Remember that guy? You know, the one who never has time for actual training because of “work commitments,” “lack of money,” or “no time?” It’s usually the same guy who owns four of each gun, a full tactical kit, loves Call of Duty, and posts of pics of his latest night of partying while you’re chugging coffee as the sun breaks over the range.
Well, turns out you probably should have been that guy. A new study conducted by the University of Eastern Chicago (UEC) shows that the vast majority of firearms training is really unnecessary. The study, commissioned by the Directory of Affiliated Firearms Trainers (DAFT), took a group of 18-35 year old men that had recently moved back into their parents’ houses and had them spend up to 80 hours a week using highly realistic virtual firearms simulators. The participants were then asked to rate their proficiency with various weapons types, including rifles, pistol, shotguns, and Apaches on a scale of 1 to 10. The results were surprising.
“We really didn’t expect to see these kinds of positive results from our test group,” said UEC researcher Ralph Baer, “the test subjects’ self-rated skill level (SRSL) increased exponentially with each hour of simulator time.” According to researchers, even greater gains in SRSL were realized by subjects who coupled their simulator time with online tutorials and digital video discs, and the SRSL score actually tripled if the participants then applied their acquired knowledge in scenario-based military simulations.
Needless to say, the participants were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to tell everyone. Brad, a participant who didn’t want his full name posted due to operational security concerns but goes by “ST6badass” in video sims, said, “I mean, who wouldn’t be thrilled to watch their SRSL go through the roof without having to worry about getting hot and sweaty and cramped up from repetitions. Seriously, I hear that sometimes those crazy ‘range guys’ even get blisters from shooting! Not this guy – just a few sims under my belt, and I can tell you, my SRSL is amazing! Next, I’m going to try mil-sim, then I’ll practically be an operator.”
Not everyone is thrilled by the results, however. “I’ll be honest, we almost didn’t publish the study,” opined DAFT spokesman John Clark. “This is probably going to be very discouraging to some of our instructors. No one’s going to want to put in the hours of going through certifications, building terminal performance objectives, writing curriculum and courses of fire, then spending money on insurance, ranges, and expendables, not to mention their own practice time when these study participants will tell you right up front, they know more than you.”
The military, faced with massive budget cuts that sacrifice quality training for sustained operations, doesn’t see it that way. The current fight against ISIS, plus constant low-intensity conflicts and possible conflagrations with up-and-coming powers really push the limits of their highly trained Special Operations personnel and ever-shrinking conventional forces. The study gives recruiters hope. SSG Mike Jansen, a recruiter in Jacksonville, FL, said, “I keep an eye on the forums, and I’m really impressed with how good these guys say they are. I’m actually pretty sure our ISIS problem is solved. Now I just gotta get them in the office – maybe I need a bigger sign?” Jansen glanced up at the 6-foot tall lighted sign that sits above his office right next to a major road. “Yeah, that’s it, I need a bigger sign.”
UEC researchers plan to continue their study with a new, $5.6 million grant from the Department of Defense, with results expected in approximately 15 years.