The instant the rabbi and I walked into Xtreme Action Sports’ indoor paintball facility in Walpole Mass for our 1pm Simunitions class I knew were f’ed. Six men gathered around the staging area. I could tell at a glance they were all Army and/or LEOs, except for one, who looked every inch the silent, crazy type. Classmates? Nope. Instructors. It was just the rabbi and me. No ’bout a doubt it: I was going to get shot. Many times. How great is that?
Pretty great. I got more from King33‘s Sims class in five minutes than I grokked in the last three years at a square range. No surprise there. If you want to know what you’re going to do in a gunfight, what you should do in a gunfight, you have to have a gunfight. Ask your subconscious: if it doesn’t hurt when you get it wrong, on some level, it doesn’t count.
Make no mistake: getting shot by an FX marking round (or two or three or five) hurts. When that little plastic cap hits bare or T-shirt covered flesh at 400 feet per second and screws in a bit, there is, as the manual calls it, “a pain penalty.” But hey, the adrenalin’s flowing, the endorphins mask most of the immediate effect and it’s all in a good cause.
That said, I was kinda hoping for a Shoot/Don’t Shoot class. One of those role playing deals where you interact with a potential bad guy or bad guys and figure out if/when you should shoot them. Always doing your best NOT to shoot anyone, while making sure if you DO shoot someone you do it BEFORE they shoot you.
In this case, it was one, two, three, gunfight! I learned that, mostly, I suck in a gunfight. I get stuck behind cover. My brain moves fast enough, I communicate well in a crisis, but my feet get mired in concrete. I don’t have an IDEA (Instant Dynamic Explosive Action) in my head.
Working on it. And other stuff. But the most important lesson I learned is the quote from trainer Ray Johansen in the headline above: “you will get shot.” It’s a shorter version of the old Mark Twain aphorism: it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
You can’t go into a gunfight (or any violent encounter) expecting it to go the way you want it to go. Nor can you expect to emerge unscathed. You may emerge victorious. You may emerge unscathed. But that’s not your main goal. Your main goal is to do whatever it takes to survive.
“You have to be prepared to take a hit and keep going,” Johansen warned me, despite the fact that I had done just that. Several times. Which is pretty much the only way you can train yourself for that particular eventuality. The FX cartridge lets you practice playing through the pain.
That said, it also comes down to mental preparation. I’ve said it before (much to the chagrin of many of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia): you have to be ready to fight to the death. Not how you will fight to the death. But the fact that you will.
And to do that, you have to accept the possibility that it, death, could happen. So if/when you ARE shot/stabbed/sliced/punched/kicked in the balls you don’t panic. It’s not so cavalier as being able to think to yourself “oh well that didn’t work as planned.” Or even “this isn’t going to end well.” But it’s damned close.
As always, YMMV.