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March 11, 2014
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Ron Avery The PoliceOne Firearms Corner
with Ron Avery

Shooting skills and the seductress of 'fast-food training'

The Internet can be a great resource from which you may gain knowledge, but you cannot replace top-quality real-world firearms training

The rise of YouTube, Internet forums, and online blogs has made vast volumes of information accessible at the click of a mouse. From food on your table to firearms training, web videos offer rants, raves, and reviews. 

Whether or not you realize it, you’re being influenced by what you read and watch — those Internet pundits’ opinions have an effect on you. At some level, your choices are being influenced and you are influencing others based on the information you assimilate and pass on.

The problem is that in those brief snippets, you’re almost always getting only part of the story with no viable way to get the rest of it. For example, you’ll frequently find videos in which someone has taken some small segment of someone else’s instruction — typically presenting it as their own — without giving the viewer the full picture of what was taught in the original piece. 

Fast-Food Training 
There are countless examples of this, but I will use one from my own personal experience to illustrate the point. I did a YouTube video with a guy about the draw stroke in which I shared one concept about drawing. I didn’t cover pros and cons, close ranges, close quarters, finer points of the draw, other ways of presenting to target, holsters, movement, hand indexing, and a whole bunch of other stuff. 

Yet, this video has shown up around the world. It is being used in training courses, and information from it is being put into training programs for LE and civilians without the person getting any further training on how to teach it or use it properly.

I call this “fast-food training.” Watch a few videos, play with whatever has been “trained” for a couple hours and then pretend you “have it down.” 

Without testing, certification, validation, or understanding how it fits into a training system or how it will actually work on the street, you’re just fooling yourself. 

With fast food, your body may feel full, but those are empty calories. With fast-food training, your mind may feel bloated with all of the “knowledge” you’ve taken in, but you won’t be properly nourished to actually put that stuff to use when you are called upon to perform under pressure.

Don’t get me wrong. The Internet can be a great resource from which you may gain knowledge. There are many intelligent people discussing various items of interest. However, especially when it comes to firearms and your shooting skills, you cannot replace top-quality real-world training. 

The courts generally accept proven, validated courses of instruction that have testing and certification of competence. While it is nice to gain knowledge, skill is always earned the hard way. There is just no substitute for getting out and doing things.

“The Way is in Training”
As Miyamoto Musashi said, “The way is in training.” I believe that real training — and teaching — must be seen and experienced it in its entirety. You must experience the whole story and be trained correctly, completely, and rigorously. In other words, you need to go back to real-world schools and actually learn a system and how to use that system in its entirety.

There is no substitute for time as well. While one, two, and three-day schools are fine, every shooter will benefit more from a five-day program. This is especially true for tactical handgun training or instructor-level certification. The reason is assimilation of the information and being able to absorb and apply it.

I do not accept time constraints as an excuse for shortening a course that requires more time to execute properly. This is more of a mindset/values issue than a time issue. Law enforcement is chronically shortening the time for firearms and deadly force training yet somehow still thinking that students are getting the same quality training as before.

As my longtime friend Bob James has said, “If you want to be a warrior then you must live the life of a warrior.” I think that quote is a gem. There is no room in the life of a warrior for “part time” anything. You are either fully committed to being a warrior or you are not a warrior. You do not assume the mantle of the warrior when it is convenient for you. You wear it constantly, ready to commit to the fight at a moment’s notice.

This means that you should be spending your time training, thinking, meditating, testing, validating, and figuring out ways to improve your craft. 

If you’re not doing those things, you may fall into the unenviable category of camp follower or fan boy.

Camp Followers and Fan Boys
Fan boys and camp followers show up to training with all the gear on the gun. They have the latest holsters, scopes, belts, ammo, knives, backup guns and whatnot. 

They have lots of opinions about things but little real world experience and generally low to intermediate levels of skills and motivation. They would rather buy gear or solutions than exert themselves by having to think critically about how to train.

They belong to whatever camp they happen to be following at the time. They accept everything the camp leader or leaders say without looking at alternative viewpoints or ideas.

Avoid falling into the “fan boy” trap and the “fast-food training” mentality.

Go to serious schools and get serious training. Think in terms of your number of days of training — stop looking at round count as the answer to learning. If round count was all that mattered, anybody could simply give you 5,000 rounds of ammo at the start of class and tell you, “Check back in after you’re done.”

Learn to think for yourself. Be a good student and start reading and researching your information before you accept something at face value. 

Training prepares you for battle. Training must be lived, not watched.

Be ready when your turn comes. 

About the author

Ron Avery is President and Director of Training for The Practical Shooting Academy, Inc. and Executive Director of the non-profit, Rocky Mountain Tactical Institute - both training institutions dedicated to professional firearms and tactics courses, higher police standards and training and use of force research. Train with Ron Avery. Visit his Course Calendar. Ron is a former police officer with many years of street experience, which he brings into the training environment. He is internationally recognized as a researcher, firearms trainer and world class shooter. His training methodology is currently being used by hundreds of agencies and thousands of individuals across the US and internationally. Ron has worked as a consultant and trainer for top level federal agencies, special operations military from all branches of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies across the US. He is a weapons and tactics trainer for handgun, carbine, select fire, precision rifle and shotgun, as well as advanced instructor schools, defensive tactics, team skills and tactics, low light tactics, arrest and control and officer survival. Contact Ron Avery



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