There is a dangerous perception among preppers, survivalists, patriots, and others in the liberty movement that one can learn to be very, very expert at a given skill set without any sort of instruction or evaluation from a recognized SME (Subject Matter Expert) or school. Sure, these days, one can find any public source point of information they desire on the internet on all things tactical. The mind boggles at the amount of information available. These sources are a gold mine, no question about it! And if that’s all you can do, or afford, then, as they say, ‘it is what it is’ and you do the best you can with what you’ve got.
However, where the individual or group wanting to learn falls short (waaay short) is in the mistaken belief that without any professional training in the concepts, principles, and fundamentals of the subject or skill in question, that they can become proficient. Proficient as, say, a school graduate in some of the more complex skill sets. Rare is the man or woman who can achieve skill on par with those who’ve been taught the basics at a professional school, let alone those who’ve continued their education and training in a system proven to produce expertise!
When one looks at the history of tradecraft in the world, it’s not hard to find the Guild System. Greatly simplified, the Guilds had a three step system to learn the craft the guild specialized in: Apprentice, Craftsman, and Master Craftsman. Each of these titles had many sub-steps required to achieve. Yes, even, “Apprentice,” because in order to become an apprentice, the candidate had to be sponsored or evaluated on their potential to become a craftsman in the Guild. This system is still in use today in the ‘skilled trades’. Take carpentry for example: One can be a ‘hobby carpenter’ all he or she wants, learning as they go, and build beautiful things in their garage or basement all day long, selling them in local craft shows, but if that person were to advertise themselves as a ‘master carpenter,’ they could be easily challenged by anyone who has been recognized by the skilled trade (guild) as a master carpenter and be rightfully called a ‘poseur’.
One cannot be self-taught and perform to the level of a professionally taught person except in extremely rare (like hen’s teeth rare) circumstances. Self-teaching does not allow for objective feedback on the precision, efficiency, form, and accuracy of the skill being learned that having a solid instructor team does. There is one other exception to self-teaching: A person who’s been professionally trained at a school or a series of schools having had time performing the skill involved to become competent to the level that he or she can perform the complete task series quickly and accurately, can tell or show others how to do the task series correctly, can predict, identify, and resolve problems about the task series, and can evaluate conditions and make proper decisions about the subject area, is capable, in almost all cases, of successfully teaching themselves new things about the subject in question or related subjects with no loss in performance capability. We define such people as ‘Subject Matter Experts (SME’s). The only problem we’ve found with SME’s is sometimes they equate expertise in their own ‘lane’ (subject matter area) with expertise in all areas, and basically ‘get outside of their lane’ and gum up the works. There was a saying we had in the AF that pretty much covered it when dealing with retrained officers in our field, “Look, Sir, you might have been a ‘hot shit pilot’, but you don’t know dick about ground tactics.”
When relating to field training for SHTF/WROL situations, this is why we are very careful to always encourage people to get to a good school that teaches sound doctrine and recognized skill sets. We also do not call the Neighborhood Protection Team member any of the more ‘romantic’ sounding names in their training or at the completion of their training. We teach a series of classes called, “Essential Skills: Training the Trainer.” It’s foundational information and skill sets. It’s the start or review of all things basic. There is no professional title, no military sounding title: military titles come from the military.
The training provides a foundation of skills sets taught by professionally trained staff that the individual selected by his or her group, or starting to form a group as the NPT member or leader, can competently perform to the level they are trained when practicing the tasks outlined in, “A Failure of Civility” (Garand/Lawson) we so often bring up as a source document for planning NPT employment.
The paradox of self-teaching is this: After gaining all the concepts, principles, tasks, sub-tasks, and subject terminology possible, the self-teacher still doesn’t know how to translate the intellectual information gained into physical performance that includes timing, coordination, and transition from one task or sub-task to another. You need a teacher to do that.
As stated earlier, that’s why DTG is consistent when we say, “Can’t get here? Go to JC’s, S12’s, Culper’s, Dan Morgan, Mosby’s, Kerodin’s III CQB, Informops, or any other good school you can find, but get your training!”