By Cliff Heseltine
Yes, but…since it’s a long shot that I’ll ever be in combat, how much do I really need to sweat? How much training is enough training? How much money is enough to spend on ammo and rental cars and airfare and hotels and restaurant food? What if I’m not physically able or willing to run around practicing live-fire drills with a rifle or pistol, playing Rambo, rolling in the dirt and mud, shooting multiple “bad guys” while moving and reloading, taking “hostage shots”? . . .
Some people are competitive. They like a challenge against others or against the clock. They like to prove that they’re faster, stronger, tougher, a better shot under stress. That’s great, but what about the rest of us? I’m 63 years old, reasonably healthy, but way past my physical prime, which was never all that prime in the first place. I am not athletic and not competitive and I have no interest in being a team player. Basically I just want to be left alone.
I do have the advantage of being physically imposing: 6’3”, 275 pounds. I’m pretty sure bad guys profile me and just decide to try a smaller victim. But sometimes bad people are desperate or stupid or they think they have something to prove and will take on a threat just to prove how macho they are, how in control, how intimidating. That’s why I carry a Ruger SR9c concealed IWB.
I don’t go to stupid places where there might be stupid people doing stupid things and I never have. But sometimes stupid people decide to go looking for new territory. Sometimes crazy people show up when and where you don’t expect and do things you wouldn’t think of. Sometimes religious or political or racist fanatics just decide it’s time to quit screwing around and just kill some folks to make a point. For those times I intend to be prepared to at least go down fighting.
But how prepared? Like I said, I carry the 9mm Ruger. I’m big enough (and fat enough) to get away with concealing a gun with a 14-round mag and I keep one in the chamber. I carry a cell phone. I don’t carry the extra 10-round mag and I don’t carry a combat knife or a field emergency medical kit. I’m not an “operator.” I don’t have the personality for it and it should be enough that I read about it and understand the concepts.
I’m just a guy going about my regular daily business and I really don’t see the need to be tooled up to the nines, prepared for any and all possible emergency situations, a couple dozen suicidal terrorists and an infinite number of zombies. I want to be able to put up a fight, protect myself and those innocents near me who might also be in danger, and either put the bad guy(s) down or at least survive until professional help arrives or I find a means of egress. That’s it.
I also know that mounting a strong defense is much safer than taking the offensive, so I’m going to be in the safest, most defensible location I can find, preferably with an exit available. I won’t be going around clearing rooms or looking for more bad guys. I’m willing to stand my ground and defend myself and others if necessary and even though I will not abandon those near to me, I know that I can’t save everyone and I’m not ready or willing to undertake a hostage rescue mission.
What I would like to find is some training within reasonable driving distance that includes realistic scenarios that an average person going about their everyday activities might encounter. I would like this training to be reasonably priced and not require the investment of more than one full day to complete, or to be broken into one-day segments on subsequent weekends. I want to know that the instructors are reasonable people setting up reasonable situations where they allow at least a possibility that I can figure out how to survive.
I don’t want know-it-all instructors creating no-win scenarios to try to convince me that the best choice is always to find the nearest exit and run away. While I’m not looking for a fight or a reason to shoot someone, I also don’t want to retreat to save my own ass only to learn later that someone I could have saved had been shot or kidnapped or raped. I truly believe that I would rather make a mistake and die than live with that on my conscience.
So, encounters with gang punks on the street; Quickie Mart/grocery store/Starbucks robberies; assault or rape in progress; single active shooter in a mall or at work; carjacking, or good old fashioned mugging. These are the kinds of things you or I are actually likely to encounter. Considering the state of the world today, maybe a one-day seminar on how to react to a mass attack by suicidal terrorists on a soft target would be worthwhile as well.
It just seems to me that the majority of this training could be done in a classroom and lecture setting with videos to make the points followed by walk-throughs of the different scenarios, followed by play acting with blue guns.
In the Army we trained with MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) equipment. Lasers on our M16 muzzles triggered by firing blanks, and laser receivers on our helmets and web gear. Beep-beep if the shot was close, steady beep and you were dead. We had a lot of fun running around in the woods and it did get the juices flowing to know shots were coming close, but I was “killed” three different times and that was a serious reality check.
It seems to me that training done with LaserTag equipment, even though they might not fully simulate the look and feel of real weapons, would be quite effective, a lot cheaper, and would not involve wearing so much distracting safety equipment. Nor would it require setting up expensive and bullet-proof shoot houses. The point is, for most people, to work through the scenarios and your best possible choices, not do a full-on simulation of real combat. Airsoft or Simunitions or live-fire shoot houses may get the adrenaline going, but is that level of expense and realism really necessary to get the point of the training through?
I can anticipate the comments already: Yes, but, it’s so much better to experience as close as possible to the real thing. How do you know how you’re going to act under stress if no one is shooting back? Training needs to be as realistic as possible. On and on.
Okay then, who is going to pay for my ammo or arrange for me to take four to six days off work or walk me through TSA screenings to schlep my weapons to some distant training sight AND make sure they are not ripped off at the baggage carousel,? Who is going to loan me an AR platform to train with? I sure can’t afford to go buy one. In a training regimen like I just described the instructor could provide familiarization and range time with an AR15 and an AK47 and several common pistol variants that one might need to pick up and use on the fly. For those of us without the financial resources to own and train with such weapons this would be invaluable.
So why is most of the training we read about either SOCOM or Zombie war or tactical field exercises? The only other kind usually found is the basic NRA firearms familiarization courses or those classes required in places where you need a certain type of training to get a carry permit. (Or even just to buy a gun, how unconstitutional is that?) There does not seem to be any middle ground between the introductory courses and the full-on, hard core, in-house training. I may be hard-core in my political beliefs and my ethics and concepts of morality, but I am very middle-ground in how I live my life day to day, and I would truly love to find some middle-ground firearms classes that would train me to live there in reasonable security.