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Functional fitness and tactical training

I am a strong advocate of "functional fitness." Functional fitness applies proven fitness methodology to a more holistic approach to practical scenarios. Basically, as long as you are breathless and your training motions apply to your desired result, you are getting a good functional workout. Just add resistance in one form or another and you have covered the whole gambit.

Today I want to talk about the amalgamation of tactical training and functional fitness. The best way to learn is to do. Making it fun is even better, but to make it stick, you must apply intent.

To prove the TASER's worth we are asked to volunteer if we are not believers (I am no longer a sceptic). In the case of the gun we already know of its potency. So how can we train live-fire fights in a safe manner? There is, of course, simunition but I am thinking of an easier, more readily available approach: amalgamating fitness and tactical training.

The closest we can get to a real-time scenario without being in the middle of a lethal force encounter is to use force-on-force training. This is probably the best way to train, but due to the cost of simunition, secure training areas and availability of instructors this type of training can be prohibitive. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the people who really need the training don't get it as often as they should do.

Taking these factors into consideration and trying to maintain our own levels of fitness can often be very hard to do. The quickest solution I can see is to amalgamate cardiovascular (endurance) training in the form of drills with some basic strength conditioning exercises geared towards functionality. These drills are found in tactical two-man and four-man maneuvers for firearms training.

We should then take the above suggestion and apply it to the readily available medium of paintball. Let's face it; the skills you need to survive are similar. Being able to run and shoot at a moving target is more practical than shooting at a stationary target in a non-stressful environment.

I must also add that this suggested approach to training is by no means meant to be a replacement to simunition training. It's just another way to develop and maintain the desired survival attributes of a lethal force encounter. Although, admittedly in a somewhat controlled and slower than the "real time" environment.

I mean to say, you can see the paintballs when fired, zipping about like tracer shots. These paintballs can be dodged. You can only do this in "real time" if your name is something poignant and cool like Neo, or Trinity and your dress sense runs along the lines of long coats and sunglasses (The coats and glasses? Probably to keep you warm when you are looking cool? Answers on a post card please).

I have my basic firearms certification from my peace officer training and basic semi automatic rifle training in the RN. I have no experience in a lethal force encounter.

However, I do have experience in sparring, and training in a manner which enables a person to be able function at a high level of stress. The quickest and safest way to do this is to internalize the neuromuscular mechanics required for the desired task, elevate the heart rate and perform the required tasks at the same time with intent. This is also conducive to fitness training. So why not put some strength conditioning exercises along with force on force drills (rope climbs to simulate wall climbs, prone position to running and so on).

In many Paintball organizations you need a minimum of 20 players to take part. This equates to five four man teams. The teams will be split into pairs, the active pair and the conditioning pair. Here is an example of part of a circuit.

NB: remember we are only interested in exercising for 30 mins. to 40 mins. at a sub maximal anaerobic level (sub maximal= breathless but still being able to hold a conversation) as the next couple of hours will be spent playing paint ball.


1. Each grid sprint should be completed by a two man team whilst the other pair completes strength conditioning exercises/scenarios.
2. The active pair will complete grid sprints and at the last leg of the run will shoot at a target.
3. The conditioning pair will go from prone to standing to supine to standing.
4. The active pair will now return to the conditioning pair at a run to change stations.

The aim of the above exercise is to raise the shooters heart rate to an elevated state to resemble a stressful situation. When the pair arrive at the targets they should arrive at the same time and adopt secure firing positions (or whatever the drill requires). Meanwhile the Conditioning pair are pre-habilitating their physiology and neuromuscular system for strength, ballistic multi directional movement and endurance.

I hope that my suggestions will spark your imagination on the concepts of physical training and how to apply them to a functional world.

"Fitness and adaptability first, aesthetics will follow".

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