Rich Graham: Instead of just being able to pull the trigger and hit a target more often, my students know where and how to move and why they should do so in different times throughout different scenarios.

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Rich Graham is a former Navy SEAL and founder of Full Spectrum Warriors USA.


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Rich Graham: Thinking and reaction skills behind the firearm

When I work with shooters there are two main things I focus in on:

1. Building the individual’s ability to move effectively from behind the firearm, and…

2. Developing the shooter’s ability to critically think under stress.

By focusing in on these two specific things, people become more well-rounded shooters, thinkers, and movers behind their weapon.

Instead of just being able to pull the trigger and hit a target more often, my students know where and how to move and why they should do so in different times throughout different scenarios.

Many times the shooting world’s focus is in on shooting fundamentals: the actual aspect of shooting the gun.

Through this mindset, we have developed many shooters to be extremely fast at performing magazine changes while engaging multiple targets.

Things of that nature are beneficial, but one area I feel is personally lacking is the individual’s ability to critically think under stress.

The downside to this is we have a bunch of really fast and accurate shooters who lack the ability to process information as fast as they are able to deliver rounds down range.

Many significant problems can develop if you are breeding a culture of shooters who cannot think or react while they’re shooting.

Therefore, one of our big goals at FSW has been to set up a variety of training scenarios and drills within our training programs to develop cognitive thinking under stress.


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The individual’s ability to think critically under stress

By setting up mental obstacles, the individual is forced to slow down to a pace that’s slower than they are used to shooting at but at a pace more appropriate to their ability to process the information they are receiving.

In doing so, shooters receive, analyze, and process the data to make specific judgment calls or decisions to best engage a target.

Where this becomes significantly important is an active-shooter situation where those responding need to process info quickly and respond effectively rather than just bursting in guns blazing.

Here in America, in an active-shooter situation, we have seen a rise in armed citizens attempting to help or work alongside law enforcement officers.

Most of these settings are highly populated areas with many moving parts involved.

I have worked with law enforcement agencies and private citizens around our country to develop the two primary training focuses: the ability to think critically under stress and the ability to move your body behind the firearm.

The ability to assess the situation and make good judgment calls first before engaging is critical to avoid putting someone in a position where they shoot first and then realize, “Oh man, I shot the wrong target!”

The ability to move your body behind the gun allows those responding to situations to move in and around crowds, through buildings or debris, or to find better cover from the target while moving into better positioning to take down the target.

In my classes, once we have developed a foundation for students to work on, we then transition into developing their ability to move better and faster.

For almost ten years now, my business partner Greg Mihovich and I have been working on a program we call the “Combat Mobility System”.

Footwork and movement are fundamental and key

This program works to arm a stationary shooter with the skills necessary to properly move with their firearm from position to position working angles to reduce the chance of injury from contact with the ground or other objects they might use for cover or concealment.

The best example of this is to think about how a boxer or mixed martial artist fights. One of the first things they learn to do when they begin training isn’t how to punch or strike but how to move their body.

Footwork and movement are fundamental and key.

Trainers really hammer this home because it is the foundation for success.

We do not see this much in the firearms world, but instead, we see many people shooting stationary and being focused on the fundamentals of firing the weapon, becoming accurate, and so on.

What is significantly lacking is the ability for that individual to move and think on their feet.

Imagine how long a fighter would last if we sent him into the ring with his feet glued into position, without the ability to access the opponent for weaknesses in his movement or fighting style.

As you can imagine, someone glued into one position without the ability to assess and analyze information wouldn’t last long.

Sure they could still use their fists to fight, but their ability to do so effectively would be minimal.

Transition this scenario to shooting. If we took a stationary shooter and blindfolded them, most high-level shooters with good fundamentals and accuracy could probably still hit paper.

The firearm is only as good as the person who is behind it

However, just like the fighter in the ring, the shooter lacks the ability to think under stress, receive and analyze new info, and move his or her body in and around the target.

Technical skills will never overcome one’s ability to think and move his or her body in any situation.

This brings me to a saying we have here in the States.

There’s a gun control joke that goes like this: “I left my firearm out on the front porch for a week, and it didn’t shoot anybody.

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people with guns.”

There is truth to that, but also truth to the fact that the firearm is only as good as the person who is behind it.

A Samurai’s sword is sharp and can cut, but the difference is that the Samurai sword is only as effective as the person who is wielding it.

It takes finesse rather than just a baseline knowledge of pointing a gun and pulling a trigger.

The Samurai is a warrior, and his success comes from his fitness mobility, technical skillsets, and critical thinking under stress.

My goal is to develop strong-moving and critically thinking warriors who can perceive and react to a variety of situations.

At Full Spectrum Warrior, we train the body and the mind to be just as effective or more than the weapons we are implementing.


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Photos by Rich Graham (Full Spectrum Warrior USA)