I make a big deal about efficiency. I use the word a lot. I sometimes correct people awkwardly when they say “effective” but mean (or should mean) “efficient.” The ease with which people interchange the two words without actually thinking about their different meanings is indicative of why the difference needs to be stressed. Merely “getting the job done,” especially in a training environment, isn’t nearly enough.
The realities of the circumstances under which you may need your skills, combined with the practical limitations on how much personal defense training you’ll do, dictate an emphasis on efficiency. I define efficiency as “achieving a goal with as little time, effort and energy as possible.” This is a simple definition with significant meaning.
The Combat Focus Shooting program, for example, has been a constantly evolving shooting course. Many times that evolution has come from discovering new ways to achieve goals in a more efficient way. It is important to note that this evolution happens on both sides of the classroom.
A few years ago, one of my staff instructors brought to my attention a drill that made it much easier to teach a rather esoteric concept that affects the pace of a shooter during a defensive shooting incident. That drill was tested with some students, found to work very well and was added to the program. That change removed the need for a (sometimes lengthy) discussion and lecture session on this important topic and replaced it with a relatively quick and enjoyable drill. That made the training process itself more efficient.
Similarly, over the years, we have changed small parts of the techniques we teach when we find ways to perform an action (such as reloading from slide lock) in a more efficient way in the context of a plausible defensive event.
Recently, I was asked how I “teach” new students to grip a gun. I explained that I don’t usually have to “teach” such a fundamental and intuitive action. Most people hold the gun 90+% properly once they understand a couple of simple things.
For clarity, I then spelled out the eight or so steps to achieving what I think is a technically perfect two-handed grip for defensive shooting. I know that spelling out those eight steps can get the job done, but it is much better to simply state a couple of concepts that achieve the same goal. Too often, training resources are spent on the “slow, sure thing” instead of focusing on efficiency. Of course, at the end of the day, we must achieve the goal. If we can do it more efficiently 90% of the time and add the extra steps only when necessary, we are much better off.
Training resources are always limited. That one sentence is all the explanation you should require to understand the need for efficient training models. If you haven’t known all along that ammunition amounts and budgets are two significant factors that are often limited, you certainly have had reminders in recent history that both our money and our ability to spend it on ammo cannot be taken for granted.
Everyone also knows that time is another training resource that can be dramatically limited, especially during busier times of our lives, like when we have kids or the annual holiday seasons. Maybe access to a range, decent weather, training partners or one of countless other variables are the most limited of your training resources. Regardless of what your personal restrictions are, you’ve got to admit that you probably don’t get as much defensive firearms training as you need, maybe not even as much as you want.
Defending yourself with a firearm might happen at the scariest, most out-of-control moment of your life. That sentence is the one that explains the need for developing skills that are as efficient as possible. Your brain is going to be focusing your attention on the threat and issuing automated orders to your muscles to execute your rehearsed actions.
You’ll be driving hard and fast with your tires stuck in what Dr. Robert Smith of the Direct Action Medical Network (DAMN) refers to as the “Rut in the Road.” That rut is developed through your training efforts and is developed more quickly and deeply if you train in ways that work well with what your body does naturally.
Look for efficiency in both your training model and the things that you are training in order to maximize the use of your limited resources and to increase your ability to respond in a worst-case scenario.