Training, Mindset, and Ability

By Ryan Johnson


What value do you place on the qualities mentioned above. What order of importance do they fall in your daily, weekly or monthly instruction, or do they at all? These are hard and fast questions one should ask themselves when they take up arms in defense of others. I've trained with all types of individuals, some who's ability in the training environment far exceeded that of their ability in the live environment. Some whose mindset in the live environment far exceeded that of their mindset in the training environment. So the question one should ask them self is, "How balanced am I as a practitioner of gunfighting, tactics or defensive action?" Some of the glaring issues with a lot of today's Law Enforcement professionals, as well as the 2a community of weapons handlers is the balance, the balance between Training, Mindset and the actual Ability.

How balanced am I as a practitioner of gunfighting, tactics or defensive action?

TRAINING - Training in my opinion is defined by any act which increases a specific or multitude of skills measured by realistic factors. Additionally, the training and factors will obviously change for those who wish to increase their gunfighting abilities versus those who strictly shoot percentage targets for sport. One of the biggest issues I see and hear in training with special operations guys to the average patrol guy is the "oh that's a miss" comment when analyzing silhouette targets. So many shooters get sucked into this complete non-sense of weighing the misses with such high value and not taking into account they were just in a gunfight, or at least should be thinking they were. I stood shoulder to shoulder with a fellow operator who put 14 to 16 rounds of 5.56 into a shotgun wielding, meth induced psychopath, who still was able to get rounds down range after being hit, no one asked or put any value on 1 or 2 misses during that CQB engagement. Why? Because it was real, it was dynamic and lives were ultimately saved and the mission was a success. So would you say the 8 rounds you were able to effectively engage your target with have any less value because the 2 additional rounds you fired struck the elbow of the threat, I'd say no. We've gotta start putting more value on what actually matters and analyzing data from our shooting that directly correlates with realistic factors. I've taken the 50 yard pistol shot with buddies and after checking the target guys will say, dude you only hit his elbow or pelvis. They say this like it's something bad or unsatisfactory. I then respond with, hey bud how bout we shoot you in the same spot, elbow or pelvis take your pick. Of course no one is gonna take you up on that offer and for good reason. So I agree if you're a dude who's into engaging bad guys at 50 yards center mass, then focus on that as a specific skill. 

Training is defined by any act which increase a specific or multitude of skills MEASURED BY REALISTIC FACTORS.

MINDSET- There is as much to be learned by gaining knowledge and sharpening your mindset as there is in the actual shooting of targets. Mindset for me starts with understanding your role and what your intentions are when you train. Are you wanting to become surgically accurate with an emphasis on gaining as many points as you can after your string of fire is complete, or are you training to "not die" in a lethal engagement? The mindset you carry into each of these arenas will ultimately effect the outcome. You take a target shooter with a points mindset into a shoothouse and it's curtains. My point is as long as your mindset matches your objective, you'll be able to maximize your overall efficiency. long as your mindset matches your objective, you'll be able to maximize your overall efficiency

ABILITY- Many will work on the lead slinging and never realize that the very comfort in their current abilities is actually what's holding them back from real progression. I first noticed this to be true when training with a fellow officer who is hands down a more proficient shooter than I. I took it upon myself to step out of my comfort zone, begin training for speed, learned to get garments cleared and rounds down range in sub second times. This translated into an ability to draw and fire on a dude who was in fact and still is a better shooter than me. So the take away is this, push yourself and your training to levels that translate into actual ability. 

Comfort in their current abilities is actually what's holding them back from real progression.

In order to truly grow, we must become comfortable being uncomfortable. Get out and innovate, push boundaries and survive. Stay safe.

Article By Ryan Johnson
Law Enforcement, Shooting, Long Range
Former U.S. Army Infantry and current SWAT officer on the West Coast. His experience as a shooter and sniper is as valuable as his perspective from both military and law enforcement careers.


The skills are worthless without the mindset to use them. Solid Article!
Mindset ultimately effects the outcome. Great info bro!
Great write much truth.
Lots of folks seem to be talking about training, mindset and ability, but not many address balancing the three. Thanks for the fresh take, Ryan!
Solid information from someone who practices what they preach. Great read brother! "...push yourself and your training to levels that translate into actual ability." A really good take away from me. Look forward to the next article!
Great read!
I love the part about mindset. Its so easy for any of us to pick someone apart because they arent training the way we are. Home invasion, responding to an active shooter and shooting a three gun match all require similar AND different training. Good words Ryan!
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The part about overvaluing "misses" on a graded target is something i've heard argued a lot. If it's off the silhouette or paper completely, fine. (Not to say their should not be a standard for qualifications)
Great article 🙌🏻
Solid information.
Great read 👍🏼