Other than the Magpul Dynamics DVDs that helped put him on the map, I have never seen one of Travis Haley’s training classes. Furthermore, on my recent visit to Phoenix, I only had one day to spare and Haley had only a couple free hours, so I did not have a chance to see his new Haley Strategic Partners training facility in action.
I am intrigued, nonetheless, by the motto of Haley Strategic Train, “Thinkers Before Shooters.” The sentiment is no doubt born of Haley’s experience as a war gunfighter, including the experience in West Africa I described in my last post. Reflecting on that event, Haley concludes, “My brain drove the fight, not the gun or the technique.”
With a training facility in its new headquarters, HSP can more fully implement its motto. Drawing on the science of human movement (biomechanics), interaction with machines (ergonomics) and mental processing (cognitive science and conative science), the new “training lab” at HSP is at heart a sports performance center for shooters.
While Disruptive Science “D5 Science” and “D3 Environments” courses will continue to be offered around the country (I have my eye on one “D5” course next year in North Carolina), the core of the on-site training will be the “D7 Performance” course using VirTra five panel V-300 and single panel V-100 force options simulators.
While giving me a tour of the training lab, Travis Haley discussed Malcolm Gladwell’s famous invocation of the “10,000 hour rule” in his best-selling 2008 book, Outliers: The Story of Success. According to this rule, the key to becoming “world-class” in any domain of performance — music, sports, and games — is to engage in deliberate practice for around 10,000 hours (20 hours a week for 10 years). Haley contends that the VirTra simulators and other technologies available at HSP can facilitate peak performance through deliberate training and practice much more quickly.
Here, myelination is critical, Haley continues. Myelination is the process by which nerves in the human body are covered by myelin, a lipid that helps speed conduction of nerve impulses. This occurs predominantly from in utero through age 12. However, “there is growing evidence to support the idea that neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and myelin remodelling dynamically and co-operatively alter the structure and function of neural circuits in the adult [central nervous system].”
If HSP’s technologies tap into these processes, Haley believes, he can dramatically speed the development of shooting skills in his adult students.
Haley freely admits that he suffers from a traumatic brain injury and PTSD, and his exploration of cognitive science — including understanding neural plasticity in the core of the central nervous system — surely has to do with his own struggles. This may be best represented in the Signature Series art work by Keomaka titled “My Fight” displayed in the showroom at HSP (and available for sale on Keomaka’s web site).
More generally, Haley’s work in this area is driven by his desire to improve himself and others. As he tells me, “I want myself and everyone who works with me to wake up feeling empty. Feeling like you need to do something to feel fuller. Otherwise you end up full of yourself.”
In the end, Haley wants to help his students develop such that, “whether they pull a gun or not, they make the world a better place.” Ultimately, then, the real motto of Travis Haley and Haley Strategic Train may be “PEOPLE BEFORE SHOOTERS.”