Training vs. Plinking

We recently filmed an episode of my video blog, Into the Fray, where we used the Intelligently Controlled Targeting System (ICTS). The ICTS, developed by Instructor Zero of internet training fame, basically puts targets on the end of long poles, and your training partners move the targets while you engage.

I saw this system a couple of years ago but didn’t really get serious about it until recently. Lots of things came together to make me buy the materials and set up the ICTS. Since my first introduction to the system, I have attended the SIG Academy, Gunsite, Vistelar, DRAW School, a rapid-response-to-active-shooter training session and USCCA training courses. I have purchased Ultimate Training Munitions (UTM) materials, SIRT pistols, Laser Ammo and a couple other computer-operated training programs. I even shot my Wisconsin Law Enforcement qualifications course at least twice. In every case, the targets were standing still. No matter what we were training to do, we always trained with stationary targets.

After watching the trainee during Proving Ground 12: Defending Houses of Worship, I really started to think about the conventional training methods we all seem to embrace. We all know the sequence taught to prepare people for a self-defense shooting: verbal challenge (if possible); draw and move (should be nearly simultaneous); find the sights; operate the trigger smoothly.

Some instructors tell students to track the target to the ground after the shooting. Others tell us to scan and assess the surroundings. Still others tell us to move to cover, conduct a tactical reload and wait for police to arrive.

There is so much information about what to do before, during and after a fight, but all that action takes place in a static environment. When was the last time you saw a surveillance video of anyone standing still during a shootout?

We all know the reasons we train the way we do: safety and efficiency. All of our training protocols revolve around range safety and the ability to put lots of people through training at one time. For the most part, we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the range and shoot at stationary targets. That’s plinking. At best it could be called marksmanship training, but only if you really focus on the elements of marksmanship as you fire every shot.

As a result, I really want to find ways to incorporate movement into training. Right now, the best way I have found is to use the UTM gear and the ICTS. With enough PVC pipe, cardboard and training assistants, we could create a crowd situation that truly tests target acquisition, identification and isolation — and we could theoretically do it in a 360-degree training environment.

Don’t get me wrong. Nothing beats scenario-based training, but even that has its downsides and obstacles. Just keep in mind that when you are feeling great about shooting an untimed, 3-inch group at 21 feet, there is a big difference between training and plinking. Right now, most of us are plinking, and we need to be doing more training.

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