Decision Skills


How often in training do we actually decide to act?

To pull the trigger on a firearm? Or to go “hands on” with a person?

For the vast majority of it, we don’t decide at all; Someone else does:

“Shooter Ready??”

“Stand By…”


Someone else decided we would do so. They decided when our finger would be placed on the trigger, how many times we’d press it, where we would point the gun when pressing, and when we  would stop – none of these things (usually) having anything to do with what the target is doing or where it’s at. And always toward a safe “down range.”

In hand-to-hand training, the laying-on-of-hands is a foregone conclusion. In some practice, it means one person stands there doing nothing while another “does combatives” to him or her. In others we mutually agree to bang, wrassle, and roll – a fist bump and its off to the races.

We know what we are going to do, and have a pretty good idea of what the other person will do, too. No thought required.

In the blogs and vlogs and articles and websites out there in the community, there is little about decisions: yes, shoot/no shoot decisions – but going way beyond that: reasonable force decisions, tactical decisions, even plain old common sense decisions. When we claim “multi-disciplinarity,” why do the component disciplines seem to stop at attributes, skills and tactics across given domains?

Training has got to be more than just workouts and shootouts. Common sense, problem solving, and composure under duress are disciplines too. The very ones that will keep us from going off a “performance based” cliff when our decisions have consequences.

The latter are what will be measured by police at the scene, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, and the public. Not that slick draw stroke, trigger press, or split times. Not that sweet entry, takedown, and top control position. But rather whether we kept our cool, made sound tactical moves, reasonably perceived threat, selected an appropriate level of force, and used it judiciously.

We practice our skills so that we can be proficient, and efficient, if we ever have to use them for real. But if we don’t practice deciding,  why do think we’ll be able  to do so skillfully in a real situation?




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