Train like you Fight

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Wisdom from Frank Proctor

We’ve all heard it or said it: Train like you Fight. A lot of times, folks think that means wearing full kit in order to train to better shoot your gun. I disagree with the party line that you have to wear full battle rattle to train to shoot better.

For tactical shooters I would strongly recommend shooting ‘slick with no kit’ and learn what they can truly do with their guns, what their full capabilities are, how fast can they really put bullets on targets, maneuver through a challenging course of fire, get into positions, etc. Once that base line of what’s possible is established then put your duty gear on and see if you can still do the same stuff.

If you can’t, why?

If it’s because your body armor is too restrictive, there are plenty of ways to keep the defensive capabilities of your body armor AND be mobile and able to mount your gun to shoot well, and give yourself and your team mates some valuable OFFENSIVE capabilities. This concept applies to all the gear you carry to duty; if it hinders your optimal performance I would fix it or get rid of it and stay as light as possible.

Here’s a proven concept that we all as tactical shooters can use to ‘Train to Win’. Every organized sports team in the country (especially the ones that win) use a similar concept to train. Football teams don’t go full speed in pads everyday in practice. That would be the conventional shooter’s wisdom of “train like you fight”. What they do instead is break down individual skill sets and train them to perfection. Then they’ll put on the pads and put all those things together and scrimmage. They take note of what went well and what didn’t go well, and then they take off the pads and train again. When it comes game time they are prepared to WIN.

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Frank Proctor On Guns, Gear, Training, And Competitive Shooting

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Folks, here are some of my thoughts in regards to guns, gear, manipulations, technique, etc. I’m a fan of gear that works better as long as it’s reliable. I don’t take anything to a match that I wouldn’t take to combat. I would and have set up my guns for combat the same as my competition guns. In the ratio of performance and reliability I find a good happy medium. Mine work better than stock and they always work, they have to. The same goes for any techniques or shooting methodology it must for combat or competition. There is a bunch of weak sauce out there in the statements that competition stuff will get you killed. I disagree, I was a Green Beret and deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq both before and after I got involved in competitive shooting and achieved the rank of Grand Master in USPSA (limited division).

In May 2007 I was the Primary Instructor for Combat Marksmanship for an entire Special Forces Group and trained with dudes from other SF groups and other DOD agencies. I shot my first pistol match in May 2007 and I found out there was a whole lot I didn’t know about shooting. It was very humbling to see what those competitive shooters could do with a pistol. I was not as good as they were and I wanted to be better than I was. I’m still not as good as I want to be. I worked on it and trained and competed as often as I could. I learned a lot from shooting with those guys and competing and being under that kind of stress. I did and still do take away may lessons that make me a better shooter and made me a better Green Beret. Outside of more efficient techniques, gear and manipulations( the stuff that most shooters incorrectly focus on) a HUGE take away is seeing faster and more aggressively. What you see and process and how fast and aggressive you can do it make the biggest difference. An easy translation of me was doing CQB after competing. I am much more aggressive with my vision as a result of competing and it pays huge dividends being able to receive visual information and process it faster. I encourage every person that carries a gun of a living or for self defense to go out an compete, find out if you are a stood at shooting under stress as you want to be. If you are as good as you want to be then quit competing. I wasn’t and am still not as good as I want to be. Also worth mentioning, I find it very easy to separate tactics and shooting.

The visual and mechanical efficiency that you will gain by becoming a successful competitive shooter will make the application of tactics easier when that time arrives. Here’s another factoid and probably will be painful. There are a lot of people that carry guns for a living or in self defense that don’t train to be better shooters or very rarely do so ( my hat is off the the dedicated exceptions, I respect your dedication to your trade and responsibility) On the other every competitive shooters trains to become better because they want to win or they wan to be better than they were yesterday. In my mind that should apply to also apply to the folks that carry guns with the possibility of having to use it in a life or death situation.

Now, let me talk about press checks and putting rifles on safe etc. When I attended the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course (Shooting and CQB course for every Green Beret) It was taught as part of a deliberate load procedure to press check the gun to insure a round was in the chamber. I think that’s a pretty solid PCI (pre combat inspection) I do it and the dudes I went to war with do it. It doesn’t cost anything and I have real good warm fuzzy when I need the gun it’ll go boom. I’ve seen a bunch of dudes that don’t do it and I’ve also seen them step up to shoot with an unloaded gun. I’ve seen this a bunch with the non press checkers. Never seen it with a though that make the press check part of their gun handling habits. I press check my pistol usually after I shoot, this became a habit for me as an adaptation. I shot a Beretta a good bit and with big hands I would override the slide stop and not get slide lock. I started press checking the pistol and prevented that uncomfortable feeling of having an empty mag and empty chamber.

Now, let’s talk about something else that seems to get some “tactical” shooters fired up. Putting the rifle on safe during reloads and when transitioning from rifle to pistol. I live by a very simple rule in regards to safe manipulation of the rifle. If my eyes are not connected to the sights the rifle is on safe. To this date that method has not cost me anytime in an engagement or transition. Over the last 15 years I have had and AR-15 or M4 in my hands nearly everyday. It’s a habit and an easy one. Doesn’t cost any time and prevents any issues. Once again I do it and believe in it an so do my peers. If you aren’t into it that’s cool, but not if you are on a range with me. I think anyone with an open mind would agree. I also believe that if you carry an AR-15 or M4 for a living and putting he gun on safe is an issue for you, then you should train more to make it easy and I’ll be glad to help with that. If you think that putting the rifle on safe when you are not connected to the sights is silly, then I think you need to evaluate what happens on the pointy end of the rifle. It’s only a matter of time and exposure before people with unsafe gun handling skills have their life or someone else’s life changed in a negative way.

Well, that’s about all I have for now I’ll finish by saying I believe win everything I do and teach and I know it works because I have down it and seen it with my eyes and explored it. Not because someone said so or the book said or the forum said etc. Also for a recap on my opinions based on my experiences as a shooter both combat shooting and competition shooting. Shooting has been a part of my everyday life and a passion for the last 15 years. I’ve been a Green Beret since November 2003 and Grand Master Since January 2009. Thanks for reading and I hope to see y’all at a range someday and I wish you the best in your shooting!

-Frank Proctor

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