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Old March 23, 2009, 06:06 PM   #1
vito
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Training to fight rather than training to shoot

I subscribe to the Suarez International newsletters, and while I have never had the chance to take one of his courses, his columns make real sense to me. The most recent dealt with Force on Force training, and it seems that is what many of us own and/or carry a gun for, i.e., the unexpected encounter with someone who wants to use force to harm us. I've often wondered how valuable it is to spend a lot of time and ammo at the range carefully trying to achieve close groups in a methodical and relaxed situation. Unfortunately I live in IL, and his classes are in TX or AZ, and being in my 60's, with diminished visual acuity, with more of a gut than I like to admit to, I've wondered how well I could do in his programs. Recently I have been practicing point-and-shoot with my 2-in J frame and my new Ruger LCP at about 10 feet distance. I'm fairly confident that at this close range I can hit the center mass pretty regularly despite my poor vision, but wonder if in the chaos of being attacked I would react quickly enough to be effective. Maybe once I retire I'll actually sign up for one of Suarez's classes.
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Old March 23, 2009, 06:18 PM   #2
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I would recommend you do a indept study on his or any other courses before you spend your hard earned money.

Be sure to research the back ground of the instructors.
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Old March 23, 2009, 06:52 PM   #3
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In a chaotic shooting situation, you will respond as you have been trained, or have trained yourself. If you practice shooting good groups, that will help you. Familiarity with the weapon is essential.

You can do some training on your own by imagining the target as a dangerous adversary and drilling over and over, bringing your firearm into play and placing a few shots where they count on the target. Do that repeately and it will become ingrained, and your skills will improve.

I do not think quick draw skills are so important to an armed citizen. You need to have the firearm out before it is time to shoot. But bringing it up and into play is important. Taking an aggressive stance, and focusing on what you imagine is a dangerous target, then shooting for center mass, is a drill that you can practice. The better you get at it, the better your groups will be. Quick target aquisition and tight groups, are critical, especially when you are in a life and death situation. That kind of training will help, even if it is not at some expert's class. Good luck with it!
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Old March 23, 2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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I am certainly not trained in any formal ccw training. I am, however, of the mindset that any weapon is an extension of my hand from my hands on up to a gun. Anything I can get in my hand can increase my likelihood of surviving with more of my health than barehanded. A roll of dimes or set of keys beats nothing.
So as one poster said, the draw is not as important since it should already be out if the carrier is aware of the impending threat. There are some times when even the best of us misses a clue or the perp is just that well concealed or convincing. At these times it may be too late to safely draw and fire without excessive risk of giving up your gun and having it used against you. But several of the various physical impacts can be used to put the distance to afford you time to draw...
Just my thought on it... YMMV...
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Old March 23, 2009, 08:19 PM   #5
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"Training to fight rather than training to shoot..."

Is a good idea, with the understanding that shooting is an important part of fighting.
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Old March 23, 2009, 08:31 PM   #6
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The closest thing youll get to being truly under fire and being able to return fire in turn will be paintball in some form or another. However, thats not always an option depending on the person themself, or a lack of knowledgable people around you. Theres also a big big difference between a training excercise using paintballs or sim-munitions and hitting the local field with a bunch of random middle school kids.
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:27 PM   #7
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I am not sure that fast draw is unimportant or that the armed citizen will have gun in hand when it is needed. A uniformed police officer can draw any time he/she feels the need, but a citizen is usually more restrained, perhaps by law. (In this respect, a plain clothes officer is in the same category as an armed citizen.) If a citizen, seeing what appears to be a dangerous situation, draws his/her gun, there is a high possibility of creating panic and increasing, not decreasing, the chance of an armed confrontation as well as the chances of being the victim of armed police who will assume that any one with a gun is the "BG" and act accordingly. (Yes, plain clothes officers have been killed by uniformed police under exactly those circumstances, which is why police have signals and code words to identify themselves to fellow officers; the citizen does not have that advantage.)

All of which means that in general, the armed citizen may not display a gun until it becomes clear what is happening and who the BG is, and then a fast draw may be necessary. Another time is when an attack is totally unexpected, as when a person passing by turns and stabs the citizen, as has happened. There is no reasonable way to totally prevent such a thing, but carrying a gun in one's hand is not an acceptable approach in our society.

One poster on another site suggested never allowing anyone within a certain distance; that might be a viable and safe tactic in the desert, but is hardly a good idea on the typical city street.

Running around in the woods playing paintball may be fun and perhaps good training for the military, but it is not realistic training for common self defense situations.

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Old March 23, 2009, 09:30 PM   #8
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With due(mind you, very respectfull) regard to your age and physical condition, it might not be a good idea to attend this training. I have never attended this particular class, but I have been trained in similar forms of close quarter pistol combat; it is pretty intense. Besides, at your age, if you are forced to employ this training against a younger VC in better physical condition, you have a far better chance of survival if you draw and jam the muzel of your weapon into his gut.
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Old March 24, 2009, 07:52 AM   #9
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Squid makes a very valid point as well... Nuttin wrong with a gut shot for first shot especially if can impart a bit of upward angle to it... I am in no shape to go toe to toe with many if not most violent thugs but fair fighting is for pay per view...
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:03 AM   #10
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I've been fortunate enough to have some formal pistol training as well as some Force-on-Force training using Simunitions. One of the big things that range work helps with is learning to use the firearm the same way you drive a car - instinctively. Everything you can learn to do on "automatic" frees your brain up for thinking about the dynamics of the actual encounter you are in.

You don't have to think to yourself.... OK, draw straight up, offhand on chest, now rotate and extend, focus on the front sight, other hand comes out, pull straight back, don't jerk the trigger. All of that stuff is happening automatically based on how you trained; because your brain has 20 other things to think of - Are there other guys? He just ran behind that wall now what? Where is my nearest cover? etc.

If you are standing there thinking "What kind of stoppage is that and what was the drill for clearing it?" Chances are extremely good that round of Sims is already over and you were not the victor. To the extent, you can train yourself to good habits with range time, it frees up your brain to think about the more important elements of each individual scenario.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:08 AM   #11
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A good alternative for people that can't afford or have no desire to attend a formal class or do Force on Force training is to try their hand at practical pistol competition, such as USPSA or IDPA. In both of these pistol games (which is important to remember that they are games) you're solving a shooting problem under simulated stress, and engaging multiple targets in a threat environment. It's not a gunfight by any stretch, but it is a stressful environment, and shooting under these conditions will help you increase familiarity with your defensive firearm.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:10 AM   #12
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Mr.Roberts seems to say what I never can figger out how to say!
Instinct is what I meant by every tool I can get in my hand is just an extension of my hand. I often "self trained" on my land with them junk re-loads from the range. The guy once advised me they were not reliable enuff for training... I told him after using them in his range I was well aware and couldn't find any crappy ammo of factory make... He scrunched his fore head at that and I told him I needed to practice instinctively clearing jams and his ammo was perfect for this... We both got a chuckle at that....
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Old March 24, 2009, 09:05 AM   #13
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I have no formal training with firearms in a "self defense" manner, but i have been very involved in martial arts for many years, started with northern shaolin kung fu when i was 9, i have branched off into many different styles and schools of thought, there is a lot of theory that gets bounced around.. though for some reason, the two sections of the "self defense" community never seem to come together, i was taught to use what was available.. turning your body into a "weapon" is one thing, having an actual weapon will always be preferred

another thing that has stuck with me, was a rather childish discussion with a friend about a modern day "ninja" i insisted that they still exist, in the form of some highly trained units, using the term "special forces" as some what of an umbrella term, back in the days of the good ol ninja.. it was common practice to be deceiving, the target might find himself at the pointy end of a farm tool, after walking past an innocent looking dirty rice farmer... the point is (no pun intended) they used the weapons they had.. and learned to be very deadly with them, the same logic is still applied today, at least in my opinion, and today.. we have guns

what i am getting at.. is the fact that i think its best to train body and mind, regardless of what weapon you have in your hand, same rules apply, remain calm and think clearly, i spent my years doing the drills, pounding the forms and techniques into my body, preparing my mind for that moment... when it finally came, i forgot every single thing i spent so long trying to learn... EXCEPT the most important thing, my mind was clear and i knew what i had to do, if not exactly how to do it off the top of my head, no game plan so to speak, the end result was a complete blank in my mind for awhile, i could not remember exactly what had occurred, all i knew is my face hurt and my right hand felt like it was broken

i was attacked from behind, had no idea it was coming, caught a right hook to the cheek, a bit dazed from it and mostly surprised, the next swing was redirected away from me and countered with a very solid shot to the face... not the best idea, hit hard targets soft and soft targets hard, i forgot that little idea , it was a horrible experience, my first fight... i handled it very poorly, but we have to learn somehow, at least no one died

Bruce Lee said "be water" im sure everyone knows the rest, but how many know what he meant? i prefer the analogy of being a tree, blown by the wind... rooted solidly at its base, strong and confident.. able to roll with the punches, if the wind blows, do the tree branches pause for a second, to think which way they should move? no, its not a matter of instinct, its just what must happen, its very hard to find that balance, to be able to mindlessly react to any situation correctly

if you are attacked by an armed attacker, that doe intend to kill you, and you have a gun in your pocket, what will you do? is it locked and loaded, can you draw and get a shot off before he can close the distance, do you even need to use the gun.. can you cancel his threat without it, if not then what are the risk factors in your surroundings, could you harm an innocent by mistake, all of this and so much more will undoubtedly race through your mind in that split second, can you really afford to waste that much time?

i know i seem to be rambling on with no real answers, but thats because i don't know the answers and i don't think there are any, every situation will be different, and you can never fully prepare for any of them, but we at least owe it to ourselves and others, to keep trying to reach that next level of awareness and physical capability, through training both mind and body

but never forget the real purpose of training, it is.. and always has been, to get our body in the condition to preform the task that our mind sets for us, whatever that may be

again, just my .02, i have no formal training with firearms, but i have years of training and experience with self-defense

(wow.. i can talk a lot sometimes )
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Old March 24, 2009, 10:42 AM   #14
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training is a tool...fill your tool box.

take as many classes as you can and learn from each..do your homework on the company, but within the shooting/training/secret squirrel community there are really only a handful of well recognized schools.

You are 100% correct though..it will be a FIGHT! not a flat range..so train to FIGHT!

FoF is an eyeopener for most.
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Old March 24, 2009, 11:04 AM   #15
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Vito, do yourself a favor and take a Suarez course. Gabe is one of the best instructors out there. He actually offers courses all over the world. Take his basic course first and get an idea from there what you think you can and can't handle physically. As long as you don't have any heart problems and you can still move, get up and down off the ground, you should be fine for 95% of the training out there. Keep in mind, most of the good instructors are all at least in their 40s. These are typically not ninja courses designed for 19yr olds.
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Old March 24, 2009, 08:58 PM   #16
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I've often wondered how valuable it is to spend a lot of time and ammo at the range carefully trying to achieve close groups in a methodical and relaxed situation.
I think it's a waste of time after a certain point. I say shoot the first 500-1000 rounds from your weapon "slow and steady" to break the gun in and acclimate yourself to it, and the first 25-50 rounds of each training session after that, but ...

I think it would be FAR better to learn point and shoot, shooting while running, .. in general shooting while moving rather than standing still.

I used to know this police chick who was into guns. She said that, although she and her PO friends trained at a range using the isosceles stance, she had heard of lots of stories of gunfights (never been in one herself) and had NEVER heard of ANY cop actually using the stance or any other.

Almost all gunfights (according to her) were surprises at either a traffic stop or upon entering a building and in every case the cop was running and ducking while firing, usually firing with one hand with the body torqued in some odd direction.

How often do you think you'll be in a gunfight where you have more than a few seconds to know what's going to happen? It hardly ever happens. Usually you won't know anyone is shooting until you see the gun or hear the pops.

The only recent shootout I remember where someone had time is the one a couple of years ago where the guy started shooting people in the parking lot of a church, then came inside the church and started shooting. The security guard (female I think) had time to get behind something and ready herself before he burst in, and if I recall she either killed him or wounded him with a shot or two. In that case range/accuracy training would be good.
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Old March 26, 2009, 05:42 AM   #17
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One can certainly get a lot of contradictory advice here, can't one?

I've tended to suggest wherever appropriate that it doesn't help to shoot a large number of rounds in one session. It probably helps if competitive target shooting is what you're aiming for but not for self defense. But it also should be noted that the typical range, indoor or out, does not lend itself particularly well to realistic combat training. It is better than nothing, though, I suppose.

One of the things proponents of the .45 auto or other large calibers like to point out is that you don't need as many rounds because they are more effective. They even sometimes dismiss hollow points as trick ammunition. Then they go out and shoot 300 rounds two or three times a week. And practice fast reloads to boot. Confusing to the beginner, isn't it.

Concerning training to clear jams, I would suggest that is the wrong approach to the problem, especially is what you hear about gunfights is at all accurate. Better to have something reliable that will never "jam" or have stoppages. Judging from what I have read on this forum, a Makarov sounds like the most reliable handgun out there. Judging from my own experience, a Sig is the least. And that is even more contradictory advice.

And finally, I've never read anything or had any experience that suggested speed wasn't important.
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Old March 26, 2009, 09:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by BlueTrain
Better to have something reliable that will never "jam" or have stoppages.
I'm not trying to pick nits or anything, but there are no such things as guns that don't jam or have stoppages. There are no magic swords, and if you shoot enough rounds, anything will jam. If you name a brand, I can guarantee you that it can and will eventually jam.

Malfunction clearance drills should be part of your practice routine if you're a serious defensive shooter. The good gun schools (Thunder Ranch, Blackwater, Gunsite, etc) all teach malfunction clearance drills as a matter of doctrine.
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Old March 26, 2009, 10:03 AM   #19
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I've often wondered how valuable it is to spend a lot of time and ammo at the range carefully trying to achieve close groups in a methodical and relaxed situation.
Simple, there is no subsitute for good shooting fundamentals, regardless how you shoot, regardless whether you shoot targets, practical or self defence, There is no subsitute for good shooting fundamentals.

People are creatures of habit, You practice fundamentals, you train with fundamentals, you are subconsciencely going to revert to using those fundamentals in a high stress situation.

When I was a LE instructor, I pushed to have everyone I instructed to read and study Bill Jordon's NO SECOND PLACE WINNER. As a FTO (field training officer) I made the reading of that book mandentory before I signed off on any of my trainees.

There is no law anywhere, that says shooting fundamentals (that give you those little groups you talk about) can't be used in Tactal or SD situations.

Sure, maybe you can luck out, and point shoot from the hip at 3 feet, but what about three yards. One case in point, I had just ran some qualifications for my department. We had one officer, who shot a qualification score, did good actually, since most of the course was at relatively short range. Not 15 minuetes he was on a traffic stop when another car stopped behind his patrol car. The driver approached the patrol car as the officer was getting out. The bandit had a pistol and pointed it at the officer who drew and fired shooting the tail light on his own police car, that was from the drivers door. Turns out the bandit couldnt shoot either, this officer was lucky. The next night and every night for weeks, he was back in the range learning to shoot, It takes a spit second to bring the pistol up to eye sight.

As Bill Jordon taught, Keep your eyes on the threat, bring the gun up to your line of sight and fire, you loose vertually little time but your shooting improves IF YOU TRAIN, AND DRILL THIS PROCEEDURE.

I also ran a drill where as, as soon as the revolver clears the holster you start firing as you brought the gun up to your eye sight.

Regardless, how you shoot, compitition, tactical, or SD, there is no substute for the fundamentals.

You react the way you were train. During stress you will revert to your training subconsciencly.

Just try it. Keeping all the shooting fundamentals in mind, start our slow, draw and bring your pistol/revoler sights up to your eyes, while keeping the eyes on the target, and fire. Start at 7 feet, as you improve, speed up your shooting and move back. Soon, (with the right practice and using standard shooting fundamentals) you be able to keep your groups small, all the way back to 25 yards and further. Practice at 50 yards also. I realize thats a long range for SD shooting, but it will tighten your groups up at 7 yards.

Read Bill Jordon's book. The man knew what he was talking about. Don't sell these older gun people short.
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Old March 26, 2009, 07:29 PM   #20
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As Bill Jordon taught, Keep your eyes on the threat, bring the gun up to your line of sight and fire, you loose vertually little time but your shooting improves IF YOU TRAIN, AND DRILL THIS PROCEEDURE.
And I am a strong beliver in that.

With the exception of true hip shooting, the time it takes to bring the gun up to eye level .vs. chest level , or diaphragm level, is so small a fraction of a second it would have no relevance except on a Matt Dillon 'Gun Smoke' show.
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Old March 26, 2009, 08:29 PM   #21
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If you train to shoot fast and accurately in a repeatable fashion, it is will what will "revert to" during stress. When I first attended force on force training, my shooting technique was exactly the same as what I had been using the prior 5 years of IPSC/3Gun.
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Old March 28, 2009, 03:59 PM   #22
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Interesting discussions. Enjoyed reading the thread..

BUT as a really old guy, that has been carrying for almost 50 years and have worked professionally outside the country for a few years, there is one thing that I think people miss with training...and this is not the fun part..

PAIN....I used to instruct at a dojo in the 70's in Korea Town of Los Angeles. (Jujitsu and Wing Chou) I had a lot of LEO and also hookers for students...(Interesting mix in my classes ). I could get people trained to where technically they were pretty good. When I would push them a bit, and no longer hold back, so they had to take some solid hits, 80% would just fold up and not fight back....

Your reaction to pain will be just like your reaction to shooting, or fighting. Pain is your bodies alarm system, you need to shut it down and focus on the threat, it is just a mental thing....but from childhood we are taught to protect ourselves from pain. Whether you are in a physical confrontation, or a gun fight, you can get hit....DO NOT STOP TO TAKE CARE OF THE PAIN< KEEP FIGHTING UNTIL YOU HAVE WON>>>

I have never been shot, and had to keep in the fight, but I have collected an amazing collection of some green/purple/black/blue marks on the body, and was able to smile about it the following day, as I won the day before. Most confrontations are over in less than 30 seconds.
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Old March 29, 2009, 02:56 PM   #23
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Interesting thread.

I find myself in agreement with the sentiment that there isn't a good substitute for good fundamentals. Luck can fall one way or another, but good fundamentals makes for good preparation.

Over my years of arts training I always found the better prepared folks were those who didn't loose sight of their foundation skills. They continued to revisit their foundation, refining and looking for new insights into the foundation skills upon which more 'advanced' skills were developed. Constantly renewing an understanding of the foundation upon which everything else is built is nothing to denigrate.

As a LE firearms instructor I respected the older generation of LE folks who learned to use revolvers in their work. Granted, I might be a bit more inclined to grant them that respect ... seeing as how I came in on the tail end of the revolver era in LE, myself. I carried a M66 and then later a M686 as issued weapons for several years until we adopted 9mm pistols.

Many of those earlier revolver users may not have been as anxious to transition to the new-fangled high capacity semiauto pistols as the younger folks, but a good foundation of traditional double action revolver skills can make for some good pistol shooting skills. Being able to smoothly cycle a heavy DA revolver trigger while using the sights as necessary to make effective use of a limited number of rounds available in a Magnum revolver does seem to make for some effective pistols users upon occasion.

Personally, I always found it easier to help a revolver shooter make the transition to effective pistol shooter than the other way around, especially if the pistol user had developed his/her skills around the philosophy that having a light trigger and a high capacity magazine offset the need to develop a good foundation regarding shooting skills.

Pain hurts. Being surprised and unnecessarily distracted by pain can cost awareness, attention/focus and time better applied toward surviving the moment. Training can help to work through it and lessen the perception of it.

Foundation skills. Shooting, like other physical activities, is generally considered a perishable skill set and often requires sufficient practice in order to effectively retain a high degree of those skills, especially under stress.

Mindset, mindset, mindset.

Consider reading a book called FORCE UNDER PRESSURE, How Cops Live and Why They Die, by Lawrence N. Blum, Ph.D.
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Old April 1, 2009, 08:30 AM   #24
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Here are a few more comments for this particularly good thread.

One, I grew up getting into fights all the time (probably doesn't sound like me, does it?). I was taken to the hospital more than once to get stitched back together. But that wasn't so unusual in the 1950's, I suspect, though I have nothing to back up that belief. These days, it would probably be thought exceptional, unless perhaps you lived in the inner city. The point is, younger people are less likely to be physically reactive to threats, though I could easily be wrong. This includes accepting the fact that in fights, you get hurt, even if you win. And it also includes accepting the fact that you may have to fight, even if it is not a good idea and perhaps even if you have no chance of winning. I realize that some may argue those points. But those ideas I have formed from my own experiences. Being willing to fight even if you have no chance of winning might keep you out of a fight now and then. Notice I haven't mentioned guns or even weapons. Same rules apply.

Second, the same rules don't apply to everyone (here we are with contradictory rules again). By this I mean that the rules that the police operate under with regards to fighting will not be the same that the private citizen operates under. In theory, the private citizen may not be agressive, in a manner of speaking, in the way the police can be, presumably because the private citizen's actions are limited to self defense. While it usually doesn't require the private citizen to run away, which is sometimes a good idea, it generally prevents him from pursuing an assailant. On the other hand, the policeman probably is prevented from running away, though sometimes a tactical retreat is in order. So in reading various writers ideas about self-defense, consider what their background was.

Finally, it is said that in sniper school, they just teach the same things taught at the basic level, only the students are listening.
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Old April 1, 2009, 08:43 AM   #25
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Unfortunately I live in IL, and his classes are in TX or AZ, and being in my 60's, with diminished visual acuity, with more of a gut than I like to admit to, I've wondered how well I could do in his programs.
Do some searching around and you'll likely find some FOF training nearby. This kind of training is far more available than some would have you believe.
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