Guest Post: ‘Tactical Shooter. And how it pertains to you and your training’ by ‘SANTA’

This is an adaptation of something that I wrote to my Tribe last week.  I have discussed this topic with Max many times over the past 4 years.  I sent the original to him for his entertainment and he thought it would be worthwhile to post to the MVT universe.  

Headed Down a Rabbit Hole 

About a month ago, I was working with a friend of a friend on her pistol shooting.  This person is an experienced shooter and if you have spent any time watching shooting videos on YouTube, you would recognize her. At some point in the session she declared to me that she was a “Tactical Shooter”.  I must have had a funny expression on my face.  Because she asked me, “What?”. 

I asked her what she meant by that.  She came back with, “You know.  Not a competitive shooter.”   

I asked her if she did CQB training.  She said, “No.” 

I asked her if she did STT training.  She said “No.”   

It was at that point, I realized that she literally had no idea what a “Tactical Shooter” was, and I dropped it.  (I was tempted to explain to her that there is absolutely nothing about standing on a flat range and shooting a gun that is “Tactical”.  But I didn’t.  Score one for SANTA’s self-discipline.)  Our interaction made me really think about what it means to be a “Tactical Shooter”.  And I wondered if the people I know and train really understand what the hell a “Tactical Shooter” actually is.  Then my mind REALLY went off.  So, this article was sparked by that conversation.  Read along to see where this goes.   

So what are Tactics anyways? 

Webster’s Dictionary says: 

tactics (Noun) 

1. a  :the science and art of disposing and maneuvering forces in combat 

    b  :the art or skill of employing available means to accomplish an end 

Here’s my working definition:   

Tactics – The skillset, mindset, and techniques employed to improve your chances of winning/surviving a defensive encounter or gunfight.   

For the purposes of this article, that is what I mean by tactics.  And that is what we are training in the T3Tribe.  The skills necessary for you to defend yourself, your family and your Tribe in a defensive encounter.  In all environments and situations. So how does that shape how and what we train? 

There are predominantly four things that will determine the outcome of a defensive encounter that you are involved in. (There are more than just those four, obviously.  Physical fitness and situational awareness to name but two more.  But for this article, we are going to focus on just these four things.) 

1. Be a good shot 

People can become extremely good shooters without much coaching or formal training.  That’s just reality.  A good shooting coach will absolutely speed up that process.  But it’s not completely necessary. 

2. Learn effective tactics 

As for the quality/effectiveness of tactics, I would recommend looking at the stuff that actually works against people shooting back at you and see what works and what doesn’t.   What tactics do the top tier units use?  What do they NOT use anymore?  That is a really good place to start. Because in a real defensive situation, if you are extremely good at bad tactics, you are going to die.   For those of us that have the opportunity to train with Max and Scott at Max Velocity Tactical, we are fortunate enough to be able to be trained on extremely good tactics.  By some really good trainers.  That is exceedingly rare in the “Tactical” world.

3. Be good at effective tactics 

You have to actually be good at effective tactics.  You can know and attempt to use the best tactics in the world, but if you aren’t extremely good at them, you’re still going to die.  And getting good at those tactics takes time and reps.  There are no shortcuts.  This is one of the reasons why I have trained with Max and Scott 8 times since 2019 and why I drive 1,545 miles each way to train at MVT.  My group trains a ton every month.  By ton, I mean that if I told you how many days per month we train, you simply wouldn’t believe me. And I STILL make the investment in time, money and ammo to travel to MVT to train.  The value of having professional soldiers of Max and Scott’s caliber watch you execute tactics and give you feedback is immeasurable.  (I didn’t say painless.  I said it was extremely valuable.)

4. Luck. 

And then there is LUCK.  Sometimes, it just comes down to luck.  Is the bad guy aimed in right at the door as you come in?  If he is, regardless of how good your tactics are or how good you are AT those tactics, there is still a really good chance you are going to take a round.   

Where am I going with this?  My point is that maximizing your chances of survival in a defensive encounter is really not that complicated.  Be a good shot.  Learn effective tactics.  Train enough (and often enough) to get good at those tactics.  And then do everything you can to shade Lady Luck in your favor.  It’s actually pretty simple. 

Tactics: Inside AND Outside 

Now I am going to shift gears a little bit.  And I am going to start with a bold statement.  For a civilian in the US, there are only two places gunfights EVER happen.  They happen INSIDE buildings.  And they happen OUTSIDE buildings.  That’s it.  Those are your two choices. 

“No duh, SANTA.  That’s obvious.” 

Really?  If it’s so obvious, why are so many people spending 90% (or more) of their training time, energy and money only training to win gunfights inside buildings?  CQB training is cool.  It’s the “In” thing right now.  And it is obviously an important skill set to have if you want the real ability to fight and defend the people that you love.  But a VERY large part of the “Tactical Shooting World” is seriously neglecting their outside gunfighting skills.   

“That’s not true, SANTA!!!  I shoot outside all the time!!”   

Yup.  I get it.  But that’s not practicing tactics for the outside.  That’s shooting.  And as noted above, there is absolutely nothing “Tactical” about the act of shooting a gun. Being fast and accurate with a gun is important.  But that’s not what I am talking about.  I am talking about shooting, moving and communicating with a partner or small team in a gunfight.  It might be just you.  Or it could be you and your spouse.  Or you could be out with one of the friends that you train with, and a gunfight kicks off in the street.  Or it could be a situation that involves another Tribe family, and you are meeting up with some of your well-trained buddies to handle that situation.   

Do you know how to recognize cover and move into and out of it effectively? Do you know how to use cover and expose as little of your body as possible and still engage your adversary? Do you know and have practiced how to bound forward or back? Move laterally while providing covering fire for your partner or teammates?  If not, why not?  If you are currently training to be the defender of your family and/or your Tribe and you are not training in tactics to win a gunfight outside of a building, you are fooling yourself.  The vast majority of us spend a significant amount of time outside and we all need to know how to effectively fight in that environment.  

For those of you that have already trained at MVT, the answer to all of those questions should be a yes.  So I am going to change up the question for you a little bit.  When was the last time that you practiced any of those skills with the people that you will most likely use them in a real situation?  These skills aren’t ones that you can learn once and you’re good.  They take practice to maintain.  

And that is why I find so much value in training at MVT.  And why I spend so much of my energy trying to convince my Tribe to come and do the training with me.  Max has done an amazing job of setting up his training area for maximum effectiveness.  For the live fire courses as well as the AirSim only courses.  And training with both is absolutely critical.  We train a ton of tactics with AirSim stuff out here.  Because we don’t have access to the terrain needed to set up live fire raids and ambushes.  That was why HEAT 2 Combat Patrol was so awesome.  To be able to do raids and ambushes with live guns is amazing.  And something that I haven’t been able to do for almost 30 years.  Same with the Texas training.  What an experience.  That’s why we are bringing almost 20 T3Tribe members down to Texas this year. 

The Squad Tactics course is coming up next month, and it will be the second time that I have done the course.  We are coming out with a team of 5 (last year we had 6) and I will do my best to continue to do this course every year.  In terms of learning, I think that I learned the most of all of the courses that I have taken at MVT.  The structure of brief, rehearse, patrol, AAR, repeat leads to an amazing amount of learning.  

And as I told my people; if you just want to practice and perfect your skills as a Rifleman, awesome.  Do that.  If you are feeling comfortable as a Rifleman and want to step up to act as a buddy team leader (communicator). Do that. Feeling froggy?  Step up your game and be a Team Leader or Squad Leader.  It’s all good.  There are a lot of different people at Squad Tactics, learning at lots of different levels.  And EVERYONE gets made fun of when we mess up.  So it’s an incredibly comfortable learning environment. (Again, I didn’t say painless.)

The reason why I keep coming back to the Velocity Training Center (and to Texas) is what I mentioned above.  You can’t just learn this stuff once and then you’re good.  It takes CONSTANT practice to maintain your tactical skills. I know that we are a couple of people short of our full complement of 13 students for the upcoming Squad Tactics Course on September 21-24.  I hope that a few more of you will join us for that course.  It is an extremely unique course and it is both fun and exceedingly educational.  If anyone has any questions about why they should take the course, I am more than willing to speak with you.  I am SANTA on the MVT Alumni Chat.

Train hard.  


Note: we are still running classes! A post about upcoming classes is HERE. Classes are posted in the MVT Forum at this link:  MVT Training Club › Training Opportunities.