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I trained with two Navy SEAL weapons instructors the other day [not shown]. I’ll be sharing some of Mark T Cochiolo’s and Gordon Evans’ tips in future posts. Suffice it to say, the dynamic duo taught me more in ten minutes than I’d learned during entire training courses. They reaffirmed my belief that the quality of firearms training is more important than quantity. Sure, you should repeat basic techniques until they become instinctive. But I reckon the best training teaches you how to apply basic self-defense strategies on the fly, under stress. To improvise. And to know your limitations. Four hours of force-on-force firearms training is worth months of just about anything else, except maybe dry fire. How often do you train and what do you do?

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  1. Not nearly as often as I should. Time and money dictate when and where I train, and I don’t have much of either.

  2. Dont train enough as I want to. I get as much trigger time as I can, maybe once or twice a month as funds and weather allow(truck stuck in the mud isnt fun).

  3. Several years ago I spent an entire day with my uncle, a Special Forces First Sergeant, and 20 other Green Berets and received the best combat firearms training I have ever had.

    They were conducting combat training for an entire support company and just threw me into the mix…it was awesome and I have taken what I learned from that day and passed on my knowledge to countless others.

    • But is Green Berets training what I need. Some of it might apply to my self defense, but don’t we all agree the best way to win a fight is to not be in one. I don’t think the Green Berets teach that.

      • It’s similar spec ops training taught by NAVY SEALS. It’s very applicable to anyone carrying a fire arm for self defense.

        • I’m baffled about the enthusiasm for Kyle Lamb’s training. While he offers a variety of courses he is also one of the premier exponents of training cops to thinking like soldiers, not methodical low-speed high-intelligence law enforcement. SWAT: “Will You Survive First Contact?” What? In what American town or city should this language be used, this question be asked? In every single case the PD has the perp(s) surrounded, has better equipment of every sort, and has the time to plan their actions.

    • I’m going to ask them to come down, once I get a large enough group together. Maybe at the Texas International Firearms Festival in November.

    • If you were a very rich man you could afford as much training as you wished, and could purchase expensive firearms at your whim. As you suggest, you could even outsource your own defense. However, I have empirically determined that you would still be left with a growing paranoid fear that so long as decent weapons are in the hands of poor men you’d fired, maids you’d abused, competitors you loathed, or ethnic groups other than your own, you will feel compelled to spend your time and money trying to ban and confiscated all the guns not under your control, or under control of your loyal servants. You will always feel vulnerable, though you are actually safe. You will feel driven to take yet another training course, hire yet another guard, force through yet another law. Only when one of your loyal bodyguards assassinates you will your fear end. So keep a clear conscience, train but not obsessively, and give up fear. If someone wants to kill you, they can. If someone merely wants to rob you or fight you or rape you, you can shoot them. Realize that no one really wants to kill you. Or…do they?

  4. “Question of the Day: How Often Do You Train?”

    Train, I don’t know how often, probably not as often as I should, HOWEVER, there is a fundamental difference between Navy SEALS and the general population, train is what they do for their job, how often does a Navy SEAL bale alfalfa hay, because that’s what I do for a living, get it…???

    Having said all that, I do shoot EVERY day, mostly handgun, but I try to get a long gun in at least twice a week…if being a Navy SEAL was my job, I’d train everyday, but since I farm, I’ll stick to shooting every day, and that still puts me a leg up on the competition, aka. “the bad guys”…

  5. Dry fire every night, live range time 1-2 times a month.

    1st combative pistol and carbine class in June. Should be fun.

  6. How often do I train? Not often enough. Before the Great Ammunition Extinction, I’d shoot 500-1000 rounds a week. Now, not so much.

    • You were shooting up to 4,000 rounds per month which translates to 48,000 rounds per year? No wonder there was/is an ammunition shortage … I think you are the primary factor that caused it!

  7. Drawing and dry fire several times a week. IDPA/USPSA as often as I can free up my schedule, usually monthly. A couple times a year I can get out to some private property where I can have free reign to practice as I see fit.

  8. I have the unique honor and privelege of spending most Saturdays training with the truly excellent cadre of instructors at Aysmmetric Solutions in Farmington, Missouri

    RF put his finger precisely on the key to beneficial instruction: quality!!

    Our chief instructors are real-deal former Tier 1 operators, including combat veteran former DEVGRU members, and most importantly are superb instructors.

  9. Answer: Never, and nothing.

    I haven’t even fired my pistol in over a year. I’m grossly negligent in this department. Yet I carry every day….oh well.

  10. Money dictates how much I’m able to train, but I save up and get as much trigger time as often as money allows. I want to be able to do more.

  11. About once a month. If I had the opportunity to train with experienced guys like that for free I would, but I’m not keen on paying big bucks to attend an amusement park with guns so I can become an operator and eliminate the ninja zombie tangos plaguing us all.

  12. My goal is twice a year. I’m currently in a training cycle where my focus is ECQC with a pistol and I’m due for a trauma class to learn how to plug any holes I or another may receive if it got really bad.

    I agree with the quality statement. However, I don’t think it hurts to look at other local instructors who aren’t the “big names” in the industry as long as they have a good resume / not obvious snake oil instruction.

    +1 for Asymmetric, btw. Was only able to take Tac Pistol 1, but it allowed me the opportunity to shoot through a windshield as well as some vehicle average joe citizen type drills. It was a good experience.

    I actually reviewed my experience here in case anyone is interested:

  13. Is the question “How often to you take a weapons class?” or does dry fire, draw from concealment, think about tactics in everyday locations, and range time count?
    I have never formally trained although I would like to take the two day fighting pistol and perhaps the fighting rifle courses with Tactical Response. It may be the only time I take a class like that. I don’t have disposable income and when I do, I tend to spend it at a beach resort drinking mojitos.
    I focus on mindset and situational awareness every day and work on drills once a week at the range that consist of drawing from concealment and clearing malfunctions. I plan on getting some airsoft guns and training at home with them just to get a little more physical while using a gun. I’m not to the point of rolling around on the ground with live ammo in the chamber but if I need to one day, I feel like I will do what I need to do. Survivability is paramount to me so moving around, ducking and running is what I would like to train doing.

    • Michael,

      Airsoft is a good training platform for people with typical budgets who have a typical yard. Shooting airsoft (even battery or gas powered semi-auto) is much less expensive than shooting brass and powder ammunition. And most people can shoot anywhere in their yard as long as they are not routinely pointing/shooting at their neighbors.

      Note: try to purchase gas blowback airsoft pistols since they simulate (to some extent) the recoil of a real pistol. (Simulating recoil is important because it effects how quickly you can get back on target and hence how quickly you can shoot.)

  14. Dry fire several times weekly.

    Range time is about once a month.

    I did recently take a basic handgun class again. Which was my first formal class, other than the permit to carry class, since about 1998.

    I do hope to do a more advanced handgun within the next year or two.

  15. Range once a week most weeks, average about 2-300 rounds per trip. Try to go once rifles for every three times handgun. This year I’ve been pretty successful getting the guys I work with to show up, and at our last qualification day I think we were the best shooting patrol squad in the department. Funny how that works, eh?

  16. I go to a range a couple of times a month. I recognize it’s woefully inadequate.

    I wonder how pertinent joining a paintball team would be. Granted, you won’t have some of the aspects but still get the gist of moving, cover, adrenaline, etc.

  17. Every couple of days I’ll pop open the safe, put a couple of quarters next to the p250’s front sight and dry fire for about a minute.

    Other than that, nada.

    I’m hoping to make it to my first USPSA match at Summit Point, later this month. Though I’ve heard that they don’t let you shoot the first time you sign up.

  18. the only honest answer I can give is not as much as I want.

    I’ve taken 2 actual classes, hoping to take a 3rd and 4th soon (pistol and carbine). It’ snot even so much for self-defense purposes. I just find them fun but they’re not exactly cheap–the instruction isn’t so bad, but damn, the ammo….

    • And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Tactical clinics are fun and informative. Just have to be careful not to rely on them too much, if they’re more geared for operators. The experiences encountered by SWAT teams or combat units will differ sharply from that of a regular guy in the ‘burbs. So you don’t want to deceive yourself into thinking the training automatically applies precisely to your own situation.

  19. range once or twice a month. dry fire every couple of days and on Saturdays i get together with a group of friends and we practice drawing from concealment, both armed and unarmed scenarios like multiple attackers, mock robberies, we also do disarms, some basic wrestling with an emphasis on being able to get back to your feet quickly or avoid being taken down. Drawing from the ground and all kinds of other stuff. We go at it for about an hour and it really helps.

    To change up an old martial arts quote a bit, “Fear not the man that has performed 10,000 draws once, fear the man who has practiced the same draw 10,000 times.”

    Incorporating some of the realistic air-soft guns helps a bit as you can practice shooting from odd positions, (on your back, laying on your side) that would get you kicked off of most ranges (for good reason). But these are part of reality. you might get knocked down by a group and need to draw from that position quickly before they swarm on you.

    but for sure good professional instruction wins out as it gives you tried and proven techniques that you can practice and will help you work some of the bugs out of your current techniques or allow you to start something without developing bad habits later on that take a lot of time to untrain.

    • Very well said. Good Tactics with solid fundamentals win fights. Practicing incorrect techniques or tactics doesn’t render much benefit.

  20. 1. Awareness
    2. Avoidance
    3. De-escalation

    There, that three point plan will get you safely through 99.99% of potential and actual encounters. Here endeth the lesson.

    Now you’re free to focus on proficiency and tactical training to carry you the rest of the way.

  21. I go to the range about once per month weather permitting. I practice other skills here at my house like reloading or switching my rifle from left to right to bringing the weapon up and safety off to fire and a while bunch of other things. Training can be free and doesn’t always have to include sending rounds down range.

  22. I dont train unless you count IPSC, IDPA and SC matches which I still dont shoot like used to 20 years ago. Most “training” I have seen on TV put on by the big name ranges and big name shooters just looks totally lame to me and just a powder burning exercise and a way to separate you from your money. I dont think the average person needs SEAL or tactical training to hone their gun skills nor do they need all that marshall arts style gun training Rob Pincus and his ilk espouse. The CCW/CHP course of fire that my state requires for licensing is probably one of the best self defense type exercises anyone could do. A 60 shot course of fire at various target distance, drawing from concealment, under time is fun and practical. But the next time I think I might need to take down OBL’s safe house, I’ll look up one of the 3 “schools” in my area staffed by ex Seals and Delta operators.

    • Point is that if you are not training with people who have done more than shoot at fake targets, you aren’t getting the kind of really practical real-life training you need, and the tactics, the TACTICS, to go along with it.

      I laugh when I read people poo-pooing Tier 1 operators as if all they know how to do is capture OBL.

      What you don’t know can kill you.

      • Ive shot with the likes of Larry Vickers, Kyle Lamb and Dave Herrington. Is that Tier 1 enuff for you? I still dont believe that I or most other people need training in their particular skill sets. If you have the money and the desire to do so thats another thing altogether.

        • Not sure what you mean when you say “youve shot” with those guys…but, whatever.

          Why do you think training courses with former Tier 1 Operators are all about assaulting cargo ships, or launching raids to take out high value targets?

          If you actually had taken training courses with former Tier 1 SF guys yoiu would know that their classes focus on how to use handguns and carbine in a practical manner, teaching you the skills you need to be proficient under stress, how to move and shoot, etc.

          And, again, TACTICS.

          But we’ve had this conversation on TTAG a lot of times before.

          Same old, same old.

  23. Being a member of Ladies Shooting League, train twice a month. Having access to Instuctors separate range, we are able to shoot on the move, forward/backing up, shoot muliple targets in a row, shoot from behind prepared barriers.
    Typically shoot 100 to 150 rounds down range each session. Plus at least once a month go to a range or own rural property, on my own to train/practice. .

  24. This video would have been much better of a “Believe in the good guys” promo than the one NRA put out.

    And I don’t train nearly as much as I would like, currently about once every few months (not counting my range days).

  25. For training to be effective and efficient, it needs to be directed toward skills and uses, contexts of skill employment. What are the skill:context pairs that people train for, I wonder. Do they wish for a substitute for military combat experience? I’m nonplussed by the frequency and type of training people pursue.

    Weapons handling and firing is a small fraction of the skills (and equipment/training expense that would go into surviving weather catastrophes, the spilling of a riot into your town, and so forth.

    And on the other hand, the firearms-related skills useful in repelling a trio of home-invaders is very basic, skills you can develop during two months of weekends, backed up by a quarterly range binge.

    So, what particular skills:context sets are people working toward?

  26. I shot a quarterly qualification with my Glock 27, 23, and 35 last weekend, and spent all day on the range today. I did a lot of shooting in the Marine Corps Infantry Reserve over 6 1/2 years, and even more as a shooting sports director at a Boy Scout camp for two summers. After that was a little over 6 month of police academy training. I find force on force training with Simunitions to be particularly valuable. It is one thing to shoot at steel silhouettes and paper. Return fire is another thing entirely. The use of speed, cover, and concealment takes on a whole new meaning. It also adds competition and a bit of stress to the mix.

    I found Gregory Block’s Self Defense Firearms Training course with the shooting simulator in the back of the truck to be useful. That system records hits and response times, and also video records you – the shooter – as you are going through the scenarios. There is a lot of feedback. It made the FATS (Firearms Action / Training Simulator?) truck training at work obsolete.

    There are so many shooting and self defense disciplines that it is not possible to be an expert in everything – unless perhaps you are part of the Spec Ops community. Even Spec Ops guys make terrible tactical decisions on occasion, or are faced with ridiculous rules of engagement. Watching “Lone Survivor,” for example. Then again, there are plenty of old farts with minimal training who’ve taken out robbers, burglars, and home invaders. I do some training because I have to and some because I want to. There is plenty more that I simply don’t have the time and money for. I’d like to learn to be a gunsmith, for instance. I usually find my time on TTAG to be useful, although my wife doesn’t.

  27. I don’t get out and do hard-core training as much as I should…time sucked up with making a living and paying the mortgage…but I do dry fire every day for about 20 minutes. You do what you can with what you have to work with.

  28. There was a time (years) when I shot 300 rounds of center fire handgun per week and perhaps 2-300 rounds of rifle per month. I don’t train like I used to but then ammo costs more than it used to and I’m not as young or as responsibility free as I once was.

    I cannot count the hours of draw and dry fire drills I’ve done but it must add up to something like an on going part time job. I shoot rain or shine, heat and snow. I train movement and cover, effective use of cover and everything (these days at least) fast and hard.

    I don’t train like I used to. These days it’s mostly about draw, get rounds landing on target fast and get off the ‘X’. I’m trying to keep the relevant skills sharp and hot.

    I’ll say a couple of things that will almost certainly set someone on a rant about lieing.

    With a pistol, if it’s the size of a mans head and torso:

    If it’s within 50 ft I cannot miss it.
    If it’s moving no faster than a man can run and it’s within 50ft I cannot miss it.
    If it’s within 30 feet I can hit it with either hand alone with any of 4 pistols.
    If I run half speed parallel to it I can still hit it 100% of the time.
    I can drop mag dumps on IPSC targets at 21 feet from the holster with a 1911 in less than 1.5 seconds with 100% hits.
    I can hit noise emitting IPSC targets within 21 feet blindfolded.
    I can hit IPSC targets within 50 feet with an AR15 that has no sights, in rapid engagement drills.

    I have not trained enough to suit me. I still try to train as much as I can afford.
    I still put off social and other responsibilities to go to the range and over my lifetime I’ve spent the equivalent of a nice home, car and life on ammo.

    Then there is the knife training, empty hand, and stick theory.

    There is ‘good enough’ for some people, I’m not sure there will ever be ‘good enough’ to suit me.

    It only takes one gunfight and your perspective of training and what’s ‘good enough’ changes. I might be a little obsessed, but I’m not going to die because I wasn’t ‘good enough’.


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