FEATURED IN TRAINING
Things on the street can get bad in a hurry. One minute you're bored silly--the next you're in a fight for your life. The difference in time can be seconds, the difference in outcome immense.
Skill mastery, along with mindset, is the foundation for winning on the street. Yes, a mindset that motivates you to win--despite the odds, injuries and basic fear responses--is vital. But mastery of your basic core skills forms the base. It is through the toil of the preparation to win that confidence is gathered. Put simply, the more competent you are the more confident you'll be.
Vince Lombardi said, "The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Mastery of skills such as the combat draw-stroke of your pistol, shooting, learning to truly "run the gun," suspect control techniques and emergency response driving takes time and diligence to attain. There is no truth to the idea that you learned everything you need on the streets in your basic academy. Most academies offer an exposure to the skills needed but far from the number of repetitions needed for mastery.
Consider any pro athlete. Do they show up for their game or match having only practiced once that month--or that year? With a game that is not, in most cases, life endangering, these sportsmen practice and prepare daily. They feed their bodies and their brains for the end goal of winning a game. And yet we, as law enforcement officers, eat poorly, don't exercise, don't get enough sleep, and practice and prepare our life saving skills only when paid by our agency to do so.
It's like the high wire artist that works without a net and refuses to practice his aerial stunts. Luck only gets him so far and when he falls, the ground is very unforgiving.
The way to winning is through mastery of body and mind. The way to mastery is through training. I've lost count of the number of gunfight or serious assault survivors that said that they reacted as they were trained to do. Although there are many different methods and systems out there that will work (and certainly some are sounder than others) the key in all is the amount of training that you do.
No, you don't have to train like Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther series, with your butler Kato waiting to attack you as you get home (younger officers should rent the DVDs to find out about the hilarious French detective). You can train in minutes a day with your draw-stroke, your baton swing or your empty hand strikes. Furthermore, with the development of airsoft pistols, you can engage in realistic firearms training in your backyard, basement or garage for fractions of a penny for each shot.
Spend time focusing on the basics of your police skills. Devote enough time and effort in these basics so they can be performed without conscious thought in all kinds of environments while moving, or with less-than-ideal foot placement. On the ground, face-up or face-down, in poor lighting or with only your gun hand, or your non-gun hand, for that matter, against multiple attackers. In short, master the ability to apply the basics regardless of the circumstances.
With mental imagery, you can see yourself using these skills and winning the violent encounter. Scientists have actually recorded electrical signals in the muscles involved in the mental practice. All top athletes use visualization in addition to their actual skill practice.
Mastery of any skill--whether golfing, basketball or football, and especially the skills required to win a violent encounter as a law enforcement officer--require effort to attain, and diligence to maintain. The difference between an officer that trains regularly and one who doesn't in an actual shooting or resisting, is substantial. In some cases, it is the difference between life and death. A professional mountain climber preparing for Mt. Everest, where the stakes are real, spends vast amount of time learning the mountain, the skills necessary for safe ascent/descent, and then immerses himself in the training necessary to make such a climb. The streets of our cities may be flat and asphalt or concrete, but the perils are real. Learn what you can about the dangers of your work and the skills necessary to win, and then immerse yourself in the career-long struggle for mastery of those skills. The benefits are huge and will aid you in your struggle regardless of what mountains you may face.