In the firearms and tactical training industry, most instructors are dedicated to what they do--because they genuinely care. Why? Because in this industry, if people ever have to do what they are being trained to do, if they fail, they die. Most instructors understand this and it shows through the effort they put into their training programs and teaching styles.
Unfortunately, many of these same caring, dedicated trainers often do as much harm as they do good for their students' long-term performance potential. This isn't due to malicious intent, nor is it due to incompetence, nor to apathy. Rather, this harm manifests simply from the use of training structures that are now considered the industry standard.
Re-structuring Training Using Brain Science Can Reduce Costs and Improve Results At The Same Time
Article 001 - March 25, 2016
If we take a step back and look at the traditional approaches to professional training for military, law enforcement, and corporate security applications, it becomes apparent that a great percentage of the time and resources we expend are ultimately fruitless. In some cases, our efforts may even be counter-productive.
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Progressive Interference: How Good Trainers Can Damage Their Students' Operational Performance Potential
Article 002 - March 29, 2016
Welcome to Building Shooters...
This space is intended to contain original articles and information relevant to professional instructors and training developers. Our mission is to help fundamentally re-structure how training is delivered across the industry. The intended audience for this information is a highly skilled, professional instructor. This is not a political, current events, firearms, or shooting blog. We may discuss firearms or shooting techniques within the context of training, or relate current events to training methodology and delivery; however, our focus is on providing information of value to professional instructors, especially those working at an organizational level.
A recent news article, detailing what seems to be a bizarre series of events, chronicles the shooting of an unarmed man, who was apparently begging for his life, by a police officer in Arizona. The officer has since been charged with second degree murder, lending credence to the news story. If the report is accurate, the officer in question also had engraved "You're f---ed" on the rifle...
Addressing Operational Liability Through In-Service Training Structure
Article 003 - April 5, 2016
Have a discussion with almost anyone about training and one of the things you'll hear almost immediately is about different learning styles. The problem is, this actually isn't true...
Debunking Training Myths: Myth 1—People Have Different Learning Styles.
Article 004 - April 18, 2016
Debunking Training Myths: Myth 2—"Find what's comfortable for you."
Article 005 - May 21, 2016
One of the most often said phrases during entry level training and initial equipment selection, especially during civilian courses is, "Find (or pick) what's comfortable for you." Unfortunately, this common approach is based on a series of myths—specifically that 1) initial comfort is important and/or relevant and 2) that entry level students are capable of making good decisions regarding subjects about which they know nothing...
Debunking Training Myths: Myth 3—Train To Standard, Not To Time
Article 006 - June 18, 2016
"We train to standard, not to time." How many of us have heard that in a training program before? How many of us have said it ourselves at some point? I know I have. Unfortunately, much like quite a few other points of common "knowledge" that have become accepted throughout the training industry, this approach doesn't do us, or our students, any favors.
Implicit Bias – Is it real? And what does it mean to professional trainers?
Article 007 - July 12, 2016
The intent of this article is to apply our research into brain-based force science and training methodology to the concept of implicit bias. The objective is to understand, given the tools and information available to us, what this term means, whether or not it defines a real, viable concept, and, if so, how it applies to the job of professional trainers...
Interview with Mike Seeklander on the American Warrior Show about Applying Neuroscience to Tactical Training
Podcast - July 22, 2016
This is an interview about our book Building Shooters, how the research came about, and how it can be applied with professional shooter Mike Seeklander. Mike is a former Marine, former law enforcement officer, a former senior instructor at FLETC and with the US Air Marshalls and is one of the top competitive shooters in the world. I had a great time in the interview, many thanks to Mike for making it happen. We hope that you find this interview both enjoyable and informative...
Debunking Training Myths: Myth 4 - "You Have To Find What Works For You"
Article 008 - August 14, 2016
One of the things that happens when you show and then have the student try the different techniques, is that you create interfering neural networks within the same neural space in short-term memory. In Building Shooters, we go through the scientific research documenting the brain's function and the concept of interference in some detail, but for the purposes of this article, we'll keep it simple...
Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: How our use of standards in modern training programs negatively impacts operational outcomes—and how to fix it.
Article 009 - September 6, 2016
Unfortunately, the way that we currently use standards across most of the industry has the effect of limiting performance development and inhibiting the program's ability to positively affect operational outcomes to its (the training program's) full potential.
Planted: Why our dependence on live-fire and other traditional training infrastructure is killing people—and what to do about it.
Article 010 - September 21, 2016
If we accept the assertion that, "The importance and effectiveness of movement cannot be overstated" and that most law enforcement officers are rooted in-place during situations that involve use of their firearm, where does this leave us? What causes us to be planted where we stand during shooting situations? Is this truly a training scar that cannot be healed? If not, how do we go about addressing it?
Training: A Powerful, Yet Under-Used, Leadership Tool.
Article 011 - October 13, 2016
Leaders are directly responsible for operational outcomes, outcomes that they have very little ability to affect or impact. This isn't because they don't care. It's because they don't have access to the resources, authority, or capability necessary to actually DO anything about it. In other words, it's an infrastructure problem...
Gunfighting vs Wrestling: An Instructive Comparison.
Article 012 - October 31, 2016
We received some fantastic commentary from a law enforcement officer who happens to also be a wrestler and wrestling coach. The comments brought up some great discussion points about how we look at, design, and deliver training. It is critically important stuff so we wanted to address it in some depth. Rather than respond directly, we decided to write this full-length article instead.
The Neighbor's Door: How Do You Teach Tactical Decision-Making?
Article 013- November 14, 2016
There’s nothing wrong with talking. It’s an important part of delivering effective training. But talking too much – that can sometimes be just as bad as saying nothing at all. So why is this important? How does our method of delivery (like talking too much) affect the students’ learning ability?
Motivators: Applying Scientific Research To The Civilian Training Market - Part 1
Article 014- December 1, 2016
In this first article, we’re going to look at the motivators behind the civilian training market because understanding why your students are there is the first step to delivering training that meets not only their wants – but also their needs.
The Business Of Shooting: Applying Scientific Research To The Civilian Training Market - Part 2
Article 015- December 25, 2016
The greatest training system in the world is useless without students who are willing to sign up for it and go through it. And, in the practical world, they need to also be willing and able to pay for it. This means that, as instructors, we need to consider things through the prism of economics and business as well.
Structures: Applying Scientific Research To The Civilian Training Market - Part 3
Article 016- January 06, 2017
As an instructor, you can put out amazing information in your training program, thereby providing excellent training. Yet, at the same time, you can fail to provide a system or environment where the students actually learn the information you’re presenting...
Do No Harm: A Hippocratic Approach to Firearms Training. Applying Scientific Research to the Civilian Training Market - Part 4
Article 017 - January 28, 2017
As instructors, we should try to avoid this—damaging students’ potential. Who cares how much information we put out, or how high quality it is if we are hurting our students’ in the process?
The Machine: Why Chaotic Learning Methods Can Improve Training And Operational Outcomes
Article 018 - February 23, 2017
There’s a lot of disagreement in the industry about training methods, tactics, and skills performance. However, we can all generally agree that the real thing is a great deal more complex than hearing a pre-known sound, then performing a pre-known motor skill (or sequence of motor skills) on a stationary, pre-known target or series of targets.
Foundations: Spending more time upfront to build a solid foundation is a quicker path to proficiency
Article 019 - March 26, 2017
As instructors, we know that if the students don’t learn effectively, they could die—even in training, so we take what we do seriously. All of this is good. Unfortunately, the methods of teaching that sometimes manifest through this burning desire to help our students—those often aren’t so good...
The Gift of Ignorance: Often we look down on people who are ignorant of subject matter that we think is important. We really shouldn't.
Article 020 - April 26, 2017
All of us are ignorant. It’s not a question of if; it’s simply a question of the subject matter. So, why then do we still treat ignorance like a contagious disease and hurl the term around as an insult...?
Fake Expectations: When instructors have the wrong expectations about student performance, scenario-based training can be as likely to hurt as it is to help.
Article 021 - May 26, 2017
Scenario-based training is often designed with an expectation of a specific response from the student or students. Every scenario development should start with a primary objective, but a scripted list of student actions isn’t an objective—nor is it realistic.
The Real Thing: Lessons from a real-world shooting--Part 1.
Article 022 - June 24, 2017
Recently I had the opportunity to get a very thorough debrief of a justified, real-world engagement. We generally steer clear of discussing tactical information or in-depth technique discussions here in an “open source” setting. However, there were some great take-aways from this event that we believe both need to be shared and are appropriate for this medium.
Child's Play: The key to optimizing learning potential isn’t a single technique or method. It is understanding what we are doing and why at each point of a student’s development.
Article 023 - July 15, 2017
A question from a reader: "Your book surprised me. I was watching a small child the other day. I contrast how he learned versus how you recommend we teach adults. The child certainly learned far more than he can retain in short-term memory. Was most of his time wasted? Is immersive education mostly wasted?"
Shoot ‘em in the back, point shooting, head shots, shoot-throughs, and other lessons from a real-world shooting —Part 2.
Article 024 - August 05, 2017
In June we wrote an article discussing some great lessons that we took away from a very thorough debrief we recently received about a real-world, justified (and required) shooting. This is the follow-up.
A Tale of Two Failures--Part 1: Two ways the firearms and tactical training industry gets it fundamentally wrong.
Article 025 - September 21, 2017
No matter how much effort we put into making things better with gear, tactics, techniques etc., we are always going to be fighting windmills and find ourselves behind the power curve on the street if we don’t address these two fundamental, structural problems that exist within the industry.
Back to the Basics: The Las Vegas shooting may be the single greatest security failure of our time. Here’s what we can do about it.
Article 026 - October 06, 2017
If you’re not doing a dedicated terrain analysis as an integral component of assessing and managing risk in your operations and organization, you’re wrong—and you’re probably a lot more vulnerable than you know.
Interview with Paul Carlson and Rob Morse on the Safety Solutions Academy Podcast #433.
Podcast- October 17, 2017
A Tale of Two Failures—Part 2: In the firearms training industry, we use tests that measure student performance. We don’t do it very well.
Article 027 - November 05, 2017
No matter how much the rest of the industry advances with respect to equipment, tactics, techniques, etc., we are always going to face significant challenges developing consistently acceptable levels of performance, especially for institutional training applications, until we tackle these two fundamental issues head-on...
Learned Helplessness: In gun culture and the firearms industry, we often sell women short—negatively impacting their personal safety. We should be doing the opposite.
Article 028 - December 06, 2017
Here’s a question: if firearms, fundamentally, are physical equalizers, why do so many people in the industry default towards treating women like they can’t learn to use them equally?
Three reasons why you should mentor a new shooter in 2018.
Article 029 - January 19, 2018
The distributed, less formal structures that are usually involved in mentoring can produce better, safer, more effective shooters and gun owners faster and more efficiently than virtually any other known training method. All it requires is a mentor who possesses the skills themselves, along with a little knowledge about how to make the characteristics of the human brain work in the student’s favor.