Maybe you’ve heard of The Combat Triad. Maybe you haven’t. It’s an incredible concept that should be at the heart of your training protocol.
The Combat Triad is a concept from Jeff Cooper. Jeff Cooper was an artistic genius in many mediums.
Cooper is also the godfather of the modern technique. He changed the shape of modern combat forever. Many, many people know The Combat Triad from Cooper’s teachings.
People make a mistake about The Combat Triad, though. They think it only applies to guns.
I discuss this mistake in the video below. The video and post below overlap, but aren’t the same.
What Is The Combat Triad?
The Combat Triad is a tool. It is a concept to use when structuring your training.
In the picture on the left, we see a graphic representation of The Combat Triad. The three sides are Weapon Handling, Marksmanship, and Mindset.
People in the blog world absolutely love the word “Mindset”. This isn’t the kind of Mindset you’re thinking of. We’ll cover Mindset last, because it’s the most important part.
The order of The Combat Triad is the order of frequency. Weapon Handling, Marksmanship, Mindset. All three should be a part of your training. You just can’t train them all with the same frequency and intensity.
The Combat Triad and Weapon Handling
Weapon Handling confuses people. That’s because most people don’t understand weapons.
The weapon isn’t the thing you’re holding. YOU are the weapon.
“As we have often pointed out, man fights with his mind; his weapons are incidental.” Jeff Cooper, Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 9 No. 8, August 2001
You are a human being. Being a human being means you have a human body and a human mind.
The human body, together with the human mind, forms the most devastating weapon system on the planet. Nothing can withstand the force of body and mind joined in a singular purpose.
YOU are the weapon. Anything else is an auxiliary weapon system that extends reach or acts as a force multiplier.
With that in mind, what is Weapon Handling?
Weapon Handling is your ability to manipulate the weapon (primary or otherwise) in 3D space. You can see how this brings many factors into play. Factors like:
- Cardiovascular efficiency
- Manual Dexterity
- Economy of Motion
Weapon Handling is closely related to the best way to increase your physical safety. The things that make you a bad target also make you a good fighter.
Improving your grip strength helps you do pull ups. It also helps you fire a gun accurately.
Regular cardio improves your ability to breathe. That’s going to help you stay calm under stress.
What’s more, improving your Weapon Handling has fringe benefits. Benefits like looking great, feeling great, and being great. It’s a win-win.
How To Train Your Weapon Handling
Weapon Handling is the area most people neglect. That’s sad, because it can be trained more frequently than any other area of The Combat Triad. You can train an element of your Weapon Handling every single day.
Go to the gym. That’s step one. If you’re serious enough about your safety to carry a gun, you should be serious enough to hit the gym.
There are a lot of questions that arise when you bring up the gym. Below are some general guidelines to include in your training.
- Strength Training – Lift weights. Do body weight work like pushups and pull ups. Be strong.
- Cardio – Do something you can tolerate. Cardio is boring, but necessary. Get that heart rate up.
- Grip Training – Use Fat Gripz in the gym. Use Captains of Crush when you’re not in the gym.
- Movement Training – Practice combat sports, drawing from concealment, or get creative.
Economy of Motion is the most interesting aspect of weapon handling. Economy of Motion just means moving efficiently. There are a lot of ways to improve economy of motion.
Practicing combat sports or practicing drawing from concealment are great. So is realistic dry fire training. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The most creative way I’ve seen someone improve economy of motion is by playing an adult version of “The Ground Is Lava”. You know, the game you played as a kid where you had to navigate space without touching the ground?
Go to a playground in a park and navigate it without touching the ground. It’s incredibly taxing on your body, and excellent exercise.
Get creative. Find a way to train an element of your Weapon Handling every day. The benefits outside of combat are too huge not to.
The Combat Triad and Marksmanship
Marksmanship is the one area of The Combat Triad almost everyone trains. You bought a gun, so you go shoot the gun. Maybe you get good, maybe you just waste ammo.
Marksmanship isn’t just shooting, though. Think about what Marksmanship really is.
Marksmanship is the skill of accurately moving an object through 3D space so that it impacts another object.
Hell, boxers and construction workers practice Marksmanship. There’s a lot that goes into this.
- Your Weapon Handling, first and foremost.
- Hand-Eye Coordination
- Understanding of Sight Picture
- Understanding of Flash Sight Picture
- Trigger Control
Only three things on that list involve a gun at all. And it isn’t even a comprehensive list! Since guns are usually the example of marksmanship people want to improve, that’s what we’ll focus on.
How To Train Your Marksmanship
Dry fire and live fire. Dry fire comes first, because the first thing you need to learn is how to keep the gun still.
What’s more, you don’t even need to focus on aiming at first. Don’t just take it from me, though. Take it from world champion shooter Rob Leatham.
Simple. Remember what I always say?
“Simple Simply Works.” – Anyone who knows that the fuck they’re doing.
The Combat Triad and Combat Mindset
Mindset is the most difficult aspect of The Combat Triad to train. It’s impossible to quantify. Outside of a dangerous scenario, it just can’t be measured.
What’s worse is that it’s the least trained aspect of The Combat Triad. People just automatically assume they’ll rise to the occasion. People assume they’ll be a bad ass.
It’s true. We all like to think we’re bad asses. Well, I’ve got sour news for you.
Most people aren’t bad asses.
If you’re a bad ass, you already know it. You put in the years it took to get there. You wouldn’t be reading this post for anything other than entertainment.
Most people just aren’t bad asses. That’s how the world is.
We live in the best of times. The world is a safer place than it’s ever been. Life is more comfortable than ever. That comes with a downside, though.
We have never been more disconnected from our genetic memory of struggling to survive.
War against other tribes or survival in the face of large predators is something most of us never experience. That’s bad for developing a combat mindset. It’s a hurdle to overcome.
How to Train Your Mindset
Training the combat mindset is hard to do outside of actual combat. There is no substitute for experience.
If you have combat experience, you know it. If you don’t, you know you don’t. Playing pretend that you’re some super soldier isn’t going to help you develop a combat mindset.
You can’t develop a combat mindset just by thinking about it. If you could, then every kid playing video games about war would be a first rate tactician. It just doesn’t work that way.
Instead, you have to make the best out of what you have. You will have to ingrain new systems of behavior that help compensate for your lack of experience.
You’re pulling yourself through a mental blockage you gained through easy living. This is usually done by overcoming two hurdles.
Most people who are armed have jumped the first hurdle. Many never even know the second hurdle exists.
The First Hurdle: Normalcy Bias.
Normalcy Bias is a cognitive bias. It’s extremely common. What do people always say when they’re victimized?
“I can’t believe this is happening to me.” – Every Victim Ever
Normalcy Bias is your sense of normal. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Good men die so that everyone else can keep theirs.
It’s the element of innocence that we try to keep intact for our children. As long as we possibly can.
There’s just one problem – life is easier than it’s ever been. Grown men suffer from normalcy bias where it was once reserved for children.
Shattering your normalcy bias is the first hurdle you’ll have to overcome. For some, like myself, this takes actual imminent threat of death. I recommend you use Cooper’s Color Code instead.
Cooper’s Color Code is a tool for maintaining situational awareness. Simply by using it, you aren’t suffering from normalcy bias.
The Second Hurdle: FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE
Everyone has heard of fight or flight. The funny thing about that is that Average Joe probably won’t do either when the shit hits the fan.
Why? Here’s why.
- If a bear is cornered, the bear will likely fight.
- When a deer is cornered, the deer will likely take flight.
- When a rabbit is cornered, the rabbit will freeze.
An untrained individual with no combat experience isn’t a bear. He’s a rabbit.
I know this very well, because I’ve frozen in a dangerous situation before. Many people who have been in a dangerous situation know this feeling or know people who have frozen.
The freeze response is a result of a short-circuited OODA Loop.
Information is coming in at such an alarming rate and causing such dissonance that the mind can’t keep up. It’s a form of analysis paralysis, with a deadly downside.
Freezing will likely get you killed. It doesn’t matter how good of a marksman you are. It doesn’t matter how good of a weapon handler you are.
What’s the Next Step in Developing the Combat Mindset?
You shattered your normalcy bias. You learned how to leverage the OODA Loop. Great.
Now, you maintain. You build and you maintain.
Skills degrade when not used and maintained. Most people learn a foreign language in school now. Most people forget every word of it because they never use it.
If you don’t actively train, you start to slip. Never let em catch you slippin.
Do this by:
- Actively maintaining situational awareness with Cooper’s Color Code.
- Leveraging your OODA Loop actively throughout the day.
- Practice entry and clearing your own house in the event you ever need that skill.
- Analyze the tactical value of your surroundings until it’s second nature.
Chances are good that you’re not a bad ass. You don’t have to be.
You just have to be bad assed enough.
Build your skill by structuring your training with The Combat Triad. Once you’ve reached an acceptable level, maintain that skill.
That doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve. It means that you never let one area degrade while you improve another.
Improve an aspect of your Weapon Handling every single day. Actively train your marksmanship so that you’re either improving or maintaining. Sharpen your mindset and then keep it sharp.
I’ve said many times, you’re either growing or dying like a mighty grove of oak trees. In the case of The Combat Triad, I mean it literally.
What are you going to do today to start structuring your training with The Combat Triad?