The Trigger Control Dot Org 2017 Year in Review!

Twenty Seventeen was nothing short of a whirlwind. The numbers really don’t tell the entire story, but you are gonna get ’em anyway.

I taught thirty-eight NRA Student and Instructor courses, four USCCA Instructor courses and five USCCA Student courses, eight closed enrollment courses of my own curriculum for Law Enforcement Officers, and twelve courses of my own curriculum for various groups of Responsibly Armed Citizens.

That is a total of sixty-seven courses, down six from last years seventy-three. I had some help, thanks to all my friends who gave their time to assist me with some of the courses I taught both here in Florida and elsewhere. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my hosts as well. Without them, none of this would be possible especially the out of state courses.

My student/instructor candidate count is still being tabulated. Unfortunately, I have to count my signed waivers to get an accurate number due to a computer crash earlier this year. The number will be comfortably above eight hundred, down from last years count of nine hundred thirty-six.

Here is the really fun part, last year I was able to attend nineteen training courses as a student or instructor candidate, and I even took a hit of pepper spray for a training video as well. This just in, I think my friend Mike enjoyed seeing me in pain.

Below is a complete listing of the courses I attended along with the locations. Those with hyperlinks in the listing have course reviews posted in this blog, if you click on the link you will be directed to each of them individually.

April 1-2 – Rangemaster Firearms Training Services; Tom and Lynn Givens, Combative Pistol Course; OK Corral Gun Club in Okeechobee, Florida.

April 15 – Assault Counter Tactics – Vehicle Counter Ambush Course; American Police Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida.

May 9-10 – GLOCK Operator Course; GLOCK/GSSF Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia.

May 19-20-21 – Rangemaster Firearms Training Services; Tom and Lynn Givens, Advanced Combative Pistol Three Day Format; Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in Watkinsville, Georgia.

June 13-14-15 – General Dynamics Simunitions® Scenario Instructor and Safety Certification Course; Titusville Police Department in Titusville, Florida.

June 26-27 – SIG SAUER Academy Master Pistol Instructor Course; SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.

July 22 – Tactical Combat Casualty Couse (T.C.C.C.) On Point Safety and Defense; Wyoming Antelope Club in Clearwater, Florida.

August 14- 15, 17-18 – SIG SAUER Academy P320 Armorer, M400®/M16/M4/AR15 Armorer, Low Light Pistol Instructor Course; SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.

August 26-27 – Rangemaster Firearms Training Services; Tom and Lynn Givens, Advanced Firearms Instructor Development Course; FPF Training, Stone Quarry Range in Culpeper, Virginia.

September 9-10 – Handgun Combatives Vehicle Combatives Course; Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Coffeyville, Kansas.

October 7-8 – Ken Hackathorn Advanced Pistol Course Aztec Training Services; Burro Canyon Shooting Park in Azuza, California.

October 23 – SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles; SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire.

November 11-12 – Rangemaster Firearms Training Services; Tom and Lynn Givens, Instructor Reunion Conference; BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

November 17-18-19 – Defense Training International John and Vicki Farnam Advanced Defensive Handgun and Instructor Course; On Guard Defense in New Plymouth, Ohio.

December 4-5-6 – NRA Practical Pistol Coach School; NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.

December 16-17 – Pat McNamara, TMACS, Inc. Sentinel; Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail; Panteao Productions and Sandlapper Rifle Range and Gun Club in Swansea, South Carolina.

Altogether, I traveled in and out of fourteen different airports, not including airports where I changed planes. Added nearly ten thousand miles to my vehicle for business purposes and rented fifteen vehicles from Budget, Dollar, and Enterprise. (Never again from the last two, I’ll stick with Budget Fastbreak) Had to rent a car in order to make the last leg home from Atlanta after attending Dave Spaulding’s Vehicle Combatives course in Kansas because Hurricane Irene closed all of the airports in Florida, that trip became known as “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

Additionally, I earned a lot of hotel points last year with both IHG and Hilton staying eighty-five nights in hotel rooms from Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Garden Inn, and Hampton Inn & Suites.

In early October I signed a consulting contract with a television network and I am negotiating one with a production studio as I type this blog post. Like it or not, traveling to Southern California will once again be part of the agenda in twenty eighteen.

Last year I also developed two new courses that moving forward will be part of my course catalog. One is an all-new one-day Handgun Essentials course and the other is also a one-day course that will be shot almost exclusively on steel, the name of this course is still in the works, but I kind of like “Steel Skill Drills Challenge.” This course will challenge your skills greatly and will also be somewhat of a stress inoculator with each and every drill using a shot timer, and yes, there will be a lot of movement as well.

It was a down year for book reading, I only read ten books last year and I am finishing my eleventh. The list is as follows:

T.A.P.S. Tactical Application of Practical Shooting – Patrick McNamara
Sentinel; Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail – Patrick McNamara
Mission America – Straight Talk About Military Transition – LTC (Retired) Scott Mann
Handgun Combatives – Dave Spaulding
Forensic Analysis of the April 11, 1986 FBI Firefight – W. French Anderson
Motor Learning and Performance: Instructors’ Guide – Richard A. Schmidt
The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills – Daniel  Coyle
With Winning In Mind – Lenny Bassham
The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning – John S. Farnam
Teaching Women To Shoot; A Law Enforcement Instructor’s Guide – Vicki Farnam
Guns & Warriors DTI Quips Volume I – John S. Farnam

I saved this one for last because a friend and mentor signed it and sent it to me as a gift:

Straight Talk on Armed Defense – What the Experts Want You to Know, Edited by Massad Ayoob with Dr. William Aprill, Dr. Alexis Artwohl, Massad Ayoob, Detective Spencer Blue, Ron Borsch, Craig “Southnarc” Douglas, Jim Fleming, Esq., Tom Givens, Marty Hayes, JD, John Hearne, Chief Harvey Hedden, Dr. Anthony Simone.

I’ll wind this up with some of the best news I received in a long time came last week from Go Daddy, they finally unlocked my domain name and instead of pointing at my Facebook page it will be back to a real website. What an ordeal after over a year of problems with a web design company who took control of my website and basically held me hostage. Look for the all-new website to launch later this month!

For now, I’ll leave you with the words of Pat McNamara…

Getchusum!!!

Ready-Ready-Break!!!

 

Until next time…

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

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My 2017-2018 Personal Training Calendar

As we move solidly into the third quarter of 2017, I thought that it would be good to take a moment to reflect on where I have been, and where I am going throughout the rest of the 2017 and into the first quarter of 2018.

My 2017 training year started after the passing of my Great Aunt Doris, she was one of the strongest human beings that I have ever known. I took care of her as Trustee, Healthcare Surrogate, and Personal Representative watching out for her well-being for over six years, and it was very difficult to lose her because she taught me so much about life, unconditional love and the true meaning of family. Just before she was called home, and while she was in a very advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease she had a moment of clarity while we were talking and said, “go out and get it.” (I am paraphrasing slightly because the context of our conversation was about something a little different than firearms and self-defense training) When she passed away in the early hours of St. Patrick’s Day I was by her side and held her hand as she took her final breath. In the days following I thought that the best thing I can do to honor her memory is to follow her advice to “go out and get it.” So, I have embarked on a training schedule that many people would envy.

A significant percentage of these training courses are skill builder type courses and not instructor courses. I use these type of courses to identify gaps in my skills that lead me back to the range to diligently practice. Every once in a while, we all get into a training rut and work on drills that we perceive ourselves to be good at. I try to work on a different skill set each week when I visit the range. Oh by the way, I typically visit the range twice a week and shoot 150-250 rounds per session. This schedule works well for me and keeps me sharp, if I didn’t do it, all I would be able to do is shoot demos in the courses that I teach. Typically I find things that can always be improved upon, and that is why I use a lot of dry-fire in between my range sessions.

When I started my personal training year it was with Tom and Lynn Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services in their two-day Combative Pistol course on April 1st & 2nd in Okeechobee, Florida at the OK Corral Gun Club. Tom and Lynn are excellent trainers and even better people. I chose this particular course because I knew that it would allow me to get back in the groove so to speak. Their two-day Combative Pistol course is an absolute must take for the responsibly armed citizen, and I will be hosting this course at Tall Palm Ranch, a private range facility in Lakeland, Florida on April 7th & 8th, 2018. I have posted a course review on this course here in this blog for you to read.

A couple weeks later, on the day before Easter I attended Assault Counter Tactics – Vehicle Counter Ambush course at the American Police Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida. Paul Pawela, Director of Law Enforcement Training at the hall of fame was the chief instructor, and he held this course as a tribute to United States Army Colonel (R) Danny R. McKnight, former Commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the Commander on the ground in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 during operation Gothic Serpent. There is a full course review in this blog for you to read.

At the end of April, I attended the NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta and volunteered some time as a firearms examiner on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. My good friend Dave flew down Minnesota to hang out with me for the weekend, the trip was great, I always enjoy attending the NRAAM. I also got to spend a little time with my friend Santi from South Florida who was in town on business, I took him to the airport when I picked up Dave from Minnesota. Thankfully I was also able to spend a little time with friends Marty and Gila Hayes from Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network and Firearms Academy of Seattle. I always enjoy learning from Marty, he and Gila are titans in the firearms training industry, and if you have a chance you should go out and train with them in beautiful Onalaska, Washington. Again, there is a blog posting of my experiences at the #NRAAM right here for you to read.

On May 9th & 10th I attended the first ever open enrollment GLOCK Operator Course given at GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia. The course and the instructor is not one that I would recommend to anyone, and as of this writing they still have not reached out to invite me back. (Not Surprising) Seriously, the course was absolutely horrible and I have no reservations about saying so. Maybe they are working on fixing things with the course of fire and the instructor has hopefully checked his ego, who knows, but this course and this instructor is not one I would ever recommend. I do know that about two weeks ago GLOCK invited a group of people to the course, one of which I know is a writer so maybe they are making an attempt to right the ship; however, that does not make up for all the money and time I spent traveling to and taking a course that was advertised as 1,000 round CoF when I only shot 375 rounds and missed out on a significant portion of the curriculum because of the instructor and his huge ego. I would hope one day that GLOCK – GSSF would step-up and invite me back at no expense to see the course again and if they have made the necessary improvements because myself and the others who actually came out of pocket for the course I attended did not get full value. You guessed it, there is a course review of my experiences at the GLOCK Operator Course here in this blog.

Next up was my third trip in four weeks to North Georgia. This time it was for another course with Tom and Lynn Givens, I took the Rangemaster Firearms Training Services three-day Combative Pistol/Vehicle Defense course. This course was hosted by Chief Deputy Lee Weems with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in Watkinsville, Georgia. “The Chief” is a top notch lawman, highly accomplished shooter and an excellent instructor. On day two of the course we were joined by Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor, I was honored to meet Claude and had him in one of my courses over Father’s Day weekend here in Florida. Follow his blog by clicking on this link, tactical professor. The Rangemaster Combative Pistol/Vehicle Defense Course was excellent! Tom teaches to the adult learning theorems of hear, see, do and test, that works for a lot of people, especially me. As mentioned above, I will be hosting Tom, Lynn and hopefully their “Chinrens” (Skeeter, Dexter and Stub) in 2018. Once for the two-day Combative Pistol Course in April and then for the Three-Day Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course in November at Tall Palm Ranch, in Lakeland, Florida. Make sure to keep an eye on the events page at Trigger Control Dot Org. As for a course review on this course, it is on it’s way. I have not posted one yet because I wrote an article about this course for a publication, unfortunately I don’t believe that the article is going to be published, so look for a full course review very soon on this blog.

In mid June I traveled to Titusville, Florida for three days to train with General Dynamics Simunitions in their Instructor and Safety Certification Course. Which reminds me to email them and ask for the new Instructor manual that they promised us. The course was excellent, and the instructors did a great job moving over thirty of us through several reality based training scenarios and then they coached us as we ran our own reality based training scenarios in an abandoned office building just up the street from the the host agency, the Titusville Police Department. I highly recommend the course, and once again I will post a full course review as the article I was writing for this course looks like it has been quashed as well.

Personal Note: I am right now working on a contract with a publisher, there will be an announcement about this soon here and on my other social media venues.

In late June I made a trip to SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire. The SIG SAUER Master Pistol Instructor course was great, and my Instructor Steven Gilcreast was excellent. I enjoyed my time in New Hampshire so much that I am heading back this coming Sunday in order to take three more courses next week. I can give no more positive endorsement than signing up and paying for more courses at SIG SAUER Academy. A full course review for the SIG SAUER Academy Master Pistol Instructor course was posted in this blog.

July is usually my vacation month to get things together for the courses I will instruct and also attend, along with the goals I want to accomplish throughout the rest of the year. At this time I also plan my training schedule for the following calendar year and make sure I have things on the books with range facilities and local hosts. However, during the month of July I did teach a couple courses and ended up taking the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course given by On Point Safety & Defense at my home club, the Wyoming Antelope Club in Clearwater, Florida. Franklin did a great job with the POI for this course, it is one that I highly recommend for both the firearms instructor and the responsibly armed citizen. I will be hosting this as a closed enrollment course on Saturday October 14th at the Wyoming Antelope Club for my cadre with Trigger Control Dot Org, we may open up the enrollment in a couple weeks as I want to make sure to fill the course for Franklin because he is an excellent trainer.

Which brings us up to present day. Currently I am packing for my return trip to SIG SAUER Academy this Sunday. Once again I am looking forward to the time I will spend in the greater Epping/Exeter metropolitan area. Additionally I may find the time to drive down to Boston to take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, a bucket list item that you can be sure I will check off. Stay tuned for course reviews on the three courses that I will attend next week.

The last weekend in August I will be in Culpeper, Virginia attending a third course with Rangemaster Firearms Training Services, I will be attending the Advanced Instructor Development Course for a second time. I first graduated from this course back in March 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, and candidly, I am looking forward to seeing how Tom has evolved the curriculum of this course. I posted a course review on the original course in 2015 as the first entry in this blog, a new course review will be posted once I complete this course later this month, so please stay tuned!

In September I will be instructing and attending a couple closed enrollment courses for Law Enforcement and one NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting course, then I will be attending a course with Dave Spaulding from Handgun Combatives. I have been chasing Dave for a few years now and the opportunity presented itself, so I jumped on it. By the way, I am very glad that I took action when I did, when I paid my course tuition he only had six registrations, four days later the course was completely sold out. In fact it is oversold to the point that he had to bring in another instructor. Let that be a lesson to those who procrastinate in signing up for courses. Again, a full course review will be posted in this blog.

At the end of September I have been invited to attend a closed enrollment course with a training group that is offering a Combat Shotgun and Advanced Pistol course. Unfortunately this course is being held in one of those states that do not welcome me and my gun, fortunately I will be training with a bunch of operators who can protect me. (Wink-Wink) These two courses will allow me some more flexibility in offering closed enrollment curriculum for both Law Enforcement and Military units.

In early October I will be traveling to Los Angeles to do some consulting with a major television network at one of their studios. The contract is in hand, the money is in the bank, now I just have to work with some actors and actresses on gun handling and some self-defense skills. I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right? Oh and yet again, I am traveling somewhere that I am not typically welcome with my handgun; however, it pays to have friends in high places.

At the end of my trip to California I will attend Ken Hackathorn‘s two-day Advanced Pistol course at Burro Canyon Shooting Park in the San Gabriel Mountains, high above the smog of Los Angeles. I am really looking forward to training with Ken, he has been training Law Enforcement Officers, the United States Military and Responsibly Armed Americans in the responsible and ethical use of firearms for somewhere close to 50 years. You can bet that I will be taking copious notes. When I met Ken at the NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta he told me that he will retire from actively teaching this year and that trainers like Larry Vickers and Daryl Holland both with Aztec Training Services will be taking over a lot of his training. As you might suspect, a full course review will be published in this blog.

The third weekend in October I will be in Green Bay, Wisconsin being hosted by The Well Armed Woman’s oldest chapter. The ladies and their local gun club have been very accommodating and I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring a one-day handgun and personal tactics course for the responsibly armed citizen to “Cheeseville.” I will have a few friends of mine helping me with the course and I am sure that my host and some of the students will be posting course reviews, I will share them as they are published.

The month of November will be very busy as well. During the first three weekends I will be driving to North Carolina, flying to Oklahoma and then flying to the Midwest to take courses in between several course commitments of my own as a trainer. One of these trips includes the first Rangemaster Instructor Reunion Conference to be held at the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Tom and Lynn Givens scheduled this gathering for their alumni and it sold out very quickly, then Tom asked for a larger meeting space in the facility to accommodate more folks and now it is nearly sold out again. This will be a great trip, and one that I am sure will be memorable.

In December I will be headed to South Carolina to conduct a closed enrollment course and to attend a weekend course near Columbia. I am excited to take a drive around Fort Jackson where tomorrow (August 11th) it will be 35 years since I set foot on the soil, err sand there, more appropriately I pushed sand in the front lean and rest position doing push-ups while getting eaten by gnats on Tank Hill, “Bravo Four One” B-4-1, 4th Platoon, “Keep up the Fire!”

In January 2018 I will be headed back to Oklahoma to train with Tom Givens, William Aprill and Craig “Southnarc” Douglas in Establishing a Dominance Paradigm, and then on to the NSSF SHOT Show in Las Vegas. I will be hosting Patrick McNamara here in Florida for his T.A.P.S. Carbine course at the end of the month, I believe this will be his first course in the “GunShine” state. (That’s Florida for all you Yankees) I am excited about hosting Mac, he is one of the very best trainers across all firearms disciplines and a high quality individual as well. Trigger Control Dot Org will be handling the pre-registration for this course, so please stay tuned to the events page on Trigger Control Dot Org for a course announcement soon!

The weekend after the Super Bowl is going to be absolutely epic! I am hosting Gabe White for his very first course in the GunShine State. Gabe is the only man to ever score a perfect 125/125 on “The Test” at the elite Rogers Shooting School in Elijay, Georgia, and get this, he did it from concealment (AIWB) with his GLOCK 34. Both Tom and Lynn Givens and myself sold out Gabe’s course in short order with folks that we knew and have trained with before, so to be fair to everyone who missed out, I am bringing Gabe back in late September 2018 for another course at Tall Palm Ranch in Lakeland, Florida. Registration is open for the September 29th & 30th, 2018 course on Gabe’s Eventbrite page.

In March I will attend the 20th annual Rangemaster Firearms Training Services Tactical Conference at the Direct Action Resource Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The Tactical Conference has trainers from all across the country, people like John Farnam, Massad Ayoob, Marty Hayes, Chick Haggard, Claude Werner, of course Tom Givens and many more nationally known trainers. TACCON sells out way ahead of time and if you have not already registered you’ve got maybe a few weeks until it will be sold out. Register and pay your event fee now on Eventbrite or by mail by downloading the form in this link.

As mentioned several times above, on April 7th & 8th, 2018 I will be hosting Tom and Lynn Givens for their Rangemaster two-day Combative Pistol course. This will be a “Home Course” for them teaching at Tall Palm Ranch, in Lakeland, Florida. This course should fill up very quickly with my instructor cadre and students here in the Tampa Bay area, that is why I am hosting it, all for their benefit. You can register on Eventbrite or by sending your check or money order to; Rangemaster Firearms Training Services, 1808 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City, Florida 33563.

There will be more courses to teach and more to attend in 2018; however, this is what I have going through the first quarter of 2018, how about you? Do you run your gun, or just run your mouth through your keyboard on social media about how you supposedly run your gun? (Sadly a lot of people do just that and they think they are experts in firearms training and the justifiable use of force)

I’ll leave you with this last thought … There are people in the world who watch things happen, then there are the people who make things happen and lastly there are people who wonder what happened. Get off your butt, schedule some training and make things happen!

 

Until next time …

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

My experiences at the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings

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Last weekend I attended the National Rifle Association‘s Annual Meetings of members in Atlanta, Georgia. The NRAAM was held at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) and attendance has been announced right at 81,000 for the weekend. I wonder if President Donald J. Trump was counted in that number. Isn’t it refreshing to have a pro-second amendment President after the eight years we endured from January 20th, 2009 to January 20th, 2017? Sure, gun sales, accessories and ammunition sales set all time records year over year, but it sure is nice having a “friend” living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Overall, the Georgia World Congress Center was excellent. Save one set of escalators being broken, there were enough elevators and other ways to get up and down the five floors of this enormous facility, and I didn’t see adding a hundred or more steps to my daily total as a hindrance. Even the restrooms had maintenance workers stationed near by to ensure cleanliness and the security guards were attentive and tried to be helpful whenever possible with directions etc…

The show floor could comfortably fit eight football fields inside and still have room left over. There were booths on each floor with the NRA Store situated on the fourth floor, you can be well assured that I left a little lighter in the wallet after my visit.

This NRAAM showcased the NRA’s new Insurance and Training products, NRA Carry Guard and NRA Carry Guard Training. More to come in a separate blog posting very soon, stay tuned!

So, it all started for me on Thursday afternoon and candidly, I owe my friend Marty from the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network an apology for not helping both he and Vincent with the heavy lifting. In case you didn’t know, Marty and his wife Gila are a couple titans of the firearms training industry. They have built a firearms training academy that is in the top tier of what this industry has to offer in little old friendly Onalaska, Washington. If you are looking for high quality training and want your skills tested by some of the top trainers in the country, make sure to attend a course at Firearms Academy of Seattle; you will leave with far better skills than what you brought. Oh by the way, Marty and Gila were chosen by the worlds premier firearms training academy, GunSite Academy to host several off-site courses in 2017, that speaks volumes about these folks, both of whom I am honored to call friends of mine.

My volunteer efforts at the NRAAM afforded me access to the exhibition hall while the vendors were setting up their booths and displaying their products on Thursday afternoon, kind of cool to get a “sneak peek” that was authorized; however, at 3:00pm I was firmly seated in room B-203 attending the Firearms Examiner meeting. My volunteer commitment was Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, then to be on-call Saturday and Sunday to inspect any firearms that may have come in late and make sure they were inoperable, even if loaded with a live cartridge.

After checking somewhere south of five-hundred (500) guns the three person team I was assigned to decided we could not do anything more as the vendors in our area were not set up yet.  So, we returned on Friday morning at 7:00am to start again in our designated section and finish checking the guns we were assigned. Thankfully there were no unintended or negligent discharges at the NRAAM this year. (By the way, those tend to happen at these events when ignorant people administratively handle their “carry gun” and show it off to others, never a bright idea)

If you get a chance to volunteer at the NRA Annual Meetings, do it. NRA Certified Instructor, Greg Baird, the NRA’s volunteer coordinator is a class act in every way and he and his team need help is many areas like; the NRA Store, Eddie Eagle, Membership Registrations, NRA Youth Day, the air gun range and of course Firearms Examiners.

Just after the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning I was able to get a photo with someone I have respected my entire adult life; NRA Board Member, Richard Childress. I am a big fan of his, not only because of his unwavering support for our Second Amendment rights, but also because of the way he conducts his business as a person and as the owner of one of the most successful NASCAR teams in history. For me there is Richard Childress Racing, and everybody else is a few laps down at the start-finish line.

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A little earlier Friday morning I received a text message from my good friend Santiago Cuellar, from Godspeed Firearms School. Santi is a sneaky devil, surprising me by saying he was coming to the NRAAM for a few hours before heading home to south Florida after a business trip. Santi is an excellent trainer and a really good friend, I was very surprised and delighted to see him in Atlanta.

AAA Me and Santi Cuellar

After saying goodbye to Santi, it was time to get “Brother Vern” registered. I have known this guy a long time. Seems like yesterday I was a Sergeant and he a Private in the Green Machine, but that was 30 years ago when I met my main man “Vern.” Him flying down to Atlanta just to spend the weekend with me and attend his first NRAAM made this a real special weekend. V-E-R-N thoroughly enjoyed himself, but got quite distracted by all the shiny things to see everywhere. I ended up saying “squirrel” a lot just to make him laugh. This guy is one of my very best friends, one that I would want in a foxhole with me. Those who served know exactly what I mean by that, V-E-R-N is 100% my brother.

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Later on Friday I hosted a dinner for some pretty awesome people. Many of these folks are NRA Training Counselors. We met at Ted’s Montana Grill on Luckie Street. The proprietor there, Michael St. Bernard is a great guy, he and his staff did a fine job. Everyone said their food was excellent, having been to Ted’s before I knew that would be the case and part of the reason why I chose this particular place to host our dinner. So, what’s a gathering like this if we didn’t take a group photo? Again, I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone, several of you have suggested that we make this an annual event, and I think that is a great suggestion.

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On Saturday morning I woke up at my usual 5:30am not the 4:30am I had the previous two days and went to work out in the hotel fitness center, then I waited for Vern to get his heart started so we could head out to the NRAAM.

Saturday was all about hitting as many exhibits as we could, I was still on-call for my duties as a Firearms Examiner, but my first stop was at the Benchmade Knife Company booth so I could drop off my Mini Reflex II automatic to get sharpened and a deep carry clip added. Both were done free of charge and they sent me a text message when my knife was ready for pick-up. Now that’s what I call great customer service. Thanks Benchmade, I am a customer for life!

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Saturday at the NRAAM is the day that John Howard, NRA National Training Manager hosts his annual Trainers’ Update. This years update started off with John introducing the speakers and immediately Dr. Joe Logar took the microphone and gave an excellent presentation on the NRA’s Adaptive Shooting program. If you are an NRA Certified Instructor, Training Counselor or Coach you need to get to know Dr, Joe Logar, he can help you with ideas to train those athletes and responsibly armed citizens that have physical challenges. Dr. Logar can be reached via email at jlogar@nrahq.org

Next up was NRA Training Counselor, Klint Macro and his presentation on the new Pistol “Program.” Nothing really earth-shattering here, just information that if you have received the NRA Trainers’ Updates via email you would know already. Unfortunately many people do not receive those updates and the NRA needs to fix this so everyone is getting information disseminated directly from the Education & Training Department via email and not having to rely on asking questions of the “hive” on Facebook even though their Training Counselor should be their first point of contact.

Klint’s presentation went a little long and led John Howard to announce that we were going to take a break before National Coach Trainer Daniel Subia’s presentation on the NRA Coaching program. This break totally broke the inertia of the update because nearly everyone in attendance flocked toward John and his staff to ask questions and get their face-time. I have attended the Trainers’ Update three of the four years they have been held and I have never seen John call for a break, not once. When the five minute break was up, Daniel and his guest presenter had to wait until everyone finally exited the room to start their presentations and they were left with maybe a dozen of us. IMHO, the coaching program presenters should have been afforded the same courtesy in making their presentations to the entire assembly of Instructors, Training Counselors and Coaches just as Dr. Logar and Klint were able to do, unencumbered by a break. Extremely poor time management led to this ball being dropped, and it is a shame because we need more people in the coaching ranks. Maybe in 2018 Daniel can lead off the Trainers’ Update.

There was no information given at the Trainers’ Update on NRA Carry Guard Training, I bet you a cookie that all of that information is being closely held by Ackerman-McQueen who handles all of the advertising and marketing for the NRA and the NRA Carry Guard Insurance and NRA Carry Guard Training programs.

One of the really cool things in the back of the room, Tony and Rob Lambraia had a makeshift UTM firing line set up for all Instructors to try the UTM training cartridges. If you are not using UTM in your training, you might want to consider it, they are excellent for Force on Force scenario-based training. Find out more about UTM by visiting their website at: https://utmworldwide.com/

After the presentation on coaching, I was able to meet and speak with Mike Hughes, Founder and CEO of NextLevel Training, Mike is the man behind the SIRT Training Pistol. I shared a real success story with him about a student/instructor of mine who greatly improved his defensive marksmanship skills by using a SIRT Training Pistol over a period of about a month. This student had a target grouping that looked like a shotgun pattern in my defensive pistol course and I worked with him to make some improvements during the course; however, after working with the SIRT for a few weeks he came back to me for another course and qualified easily, with a really tight grouping all the way back to 15 yards. The SIRT Training Pistol works, you just got to buy one and put in the time and effort to press the trigger correctly to get the desired result. It’s called “practice” yes, we talkin’ ’bout practice. (Thank you Allen Iverson)

Of course the NRAAM is also about meeting old friends and new ones as well. On Saturday afternoon I introduced my friend to “Uncle Mas” and bought him a gift membership to the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, so he is now part of the ACLDN family. I wanted to get Uncle Mas to call him “Young Brother” but that didn’t happen; however, Vern did get a signed copy of “Gun Safety In the Home.” Thank you Marty, Gila, Vincent, Uncle Mas, Gail and all of those with the ACLDN family.

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Additionally on Saturday I was able to spend some time at the Colt booth talking with firearms training industry giants, Ken Hackathorn, Larry Vickers and Daryl Holland. I was fortunate to be able to spend a fair amount of time with both Ken and Daryl, but Larry had a book signing at the booth, and business is business. I will be taking a course with Ken later this year, and hope to have dinner with him as well. Later in the afternoon I found Ken once again and showed him a photo of my friend Steve standing next to him at a course in Arizona a couple years ago. Ken recognized him immediately and said, “I remember him, he was shooting a Glock 19, and was a good shooter too” both observations were spot-on.

Daryl Holland and I spent a little time talking about hog hunting in Florida, I had no idea he used to live just a few miles from me in Land O’Lakes. I proceeded to ask him for some suggestions for my Colt M4 platform rifle, e.g., what optic he recommended for it and such. It looks like I will be buying a Trijicon MRO® – 2.0 MOA Red Dot. I am a minimalist when it comes to optics on my M4 and this red dot fits that mold. I wanted an unbiased suggestion from a recognized subject matter expert on what he would use and I believe he gave it. I left with Daryl’s contact information and said that I might see him at Universal Shooting Academy for his handgun/carbine course with Shannon Smith in January 2018 or I would host him myself in the Tampa Bay area. One way or another, I will run my gun in a Daryl Holland course in the not too distant future.

Next up, Vern bought a standard edition “Vickers Guide: AR-15 Volume 1.” Larry autographed it for him and was very gracious. Many people tell me that Larry is unapproachable and kind of surly. I call B.S., I found him to be neither of those in fact, quite the opposite. Larry did an execellent job in putting this book together, should we expect anything else from someone of his caliber? If you are interested, you can purchase your copy of Larry’s book directly from him at https://www.vickersguide.com/ – You can also find more products in the link below. I am a big fan of the floor plates that he designed for Glock magazines. They work very well when you have to strip a magazine out of a gun because of a stoppage in the cycle of operation. http://www.vickerstactical.com/products.html

By the way, you can be sure that I will do my best to host Larry in the Tampa Bay area in 2018.

AAA Vern with LAV

On both Friday and Saturday I spent some time at the Sig Sauer booth talking with Steven Gilcreast about my upcoming trip to Sig Sauer Academy, Steve checked his schedule and it looks like he will be my Instructor later this summer. I was also fortunate enough to meet Adam Panchaud the Vice-President of Sig Sauer Academy, both Steve and Adam are keenly aware that I am looking forward to training at Sig Sauer Academy.

Now, have a look at this beauty below. Meet the Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry, it is due to be released in about a month. Check out that flat trigger, undercut on the trigger guard and enhanced beaver tail. This gun also has a relief cut on the top of the slide and is milled for a Mini Red Dot as well. I am told that this gun will be added to the Active & Retired Law Enforcement/Military & Instructor discount program at 25% off MSRP. I am currently working with the fine folks at Sig Sauer to get one for Testing & Evaluation so I can write an article that I have been asked to do for one of the gun magazines. Stay tuned!

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Saturday ended with dinner and a great conversation with Paul Pawela and his girlfriend Linda along with my friend, Vern. Paul is Director of Law Enforcement Training at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville, Florida. He is also a former Special Forces Operator and sworn Police Officer; his company, Assault Counter Tactics specializes in reality-based scenario training. I plan to host Paul this fall for a Vehicle Counter Ambush Course in the Tampa Bay area.

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Sunday morning I started again with a workout and then it was off to breakfast with Vern before heading to GWCC. Sunday’s are great at the NRAAM, you can actually walk though the exhibits most of the day without worrying if or when someone will step on your heels. Vern bought a couple barrels for his rifles and I had Travis Hall (Retired Special Forces Medic) educate me on how to properly pack the Blue Force Gear; Micro Trauma Kit that I purchased on Saturday afternoon. You can learn more about Travis by following his business Facebook page at Second Chance Medical Consulting or on the world wide web at http://secondchancemed.com/.

Also on Sunday I made another stop at Patriot Ordinance Factory (POF-USA for short) to see Tony and his team there. POF-USA makes a superb rifle, I have always liked their Gen4 lower and have had my eye on a P415 Edge or a Renegade+ for a while now. I like the gas piston guns like the P415 Edge, but I am also partial to direct impingement guns like the Renegade+, I need to flip a coin or just get it over with and buy both of them. Take a look at them in the hyperlinks that I created above.

Finally Vern and I zig-zagged the exhibit hall for a couple more hours and then then we decided to leave and get some chow at Twin Smokers BBQ. When we entered the restaurant there was NRA-ILA Executive Director, Chris Cox enjoying his dinner. We had just met Chris and shook his hand on the floor at the exhibit hall a couple hours prior. When he left he waived and shook some hands and thanked everyone for coming to Atlanta and attending the NRA Annual Meetings. Chris and Wayne LaPierre are the two hardest working people in the building located at 11250 Waples Mill Road in Fairfax, Virginia. They are both on the front line every single day protecting our Second Amendment rights.

Once Chris left, Vern and I went about our business of smashing some barbecue and talking about the old days when we were younger, had better eyesight and could run four or five miles out the back gate at North Fort Lewis with our rucksacks on for PT. Yeah, my man Vern is a one of a kind, I am grateful that he came down to visit and enjoy his first NRAAM. “Squirrel”

The only thing I didn’t get to see at the NRAAM was President Donald J. Trump. The President gave a speech to the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, if you missed it, I have placed a link here.

In summary; I had a great time, I always do at this event. As I said a few times, I met up some old friends, made some new ones and got some possibilities for future course offerings from some of the top names in our industry.

Ironically I will be back in the Atlanta area next week attending the new Glock Operators Course at the “mother ship” in Smyrna. Be looking for a course review here on Thursday when I return home. I will also be submitting an article on the course to a few of the gun magazines as well, so stay tuned.

Live life abundantly my friends!

Until next time …

Stay Safe & Train Hard!

Course Review: Assault Counter Tactics; Vehicle Counter Ambush Course, April 15, 2017; Titusville, Florida

AAA Vehicle Counter Ambush Titusville April 15 2017
(Photo Credit: Paul Pawela and Assault Counter Tactics)

This past Saturday I attended Paul Pawela’s Assault Counter Tactics, Vehicle Counter Ambush Course in Titusville, Florida at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum. The course was set up to provide training and to honor United States Army Colonel (R) Danny McKnight, Battalion Commander 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment during the Battle of Mogadishu. The event was sponsored by Nate Love with Frontier Tactical in Brooksville, Florida and Spartan Training Gear.

I arrived at about forty-five minutes early using less than a half tank of gas on the 2.5 hour drive from the Tampa Bay area. When Paul and Linda arrived, I introduced myself and jumped right in to help them unload their equipment.

Before the course started I had the opportunity to walk around the Museum (I had been there once before, but it was after hours) and check out all of the displays including the gun range and their extensive display of patches and badges from law enforcement agencies all across the country. I was impressed by the display of artifacts dedicated to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit. The American Police Hall of Fame & Museum is a beautiful facility and one you must see if traveling anywhere near Florida’s Space Coast.

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(Photo Credit: Trigger Control Dot Org)

A little after 0900hrs the course started with Paul giving us a safety briefing on the four universal safety rules and to let us know that we must all disarm and make sure that we do not have any firearms and other weapons on our person during our participation at the five stations he had set up for us. After the safety briefing and making sure everyone had filled out a waiver Paul introduced Colonel (R) Danny McKnight.

Colonel McKnight spoke a little about what his role would be in the training and he graciously offered to personalize a copy of his book, Streets of Mogadishu: Leadership at it’s best, political correctness at it’s worst!” Make sure you pick up a copy on his website at: http://dannymcknight.com/bookdvd.htm

The other presenters who spoke before training commenced were Manuel (Manny) Cabrera of Sidekicks Family Martial Arts Center, and E.J. Owens founder of Legally Concealed and author of “Counter Violence; your guide to surviving a deadly encounter.”

The training day consisted of the twenty-two participants being broken down into five small groups to participate in reality-based scenario training on the grounds of the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum.

My first station was a scenario where a responsibly armed citizen drove up on a machete wielding man bludgeoning someone to death. The citizen had to dismount his vehicle (4-Door Jeep) and access an AR platform rifle in the back of the vehicle, load it and engage the machete wielding killer. Students were graded on proper use of cover/concealment and while under stress if they could manipulate a rifle in order to stop the threat from killing more innocent civilians. Overall this was a great station and if you are not carrying a firearm in your person, you may have to access a long gun that is somewhere else in your vehicle to stop a spree killer. The use of Ultimate Training Munitions (UTM) made this station a true force on force scenario. By the way I played an unprepared victim having my hands in my pockets. 🙂

AAA Vehicle Counter Ambush Titusville April 15 2017 Machete
(Photo Credit: Paul Pawela and Assault Counter Tactics)

The next station was with E.J. Owens, E.J. led our group through another scenario where we were loaded in the cab of a four-door Ford Super Duty and participants in certain seats were given Glock 17T‘s loaded with Simunition cartridges. E.J. explained that when in a vehicle you must be aware of the angles that you can shoot at considering the A-pillar and B-pillar may be in the way. We also talked about shooting through automotive glass and through door panels and how that may effect the trajectory of the projectile you are firing. We also talked about where you might want to be carrying your firearm so you can access it in case something like this happens to you. Remember, a handgun is commonly referred to as a side-arm because it should be at your side or more appropriately on your person and not in a glove compartment, center console box or for heaven’s sake not under the seat.

In the two scenarios in which I participated in, I was sitting in the driver’s seat. In scenario number one two armed men approached the vehicle on my side demanding the vehicle and money. I extinguished both of them with one shot each to their chest protectors and the scenario ended. In scenario number two I did not have a firearm, the person in the passenger seat did. While stopped an unarmed man came up to my window demanding money, but not posing a threat and as I was pushing the guy away from the vehicle the passenger made an attempt to shoot him. This was clearly a no-shoot situation; however, the decision the passenger made had deadly consequences for me, because he actually shot me with the Simunition cartridge. (In reality he shot my shirt; however, I felt no impact from the cartridge even though there was Simunition paint marking on my shirt) The lesson learned here is quite simple, don’t shoot your friend who is driving the vehicle. This was an excellent scenario, very realistic with the use of the Glock 17T’s and the Simunition cartridges.

AAA Vehicle Counter Ambush Titusville April 15 2017 EJ station
(Photo Credit: Paul Pawela and Assault Counter Tactics)

The next station was set up with the participant walking in a parking lot to their vehicle and an actor approaches them asking for money. There were armed and unarmed confrontations, students were graded on if they could use “verbal judo” and keep the actor away from them and recognize the threat in time to draw their concealed firearm and deal with the situation. As with every encounter, you must watch the hands, they don’t lie and when someone you perceive to be a threat makes a furtive movement around their waist after you have given them commands “Get back, stay back” then you better be ready to use or threaten to use deadly force. (In Florida there are provisions in the statutes for the threatened use of deadly force) Again, overall a good scenario, the only thing I would have done a little different is added in some blank firing guns to make this a lot more realistic.

AAA Vehicle Counter Ambush Titusville April 15 2017 Bob
(Photo Credit: Paul Pawela and Assault Counter Tactics)

The next station was geared toward armed confrontations and handgun disarming techniques with Manny Cabrera. At this station we were introduced to Krav Maga handgun disarming techniques. Since I was there to learn I had an open mind and tried the Krav Maga technique; however, being that I was trained in the Lindell system of weapon retention and disarming I knew it would be very difficult for me to change those techniques since I have habituated them into a highly refined skill. The other part of this station had us in the driver’s seat of a sedan with the windows down. We were approached by an armed assailant and had to disarm him through the window and then given another technique to pin the gun against the dashboard near the A-pillar and then drive off. We also had a scenario where the armed assailant entered the vehicle in through a rear door and we had to disarm him in the car. Overall this was a good set of scenarios, as with the others they are problem solving and decision making then acting on our decisions.

AAA Vehicle Counter Ambush Titusville April 15 2017 Manny
(Photo Credit: Paul Pawela and Assault Counter Tactics)

Lastly we worked on team tactics and some situational awareness skills with Andy Tolbert of Strong Defenses. These scenarios focused on how we must pay attention when riding in a car to the things happening around us at a traffic light. (The guy who comes up to wash your windshield at the intersection. The aggressive panhandler, etc…) The scenarios we ran here were great, as usual, Andy did an awesome job. (I might be a little biased since I trained with her a couple times and certified her in two NRA disciplines as well)

AAA Vehicle Counter Ambush Titusville April 15 2017 Andy
(Photo Credit: Paul Pawela and Assault Counter Tactics)

To summarize, this course was well thought out by Chief Instructor Paul Pawela and well executed by his team of Instructors. The scenarios were realistic to the things we see on a daily basis while watching the evening news.

Quoting the one and only Massad Ayoob, “Whether the fight is verbal or physical, the first law of human conflict is to be able to predict where the attack will come, and already have a counter in place for it.”

This course was well worth the $200.00 tuition and the proceeds benefited a real American hero, Colonel Danny McKnight. If you missed it, don’t feel bad, there will be others and I will host Paul in the Tampa Bay area for this course in the future. You can also find out Paul’s schedule by following his business Facebook page at: Assault Counter Tactics or find him on the world wide web at: http://www.assaultcountertactics.com/

 

Until next time …

Stay Safe & Train Hard!