Reality, What a Concept

In our modern 21st century world, reality has quickly become the optimal buzz word, the catch-all statement used to sell to an eager audience. Grown from something faced in our lives to something that’s designed to entertain, riveting masses to the television nightly. In fact, were faced with some sort of “Reality Based” amusement at practically every turn. Engaging us with exciting programs about overindulged starlet “role models” flashing their nether regions to their fervent minions, decrepit pop stars fumbling through life or captivating us with the suspense of seeing who will shoot an obsolete weapon the best all while arguing over whose ego is more out of control.

The popular mass media of the 21st century has preyed upon our natural curiosity and the immediacy of information available today. Allowing basement dwellers of all ages to live vicariously through others, focusing their lives on the controversial ethical issues of various professional sports figures, celebrity indiscretions and the relationships of some wesour nation’s most prominent elected leaders.

The concept of reality has never meant so much to the lives of so many and been as misunderstood as it is today. In fact, the general understanding of reality as it relates to the martial application of firearms and tactics has also been subject to a widespread alteration. In many instances, it has taken an E-ticket ride right through Tomorrowland, past the spinning teacups and the hall of Presidents, stopping briefly to goose Cinderella in front of her castle and heading straight to Fantasyland.

For all intents and purposes, reality is the sum total of an individual’s knowledge of themselves, others, the environment, and their understanding of the interaction between these elements. Individual perception of reality is acquired and developed throughout an individual's life. In other words: Our perception of the world is taught to us. Our knowledge of reality is very limiting because it has been passed to us through things we have experienced, starting out initially as a set of beliefs and norms through our family tree. Mothers are often our first teachers and depending on your take on psychology and any lingering Oedipus or Electra complex, remain the most dominant influence on our perception, but many times this gives way to popular and charismatic figures who are happy to assist us in altering our sense of reality. This is very common even in the over the top, tier one, bro-bumping, tribal tattooed, tough guy world of self-defense and tactical training.

Volumes have been written about gun fighting, tactics, and strategy, often with limited regard to the effects on the individual involved or to the realities these situations produce. The inclusion of words like "fight," "combat" and "tactical" is often added generously to articles and course descriptions to provide an air of reality and necessity, but much like black nylon, Velcro and the latest color of Cerakote, they are only loosely based on reality or real needs.

The developed modern world of self-defense and combative training, in its attempt to homogenize responses to situations, has tried to mimic the real world by establishing a countless number of hard fast absolutes. However, it’s critical to understand that in the real world, in particular, the real world of conflict, there are no absolutes and while there are plenty of referees and armchair quarterbacks there are no universal rule books. The real world has no cut and dry, black and white conditions; instead, it is an environment of infinite shades of grey, abound by endless options and opportunities.

If we find ourselves in a fight, armed or otherwise, how long will it last? 10 seconds? 25 seconds? A minute? Honestly…. who knows and who cares? A fight will last as long as it will last and isn’t over until submission, compliance, or a significant drop in blood pressure is achieved. Since the inception of statistics about gunfights, we have been swamped with theories that tell us that since most gunfights only last a matter of seconds, only involve the firing of X number of rounds, or generally occur at close distance, that these are the only conditions that we should train under. So, if I am advocating greater reality in training, why would I want to contest these training concepts? Because in a fight you just never know! If we prepare for the worst, then perhaps anything less will pale in comparison.

A better question and training concern should be, will the individual last as long as the fight? Has our training conditioned us to understand and mitigate the effects of emotional and psychological stress? Do we possess the physical and mental stamina to go the full duration of a conflict? Are we genuinely training to understand the realities of an armed conflict?

The training world, even in light of countless lawsuits, court rulings, and venomous media hype, is still heavily inundated with training concepts involving unrealistic principles. Things like; square ranges, set distances, time limits, and the obligatory "down range" area, as well as an array of mock drills that are more aesthetically pleasing and emotionally exciting to the student than they are practical.  

The fact is the environment, and the limitations of many popular training programs reflect little of what really exists in the real world, thus giving an altered impression of reality and what to expect in the event of a real fight. While these concerns may seem trivial to many, especially the more experienced or highly trained, they do represent a significant problem in training and the potential application of skills in a real-world situation. ~ Dr. Wes Doss

Dr. Wes Doss PhD
Wes is an internationally recognized firearms, tactics, and use of force instructor with over 30 years of military and civilian criminal justice experience, as well as significant operational time with both military and law enforcement tactical and protective service organizations. Wes holds specialized instructor certifications from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, Arizona POST, the Smith & Wesson Academy, the Sigarms Academy, the NRA LEAD, and FEMA.

Wes is the founder, President, and General Operating Manager of Khyber Interactive Associates, LLC and the Annual 1 Inch to 100 Yards Warrior Conference. Wes holds a Masters degree in Criminal Justice Administration and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Wes is a member of a number of professional associations, including: The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), The International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), The National Rifle Association (NRA), The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) The Military Police Regimental Association (MPRA), and the International Association of Counter-Terrorism and Security Professionals (IACTSP). 

Wes is also a published author, with numerous articles in various publications, such as; SWAT magazine, ASLET “The Trainer”, and The NTOA “Tactical Edge”. Wes is also the author of the bestselling books “Train to Win”, and “Condition to Win” both training psychology/philosophy books focused on law enforcement and military trainers and professionals.