Before the bullet leaves the gun, have you thought of why?
It's been said that a gunfight is problem-solving at high-speed. As Clint Smith from Thunder Ranch once said, "You have the rest of your life to solve that problem. How long you live depends on how quickly you do it."
We are responsible for each and every bullet that we launch from our guns. Not just for safety's sake when running drills in training or playing gun games, but more so if we are involved in a self-defense situation. The best way to avoid a dangerous situation is to be able to stay ahead of your opponent and not get involved in the first place. But if that is unavoidable, being able to evaluate your threat and react appropriately is the key to survival.
While running drills to achieve a faster first shot on target time is great, we need to make sure that it is appropriate for the incident. If we just train to shoot immediately out of the holster, that will be our answer each and every time. We need to train ourselves to stop and think before we press that trigger. That's why running drills that require initial evaluation is important.
Having a training buddy or some technology will help you in running certain drills that will force you to think before you shoot.
The first one we want to look at is called a discretionary command drill. This drill involves a target that has different colored shapes and numbers. A good example of that would be like the one above or the Combat Focus Shooting training target from I.C.E. Training. These targets are used to reference commands given by a range officer during training. You can run these yourself in one of two ways. The first is have a training buddy behind you yelling commands like 4, Red, Square or more specific like Red Square, Red 3, Blue Triangle 1.
The nice part about this is that your training partner can get creative. They can also give commands like 5+1, 3+2, 7-1 and you have to shoot the answer. They could give you commands that are invalid. For example, Purple, 10, trapezoid. These you would obviously not shoot. Your shooting partner can say anything that makes you stop and think before you pull the trigger.
The second way is to record yourself saying each command and convert them to an MP3. Put the files on your phone or iPod and set up a random playlist. If you are able to, connect your audio from your device to your ear protection and hit play. Then just follow the commands.
Instant Visual Memory Drill
This is one that many have seen Instructor Zero run. It's a really easy drill to set up and run and you do need a training partner for this one to work. The idea is to set up colored balloons and have sticks that have the same color. The shooter stands there and is given one or more colors which they then have to shoot in the order given. The thing is, the sticks are in your peripheral vision so you have to evaluate the color and memorize the order while having a hard time seeing them.
Most indoor ranges would probably appreciate not having to clean up balloon bits, so there is another way to do it. Take some cheap paper plates and color the centers. Then mount to them to some cardboard and send it down range. Your partner then chooses colors and gives them to you in order. You can repeatedly use the paper plates until they are shot up too bad and then replace them.
The most important thing to take away from all this is we need to make sure we are thinking before we launch bullets. Solve the problem first, then come to the answer. If the answer is to not shoot, then don't shoot. That is always the best answer and the one we would prefer when and if it comes down to it.