SEAL Pups in Hellweek

CrossFit HQ has always been a big supporter of the Military, LEA, and Rescue personnel.  The two communities have an almost natural draw to each other.  The first Military personnel to really get into CrossFit were the SEALs.  Soon following, Army Special Operations and Marines began implementing CrossFit into their physical training.  The athletic types in these units immediately saw the benefits of training with CrossFit methodologies.

The Marine Corps and Army have both changed their fitness tests for combat troops to better test the General Physical Skills, a good…  actually, a VERY good thing for combat troopers.  The General Physical Preparation (GPP) of CrossFit, with 2 or 3 CrossFit Endurance WODs per week, provides all the parameters of training a trooper needs to be readied for combat.

Not just for the boys... World Champ, Jesse Abbate

CrossFit, in the last couple of years, has featured numerous video articles about competitive shooting.  The vids feature Dave Re, of DR Performance Shooting, a Grand Master in the US Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and discuss the role fitness, and more specifically, CrossFit, plays in tactical shooting.  In the first CrossFit Journal article, Dave Re tells how he was 212lbs, fat, and unable to speed from shooting position to shooting position.  He illustrates how with CrossFit he not only trimmed up, which is in and of itself performance enhancing, but how the physical training made him a better shooting competitor.

While I favor the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) over USPSA because the competitions in IDPA tend to be more realistic and require at least some tactical considerations and also require stock, unmodified or only slightly modified, pistols like you’d carry for personal defense.  Admitedly, neither are tactically very realistic.  If you can set that aside and see them as marksmanship training only, they both require speed, balance, and accuracy to be successful and are very good ways to improve the fundamentals.

I strongly recommend  Military and LEA to attend and shoot these matches routinely just to shoot on the timer and push themselves.

For both competitive civilians and military types, I stress the importance of physical fitness for shooting performance.  I’ve been called a “PT Nazi” in a world of fit SOF guys and even removed guys from my team if they we not up to par physically. When I joined Special Forces, or just SF for short, it was peacetime and many guys saw no need to maintain a high level of physical capabilities.  The abreviation, SF, had been slanged to mean “Slow and Fat”.  The mountains of Afghanistan would change (well, mostly change) that.

Whether you’re an IDPA, USPSA, or Special Operations “athlete”, the need for agility, endurance, power, and stamina is just as paramount as stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, breathing, and follow through.  For it goes without question, when you’ve not developed the major physical skills, you’re fine physical skills will deteriorate rapidly when your majors are introduced to the stress of competition, and certainly those of a real gun fight.  In the same way a quarterback must have the physical capabilities to make it to the last quarter and still be able to complete passes with accuracy, so must the shooter be able to place accurate shots once the physiological stresses of the fight begin to erode away the fine motor skills.

CrossFit is great GPP for the military and competitive shooter.  Burpees can be used to simulate getting down and up from behind cover and all the power work and sprints definitely support the training needed for metabolic requirements of the gun fight.  But like any sport, shooting also requires sport specific training.  The bridge between shooting specific training, i.e., the components of drawing and accurately firing the pistol and general physical fitness provided in CrossFit workouts is that of short agility work focused on balance.

Agility and Tactical Marksmanship

Many “stress shoot” courses in the military consist of mostly longer, forward moving sprints and runs.   They tend to stress and test the shooters ability to shoot accurately while his or her aerobic endurance is pressed.  These types of tests are good, but do not push shooters into the thresholds of anaerobic endurance, where most gunfights force us.

Civilian shooters, for the most part, do no physical training for their sport.  They tend to think of their shooting competition as more of a golf game.  Even though he doesn’t set a good example for the young married fella, Tiger has certainly

The basic Box Drill

demonstrated what strength and power can do for your golf game.  The same goes for competitive shooting.

The missing piece is the short, 3m-10m, multi directional sprint and balance work.  Zig Zag drills and box drills are great, but are

basic and unimaginative.  Simple change of direction drills are not enough.

In the last five years, I’ve applied agility drills and training found in field sports training to shooting and seen

Weave and Slalom drills teach a shooter to "zig and zag"

astounding results in shooters.  By adding this type of training to range day, a shooter can simultaneously work on shooting and fitness.  By working on short, start and stop, side to side, and other agility drills, a shooter can decrease the time it takes to change direction and learn to engage targets while doing so.  The applications carry over to CQT/CQB, the street and urban fight, self defense, and competitions.  I’ve come to see it’s important enough to offer a shooting course completely designed to teach shooters how to train this way.

So goes the saying “train as you fight”…  it is also important we train to prepare for the fight.  This agility training is the missing piece to the tactical training puzzle.

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One thought on “Fitness Training for Shooters

  1. Nate Perry says:

    I had visions of setting this up last week after going thru a couple semper fit trainers courses.

    Tony, do you shoot IDPA at Buccaneer? We havent seen you at Ant Hill For a while.

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