What course should I take next and what is a Firearms Instructor Development Course?

Many new Instructors and students ask me “What course should I take next?” My answer is always the same, any course that enhances your skills as a “student of weapons-craft” and those that offer more than just a course of fire designed to make you a better shooter. The courses I am speaking about are those that teach you things like the importance of having good situational awareness, evaluating points of access and egress in each location you find yourself in, including an evaluation of transitional spaces and those that teach you a variety of force options or some kind of use of force continuum if you will. Additionally courses that teach you how to prepare yourself for the aftermath of a self-defense incident where you had to use non-lethal or heaven forbid, lethal force.

These courses should also emphasize that your first option should always be to avoid, evade and then if necessary counter your threat rather than going for the gun immediately. The gun should be a tool of the last resort, period.

I tend to go a little further in my answer by saying that one should have skills in non-lethal methods of engagement, such as OC or “pepper spray” and of course empty-hand Combatives, maybe even one or two of the various martial arts. My personal choices for many reasons, but mostly because I studied both of these extensively are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or “BJJ” and Jeet Kune Do or “JKD.”

For empty-hand Combatives I always recommend to find someone who was trained by the late Bill Underwood first, Bill is the father of empty hands Combatives. Right now the top Combatives trainer in the game, again, in my opinion, is Kelly McCann with Kembatives Brand, honestly, I do not know Kelly and I do not know who trained him, but his program of instruction is spot on and very similar to what I was taught by my mentor Mike Griffin, who was a personal friend of Bill Underwood.

Circling back to Instructor Development Courses…

The NRA’s Firearm Training Program is a true Instructor Development Program. Most people start by becoming an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and yes many people in the industry talk down the program, but truth be told in my intermediate and advanced level shooting courses the first drill I start with is the NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting course pre-course qualification and you’d be surprised how many people, (Even nationally known trainers) who have failed to shoot a 6″ group at 15 yards cold on demand. Yeah, they don’t know that first drill is actually the NRA’s Instructor Pistol Shooting course pre-course qualification, but when I tell them their collective “oh man, I suck” comments sound like an echo.

So what it an Instructor Development course? Is it a course where you listen to a bunch of lecture and then are driven out on the firing line to run a bunch of drills where you are the shooter and NEVER once do a teach-back of any kind on the material presented by the Instructor or even run a drill on the line with your fellow Instructor candidates? That is not an Instructor Development course, and how could it be? That is just a money grab from the Instructor, and some build little cults teaching like this, believe it.

Furthermore is taking a written test and passing a couple qualifications that are not that difficult an Instructor Development course evaluation? I don’t think so, it could be a good student level course.

Yep, that’s what happens in most of these so-called “Firearms Instructor Development” courses and it is ridiculous if you ask me. (I know you didn’t ask me, but this is my blog so you’ll get my qualified and educated opinion)

Recently I attended a three-day Instructor Development course and it was exactly what an Instructor Development course should be. What made this Instructor Development course stand out was the fact on TD1 the Chief Instructor and his staff, there were five (5) total staff instructors asked each individual candidate what they were there to learn. The Chief Instructor readily admitted that he doesn’t know what we know and wanted to make sure that each person got what they came for, that was a big takeaway for me, the Chief Instructor was fully engaged at all times and each candidate did a teach-back on the range selecting one of five or six different drills offered by the staff. During the teach-back the candidate was teaching a couple Staff Instructors with the rest of the candidates observing and then at the end there was an evaluation or the good, and of course the areas that needed to be improved.

This course was not a “Certification” it was all about development and that was refreshing in a world where people want to collect “Certifications” to list on their C/V or website.

Now, I have seen just about all of it, when you travel the country teaching classes as I do and having dinner with students on the road they give you feedback and most tell me that courses that do not pressure test the Instructor Candidates ability to deliver a block of instruction in a classroom environment and on the range with a range exercise are just a “Paper Credential” and I agree with them. So, are you into collecting paper or are you into getting coaching on how to be a teacher, trainer, coach, and mentor?

Let me circle back to this recent Instructor Development course, it was a wealth of knowledge on everything from basic fundamentals to moving while shooting, communication with partners/friendlies, proper use of cover and concealment, room clearing and even a block of instruction on tactical medical procedures and tourniquet application, along with starting a business and talking about things like range and firearms instructor liability insurance and so much more.

The block of instruction on tourniquet application is something that I added into my courses about three years ago and soon I will be requiring each individual student in my range intensive courses to bring their own tourniquet and have it on their person throughout the course, right now I have a fully-stocked trauma bag at each course and the range that I teach at full-time has a fully-functional AED or Automated External Defibrillator, when I am on the road I take my own AED with me.

Now let’s talk about certificate collectors, I have no problem with them, attending courses and getting more training is what we as trainers encourage our students to do. In fact, I encourage all of my students to take as many courses as their pocketbook will allow and from as many different trainers as they can. My binder of certificates include many you would recognize and I have taken multiple courses with people all across the country.

Earlier this year I was invited to attend an Instructor Development course as a guest to evaluate the POI or Program of Instruction and was even provided ammunition and a place to stay, all I had to come up with was travel expenses, rental car, and food. Several of my closest friends know about these offers and they also know that I am the type of person who will refuse the “freebies” and will pay the tuition because that gives me the ability to speak freely about the course and write about my experience(s) in this blog.

Oh, by the way, I was to evaluate a nationally known Law Enforcement Instructor Development course next week, unfortunately, the course was rescheduled due to a death and I will be doing that in September now.

Again, this is my qualified opinion based upon my years of education, training, and experience in this arena and as we know in order to have a qualified opinion on a particular subject you must have the education, training, and experience in that specialized field otherwise your opinion is just like that thing that you expel waste out of your body from while sitting on the crapper.

A Firearms Instructor Development course is one that as I say, pressure tests the candidate in a variety of situations, not just standing in cement on the firing line and mediocre course of fire then a couple qualifications and then take a written test. An Instructor Development course pressure tests each candidate to actually present assigned curriculum either on the range or in the classroom, I prefer a range drill myself so I can evaluate the Instructors ability to explain, demonstrate, imitate and coach his or her students through the exercise.

An Instructor should allow the student to run drills at 50% speed to get familiar with the drill and then allow them to gradually increase the speed until the point of failure or in our case “misses” and then evaluate with the student why they missed. I give a lot of one-on-one coaching as I walk my firing line in the courses I teach because it is important to give feedback to the student, that is what they crave, interaction with the trainer.

This going full-speed just to shoot fast is ridiculous, you must be able to shoot good first, speed will come over more and more repetition. A famous quote attributed to legendary lawman Wyatt Earp goes as follows, “Fast is fine, accuracy is final.”

An Instructor Development course should also include a short exit interview with each candidate, not just a certificate presentation ceremony full of pomp and circumstance and photos for social media. This exit interview should be conducted by the chief instructor and any assistant instructors. It should be used as a tool to help the Instructor candidate understand their strengths and weaknesses and give them an opportunity to give feedback on the course in a closed-door session so the candidate can speak candidly without his or her peers in the room. This exit interview should only last 5 or so minutes.

I will be offering a one-day and two-day Firearms Instructor Development course very shortly and soon my two-day course will be approved in Florida as a “State Certified” program eligible for those graduates to teach Firearms Safety Courses for Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearms License applicants, stay tuned, that will be coming.

Lastly, it is my recommendation that all Instructors take some kind of continuing education throughout the year. Yeah, I know many do not have an unlimited budget to travel the country and take courses, that’s why you must seek out not only Instructor level courses, but solid student level courses and try to increase your skills, that will make you a better trainer, teacher, coach and mentor to your students.

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant be the best, and as always, live life abundantly!

Train hard so you can fight easy!

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Help a complete stranger, for the greater good.

Late yesterday evening I received a call from a close friend of mine in the firearms training industry, and when I say late it was past 10:00pm. My Mother, God rest her soul always said that when someone calls late at night it is never good news and Mom was right. When I answered the phone, my friend told me that a trainer in the industry had passed away on Saturday morning.

Now, when my friend told me this man’s name I have to admit, my very first thought was, “Karma got him.” You see, this person had beared false witness against myself online and was generally a person that I felt would stab you in the back not knowing you rather as he did to me rather than taking the time to see the big picture and all sides.

In case you didn’t know, many people both men and women in the firearms training industry are exactly this way, believe me, this man was not a loner in his capacity to troll others on social media and buy into group think.

Candidly, we have all types in this industry, a veritable melting pot including those who are supposedly industry leaders yet who associate themselves with known felons all for the love of money and then there are the fools who act like big shots on social media with their incessant trolling and stalking of others who hold them accountable for their unprofessional behavior. Yet others who pencil whip certificates and then act holier than thou in touting their training. Seriously, there are several metric tons of these kinds of people in the firearms training industry.

Now I never trained with this man who passed away, and the one time that he held a course in the Tampa Bay area I was already locked in to teaching a course myself and couldn’t change it; however, he had called me several times asking me to host a course for him, (Obviously before the backstabbing he participated in) and even had a mutual friend ask me to host a course for him. The only person I that I know who has trained with him said it was adequate training, nothing earth shattering.

However, while speaking with my friend last night and hearing that this man left a wife and young children at home I felt bad for both for the deceased and his family. Seriously, even though this man had stabbed me in the back multiple times my feelings changed from “Karma got him” to, what can I do to help his family?

This man served our country honorably and as a fellow honorably discharged veteran I respect his service and I’m pretty sure he was not set financially for several lifetimes as some people are, so I decided to make a monetary donation directly to his family. Yes that’s right I donated to this man’s family even after what he did to me and he did it more than once.

My challenge to you today and every day is to do something nice for someone and or help a complete stranger for the greater good.

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant be the best, and as always, live life abundantly!

Train hard so you can fight easy!

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The importance of giving a Safety Briefing and developing an Emergency Procedures Plan for your courses.

Last year while teaching a Counter Ambush course to a mixed class of Law Enforcement Officers and Licensed Security Guards, one of my students, a forty-seven (47) year old male experienced a myocardial infarction, that is the medical term for a heart attack. When I spoke with him last week he got on me a little for not posting this blog and talking about this very important topic, he has long since returned to full-duty and is doing very well.

Let me give you a little background, a little over a month prior to that particular course I purchased a Phillips HeartStart OnSite Automated External Defibrillator or AED like the one in the link above. This had been something I was wanting to do for a year or so before and in my opinion, it is an essential piece of equipment for any firearms instructor obviously along with a well-stocked trauma bag/medical kit.

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On the day of the event, I had given a safety briefing and knew that I had a Paramedic and two EMT’s in the course. Knowing that made it easy for me to volunteer them to act in case of a medical emergency. All three had brought their personal trauma bags, but none had an AED with them. Just so you know, they all carry an AED in their vehicles now.

Let us start with the outline of a good safety briefing. The National Rifle Association recommends that each safety briefing should encompass the following:

  • The purpose of the shooting event/Introduction of Range Personnel
  • Range layout and limits
  • Range safety rules
  • Firing line commands
  • Emergency Procedures

In these items, there are plenty of subcategories that we can get into, for the purposes of this blog posting I am only going to focus on Emergency Procedures.

Since I teach a wide variety of curriculum mostly my own, I have had to develop my own set of emergency procedures that are able to be modified to meet the needs of the various venues where I teach throughout the country. One very important thing to remember is that your emergency procedures plan must comply with any local range rules and standard operating procedures on dealing with such incidents. This is precisely why communication with your course host and or the range owners and operators is so important.

Take a look at this short video by Ken Hackathorn, “Prerequisites for Taking Your Training Classes on the Road.” In this video, Ken addresses the safety briefing for traveling instructors; however, it applies just as well to those instructors who teach at their home club or local public range.

Diving a little deeper, with each and every course that I teach, one person is designated as a primary and one as a backup for key roles in the event that we need to initiate the emergency procedures plan, these key roles are listed below:

  • Emergency Medic
  • Trauma/Medical Bag Runner
  • A person to take charge of the firing line making sure all firearms are secured and also to keep everyone away from crowding the person being treated.
  • A person to call 9-1-1 with a script and physical location memorized.
  • A person to meet Emergency Services and Law Enforcement at the entrance to the range complex and lead them to the location of the emergency.
  • A person to take notes. Provide this person with a notebook and pen that should be kept near the trauma/medical bag. This person should have good penmanship, you’ll thank me later for that small piece of advice.
  • A person to inform range control or anyone else on-site that we have an emergency and have called 9-1-1. (Many ranges that I train at are a part of a larger complex with a central range operations office and some have absolutely nothing, it is up to you to have a plan)

Now I know what you are thinking, what if I am doing a one-on-one coaching session or teaching a course that only has four or five students? That’s easy, you must modify your plan to cover that possibility.

Once you have laid out your emergency procedures plan, you need to take the time to let your designated medic get familiar with your trauma/medical bag and its contents and then you should coach the others on what you expect them to do in performing their roles and answer any questions from them before you start any live fire exercises.

As a suggestion, I like to use the back of a target to write down everyone’s name and assignment along with the physical location of the range. See the example below from a recent course that I taught at my local gun club, this was a sixteen person course and as you see I needed thirteen volunteers plus myself. I also assigned my assistant instructors roles to help out as well because of their inside knowledge of the facility and local range rules.

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It is important to note that more often than not I will assign myself the task of making the 9-1-1 call, I know many of the questions that they will be asking and have a prepared script, but not always do I do this because some facilities I train at have their own procedures to follow.

Remember that no two facilities operate the same and some will want you to follow their emergency procedures plan in accordance with their range standard operating procedures so, make sure your responsibilities are understood well in advance of the course and if you are in a remote location you should also plan to have a helipad set up in case you need it, ask me how I know to plan for this… Yep, I have seen someone evacuated from a range with an injury (Compound fracture of the tibia) via helicopter.

I also recommend that when you give your safety briefing it should be done in full view of the range and not inside a classroom. One thing I do when teaching a multiple-day course is to revisit the briefing each day and make sure that everyone reaffirms that they are still capable of performing their designated roles in the event of an emergency.

In executing an emergency procedures plan you must first determine if the emergency is one that requires a call to 9-1-1 and possible transport. Some trainers get into the mindset that the only emergency they might experience on the range is to have a student with a self-inflicted gunshot wound or worse someone else gets shot negligently or accidentally, you decide on which word to use. Truthfully, that is one of the least likely of scenarios; however, it is one that must be planned for and one must be prepared for, but candidly, you are more likely to see anything from snake bites to twisted ankles and even heat casualties.

Speaking of heat casualties, you should also have some crushable ice packs on hand during the summer months, you can find them at your local CVS or Walgreens pharmacy. A substitute would be to use some ziplock bags and bring a bag of ice for your cooler with cold drinks. Another thing is to have a supply of sports drinks, e.g. Powerade or Gatorade not just for yourself, but an emergency stash as well.

Other things that I recommend you have in a separate bag is a variety of pain relievers, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAID’s, e.g., Tylenol or Aleve and don’t forget Benedryl in both liquid and capsules for allergic reactions to anything from an insect bite to a brush with poison ivy.

Additionally, make sure that you have a “Boo-Boo Kit” with a variety of band-aids, alcohol swabs, and things like Neosporin and a small bottle of liquid skin for cuts and blisters is a good thing to have as well. When I teach locally or within driving distance, I also bring an assortment of bug spray and sunscreen, this is invaluable and I find that even though it is in a list of suggested items for students to bring it is usually the one thing they most often forget.

It is worthy to note that myself and many other trainers are requiring both assistant instructors and students to have a belt mounted tourniquet on them during their courses and some including myself have been including a block of instruction in each course on the proper application of a tourniquet; however, this is not standard in the industry, at least yet anyway.

In summary, being prepared saved the life of my student who experienced a heart attack, as an instructor you should be asking yourself right now if you are prepared for the same or worse. It’s not enough to have the equipment, you also need training in basic first aid procedures, so go and get some training, I can refer you to several companies that do basic first aid/CPR certifications and even those that teach the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (T.C.C.C.) courses as well.

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant, be the best and as always, live life abundantly.

Train hard so you can fight easy!

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The Trigger Control Dot Org 2018 Year in Review!

Over the past few days compiling the information for this posting from my various calendars, I have had time to reflect on where 2018 has taken me and my little training company, and of course how much I appreciate those who supported my company as well.

2018 started off with teaching commitments here in Florida and North Carolina then a trip to Las Vegas for SHOT Show where I was lucky enough to avoid “Patient Zero” and the very real “SHOT Show Crud.” However, not being accustomed to the dry desert heat that is Las Vegas I left with a dry scratchy throat that took a few days to get over.

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Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my good friend “Tactical Ed” better known as the “Tactical Plus Size Model.” If you are not following him on Facebook and Instagram you are really missing out, so get it done! I’ll tell you a secret, I was told by a very reliable source that Ed was in fact “Patient Zero” but I never saw him sick, and I never touched him, it was only after he got home that he told me he had the “SHOT Show Crud” so I hope that you avoid it this year my friend. Oh yeah, this is no secret, Ed stood me up as well, we were supposed to have some sliders at White Castle on the strip, but alas, he is just too “big time” for me these days. 😉

Also at SHOT Show I was able to reconnect with my friend Victor from Sierra Element and had a good time walking the show floor with him. If you are looking for firearms training in the greater Los Angeles and Ventura County area, Victor is the one you want to train with, he is “legit” as the hipsters say in this industry.

My other friends from “Smog City” Real Estate Mogul Scott and my buddy “Slo” showed up as well and I was treated to a great dinner at Bally’s by Scott and then hung out with them the following day all over the show floor. Scott, “Slo” and I met the year before at Ken Hackathorn’s course at Burro Canyon Shooting Park in the Angeles National Forest and both of them are brother’s from another mother. I look forward to seeing you both in 2019.

Since I don’t get to Vegas but once every few years I ended up doing some of the touristy things to do like seeing the world famous sign as you see in these photos, and I ended up spending a little time visiting some landmarks that are part of the history of “Sin City.” Oh, I wasn’t able to catch Chumley, Rick, the Old Man before he passed or Big Hoss at the Gold Miner, who knew that they don’t really work there and only show up when taping their show, Pawn Stars. Nice place, with some awesome merchandise inside, but it is not in the best area of town, just saying if you go, be carrying a gun.

By the way, speaking of carrying a gun, nobody and I mean absolutely nobody exercises their right to open carry a handgun or anything else for that matter in Las Vegas; however, when I drove down to Pahrump to visit my old friend Alex I saw dozens of open carry practitioners. To each their own, I will remain concealed everywhere I go.

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February was a very busy month, teaching a total of eight courses, along with hosting a course that sold out nine months in advance for Gabe White. If you have a chance to train with Gabe I highly recommend it, he is a superior technical and tactical shooter and one of the hottest commodities in the firearms training industry these days. My lasting impressions from the course were that Gabe is highly organized and how he gave each of us individual attention all throughout the course.

Speaking of organization skills, Gabe’s course of fire is planned out to the cartridge, and for example, to stay on task I carry laminated 3×5 cards in my pocket and refer to them often on the range during the courses I teach, Gabe has his trusty clipboard with him to keep himself on task. Eight of the fourteen people who attended the course were personal friends of mine and I had either known or trained with the other five at least once in the course. As I said, the course had sold out nine months prior so I asked Gabe if he would come back in September and he did, more to follow below. If you’d like to train with him please visit his Eventbrite page to reserve your seat by clicking on the link below, there is one seat left in the April course.

Gabe White Pistol Shooting Solutions – Lakeland, Florida April 13-14, 2019

March started off hosting Pat McNamara for his Pistol, Carbine Combo course. The retired United States Army Sergeant Major has an impressive background as a United States Army Delta Force Operator and that combined with his highly technical and tactical skill with a handgun and a carbine or any weapon he grabs for that matter gives you the inspiration that you can also be a better shooter too, you just have to put in the work. If you follow Pat Mac on social media you will know that he practices what he preaches by doing just that, putting in the work each and every day not only on his shooting skills but on his “Combat Chassis.” If you would like to attend a course with Pat, you can find his open enrollment schedule on his website in the link below.

TMACS, Inc – Tactics Marksmanship Adventure Concepts Security – Pat McNamara

Staying in the month of March I taught another eight courses and made a thirty hour plus round trip drive from my home in Florida to North Little Rock, Arkansas. On that trip, I had a problem with my vehicle, an idle sensor went out and the engine would not idle properly. It was fortuitous that there was a Ford dealership right across the highway from my hotel, and so my AAA membership came in handy as they showed up and towed my vehicle to the dealership. My Escape was fixed and back on the road in short order. By the way, in 2018 I put just under 29,000 miles on my 2015 Ford Escape tied to my business and with just under 90,000 miles on the odometer it is the best vehicle that I have ever owned. The photo below is of yours truly with “Jolly Green” at DARC, the Direct Action Resource Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Now April was an interesting month, Southwest Airlines took me to four different states teaching nine courses and I was also able to attend two as a student. In April I only slept at home six nights out of thirty. The highlight was training in below freezing weather at SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire, that was a lot of fun, no really it was a lot of fun and a great experience. Even though I don’t spend too much time in cold weather these days, by attending a two-day 1,000 round course of fire in that brutal of weather, I was reminded of my days living in cold winter weather and trying to “dress around the gun” with a heavy winter jacket, not to mention making sure that I could press the trigger well enough to get hits using full-finger gloves etc… and oh, by the way, I now own a very nice SIG SAUER logo knit cap that might not get much use here during the 70+ degree Florida winters.

The month of May was very busy for me. It started off by attending the 147th NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas, Texas and I once again volunteered as a Firearms Examiner checking all the guns on the show floor to make sure their firing pins are shaved so they do not have the capability of fire a cartridge should one be loaded by the thousands of people that handle them over the three-day weekend.

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Also a few weeks before the NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas, I was personally selected by the NRA Education and Training Department to attend one of the first two offerings of the NRA CCW Instructor course, see below.

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More to follow on this brand new curriculum, we are told that it will be released in the first quarter of 2019, stay tuned!

A visit to Dallas would not be complete without seeing Dealy Plaza and the place where history unfolded on November 22nd, 1963, in a word it gave me goosebumps, especially standing on the exact spot where Abraham Zapruder took his home video of the assassination of President Kennedy. The photo below is me standing in the middle of the road on the X where the first shot hit the President looking back up Elm Street at the old Texas School Book Depository building and the sixth-floor window from where Lee Harvey Oswald was at with his Manlicher-Carcano chambered in 6.5x52mm.

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Lastly, on Memorial Day I accomplished something that I am very proud of for the second time and that is completing “Memorial Day Murph” WOD. “Murph” is named after Lt. Michael Murphy, a United States Navy SEAL from Patchogue, New York. You may know his story, he was one of the heroes killed in action while serving our country during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005.

I completed “Murph” RX or “as prescribed” and unfortunately injured myself in the process, but I still finished only slightly off my 2017 pace. Yep, already looking forward to the 2019 Memorial Day Murph WOD and training hard to improve my time. In case you don’t know what I am talking about this is a Crossfit Hero WOD and it is done all for an overall time while wearing a twenty-pound weighted vest or body armor. The WOD is listed on my morale patch pictured below.

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June was a blockbuster month, I ended up teaching nine courses and on the 5th I was approached by two companies here in the greater Tampa Bay area to provide some Active Shooter Training for their employees. This partnership has snowballed into a training 427 of their employees so they can apply for their Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearms License.

It takes a lot of logistics to manage that volume of students; however, these companies stepped up and have allowed me to use their conference rooms for the classroom portions of the courses both on weekday afternoons and some weeknights. Then setting schedules for groups of ten to meet me at the range for the shooting portion of the course was easy, once again that was done on weeknights and select weekends. This has been an excellent partnership and it is really only proving to be the beginning as I have four other major employers through referrals from the C-Level Executives asking to schedule Active Shooter Training in 2019. This is an exponential growth opportunity for my small training company and I am very thankful for those who have helped make all of this happen because there is no way that I could do it by myself.

July is typically my month off for vacation; however, I ended up teaching three courses, and then in late July, I finally took a real vacation where I picked up a lot of yardage in the area of rest and relaxation. This year I am going to do the same by going someplace I have not been before on the planet, China and South Africa are on the list, so is another couple of places, but those two top the list and it will probably be one or the other.

August started with a four day trip to L.A., that’s Lower Alabama to you Yankees, my trip was to consult with a Church Security Team and give them three solid days of training. I did this for expenses only as I do for all parishes and I must say that even months later the hospitality of the folks who hosted me is overwhelming to think about. They gave me a furnished apartment all ready for my stay, and it was kind of like staying at home, bring your PJ’s, a toothbrush and you’re good to go. I would go back again and teach another course for my bare minimum expenses anytime.

For the rest of the month of August, I squeaked in a few more courses and it was another one of those months where I spent a lot of time working weeknights trying to put all these employees through basic firearm safety training as well.

September was an action-packed month, with trips around the state and one outside of the state as well. I once again hosted Gabe White at Firearms Training Club of America in Lakeland, Florida and had a great time. Massad Ayoob (Better known to us as Uncle Mas) and his bride Gail Pepin were students in the course, and we had a couple of the February attendees who returned a second time, and he will be back here in Florida teaching a third time this coming April and again in February 2020, as I said above, there is still one seat open for the April course.

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October was in a word, normal, only teaching a few courses for a Security Guard/Executive Protection company based in Orlando and one in West Palm Beach. Mostly I was focused on keeping the students moving through our firearm safety courses throughout the month.

November was much the same, taught several courses here in Florida including three down in North Fort Myers for Tribe K Combat Arts and I was able to take some time to drive up to southern Georgia and attend a five-day Instructor course there. I was also able to lock in my 2019 schedule; however, the out of state schedule is still being tweaked by some out of the hosts and really doesn’t start in earnest until spring time anyway. Other than that, November was pedal to the metal.

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December is never busy, and that is by design, with the holidays I only schedule one or two courses, I spent most of the month working on personal projects around my home and various rental properties.

The commitment that I made last January to get to the range on a weekly basis has paid off in a big way. I am pressing the trigger better than ever before and by my estimate, I fired just shy of 14,000 rounds for the year. I only say estimate, because I have ordered and had delivered 16,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition and I only have 2,000 and change left as of right now, this doesn’t include rifle, the .22LR and Magnum cartridges, my 5.7x28mm or shotgun shells of which there were many fired over the course of the year.

So, as it stands, my weekly dates with the acorn picker will continue and I am going to start putting my practice sessions and photos of my targets here in my blog so you can follow along and see exactly what skills I am working on and what I am testing myself on as well.

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To sum up 2018, the 427 students that have dropped into my lap has skewed my numbers quite a bit; however, in total I taught 91 formal courses and trained 1,126 students in everything from a basic firearms safety course to a bunch of student and Instructor level courses for both the NRA and USCCA, those courses alone totaled well over 40.

2019 is shaping up rather nicely, and it all kicks off with a trip to Philadelphia to consult with a Parish Security Team there and then on to another destination for more training, I will be back home on Sunday and then it is off to South Florida next Monday and Tuesday. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Oh, I almost forgot, starting on Thursday, February 7th I will be teaching some mini-blocks of instruction every other week at a local gun range. These will be short 3-hour blocks on everything from classroom topics like situational awareness and other things to proper presentation of a handgun from a concealment holster. All blocks of instruction/coaching will be “post McCCW” course, so in order to attend, all participants must have had some basic instruction on safe gun handling at the very minimum and a concealed weapons license or permit. Keep watch for these courses to pop up online for registration. Tuition will be $99.00 and the program of instruction will give you work on the essential skills you need to possess as a responsibly armed citizen.

I’ll leave you with one last item. “Be a voice, not an echo” and above all else be a professional in your outward conduct and in both the written and spoken word, it will serve you well.

“There are no traffic jams on the high road in the firearms training industry.”

 

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant, be the best and as always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

 

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2018 Mid-Year Training Report

As of yesterday, July 1st, 2018, I have taught twenty-eight (28) NRA Approved Courses for both Students and Instructor Candidates; Eight (8) closed enrollment courses for Law Enforcement Officers; Six (6) open enrollment courses for responsibly armed citizens; Five (5) USCCA Student level courses, and One (1) USCCA Instructor Development Workshop. Adding everything up I am at a count of four hundred forty-eight (448) students trained, that is an average of just over nine (9) students per course. The last number is showing a trend that enrollments are dropping off slightly from the last couple years.

Candidly, I’m pretty lucky in the fact that there are five locations that are both indoor and outdoor range facilities with fixed classrooms within an hours drive of me where I can teach and pass on knowledge, skills, and experience to my tribe of Students and Instructors.

As for my personal training schedule, 2018 is not even close to being on pace with 2017; however, this schedule still has me adding between 200 and 220 hours of continuing education. Remember that the importance of being a student can never be discounted, not to collect certificates, but to gather transferrable knowledge for students and instructor candidates is what it is all about for me. Listed below is where I have been and where I plan to go the rest of the year.

The weekend of February 10th and 11th, we hosted Gabe White and his Pistol Shooting Solutions course at Firearms Training Club of America in Lakeland, Florida. When I first had contacted Gabe in early 2017 we set up the date and then had the course sold out ten (10) months in advance on phone calls, mostly to the Rangemaster tribe. If you’d like to train with Gabe you can find Gabe’s open enrollment training schedule in the link below.

http://www.gabewhitetraining.com/pistol-shooting-solutions/

On March 3rd and 4th, we hosted Patrick McNamara for his T.A.P.S. Pistol/Carbine Combo course, again at Firearms Training Club of America. If you follow this blog you know that I attended Pat’s Sentinal course in South Carolina last December at Panteao Productions, a course review was posted here and is linked below. You can also find Pat’s open enrollment courses in the second link below.

T.M.A.C.S., Inc Sentinal Course Review South Carolina

http://www.tmacsinc.com/

In mid-March, I drove thirty hours round trip to North Little Rock, Arkansas to attend Tom and Lynn Givens 20th Anniversary Rangemaster Tactical Conference at the Direct Action Resource Center, better known as DARC. Although I had to leave early on Saturday afternoon, #TACCON2018 allowed me to sit in on a few blocks of instruction and also shoot in the Polite Society Pistol Match. There were over twenty-five people who shot a perfect score in the match to get into the shoot-off that was won by Gabe White, I wasn’t one of them; however, my 199/200 was respectable. If you are planning on attending in 2019 you had better get on the stick now, this event sells out each year in mid to late October and Mr. Givens recently said that it is currently half full. A link for 2019 registration is below.

Rangemaster #TACCON2019

On April 7th and 8th, Tom Givens presented his Rangemaster Combative Pistol course at Firearms Training Club of America for about a dozen students. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend TD1, if you follow this blog, you would know that this course kicked off my personal training schedule in 2017, it got me back to the basics and it was an excellent tune-up for the other courses that I was fortunate enough to attend last year. A full course review on my Rangemaster Combative Pistol experience is published in the link below.

Rangemaster Combative Pistol April 1-2, 2017

On April 9th through the 12th it was back in God’s country at SIG SAUER Academy for Dynamic Performance Pistol and Skill Builder Red Dot Defensive Pistol. Truth be told, I skipped the second course because the weather was freezing, 28° each day and even though the temperature rose to 40° on the thermometer the wind chill factor never let it get above freezing, just too damn cold for this Florida boy. I spent the two extra days in Boston with some close friends and saw a Yankees vs. Red Sox game complete with a bench-clearing brawl. Nothing was quite as exciting as that, even sat atop the “green monstah” in Fenway Park, an experience of a lifetime. By the way, a course review of the Dynamic Performance Pistol course in this blog, you will find it in the link below.

SIG SAUER Dynamic Performance Pistol Course Review

www.sigsaueracademy.com

On April 21st and 22nd, it was on to Watkinsville, Georgia attending Dave Spaulding’s Handgun Combatives, Adaptive Combat Pistol course. Let me tell you, I really enjoy Dave’s teaching style, and if you don’t follow him on social media you are seriously missing out on plenty of knowledge bombs that come from a man with a lifetime of experience in teaching the combative application of the handgun. 2018 will be Dave’s last year teaching a full schedule, in 2019 he will be only teaching about a half schedule. To find his complete course schedule click on the link below and then click on “Upcoming Classes” at the top of the homepage.

http://www.handguncombatives.com/

The weekend of May 4th, 5th, and 6th it was to Dallas, Texas for the NRA Annual Meetings. Having been to Dallas only once before and on that trip, I wasn’t able to see Dealy Plaza, the grassy knoll, and of course the Six Floor Museum at what was the Texas School Book Depository building, you can bet that I didn’t miss out on that opportunity this time around. Once again, I volunteered at the #NRAAM as a Firearms Examiner and will continue to do so each year. On Saturday afternoon my colleague David Matthews and I hosted the first ever NRA Training Counselor Forum and Networking event thanks to NRA Education & Training Department Deputy Director, John Howard.

Also as part of the #NRAAM on Friday, May 4th I was invited to attend the first offering of the NRA CCW Instructor course. This course is highly recommended to those teaching Concealed Carry, it has court defensible curriculum and can be tailored to fit any state statutory requirement for training. It also has its own qualification course of fire and of course allows for the substitution of a state-mandated qualification if need be. Currently, the NRA Education & Training Department is rolling this course out nationwide to Training Counselors and they expect to release it to those of us who have been trained and certified so we can start offering it to Certified Instructors later this year. You can find out more about the NRA Annual Meetings in the link below, see you in Indianapolis next April 26th, 27th, and 28th.

https://www.nraam.org/

Which brings us to June and “NRA Instructor Immersion Weeks.” This was the fifth offering of the program, it has become very popular with my students and instructor candidates as they can attend multiple courses over a few short weeks. 2019 Instructor Immersion Weeks is already in the planning stages, it will probably be more of an “NRA Instructor Immersion Month,” more details to follow in October when my 2019 is announced.

The rest of the summer will be primarily teaching on the road and very little here at home due to our summer weather. In August my travels take me to Alabama, North Carolina, and Kansas and then to both South Carolina and Virginia in order to attend a couple courses as both a student and instructor candidate. The entire month of August I will sleep six or seven nights in my own bed.

Then there is the month of September and another trip to God’s country and the SIG SAUER Academy. This will be my fifth trip up there and I am just as excited for number five as I was a year ago for trip number one. If you have not trained at this world-class facility you should ask yourself why not? You can find all of their course listings in the link below.

www.sigsaueracademy.com

The last weekend of September Gabe White will return for a second course that sold out several months ago. It’s hard not to be excited to train with Gabe, he is a Grand Master level shooter that has the ability to transfer knowledge in a thought-provoking manner that is rare in this industry. Once again, you can find his training schedule on his website linked below.

http://www.gabewhitetraining.com/pistol-shooting-solutions/

In October and November, my plan is to attend a few closed enrollment training courses and hopefully, the Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course the weekend of November 16th, 17th, and 18th. Back in October 2016 myself and over twenty others attended the first offering of this course, it was outstanding. Tom preaches the gospel of the gauge well, bring your semi-auto or pump gun and don’t forget the Federal FliteControl® 8-pellet 00BK (LE13300), you can thank me later for the suggestion and register in the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/defensive-shotgun-instructor-course-3-day-tickets-39454107297?aff=ehomecard

December presents a few forty hour courses that are under consideration; however, I can only attend one or two and won’t be able to make a final decision on those until September or early October.

So, as you can see, 2018’s schedule is nowhere near the nineteen (19) courses that I attended in 2017; however, the amount and frequency of training commitments have me busier than I have ever been in my life. No complaints here…

Question for you; with the year half over, are you on track to reach your training goals?

 

Until next time, be vigilant, be the best…

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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2018 NRA Instructor Immersion Weeks (Florida)

On July 1st, 2018 one of the many changes in the most recent update to the NRA Training Counselor Guide will take effect. In pertinent point, the NRA’s Education and Training Department has changed its policies and procedures requiring all Instructor Candidates to attend and pass the corresponding basic level course prior to attending an Instructor course in any discipline. Currently, only Pistol Instructor and Personal Protection Outside the Home require this, I am unsure about the Muzzleloading and both Reloading disciplines because I am not certified to teach those courses and there have been a lot of changes since I became a Training Counselor to the Muzzleloading disciplines.

So, the 2018 version of Instructor Immersion Weeks here in Florida will be the last of its kind and I see 2019 being Instructor Immersion Month, and in fact, I have already scheduled it on my long-range planning calendar for June 2019.

This mandate by the NRA Education and Training Department has been greeted with mixed feelings by the Training Counselor and Instructor community. Personally, I feel it is a change that has been needed for a long time. It allows the Training Counselor the opportunity to evaluate each individual Instructor Candidate in two classes over two full days of training on their knowledge, skills, and most importantly, their attitude.

The detractors say it is a money grab by the NRA, yeah right, because they make so much money on selling materials priced between $10 to $25 dollars, not even close. The NRA Education and Training Department has always had a policy that Training Counselors were to provide the corresponding Student package to all Instructor candidates, so that dog won’t hunt. They finally made this change because they were getting feedback from the Training Counselors that it was needed to create better Instructors, quality over quantity and the NRA listened.

Sadly, we will still have Training Counselors and Instructors not teaching according to the lesson plans, in fact recently one of my Instructors told me his Range Safety Officer course had only two guns for use by the students. Hint: The lesson plan calls for six different long gun action types, both revolver action types and a semi-automatic pistol, muzzleloading firearms, air guns and a BB gun. If you count that up that is twelve at a minimum. His Chief Range Safety Officer who is also a Training Counselor was ten shy of a dozen, a clear violation of policies and procedures, but I digress.

The schedule for 2018 Instructor Immersion Weeks will be as follows.

I am offering Basic Instructor Training or BIT three times prior to the start and once during the weeks so people can get their BIT updated as that is a requirement if you have not taken BIT in the previous twenty-four (24) months. There is no charge for BIT, it comes with your paid tuition to a discipline-specific Instructor course.

Discipline Specific Training Schedule:

NRA Basic Range Safety Officer Course
Monday, June 11th

NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Instructor -Led Training Course
Friday, June 15th

NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting Course
Saturday, June 16th

NRA Chief Range Safety Officer Course
Monday, June 18th

NRA Instructor Personal Protection In the Home Course
Tuesday, June 19th

NRA Instructor Home Firearm Safety Course
Thursday, June 21st

NRA Instructor Rifle Shooting Course
Saturday, June 23rd

NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home Basic and Instructor Course
Wednesday-Thursday-Friday, June 27th, 28th, 29th

NRA Instructor Shotgun Shooting Course
Saturday, June 30th

NRA Refuse to be a Victim Instructor Development Workshop
Saturday, July 7th

Registrations began the week before last and have been brisk with my current base of Instructors getting in first before the masses. If you are wanting to get in and add some disciplines I’d suggest you make your plans now because seating is limited. Previous student discounts do apply, and multiple course discounts for new students will also apply.

 

Be vigilant, be the best!

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy Dynamic Performance Pistol; April 9th & 10th, 2018, Epping, New Hampshire.

Earlier this month I was at SIG SAUER Academy to attend “Gun School” for the fourth time in nine months, and so to say that I might be familiar with the Southwest Airlines nonstop between Tampa and Manchester would be an understatement. As with my three previous trips I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Exeter using the SIG SAUER Academy discounted rate.

Since my visit in October, the student check-in process has changed slightly. All students now report to the Academy Pro Shop on TD1 of the course that they are attending to sign in and receive their course book. I would suspect that this is a welcome change to the staff as the students can select and pay for lunch from Hammersmith Sandwich Company in the morning and then pick up their lunch in the Indoor Range without interrupting the staff of the Pro Shop while they serve customers and of course Kathleen, the Academy Training Coordinator to pick up their lunches.

The course started for the eight of us inside classroom #7 out in Area 51 along with Academy Senior Instructor, Steven Gilcreast. We went over some basic safety rules and of course the differences between performance-based training objectives and outcome-based training objectives.

Dynamic Performance Pistol is an Intermediate level course and everything is geared to the student being focused on shooting each drill a minimum of three times, and having a goal to set a time and beat our time on the two subsequent runs or if it was a scored course of fire we were trying to beat our score with a higher point value. Sometimes the drill was a combination of both, scored for points and time adding in any penalties. I tend to like this method of training as it allows me to focus on what I can improve on to make each run better than the last. The difference between outcome-based and performance-based training objectives.

Once on the range, all of us were subject to 28° temperature and even though it warmed up to 40° later in the day, the windchill factor never rose above freezing. Personally, I have not experienced cold weather like that in nearly twenty years and candidly, I don’t see myself going back to the Academy for an outdoor course unless it is in June, July, August or September.

Our first few drills were designed to work on fundamentals mostly with respect to pressing the trigger properly using different cadences from 1s per shot to .50s per shot and even down to .25s per shot. Steve noticed I was pinning the trigger on my P320 X-Carry and not resetting and prepping for the next shot under recoil, and honestly, this is a problem that I struggled with off an on during the day. I fixed it later and yet I was still having some accuracy issues at distance. The good thing is I was able to identify these issues in training and since arriving back home I have gone back to shooting more bullseyes.

At the end of TD1, we had shot right at about 400 rounds running more than a half dozen drills three times each. At the end of TD1, I think all of us were looking forward to getting inside out of the cold.

After dinner at Telly’s Restaurant in Epping, I went back to my hotel and work on some dry practice and also to work on movement and footwork in the small gym that was located across from my first-floor room.

TD2 started on the range with a quick warm-up exercise and then we were right back into the drills. On this day we worked mostly on drills that involved a lot of movement and how to shoot accurately while on the move; however, one TD2 drill, Steve’s “Dirty Thirty” on an IPSC target didn’t involve movement, it involved shooting 30 rounds from 30 yards, trying to complete the drill in under 30 seconds. We practiced this drill from a couple shorter distances before venturing out to 30 yards, by doing this it helped work on technique and accuracy. I believe this is an excellent drill and the only one that I will give you the course of fire for in this review.

The Dirty Thirty: Starting with three 10 round magazines on the command, draw and fire 10 rounds in a two-handed standing position, reload and fire 5 rounds using strong hand only, then 5 using opposite hand only, reload and fire 5 rounds kneeling and finish with 5 rounds in the prone position as mentioned on an IPSC target.

If you are considering attending this course it is important for you to know that Steve is excellent at adapting the Dynamic Performance Pistol course of fire to fit the abilities of the students; however, this course is an Intermediate level course. Additionally, Steve teaches by the SIG SAUER Academy training methodology of “EDIP” or Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice. After explaining the drills he demonstrated several different ways to progress through the drill, even physically walking some of them and doing it faster than most of us as we ran it.

Just so you know, two students ended up ringing the gong on TD1, for not knowing the status of their guns. It was a sound we heard a couple times in the distance from other the ranges located on the property. Thankfully nobody from our course had to ring the gong on TD2.

My Gear and Equipment:

Gun(s): SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry and P320 full-size RX with Romeo 1.

Holster: Comp-Tac International strong-side OWB. (SIG SAUER Academy requires you use a strong-side hip holster in this particular course)

Ammunition: Federal American Eagle 147gr Flat Nose FMJ, this has been my preferred practice ammunition for the last two years, it is very accurate and I have had no ammunition related stoppages in the cycle of operations of my handguns while using it, so I’ll stick with what works.

Flashlight: Surefire Dual Fuel Fury Tactical 1,500 Lumens

In summary, this is an excellent course that will test your skills in both gun handling and shooting. From the strict focus on accuracy and the use of a shot timer on nearly every drill to moving with unholstered firearms. The course of fire is true to the advertised 1,000 rounds and I highly recommend it for the Intermediate to the Advanced Practitioner.

I look forward to my next visit to SIG SAUER Academy this summer.

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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