The Importance of Force-on-Force Training

posted on June 18, 2021
sheriff-jim-5-28-15.jpg (22)

One of my readers told of suggesting to a friend that he take a personal defense class. The friend’s response was, “Why should I do that? I already know how to shoot a gun.” And the reply was, “Yes, but do you know how to fight with one?”

Too many people don’t understand the amount of stress that comes with being faced with a violent attack. Competitive shooting does a pretty good job of introducing the shooter to stress and the need to act productively while under that stress. But, on a scale of 1 to 10, competition puts the shooter at about 4. If you want to talk stress, force-on-force scenarios are where it’s at.

If I could, I would travel around the country putting on force-on-force training, using Simunitions and live “bad guys.” The student is simply told to walk here—go there—and deal with whatever happens. The student doesn’t have a clue what is going to happen and doesn’t even know how many bad guys may need to be dealt with, or at what range. The first response from many students is that this isn’t fair. Congratulations! You’ve just made an important discovery. Life isn’t fair—deal with it.

In the force-on-force scenarios that I’ve been part of, I’ve seen what stress actually does to people. In one case, a woman was so shocked at being confronted by a real, live armed man that she hyperventilated. The exercise had to be stopped and the woman assisted in recovery. 

It is not uncommon at all for students to get that deer-in-the-headlights look and you just know that, at that point, they have forgotten just about everything they have been taught. And, in conjunction with that, they freeze up. In just a moment, they have a whole bunch of colored paint dots in the area of their vital zone.

Another common mistake is that students will get so focused on what is going on in front of them that they forget to look at the whole picture and get shot from behind. Tunnel vision suddenly becomes a reality to these folks.

In one scenario, we created a convenience store, complete with a clerk, customers, and an armed robber. One student’s response, upon seeing the robber’s gun, was to just duck around the corner and get gone—a smart move. But another student jerked his gun and started shooting everyone in the store—clerk, customers, and finally, the armed robber. Stress does interesting things.

It is certainly important to know how to shoot well. But that is clearly only a part of the whole equation. It is just as important to know how to fight, how to deal with stress, and how to quickly and effectively deal with surprises.

Yes, I wish I could have a traveling force-on-force class. It would certainly open some eyes.



Review: SAKO TRG 22 A1 Rifle

The newest NATO member has long been known for its hyper-accurate bolt-action rifles, and the country’s flagship gunmaker launched an updated version of its modern precision rifle that lives up to that quality benchmark.

First Look: Athlon Midas Flash Red Dot Sight

A new open emitter optic which works with the RMR footprint.

First Look: Cold Steel Republic Knife

A ruggedly built fixed blade knife designed for the great outdoors.

The Newhall Incident Revisited

Learning from a tragic moment in American law enforcement history.

First Look: Misson First Tactical ACHRO 22L Backpack

Carry your gear without sticking out like a sore thumb.

Weird Shotgun Loads

Oddball or awesome? There’s a little of each when it comes to specialty shotgun rounds.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.