How Weapons Training Made me a Better Leader

Weapons training is an essential part of any military’s training program. Soldiers need to understand how to safely operate their weapons as a part of their duties. This was no different for me in the Canadian Forces. However, I did not expect that a weapons lesson would eventually transform itself into a leadership lesson.

When I was going through my basic-level training I had an intense weapons instructor. He definitely placed a lot of stress on us candidates to conduct our drills quickly and get “rounds down range” as fast as possible. However, I can still hear three words which eventually changed the way I thought about leadership:

Smooth is fast.

His point was simple, the smoother we did our drills the quicker we were able to do them. Rushing through them fumbling magazines, missing buttons, etc cost time and in the worst-case scenario could end in disaster with a negligent discharge.

So how does this relate to leadership? Think about when a crisis arises, this is when your leadership skills will be tried to the extreme. You do not have the time to fumble your way through, nor do you have the flexibility for mistakes. So keep those words in your mind…

Smooth is fast

So how do you be smooth? You take a moment to sit back and relax. Yes relax. When people are relaxed they see the fuller picture, they are able to keep themselves emotionally calm. They make better decisions because they can analyse the complete situation and plan.

Whenever a crisis arises I take a calming moment which I refer to as the condor moment. It basically means I take the equivalent time it would take to smoke a cigar to keep calm, think about what has happened, what needs to happen and how to do it. It is empowering for so many reasons. As well, and most importantly it has significant impact on your people which is critical.

Interested in learning more about how to lead through a crisis then check out my podcast episode on it. As a leader it is your responsibility to lead your organization through any crisis, big or small. So keep those three little words in the back of your mind, smooth is fast, and no doubt in my mind you will be putting your “rounds down range” before you know it and putting them back on target.