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I received another message literally days after the first question on operator training. This one was in reference to testing procedures. This is unedited and may be a bit all over the place, but hope you can pick out the good stuff out it.


For an actual testing process, I would use some form of obstacle course that involves what you’ll see 90% or more of the time. The old school o-courses aren’t actually all that bad. The problem with a realistic test is to be efficient, the varibles won’t always end of successful. Say you start with a few exercises to get the adrenaline stimulation up, then have a ballistic micro-fight, the variables of a fight could shift the results of the operators performance.

Maybe have a combination of exercise based testing(40 yard sprint, long jump, metcon workout, power clean, etc) in combination with an o-course and some scenario’s. But the last two would take a bit of resources and time to put together.

For just exercise route, concentrate on a few things. Athleticism, power, coordination, mental agility/toughness. The secret service has a kettlebell snatch test that has absolutely nothing to do with your physical ability, it’s to see how tough you are mentally, as many snatches as possible in 10 min. Athleticism is huge. A guy can be strong as hell, but if he can’t coordinate his movements and have the ability to quickly recover from a mistake, all the strength goes to waste. Power. When it’s go time, it’s all about being in Grog smash, face ripping, bad guy slinging, Testosterone rage. Adrenaline can get you there, but training power will get your body to do it efficiently. Coordination, you gotta be able to do multiple things at once sometimes.

Does that make sense?

The Secret Service Snatch Test actually works almost all of these. I would toss in a long jump, short sprint, maybe an agility ladder/course and some form of weighted pullups(full kit).

So for small area and resources do the SSST(that’s the acronym you’ll find it under on the kettlebell forums) and pullups in kit(I’d do pullups before the hands get tore up). For a bit more space and resources, a 40 yard dash followed by an agility drill, then the SSST, but this time instead of pullups have a 6′ wall and see how many times back and forth you can get over it in a set period of time, say two minutes, again in full kit. Give about 2-5 min rest in between each event. And of course feel free to toss in some tactical skills or scenario’s, just remember variables are going to influence it, so it may be best to just be part of the test but not necessarily pass/fail.

Hope that answers your question a bit better. Look around the dragondoor forums. Before crossfit, Pavel and the kettlebell were the dominating force for tactical tests. There might be a few gems hidden in there. Not sure if you met Jeff Martone at DARC, but hit him up, he’s got a lot of good stuff as well.

Here is my follow up reply to a few more points

I think the SSST is basically 10 min, as many snatches as you can do. You can set it down, you can use whichever hand you want. Pretty much you can do whatever you want but quit. Here’s an article on the SSST http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/369/

Here’s a link to a phone interview with Dan John. I was the guy asking about the military/law enforcement question But overall, he’s got a ton of knowledge on this stuff. http://kettlebellinterrogations.com/dan/call.html

One thing to be aware of with standardized testing is it can be gameplayed just like IPSC shooting or football combine. With the SSST and wall climbs, I think there will be enough carry over that even if you do gameplay it, it will still make you a better operator.

Something to look into for your agility drill, is find some Parkour(The crazy dudes jumping and climbing buildings) exercises and use a circuit of those. It’ll transfer into the tactical arena very well on top of assessing agility skills.

One thing to watch for is maybe reversing the order to have range first, then scenario’s, then physical. With kettlebell snatches your hands get pretty chewed up and wouldn’t be very conducive to shooting well Also when you think of training, you generally want to try and train the most neurologically demanding first, then as the skill gets easier it gets pushed down the priority list. I know crossfit has kind of tossed that idea out the window, but their focus is general fitness, not specific skills training.

Glad I could help out. Feel free to paraphrase this and push it out if you think others would benefit from it.

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Nathan Cragg is currently a FIST (Fire Support Team) Staff Sergeant section chief and Modern Army Combatives Program Level II instructor for the Colorado National Guard. Having served active duty time as well as two tours to Iraq, he knows the hardships encountered. Being involved with law enforcement and fire service since early high school; his drive is to help prepare fellow firefighters, police officers and soldiers to be their physical best. Nathan has attained Field Coach certification for TACFIT by surviving the gauntlet of six protocols wave back to back. Also has been involved with Russian kettlebells, olympic weightlifting and a Precision Nutrition Practitioner. Some talk about being experts of training these professions, but very few have actual done it and truly know what it takes. http://www.redwhiteandbluefitness.com

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