Fight as you train (American Praetorians)

Zeroing a rifle is not training.  It is maintenance. Qualifying on the range without your armor or helmet or armor on is lazy and stupid. Training with your gear set up differently than it will be in combat should be counter-intuitive, but it’s not. This is as true now as it was a year ago when we first ran this post.

We originally stole this because we think the topic matter is always timely and appropriate. This hasn’t changed. Also because we enjoyed the hell out of Task Force Desperate (you will too, unless you’re the kind of person who has difficulty with anything more complicated than Where The Wild Things Are). We also thought some of the responses to his BZO post showed a distinct lack of understanding when it comes to true, realistic, training. The author, Pete, is a former Reconnaissance Marine, sometime tactical pundit and author of the aforementioned novel, Task Force Desperate (which you should buy).

See that? We mentioned it by name twice so you’ll remember it.

It’s sad that this is something that must be so frequently discussed, but it is. Whether it’s bureaucratic inanity or laziness on the part of the guy on the range, we see less-than-realistic training all the time. You need verisimilitude (grunts: verisimilitude) and stress inoculation as well as much time as possible using the gear you’ll really fight in.

Oh, and so we’re clear…we love Where the Wild Things Are. It’s awesome whether you’re a five year old malcontent or a thirty year old trigger-puller (both of whom may have similar philosophies and attention spans).

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!  Mad Duo

Fight as You Train

Peter Nealen

I had something a little different in mind for this post, but there seems to have been some confusion about an element of the BZO post.  Some individuals seem to have thought that I was creating, in one FB commenter’s words, “a trumped-up version of ‘I don’t want to wear my kit.’”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You have to train in your kit.  You should get to the point where you can perform any task you may have to in the field in kit, as though it wasn’t even there.

The point I was making in the BZO post is that zeroing a rifle is not training.  It is maintenance.  Zeroing in kit is simply counterproductive.  Once the rifle is zeroed, then you should do all your shooting in your kit.

There’s a little more to it, and I’ve seen examples of this.  Somebody sets SOP for gear, even knowing the requirements in the AO, and you train for several months with that SOP.  However, the SOP isn’t the same as the requirements in the AO.  In the last month, you start training with all the stuff you are required to have in the AO, and discover that it’s actually quite a bit heavier than the basic stuff you’ve been working with.  Your movement speed is cut in half, and you can’t cover nearly the ground that you are used to covering in the course of an operation.  You now have to adjust your planning process as well, because your gear SOP wasn’t up to snuff from the get-go.


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The Roman Army trained with shields and wooden swords, or rudii, that were twice the weight of their fighting weapons.  This way, when they got to the field, things were easier.  But our guys are training with empty magazines, no demo, etc.  They are training with less weight than they will carry in combat.  This creates problems downrange.

There are two things that need to be done in this case.  One, find equivalents to the weight of the ordnance you will be carrying downrange, or a little heavier.  Make training magazines for your rig.  Everybody finds bad mags; the ones that don’t feed right, that you have to rip out of the mag well every reload.  Instead of crushing them the way we used to, to make sure they didn’t get put back in the usable rotation, mark them, and use them as training mags.  I’ve seen a couple of ideas for how to weight them; concrete was one, another was to fill them with lead shot, then seal the feed lips.  Either way, find a way to make them as heavy, or a little heavier than, a loaded magazine.  Demo, extra MG ammo, 40mm, etc, can usually be simulated by various size sandbags in a pack.

Training heavy is generally a good thing, but it’s going to break you down after a while.  That’s why you need to closely examine what you really need in the field.  If it’s nonessential, lose it.  Water, ammo, and comm are more important.  Fight as light as you can, train as heavy as you have to.  I’ll get into weight and armor versus maneuver in a later post.

Train hard, fight easy.

Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

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AAuthor Peter Nealenbout the Author: Pete Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine, a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan and the author of several books. A contributor here at Breach-Bang-Clear for many years now, Pete is a bad ass writer who continues to make the Duo’s efforts look pale and feeble (if less gritty and jaw-clenching-y) by comparison. You can follow Nealan on his own blog, American Praetorians. We encourage you to do so here. His author page on Facebook is at If you’d like to read some of his books, you can start the American Praetorians series (about a PMC in a post Greater Depression dystopia now 4 books long) with Task Force Desperate. He has a standalone action novel called Kill Yuan, which you can find here. You could also do worse than to start reading the Jed Horn series (a supernatural shoot ’em up series now on its 3rd volume) with Nightmares, then proceed with Silver Cross and a Winchester and Walker on the Hills and . His fiction is widely claimed for the realism of its combat scenes — this is no doubt because he hangs around with us. It could also have something to do with his skill as a writer and his background (multiple deployments, qualifications as a Combatant Diver, Navy/Marine Corps Parachutist, Marine Scout/Sniper and S/S team leader, Combat Tracker, et al). Continue below to see the only picture of Nealen smiling


Fortis cadere, cedere non potest.



Follow Pete’s ranting over on American Praetorians, and check back here periodically. He’s going to be writing the occasional guest post for us if we can come up with enough beer and one dollar bills to make it worth his time.

Mad Duo Clear!

3 thoughts on “Fight as you train (American Praetorians)

  • October 29, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Train as you fight.. or, you know, fight as you train. I agree that zeroing a rifle is maintenance, but I do not agree that it is not training. (grunts: training – for a definition on training, read the bottom of my post.) If you zero your rifle, or perform an administrative loading (as in,

    setting condition loaded or ready) of your rifle (or pistol for that

    matter) without checking a box or two on your training routine you are wasting opportunities to better yourselves. Personally I always do a complete draw with trigger pull when I do an admin load (unless on a conventional us army range, I get the feeling that doing something else than they tell you to sort of freaks them out – even though they said I was all good.) with my pistol. Same thing with my rifle. I bring it up, acquire a target, dry fire, then perform the adm load as a slow critical reload.

    When I zero my weapons, I take the opportunity to focus on the basics – steady position, grip, sight picture, breathing – the same way I would for a precision shot. This falls under improving basic skills as part of reaching training goals to improve my capability, capacity, productivity and performance.

    My two cents..

    “Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity and performance. It forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of content at institutes of technology (also known as technical colleges or polytechnics). In addition to the basic training required for a trade, occupation or profession, observers of the labor-market recognize as of 2008 the need to continue training beyond initial qualifications: to maintain, upgrade and update skills throughout working life. People within many professions and occupations may refer to this sort of training as professional development.” – wikipedia

  • October 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war. Train as you fight. Your opponent is already training harder than you. Man up.

  • October 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I remember at the beginning of my 1st deployment we finally got Sapi plates for our vests. I am so glad we got a chance to spend a little range time with those before we headed north into Iraq. Man, it was tough just getting on a target without being able to place the stock into my shoulder where I was used to. That could have been a bad deal for us, but we lucked out.


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