The tactical funnel: An 'outside the box' thought on training
One of my best instructors, Rob, developed a term 'tactical funnel' into which we put a ton of information. After a couple days of working at it, all of that information flows from the large opening into the end result, smooth, fluid, directed performance. Rob is truly my hand holder for difficult students. His patience and ability to obtain performance, from those students who would otherwise be left behind, is amazing.
As for the funnel’s role in diagnosing a shooter.....it’s not too complicated. To diagnose a shooter, you as the instructor need to know a couple things yourself. First, you have to be able to do what you want your student to do. Then, if you are a good shooter, you need to know why you’re good. You also need to know all the important ingredients that go into the funnel. I’m not saying you have to be the best shooter but, you’d better be pretty darned good. After all, you need to inspire the student to want more.
When we watch a person shoot, we try to look at the whole package; the large opening of the funnel. By this I mean everything the shooter does from loading and making ready, to shooting and then unloading and clearing. Especially how they handle the weapon system and their gear. I look at what they do when they shoot and watch for subtleties in the way they interact with the gun as each round is fired. I also try to see where their focus is or what their attention is distracted by.
Watching Their Basics
When diagnosing any shooter, I’m watching their basics. Here is a list of fundamentals followed by some jeers. I’ve been there, so as you read this, think if you have too.
I can laugh at this list. Like I said, I’ve been there, done that. However, think about what I said earlier about being pretty darned good? If you could fix yourself by identifying bad habits, you could fix someone else. You as the instructor need to understand why you hit, as well as why you miss. Follow?
How do you see all this at once to identify it? Well, I suggest a real soft focus. Almost as if you are looking through the shooter, the range and the target. Peripheral vision is very strong. Once you start noticing these habits, you’ll pick ‘em up easier.
The Tactical Funnel Theory
When we throw all this into the funnel, what comes out is quick, decisive, accurate shooting, followed by solid situational awareness. Think about it. Every one of these fundamental actions takes time. If we train shooters to perform the fundamentals correctly, to trust their equipment and their own skills we can compress the time it takes to draw and fire down to fractions of a second.
Remember what J. Michael Plaxco said: “There is no advanced training, only advanced applications of the basics.” I’ve said for years now that as instructors we need to be masters of those basics.
When it comes down to diagnosing shooters, the above is how I start. If one or more of those basics is faulty, I focus on it until I get the results necessary or until the shooter begins to show fatigue. Then, shift gears to another fundamental that needs work.
Right now you’re probably wondering: “How do you know what their focus is or how do you know if they are working the trigger correctly. Holy cow! That needs to be saved for a whole other column but, we’ll get there.
Until next time remember:
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