Force on Force is for Gunfighting
If you are serious about training for self-defense, whether as a member of our nation’s armed forces, a police officer, or an armed citizen, force on force (FoF) training is without peer. Flat range training is very important, as it teaches gun safety and marksmanship. However, it is very difficult to truly vet tactics on the flat range. If you are not using cover correctly, or if you are failing to maintain situational awareness, there is no penalty for that, as paper and steel don’t shoot back. Nor do they move to cover. However, all of this can be found in FoF training. If your training does not involve live adversaries with weapons converted for use with man-marking rounds, you are essentially training for a fist fight by only using a bag, and never stepping into the ring with another person.
My experience with FoF began in the police academy as a recruit. We got very, very little of it at the time, but what little we got was eye-opening - especially because the instructors videotaped the scenarios. Those draws that looked so good on the firing line suddenly became less than picture perfect when realistic stress was introduced. I got other minor exposures to FoF, but it wasn’t until I went to SWAT that I was immersed into it. We were fortunate enough to be able to train with FoF 5 times a month, with much of it videotaped. In one year we go through as much FoF ammunition as the rest of the department does with live ammunition. The lessons learned are invaluable. Marksmanship is tested, tactics are vetted, gun handling is reinforced – and all in a safe environment.
Which brings me to another advantage of FoF – safety. Live fire shoothouse training has become very “sexy” and it *is* a valuable training tool. However, you can gain the same knowledge with much less risk in FoF. If a mistake occurs with live fire training in a shoothouse the consequences can be fatal. With FoF and proper PPE, the risk is not eliminated but it is greatly reduced. Additionally, it is far easier (and cheaper) to find training sites where FoF can be used, unlike the high costs of a ballistic shoothouse. And again, some aspects of live fire shoot house training fall short of the same training conducted with FoF. Miss a photorealistic target in a deep corner, and you’ll probably feel dumb. Replace that two dimensional target with a role player armed with an M4 converted to FoF and that same lesson will really be driven home via pain compliance.
FoF is critical in the education of someone who chooses or is required to carry a firearm in the course of their daily business. I once heard someone say “the flat range is for teaching marksmanship, FoF is for teaching gunfighting”. An oversimplification to be sure, but not one without a kernel of truth to it. Tactics which look cool on the flat range with paper targets often come up short when you have role players firing simunitions back at you. Stress inoculation is another benefit of FoF training. While nothing can ever replicate the stakes involved in a real world lethal force encounter, FoF is the next best thing. Part and parcel of the realism of FoF is the weapons used. Using drop-in bolts and slides enables us to convert student weapons with as little deviation from their daily set up as possible, while maintaining the safety factor as live ammunition cannot be fired from FoF converted weapons.
I read the various web forums and see the constant debates over holster positions & material, caliber, sights, lights, firearm platforms, and on and on ad naseum. You’ll see guys with half a dozen firearms in their carry rotation. You’ll hear the same people often come up with an almost endless list of excuses why they can’t train, and often at the top of the list is cost. Ask yourself, which will serve you better; that 5th carry piece you purchased for a niche role, or getting some serious training with FoF?
In conclusion, I strongly recommend that anyone who carries a firearm attend FoF training when possible. It’s the natural evolution of a training regimen, and while it does not replace marksmanship training on the range, the lessons gained are priceless…and it’s a lot of fun too. Stay safe, and I hope to see you out on the range.
Thanks for reading,