shoot quickly while under stress, we must always reinforce discipline. Shooting a string of five rounds at a cardboard target only requires us to drive our sights back to a single plain, and thus we can unintentionally hijack our natural point of aim. But remember, real flesh moves. Shooting five rounds at a living breathing target causes the target to move after each round, and results in five separate plains where we acquire sight picture. If we’ve spent our range time chasing speed and building sloppy habits, we can set ourselves up for failure when we encounter a real target that requires a slower rate of fire in exchange for more precise shots.

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Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com
www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach
www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.