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Posts Tagged ‘BCM’

Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Respect This

In 1945, my grandfather returned from the war in The Pacific to discover the America he fought for was different than the America that welcomed him home. As a first generation immigrant from the Philippines, he spent the post war years dodging misplaced racism, unemployment, and blanketed disenfranchisement towards minorities.

Although he wasn’t Japanese, the war and Pearl Harbor were still fresh. As a result, any resemblance of asian heritage was enough to solicit racist comments. And even more ignorant, yet comical, were the occasions in which he was slurred at for being Mexican.

Regardless, my grandfather loved America and understood that although he was a citizen, and had fought for America—even earning a combat infantryman’s badge for bravery on a no name island—he would never prove he was an American by simply expecting others to accept him as one. He understood that every day, he would need to demonstrate why he deserved his rights, regardless of already being entitled to them.

And therein lies a reality that is lost on the current generation despite being only decades removed from the Civil Rights movement. Just because you are entitled to certain rights, does not mean that others will allow you to access them.

My grandfather fought every day to defend rights that he had already earned. However, other large groups of immigrants used racism as an excuse to never assimilate. Consequently, these groups didn’t develop the social tools that facilitate access to what they deserved as citizens. And when inequality occurred through employment or everyday interactions, the results were tense arguments and protests that only further divided the immigrants from the majority population. Unfortunately, this meant that these minorities were only seen at their worst, when they were outraged and attempted to combat stereotypes.

Today, the faint sound a of a familiar echo can be heard over discussions of the second amendment. Owning firearms in America is a civil right. And I believe 100% that all law abiding Americans are entitled to firearms possession. Unfortunately, we’ve seen how others would abolish this right through legislation. Similar to the pockets of minorities that only interacted with majority culture during periods of conflict, gun owners are also susceptible to only allowing others to see us when we are highly emotional and attempting to combat false narratives.

And that’s the bigger problem. If we only choose to be vocal about our culture during times of conflict, then we are directing energy at disproving the opposition’s agenda. Rather than demonstrating the values we actually believe in, we are forced to disprove the ones we do not.

———

For me, shooting has never been about violence. It’s always been about craftsmanship and discipline. A man’s rifle is more than a tool, it’s an outward display of his self-reliance. I learned this when my father first taught me how to shoot at the age of eight. After an early morning hike into the forest, we arrived on a ridge line and began setting out clay pigeons. Unslinging his rifle from his shoulder, he handed it to me and said the two most important words that accompany all gun ownership, “Respect this.”

Without haste, I depleted our ammo supply. I was hooked.

The following week at school I told all of my classmates about my excursion into the wilderness. Not once did I think I was handling a tool that could also be used as a weapon. Instead, I felt so much pride in using my hands to build a skill set. I played sports and was athletic, but shooting and firearms were different.

Later, when I was deployed overseas, I witnessed first hand the uncertainty that is created by lawless regimes in failed states. Caught between the violence of militia groups, terrorists, and government forces, civilians in these countries were living a dystopian reality. For them, gun ownership was not about heritage and craftsmanship. There was no time for that. Gun ownership was that of necessity for family security.

In the US, a citizen’s security is not constantly under threat by criminal actors or non-state terrorists. Still, bad things happen and the police are hardly capable of preventing all crime. Worse, the temporary lawlessness caused by extreme natural disasters or civil unrest can actually rival the violence of war zones. However, the nation as a whole functions. We are not living under constant fear of our personnel security being threatened and society’s infrastructure collapsing.

This allows gun ownership to exist beyond the sole purpose of personal safety, and is why American gun culture is rich with a heritage that respects craftsmanship, rugged individualism, and family traditions.

Give that a second, because the following is important.

If a tool’s only utility is grounded in fear, it allows for one dimensional stereotypes of its owner. Those opposed to your beliefs will label you, contain you, which will anger you while also leaving you vulnerable to manipulation. Although this is unfair, it happens regardless.

Stereotypes of gun owners and gun culture in America couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, the only time the nation as a whole interacts with gun owners is following the tragedy of a mass shooting. With emotions already high and fingers being pointed, responsible gun owners are pigeon holed into false identities that they then feel forced to defend.

We’re not backwoods racists incapable of adapting to metropolitan society. We’re not paranoid hermits stockpiling for a last stand. We’re not men attempting to compensate for insecurities about masculinity.

We are, however, doctors and blue collar workers. Feminists and fathers. Hunters and hipsters (yes I’ve met them). Republicans and Democrats. Yet, this is not who the mainstream anti-gun crowd knows us as. Instead, they see us at our worst. When we feel attacked after the tragedy of mass shootings; and when we take the bait and respond to false headlines that only serve the purpose of agitating. Yes, it is necessary to critique flawed statistics about gun violence. But longterm change of perception is not accomplished through memes or shouting bumper sticker slogans. These actions only add gasoline to the dumpster fire.

In the long run, appreciation of our culture won’t be won by only engaging the anti-gun crowd on their terms. It isn’t enough to only make our culture known when we are called to defend it. We must also do it during lulls and periods of normalcy. As a young American, the pride I felt in using my hands to learn a skill was unrivaled. No sport or achievement in school mirrored the satisfaction of focusing my body and mind on a target, and then sending a bullet to score a direct hit.

Throughout the US, everyday Americans feel similar sentiments towards gun ownership. But we cannot make these qualities known in the middle of an argument. Arguing with opposition never changes their mind, it just causes them to further entrench in their beliefs. Therefore we will never experience a significant blow to the anti-gun crowd by only challenging their false narratives. Instead we must demonstrate through our own agendas why we value firearms. The greatest success I experienced with this approach was after I left the military and attended college.

I finished my undergraduate studies at a California university. The political climate annoyed me—trigger warning—but I was there because the campus was parked on the beach. Despite the confused politics of the school, I started a marksmanship club that allowed students and faculty to participate in recreational shooting. At first, the faculty were concerned with sanctioning a gun club on campus. But prohibiting the club contradicted all of their rhetoric about equality and inclusion. Approved by the university, we began hosting monthly range events for students.

We were a hit.

What surprised me most about the club was that there was no single unifying characteristic of its members. There were graduate students and sorority girls. Faculty members and socially underdeveloped Generation Z’ers. Some of the club members owned firearms, but most did not. Regardless, shooting was never about violence. Marksmanship was a sport. Our members easily classified it next to other outdoor activities such as surfing.

The students felt a similar satisfaction that I felt with my father by shooting rifles and pistols for the first time. For me, fulfillment also came in the form of mentoring young adults to do something with their hands other than text or take selfies. The success of the marksmanship club serves as a broader vignette about gun culture in America. When you label a group of people without ever actually engaging with them, you’re likely to develop stereotypes that are not grounded in any kind of reality. The administration at the university was concerned about promoting gun culture because they had been exposed to the wrong narratives about gun ownership. For them, guns were strictly symbols of violence.

On the other hand, the students were characteristic of everyday Americans. They enjoyed the sporting of marksmanship because it allowed them to learn a skill with their hands. Their motivation was not derived from fear. It was not of hollow bravado. As a group, their satisfaction was communal. An appreciation of American heritage, being outdoors, and learning discipline.

A finer moment of responsibility was displayed by a graduating female that explained why she was learning to shoot a pistol. She already secured a job and would live by herself in a new city. She considered buying a pistol for self-defense, but dismissed it as an option due to fear of misuse. The club allowed her an opportunity to learn about firearms. Not solely from the standpoint of self-defense (or fear) but through an appreciation of American heritage and taking personal responsibility for her safety.

———

For me, marksmanship is important because it is one of the few things I can actually do with my hands in the modern business world. I love writing, I love creating, but marksmanship is something tangible. In a trip to San Francisco my friend Mark took me shooting on private land outside of the city. He was formally an engineer in tech and recently transitioned over to the executive side running operations for a decent size firm. He is a part of what is actually a very large number of closet gun owners in Silicon Valley. Mark gets excited about firearms, but as an engineer it is usually out of respect for craftsmanship.

Regardless, Mark loves shooting because it is a physical test of his skill and discipline. Loading magazines on the back of his hybrid SUV he looked at me and said, “A lot of my peers make decent money, but they’re incredibly unhappy. Everyone in tech goes through the typical phases of getting really into endurance racing or hiking, but hobbies are like fads. Shooting is different. When I come out to the range, it is one of the few times I can actually disconnect from my phone and just focus on myself. It’s kind of like yoga that way.”

This appreciation for firearms that Mark and so many Americans have is not demonstrated when we’re screaming to explain why 30-round magazines shouldn’t be outlawed.

Mark has converted several of his hybrid-driving-soylent-diet-hipster-beard executive buddies into gun owners. He did not accomplish this by challenging anti-gun beliefs, but instead by showing the positive aspects of why he appreciates firearms. This truth is at the core of all civil rights movements. If you only promote your values when others attack it, you will never show the real depth of your culture.

———

When I was younger, if someone attacked gun culture, I felt that they were attacking my family. All of those trips to the ridge line with my father would surge to the forefront of my mind. However, these sentiments were never something I could demonstrate mid-argument. By getting drunk with emotion and charging head-on against the opposition’s narrative, I was only ensuring that they would control the flow of debate. Although it was satisfying to fact check someone in the heat of the moment, it accomplished nothing in the long run.

In college, when the administration was hesitant towards sanctioning the gun club, I did not respond by telling them why they were wrong about guns, or by defaulting to bumper sticker slogans and pro gun memes on social media. Instead, I showed them on my own terms and through my own narrative why I value firearms. This produced the lasting effect of challenging ignorance without giving into toxic behavior, but more importantly, it equipped me with the tools to champion gun ownership outside of the opposition’s control of the narrative.

By recognizing that he needed to demonstrate value in his rights every day, my Grandfather developed social tools that allowed him to navigate racist agendas. Similarly, I try to do the same with the second amendment. Although I am entitled as a citizen to own firearms, it doesn’t guarantee that others will not try to abolish this right. When I see a purposefully inflammatory anti-gun agenda, I do not allow myself to give into anger. Because as with all political movements, if someone can anger you (both from your party or the oppositions), they will control you.

Owning a gun in America is a civil right. And our nation has a rich history of civil rights being upheld by individuals that not only defend their culture, but also champion it.

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

Gunfighter Moment – Zack Harrison

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

In today’s post, we are going to dive into the discussion of physical readiness. The purpose of this article is not to describe which physical training program Northern Red thinks is the best; it’s to discuss the importance of keeping our bodies physically prepared. We will examine why it’s imperative to maintain a high level of physical readiness in order to succeed.

Why is it important to maintain a high level of physical readiness? We are going to break this down into two categories: Job performance and cultural aspects. If you carry a gun for a living, you have many additional duties you need to perform other than shooting. Many of these require physical exertion. Running, climbing, combatives, etc.…. If you fail to maintain a state of physical readiness you are setting yourself, your partner/team, and those you’ve sworn to protect up for failure. Being physically fit is, unarguably, crucial for optimal performance.

It’s very difficult to make good decisions or shoot well when your heart rate is through the roof. It’s impossible to make entry if you do not possess the ability to climb over the wall that separates you from the residence. All of your others skills go right out the window if you cannot physically make it to where you need to be. Ineffectiveness comes on rapidly in those who do not train properly. Your body must be acclimated to physical stress in order to conduct the tasks you are required to perform.

From a cultural perspective, physical readiness is a gateway into every combat arms SOF unit. From Ranger School, to SFAS (Special Forces Assessment and Selection), and BUDS, they all have must pass physical fitness requirements just to begin the course. This is the initial thinning process, which continues as these courses progress. The ideology behind it is if you cannot show up physically ready to go, then you do not deserve to even try out. Everyone of Northern Red’s instructors have worked in places where you give everything you’ve got just to be average. That’s one aspect of the culture, and everyone is held accountable. It was not uncommon for us to show up for work in the morning and have a PT test without warning. Whether that be running an Obstacle course, a ruck march, or some grueling event your TL came up with the night prior. You had to be ready for Performance on Demand. No warm up, no re-test. What you brought that day is all you have, and no one cared about what you did last week. This is the environment and culture that kept people from becoming complacent. Everyone on the Northern Red team keeps themselves in shape, and none of us are on Active Duty anymore. Why? We keep a high level of physical readiness because we know that we could still be called upon to perform on demand, and we refuse to allow laziness and complacency to keep us from succeeding.

There are many other positive effects that fitness provides. We can say we don’t judge people based on our initial assessment of them, but in reality, humans are extremely judgmental. The first thing most people notice in others is physical appearance. If you take care of yourself, bad people are less likely to do bad things to you. Physical readiness shows that you have a high level of self-respect, which leads to many other sought after traits. There is also indisputable evidence of the positive mental effects of staying fit. The old saying of “sound body, sound mind” may not always be accurate, but for the most part, this adage is more true than not. From first impressions, to self-confidence, performance, and stress reduction, consistent physical training has too many valuable attributes to neglect.

With all of our combined experiences, we’ve probably done every fitness program invented. It’s very hard, if not impossible to be incredibly good at everything at the same time. If all you do is power lift, then you probably are not running or conducting High Intensity Training. We believe that you must be well rounded in regards to physical fitness. You need to be able to run up 10 flights of stairs with kit on and the next minute you need to be strong enough to casualty carry your buddy back down. Think about a Strong Safety on an NFL team. He’s fast enough to cover people and he’s strong enough to take on blocks from lineman. He is quick, agile, and highly explosive. That, is a complete physical specimen. There are plenty of excellent, well thought out programs that will advance your overall physical capabilities. Our suggestion is that you ask yourselves two questions when deciding on a program: 1. Is this functional and applicable to my job and its requirements? 2. Am I willing to commit to doing it? If your answer to question 1 is no, then find another one that better suits your needs. We cannot provide any insight if you answer no to question 2. That’s an individual issue that must be figured out from within.

What could the consequences be for failing to maintain a high level of fitness? We could give examples and “what if’s” for another five pages. We will provide one and the rest is left for you to decide. Your buddy is shot and needs to be moved to a position of cover to receive medical treatment. You get to him, but you do not possess the strength to pick him up and carry him. You’re weak, winded, and have made the conscious decision to blow off PT for God knows how long. He succumbs to his wounds. Now picture yourself watching his grieving wife being handed a folded flag. Let that sink in for a minute.

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

BCMGUNFIGHTER Charging Handles Reloaded

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

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Driven by over a decade of feedback from real-world combat operations, BCM® has made continual design refinements and structural improvements to the charging handle in the M4 and M16 to address the current manual of arms for the weapon system.

Optimizing the contours into a snag-free profile that facilitates immediate manipulation with an end user’s reaction side grip, the range of BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Charging Handles is available with both ambidextrous and MIL-SPEC controls as well as a size range accommodate different end-users hands.

Redesigned to eliminate the load on the pivot pin and keep the energy from charging close to the centerline of the carbine/rifle, BCMGUNFIGHTER™ Charging Handles provides an uninterrupted engagement surface with no pinch points to catch skin or other material that could induce a malfunction during a time-is-life manipulation. A patented ambidextrous design with simplified mechanism for robust performance, each Charging Handle is crafted with MIL-SPEC grade forgings and machined from 7075 T6 aluminum, with a hard coat anodized finish per Mil-A-8625F, Type III, Class 2.

Traditional – US Patent No D798.409

Ambi – US Patent No. 9,739,549

URL bravocompanymfg.com/charging_handle

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.

BCMGUNFIGHTER Quick Detachable Sling Mount (M-LOK Compatible)

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

BCM has introduced a new line of M-Lok compatible rails and accessories. One of my favorite items is this QD Sling Mount.

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It has eight locking positions and is all steel construction.

www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-M-LOK-Quick-Detachable-Sling-Mount-p/bcm-mcmr-sm

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