Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published by our sister publication RECOIL, and appears here in its entirety with permission. For more articles on guns, training, and gear, go to RECOILweb.com.
There’s an adage in the military “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training.” This is more or less an attempt at jovial acceptance of the fact that training needs to occur no matter what the weather is doing. After leaving the Army a few years ago, one of my contentions was that I didn’t want to ever be cold and wet at the same time again. It’s miserable.
Today's plan was to take a much-needed trip to the woods, practice some survival skills, do a bit of writing, and relax in the way that only being by myself in the forest can allow. I was looking forward to this almost as much as a kid longs to open their presents on Christmas morning. I woke up early feeling anxious to get away for a bit and stepped outside to drink my first cup of coffee. Then I saw it. Rain. My old nemesis. My heart sank as I looked at the weather for the rest of the day and realized that it wasn’t going to be the beautiful day I had imagined. A part of me thought about just going back to bed.
Most people choose to train in the best conditions possible more often than not because it’s comfortable. Whether that be going to the range, practicing survival skills, or working out; we as humans generally prefer comfort over misery. But it's a disservice to take the easy road. It's much easier to chalk up the day as a loss than to drag ourselves outside to go train. All too often we make excuses and end up losing out on an opportunity to get better. And isn’t getting better the whole point of training in the first place?
You will never get to choose the conditions that surround a life or death situation.
Read the previous line again and consider the implications. Choosing to go out and train in adverse weather increases the effectiveness of your training significantly. If I can get a fire going in the middle of a thunderstorm, then I feel even more confident that I can do the same task on a sunny day. If I can hit a target in 10-15 mph wind, then I’ll be able to hit it when the wind is calm. Finding ways to work around the elements increases both your skills and your confidence. The opposite is, of course, true as well. When we condition ourselves to be “fair weather” warriors, the slightest adversity may cause the wheels to fall off. Coupled with the stress of being in an emergency situation, this could very easily mean the difference between living and dying.
So what am I doing on this rainy day? Training. I’m in the woods practicing a skill that may keep me alive. Fire making. Ask yourself “when do you NEED a fire?” Do you need a fire on a warm sunny day? Maybe not unless you’re using it to cook or boil water to drink. You need a fire when you’re at risk of hypothermia though, and you need it quickly. And the conditions that cause hypothermia generally involve being cold and/or wet. If I can't start a fire when it’s only raining, then I’ll probably fail when my hands and body are shaking uncontrollably. It doesn’t matter at that point if I’ve made a million fires in the past, the one that I’m making now is all that is important.
This mentality should be in all types of training. Adjust your mindset into accepting horrible weather as an opportunity rather than a nuisance. Be happy to see rain, snow, wind, etc. on training days because it affords the chance to practice skills in an environment that may be the same as when we depend on those skills to work.
Training when it's tough makes you better than everyone else who chose to stay on the couch. Embrace it because you are now more prepared to take whatever life throws at you. While you may not thank me while you’re freezing and soaked, I guarantee you will if tough training brings you back home safe from a catastrophe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Vititoe has over 20 years firearms and survival experience, 17 serving as an Infantryman in the United States Army, including 4 combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. More than half of his career has revolved around sniper skill sets, to include; three years instructing at the U.S. Army Sniper School and Long Range Marksman course and two combat tours as a sniper team and section leader. Justin is an expert in marksmanship, survival, surveillance, counter- surveillance, and almost any hand-held weapon. He has instructed military personnel and civilians all over the world in survival, marksmanship, camouflage, tracking, small unit tactics, planning, land navigation and numerous other skills. Justin was also a participant of season 2 of History’s ALONE series, where he survived by himself with minimal gear for 35 days.
Justin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alonejustinv/