People often wonder why S & S incorporates a mix of live fire, blank fire & airsoft into our training curriculum. Our training triad if you will.
The answer is simple. We are working to build well rounded warriors. We don’t want to pump out just gunfighters. We don’t want to just run tactical battle drills. We don’t want to build airsoft CQB teams or pretend medical heroes. We acknowledge that no training medium is perfect. One by itself will not yield the most prepared individual for an armed encounter.
To build & train warriors we incorporate training with these 3 mediums to help paint a fuller picture of a person’s tactical training needs and through that, foster confidence through personal competence in individual skills & small team leadership abilities.
Let’s break down the pros & cons of the training tools we use to help tie together the reality of armed engagements.
Live fire training is great. Students get to put real rounds down range with real manipulation of their own weapon. But you’re limited to square ranges where the enemy is normally static and offers no resistance. This is great if that is how the enemy reacts in the real world but more often than not that just isn't the case.
I can assure you from my time deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 at the height of the surge that the battlefield is a fluid and fast paced environment where the enemy doesn't stay in one place long nor stand out in the open waiting for you to pump round after round into him. After all they usually want to go home at the end of the day as well & not get laid to waste by superior fire power & tactics.
So we have to incorporate not only moving targets but an opposing force that can think & react to your movements & actions!
It is also important to note that S & S utilizes primitive ranges for most of our live fire training. It is important to get out of our comfort zones and into the dirt & elements. It is a reality check for some who may be getting dirt on their rifle and gear for the first time. This is important. Because if and when you find yourself in a firefight your gear, rifle and you will get dirty. If you're not having to clean your gear somewhat regularly you aren't training enough or hard enough.
Blank fire training allows us to safely patrol against a human Opfor that attempts to flank, sneak, ambush & generally wreak havoc to patrol leaders well thought out battle plans. It also allows for battle field noise & manipulation of your real steel weapon & ammunition supply management skills.
However without the use of expensive MILES gear there is no penalty for being exposed too long or being 'hit' by well-placed blank fire rounds.
Granted if your team is initiated on by the Opfor it is usually safe to say you lost the engagement and took casualties. But the rounds on target feedback is lacking. People will take chances they simply couldn’t take on the two way range but will do when using blank fire as a training tool.
So we generally use this for basic skills lanes training with individual/team battle drills & 24 hour FTXs to work in the feel of being in a hostile environment. It is something that can't be replicated safely with live fire & for which the scale is simply too large for the range of airsoft platforms. Plus who wants to wear an airsoft mask for 24hrs!
Aside from the military only One Shepherd currently fields the MILES system & a fine job they do of it. However their training cycles are a week long (they can be split into to 2 or 3 day commitments) and offered just twice a year. Only one of which new comers can attend the entry point of the program.
The cost of 1 Shepherd, time off away from work needed for many to attend prohibits some from training routinely on such battle drills & skills. Even though the cost is extremely fair when considering the outstanding content and amenities provided, some simply cannot afford it routinely enough to maintain and grow such skills. With that being said, go train with them at some point! You won’t regret it & neither do we!
Lastly we use airsoft. We have built two courses with airsoft as our training tool. One of our most popular being a Post-CCW course that thrusts you into robberies, car jacking’s & active shooter scenarios.
This allows for great feedback of the plastic rounds on target with using airsoft weapons. However the equipment is somewhat unreliable & not usually realistic in regards to sounds, weight & feel. You will however catch yourself jumping off line of an attack & seeking cover so you don’t get the ‘pain penalty’ of the airsoft rounds.
We also use airsoft as our medium to train in our CQB 1 course. We found it as a good start for someone just learning how to enter & clear rooms for the first time before proceeding onto more stressful blank or live fire training in the CQB environment. It’s a building block, a means to an end.
A lot of companies simply train only live fire or only sprinkle in force on force activities. We want to tie in the best of all the different available training mediums to create a more prepared warrior.
If someone is too heavily into live fire training they will neglect their tactical skills. Too much blank fire & they will neglect basic marksmanship skills. Too much airsoft & the lack of battle field noise and you may not train your senses properly to react to those extra sensory stresses if and when you are in a gun fight.
Training regimens should be like a healthy diet. Well balanced & should include a physical training program. Whatever your training regimen is, make sure you approach it with a open mind & based in reality. Don't base it on a perfect world with every aspect of the critical incident stacked in your favor. More often than not you will find yourself out numbered & possibly out gunned. Have more than one tool in your tool box for problems. Including more than one style of training.
"Stay Alert, Stay Ready"
S&S Training Solutions, LLC
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