This appeared originally over on Soldier Systems Daily. It is a well-written and timely piece so we took the liberty of reposting it here.

What are you training for?

by Jon Canipe, via Soldier Systems Daily

Years ago, as I was getting into attending open enrollment training courses, I heard someone refer to these types of training events as “The New Golf.” That phrase stuck with me as a pretty accurate description based on what I had seen, and it holds true today as much as ever. The customers that fall into this category have worked hard for their money, and like all free Americans have the right to spend it however they wish. In fact it is very encouraging to see such a surge in responsible, law abiding citizens seeking firearms and self defense training today, and I hope the growth seen in the tactical training industry continues indefinitely. My friend Ken Hackathorn says “Just by showing up here you’re already in the 0.1%” Over the last decade I have been fortunate enough to take part in dozens of classes, both open enrollment and more specialized closed courses for military and law enforcement personnel. Having been on both sides of the class as a student and an instructor, I have seen a huge cross section of people in attendance. I’ve noticed some trends I’d like to highlight and hopefully assist some people into making more informed decisions regarding their training. Regardless of your background they can apply to formal classes or individual practice.

To truly make the most of your time, effort, and money, the student needs to be realistic about their needs. As I write this, nothing rings more true as Fox News is covering the massacre in a theater in Aurora, CO. 14 people gunned down and 50 plus injured by one active shooter in a theater. I have heard the mantra “performance on demand” my entire career. I try to live that, because as dozens of people found out in the early hours of July 20, 2012 you don’t always get to choose when you will be called to the plate.

“He pointed the gun right at my face. I didn’t know what to do, so I jumped into the isle, curled into a ball and waited for him to go away.” -Jennifer Seeger, attendee of Colorado “The Dark Night Rises” showing.

We all need to look in the mirror by ourselves and take some time. We need to figure out where our time, effort, and money is going. Are you a corporate family man who spends 8 hours a week at the mall with your daughters? Are you training on the weekend with a battle rifle, plate carrier, drop leg holster, and helmet then rolling out to said mall with a J-Frame in a pocket holster? If you fit that description and passed up a SouthNarc ECQC class for that week of helicopter-borne free-fall knife fighting and heavy machine gun shooting, I believe some soul searching is in order. If you have the time and resources to do it all, then the rest of us are envious. For us mere mortals, we need to make our training count for the fight we will be in. As we decide to become hunters among the sheep, we have a responsibility to be professional and proficient with our skills. Choose your training wisely.

There is a potentially dangerous assumption by some people that you get all you need from your formal training. As an instructor I cannot make a person a master of anything we teach. As a student I cannot master a skill in 2-3 days a few times a year. You have to be willing to put the time in. An instructor can show you the way forward for success (or failure in some cases). You buy a bright, shiny set of tools when you train with professionals, but it is up to you to use them. There’s no doubt that it is a significant investment to train for the fight as it takes thousands of dollars to enroll in a top-level trainer’s course, buy ammunition, take vacation days, cover travel costs, lodging, food, and countless other small expenses. This isn’t sustainable for most people on a regular basis, but using those tools regularly on your own pays huge dividends for very little financial output. Dry firing is free. Drawing in front of the mirror costs nothing. Making sure your family knows what to do in various emergencies only costs you a little time and effort. We’ve all heard the saying “You never rise to the occasion, you fall to your level of training.” Train constantly.

There is a factor of success when your skills are called to the test that is overlooked with alarming consistency. Physical fitness is one of the most underrated factors of human survival today. I watched a video highlighting numerous professional competition shooters a while back. I would be lucky to be 75% the shooter they are, and with other obligations in life it’s unrealistic to think I could compete on their level. One thing is for sure, if the stage was at the top of a flight of steps I’d pass a lot of them. In open enrollment classes I have seen an encouraging number of armed citizens who are fantastic shooters. Unfortunately, many of them could not be counted on to employ those skills due to their physical conditioning. How large is a Wal-Mart? Are your kids on the other side of it when shots ring out? Is your office on the fourth floor? If its on fire can you run down the steps to safety without passing out? Can you carry or drag another human being to safety in an emergency? In short, does your level of fitness make you an asset or a liability? Being trained and prepared means more than carrying a gun, plus fitness improves all aspects of life. Get in shape and stay in shape.

We live in a time where everyday life is seemingly more and more dangerous. When you decide to take up training for the fight as a profession or a hobby, I think there is an obligation to take it seriously as your life and those of others is on the line. By applying some common sense in your approach to choosing training, being serious about maintaining your skills, and being mentally and physically prepared you are choosing not to be a victim. These principles are not all inclusive, but should provide a solid foundation for serious students when developing training desires and goals.

Good luck and stay safe.

Jon Canipe served on Active Duty with the US Army as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant at 5th SFG(A) and was a Senior Instructor at the JFKSWCS, training SFQC students in planning, unconventional warfare, small unit tactics, CQB, and advanced marksmanship. He is a veteran of multiple combat tours, and still serves in the Army National Guard’s 20th SFG(A) in addition to working as an industry consultant and small arms instructor.

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