The “Fast Food” Training Trap


“Training prepares you for battle. It must be lived, not watched.”

Written by Ron Avery

Over the past few decades or so I have experienced many real-world situations, both in my private life, and in my law enforcement career as an officer and a trainer. I have seen many changes in the training communities, some good, and many not good at all.

The Internet Phenomenon

The rise of the internet, YouTube, tactical forums, and online blogs has allowed a vast amount of information to be accessible at the click of a mouse button. You can watch video clips, hear rants, raves and reviews. You can read various forums with internet pundits expressing their opinions. Whether you realize it or not, you are being influenced by what you read and watch. You are making choices from that influence and you are influencing others based on the information you assimilate and pass on.

The problem is that you are only getting part of the story and there is no real way to check out the rest of the story. I have personally experienced people taking other people’s information and then presenting it as if they came up with it themselves. As an example, I did a video on YouTube with a guy about the draw stroke. In this video I shared one concept about drawing. I didn’t cover the pros and cons, close ranges, close quarters, fine points of the draw, other ways of presenting to the target, or discuss holsters, movement, hand indexing and a whole bunch of other points. Yet, this single video has shown up around the world and is being used in training courses. Information from it is being put into training programs for LE and civilians, without that person getting any further training on how to teach it or use it properly.

This is what I term “fast food training.” Watch a few videos, play with it for a couple of hours, and then pretend you “have it down,” all without testing, certification, validation, or understanding how it fits into a training system, or how it will actually work on the street. And, as with most fast food, your mind and body get bloated with all of the “knowledge” you have taken in that you cannot actually put to use when you are called upon to perform under pressure.

The internet can be a great place to gain knowledge. There are many intelligent people discussing various items of interest to the general public. However, the courts generally accept proven, validated courses of instruction that have testing and certification of competence. While it is nice to gain knowledge, skill is always earned the hard way. There is no substitute for getting out and doing things.

The “Camp Follower” or “Fan Boy”

Here we have the cult of personality working. Fan boys or camp followers belong to whatever camp they happen to be following at the time. Over time, the camp followers overcome the camp they are in, gain too much influence and drive the marketplace and training to provide entertainment rather than real-world training.

They show up with all the gear on their gun, along with the latest holsters, scopes, belts, ammo, knives, backup guns and what have you. They have lots of opinions about things, but little real-world experience; they generally have low to intermediate levels of skills and motivation. They would rather buy gear or solutions than exert themselves by having to think critically about how to train. They accept everything the camp leader or leaders says without looking at alternative viewpoints or ideas.

“The Way is in Training” – Miyamoto Musashi

I believe that real training and teaching must be seen and experienced it in its entirety. You need to be able to experience the whole story and be trained correctly and rigorously. In other words, you need to go back to real-world schools and actually learn a system and how to use that system in its entirety.

There is no substitute for time as well. While 1-3 day schools are okay, you will benefit more from a 5-day program, especially for tactical handgun training or instructor-level certification. The reasons are simple: time is needed for assimilating the information and being able to absorb and apply it.

I do not accept time constraints as an excuse for shortening a course that requires more time to execute properly. This is more of a mindset/values issue than a time issue. Law enforcement is chronically shortening the time for firearms and deadly force training yet somehow expecting that students are getting the same training quality as before.

Long-time friend Bob James came up with this quote and it is a gem. There is no room in the life of a warrior for “part time.” You are either fully committed to being a warrior, or you are not a warrior. You do not assume the mantle of the warrior when it is convenient for you. You wear it constantly, ready to commit to the fight at a moment’s notice.

This means that you should be spending your time training, thinking, meditating, testing, validating and figuring out ways to improve your craft. Go to serious schools and get serious training. You think in terms of 3-5 days of training. Stop looking at round count as the answer to learning. If it was all that mattered, I would give you 5,000 rounds of ammo at the start of class and tell you to check back in after you were done with it.

Avoid falling into the “fanboy” trap and the “fast food training” mentality. Learn to think for yourself. Be a good student and start reading and researching your information before you accept something at face value.

As always, my friends, I want you to be ready when your turn comes.

“Training prepares you for battle. It must be lived; not watched.”

Ron Avery – the man behind the doctrine of “Reactive Shooting Science” and co-founder of Tactical Performance Center

Ron Avery was the co-founder and director of training for The Tactical Performance Center (TPC). A former police officer, as well as a martial artist, Ron brought that experience into the training environment. He was internationally recognized as a researcher, firearms trainer and world-class shooter, and his training methodology has been used by hundreds of agencies and thousands of individuals across the US and internationally. He was a weapons and tactics trainer for handgun, carbine, precision rifle and shotgun, as well as advanced instructor schools, defensive tactics, low light tactics and officer survival.

Ron passed away on February 23, 2019, leaving a legacy of contributions to police firearms and defensive tactics training.

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