How to train for a worst-case disaster Ever hear the words "you should train how you would fight? Yep, both mind and body conditioning to the task you are preparing for is critical. There is that mind thing again. As in most things I teach or write about, the mind is the critical tool that you must prepare and condition. Think about the task and design a plan to train to the best scenario of your task or mission expected. What does this mean? I like to use the "crawl, walk, run" approach. That means design the plan. Then conduct a table-top of the plan and talk it through with key personnel, or alone. Then walk through the plan before actually exercising the plan. If it is the middle of winter, you need to train outside if outside is where the task may happen. Stink is the key word here because it will probably stink being in the cold and possibly wet conditions. This is an all-inclusive concept that does not just refer to the weather or training in miserable outdoor conditions. You must jump on the plan and training and make the most of every opportunity to get the maximum results under realistic training. To begin with, I hope everyone or mostly everyone can disassemble a weapon on a clean, neat, dining-room table under a big light where there's a cozy heater keeping your house nice and warm, with no distractions. Sound familiar? That is not realistic for what you'll need. You need to be on a firing range when you have a misfire and need to clear the weapon? Sure, you can conduct a dry run training of the steps before hitting the range. You want to know the steps and actions to take when you have a malfunction or misfire. You do not want rounds whizzing by your ears and overhead when the misfire takes place and you suffer from the "I don't know what I'm supposed to do" gets in your way. This is not the time to wave your palm out vertically before your face and call for a ceasefire. Time outs are not authorized at this point. You have to clear that weapon yesterday. The bad guys don't stop shooting at you. When I take my wife to the firing range, I always load dummy rounds in the magazines and have her figure it out. I help when needed but minimal. Firing the weapon is great but knowing how to care for the weapon is critical. You must see the target, hear what your weapon is saying to you, and feel your weapons reactions to your physical commands. Train under the most realistic conditions possible. When you disassemble your weapon for time...practice until you can do it, first off. Then practice it blindfolded, or with your eyes shut until you need to look. Until you can do it completely blindfolded. Why? You never know what situation you may be in when you have to clear a misfire or take apart your weapon to fix a part or clean it. The circumstances surrounding you may prevent you from using any light. In my former life I was supporting the US mission to pre-Kosovo and the actual mission to Kosovo. While in the rear staging area, everyone had their own task during the day. Part of my duty was controlling access to the armory and opening up the armory as needed for individuals to check and clean their weapons as desired. I worked with a certain Navy SEAL who would come by during his lunch break daily and check out his side arm. He would locate to a ammo box and take a seat. He would then place a blindfold over his eyes and begin to field strip his sidearm and then put it back to together. He would do this non-stop during the 30 minute break. On the last assembly he would wipe down, run a cleaning patch through the barrel, assemble and turn in. A great leader and example he was. Inclement weather, low-light levels, and noise. These are all very good things to use. Same for excursions in the field (or "camping" if you prefer). Why just wait for that perfect two or three days? No, go out when it's raining hard, or you're threatened with alternating temperatures and weather. That will test you: that will take you to your limits. Go to the unknown and practice. Make sure you leave a note with someone to where you will be and expected time of return. Anybody can walk all over the happy park with a GPS but can you travel and reach your destination using a compass? Day and night? If you don't know, maybe you should go find out. Keep challenging yourself. You need to prepare your meals over an open fire when it is pouring down rain to test yourself. Learn! You won't die, and if you feel as if things are too much, "can" the exercise, regroup, assess yourself, and learn from your mistakes. Then get back up on that bull and ride the next chance you can. You need to challenge yourself and see what you can do. If you don't succeed, then go back to the drawing board and plan it out until you overcome it. Pretty soon, you'll have (if you keep training logs, which are very, very beneficial and I strongly advise you to) all kinds of successes. You should take your weak points and make them strong points. That is how we triumph as a species. Don't avoid your weak points. You'll be amazed at what you will be able to do under pressure. Break out those firecrackers, and on the 4th of July, instead of just sitting around blowing off M-80's, turn it into a training event. Set up a land navigation event complete with an "ambush" by a family member with the fireworks. Of course, be safe, but use your imagination! Try disassembling that weapon, identifying the parts groups, reassembling it, performing a functions check...all blindfolded. Then fire at a target. All of this while the firecrackers are going off all around you. If you have ever experienced what live fire sounds like after dark in a real world situation, it will put some "giddy-up" in your motivation to learn and depend on capabilities as much as possible.
When on the firing range or your personal range, fire with your strong hand and then your weak hand. Practice dropping out the magazine and reloading one handed while your eyes stay scanning and searching your field of view. Extend your non-firing arm outward and use your non-firing hand to practice blocking and protecting anyone possibly approaching your weak side. The more realistic you make your training, the more relaxed you'll be when it all goes to pot when the feces hits the rotating steel. You can make it real. Just use the planning and organizational skills you have, and outline your tasks beforehand. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment as you overcome the obstacles and take your training to levels you had not previously imagined. Only imagination limits us. Keep charging and always train to win. The training may be simulated, but in the long-run, you will face the real thing someday. Be ready when that day arrives.
What say you?