29% Better Tactical Training for Civilians, Police, and Special Forces: Research Review

I can tell you with 100% certainty that your tactical training only covers half of what it needs to. No matter what training you’ve had, or schools you’ve been too, you’re leaving out some crucial elements in your training. Focusing on the mechanics of shooting is important, but it’s less important than learning how to predict a deadly force encounters. In this article we’re going to look at some awesome new research, that covers the tactics of predicting a deadly force engagement. We’ll also cover how to implement better tactical training for civilians , police, and special forces. Keep reading for more.

I’ve been through a lot of tactical training courses, both in the Marine Corps, and through my police department. Over the years I’ve noticed that we almost always devote the bulk of training time to the mechanics of shooting, or the particulars of team/unit movements. This isn’t enough.

If you’ve read my other articles about gunfighting, and the psychology of life or death engagements, then you’ll remember that gaze control is very important. Gaze control, sometimes referred to as the quiet eye, is the last location you look, milliseconds before performing an action.

As you’ll see in this research review, learning how to look, and where to look, will increase your ability to make a correct shoot/no shoot decision. Here’s an overview.

Better Tactical Training Research Overview

  • Gaze control training is easy to teach
  • Hands and hips are where you should look to find weapons
  • If you wait for a weapon to be produced it’s already too late
  • Gaze control training can decrease time to first hit, and reaction time.
  • Participants saw a 29% increase in correct shooting decisions compared to controls

I do want to point out that this type of training is often done informally, but it isn’t done as often as it needs to be. Most law enforcement officers might get shoot no shoot training only a few times in a career. Special Forces and SWAT team members receive this training multiple times a year. This, in part, accounts for their better, and faster shooting decisions. Let’s dive into the research to see what we can do for better tactical training for civilians, police, and more.

Gaze Control and Shoot No Shoot Research

This research study was conducted at a national training academy for German Police. It’s entitled, “Shoot or Don’t Shoot? Tactical Gaze Control and Visual Attention Training Improves Police Cadets’ Decision-Making Performance in Live-Fire Scenarios.”

The researchers used police cadets as their research subjects, splitting them into two groups. The control group simply practiced the mechanics of shooting, just like most police academies. The experimental group received a training program based on the following principles.

  • Realism (using pictograms and photographs as targets instead of abstract geometrical shapes);
  • Situational awareness (raising awareness toward the need to assess threat-levels, e.g., “are the suspect’s hands visible?”);
  • Tactical gaze control (training participants to actively shift their gaze on tactically crucial regions, like a suspect’s hand- and hip region); and
  • Visual attention (training participants to be vigilant toward critical visual stimuli, e.g., weapons).

Most importantly, this training only lasted 90 minutes. This is very important as this is definitely short enough to include in most tactical training courses for civilians, and police.

After receiving this training, the cadets were taken to a live fire range where they were given a scenario in which they confronted an armed robber. They were shown images of his face and then were shown a video where the suspect either presented a firearm, or something innocuous like a passport. During all scenarios they wore gaze tracking glasses, and were video recorded.

It’s important to note that this was a live fire scenario with real bullets. Because this wasn’t a simunition scenario, the amount of stress the cadets reported was higher. This makes sense, as you need to be absolutely sure of yourself when shooting real bullets. Kind of like real life right?

Research Results

While there was improvement in both groups, the gaze control group showed the greatest increase across all four situations. Recall that these are shoot no shoot scenarios, which means there are four total options. You can shoot a shoot target. You can fail to shoot a shoot target. You can hold fire against a no shoot, and you can shoot a no shoot target. Let’s take a look at the results.

Traditional Tactical Training Correct decisions

We can see that both groups showed improvement from pretest to post test. For the Gaze Control group we can see that they increased their correct shoot decisions by 13%. Said another way, they decreased the chances of failing to engage a bad guy.

Similarly, the Gaze Control group increased their correct decisions not to shoot by 16%. This is very important, unless you want to check out taco night on Rikers Island.

The traditional training group only increased their rate of firing on bad guys by 4%, and increased their rate of withholding fire the exact same 16%. This goes to show you that traditional training does show some improvement. Next, let’s check out the wrong decisions.

Incorrect Tactical Training Decisions
Traditional Group Incorrect Tactical Decisions

For these scenarios the Gaze Control group still shot at no shoot targets the same 4% of the time as the traditional group. Most impressively, the Gaze Control group made no errors in failing to shoot in a shoot scenario, where as the traditional group still showed an 8% error rate in failing to engage a shoot target.

I think there are some interesting take aways that we should discuss for these experiment. This shows that neither of these training methodologies was able to eliminate all errors.

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Implications for Better Tactical Training for Civilians, Police and Military Personnel

Let’s remember that making the decision to shoot or not to shoot matters. In my opinion it matters just as much as your ability to shoot. The researchers also recorded other key variables like the time it took to engage, and the rate of hits on target, and a few others.

Both groups shot faster, and hit faster, all though the researchers noted that this generally wasn’t statistically significant. Most importantly, the Gaze Control group kept their eyes open for more time than the Traditional Group.

These things all matter in a gun fight, as does raw speed. Ideally we need a mix of both raw speed, sub conscious weapons handling, and correct decision making, brought about by gaze control training. Let’s talk about constructing better tactical training for civilians, military, and special operations forces.

Subconscious Weapons Handling

If you’ve been in a tactical scenario then you know that it isn’t about how well you shoot, it’s about how well you can make decisions. You need the mental bandwith to think about the problem, and the easiest way to free up mental resources for decision making is to offload your weapons handling to your subconscious.

This isn’t immediately intuitive for most new shooters, or even for some folks who’ve graduated advanced courses in the United States Military. If you have to think about drawing your weapon, or reloading your weapon, then you’re taking mental bandwith away from the problem.

You can build automatic competence with your weapons with dry fire practice. In fact, it’s crucial, if you want to improve your defensive skills as a civilian shooter. The best thing about dry fire practice is it’s free, and you don’t have to go to the shooting range to do it.

It’s so versatile that you can work on everything but recoil control. Things like building your index, working on drawing, presenting, and reloading are best accomplished using dry fire. Check out this article where I cover how to use your living room as a training simulator.

I also recommend checking out this article on the type of draw speed you need to be able to produce in a real world scenario. Lastly, don’t forget to check out the Tier Three Tactical Pistol Standards for some goals you should be able to accomplish.

Decision Making Under Stress

Another excellent way to free up bandwith for problem solving is to practice against a live opponent in force on force training. Research clearly indicates that this type of simunition, or airsoft style training enhances real world accuracy.

Most importantly, putting yourself in these stressful situations actually increases the retention period for these specific skills. You don’t need to go to tactical training courses every year, or pay for private lessons. Buying some air soft guns, and training with a friend will put you light years ahead of most civilian shooters.

Live Fire Training and Competition

I strongly encourage you to start competing with your tactical firearms. You can find matches using a tactical carbine, or your pistol of choice. I’m partial to USPSA style competition, which is why I’ve created this guide to help you get started quickly and easily.

If you’re one of the millions of new gun owners, you should take a basic pistol or basic rifle class. Moreover you should dry fire until you can present and and manipulate your gun without thinking through every step. Once you’ve reached this level, go compete at a match.

Most local matches cost the same as a range session, and you’ll be exposed to stages that are much better at building basic tactical skills, than standing in your lane and shooting at a static target.

I want you to realize that competing in USPSA is not tactical training! It’s testing your ability to move quickly, and run your pistol with extreme skill. It tests the mechanics of shooting, nothing more.

Tactical training teaches you the why. I think everyone who’s interested in self defense needs to understand basic tactical principles like clearing basic structures, and low light firearms training. Feel free to seek out some tactical training once you’ve mastered the basics.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a police officer or military professional that carries a gun for a living, then you need to increase the amount of gaze control training you do. Learning to automatically watch someone’s waist line and hands is a skill that must be practiced to be of use.

It’s fun to shoot live fire with your team, but that isn’t enough, if you want to perform well in a real tactical situation. In fact, I’ve advocated that annual firearms qualifications tests should include a shoot no shoot portion, where a minimum passing score must be achieved for several scenarios.

After all, what good is having the mechanics to shoot, if you make poor tactical decisions that result in prison time, or a dirt nap?

For my civilian friends, I recommend taking a tactical rifle course, and a tactical handgun course once your entry level skills have been achieved. Find a qualified instructor from a law enforcement background, or military background.

Be choosy about your instructors. If they didn’t do the things they’re teaching professionally then then you should be suspect. Similarly, instagram followers does not an instructor make. I always recommend folks like Greg at Active Response Training or Rich and Mike and American Warrior Society. You can’t go wrong with either. Now get out there and get training!

Source link: https://www.tierthreetactical.com/29-better-tactical-training-for-civilians-police-and-special-forces-research-review/ by Jake at www.tierthreetactical.com