When To Take Risks In Your Training

Image by The U.S. Army

Training is risky business. Any physical activity comes with some amount of risk for physical injury. Sparring even more so. No matter how careful we are training with our firearms, even dry-fire comes with some inherent risk – we must always be careful. Simply setting foot on the range has its own risks that we cannot control.

Despite these risks we still continue to train. We weigh these risks against some sort of benefit and decide to train anyway. Some risks are too great and we avoid them. Where should YOU draw that line?

The amount of risk you should take in your training needs to be balanced against the risks you encounter on a day to day basis. The average person who carries a pistol for self-defense will encounter far less risk in his daily life than a switched on high-speed low drag operator who seeks out trouble.

I have heard a story or two originating in the special operations community where operators would not call a cold range while shooters went down range to change targets. You could walk down your lane to have another shooter shooting at targets to either side of you. Is this too risky? Given the environment these operators work in, probably not.

Their jobs require that they be put in situations where they may need to make a shot that close to a fellow operator. They are put in these situations to preserve our freedom when they carry out missions overseas. Operators train so that they are proficient enough to be comfortable and capable in these situations. For them, the risk of being downrange while a buddy keeps firing is nothing compared to the risk they encounter in the field.

But would the average self-defense shooter want to be down range while others are shooting? Probably not. The risks involved would far outweigh any benefit of practice you might get while trying not to splatter your friend’s brain matter all over his target. This would not be a skill you are likely to need to survive everyday life, so why take the risk?

Operators take these risks because the cost of not taking them is less confidence and poor performance in the life threatening situations they willingly enter every day. For a civilian shooter who is training to defend themselves, we are not mitigating any risk in our daily lives by taking these kinds of risks.

On the other hand, we take risks just by going to the range. Splash back from steel targets, explosive firearm malfunctions, and the riffraff on the next lane over all make going to the range risky. We still do it (and should do it) because not practicing means we will be incapable of acting when we need to.

The same goes for physical training in general. We can pull muscles, tear tendons, and break bones in hard training if we are not careful (and sometimes even if we are). Not risking those injuries puts us in a weak position when we need those skills to be there.

Ultimately the amount of risk you assume will depend on the amount of risk you encounter in real life. If your profession takes you into harms way, I fully expect you to take on more risk to reduce the impact that real life hazards might have on you. When the training has significantly higher risk of injury or death than the threats you prepare for, you might need to reconsider your training.

How much risk do you take in your training? Post a comment and share!

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