Ash Hess: Army Marksmanship and MMTC

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SFC Ash Hess (ret.) was one of the primary authors of the Army’s new Training Circulars. He was asked to speak before a recent graduating class at Marksmanship Master Trainer Course. Here’s a link to his original post and the transcript. Bold highlights were added to emphasize important points.

https://ashhessblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/speach-for-the-marksmanship-master-trainer-course/

Speech for the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course

I want to start off by saying that I am honored and humbled to be here. When SFC Chain asked me to speak I checked to make sure he was messaging the right guy because honestly I never expected to receive that message. I immediately, upon that confirmation, jumped at the chance to speak to the graduates of the Master Marksmanship Trainer Course 03-18.

You see, the people in this room, guests, cadre and most importantly the graduates are the future of Army Marksmanship. One would be pretty naïve to assume that anyone could stand here and say that we don’t have issues in that realm. Five weeks ago, you may or may not have agreed that we are a couple of minutes of angle off across the Army.

During the course, you have learned better ways to shoot and train, things you never heard of, and things you learned in basic training and lost over the years. You slaughtered some sacred cows and destroyed perpetual myths centered on our service rifle. You are now part of a relatively small group of people in the Army that have attended an Army level class on marksmanship.

Until MMTC unveiled, the last formal, Army level marksmanship training was basic training. Think about the thousands of leaders and soldiers that have done nothing more than execute what their Drill Sergeants taught them over their careers with no chance of learning more.

If you were lucky, you had the privilege of attending one of the many Division Schools like I ran when I attended MMTC in 2015. While these schools were awesome training, they lacked one important element that MMTC does not. Army-wide recognition. We trained people and when they left the Division, that knowledge was often met with “that’s great, but here is how we do it. ”

When you walk out those doors you are not facing that challenge of trying to sell your skills. You have the backing of the Infantry School. You also have something else that is near and dear to my heart. That would be TC 3-22.9. By now you have been in that book and if you wondered who the good idea fairy was, well, that’s me.

That book was written under this simple guidance “write the book you needed while you were instructing” The course I ran for 10th Mountain graduated 1600 students under my watch. 1600 people learned and executed great things and went back to their units only to be hamstrung by an old book. My team and stakeholders from across the Army, active and reserve, set out to make a book that supported not only everything we have learned in the war but something that would support good marksmanship techniques and most importantly, teaching techniques.

We not only vetted the book within the Army, but we brought in several professional instructors from across the industry. Many of them have been teaching every weekend for 10+ years as their primary income. These pros helped us streamline the message and cleared up wording to make it teach more effectively. Believe that these guys are on your side and want nothing more than effective American Soldiers. Many times, business comes second and they gave the Army things that people would pay a lot of money to learn.

In our research, we found some things. Our weapons aren’t bad for what we are asking them to do. All of you fired issued weapons from five meters out to 600 meters. The ammunition is good enough for what we are asking it to do. You guys know this as you got hits. If the weapons and ammo aren’t the problem, what is?

Is it the caliber of Solider? If that were it, it wouldn’t cover 40 years of marginal performance

Is it the number of rounds we fire? Could be in some cases but if SFC Chain and the cadre had simply said, “here is 100,000 rounds; blast away” without any teaching would you guys have seen the improvement you made the past few weeks?

We decided that is was WHAT we were saying and how we were saying it. We relooked what we were providing to leaders and instructors to teach. Here at Fort Benning, you can’t present anything that isn’t in a book. No matter what we wanted to teach, the book was the book. I think we made big strides on fixing that.

So that leads to what you guys learned here in MMTC. For those in the room, you were successful. Some were not. The difference is the message that the cadre challenged and graded you on delivering. You had to group to higher standards than normal, get more precise zeros and get hits beyond what many of you were used to. You also had to teach back things that improved your own performance. You not only learned how to shoot better but learned how to make others shoot better, which is the big picture.

This is how we are improving Army Marksmanship. No more will you leave a school and not be able to use the information provided there because a leader asks one simple question, “What does the book say?” The knowledge passed on to you from the cadre cannot be undermined nor argued with by those who have always done it one way. When you go back to your units and later your next unit, that knowledge will still be relevant.

I close with a challenge. I challenge you, the MMTC graduates to transfer all the knowledge gained here to four people. You may get more than that but if you can get four people to the same level you are the result will be astounding. You and your subordinates need to get the message out to 1 million people as they fire 400 million rounds next year. You now know how to get all the rounds you and your Soldiers are allocated and the best ways to use them. Those rounds will be fired, we hope, but the question remains are they good rounds or are they fired the same way we always have done it.

I thank you for all you are doing and you have my support in your continued efforts.

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John Correia on Training Standards

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John Correia
ASP (Active Self Protection)

It continues to boggle my mind that a small segment of the defensive training world insists that timers are useless in defensive firearms training.

Honestly, that’s like saying “Grades are useless in measuring student’s learning.” This showcases a gross misunderstanding of what grades ARE. They don’t measure. They acknowledge and demonstrate an objective standard of achievement, which can then be correlated into other areas to prepare a student to achieve “in the real world.”

It’s like looking at racing and saying, “Qualifying laps are bogus and don’t reflect how races will go, so get rid of them because they don’t help you in the race.” That’s not what qualifying laps are. Qualifying shows your raw ability with your equipment to see what your best is, so that you can be ranked with your peers as the race starts. It is an acknowledgment of your demonstrated maximum ability in ideal conditions, which tends to correlate to success on race day.

There IS a timer in your gunfight. There’s no beep, but there IS a timer. Make no mistake, I have seen gunfights won by a tenth and lost by a tenth.

No one is saying “if you’re X fast on the timer, you’ll win.” We’re saying, “This objective standard showcases a certain level of proficiency with this critical task which will give you maximum advantage in a defensive shooting.”

Failing to recognize that is…puzzling.

Wisdom from John Hearne

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“It’s all about context. Off CONUS military gunfights are different in size and duration. In such a fight, keeping magazines, using cover, communicating, firing and maneuvering are all important concepts and key to victory. They have almost nothing to do with Leon approaching you on the stop and rob parking lot and demanding your valuables.

Are there exceptions – yes but they are rare and most often found in the LE context. Cops have an obligation to corral, cuff, and control suspects. This means that their fights (not contacts) are initiated by the bad guy and when you have dedicated bad guys you get gun battles like Miami or Newhall. The armed civilian should not be initiating the contact but they should be starting the fight. To paraphrase James Yeager – the faster you finish the fight, the less shot you get.

If you put a 2-4 solid hits on the dude before he realizes he’s failed the victim selection test, you will win. Even if dude has friends, definitively burning down the first one sends a potent message and the odds of them sticking around to fight it out are low (gang members being the obvious exception).

If you look at the research on police gunfight winners, you don’t see cover being used by WINNERS. One in six (15%) of the WINNERS used cover in their fight. These aren’t protracted, drawn out engagements. The first person to make the gun go off (hit or not) has a huge psychological advantage. If that loud noise is accompanied by a high, mid-line hit, that solves most problems. If you spend your time working to cover, you diminish your ability to make meaningful hits because very few of us can shoot and move briskly (concurrently) very well. In the stateside engagement, cover is something you worry about AFTER the initial fight is over. Burn dude down, then worry about cover – don’t end up like Trooper Coates.

For the armed citizen, and most cops, knowing who’s around them and what they’re doing will go a long way. The other part of that is not denying what you’re seeing. If someone plots an intersect course with you in the parking lot that is not an innocent coincidence. If someone offers you violence, offer them more violence, more quickly.
Reloads are generally like cover, they are something you do after the initial exchange. The friends may decide to get engaged, the bad guy may realize he’s not hurt that bad, having a full gun is nice (if you’ve got a double stack pistol how many rounds do you have left?) The speed reload works great for this as it is very quick and simple. Emergency reloads are important because they’re a sign you’ve screwed up. If the guns empty, it’s most likely because you’re not hitting – you need to get more bullets in the gun but more importantly YOU NEED TO HIT THE SOB high and along the mid-line.

Personally, I think that one can train enough to perform tactical reloads after a fight. The problem is that this skill should be really far down your training priorities. Most folks just don’t have the resources (time and ammo) to practice the really important stuff, let alone the esoteric.”

– John Hearne

“People need to stop worrying about tactics and buy a few thousand rounds of ammo, take a class, and learn to shoot before they even worry about cover, concealment, or any of that jazz. If you can’t pull the trigger straight to the rear without disturbing the sights all the rest is of lower priority.”

– John Vlieger

My response to the “OMG, competition will get you killed”-people… Well, if I’m ever faced with three dudes and am able to draw, shoot, and hit them all in the chest in under three seconds and still get killed, I deserve to die.

– Caleb Giddings

Instructors Can’t Give What They Don’t Have

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A firearms instructor that can’t shoot well, isn’t

Nemo dat quod non habet (“no one gives what he doesn’t have”)

Review: Convict Conditioning

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Deceptive hype overshadowing semi-decent bodyweight exercise advice that can had for better elsewhere

Convict Conditioning is an example of what’s wrong with most fitness advice as it is primarily image and hyperbole overshadowing a bit of potentially useful advice. Here author “Paul Wade” (Google “Paul Wade identity” for sources claiming this is a pseudonym) uses prison hype to sell a “hard core” image for bodyweight exercise as better than anything else while providing no evidence to back up the claims.

Looking past the prison images that are merely public domain pics from the government (see page 288, Acknowledgements) the main model/demonstrator for this book is Jim Bathurst, founder of the excellent Beast Skills website. If “Paul Wade” is this awesomely strong guy built with bodyweight exercises, who claims to have won various Powerlifting meets with his methods (but doesn’t even bother to make up and lie about a total at said events) why not demo himself? I mean, a former convict could save the money instead of hiring Bathurst and then block out his face with Photoshop to hide his identity if necessary.

Given that Jim Bathurst demonstrated this instead of the author, how did he develop his ability? Visit his Beast Skills website to confirm:

“I like to incorporate barbell training (power lifting and olympic lifting), as well as gymnastic and bodyweight exercises. … I feel that bodyweight training and weight training complement each other very well. I’ve gotten the impression that some people feel they have to choose between one or the other. Or that one is superior to the other. I hate to see a divide in two types of training that will both ultimately improve your body.”

One Legged Squat (The Pistol)

“Method One – Squats!
Weighted squats are an incredible exercise, and going nice and low with them helps build some incredible strength in your legs. This ended up being the only method I used. Seriously, the only one. I had worked rock bottom squats for several months before I had even heard of the pistol, but I was able to pick up the skill very quickly and easily because I had developed strength in the necessary range of motion.”

One Arm Chin-up / Pull-up

“Weighted Chins
The weighted chin was a major exercise I worked on while training for the OAP, much more important than doing endless unweighted chinups. I would highly recommend you work this exercise. This was my bread and butter.

How much extra weight do I need to do in my weighted chin-up before I can do a one arm chin-up? Perform a chin-up with 2/3 of your current bodyweight for 2-3 reps and you’re close.”


Beginner Handstand Pushups

“Now the obvious question – can’t I just work my military press in the gym? Sure you can. I love to work heavy shoulder presses myself.”

“Paul Wade” lists Bert Assirati (page 13) as an example to justify his claims. Yet, Assirati developed his strength primarily with weight training. In 1938 he set an unofficial world record Deadlift at 800 pounds along with squatting 550 pounds for ten reps. He could press of 160 pounds with one arm, clean and jerk 360, and press 285. On his 16th birthday his father took him to a physical culture show and after watching a demonstration by Alan P. Mead, Bert’s father bought him a barbell set from Mead, which included notes and a training program from Mead.

John Grimek (page 26) was a member of the 1936 US Olympic Weightlifting Team and York Barbell Club.

On a personal note, I’ve found my ability to perform bodyweight exercise has improved greatly since training with barbells because barbell training got me stronger than a bodyweight exercise approach ever did.

Convict Conditioning leaves you with one possible approach to bodyweight exercise (among plenty of others) surrounded by unsubstantiated claims by an anonymous author, a hard sell of bodyweight exercise done by running down weight training (with no evidence, along with examples and demonstrations by people that were successful because of their weight training), all set to a tone glamorizing a prison “hard time” chic. I was interested in this book upon finding it in a library and am glad I didn’t waste money on it, though I’m disappointed the library did.

If you’re interested in bodyweight exercise, Jim Bathurst at his Beast Skills website has a number of free tutorials along with expanded manuals for sale. He is the real deal and doesn’t need hype or a pseudonym to do it. Even “Paul Wade” paid him to demonstrate.

How Strength Training Changes Your Body For Good

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From Time, exerpts from the article “The Science of Exercise“:

“There are so many misconceptions about strength and resistance training,” says Larry Tucker, a professor in exercise sciences at Brigham Young University. “One is that you’ll become muscle-bound”—so bulked up that your body becomes rigid. That myth was somewhat dispelled when athletes who started strength-training saw that they could hit a ball farther, jump higher and run faster, Tucker says. “Gradually we started realizing there are benefits beyond sports.”

But women in particular are neglecting strength training at their own peril. It’s the only kind of exercise that makes muscles bigger, which lets them generate more strength and force, faster. “Muscle mass allows us to move,” Tucker says. Young people tend to take for granted the day-to-day parts of life that require strength, like walking up stairs or picking up a baby. “But a sedentary lifestyle means that people are gradually becoming weaker over time,” he says. Building muscle can fight back against that process.

It’s also one of the very few ways to make bones denser, a perk that is especially important for women. Lifting something heavy, like a dumbbell, makes bones bear more weight, and in exercise, stressing your bones is a good thing (to a point of course). Bones are constantly remodeling, explains Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina. “Your body is always adding calcium to your bones and taking calcium away from your bones,” he says.

This delicate balance starts to tip as people age, and “they lose more mineral from the bone than they’re able to lay down,” Hackney says. Over time, bone gets less dense and more brittle and prone to osteoporosis, a condition that affects about 10 million Americans—80% of whom are female. Women have smaller, thinner bones than men from the start, and after menopause they lose estrogen, a hormone that protects bones.

Strength training also comes with the less visible benefit of lowering risk for several diseases. “The only real way we can increase our metabolism, unless we take drugs, is to lift weights and maintain or increase our lean mass,” says Tucker. Doing so makes the body more sensitive to insulin, and therefore more durable against certain diseases.

Recent research suggests that strength training may lower a woman’s risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a 2016 study, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health used data from nearly 36,000 older women, who ranged in age from 47 to 98. The women filled out questionnaires for about a decade detailing their health and exercise levels, and one question asked women to estimate how much weightlifting or strength training they had done per week in the past year. The researchers then tracked which of the women had a heart attack or stroke and which developed Type 2 diabetes.

Whether or not a woman did muscle-strengthening exercises indicated a lot about her health. Compared with women who avoided it, those who did any amount of strength training were more likely to have a lower body mass index and a healthier diet and less likely to be a current smoker.

They also had a Type 2 diabetes risk that was 30% lower and a cardiovascular disease risk 17% lower than those who did no strength training, even after the researchers controlled for other variables like age, diet and physical activity.

Adding aerobic exercise helped drive both risks down even more. Those who did at least 120 minutes a week of aerobic exercise and some strength training had a Type 2 diabetes risk 65% lower than women who didn’t do either.

Most people should do both kinds of exercise for the biggest gains. But if you had to choose one, Clark advises, pick strength training. “Cardio is more digestible, it’s less intimidating, but people also get less and less out of it over time,” she says. As you grow fitter, you have to do more and more aerobic exercise to see the gains, she explains. Strength training, in her view, is the most efficient exercise for those with limited time.

Read more:
http://amp.timeinc.net/time/4824531/strength-training-women-exercise/

Anti-Aging Fitness

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Can You Guess the Best Workout for Anti-Aging?

We can’t deny it: Your body reacts to each additional candle on your birthday cake. As you age, your cell function decreases, bones lose density, joints show signs of wear and muscle tissue and strength decrease while body fat increases.

http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/the-aging-body/changes-in-the-body-with-aging

You might not be able to turn back the clock, but you can slow the effects of aging on your body through exercise.

Both strength and power training are critically important as we age,” says Alice Bell, PT, DPT, a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. “In order to effectively manage the impact of aging on muscle strength and power, it is critical to incorporate high-intensity strength training into your activity regimen.”

WHAT IS THE BEST ANTI-AGING EXERCISE?

New research shows that certain forms of exercise have the most profound anti-aging effects.

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(17)30099-2

A study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, assigned participants in two age groups — 18–30 and 65–80 — and divided them into three training categories: high-intensity interval training (HIIT), weight training, or a combination of the two.

After three months, researchers compared muscle biopsies of the groups and found that strength training increased muscle mass and HIIT increased mitochondrial activity, a cellular process that declines with age and is associated with increased fatigue and inability for muscles to burn excess blood sugar. The HIIT/strength training combination had the biggest effect in older adults, helping to decrease aging at the cellular level.

In a statement about the research, K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, a diabetes researcher at the Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study noted, “These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”

The research points to the benefits of incorporating HIIT and strength training into your routine as you get older.

“The rate at which we lose muscle mass varies dependent upon our level of activity and engagement in meaningful exercise,” Bell says.

In other words, you’re more apt to maintain muscle mass and keep body fat in check as you age if you’re physically fit.

To maximize the benefits, Bell suggests incorporating HIIT and strength training into each workout.

HIIT is defined as mixing intense bursts of exercise with short periods of active rest; a run-walk combination is a good example of HIIT. Interval training can be incorporated into activities ranging from walking and biking to swimming. [Editor: A push sled (Prowler) is arguably among the best of these.] These bursts keep your heart rate up and help burn fat and, according to Bell, “High-intensity interval training is considered one of the best ways to improve cardiorespiratory and metabolic function.”

BUT DON’T FORGET STRENGTH TRAINING

Strength training is also important to maintain good health as you age. A 2016 study published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that older adults who did strength training at least twice per week had a 46% lower odds of death from all causes during the study period, a 41% lower risk of cardiac death and 19% lower odds of dying from cancer than those who did not strength train.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26921660

Bell suggests building strength by training with weights 2–3 times per week. “In order to optimize results a person must be utilizing the appropriate amount of resistance, performing the exercises with proper [form] and building in recovery time,” she says.

What about back health? Doesn’t loading the spine with weight cause problems? No. In fact, evidence indicates the opposite. Loading the spine with an appropriate, measured amount of weight improves back health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26409630/
Can specific loading through exercise impart healing or regeneration of the intervertebral disc?

RESULTS: Research from animal model studies suggests the existence of a dose-response relationship between loading and regenerative processes. Although high loading at high volumes and frequencies might accelerate degeneration or produce disc injury, high loading of low volume and at low frequency appears to induce potentially regenerative mechanisms, including improvements in disc proteoglycan content, matrix gene expression, rate of cell apoptosis, and improved fluid flow and solute transport.

CONCLUSIONS: Research suggests a dose-response relationship between loading and disc regenerative processes and that the loading pattern typically used in the lumbar extension resistance exercise interventions (high load, low volume, and low frequency) might impart healing or regeneration of the intervertebral discs.

Strength training makes the body produce growth factors and hormones that greatly reduce cellular apoptosis, which is the cause of aging. In addition, it builds lean body mass and bone density, countering sarcopenia (the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age) and frailty.
http://startingstrength.com/article/barbell_training_is_big_medicine

These effects occur only when (or, they occur best when) enough weight is lifted. Lighter is not better.

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