Soldiers and instructors are inundated with opinions and data, from multiple sources and streams, displayed in a range of mediums: hit data on a paper target or sometimes from an interactive screen; wind speed and direction identified by the range flags; air temp by the soldier feeling hot or cold on the range; and in principle a paper record in a notebook of what they have done before. The list goes on. The problem – none of it is in one place, difficult to review on the firing line and little if any of it is consistently recorded, and yet all of it is valuable when training to shoot.
The added issues facing soldiers, instructors, units, and training organisations, is that nowadays range time is precious. Budgets are pressured which may mean less money for ammunition and pressure to achieve the same level of competence with even less resources. In short – soldiers now need to improve quicker, with less practice.
And what’s so wrong with the role of coaches and instructors when it has served us so well for so long?
What’s so wrong with subjective feedback?
XCALIBR Capability Manager – Phil Craigie, explains:
“Some years ago, further back than I care to admit, I was operating in a team deep in the jungle of Brunei practicing live fire break contact drills. For a bit more complexity they were throwing in man down drills, just to add to the discomfort of working in a hot humid jungle. We had been practicing hard, the team was well rehearsed, and we thought our drills were at the standard required…. Well on this one range the ‘DS’ thought otherwise – “That is the worst break contact I have ever seen” was shouted at us. We were pretty ‘threaders’ as we had put our all into it. “In fact, you were so bad you can patrol straight to the other range and go through again – you obviously need the practice”. We had been looking forward to a break but duly patrolled over to the second lane to conduct another break contact.
20 minutes later, with the range complete we awaited our feedback. “That’s the best break contact I have seen this course” the Range Conducting Officer told us. We were relieved that the feedback was positive – a rarity on the course we were on.
We were also a bit miffed…. We hadn’t done anything different. We had put our all into both lanes, the only difference was the instructor. Subjective feedback is in the eye of the beholder – and when it contrasts so massively it can suck!”