In this issue’s installment I would like to suggest that the majority of citizens who carry for personal protection are not fully trained or prepared to respond to a confrontation with another human or group of humans that could turn deadly. In fact, the data that I have studied, and the people whom I have polled, would lead one to believe that once the concealed carry permit is issued to a citizen, training stops there.

For some concealed carriers there is little more interest than just having a license to carry. They want the right equipment, and they try different guns, holsters, and carry locations to name a few, in order to have the tools that work for their perceived needs. Once they determine the right tools for the job, the quest for preparedness stops right there. This is comparable to buying a world class race car and never sitting in the driver’s seat or even starting the engine.

Even fewer from the ranks of the carriers of concealed firearms receive training or train individually with their chosen equipment with any degree of regularity. Being partially prepared is better than no preparation at all, but in order to determine if what we are doing is adequate or not we must think of why we are carrying concealed in the first place. To analogize with the race car again, this is like running some practice laps with a car capable of winning the race, but never entering the race. All the best equipment and all the static range training that we do still doesn’t prepare us to win the confrontation for which we prepare. Make no mistake, it all helps, but we haven’t entered the race yet. Believe me, it is a whole lot different when you are on the track by yourself than when you have the company of others.

The next step beyond having the right equipment and being able to operate it well adds in the huge variable of the human factor. That’s where Reality Based Training enters the equation. Let’s define Reality Based Training so that we fully understand the direction from which I’m coming. Reality Based Training is training that includes the tools and ability to use the tools, as mentioned above, with the addition of the human element as the opposition to make the training more realistic. This is actually entering your car in the race with a chance to win, or not, because there is at least one other car in the race that has the same goal as you–winning! Reality Based Training replicates confrontation that the student may face in various aspects of their life and requires a response to achieve a favorable outcome for the student.

Just to clarify any misunderstandings, Reality Based Training has a common thread with Force on Force Training, Simunitions Training, Interactive Role Play Training, and others primarily used in the law enforcement and military communities, that add the human element to both sides of the training fence. This training is as realistic to an actual confrontational situation as possible without being in a life and death conflict. Critical thinking and combat tactics enter here to provide learning that is invaluable when facing a real threat. The realism of Reality Based Training prepares the participants to deal with elevated heart rates, heavy breathing, auditory exclusion, perceptual narrowing and other emotional factors that accompany a high stress event. The more training, the less stress and the higher likelihood of success when in a confrontation with another human intent on doing you harm. Reality Based Training forces you to have a plan and think on your feet to adjust that plan to fit the situation at hand. This type of training is the final chapter before the test that you hope you never have to take.

There are some drawbacks to Reality Based Training. Just to touch on a few of the drawbacks, safety is the number one concern. Special equipment is necessary for the training event, and perpetual vigilance is required to ensure that NO lethal objects are allowed into the training site. But taking those into consideration, the end justifies the means.

The special equipment primarily involves the protective gear and the weaponry to be used. At a minimum, soft areas of the body must be protected from potential injury with specific equipment designed to do so. This could range from head, throat and groin protection to a full protective body suit if full physical force will be used. The weaponry must be rendered non lethal, and verified by a safety official multiple times before being used in the scenario. At a minimum, there should be two people familiar with Reality Based Training to officiate the event. One is the event coordinator who administers the scenarios, acts as a referee, and provides feedback to the participants. The second is the individual responsible for safety. That person ensures that all protective gear is in place prior to a role player entering the scenario, that all lethal weapons are stored separately away from the training area, and that all weapons present are non-lethal training weapons. The number one concern for all present is the safety of everyone at all times.

I recommend that you seek out a professional training organization that lists and offers Reality Based Training for the Responsible Citizen. This ensures you of the highest degree of training in a safe environment without the worry and concern of obtaining the correct equipment and proper supervision to participate in the chosen scenarios. There are many places to train in Reality Based Training, but three come to mind when considering the Responsible Citizen, U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, ITI near San Antonio, and The Sig Sauer Academy near Boston.

Regarding your personal Concealed Carry Training, read the book from cover to cover, review it often, and be prepared to take the test when it is least expected.

Simple Is Good!

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