Friday, September 19, 2014

Developing a training program: Part 1

In a previous post, I covered range plans and their importance to maximizing the training you can get out of your limited time and ammo.  In this post, I want to touch briefly on developing an overall training program so that you are reaching your goals in the most cost effective way possible.  A training program guides your range plans, guides your dry fire, and also guides your selection and purchase of outside training courses.  There are a lot of great firearms, preparedness, medical, and other courses available in the United States today, many of them taught by some incredibly knowledgeable and skilled instructors.  I would argue that with the availability and quality of courses today, preparedness and firearms training in America has the potential to be better than it has ever been.  But with so many great courses out there, how do you decide which ones you want to take?  Obviously there are outside factors that influence your decision - price, distance, and time - but the primary driving force should be your training program.

Let's get some definitions out of the way.  A training program is defined by the Business Dictionary as "significant long-term training activity which (as opposed to a training project) comprises of a series of courses, and usually has a flexible time and cost budget."  A training project is "often a short-term training activity comprising of one or two courses with specific objectives to be met within a prescribed time and cost budget." A training plan is the "trainer's outline of the training process he or she will use in a training program." 

So what are we supposed to get out of those definitions?  A key here is that the training program is long-term - think in terms of years.  It should address initial training (the first time you do a skill) and recurrent training (training the skill on a regular basis to ensure proficiency and retention.)  A training project focuses short-term – think one or two courses or range days designed to focus on one aspect of your program or an emergent need.  The training plan is the plan that your instructor is using to teach you, or it could be your range plan – the outline of what you are going to do that day to accomplish the objective from your training project or program.

How do you develop a training program?  Start by defining your goals.  As an example: do you want to focus on defending yourself inside your home, do you want to focus on defending yourself outside your home, or are you looking for an all-around focus?  Once you have your goals recorded, you would do a Task Analysis, defined by the Business Dictionary as a "systematic identification of the fundamental elements of a job, and examination of knowledge and skills required for the job's performance. This information is used in human resource management for developing institutional objectives, training programs, and evaluation tools." 

For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume your goal is to prepare yourself to defend yourself inside your home.  First, you would sit down and prioritize the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) required for achieving or carrying out that goal.  Example:

Knowledge requirements:
·         Knowledge of the legal requirements for the use of deadly force in your home
·         Knowledge of what constitutes cover versus concealment
·         Knowledge of how to build up multiple layers of defense so that you can reduce the likelihood of having to use deadly force at all
Skill requirements:
·         Firing from cover or around a barricade
·         Utilizing a flashlight either mounted to your gun or handheld
·         Basic movement techniques
Ability requirements:
·         Carry a child or partner up the stairs
·         Carry a child or partner down an evacuation ladder

Now that you have your KSA identified, you would move on to prioritizing those KSA.  Your priority will dictate the amount of time, money, and effort you will devote to each KSA, as well as the order in which you begin attaining the KSAs. 

Next post we will discuss planning training projects as the building blocks of our skills.

X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. In addition to his Coast Guard credentials, he is also an NRA Certified Instructor, focusing his attention on civilians looking for professional instruction for their defensive needs.