I first heard this from a Military Drill Instructor while on the firing line a long time ago and it stuck with me.
I apply it to just about every area of my life now, but especially FIREARMS TRAINING HABITS.
To me, it is the essence of WHY we should re-evaluate our combat training frequently. What could be worse than practicing the WRONG technique to the point we get GOOD at DOING IT WRONG!
On a frequent basis, we have to ask ourselves:
Are our techniques relevant to the threat level we face?
Are they Realistic?
Are they Efficient?
It also folds over to the small minutia of training, the little things we might overlook or do so often that we don’t even think about them.
Shouldering the Rifle
Clearing our cover garment (CCL Pistol/Revolver)
I will give you a great example on what I mean when I say “minutia”.
When I first started pistol training with a buddy of mine, we were out on the range and after we had just finished a course of fire, my Glock locked back to slide lock, empty. Since we were about to take a break, I simply hit the slide release lever and holstered my gun. My buddy looked at me comically and asked me “Would you do that in a gunfight?” I looked back at him and immediately a light bulb went off! Instantly I realized my error and what he was driving at.
When we are running drills we must do EVERYTHING as we would in a real fight, even the small details. If your gun runs dry, reload it. But reload it the same way, EVERY TIME. If you choose to use the slide release, do it, if you overhand charge, do that, but do it THE SAME WAY, EVERY TIME!
Now for some, who do not have the luxury of the great outdoors, away from civilization like me and who must practice at your Strict local NRA or IDPA Range, where over zealous Gun Safety nuts abound, this may be hard to do, but still, understanding the mental concept and working on it even in dry fire can get you far.
In this quest to become a better warrior, the devil is always in the details.
The challenge as I see it is to challenge yourself every day.
Don’t wait for somebody else to challenge you! Take a minute and apply the above motto to every area of your life and you will see what I mean!
Miyamoto Musashi, from his “Book of Five Rings,” written in 1645AD, near the end of his life
One of our students recalls a valuable drill, and now knows why we include it:
“Earlier this year, I was by myself in our remote mountain home.
Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by our driveway alarm and dogs barking. Getting up to investigate, I saw headlights on our steep mountain approach, heading in my direction. I observed for a few minutes as at least one car pulled below my drive and backed up. Very suspicious, as I was not expecting anyone!
I own two pistols, and on this particular day both were in the shop having sights installed. As a novice shooter, I only feel truly comfortable shooting my own guns.
But, my “favorite” guns weren’t available!
My brain immediately flashed back to my training with Vicki and the ‘Battlefield Pick-up Drill,’ where we all handled and shot every gun present. This has to be the most valuable training exercise of my entire shooting life, although I didn’t know it at the time!
Thanks to that training, I knew it was possible that I could pick up whatever pistol was available, and run it correctly and effectively. Thus mentally equipped with this ‘battlefield mentality,’ I retrieved my husband’s 1911 (which I had never shot), and then called 911.
While I’ve never shot my husband’s 1911 pistol, I was not afraid of it. I have shot other 1911 pistols, and I know how to run them, even though they’ll probably never by my favorite.
I stood guard, observing headlights crisscrossing below my property, until police arrived. I was informed the next day that several people in the cars in question had been arrested as burglary suspects.
No harm done, but as it turns out, this incident was a wonderful training exercise and wake-up call, and I discovered the true value of that ‘Battlefield Pick-up Drill,’ which, at time Vicki put us through it, I thought was superfluous!
I have my ‘regular’ pistols back now, and all is well, but I know I will never again think in terms of self-imposed ‘limitations.’
I’ll find a way to win, not look for an excuse to lose!”
Musashi in his day was a seasoned and exceptional fighter, the “John Boyd” of his time. He lived in a dangerous place during a particularly dangerous era, where the naive and unprepared seldom died of old age!
We are fortunate that he wrote down valuable and hard-learned advice shortly before he died (natural causes) at the age of sixty-one.
He knew, as we do, that a “favorite weapon” is little more than an excuse to lose. Thus, with the convenient absence of the “favorite weapon,” the fight is decided before it ever starts!
In his most famous duel, Musashi (age thirty at the time) was challenged by an extremely famous swordsman, known and feared throughout the region. The confrontation was pre-arranged and took place on a beach. The challenger, waiting in full battle regalia, was astonished and disgusted when Musashi arrived, late, and barely dressed, as if he had just woken up. Musashi neglected to even bring his sword!
Enraged and insulted, the challenger move forward quickly to make short work of this impudent “Master.” His overconfidence was his undoing!
Musashi, using an oar from the boat in which he had just arrived, killed his hapless opponent in less than a minute, then immediately departed in the same boat!
As it turns out, the challenger was completely outclassed, not even in the same league! He paid dearly for his miscalculation!
Musashi was always “ready.” He never waited for perfect conditions. He never hesitated!
In his honor, we put students through the “Battlefield Pick-up Drill” today, with today’s weapons, so our students absorb this ancient wisdom well!
During our lifelong journey as Operators and students of the Art, we can’t help but develop preferences. We all like some guns better than others, sometimes for good reasons, but sometimes for no particular reason at all, at least none we can persuasively articulate.
We must love, and be familiar with, all of them and never look upon the invariable absence of “perfect conditions” as some kind of limitation upon our ability to gain victory.
“The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels, who couldn’t make a decision!”