I subscribe to the philosophy that if someone can’t manage to find the time to train 8 hrs a day, the next best thing he can do is focus on 1 thing a day to make himself better than he was the day before.
Keep in mind that you can’t be doing the exact same thing everyday as if you are on auto-pilot. You should be broadening your horizons by looking for new experiences or by pushing yourself to exceed your last attempt.
These are some of the things I do to keep myself from feeling that I’m slacking off when I cant spend as much time as I would like on training. If I can do at least one of these things every day I feel like I accomplished something. Everybody’s list can be different depending on their focus and goals. As well as their time, budget and motivation.
1. Exercise: Beyond the obvious health and functional benefits, exercise provides you with a sense of confidence and well-being that bleeds over into all other aspects of your life. It is not an “instant fix”, you have to stick to it day after day, but if you keep at it you will start to notice the gradual changes in your fitness and appearance. Its a strong motivator to keep at it.
2. Dry-Fire Training: I cant always get out to the live fire range and don’t have the ability to spend as much money on ammunition as I would like, but there is always dry practice. Draws, reloads, movement, malfunction clearing can all be done dry just about anytime and anywhere. Just remember to follow all safety precautions and practice “perfectly”.
3. Martial Arts: Since I’ve been moved back to the midnight shift I have been slacking a bit on this one. I have been an off and on practiconer since my early teens. I was going two nights a week to a boxing/MMA class and hope to get back to it after the holiday craziness. If chosen well you can kill two birds with one stone by getting your physical conditioning in here. Boxing/MMA has a larger fitness and conditioning component than some of the classic arts.
4. Read: Read a book or trade magazine on your chosen profession or pursuit. Educate yourself on the latest developments. I read various books and magazines on law enforcement, fitness, technology, history, philosophy and others. This is not just picking up a comic book or novel, thats entertainment reading. Read as if it were “homework”, but homework that you enjoy.
5. Live Fire: I get out to the range or the field to do some live fire training (in addition to department training) whenever the opportunity arises.
6. Hunting: I only hunt big game in my part of the country, but I try to get out a few days every season. Hunting, if looked at as training (no booze or partying for me..Im a purist) combines many traits;
- Discipline: getting out in all weather and hours and staying out there.
- Meditation: there is an aspect of introspection that comes with sitting by yourself in the woods for long hours.
- Fitness: if you stalk hunt you have to move over some rough terrain carrying a load. Dragging your quarry is hard work as well
- Marksmanship: shooting here is “for a purpose” vs. training
- The Kill: This may be a sensitive issue, but the kill, if approached as a “necessity” and something done with respect and not enjoyment or pleasure; can be a reassurance that you can “pull the trigger” if the necessity is forced upon you. Killing big game is…well…killing. It bleeds, it makes noise, it tries to escape. It’s never been a pleasure for me to kill a deer, but I am a hunter and a meat eater. I feel remorse after a kill but temper it with the knowledge that I at least have come to grips with what it means to be an omnivore. Some people chow down on a quarter pounder then preach that eating venison is somehow wrong. My venison at least had a chance. Many famous soldiers and law enforcement officers who have survived shootings credit their hunting experiences.
7. Write: I have found that blogging and posting to forums helps me to clairfy my thoughts. It forces me to put down in words what it is I think and believe. If you write about your “calling” it can be a powerful tool to see exactly what it is you do and do not know.
8. Watch Video: One of the wonders of our modern age is the wealth of visual knowledge available to us. You can find instructional video everywhere, including the internet. Be selective in what you feed into your brain, not all knowledge is created equal. Be aware of everything thats out there but remember that some of it is going to be “out there”.
9. Learn new skills: You never know when a skill could prove useful in a “tactical application”. One of the faults I see in “martial artists”, “gun nuts” and armchair warriors is that their knowledge base is somewhat narrow. Everything boils down to martial arts, guns and Samurai philosophy. Learn many skills; learn how to fix a car, how to tie climbing knots, first aid, how to replace a computer hard-drive, how to do basic household repairs, grill a steak, build a fire, do a magic trick, gut a deer, set-up a wireless computer network, the list is as long as you wish to make it. I subscribe to Robert A. Heinlein’s philosophy:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
10. Compete: Most of my competitions of late have been 5K-10K races, but in the past I have tried my hand at shooting competitions, SWAT round-ups, climbing competitions, etc. While I have placed in a few, the aim isnt so much to win as to feel “in the game”. Competition is as much for the mind as it is for the body. Probably even more so. Most physical improvements are found through day-in day-out training.