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Force On Force Training: As Real As It Gets

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What is Force on Force Training?

What is Force on Force Training?

Force on force training is scenario-based training that induces the fear and stress of a life-threatening situation using role players and real firearms that fire non-lethal ammunition.

Students working entries during a force on force class.

Range Time Alone is Not Enough

For most citizens firearms training consists of target shooting on a flat range. While range time is critical to learn shooting basics, it will not prepare you for the fight of your life.

The flat range is where you learn your stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger press. 

But, many ranges do not allow shooters to draw from a holster or concealment. Some ranges do not allow slide lock reloads at speed. In some cases, rapid-fire shooting is not permitted. 

Find out what your local range will allow as far as firearms training. (And while you’re there, try some of these drills for the indoor range.)

Myles teaching a Pistol Skill Development class

A shooter can become a good marksman at a flat range, which is important to gun handling development. Yet, that silhouette at 7-yards doesn’t shoot back, move, or threaten you when you shoot it. There is little or no stress at the range.

Adding Realism To Your Training

Once shooters have a good grasp of marksmanship, they need to push beyond mere shooting. If they want to improve their self-defense skills, they need to add more realistic training to their regimen.

Myles competes at a USPSA match.

Action shooting, IDPA and USPSA matches introduce the shooter to new scenarios. Moving, reloading, and shooting against time build skills needed to live through a gunfight.

Matchmakers can design stages to simulate a self-defense situation. Multiple targets, moving targets, hostages that can’t be shot. Competitions design stages to make the shooter begin to think with a gun in their hands. But, the targets are still not shooting back.

Reality-Based Scenarios

If a person is serious about defending themselves and their loved ones, force on force is a must.

Force on force training scenarios

From flat range and competition shooting, one’s marksmanship skills will become second nature. It’s now time to shoot against a human adversary.

The scenarios developed by professional trainers mimic situations a citizen may encounter.

  • A carjacking at a busy intersection or in the midst of civil unrest
  • An attack at a grocery store parking lot
  • A robbery at the ATM
  • A home invasion scenario

These are only some scenarios out of many.

With the role players ready, the scenario plays out and induces stress and fear in the trainee. Human adversaries move unpredictably and quickly.

With fear and adrenaline, the human mind undergoes some interesting changes. For example, shooters can experience tunnel vision and auditory exclusion.

These physiological changes do not occur when target shooting or competing. But, when another human with a real gun is trying to shoot you, your response changes and the training experience becomes invaluable.

Here’s a highlight video from one of our Force on Force classes:

Why Are Reality-Based Scenarios So Important?

The old adage that you will “revert to the level of your training” is absolutely true in a real-life defensive situation. 

You will not rise to new heights of performance when you find yourself in a gunfight. 

If you have not trained at a level that mimics a violent encounter, your mind, and thus your body, cannot respond in a way that ensures your survival.

It doesn’t matter if you shoot at the range often or have the best home defense gun, if you cannot read a situation quickly, make fast decisions, and solve complex problems and situations, you’ll likely be in a bad situation in a real deadly conflict.

How Does Force-on-Force Training Work?

Each scenario is designed to put the trainee in a situation that induces stress and fear. The brain begins to perform at a higher level of output each time a stressful situation occurs. The process of repeatedly training at a high level of stress and fear inoculates the trainee against poor performance.

Force on force role players help provide a 'real-life' training experience.

The role of the ‘attacker’ is to move quickly and unpredictably as the scenario unfolds. The ‘attacker’ may be shooting at the trainee or coming at them with a knife or club.

The trainee will learn that violence often occurs at arm’s length. And getting their gun into action is more difficult than drawing from concealment at the range.

The speed at which the attack occurs forces quick decision-making and problem-solving with a gun in hand. Remember, the vast majority of violent encounters occur from three feet to nine feet. The attack lasts an average of three seconds with an average of three rounds fired.

Force on Force Gear and Equipment


Glock Simunition Conversion Kit for Force on Force

Most trainers that offer force-on-force training will provide the training weapons and gear.

It is absolutely critical that no live (lethal) ammunition is present in the training area. The firearms are real guns that are modified. Rifles use a special bolt while pistols use a barrel that do not allow live ammunition to chamber. The firearms will only chamber and fire training ammunition.

Other options may include the use of Airsoft or paintball guns. Though not as realistic as training with the guns a person may carry daily, the threat of being hit with a painful projectile makes the training and the learning effective.


Marker rounds used in force on force training.

The most common ammo used in force-on-force are marker rounds from UTM or Simunitions

The ammunition allows the gun to fire, to have recoil and muzzle flip, and will fire a projectile that hits with some authority so you feel it. Some ammunition is designed to mark you with paint like in paintball.

Protective Gear

Force on Force helmets

Because the firearms are shooting a projectile, face and eye protection are mandatory. There is no shortage of scenario-based training products in the market.

Many force-on-force trainers use a full helmet with a protective shield to provide a wide field of view. Goggles with a face shield and head protection can also be used. Gloves are recommended to protect your hands as well as a groin protector.

The rounds are going to hurt you and may cause bruising or leave a welt. That is part of force-on-force training. Getting ‘shot’ shortens the learning curve.

Pain is a great teacher. It will help you develop skills to avoid attacks, use cover, and create space between you and your attacker(s). For this reason, trainers discourage students from using body armor unless they do so for work.

Force on Force: The Bottom Line

Force-on-force training is critical to your development as an armed citizen. There is a reason why law enforcement and the military use reality-based training often.

You should be comfortable and confident with your firearm before seeking this type of advanced training. Take advantage of the training at your local range as well as competitive events like IDPA or USPSA matches to learn how to run your gun and shoot.

Force-on-force classes are an investment in you. One class, like one match, will not make you a gunfighter. Be prepared to invest in several classes to learn how you perform under stress. 

Finally, make the decision and book your force-on-force class. Soak up every nugget of knowledge your trainers share. After, think of different scenarios to continue training your mind to deal with them.

As Col. Cooper said so, “Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician”. Training is what makes you armed.

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About the author


Myles is the Founder of Tactical Hyve, a competitive shooter, and a life-long student of all things dealing with the tactical and self-defense worlds.

5 thoughts on “Force On Force Training: As Real As It Gets”

  1. When my step-uncle, a policeman, told me last week that he’s gonna participate in a force-on-force training session next month, I instantly remember this article. Indeed, reality-based simulations are something law enforcement officers must go through to prepare their mind in case exact situations happen. I must make sure he won’t forget this tip when carrying out further actions soon.

  2. hi , i would like to take a pistol force on force training , cleaning structures, cqb.
    Do you accept international students? I have been a IDPA shooter for several years, so I have experience with handguns.
    tks a lot

    Carlos Osman

  3. Do you know if there is any force on force training classes in the state of kentucky. I live in Frankfort, Kentucky And I would like to see if there is any classes in this state. I would appreciate any assistance or information. Thank you so much, and thank you for your YouTube channel.

    • Hey Tim, unfortunately, we do not. In general, it can be difficult to find reputable FoF training depending on where you live.


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