The Drill Is Not The Application

by | Jun 10, 2021

My friend and colleague Master At Arms James A Keating did this excellent short overview on the difference between “flow” as an attribute and the “flow drills” that are intended to develop and install that attribute. I make this distinction (often) in training design, especially with firearms training. Traditional firearms training design calls for a lot of drilling and assumes those drills translate to the real world.

Not always.

Analysis of video from real fights and detailed interview with real fight survivors identify elements often unaddressed in traditional training design. Some of those elements fall under the definition of “flow”:

“Flow is a state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity. Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity.

While in this mental state, people are completely involved and focused on what they are doing.

“The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost,” Csíkszentmihályi said in an interview with Wired magazine.”

Master gunfighter, operator and trainer “Super Dave” Harrington has said that a tactical pistol shooter must be like a quarterback, able to read the changing game space in real time from a state of calm awareness, and make the appropriate choices as to position and firing stroke within that changing game space.

You don’t learn that on the square range doing drills.

How do you learn it?

We’ve had great success in transferring that expertise from operators at Super Dave level to novices through modeling, role play and intensive (scripted and unscripted but always controlled) simulation fights.

Try it. You’ll like it.