Monthly Archives: January 2009

Handgun Training, Training Attitude

I had posted a question on Vlad’s forum about training guns and a friend and fellow Systema person replied 

Ken Good writes: I have personally trained with wax bullets, a variety of commercially available and custom paintgun/markers, Simmunitions FX as well as varying quality of Airsoft guns. All have Pros & Cons. Yes, you want reliability and accuracy and as much replication of the actual weapon as possible. That being said, I believe the single most important thing you are doing when putting any simulation training weapon in your hand, with opponents downrange that plan on shooting you when the opportunity presents itself, is training your perception system/situational awareness. The ability to "see". The actual firing of the weapon (whatever it happens to be), is the last thing in a long chain of events that you are dealing with. The weapon should be transparent in your hands so to speak. Don’t pay too much attention to it. If you are, then your mind is in the wrong universe and you simply need more time behind the weapon on the range and immersed in simulation. If you line somebody up, drop the hammer and your round(s), doesn’t actually hit the target because the training weapon is not quite up to speed, don’t worry about it. It was a good rep so to speak. Also remember, if you are hit with any number of the possible training projectiles and you attribute it to (he or she got "lucky") or he or she has a better weapon than you do, you are concentrating on the wrong reality. Don’t let your pride get in the way of a good lesson! The reality is: If you got hit with a crappy training weapon system, how much easier for your opponent would it have been with an actual weapon? As training weapons do improve on the field, the better shooters will leverage them faster/more efficiently that less proficient shooters. In others words, as the weapons get better, the fights are finished faster in favor of the more proficient/experienced. When I first got started in so-called "Force-on-Force" training, I forced myself and all my instructors to generally use the least effective training weapons of those available on any given training day. We used 1-shot pump Sheridan training markers (10-rounds in a magazine above the barrel). We gave the students higher capacity rifles (both semi and full-auto) for their use. Although significantly outnumbered and "outgunned), we (the instructors) would regularly dominate the situation using better movement, tactics, communication and calm under duress that will promote accuracy & proper timing. You could not simply cover your sloppy movements with more rounds in the air, you had to find out what was going on on some of the not so obvious levels and consistently execute. Then when we did use the better weapons, the fights were over exceptionally fast. I guess what I am trying to say, is don’t get too wrapped around the axle at first with respect to which training weapon you have. Get in there, mix it up. Learn from the myriad of mistakes we all make in these situations.

Marc writes:
To say the least, Ken was one of the pioneers of force-on-force handgun training. Take a moment to visit his website at
And be sure and read some of his articles on the same site.

Also reread the above article and consider the training attitude described by Ken -and then extend the concepts to ALL your training. Training is about learning and expanding your awareness. In a training environment this is not the same thing as "winning". In fact, we often learn more when we lose. When we win (which sometimes comes with a good dose of luck), we pat ourselves on the back and hardly think back about the things that made it work….the ego is too busy. But, when we lose we often replay the tape over and over, looking for what went wrong.

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Wheeler Systema

Martin Wheeler just released this new video montage that is sure to be a favorite. I could only post it under one topic and "movement" seemed to fit best as Martin’s movement is unique. Smoothness is a desired trait of Systema but few people move as smoothly as Martin. His movement is relaxed without being too relaxed …something he tried to instruct me about when I saw him last year. Now I see it better, and this video gives us all something to work towards.

Martin is the instructor at the Los Angeles School of Russian Martial Art in California. Continue reading

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