Next-Best Training

Next-Best Training

Force-on-force exercises can iron out dangerous reactions.

Nothing can prepare you for the real thing, but force-on-force training comes as close as possible.

Force-on-force training is the next-best training to the best--but worst--training: real-world encounters. Make a mistake in force-on-force training, and all that suffers is your ego and perhaps various stinging body parts. In real life, you don't get a "do over."

Force-on-force training isn't new. Our military and lawmen have, for years, used various systems ranging from paper wad or wax-loaded rounds, through lasers to the FX system of primer-launched marking rounds fired using real guns converted to function with them. The FX system is great, but unless you are in the military or law enforcement, you, with few exceptions, can't buy it.


After FX, the two best systems for force-on-force training are paintball and airsoft. They're not restricted like FX and are generally legal for purchase by those 18 years of age or older, except where local restrictions apply. Both use a round, non-metallic ball or BB in guns specifically made for the .68 caliber (paintball) or 6mm (airsoft) projectile.


Paintball BBs do just that-- "paint" when they hit as the BB breaks, releasing a water-soluble colored marker. Most airsoft BBs sold do not break or mark. (Some strides are being made to better achieve this.)

Both systems are effective in teaching many of the principles of defensive tactics. My personal preference is airsoft. Airsoft guns, in contrast to paintball guns, are made to be close copies of authentic handguns, rifles and shotguns. For specifics on training with airsoft, check out James Tarr's article in the April/May issue of Handguns.


The advantages of force-on-force training cannot be overstated, for with it you can learn to interact with firearms and live, thinking threats who will act and react in a manner not achievable by any other means. The results of such encounters are quite illuminating.


I once saw a student--well-trained at arms, by the way--fall over backward when hit with an FX round in his level IIIA vest. After a few moments, he did get up and get back into the fight but had no explanation for his reaction. (He did what he had been "trained" to do by thousands of hours of watching someone get shot and fall over in films and on TV.)

Many times, upon first exposure to force-on-force, a student will freeze in place and do nothing--no taking cover or firing back--nothing. One student, when confronted by three armed threats, drew his handgun to low ready and fired all six rounds--into the ground.

On numerous occasions, while the student presented his handgun, he would not aim it, let alone fire it, at the threat unless told to do so by the instructor. I've also witnessed real-world examples of such confusion on the part of lawmen on their first exposure to a real threat; certainly putting the lie to the oft-expressed "I'll be able to do it when I have to."



Running Scenarios
For the most part, force-on-force training with airsoft is steered in two directions: exercises to learn or enforce specific skills or real-life scenarios designed to replicate actual possible situations.

One example of a skill drill, and one of my favorite exercises with airsoft guns, is to stage a convenience store robbery. A participant walks into the scene and sees the store clerk being held at gunpoint as a "robber" demands money. The participant draws his gun and orders the assailant to drop his gun, only to find himself shot after the bad guy turns and shoots him before he can even get a single shot off.

This drill is a real eye-opener, as most people do not realize that the bad guy can turn and shoot faster than they can pull the trigger until they run through the drill. The force-on-force scenario teaches them never to challenge someone with a drawn gun and that the best course of action may be to simply back out the door. It's a life-saving lesson.

A great use of airsoft technology is to run home, car or office defense scenarios right in your home, car or office. Since the damage done by the plastic projectile is minimal, you can train anywhere.

Airsoft projectiles won't harm most objects but may damage fragile things such as lampshades, thin curtains and the like, so a little sanitizing of the space is in order. Whatever type of scenarios you do, never forget your safety gear: face shields, neck protection and gloves. Paintball shops are a great place to find safety gear---David Kenik



In closing, I must point out that while paintball and now airsoft are regularly used as toys in games such as "capture the flag" with opposing teams, the possibility of serious injury or death is always present if stringent safety precautions are not established and observed--particularly when those participating often carry and own real guns.

This level of self-defense training cannot be done on the fly. I recommend Training at the Speed of Life, Volume 1 by Kenneth R. Murray (Armiger Publications, armiger.net, 407-532-7381) as a bible for force-on-force training and procedures for doing so. Ken is one of the pioneers of force-on-force work, having co-founded Simunition, Inc., which markets FX cartridges and firearms conversion kits for them. Force-on-force training may be "next best," but it is not a game.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About Handgun Ammo

All About Handgun Ammo

Rich and Jim get into the nitty gritty of the FBI ammo protocol, firing into various barriers to illustrate what can happen to a bullet.

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

Going To The Range

Going To The Range

Jim and Scott show you how to make each trip to the shooting range a quality experience.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability. 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged. Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase. Accessories

SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades

James Tarr - December 14, 2017

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The unique Revolvers

Remington Timeline: 1858 - Beals Revolver

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The...

See More Trending Articles

More Training

From arm position to thumb location, there are plenty of methods out there. Training

There's More Than One Way To Shoot A Gun

Richard Nance - December 27, 2018

From arm position to thumb location, there are plenty of methods out there.

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil. Training

Shooting a Handgun - Stance Matters

Eve Flanigan - June 14, 2018

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil.

Nance lays out best practices for clearing malfunctions in a semiautomatic - skills that could mean the difference between life and death. Training

Handgun Malfunction - Getting Out Of A Jam

Richard Nance - January 11, 2018

Nance lays out best practices for clearing malfunctions in a semiautomatic - skills that could...

While there's no absolute correct way to manipulate a pistol, your technique of choice should be based on careful consideration and practice. Training

Discovering What Pistol Manipulation Techniques Work for You

Richard Nance - May 15, 2019

While there's no absolute correct way to manipulate a pistol, your technique of choice should...

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.