“Experience is valuable only if it’s imbued with meaning from which one can draw salient conclusions. Otherwise, experience becomes imprisoning.”
General Barry McCaffrey
What are people experiencing in your training? Are they gaining experiences from which they can draw salient conclusions about his or her ability to be successful in the field? Are they gaining experiences from which they are able to draw salient conclusions about his or her ability to win violent confrontations?
All training results in experience. The question is what kind of experience are people gaining when they attend your training – valuable or imprisoning? Valuable experiences instill competence and confidence in your officers.Imprisoning experience instill lack of confidence and fear. Fear of screwing up, fear of getting sued, fear of getting fired, fear of getting injured, fear of getting killed; fear of doing their job.
In order for training to be a valuable experience it must be well planned and well thought out. The drills and exercises must have a purpose and that purpose should be to instill competence and confidence in the learner. As much of the training as possible should be conducted contextual environments which replicate what the officer will face in the field. These are things like low light, confined spaces, multiple people (witnesses, victims, subjects, bystanders), furniture or other obstacles the officer must work around, varying levels of compliance, resistance and aggression from the subject, multiple assailants, and a variety of weapons in the open, in possession of the subject and used by the subject to attack the officer.
Remember the key to effective training is context, not stress.
Creating valuable experiences for your officers take time and effort. It takes planning and preparation. It means you need to be continually assessing what you are doing in training and asking if it is the best for the learner, or the easiest for you as the trainer. You need to continually vary the drills and exercises so your training is not predictable. If officers know exactly what drills you will conduct in your training and in what sequence then it is time to change things up. Make training fun, fast paced and challenging.
Take time to review your current training to determine if the experiences you are providing are valuable or imprisoning. This might require you to take an anonymous survey of your officers to get their feedback, or bring in someone from outside to assess your training and provide feedback on improving it. It will take some effort but the benefits to your officers will be worth it.
P.S. Starting June 1 it is going to cost you an extra $100.00 to attend the Legacy of Excellence Conference so ACT NOW.