Training “High Speed – Low Drag Operators”

Training “High Speed – Low Drag Operators”

Training “High Speed – Low Drag Operators”

When I taught my first combat pistol class as a civilian, I asked a respected warrior to audit the class and critique my outline, performance and the class in general. Tony Copper, a seasoned High Speed – Low Drag operator (HSLDO) attended and even assisted with instruction in a humble and respectful way. I was lucky. He WAS a HSLDO.

Most shooting instructors have experienced the attitude of, “I have been in combat, shot machine guns, am currently wearing tactical pants, have killed folks and by golly you ain’t gonna tell me anything.” This can be intimidating and a challenge for shooting instructors, and I hope that the following suggestions will help in your coaching.

Suggest “trying” rather than ordering to do a thing. With a humble beginner, we can often say, “pull the stock into your shoulder tightly” and they will gratefully comply. When speaking to a HSLDO, I have learned it is better to suggest, “You might try pulling the stock into your shoulder a little harder to see if you like it any better.”

If training a beginner alongside a HSLDO, I learned a great trick from Brandon Cunningham, a lifelong instructor not only in HSLDO maritime warfare topics, but law enforcement specialties as well. Brandon suggests that phrasing directed toward beginner Bill can include a mention of HSLDO Tom’s knowledge, “Bill, as Tom can tell you, bringing that stock tight into your shoulder will reduce your felt recoil and will make you ready for the next shot faster.” In this example, we appeared to be teaching Bill when in fact we were communicating to Tom.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but I find that I am able to get the next shot off more quickly if I pull the stock into my shoulder tightly.” My offering the HSLDO the opportunity to correct you, he will either correct you (and you will learn a great new technique) or he will take the time to observe the tips you offer, evaluate them and then potentially incorporate them into his bag of tricks.

Tony’s famous line is, “maybe your way is better, I have a shot timer right here. Let’s try it both ways and see which one works best.” This technique should only be tried if the person testing techniques is a good shooter and will honestly give their best effort with both techniques.

Another communication tip, if pleasant and respectful communication has failed, is to recognize the HSLDO’s “excellence” and admit, perhaps with some sarcasm, that he is “simply too far advanced in his skills for you to help.” If you have clarified with him that your training session is not a “tough guy’ contest, and is simply designed to offer some techniques and he refuses to have an open mind; maybe it is time to triage him as a lost cause. Many shooting instructors are enthralled with patriotism and believe respect is owed anyone that wears a White Kepi, Green Beret or Spetsnaz cap, depending on their government of origin. Respecting a HSLDO for serving his government can only go so far however if that man refuses to respectfully investigate what you have to offer. There are times that training session simply must be cut short.

I have been fortunate to train HSLDOs from many places and have found that those that are “REALLY” HSLDO are very nice, humble, self confident men that love to add new tricks to their bag. These men, like Tony, teach me new tricks as well as investigate my offerings. I hope they know that while I am perhaps wearing the “teacher” hat on that day, I profoundly respect their skills as well!

Photo by jGlidePhotoATL

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  • Haggard

    Here’s the deal: The Greeks had it right by having the Spartans (their HSLDOs) live in a separate city. The Warrior class doesn’t communicate well with the non-Warrior class. It’s been that way since the beginning of time. It’s not that one is superior to the other, both classes are necessary, it’s just that Warrior Class folks are wired differently than others.
    I expect a warrior class individual to play by my rules when he walks into my law office for advice. He should expect me to play by his when I walk into his arena.
    If you are skilled enough to teach HSLDO-level skills then it should not matter if you sweet talk them or not.

    • Shepard Humphries

      Many instructors probably agree with you that sweet-talking (effectively communicating) is not important when many muscled men with 1000 yard stares congregate to train. Because I am not a HSLDO, I have had the opportunity to learn to communicate with the “warrior class” while being in a different “classification.”
      Imagine how nice it would be if a shopkeeper from a different arena stepped up and provided their service “by MY rules.” I would really appreciate that! (thanks to all the MD’s that speak to their patients in a manner that makes the conversation understandable) Even now that I have read “The Deal” I continue to think that when my wonderful clients step into my area, I will choose to go above and beyond in communicating effectively with them whether they are housewives, combat hardened HSLDO, affluent businessmen, kids…. etc … 🙂

      • Haggard

        Your article wasn’t about effective communication. It was about attitude. You assume that any HSLDO will have a resisting attitude to learning fighting skills from a non-Warrior. I agree with that assumption.
        What I disagree with is your assumption that applying the concepts of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is the solution. The solution is to offer skills that the Warriors will recognize as an improvement in their ability to kill the enemy. IF you do that, the class won’t be a problem.
        You and the shopkeeper and the MD are all in the same class. Neither or you (nor me for that matter) work in an arena where a good day on the job means you killed the fellow that was trying to kill you. Warrior class folks are necessary and should be honored. But let’s keep in mind that they are never going to communicate the same way as you or I.

    • Prep4theworst

      Umm the Greeks were broken up into city-states (essentially separate countries but being a loose alliance with each other) Each city state had its own army.
      Please stop getting your Greek history from just the movie 300.

  • JJ

    What the heck is a high speed, low drag operator? Obviously someone experienced, but that doesn’t tell me much. If you’re going to use insider jargon, it ought to be defined.

    • duh

      It’s obvious from the article. A HSLDO is someone who has shaved arms, a trimmed goatee, multicam ball cap with a muted American flag patch. Also, he must have battery powered gizmos attached to his weapon.

      • JJ


      • You nailed it on that one…Hahahahah

  • Jim F.

    JJ, “high speed low drag” is, or at least was when I was last in the service in the 90s, military (and probably law enforcement) slang for something that goes way beyond the basic issue or minimum requirement. I heard it used for everything from Camelbaks (when the old-style canteens hung from a cartridge belt were the norm) to fancy boots to hi-tech optics. I’d imagine the meaning is probably about the same today.

    • JJ

      Thanks! About what I suspected, but I wasn’t sure. Never heard that term back in the late 60’s when I was in, but since I was in heavy artillery instead of infantry, I might not have heard it, even if it did exist among other branches.

  • Why do these articles usually have a photo of someone with a firearm that is decked out with a ton of junk on it like a Christmas tree. It reminds me of the need for speed crowd that think their car will go faster with a triple tail fin. For all you high speed low drag wanna be ninjas out there…forget the junk and practice with a good reliable gun. Training is about the man and his skills..not some cheesy title and not the junk he carries.

  • turtle

    As I was taught, and I paraphrase, “if you will do, any gun will do”. It’s not about what you have as a weapon or what’s on the weapon, it’s about having the ability and the mindset to recognize the danger and being able to take the shot to end it.

  • A real “HSLDO” is one that is equipped w the Bare Essentials to Complete the taked mission, a real operator like this is considered by traditionalists to be a “ROGUE” who sees the “Because I said so and I outrank you” Types ( The same traits and attitudes displayed by this Author ).. All Spec Op Vets have specialties outside of just shooting tactically, in that respect all can operate for one another when the SHTF and a leader maybe shot and each just drives on w no hiccups in efficiency. That is not the case when an operator is acting as a specialist ( Armorer, Medic, Linguist, Sniper etc..) .

    While they have a chain of command in a traditional sense, all are considered to BE EQUALS on a mission for cohesian amongst other things ( and rarely address by rank or even salute unless in presence of non operators) the leadership realizes that PROFESSIONLISM will be carried out without explanation.

    Issues always arrive when a traditionalist is mixed w Experienced Operators and the Outsider always has a “CHIP ” on his shoulder along w zero Prior Service begins and demands to be treated as a Superior and to the experienced we see it a mile away, the Body Language, vernacular and entire environment is now uncondusive to train effectively as all the Testosterone combined w Machismo is now fueled into the Ego’s of all involved ..

    I would suggest that if you are actially training “Vet Operators” address them as a hole before hand.. I would suggest “Understanding the experience level is well beyond novice, I am trained traditionally thru civilian/Law Enf channels, we belive pur methods tried and true, therefore you maybe a better marksman or have a more effocient way please at the end of instruction we will conduct a critique session w any concerns or improvements, until that time please respect my methods realizing yhat we can all learn from one another…

    Problems further exist when Civilian Instructors have a pre concieved notion that because I hold no “Civilian Certs from the NRA” that he or she is not an equal to me, well if the operatpr is claiming a certain status or level of knowledge, ask him to prove it, the DD 214 will state Rank ( as any SGT/E5 in the Military Police or Infantry MOS has most certainly trained his subpedinates om Basic Marksmanship and has served as a Range Safety and it will show schooling recieved, Like Sniper School, PSD (Protective Service Detail ala as close protection or SRT which is Military Police equivelant of Swat).. Let alone a SEAL or Green Beret or Ranger, if they are not specialized w Schools and proper paperwork, they wont produce paperwork and its my experience the guy showing up at the range or class w $5k of gear on and Sniper Tee was eitjer never in tje military, pr was in and quickly discharged pr was a Truck Driver or Personal Unit guy that never made the cut, actually thats always the issue…

    As an a Former Army MP Sgt, I attended both SRT and PSD schools on top of mu OSUT of 19 weeks, I became a Police Officer upon completing my initial enlistment. My Academy Instructor was a Marine Recon Sniper, at start of all academies he demanded any service members DD214 if claiming expertise in weapons or tactics, we had 38 recruits 8 claiming the expert s