“Training The Right Way” – By Scott Reitz

“The most important lesson I learned was the winner of gunplay usually was the one who took his time. The second was that, if I hoped to live on the frontier, I would shun flashy trick-shooting as soon as I would poison. I did not know a really proficient gunfighter who had anything but contempt for the fancy gunfanner, or the man who literally shot from the hip.”

– Wyatt Earp

In a previous newsletter I spoke of achieving the most effective training utilizing minimal rounds. There is a concomitant effect here. If you perform as you train the answer is rather obvious. Mindless shots downrange in training might easily equate into mindless shots in a field setting. If one is impressed with spinning, wheeling and fancy moves while emptying magazine after magazine then this is your prerogative. If there is no verifiable practical background behind such instruction then the student is the one placed at peril.

You will be held accountable for your actions in the real world. You will have to answer for each shot fired in self-defense. It will be an exhaustive process. It will be costly. It will be stressful. It will bring to the forefront your past training, the instructor’s credentials and anything remotely related to the subject at hand. It is known as the discovery process. It is a legal frame work which will be employed by anyone who brings action against you. It is not a game!
Traditionally, the more rounds downrange in the field… the less effective the results will be. Conscious actions coupled with fewer rounds invariably lend to a ‘cleaner’ and a more justifiable action. This stands to reason yet seems to be lost to many. If you repetitively conduct unreasonable drills in training, then the chance that you will apply the same drill in the field is rather high.

We have observed such mindless training from time to time – ridiculous moves and techniques with no practical basis that are teaching students things which will inevitably get them into trouble. They are unworkable in real world situations. The instruction provided are “things” that are simply made up and touted by their “teachers” as practical and the newest and best. Unfortunately, the student may not know any better so he or she buys into it not realizing the jeopardy they are accruing through such training. I’m not even going into the incredible lack of safety this type of training induces and we’ve been witness too it on far too many occasions.

A recent shooting clearly demonstrates the severity of unrealistic training applied to a field setting. An Officer had attended such a course where “super speed” and “prepping” the trigger was all the rage. Presented with a field setting, the same Officer had one possible suspect individual on the ground when a witness ran up with his hands in the air telling the Officer that “He had the wrong person.” The Officer turned, drew, fired and killed the witness in front of numerous other witnesses. He had responded exactly as he had trained – which was a mindless response to a critical incident. This is a prime example of how training touted as “high speed” and lots of fun can translate into a career ending result, or it can land citizens behind bars.

A shooting can easily go from a “clean and above board shooting” into a sub-standard or criminally negligent shooting with the press of a single round. This is not an anomaly. It occurs more often than one might think or expect – just turn on your local nightly news. Many of our highly experienced students found this out for the first time during our recent Civilian Active Shooter class, where it was eye-opening for them how fast shootings transpired and then concluded, and every decision they made within that instant was under immediate scrutiny. Lawsuits filed on behalf of those who have been injured or otherwise when deadly force is applied has become a big business rather than a pursuit for justice. Even the rules of conduct for federal court now reflect this understanding.

Virtually all of our instructors at ITTS have been involved in shootings. Many of them have been in multiple shootings, and they openly and honestly share these experiences with our students as teaching tools. They have all been adjudicated as having used “clean” applications of deadly force. They understand very well that their actions have to be accounted for and they have undergone the scrutinizing process for real. They have proven that they fully comprehend that their training will set the stage for their field performance. Sub-standard training will inevitably lead to sub-standard performance when everything is at stake.

Those of you who have attended classes with us have experienced the importance we place on each and every drill we conduct and the reasoning behind them. There are examples and rationale for each evolution and the practical application thereof. This is by design based on the collective real world experience of our cadre of instructors. The techniques are valid and have been proven by hundreds who we have instructed who have been involved in “clean” shootings. If such was not the case we would not instruct in the manner in which we do.

Self-defense training within the context of what we teach is not just shooting. The array of immediate considerations one must compute within seconds before they make the decision to press the trigger in a deadly force scenario is what one must try and replicate and reinforce through truly effective training. To my disbelief from time to time I still hear the statement that “any training is good training” which is nonsense. The only positive and effective training is both experience based and judicious, and nothing less will suffice from our perspective. This is a full time process for us. We take extreme pride in producing professional and thoughtful students.

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One Response to “Training The Right Way” – By Scott Reitz

  1. Adrian Silva says:

    Beginning with the very first class I attended at ITTS, I was super impressed with the constant reinforcement of the safety aspect by every instructor. And, how each phase of training built on previous classes. As I told Scott, the skills I had as a young SF trooper are no longer evident and taking classes with them truly keeps whatever gun skills I do have up to a reasonable par. It becomes more important as we age. You’ll notice I’ve not mentioned anything about shooting rounds during the classes. The most important thing I’ve taken away from each class is the awareness of my surroundings and the importance of trigger control and front sight…….not matter how many rounds were fired. Every student thinking of taking a defensive gun class should read this article……it’s based on experience.

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