There is an old saying, everything works until it doesn’t. How do you know the times when what you practiced doesn’t work when you need it the most.
Putting to task
I have observed over the years how many feel as though they have done a good job only to discover they had some flaws. How did these flaws come to the surface now and not before, knowing many who do a good job of practicing and training. The best way to answer this is two fold, pressure testing and consequences. Pressure testing is a term I use to describe putting a piece of gear, technique or tactic to task. Before we get there, we should also discuss how did said piece of gear get selected. Ideally, you would have identified a need, then established criterion. From there, you would select equipment closest to your criterion and preferable more than one.
As you enter the evaluation phase if you discover the item did not meet your criterion discard it, don’t try to make it work unless there is literally nothing in the free world as a replacement. If you successfully pass the wear test phase then you can move on to the more demanding phase, the pressure testing. Here you really want to put the piece of gear to task through either endurance, accuracy, durability or performance demands. Most do not have the option of working through an endurance or durability and you have to put a little bit of faith in the manufacture to have performed some due diligence. That leaves you accuracy and performance as immediate and observable factors.
Only what you can do
Performance has everything to do with how well “you” can perform with said gear and not some internet yahoo. It doesn’t matter what they can do, only what you can do so start with realistic expectations. When you get to this point, using training modifiers such as timed events, physical duress or peer review really helps get the juices flowing. Breaking out a timer will put a lot of people on the spot, hard to work around this other than patience and experience. Physical duress puts the body in a compromising condition so you are not performing at peak levels. Always good to see how you perform when you are well behind the eight-ball. Peer review has more to do with your ego and status, when you put yourself out their for the world to judge it can get inside your head and affect performance.
At our last class of the year; which was a Concealed Carry class we had a scary incident that occurred more than once. During a timed drill the student discovered his cover garment would snag on his pistol grip and before he could obtain a firing grip pull the pistol out of the holster and luckily it would drop to the ground. I say luckily because in these cases if a student attempts to grab the pistol they often have no control of the muzzle or their trigger finger and a negligent discharge is the result. This event happened right in front of me during a timed drill where the student was being measured against his peers. A major objective in our classes is to force students to work from various conditions and cover garments. In this case, the shirt was a nice shirt from a popular brand and during normal operations it performed fine. It wasn’t until some pressure was applied we saw the failure and the student was instructed to replace the garment after multiple occurrences. Had he not performed to this level in a training environment he may have developed a false sense of security.
I hear it all the time, but I have been doing it this way or have used this for so many years or the regular litany of excuses. The bottom line is unless you are pressure testing, you really don’t know.