I'm Garrick Fernbaugh and I'm the founder of High Value Target LLC. I was attached to SEAL Teams 3 & 5 as well as a tour as a SEAL instructor. Navy SEAL (1988 - 2008). I did 5 over sea's deployments in the Teams, including a deployment to Iraq. I had the privilege of being a SEAL instructor from 2000-2003. It was an infamous time to be an instructor, many of those who graduated from training became well known and unfortunately, many were also KIA. During this time I also became a Master Training Specialist. In pursuing the MTS certification I learned how to create, implement and maintain a formal training program. Later, that education and experience became a critical component in creating my courses and curriculum.
Following my military service I began contracting, OGA (2008-2015). I did more than 20 deployments in 7 years, spending about 4 years on the ground in Afghanistan. Following my work in Afghanistan (2015) I started a company in partnership with my former fiancé, known as Red Frog. Initially, I provided Active Shooter response solutions by conducting seminars, threat assessments and training for law enforcement. I felt qualified to teach Active Shooter solutions due to my personal experience, which ultimately resulted in being awarded the Agency Seal Medal.
In 2016, the company shifted focus to solely providing tactical training to military, law enforcement and civilians. Unfortunately, the company was created in partnership with my former fiance´. In June of 2019, I reluctantly announced I was no longer affiliated with the company I had formed.
Describing the effort put forth in creating my curriculum for Red Frog is important because it lends credibility to the targets that were subsequently developed.
Rather, than fighting for the company in court, I started a new company based on a concept to significantly improve training. Like many training instructors at the time, I was running a cardboard silhouette target. As I analyzed my own experiences and what needed to be taught, I realized the training aides, ie; the targets were lacking the concepts required to provide better training.
What I'm doing with HVT, is what I've always been good at and that's understanding how we program ourselves to repeat what we've learned in stressful situations. Fairly early in my career in the Teams I noticed I was able carry on a discussion about tactics and Immediate Action Drills (IAD's) with the most senior guys. Tactics, has always been a love of mine. As just E-5 I was teaching IAD's to other SEAL's at the advanced training level (not BUDS), as well as other topics related to tactics, firearms and demolitions.
I built the curriculum and courses for Red Frog from the ground up, in contrast to simply regurgitating what I had been previously taught. I began by breaking down all of the various missions I performed while in the SEAL Teams and while working for the CIA. Then, listed under each mission profile a list of shooting positions and weapon positions that I had used, or felt are applicable. There is some overlap as you might expect, as some positions are used across multiple mission profiles. While some are mostly used for only one mission profile. The prone position is a decent example, it's a valuable position for land warfare and urban combat, but not CQC. Sometimes, in combat getting into various positions very rapidly is required. During the shooting assessment required for the CIA position, there was tremendous emphasis upon shooting from different positions, at various distances and often, getting into positions very rapidly.
In creating my courses, I also assessed what we actually do in combat. For example, we shoot on the move, we run, then shoot. We turn a corner to enter a room and we use multiple types of cover. We are often engaging from and around vehicles, these are just a few examples. Understanding what we actually do in combat is first, and leads to identifying the various shooting positions and weapon positions. The current tactics being employed also have bearing on the various weapon positions that we may choose to rehearse. Then, shooting drills are listed that directly apply to what we do in combat. More than that, it's time to assess whether or not the shooting drills, weapon positions and shooting positions we've historically used are still relevant. Training time is valuable and we ought not waste our time practicing anything that isn't optimal in combat.
Every sport evolves and the sport of shooting is no exception. However, combat is a sport of sorts that should be differentiated from competition shooting. Consider for a moment the forces that are influencing combat related skills. For example, while I was in the SEAL teams we would often receive training from stellar shooters, guys who were known in the competition shooting community as being at the top of their game. I also appreciate how these guys would strive to make things relevant to combat. The concept of thinking 3 dimensional, thinking about how a bullet passes through the body and ultimately aiming for the heart and the cerebellum is something I probably heard 20 years ago, at Mid South.
However, shooting at a cardboard silhouette and most targets for that matter, does not allow you (the shooter) to train yourself to think in a 3-D manner. We are truly products of our training and to a large extent we respond during life threatening situations according to our training. Through repetition we create a process that is subconsciously repeated in the heat of the moment, that is the essence of training. So, if we aren't training with the right targets and reinforcing the desired cognitive process, just how in the hell are we to expect ourselves to perform it in the heat of the moment? The 3-D concept that I first heard more than 20 years ago, essentially went in one ear and out the other. That happened, because the training aides required to develop and reinforce the process did not exist.
It seems the sport of actual combat and the science that should accompany it, is not receiving the same scientific analysis that say, training for Olympic sports is.
In every professional sport, footwork, balance, diet and workout regimen are scrutinized under a microscope. But, when it comes to ultimate sport, in which life and death are literally at stake, we've stayed glued to old training paradigms. New blood, younger folks come along but, to a large extent we're teaching each other the same bag of tricks that have been around for 30+ years. What significant changes have really happened?
The 3-D target system I've created is much more than better targets, it's a training paradigm shift.
I realized a 3-D target was needed to properly prepare for combat situations. To clarify use of the word combat, I define combat as being engaged against a lethal threat. According to my definition, military, law enforcement and even civilians may find themselves engaged in combat.
In the quest to provide the best tactical training possible I have reflected upon my own experiences and the experiences of others. It's been my experience that the Threat is seldomly squared off, basically standing there waiting to be shot. It's also been my experience that people are moving, running, hiding, or using cover and shooting back.
Targets are training aides that directly effect the quality of our training.
During real world situations threats present themselves at various angles, up to 360º around the clock. Like a hunter, we need to be thinking about where to shoot on the body. There are two places we should be aiming for, the heart and the base of the brain, also known as the cerebellum.
"There isn't time to think", just get rounds on target.
...There is time to think and the neuroscientists at MIT proved it. But, the right training aides are required.
In 2014, A team of neuroscientists from M-I-T found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. This break through was the first evidence the brain can process images far faster than the 100 milliseconds suggested by previous studies.
The study proved, we can process an image in just 13 thousandths of a second. Following this logic its reasonable to assume a decision can be made regarding where to shoot in the same amount of time, IF the proper training is provided. What this means for shooters is that in as little as 13 thousandths of a second you can understand there is man pointing a rifle at you and wearing a Plate Carrier. The next step is simply seeing where to shoot.
Interestingly enough, processing images is what we naturally begin doing when we're faced with a life threatening situation. We begin taking mental snap shots of what is happening, which is responsible for the phenomenon that time has slowed down. During life threatening moments we often begin processing images like individual frames of a video, very rapidly.
Processing an image in as little as 13 thousandths of a second and following it up with a decision about where to shoot is referred to as Image Processing Training™ (IPT).
Training to shoot center mass is a training paradigm that has existed for over 30 years. It's time for the sport of combat to evolve, it's time to raise the bar. IPT is a game changer, it is the future of tactical training and it's foundations are rooted in combat experience and neuroscience. IPT is thinking and shooting, in contrast, training to shoot center mass, is akin to training ourselves not to think.
In summary, IPT is (1) Processing an image (2) seeing where to shoot.
One thing certain is 100% certain, you cannot train yourself to cognitively engage a Threat when shooting at a cardboard silhouette, or any target for that matter that does not present a 3-D image.
There are two places that count, the heart and the cerebellum. Both locations are roughly the size of a fist and require 3-D thinking to penetrate them. In other words, the shooter needs to think about how the round will pass through the body to (hopefully) impact the intended area. Its not rocket science, hunters do this when taking deer and elk. In fact, ethical hunters won't even take a shot if they can't shoot the animal properly.
There are two Threat Elimination Zones™ on the body, the heart and cerebellum of the brain.
There is an old training adage that say's, "you can't miss fast enough." I'm sure most reading this are aware of people/ threats, being engaged upwards of 15 times. The reason why is because, not one round hit one of the two Threat Elimination Zones.™ Here's an example, in 2014 during an attack at the Embassy annex in Kabul, a good friend encountered one of terrorists wearing US Army fatigues. The uncertain circumstances almost cost him his life, as the terrorist rapidly produced the AK from his side and placed two rounds on his ballistic plates. Fortunately, Ray had aimed in on his head. He absorbed the two rounds and pressed trigger, canoeing his head. He attempted to put more rounds into the body, but it fell so fast that all subsequent rounds went over the top. THIS, is what we all need to be aiming for, pun intended. Often, more than one person is engaging the same threat and no one is hitting one of two Threat Elimination Zones™.
Real world situations are all about angles, this reality is why our targets are portrayed at up to 5 different angles, 360º around the clock.
What we also desperately need are relevant weapons and target characters that are represent the threats we are training to engage. Target characters need to be depicted with appropriate weapons, gear and clothing. Targets featuring someone who looks like the friendly next door neighbor, or an off-duty cop holding a snub-nose .38, are no longer relevant for most training scenario's.
Near Peer, is a relatively new term and refers to enemy combatants wearing similar gear, plate carriers, helmets and weapons with optics.
The term is Near Peer threat refers to threats that our troops are encountering, or are likely to encounter, that are geared up in a similar fashion to US troops. The term may also be applied to law enforcement. Near Peer threat targets may also be referred to as new and emerging threats. The targets currently being made by most target manufacturers do not depict new and emerging threats.
The target above was made at the request of DEVGROUP and reflects a Near Peer threat. The picture on the right is of Qasem Soleimani, who was an Iranian General and commander of the QUDS Force, an IRGC division primarily responsible for extraterritorial and clandestine military operations. The target was made depicting the solider (pictured) to the left of Soleimani.
Play along for a moment and assume that you just entered a room to find the QUDS force soldier (target) above in the position pictured. As you've been trained, you begin firing center mass. Now, who do you think is going to win that gun fight? There are double stacked AK mags across his chest and a big clump of steel, otherwise known as an AK-47 blocking just about any and all rounds sent towards the torso. The fact is, if you haven't trained yourself to assess the target and think about where to shoot, you'll lose that gun fight. I know, you're thinking you'll go for pelvic girdle shot. #1, that is still thinking about where to shoot and that space the same size as the head. #2, the pelvic girdle shot is not going to kill the man. Without going into a dissertation about it, it will not eliminate the threat as you would need to in this situation. If he is intent on killing you, he will fall to the ground and continue shooting, you.
In brainstorming the perfect target, I initially considered foam molds and pressed plastic silhouettes. A search online revealed some options, some of which weren't too bad. So, I asked myself, "why hadn't we been shooting at these when I was in the SEAL Teams and with the CIA? As I pondered the question and read the product description the answer became obvious, "you can shoot this target upwards of 1000 times;" As the rounds pass through the plastic or the foam, it's difficult if not impossible to identify where the rounds impacted, so there is virtually no shot accountability. Professionals must have shot accountability, assessment of shot placement is crucial for training instructors and students.
Fewer rounds will be fired in combat when training with 3-D targets. People are getting shot upwards of 15 times in combat when one well placed round would end the fight. The answer is contained in our training, as we are not thinking and shooting.
What we should be aiming at is the size of a fist, the heart and the base of the brain. There is a training adage that says, "aim small miss small." Many have heard it, but the importance of the concept is easily lost when shooting on a target with lines and hit zones.
By looking at and shooting at target characters posed at different angles the shooter is subconsciously training themselves to instantly see those locations after "processing the image". Through repetition we create a process that is repeated subconsciously under stress. Rehearsing a holster draw is an example of this, as the saying goes, "perfect practice makes perfect." The HVT 3-D target system is based upon the same principal, through repetition of shooting the targets the shooter is training themselves to identify the Threat Elimination Zones™ on the body; As mentioned, there are two, the heart and the cerebellum of the brain. Understanding the importance of the psychological piece is understanding the value of the targets.
Training that emphasizes cognitive shooting and 3-D thinking can not be accomplished without the use of a 3-D target. After careful deliberation about how to accomplish a 3-D training aide it was decided that shot-accountability is the primary driving factor, therefore plastic and foam target options were eliminated as possibilities. For reasons of cost and versatility, it was decided the targets must be cardboard, or paper.
Targets incorporating 3-D images are the next substantial evolution in the science of contemporary combat. There is a distinct difference between Target Shooting and training to eliminate the threat of an armed opponent. Generally, it may be said, the more realistic our training is, the better it is. Stepping up to a 3-D target system increases realism and training value. Targets are just training aides and better training begins with better training aides.