Training for When TSHTF

Practicing contact drills

Practicing contact drills

I had an interesting conversation the other day about training and a SHTF situation. I was asked what I thought the best training would be for that kind of situation, and I have to admit I didn’t know how to answer that question right then.

Everyone wants to be as good as a Special Forces Operator especially if TSHTF and they will pay thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars for a one or two-day class on tactical shooting taught by former Operators thinking they will be as good as a Delta Operator when the are done. All that, “One up! Two up!” crap looks great in a movie or to a class of people who want the “Operator Experience” but in the real world of combat it means exactly nothing.

While these types of classes offer some good insights and training into tactical shooting in a SHTF situation the reality is YOU are NEVER going to be as good the Operator who taught that class!

That may sound harsh but it is the truth, no matter what that fancy “school” tells you. That guy teaching you those skills is so good at what he does because as an Operator his personal ammo budget is the same as an entire division! That one guy fires as many rounds in a year as an entire active duty division of 32,000 soldiers.

Let that sink in for a few minutes, that one operator expends as much ammo on the range in training as an entire division. That is a metric shit ton of ammo in case you were wondering.

Live fire training exercise.

Live fire training exercise.

Live fire room clearing exercise.

Live fire room clearing exercise.







When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division we did “Live Fire” training about every 3 months. We would head to one of the many ranges and be given three or four 30 round magazines (or 250-300 rounds for the machine guns) and train. Once those rounds were used up we were done.

When I completed the SFQC at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School and was finally assigned to 10th SFG in Germany live fire training became a whole new beast.

When we weren’t conducting planning or going on field operations we were at the range. On average we were at the range 5-7 days out of each month! In a single day on the range I would fire more rounds than my entire battalion would when I was in the 82nd. Think about that for a moment, in a single day I would fire anywhere from 7500-12,000 rounds. And we did that for 5-7 days straight! Month in, month out, day after day, we shot. We were good because we practiced all the damn time!

The point being unless you have an unlimited ammo budget, more money than common sense, and lots and lots of time to spend practicing the skills you learn taking that $3000 “Operator Course” is a huge waste of your time and money.

So, what kind of training do I think would be best for you or your group for when TSHTF?

Getting Started
"You're a fat body PVT Pile!"

“You’re a fat body PVT Pile!”

The first thing you need to train on is getting your mind and body right. The meme above says a thousand words and more. You can be the best shot in the world at the range but if you can’t pull your fat ass off the couch with the help of three friends and a tow truck you are going to be one dead fat guy (or girl) pretty quick regardless of how well you can shoot that $2500 AR you have.

Soldiers running an obstacle course as part of physical training.

Soldiers running an obstacle course as part of physical training.

The military in general and infantry in particular are obsessed with PT (Physical Training) for a reason, combat is a physical sport! If you can’t move quickly when needed to, you or someone in your group WILL die, it really is that simple.

Not what I mean when I say "In shape."

Not what I mean when I say “In shape.”

I am not saying that you need to become a gym rat and body build until you look like the guy in the picture above, aside from the fact he looks like a damn freak he probably isn’t that fast nor could he hump an 80 pound ruck for 12 feet let alone 12 miles. Rather you need to lose those few extra pounds do some kind of daily cardio even if it is just walking around the mall three or four times so you aren’t all shaky when you have to engage the enemy after running a few hundred meters.

These soldiers are in shape for their mission.

These soldiers are in shape for their mission.

The guys in this picture don’t look anything like the guy in the first picture yet they are in far better shape than he is.

Once you have started to drop that extra weight you need to get your mind right. Stop drinking a 12 pack and smoking an ounce of weed every day. I am not a “Holier Than Thou, you should never ever drink” type, far from it! I like my Jager and Jack as much as the next guy, I just don’t drink every single day or even every weekend.

I like to be able to hit my target and make good decisions when firearms are present and my life (and those of my family and group) are on the line, you can’t do either of those things if you are drunk, buzzed, or high.

Training for Combat

Now that you have put up the bong or cut way back on the drinking what can you do?

Look for schools that offer classes in Light Infantry Tactics like those offered here at Vanguard Survival in our Tactical Weapons Course. We teach you how to operate as a small 3-10 man “squad” and how to react to contact, set up ambushes, communication, movement techniques, how to best use the weapons you have, and so much more.

Since once TSHTF you will probably have a small group learning Small Unit Tactics is going to serve you far better than any “Operator Course” you can find. You will find that we yell, a lot, once we are engaged in combat, “LOADING!” “MOVING!” among other handy things. You yell so that your team can hear you over the sound of battle and know what you are doing and so you can know what they are doing.

I am sure someone is thinking, “But Tom, what if the guys you are fighting speak the same language or at least know some of it, they will know when you are changing magazines or changing positions?” The answer is, “So what if they speak English, Spanish, Swahili, Klingon, or what ever language you are speaking?” They are a tad bit busy trying to kill you and keep their own ass alive as well as having to deal with the same sounds of battle you have to deal with. I doubt very seriously they are going to care what you are saying much less hear it.

Your training should reflect the reality of the situation you expect, total collapse of society as we know it, and how you need to operate in that kind of environment. If you plan on staying in a city or town if TSHTF you need to get training in “Door Kicking” and small unit tactics in urban terrain (MOUT), if you plan on bugging out to the great outdoors you should get training in survival and small unit tactics used in forests or open terrain.

Everyone just about knows someone who has served in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan if you can’t schedule one of our training classes for your group ask that combat vet to teach you what he knows. Some may tell you to just piss off and die but the majority would love to pass on what they know. It is a win-win situation, you get the training you need and the vet gets a few bucks in his pocket. You might even have a great addition to your group once it is all said and done.

If you go the route I outlined above by asking that vet to help train you make sure that he was an infantry soldier or Cav Scout. Other soldiers have a very limited and basic understanding of what you need to know and though they may have seen some combat that combat infantry soldier or Cav Scout is the guy who was kicking down doors and engaging the enemy on a daily basis not just every once in a while.

Once you have the training outlined above you will need to practice the things you’ve learned every chance you get so everyone in your family or group knows where they are supposed to be in that “Ranger File” as you move through the forest, or where they are supposed to be in the “Stack” before you breach that door, or what they should do if you move into open terrain.

The training outlined above will not only serve you (and your family or group) much better than 99% of the “Shoot like an Operator” courses it will also save you hundreds or thousands of dollars, but most importantly your time.

For more information on our Tactical Weapons Course CLICK HERE or email us at

I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!


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