So today’s January temperatures never got above 30-degrees…before factoring in the wind chill. But we can’t always choose where a defensive shooting scenario unfolds. And continually training indoors, in an environmentally controlled range not only breeds complacency, but also does little to prepare you for practical situations. And today at Asymmetric Solutions USA illustrated to me just why it is we must train even when you’re cold, you’re wearing bulky jackets and gloves, or other environmental and physical factors conspire against you.
The Basics of Tactical Shooting course started off with all students again getting that solid saddle-stance squared to the target. Together we dry-fired through the steps of the draw, weapon presentation, target acquisition/sighting, returning to your “work-space”, and finally scanning before placing the weapon on safe and holstering. The instructors Sam and Jared stressed the fundamentals at a crawl-walk-run pace always with safety in mind. This then followed instruction on turning into the threat from the left, right, and rear. This is important because unlike indoor shooting ranges that limit movement, the reality is shooting situations almost never present themselves to your front where you stand there unmoving.
By noon it was obvious the cold front sweeping into the Midwest had entered our area and the temperatures plummeted as the sun disappeared behind cloud cover. The weather later called for 14” of snow that night, but still the students soldiered on. The next iteration began incorporating all the previous principles combined with shooting while advancing, sidestepping, walking backwards, and walking to the side. To reinforce this Sam and Jared ran the students through “box” drills with small cones that required shooters engage the threat and moving forward, walking sideways to the left, backing up, and finally side-stepping to the right. Finally, with the last remaining rays of light, and students with numb fingers, Sam set up an obstacle course similar to a 3-gun match that required students shoot from behind cover, engage a hostage-taker (while avoiding the hostage), engage a threat while advancing, then walking to the side,
and finally pass through a doorway and clear a “room”. As Jared emphasized, “This is where it all starts to come together” meaning that for all the basic-level pistol classes, the dynamics of practical shooting and the Basics of Tactical Shooting is where all those fundamentals began to merge.
The end left students left with a greater understanding that the fight isn’t always to your front – or in an environment that is most favorable. Gloves hinder movement, coats vie for space in holsters or fight you for clearance, and ultimately even the cold can sap your mental focus and fine motor skills. Despite this, today none of the students had to bow-out to the warmth of the nearby medical truck, and at no point were there any problems. I’d say the training objectives were met. Asymmetric offers a variety of both beginner and intermediate courses, and you can read some of my other reviews for them here.
Note: Special thanks to “Big Dave” for letting me share in his endless can of reloads, and letting a fellow 1911 shooter continue training long past last light.