The ability to discern friend from foe is constant challenge within in the training industry. In fact, I feel often times it is a glossed over subject.
In preparatin for an upcoming advanced tactical class I suggested folks read an older blog on conducting scans in a training environment. The blog was appropriately entitled “Magic Wand Syndrome” and is a good read regardless of your profession. A problem I continue to see on the firing line is the lackluster effort put towards conducting a scan. Most of the time the scan is mentioned as a post shooting task, but the reality is you are pretty much always in scan mode. You are either in a flood beam type scan or more of a spot light beam depending on the situation. If you cannot locate the threat, all your killer commando skills are worthless.
Breaking the target down
While for some, square range training is the closest they will get to reality. Others will eventually move to more realistic type training and depending on your profession again it more than likely will involve a shoothouse or my preferred term a killhouse. As you work the problem you should be faced with a variety of scenarios applying the target discrimination process. Early stages of work in the killhouse sometimes tips the hand for the student because targets are placed out in the open typically on target stands or bullet traps. A major obstacle to overcome is the Pavlovian response of shooting everything on a target stand because thats all you have ever done. While I would like for folks to be able to process the available information in order to make a timely decision I have come to recognize it is not always possible.
The power of pain
Being able to process the available information is a learned skill, the bigger problem learning the skill in the first place. It is hard to develop the ability to process information quickly when you find yourself in a high stress situation. This is where training must step in to fill the gap and where most people have no clue. You have to constantly challenge the student’s target discrimination process as well as have severe consequences for failures. I am a firm believer in the power of pain compelling people to learn.
Split second decision making
As you move to more challenging scenarios the target conditions and locations should also get more challenging or the time get shorter to perform the target discrimination process. At a certain point this must be performed in a split second so learning the skills early on and practicing is the only way to get better. I hate “dirty” targets in a killhouse. Targets that have been shoot over and over as they remove a large portion of the target discrimination process when students fail to truly perform positive target identification.
They see the bullet holes and without really processing the information they fast forward to shooting rather than looking more closely at the target. I am a firm believer of constantly changing the conditions of the target so the student must perform good PID every single time they conduct a run. Even if it is the same target in the same location, you have to change it up and that is where overlays come into the equation. Part of my preparation for this upcoming class was securing appropriate targets and accompanying overlays. Too my surprise they don’t carry the matching overlays anymore. Instead they have generic overlays you are suppose to use to “cover up”. Epic fail target company, the contrast of an image of a right hand on the left hand of the target is not getting it done. Now, students will have a heads up something is wrong versus performing their correct target discrimination process or in other words training is lacking.
This type of training is tough enough, I don’t need any more challenges by having suboptimal gear to train with. Frustration is a result of wanting to put out the best product, but being limited by my terrain.