Military and Special Operations Fitness

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This is one of the best overviews of effective military fitness training I’ve read.

Give me a 180-200lb guy that can squat, deadlift, press, clean, and snatch close to the “accepted” standards for athletic performance.** Add in cardio to his regimen – sprints, preferably. Every once in a while, with safety in mind, force him to work longer than 40 minutes. It should be taxing. Every single gym session works him toward a common goal- mobility, flexibility, strength, power, explosiveness, and injury prevention. If any workout doesn’t directly benefit (without excluding) those tenets, then don’t do it. Strength is priority numeral uno. Cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory conditioning is second, tied with mobility and injury prevention. Everything else- aesthetics, fad training ideas, things you read in muscle and fitness about your abs- throw them away. Let’s not get cute until we are in the top 10% of our weight class.

** From this chart, minimums are at least Cat. III in every lift for your weight and gender, preferably Cat. IV

It is worth noting that most military and police fitness tests were based on research done by Dr. Ken Cooper. Cooper (the man that coined the word “aerobics”) is a cardiologist that was a competitive runner and one of the first researchers to find a correlation between cardiovascular fitness and mortality. His tests were based on his clinical and competitive interests (biases?) and formed around running for time or distance, usually around 12-20 minute and/or 1.5-3 mile tests. Because this ignored any sort of upper body testing, two calisthenic exercises of some sort were added. Cooper suggested push ups and sit ups.

None of this had any relevance or merit to athletic or combat performance. Cooper’s tests were designed around the correlation of cardiovascular fitness and mortality rates. Passing a PT test indicates enough “fitness” to avoid premature death from a cardiopulmonary disease. It is an indicator of physical wellness only.

While cardiovascular fitness does correlate to physical wellness and reduced mortality, aerobic exercise is not necessary to improve it. Further research indicates that physical strength may be a better measure anyway. It’s certainly better for field performance.

And if you train to be able to run away, to simply exist as opposed to being strong enough to finish the fight- well, then run away is all you got. And that’s not the business we are in.

Harsh Reality: Police Are Not Highly Trained Firearms Experts


This article applies equally to military, probably more so.

Competition Skill Carry Over


There are people that wrongly claim there is no use or carry over of skill from competitive events and equipment to “real world” or other places.

Here’s an example of a skilled competitive shooter using a Remington RM380 subcompact .380 pistol shot from concealment.

Here is another top competitive shooter demonstrating with his actual carry gear:

Many of these defensive/tactical classes are a few days long. Is anyone so stupid as to believe a person with well-developed, demonstrably higher skill such as this couldn’t absorb that knowledge as well or better than anyone else taking such a class, especially compared to the novice-level shooters in attendance at such classes?

What makes you certain this or any other competitive shooter hasn’t already learned and studied such skills? Just because a specific tactical idea wasn’t tested or demonstrated in a specific range exercise or competitive event doesn’t mean the competitors aren’t aware of them.

Winchester WinLite slugs


A report from John Tate.

Training Approach

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Training is on-going, programmed work designed to increase skill and/or capability. A critical component of training is measurement. Activity that fails to periodically measure skill and/or capability is not training.

Practice is skill or context-specific rehearsal. There is a component of practice in all training.

Instruction is receiving formally-organized information via a class or other means. This is very useful to anyone new to an idea or skill but ceases to be training when it fails to measurably improve skills.

Dictionaries do us a bit of disservice by sometimes listing these as synonyms but there is overlap. Receiving information via a formal class or similar means (instruction) might be the best training option, especially for a novice or someone new to a skill. For more skillful people, one-on-one skill consulting (coaching) is likely better. They don’t need new information about a skill (instruction), they need a knowledgeable person with a sharp eye for skill to observe what they already know and can do, and then offer an intelligent, organized path towards improvement. Rote repetitive rehearsal (practice) may be what’s needed to drive skill improvement.

Handgun presentation from a ready position, such as a holster, is a gun handling fundamental. This fundamental skill applies to any context where getting a firearm from ready to up and on target in a time-efficient manner is useful. Using this fundamental to win Steel Challenge events is a specific context and preparing properly for that specific context requires practice. Using this fundamental in a military environment is a different context but the skill remains the same.

Champion practical pistol competitor Doug Koenig discusses this here. Even when setting up to practice for a specific event, he continues to work base fundamental skills.

Hint: If a long-time national-level champion feels the need to continue working simple, fundamental skills as a primary component of his regimen, it is even more important for those of us with lesser skill to do so as well.

Tate on Training

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Words of wisdom from John Tate. More

Friendly Fire A Hazard To Nuclear Sites?

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From John Tate

Speer didn’t oppose the use of more powerful weaponry to protect the plants, documents show. His concern was that officers get sufficient training to avoid missed shots and inadvertently creating larger problems, no matter which weapons they carried.

We sometimes joke about the poor marksmanship and spray-and-pray tactics of some police. But such conduct usually only poses a hazard to bystanders, other officers … oh, and sometimes the bad guy. But what if the recipient of these stray rounds was a functional nuclear power plant where release of radioactive materials, or even a core melt down could endanger hundreds of thousands?

That is the focus of the article linked below; it’s thought provoking.

Interestingly enough, the “nationally recognized course” referred to for their qualification is a 100 yard National Match Course (the NRA High Power rule book is explicitly mentioned as a part of their standard qualification) and NRA PPC with B-27 targets for pistol.

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