RBT – Reality Based Training

We just finished the USKMA Pistol, Patrol Rifle and RBT (Reality Based Training) Development Course for law enforcement officers in Colorado this past week. The shooting at the range was fun….the RBT training will save lives.

In RBT we padded up, used sim rounds and set up scenarios. Very fascinating to watch! Adding realism and the stressor of pain (those sim rounds sting) equaled stress, adrenalin dump, and exhaustion in those participating. The first time through everyone got stuck in the loop, saw things that didn’t happen, had time compress or expand, got clumsy, did things that didn’t match up to their training and, generally, performed poorly. It was an eye opener for all to see what that stress and adrenalin did to us. Listening to the description after the scenario by those involved was amazing. They thought they saw things that weren’t there, described that they “fired when he reached for his weapon” but clearly didn’t on video (the bad guy fired first), didn’t have a clue how many rounds they fired, stated that it seemed to take over a minute for their round to go from the barrel to the bad guy, etc., etc. This was amazing training!

The cool thing is that the more we repeated scenarios the better the officers performed. One comment after a scenario that involved an innocent who jumps out of a doorway showed this training to be gold. The officer stated “I aimed at the innocent but didn’t shoot because I had been there before and recognized it.” The first day he shot an “innocent” who surprised him. By the third day his reaction saved the innocent because he had been through that before…two days earlier. The scary thing is that a lot of departments don’t practice this way. The first time the rookie officer sees a scenario is when he is living it. How crazy is that? Everyone involved absolutely made mistakes the first time through. If the first time through is for real it can cost lives.

SGT Brannon Hicks, who taught this course and is one of the top RBT instructors in the U. S. says that in SWAT school they did a week of nothing but scenarios like this for 15 hour days. The first time through they all sucked…and they were SWAT operators. By the end of the week they were a well oiled machine…even with the total exhaustion.

Thoughts when designing RBT scenarios;

-Go from simple to complex. The first time through we wouldn’t put an officer through several stressors and three assailants. We would start with 1 static role player (RP). Then we would go to two static role players. Then one static and one dynamic RP and finally two dynamic RP’s.

-Clear scenarios that teach a specific lesson. The RP, for example, may be told that if the officer leaves cover you raise your weapon and fire. IF the officer stays behind cover you stay compliant.

-The officer wins. Do not run no win scenarios. The RP’s job is to lose. IF the officer makes mistakes we reset the scenario and run through it until he wins.

-Mistakes will be made. We don’t “teach” by saying “you should have done this!” We ask leading questions so that the officer comes to their own conclusion. This will keep them from being defensive and feeling that they are being picked on. Approach it with questions like “Who did it benefit when you left cover, you or the assailant?” They can’t argue when they are the ones who make the statement.

We have got to train for what we’ll see! We must put everything we are doing under stress and exhaustion. This is what we do in USKMA krav maga classes. The fast pace, the drills and the way we test is centered on creating stress, exhaustion and the adrenalin dump. When someone is attacked on the street by an aggressive, angry, screaming idiot we want our practitioners to have the “been there, done that” feeling. Practicing handgun defenses, for example, against a partner smiling and standing still like a statue isn’t what we’ll see on the street. When we pad everyone up and have the partner swearing, threatening, striking the practitioner, waving the handgun around and being aggressive we are creating what the practitioner will see on the street. Now, when it happens it isn’t the first time they have seen such a thing. Again, the beauty of RBT is that when it happens to us we will have been through that aggressive attack many times in training, it will not be our first time through the scenario. Train right, train often and BE SAFE!

Here are a few scenarios we ran but be warned…the role players had potty mouths;

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