The process of wargaming as The Tactical Professor explains it is a valuable skill to develop. I encourage you to sit down with your family and kids and wargame possible situations that might arise (home invasion, fire, earthquake, power outage, etc).
I do not know anyone who has had a child and magically found more time and money for training. I certainly didn’t. Suddenly there’s a lack of all the resources you used to take for granted. This deficit of time, money, and well-rested hours requires us to re-prioritize our training and become more efficient in our practices. Let’s talk about some ideas to compress more training into less time, while spending less money. This topic could easily bleed into several posts, but I’ll try to lay the groundwork here. This post will concentrate primarily on time savings. Reducing training expenses will be a later post. My approach is an integration of periodization, combining cross-discipline skills when possible, having training opportunities at home, and a whole lot of dry fire.
Throughout this whole process, keep your mission statement in mind. Why are you doing all this? Once again, define this for yourself. A comprehensive mission statement might be, “I want to live a long and healthy life and enjoy it with my loved ones”. You then will have to decide which skills demand the most attention to achieve this mission.
First, make a list of the skills you want to build and maintain. Here’s mine as an example:
- Physical fitness: strength, endurance, mobility
- Shooting Proficiency: speed, accuracy, decisional shooting, competition, training courses
- Emergency Medical training
- Martial Arts/ Combatives
Now, figure out how much time you want to allocate for training each week. Well, let me clarify and say, “How much time can you actually spend on training?” because it’s probably not as much as you’d want. That’s OK, you’re a Dad/Mom now (or just a busy human being) and you have to spend time with the family that you’re trying to protect. Let’s say it’s two hours a week. If it’s more, good! If it’s less, that’s fine too. You have to work within your limited resources and unlimited desires.
Next, decide which thing you suck at most. This will be the priority. This part is important, because it’s easy to want to train what you’re already good at. This can happen with shooters who want to shave a few tenths off of their draw, a runner who wants to shave minutes off of their mile time, or a Jiu Jitsu player who wants to get the next stripe on the belt. Don’t forget that it is very likely the Pareto Principle applies to these endeavors. Honing your shooting to the limits of human ability means that you’re likely ignoring another aspect of your training. Get good enough, and then focus on the next weakness.
In sticking with the mission statement I wrote above, the best probability for achieving my goals (and probably yours too) is to give top priority to Physical Fitness. As Larry Lindenman pointed out at his lecture at the PaulEPalooza 2 Training Event, we’re much more likely to die of heart disease or some other preventable disease than in the gunfight we have been training for. The reality is that the bulk of the training time should be spend on physical fitness. We should concentrate on the aspects of fitness (strength, endurance, and mobility) in periodic blocks to give our bodies enough time to get the training adaptation we’re after, and then switch to a block of time concentrating on another aspect of fitness. Larry recommends, and I have used, 8 week blocks of time on your current weakness. Within this 8 week block, use 75% of your training time building that weakness, and the remaining 25% on maintaining the other aspects. After 8 weeks, switch to the next fitness goal, and put rest on maintenance mode. repeat. Luckily, the non-fitness aspects can be maintained and even built in conjunction with the physical fitness goals. You probably will have to make concessions in your training because life gets in the way.
Note: I’m assuming my audience isn’t an Elite in any of the disciplines that I’ve listed. If you’re a Crossfit God/Goddess, you can probably skip some WODs and prioritize getting some medical training or firearms training. You get the idea.
Here’s a few tips to streamline your training:
- Keep a journal. Whether you’re strength training, shooting, or running. You simply won’t be able to document your progress without a record of where you’ve been.
- Film yourself. Use your phone and take some video of yourself doing your practice. Compare this over time. Send it to a peer and ask them to critique you. The feedback loop is important for course corrections. It will make you mo’ better, mo’ faster.
- Get a few pieces of home exercise equipment. Nothing fancy is needed here. A pull-up bar, a kettlebell (bought or made), a sandbag, TRX bands, whatever. Build a home gym if you have the resources. Try to cut drive time out of your training allotment and you’ll have more time for training. Do the work by whatever means necessary.
- Combine training time with family time. I’m thinking mostly of fitness stuff here. Get out and hike or walk with your family. Two birds, one stone.
- Schedule your training when it doesn’t impact your family. If you have to get up early to dead-lift, suck it up buttercup.
- Dry-fire while you’re taking a dump.
- Depending on your training budget, try to get at least one course of professional training during the year. Try to choose coursework that will yield the greatest progress towards your goals. This takes honesty with yourself, and a dedication to your mission. It’s easy to go to man-camp and hose 1500 rounds of carbine ammo in a 2 day course. Try to avoid that trap.
- Combine training when possible. Throw a few repetitions of dry fire after a set of push-ups, do push-ups while you recover from sit-ups, or do a sport that also trains your combative abilities. Try to increase the time efficiency by combining skill building with attribute building.
- Don’t train for longer than 60 minutes at a time. Whether at the gym, or shooting, you probably have diminishing returns after about 60 minutes.
- Do a perfect draw stroke every night and get a perfect sight picture as you’re securing your gun for the night. This gives you 365 practice draws a year, for free.
- Perform mental rehearsal and visualization. See yourself performing a perfect draw stroke in your mind. It’s free, and can be done while you’re getting ready in the morning.
- Choose your shooting drills wisely. Here’s The Tactical Professor discussing training priorities. Concentrate on mentally demanding, low round count practice sessions.
- Train with a plan. If you don’t have a plan you’re going to waste time figuring out what to do, and probably will default to something easy that you’re already good at. Nuts to that.
- Train things you don’t like to train. Because if you don’t like training it, you’re probably bad at it. Bring up the weaknesses.
- Compete. You are forced to perform in front of others, perform on demand, and are directly compared to your peers. People often say that one Jiu Jitsu tournament is the equivalent of several months of gym training time. The importance of this cannot be overlooked. Find a sport (shooting, power lifting, whatever) and plan on competing in it. You’ll train harder and with more focus.
Keep in mind this same approach would work with a single person with no spouse who has a huge training budget and training time. At some point, choices have to be made and priorities chosen.
What time savings training tips do you use to get more out of your training time?
Get training, and then go spend some time with the family!
All guns are always loaded.
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.—Jeff Cooper
Reciting the four universal firearms safety rules should be part of your subconscious routine every time you see or handle a gun. No exceptions. I personally like to throw in two extra rules when I’m teaching people.
- Never try to catch a falling gun. (heard from James Yeager at Tactical Response)
- Prevent access to your guns by unauthorized persons. (heard from Claude Werner at The Tactical Professor)
Let’s concentrate on the last rule there. Who are we trying to prevent from accessing our guns and how do we prevent unauthorized people from accessing them? Obviously, we want to keep criminals away from our guns. But there are a few other groups of people that we want to deny access to guns that you should consider. How about our children, nosy neighbors, or our nosy neighbors’ children?
The easiest and most robust solution there is getting a large gun safe and anchoring it into the cement in the basement. This works wonderfully for storing guns for which you have no immediate need (i.e. not our go-to home defense weapons). But how do we keep home defense guns quickly accessible to us and not to them? I’ll list several options, some better and some way worse than others.
- Elevated position. This is the worst of the bunch, by a long shot. If children are your only concern, it’s still the worst. The problem is that, yeah, they might not be able to climb up there and reach your gun yet, but when they can, it could be too late. Don’t do it once the kid can walk. I had a scary three seconds about ten months ago when my little guy was pulling himself up to standing that made me realize that if he can see the gun, he’ll find a way to try to touch it. Never again. Here’s some footage to demonstrate the point (thanks Chuck H. of the Topeka Police for posting this)
- Stack-On PS-520 Super-Sized Personal Safe with Electronic Lock
This has been a very workable option for me for the last 2 years. I have an easy to remember code (different from the PINs that my son might watch us type at the grocery store) and I currently store this safe near the bed. I have also stored it in the coat closet near the entry of our previous home. I don’t have this lagged down, as I’m not as concerned with a thief breaking in and running away with this safe. It only contains my home defense setup (upcoming post on this). I can quickly roll out of bed and get my gear and enact my home defense plans. I preventatively change the batteries once a year and remind myself with a google calendar reminder.
Gunvault SpeedVault SV500 gun safe
(key code version). This is my next purchase. I’d like to secure it on the first floor in a place that myself or my wife can access as we answer the door. I don’t own this yet, but I’ve been told that you can easily defeat the biometric version with some simple tools, so avoid that one.
- GunVault NV300 NanoVault with Combination Lock
This is the best $30 you can spend. You can use this as a travel safe when you visit hotels, in your car, or even in a drawer if you only need to secure a pistol. I programmed a palindromic number (same forward as backwards) so that under stress I could open the safe regardless of orientation. It has been a great all around value.
- On your person!!! This is what I do until I go to sleep at night. My ‘house gun’ is a Ruger LCP with a crimson trace laser, clip-draw , and a Hogue Handall. I don’t like the idea of having to request that a home invader standby while I open my safe, so I just carry a gun at home. Makes sense to me. If you read lots of defensive gun use stories online, you’ll see many examples of when a man has to engage a home invader empty handed and his wife runs to get the gun and has to make a near contact shot on the bad guy. There’s lots of considerations in this scenario that we can talk about soon.
That’s it for now. If you have any suggestions on securing long guns from kids, and keeping them quick to access, please let me know. I’ve been toying with some design ideas that I am considering building since no good solution seems to exist.
Edit To Add: Found this on Amazon. ShotLock Shotgun Solo-Vault This looks like it might be the ticket for a quick access shotgun if that’s the direction you want to go.
I have been involved with the firearms training community for about 7 years at this point (a flash in the pan compared to my friends). I followed the usual progression that people go through when they get into firearms. First, I was obsessed with the guns themselves. I would buy the gun rags and drool over the newest promises of ‘knockdown power’ and bought into the caliber wars. Then, I realized that you can’t buy skill and “the Way is in training”. I found some very influential forums and people and started my apprenticeship under several trainers in the southeast. I delved into the shooting sports and improved my execution of the mechanical aspects of shooting. I began my journey into developing a robust mindset and becoming comfortable with doing the violence that I was preparing for with the shooting skills I was honing. Soon thereafter, I came to realize that shooting isn’t the only problem. There’s tactics, the legal system, hand to hand fighting in a weapons based environment, less lethal options, positioning problems, working with a partner, avoidance, deterrence and deescalation of criminal actors, and on and on. These topics have consumed my training time in the last five years. Well, about two years ago, there was an added complication. A baby boy. I played it cool, but really I was just lost in a sea of questions beyond the usual ones that most dads have.
How do I protect him and my wife?
How do I need to change my tactics and procedures to account for this little helpless guy?
What do I need to change in order to keep guns available to me, and unavailable to him?
What will I do if I see a crime unfolding in front of me and he is with me?
What will I do if I have to deal with a crime directed at me and he is with me?
How can I prepare for those possibilities?
Will my home defense plans change? How?
What drills do I need to practice that account for having a child with me?
How will I introduce him to guns one day?
There are a million questions. I couldn’t find a one stop shop for such things so I say, “if not me, then who”. This blog is an attempt to answer these questions for myself and others by looking at actual defensive gun uses, borrowing (and citing) other writings on the subject, asking other dads in my situation, and thinking rationally on the subject.
Let’s see where this goes.