Square Range and Tunneling

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    • #101840
      vagabond
      Participant

        Since this year’s Texas class improving for next year’s ‘performance’ has become a near-obsession; nothing like experiential learning for putting things into perspective, both good and bad.

        The back story is that prior to this year’s training I only had attended the fundamentals class in Texas in ’16. However, I have done a great deal of square range work.

        What had I learned? Shooting positions, weak side, moving from cone to cone in a zig zag, how to reload quickly, and even while prone….etc. etc. What level had I reached? Decent enough, but not to the level of Square Range Guru.

        Probably like many people, I went this route partly out of ignorance, but more so because that’s what was available, and at various periods over the years I did practice quite diligently, and upon reflection – that actually worked against me – here’s why.

        Not sure if it’s true for everyone, but all that attempt to perfect square range skills led to a major built-in flaw: narrow-focus tunneling. It’s taken awhile to tease this out from after-action and memory of our various training exercises, but again and again I noted an overwhelming tendency to tunnel, not just at ‘enemy, enemy’ but into my own space and own small world.

        While it sounds like some level of this is common enough given performance stress, the conclusion is that all that ‘just me and no one else, look straight ahead, focus on speed’ has actually built in perceptual training scars, meaning the very qualities that permit fast and sure action on the square range are almost always practiced out of context, which leads to mechanical perfection isolated from application.

        Even having practiced multiple target engagement with pistol and rifle, this experience was NOTHING like have team mates, ‘live’ fire in airsim, and actual maneuvering. Even with all the applied effort I could muster to be aware and tactically flexible, with hindsight I was very patterned into those square range habits of ‘me,’ look basically to the front, etc.

        So what would happen? I would miss communication, not see an approaching flank, and experience an extra and automatic level of confusion: “I need to be looking around and tuning in to my team, but I so am supposed to be focusing on my skills;” or something like that.

        So, to progress before next year the question is how to take that into account and move forward given the only real practice available until then is – well, back to the square range.

        But the plan is to modify that kind of practice. E.g. MUCH more scanning before and after firing a couple of rounds – and probably exaggerate it given it’s a current limitation. Ditto on movement to cover or different firing positions. Setting up sample scenarios, e.g. ‘what if’s’- prior to going to the range and sort of choreographing sequences and maybe using barrels & pylons as ‘team mates.’ Visualization. And also patterning the Combat Estimate as a second-nature way of thinking generally. Talking aloud to my ‘team mates’ to put communication into muscle memory.

        In other words, creativity far beyond simple mechanics.

        Who would have thought that seeking ‘perfection’ in one area could lead to detriment in another….

      • #101841
        vagabond
        Participant

          Since this year’s Texas class improving for next year’s ‘performance’ has become a near-obsession; nothing like experiential learning for putting things into perspective, both good and bad.

          The back story is that prior to this year’s training I only had attended the fundamentals class in Texas in ’16. However, I have done a great deal of square range work.

          What had I learned? Shooting positions, weak side, moving from cone to cone in a zig zag, how to reload quickly, and even while prone….etc. etc. What level had I reached? Decent enough, but not to the level of Square Range Guru.

          Probably like many people, I went this route partly out of ignorance, but more so because that’s what was available, and at various periods over the years I did practice quite diligently, and upon reflection – that actually worked against me – here’s why.

          Not sure if it’s true for everyone, but all that attempt to perfect square range skills led to a major built-in flaw: narrow-focus tunneling. It’s taken awhile to tease this out from after-action and memory of our various training exercises, but again and again I noted an overwhelming tendency to tunnel, not just at ‘enemy, enemy’ but into my own space and own small world.

          While it sounds like some level of this is common enough given performance stress, the conclusion is that all that ‘just me and no one else, look straight ahead, focus on speed’ has actually built in perceptual training scars, meaning the very qualities that permit fast and sure action on the square range are almost always practiced out of context, which leads to mechanical perfection isolated from application.

          Even having practiced multiple target engagement with pistol and rifle, this experience was NOTHING like have team mates, ‘live’ fire in airsim, and actual maneuvering. Even with all the applied effort I could muster to be aware and tactically flexible, with hindsight I was very patterned into those square range habits of ‘me,’ look basically to the front, etc.

          So what would happen? I would miss communication, not see an approaching flank, and experience an extra and automatic level of confusion: “I need to be looking around and tuning in to my team, but I so am supposed to be focusing on my skills;” or something like that.

          So, to progress before next year the question is how to take that into account and move forward given the only real practice available until then is – well, back to the square range.

          But the plan is to modify that kind of practice. E.g. MUCH more scanning before and after firing a couple of rounds – and probably exaggerate it given it’s a current limitation. Ditto on movement to cover or different firing positions. Setting up sample scenarios, e.g. ‘what if’s’- prior to going to the range and sort of choreographing sequences and maybe using barrels & pylons as ‘team mates.’ Visualization. And also patterning the Combat Estimate as a second-nature way of thinking generally. Talking aloud to my ‘team mates’ to put communication into muscle memory.

          In other words, creativity far beyond simple mechanics.

          Who would have thought that seeking ‘perfection’ in one area could lead to detriment in another….

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