Training needs to be looked at in a systematic way when building your ability to survive, prevail and walk away from any crisis situation. Some of you may already possess these traits and have established a good base to build upon. Some may have taken courses that were “too cool for school” by instructors that have become overnight sensations. Good instructors have developed their training philosophy from many years of actual experience, though it be combat proven techniques, on the streets in law enforcement, years of competitive shooting or decades being in the outdoors and living off the land. They will have learned what works and does not work for different scenarios. They will have learn basic techniques and then adapted them to what works for them in their operational environment. By mastering the basics before moving into more advanced TTPs (Techniques, Tactics and Procedures) it enables you to “master the basics” and ingrain them to muscle memory. Just because the latest fad is to use a certain “new” technique does not mean it is the “only” technique you should use. If it works for you then use it. The one thing you should have, is an open mind toward others TTPs as long as they pass the 5th Principle of Patrolling, Common Sense. If it does not pass the Common Sense Test, then it should not get used during your training. Over decades of training, I have always been the student and still am today. I try to never stop learning TTPs that I can apply and use for myself. Early in my career I learned the “basics” and through the years of training I picked up several other TTPs that were good to use and effective. In the end I usually blended them over time and came out with a TTP that is perfect for me.
I have seen an example of the Training Pyramid all over the Internet and liked the idea of what it represented. Create a solid base and work towards the top. However, I did not like the order and the meaning of some of the items. We agree that the base should be a well establish “proper” mindset. The next step is Skill Sets; in most of the other ones I have seen, they have Tactics listed next. I believe this is wrong. You need to learn the basic skill sets that will enable you to accomplish those Tactics. When you build that solid Pyramid that will last for centuries, you need a good base and obtain the proper levels first before moving on to bigger and better things. So in the Skill Sets level you should work on your Defense, Medical, Survival, Navigation, Driving and Technical Skills. These are in the order I think you should work on them. Marksmanship and weapon handling should be first and other defensive skills. Medical should be close behind because if you train to use lethal force you need to be able to administer proper First Aid to any individual, yourself or someone with you. Survival is next with Navigation on its heels. These two should be in both a Rural and Urban setting. Most survival courses only use rural settings, yes this is a great way to begin but then use that newly acquired skill in an urban setting (Terrain effects your TTPs) and see how you need to adjust your TTPs. Navigation is different in an urban environment compared to a rural one, but you can blend the TTP’s from rural movement into the urban one to augment your normal route selection and directions. The last two skill sets are Driving and Technical. A lot of people know how to drive but some don’t and I think it is important to know how to properly drive on highway and off road effectively in most crisis situations. If you do not know how to drive a stick or standard transmission, you need to learn. Under technical, these are skills that will be enablers like mechanical, electrical, surreptitious entry, communications etc.
The next level would be learning Tactics. Doctrinal at first, then learn how the tactics are applied to terrain and enemy situation. Since these two will affect your tactics the most. Tactics have Critical Tasks or CT's, that you must accomplish to be successful. Your Skill Sets will be some of those and you will learn knew ones to be able to be effective with those tactics. The tactics will be a range of operational activities from small unit tactics, rural and urban reconnaissance, surveillance and counter surveillance, tracking and counter tracking and convoy operations within both rural and urban environments.
The last level of the Pyramid is your kit. You wonder why I would put this last, I put it last because I believe you do not need to be a gear whore or have the most expensive or latest kit to accomplish the mission. You should not have to buy into all the marketing hype of the different brands; instead you need to know how to use it properly and effectively. Before every class you should inspect your kit for safety, functionality, durability and effectiveness for the tactics and training that you will be learning. I always advise my students on their opinion and choice of gear, but not prohibit them form using it unless it is a safety hazard. Sometimes learning the hard way with kit is the best way. If it falls apart during a class or event, then you should use that as a teaching point and learn how to adjust for when this kind of thing happens and learn how to make repairs in the field. You should evaluate your kit continuously throughout your training. You should treat it as a constant, since good effective kit is an enabler at times but it is also can hinder you. One thing you can do in regards to learning what kit works best for you, is to apply the different pieces of gear throughout the training pyramid. As I mentioned before it is considered a constant, you should continually work on your kit till it is perfect for you.
So when using the Training Pyramid, you can use it in a vertical mode along the defensive lines of support or medical, etc. For instance, you want to work on your secondary firearm or pistol. You can establish the mindset required to conceal carry, engage a threat and recover from the incident. Then work on multiple shooting drills, from the correct fundamentals and the four basic positions, to using cover, drawing from concealment and multiple shooting positions like prone and kneeling. Then progress to more of tactics based training like scenarios that you may find yourself in on a daily basis as you go about you life. For instance using proper tactics while fighting around your vehicle oe executing your home defense plans. Another advanced tactic is fighting in a low light situation in your home or business. As I mentioned previously about kit, you could be trying new gear constantly throughout your training, evaluating its usefulness to you. So when you arrive at the kit level of the pyramid, you will have the gear that works for you in all situations. Example would be using an OWB strong side holster over an AIWB. You would want to train on your primary carry configuration in all scenarios. Or you can utilize it in a lateral mode across the one level of the pyramid to establish a well rounded skills or tactics. Work on all marksmanship skill sets, pistol, rifle shotgun etc to establish solid fundamentals. Overall, I believe Mindset is universal and comes from the individual. We can show what a proper mindset is on paper and by our actions (Lead by Example), but you need to develop it in yourself by having the proper mindset for learning.