Force on Force Controversy
This is a discussion on Force on Force Controversy within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; FORCE ON FORCE CONTROVERSY?
Randy Harris - Suarez International Staff Instructor
The subject of Force on Force training is one that we should all consider. ...
December 14th, 2009 02:47 PM
Force on Force Controversy
FORCE ON FORCE CONTROVERSY?
Randy Harris - Suarez International Staff Instructor
The subject of Force on Force training is one that we should all consider. After all, what are we actually training for? Do we train to avoid getting mugged by a flat piece of cardboard that does not think move or try to hurt you or are we training to deal with living breathing thinking adversaries? The obvious answer is live adversaries. So if your training regimen does not or has never included any Force on Force component then how do you know whether what you are practicing REALLY works or not? Maybe you train with some "guru" who has been in many fights and never lost. All that really tells you is HE has a grasp of his material and was successful. It does not tell you how well you would fair using that in a real confrontation. So how do we know? We have to test it.
Some may say "well what I do works in my IDPA matches". Great. You are thoroughly ready to proactively face a 3 foot tall piece unarmed of cardboard after being told to get ready in advance . Again, not terribly realistic. There really is no reason to not avail oneself of FOF training today. Years ago it was only really available to military and police. But now however , with the wide availability of non lethal airsoft guns. The technology is there so that the average guy can spend $150 or so and be equipped to take a force on force class. Of course there are also Simunitions guns if you prefer to use marking cartridges, but the availability and price of the guns and ammo is somewhat prohibitive.
This brings us to our first controversy. Is the Airsoft gun really adequate for FOF training? There are some that make the argument that there needs to be a "pain penalty" for screwing up in FOF scenarios. I agree. What we are really doing is to some degree hardwiring the ability to make good decisions at a very fast subconscious level. In a real encounter we will not have long to make a decision. If we just stand and dither over whether it is "really happening to me?" or "what do I do now?" then we will likely have waited to long to do anything useful. Getting shot with non lethal yet painful projectiles reinforces that if we do not be decisive and act quickly then bad things will happen. This is where our subconscious starts compiling data for positive vs negative outcomes where action is concerned.
Now, do Sims rounds hurt more than airsoft? Absolutely. And we need that pain to get the message across to our brain that we are doing things that are giving an adverse outcome to what we would like. So in that respect airsoft is not as good for FOF as simunitions. But part of the problem is that students often show up for FOF classes looking like they are armored up for medieval combat. If you are so padded up that you cannot feel the BBs then you are really not getting the most out of the exercises. This is why I recommend that during scenario work you wear virtually no protective gear at all. Just head protection and maybe gloves.. Taking rounds in the hands , especially the knuckles, almost always causes bleeding. This way you know where you got hit, but still protect hands and face.I have seen people hit in the hands with airsoft pellets drop their pistols. I have also debriefed many participants and most all agree that it feels like a bee sting when hit. I'd have to agree. And depending on the distance, it sometimes hurts worse than other times. So yes if we limit the amount of padding we wear then Airsoft is perfectly adequate. In drill work I recommend a LITTLE more padding, maybe a long sleeve shirt, because when you are getting in maybe 50 fights or more per day there is only so much impact you are going to take before you get tired and sore and lose concentration. So for the drills I say pad up a little but run the scenarios with as little as possible.
December 14th, 2009 02:48 PM
The next controversy is whether you are better doing scenario work or drills. I mentioned scenario work earlier. That is full blown scenarios with role players who stick to a script of what they are going to do if the student does certain things. Often the instructions might be " Go panhandle the student, ask for money. You are not robbing him, just asking, but if he insults you or gets physical then you amp up the situation and get in his face, but if he just tells you he can't help you , then let him pass unmolested " . The point is that the scenario is not just wide open, the role players are playing a realistic defined part, not just running wild. The scenario based FOF is more in line with real world situations sometimes involving witnesses , maybe even the Police. It is essentially a test of your ability to negotiate whatever the situation is and successfully "survive" the encounter. Often -just like in real life- this can be done without getting into a fight at all.
The other type of FOF work is FOF drills. Gabe Suarez refers to the drill work as light sparring with a partner.The drills are little fights. There is no real decision making left on pre fight matters. In the drill the fight is unavoidable and usually begins with the bad guy initiating some sort of attack.The purpose is to give the students a lot of repetitions on the core skills need in a real confrontation. Those are seeing and reacting to the attack, get off the X if possible, access your weapon if you are armed , deploy that weapon from concealment and if it is a pistol, get hits on the target. These may sound simple, but many students who have never really ingrained these skills often have trouble at first doing all of these things at the same time under stress. After all some ranges do not even allow drawing a loaded pistol from a holster. So unless the student takes the time to work that skill on their own they likely will be a little behind the curve if we just drop them into scenario work from the start.
And I really do not understand why some people have such an issue with drills. We do drills in every other athletic endeavor we might pursue. I played basketball in high school and you'd better believe we did more than just scrimmage. We did drills every practice to build skill. The drills build the skills that you will then employ in the game. The same is true in unarmed self defense. I doubt many martial arts or combative instructors just have the students spar without first building the individual offensive and defensive skills through skill building drills. Even in IDPA and IPSC shooting , no one just practices by only shooting matches. They build their shooting, reloading and malfunction clearing ability through drills set up to build repetition in those areas. The match is then a validation (or invalidation) of their training regimen.
So for me the answer is simply this. Self defense, be it with empty hands or armed is an athletic endeavor. It does not mean you have to be an Olympian to survive. It simply means that the more athletic you are the more you will be able to do. There really is no way around that. Many of the skills that might be required in a violent encounter are able to be performed by everyday folks- IF they have been exposed to those skills. The problem is the majority of people have never found themselves in a violent confrontation, much less enough of them to draw any real statistical data from. Hence the need for FOF drills. The drills build the skills and allow you to use them in real time against an uncooperative real life opponent, not just a stationary human shaped form. It allows you to get many repetitions in being the victim of an assault and get a better perspective of just how little time there is to act and how much time and distance effect the dynamics of the confrontation.
Now just like in basketball or boxing or whatever, the drills will only take you so far. There comes a time to spar or scrimmage. That is where the skills we built in the drills is tested in the mock game. We wouldn't just work drills and then schedule a real boxing match. Just like no sane coach would keep his team from scrimmaging leading up to a game. To have a real idea of how everyone moves and acts and reacts you have to have the scenario work too. The scenario work is where you are able to work the whole package of skills from avoidance and deescalation to getting off the X, accessing pistol, marksmanship, 360 degree scan and even preparing witnesses and talking to the police. The first time you ever do these things does not need to be at 3 AM on a cold rainy night when it is for real!
Now a couple of other minor controversies. Some argue that FOF is not real because there is no ballistic effect- especially with airsoft. I agree . No one said it was REAL. But it is about as close as we can get without having a serious reworking of the liability waiver and a trauma unit on standby. That is why I recommend the least clothing you can get by with for the FOF iterations.In fact at the National Tactical Invitational I wore cargo shorts a T shirt and a light summer weight button down shirt as a cover garment. No padding or layers other than the face mask and neck protection they issued.
Another controversy is that the shooting while moving we teach leads to wild errant shooting and will get bystanders killed. Therefore we should stand still to shoot. I'm Ok with standing still as long as you are behind cover or you are farther than 10 yards distant form your pistol armed adversary. The problem is that if you are in a true initiative deficient situation where your first clue that the fight was on was seeing the guy reach in his waistband, then standing there trying to out draw him is not likely to have a long future to it. We really need to look at the context of the common criminal assault. It will likely be so close that you simply cannot make enough distance to keep from getting shot. This is one of those things that we find out rather quickly in those drills. If you cannot back up fast enough to avoid getting punched then how do you honestly expect to back up far enough, fast enough to keep from being shot? This is where guys that have only worked against motionless targets that do not shoot back (or shoot first) have an unrealistic view of the dynamics involved.
So if we concede that we cannot always make enough space quickly enough to just "make space and shoot" , then we will likely be in very close proximity to the target/bad guy when we shoot. Logical? So when we are shooting and moving this is often done at less than 3 yards. I submit that most anyone with skill at acquiring their pistol with good grip and a modicum of trigger control can make rapid multiple hits on targets at that distance. We are not talking about firing haphazardly over our shoulder as we sprint 20 yards away from the target. We are talking about drawing quickly as we explode laterally off the X and firing a burst at the target often with the muzzle 20 INCHES from the target. Not exactly haphazard reckless shooting by a long shot.
Also what are we looking to learn in drills? The point of the drills are to see what gets you shot less and gets the bad guy shot more. Not who can hit whom the most or who can run the farthest. The drill realistically is only useful for the first 3 to 5 seconds- the time frame of most actual fights. Anything past that is superfluous. And that 5 second and after time frame is where all the misses happen. The drills typically go like this. The bad guy attacks, the good guy gets off the X, shots are exchanged and they move farther apart. As they move apart they keep shooting and that is where the missing begins. But again, we are not looking at the last 3 seconds for data we are looking at the first 3 seconds. In fact I limit them to 3 to 5 rounds per fight when the drills are 1 on 1. This keeps the students focused on getting accurate hits not on hosing down the other guy as you run as fast as he can in the other direction. That is little more than a playground water gun fight.
December 14th, 2009 02:48 PM
The last controversy is how is your FOF class set up. Again, there are those who argue that only scenario work is realistic and that is all that should be done. Ok , fine. That is an opinion, but I do not agree. I have had students come through my FOF class (Suarez International's Interactive Gunfighting FOF) who had been to other schools that offered Force on Force classes. The other schools had done ONLY scenarios. The students said that they felt they got a better understanding of the dynamics of the confrontation and were now better prepared by doing the drills too. Now when they got into fights in the scenarios they were able to access the "solutions" they had been working all weekend and run those skill sets and prevail, whereas before they had a lot of decision making to do armed with only the skill sets they already had before they showed up. Now, let me repeat scenario work is crucial too.You need to test your total package of skills. And not only that, but scenario work that tests decision making, not just draw speed and marksmanship. A FOF scenario that is a glorified "shoot house burglar hunt" is frankly of little value.
The students need to be confronted with real life moral dilemmas and have to decide in real time what to do. There needs to be a lot of interaction verbally between the students and role players and there needs to be a level of multi tasking going on. That is why I like to use scenarios that have the student going through everyday life errands like going to the convenience store carrying bags or coming out of the mall talking on the cell phone and things like that where the student is engaged in more than just waiting to draw their gun. But again, I believe best results in the scenarios are obtained by those who have drilled the fundamentals to the point that their "fight skills" run on auto pilot and because of that they are freed up mentally to make decisions without worrying about what to do if the fight is on.
So whether you are an experienced gunman or a novice there is only one training environment that tests your total skill package and that is Force on Force.
December 15th, 2009 10:25 AM
Nice read, thanks for the post.
Don"t let stupid be your skill set....
Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means, that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you......
March 15th, 2010 11:24 AM
Great post, very informative.
March 15th, 2010 02:31 PM
Very good read. I'm sure that there will be many who will come along soon to try and take it apart.
March 15th, 2010 02:42 PM
If anyone in the southeast (or anywhere else for that matter) wants to see for themselves, I am offering our FOF class in the Anniston Alabama area next month......April 17-18, 2010 - Force on Force Gunfighting - Alexandria, AL
March 15th, 2010 03:07 PM
Excellent write up and I don't think we are very far apart with our programs.
When people hear the words "Force on Force" everyone has their own views of what it actually means which can cause its own controversy.
Force on Force, IMHO is the vehicle in which you put together everything the student has learned and have them apply it.
Classes are where the student learns the techniques and tactics and FOF is where it is applied.
I break in down this training into two different areas:
1) Drills that are done with airsoft or simunitions to teach the student techniques and/or tactics which are done in the class.
2) FOF which tests what the student has learned in the class.
The progression I use is:
Crawling = learning the drills on the range live fire against a stationary target;
Walking = Doing the same drills against another person with airsoft or sims guns;
Running = FOF scenarios in which the student has no idea of the task ahead and has to apply the correct techniques and tactics to solve the problem and survive.
March 15th, 2010 03:29 PM
We seem to be pretty well in agreement on this. But then I think you and I have mostly agreed on FAR more than we disagreed on.
March 15th, 2010 05:03 PM
I think this is an important consideration with respect to FOF.
Originally Posted by 7677
You get some students that want to run before they've learned to crawl. In other cases you have students that need to move on to walking and running but the idea of having their skills tested via the application of increasing levels of force, and dealing with the decrease in performance and ego deflation that is typical when you're first required to execute under pressure, is a mental/emotional hurtle some find hard to get over.
Part of the job of the instructor is knowing the appropriate time to start making the transitions. If you throw them into the lions den too soon some don't come back (I saw this quite often during empty hand training/sparring at a school I attended). If they are never challenged others leave the confines of the training facility with a false sense of security having never be required to execute under pressure.
March 15th, 2010 05:36 PM
That is so true, most people don't like coming out of that comfort zone and are afraid to take that next step that will really test there training. A force on force class is a great start but you must also be willing to practice outside the class structure. It is way to easy to think that the two day class you just took (no matter the instructor) will be sufficient and that you are G-T-G. IMHO, it takes much repetition and practice to become truly adept and even then no practice is like the real thing.
Originally Posted by 2edgesword
"America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall."
March 17th, 2010 04:32 AM
I feel that the FOF classes I have been through did more to teach me about myself (reactions/tendencies under pressure), what I'm capable of (skill level), and what I need to work on (skill deficits and or "weak" areas) than any other training I've ever done.
I think the reason for this is that, as you mentioned, well structured FOF drills and scenarios require you to put all of your skills into practice--success in the scenarios requires good integration of your skillsets. (decision making, contact management, empty-hand combat, weapons access, shooting, etc.).
"Being a predator isn't always comfortable but the only other option is to be prey. That is not an acceptable option." ~Phil Messina
If you carry in Condition 3, you have two empty chambers. One in the weapon...the other between your ears.
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