Train Up! Holding Yourself Accountable
Today's Random Rant is more about mindset and dedication to the craft of defending yourself and others. Today I want to rant about personal accountability and how we can take an honest assessment of ourselves as shooters.
First and foremost- this is a "big boy" exercise. You can't have weak feelings and give yourself an honest kick in the ass when you need it. Grow up. We need to be clear with ourselves about where we have deficiencies and learn how to train up in those areas. We need to be able to quantify/measure our performance and progress in order to track our improvements, and we need to be clear that we are responsible for our own training progress. Below, I'll give myself a review of this year of training for me.
I'll break down this rant into a few different points of potential failure, and I'll judge myself on each one. I would encourage you to do the same...
Training / Course Work
"If you're not training up, you're training down." "Failing to plan is planning to fail." "If you don't use it, you lose it."
I don't care which of these little sayings you use to get yourself motivated, but hear me on this- I am a big believer in training with other qualified instructors to obtain different views on any given topic. I take advanced courses with qualified instructors to push me in areas that I need to work on. I take basic courses with instructors to learn how they successfully convey topics and explanations to their students. I legitimately try to take the best from everything I can learn and apply it to my courses so that the people who learn from me are getting the best of what I have to offer. As many of you who have trained repeatedly with us know, our courses are constantly evolving... New equipment/resources, new explanations, new theories, new drills, new curriculum... I seek out better training so that I can offer better training.
In addition to teaching multiple classes this year, by the close of the calendar year I will have also completed the following training courses in 2017:
- Combatant Casualty Care - Talon Defense
- Vehicle Combatives - Matt S.
- Pistol Diagnostics - John "Shrek" McPhee
- Vehicle Defense / Counter Ambush (Handguns Only) - Talon Defense
- Performance Pistol - Frank Proctor
- Partner Shoothouse (CQB) - Steve Fisher
- Weapon Systems Integration in Urban Combat Environments (CQB) - "Super" Dave Harrington
- Killhouse (CQB) - Matt Graham
In 2017, this category of this Rant is where I have placed the majority of my focus and efforts. In this regard, I would give myself an A as an accountability grade.
Application of Skills
In addition to being able to learn new skills in the classroom, it is also important for us to continuously challenge ourself in a quantifiable manner. By this I mean that you should be able to quantifiably measure your progress. Some ways that you can do this are through self-drills (that are standardized and measured by shot timer), competition against others, and similar task-driven activities.
I used to compete a lot in IDPA and GADPA style competition. It was a passion for me as I love competing with others as well as seeing how my skills are progressing versus those around me. When the instructing gig continued to grow, my wife requested that I choose to either instruct or compete, but not both. Using every free moment on the range was putting a strain on the home-life, so I decided to continue with my passion of teaching over competing. With that said, I have stayed fairly close to a lot of the guys that still compete, and I've convinced them to come to some training courses with me this past year. In this past Vehicle Defense / Counter-Ambush course, two old friends joined the course and we had a great time running through the exercises. My skills had progressed differently than their skills had, and vice versa. It was great watching them run their guns and catching up with them. I assured them that I would make it a point to come back and participate in a match with them soon- a promise which I intend to keep.
This year's course work for me has consisted of a lot of high-level courses. The round counts are very high and the nature of the courses are both physically and mentally demanding. With that said, I have virtually stopped competing in organized competition and I have skipped more personal range sessions this year than I should have.
In this area, I give myself a B- as an accountability grade.
In every advanced course that I have participated in, one common theme that has always arisen is that the people who are in better physical condition generally last longer and perform better in each exercise, particularly the longer the exercise goes on. When that voice in your head is screaming at you that it's okay to quit because you're exhausted and "this is just a training exercise," then it's time to start pushing. The better your physical fitness level, the longer you can push your body without having to listen to that little voice. The worse your physical condition, the sooner you have to start putting in conscious effort to ignore that voice. That conscious effort that you are using to ignore that voice is taking away conscious effort that could be used on solving some other task at hand. For instance, work on any drill where there is some sort of problem-solving involved. In this example, we'll use double-feed malfunction correction with a follow-up shot. Run the exercise from standing 3-5 times on a shot timer to establish a baseline time. Now go sprint 100 yards and do the same thing... Now sprint another 100 and do 25 pushups... Now another 100 and another 25 pushups... What is happening to your performance and time in between each set? They're diminishing, without question. The rate at which your performance will diminish is directly related to your level of physical fitness. A physically fit person's performance will not diminish at nearly the same rate as someone who isn't physically fit.
Simply put- the more physically fit you are, the harder you are to kill. That's a pretty simple concept. With that said, this is the area that I have suffered in the most throughout 2016 and 2017. I have a thousand excuses: a move, injuries that require surgery, sick family members, work, blah, blah, blah. Here's the bottom line: I didn't put in the work to maintain an acceptable level of physical fitness. Me. My Fault. No One Else.
I give myself an F as an accountability grade.
If it's 100% my fault, then it is 100% my responsibility to fix the problem. Eat better. Exercise right. Pick up heavy things and put them back down. Cardio. Lose weight. All of it... My Responsibility.
Evaluation and Conclusion
By associating some sort of quantifiable metric or score to each area of our training, it enables us to recognize and improve areas of our training that are weak. Judging by my very blunt, very honest assessment above, it's clear that I need to work on physical fitness and probably some additional dry-fire drills (at minimum).