FAST TRANSIENTSTHE TACTICAL TANGENTS BULLETIN
ARE YOU TEACHING TO THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR?
A follower asked us a question on Facebook the other day about tourniquet applications. Are we supposed to apply it high-and-tight, or a few inches above the wound? The short answer is that either option might be appropriate, depending on the scenario.
When dealing with gunshot wounds, we have to consider how much of the internal injury we can’t see. The lacerated artery might be higher than the bullet hole itself. Another consideration has to be made for time—if we don’t have any, save yourself the assessment and go high-and-tight. In a wilderness or long-term setting, there are other concerns related to time. But one of the reasons we teach high-and tight is because we are teaching to the “lowest common denominator,” that is, we don’t trust our students to figure it out correctly on their own. We do the same thing in firearms and other areas, too. Are we doing ourselves—or our students—any favors by taking the guess-work out of it? (*not medical advice, for informational purposes only!)
Let’s look at pistol reloads: Do you insert a magazine and hit the slide-release with your other hand, or do you insert the mag and use the same hand to rack the slide? The slide release is measurably faster, but some will argue that we lose fine motor skills under stress. That might be true—but if you can reliably operate the trigger, I hope the slide release isn’t too much trouble… Another issue is that if you don’t time and sequence the two (inserting the mag and hitting the slide release) just right, you risk sending the slide forward before the mag is seated. Using the same hand guarantees we get that sequence correct. Fair enough.
Options like these create a dilemma for instructors. As an example, training hours in most proficiency areas are limited for police officers, so we find ourselves making decisions for our students because we acknowledge that many of them will not have the time, money, resources, or retentionto build on whatever foundation we establish for them. We tell them this is the “right” way because we want it to be reliable and predictable in the future. We want to keep it simple for them, and for mostly the right reasons.
When we make too many decisions for our students, we hinder their ability to apply critical thinking and good judgment going forward. We establish norms for our students and the associated communities that create an uphill battle when training evolves or new ideas emerge. Share your insight. Make your case. Give them options. Do your best to actually teach them. Big Kid rules apply!
Mike is a full-time police officer and tactical medic. He currently works as a K9 handler, SWAT team member, and Police Trainer. Mike started Tactical Tangents as part of his fundamental purpose to save lives. His goal is to enhance the survival of police officers and concerned citizens by helping them become better, smarter, faster, and more efficient. His opinions are for informational purposes only and do not reflect those of his employer or any other government agency.
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