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.

Murph

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 FliteControlÂŽ 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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Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

Patterning your shotgun is critical, but an often overlooked aspect of being prepared to use that gun in self-defense.

I have patterned a few shotguns before and understand that many people do not because they are living in some type of an alternate reality believing that a shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed and that somehow their payload will magically find their intended target. The hard reality is you must practice sound fundamentals and have both a steady aim and good trigger control in order to hit your target, even with a shotgun.

Before I get started, I’d like to ask all of the Gun Pretenders, YouTube, and Instagram Instructors and of course those famous Keyboard Operators out there, please stop recommending birdshot for professional/duty and or home or self-defense. Birdshot offers less than adequate penetration and besides, birdshot is for shooting what … the correct answer would be, you guessed it, birds.

OK, let’s talk about how to pattern your shotgun.

In order to establish a control group, I recommend placing three (3) shots on a target with a variety of payloads, each from the exact same distance, 15yds or 45ft. The POA or Point of Aim I chose with my Beretta 1301 Tactical was the center of the “A” Zone on an I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation) target. (Yes, I patterned the gun with some birdshot and I used a distance of 10yds or 30ft for those payloads)

Sure you could use five shots and most often in zeroing my rifle I will use a five shot group because I want to make sure that I minimize the outliers or as Pat McNamara calls them, “Junebugs.” However, I feel that three shot groups are sufficient to get an accurate feel of the payload and what it will do when launched from your shoulder-fired shotgun.

The reason I specifically mention shoulder-fired shotgun is that there are a couple new kids on the block, the Remington TAC-14, and the Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave. These shotguns have been available for over a year now and maybe close to two; however, they are basically hand cannons and are difficult to shoot with much accuracy using full-power payloads even for the most experienced of shooters. One man, “Brobee223” on YouTube has perfected the art and was very successful using his Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave to bag a couple deer late last year. I have linked his video below, give it a look. Fair warning, it is rather lengthy.

 

Back on track with patterning my Beretta 1301 Tactical. The first load I chose to shoot was by far the best and it really comes as no surprise. The Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK, 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite ControlÂŽ Wad (LE13300) is the choice of many an experienced shotgunner. As you can see in the photo below, all twenty-four (24) pellets from my three shot group landed within a 3″ group with the three (3) larger holes being the wads.

IMG_6410

Below are photos of my other targets, using different loads, showing their patterns.

Federal 2 3/4″ 000BK, 8 Pellet, Maximum. (F127000)

IMG_6411

Olin Corporation 2 3/4″ 00BK, 9 Pellet Military Grade. (Brown Box)

IMG_6412

Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 1BK, 15 Pellet, Low Recoil Flite ControlÂŽ Wad. (LE132 1B) This was the second best pattern; however, I find that the 1BK is not as consistent as the 8 Pellet 00BK patterned in the first photo.

IMG_6413

Federal 2 3/4″ 4BK, 27 Pellet, Maximum. (F127 4B) Just to big of a spread for me at this range and not something I would recommend for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

IMG_6414

As I mentioned above, I wanted to put some birdshot on target and here are the results. Birdshot Federal #4 Shot “Heavy Field Load” – 2 3/4″ – 1 1/8oz – 10yds (Take note, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) This sure appears to be a tight pattern, it’s the lack of penetration that makes birdshot suboptimal in its effectiveness for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

IMG_6415

Winchester Super Target #8 Shot 2 3/4″ 1oz – 10yds (Once again, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) Same result, fairly tight pattern; however, penetration with this payload would also be an issue.

IMG_6416

So, once you have established a control group and your desired starting distance (Mine was 15yds) and you have selected the payload that you feel works best in your shotgun, it’s time to find out what the maximum effective range of your shotgun is with that particular load. In order to determine that, you will want to run your shotgun out to a distance and stop when you find the point at which you can keep all of your pellets from your chosen payload inside an 8″ to no more than 12″ pattern. I’d also recommend not only shooting cardboard or paper targets alone, make sure to shoot some steel as well. I happen to use 12″ AR500 discs that are 3/8″ thick, they work well with 00BK at this range.

From this test, it’s easy to see that my 1301T likes the Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite ControlÂŽ Wad (LE13300) best at 15 yards. From previous experience with this payload, I can move back as far as 30yds and still keep the pattern inside an 8″ to 12″ group and that is precisely the reason I choose this particular load for my shotgun.

When I can find some time in between the courses that I am teaching and the ones I am attending as a student this spring and summer I will pattern my Vang Comp Systems Remington 870P to find out exactly what it likes best. Candidly, I suspect that there will be some similarities; however, one never knows until we put in the work.

If you need assistance in patterning your shotgun for professional/duty or home or self-defense use please consult a reputable Instructor/Coach who is familiar with the nuances of patterning a shotgun and can give you proper advice on the appropriate payload for your intended use as well.

 

Until next time …

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

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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-seven NRA Student and Instructor courses, and 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 SimunitionsÂŽ 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, M400ÂŽ/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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Course Review: Pat McNamara, TMACS, Inc. Sentinel; Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail; December 16th & 17th, 2017 – Swansea, South Carolina (Host: Panteao Productions)

Earlier this year I finished reading Pat McNamara’s book, T.A.P.S. – Tactical Application of Practical Shooting. Immediately after that, I started  reading, “Sentinel – Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail.” Once I finished that book I knew that I wanted to attend a course with Pat sometime in the future, better yet host him for a course here in Florida. (We’ve got that scheduled, T.A.P.S. Pistol & Carbine Combo course on March 3rd and 4th, 2018 here in Lakeland)

Checking the TMACS, Inc training schedule, I found a Sentinel course listed in South Carolina at Panteao Productions and signed up immediately. So, two weeks ago I set my GPS to the SandLapper Rifle Range & Gun Club and arrived in the mid-afternoon the day prior to the course. Upon my arrival, I was greeted with a friendly Hello, and given a gift bag for attending the course, I thought this was a nice gesture from the Panteao Productions folks, if I lived in the Columbia area, I would definitely become a member of their gun club. My reasoning to stop at the facility first was it was on the way and I could gauge how long it would take me to get there the next morning from my hotel.

IMG_8898[1]

Next, I was off to my hotel just outside Fort Jackson to get checked in and then like magic, my GPS mysteriously found its way to Palmetto State Armory, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and Academy Sports. It must be nice to have all three places within a few miles of one another where you live, and if you can’t find something to buy in these three places, you’re not an outdoors person or a gun person.

On Saturday morning I woke up to 28° weather, yes 28° weather. A little cold for this Florida boy, but it was all mind over matter, I didn’t mind, so it didn’t matter. I grabbed some fruit, chicken and a few bottles of water at the local Walmart, filled my gas tank, and made the twenty-minute drive down to Swansea arriving a little before 8:00am.

When I got on the property I was once again greeted by the Panteao staff and I signed a standard participation waiver and one for Panteao Productions itself because this course was being taped for a new DVD that they will release soon. You can find more information about that by clicking on the Panteao Productions hyperlinks I have embedded in this posting.

 

(Photo courtesy of Panteao Productions)

When I arrived at the range I was greeted by Pat with a firm handshake and a thank you for coming. I took the opportunity to thank him for setting up a course with me in Florida and then I was off to make sure I had my gear squared away. As each student arrived, Pat made a point to greet them, thank them for coming and he also asked where everyone came from as well. We had students from “Free America” and some from “UnFree America.” I believe one person flew in from California and one from Chicago, one or two from Virginia and the rest were all southerners from states like Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and yours truly from Florida.

Once it warmed up a little, Pat started with a short bio and then explained his philosophy on Outcome Based Training versus Performance Based Training.

Outcome-Based Training: Execution with consideration of the consequences, will I succeed, or will I fail? Outcome-Based Training is how many, how much, how fast.

Performance Based Training: How well can I perform a task. Performance is measured by doing what we can with what we have. It also requires the student to be introspective and to perform an honest self-assessment of where your skills are, not where you wish they were. The probability of achieving the outcome you desire will increase once you let go of the need to have it.

The Sentinel course is a foundational skills course with pistol and carbine at the forefront. There are also four additional blocks of instruction on Vehicle Preparedness/Urban Survival Skills, Combat Strength Training, Your House/Your Fortress, and Fighting.

Pat then went over his interpretation of the four safety rules, and then we started with getting some dope with our rifle optics. (Pro Tip: Show up to Gun School with your rifle properly zeroed.)

After each of us had a zero we then confirmed our zero with our iron sights. Moving forward we performed a simple “call your shot” drill from the standing position and then we shot five rounds resting our barrels on a fixed object, turning the rifle 90° and lastly using a forced parallax with our optic.

I took a photo of Pat’s target and posted it below so you can see his “storyboard.” He uses this storyboard to collect empirical data from his training sessions and takes a photo of it so he can refer to it in the future, this is similar to a system that I use; however, Pat takes it to a whole new level. As you can see this target has all of his zeroing information.

  1. Date
  2. Location
  3. Distance
  4. Temperature
  5. Wind Speed/Direction
  6. Rifle or Weapon System
  7. Ammunition
  8. Optic

IMG_8883[1]

Next, we shot a “BRM Payoff” this is a 200-point scored course of fire done on four NRA B-8 bulls-eye centers from standing sitting, kneeling and prone. I have an excellent video of Pat transitioning through these positions that I will post shortly to my Facebook and Instagram accounts, links to those are at the bottom.

My BRM Payoff scores were 181 and 185, incremental improvements are good if you are focused on performance-based training and I was happy with these scores; however, even though they showed incremental improvement, there is room for a whole lot more.

This brought us to the first mini-block of instruction on vehicle preparedness. Most of us attending the course were surprised to learn what Pat has for his everyday driver, I would have never guessed it. Again, without giving away the entire POI or the contents of his book, let’s say Pat keeps a “Trunk Gun” or “Truck Gun” in whatever he is driving with an “I’m coming to get you” bag and another bag that he called his “Batman Bag.” The second bag being somewhat of a “Go Bag” with a few hours supply of survival essentials, a little food, water and some other things that you would need in case you got stranded or you were going to help a loved one who was stranded.

Next Pat talked about “dryfiring your vehicle” making sure you can debus in a hurry if you need to and that you should think of ways to escape, remember that mobility = survivability. Dryfiring your vehicle is particularly important when you rent a car or use one that you typically don’t drive much.

Once we finished lunch we started with some basic drills with the pistol.

Remember what the basics of pistol shooting are, sight alignment and controlling the trigger properly. All of us including Pat started at the seven-yard line from a ready position shooting single shots using the hole of our first shot as an aiming point for the rest. We then shot controlled pairs and ended with strong hand only.

It’s important to note that Pat is one of those trainers who could be training military units at Fort Bragg, or a SWAT Team one day and responsibly armed citizens the next, he is a rare breed who understands the differences in training these diverse groups of people and what their training needs are, unfortunately, many who make the transition from military to civilian life do not and they hang out a shingle professing their skills and they fail miserably.

We then had a block of instruction on Combat Strength Training.

The program breaks down tasks into four categories:

  1. Strength: How Much
  2. Power: Rate of Force Production; How Much, How Fast
  3. Speed & Quickness: Speed = Fast in One Direction/Quickness = Fast in Multiple Directions
  4. Hypertrophy: Muscular Development

My takeaway was that Combat Strength Training is not about building rock hard abs or a huge chest and biceps, it is about self-preservation and creating some longevity. It is also about making sure you are “fit to fight.”

TD1 wrapped up with an overview of what we accomplished and a short question and answer session.

We started TD2, at the same time, and with the same BRM Payoff Drill we did on TD1, my score was 188. Once again an incremental improvement and I was pleased with that because you are either getting better or you’re getting worse, you never stay the same.

We then cleared our rifles and shot a “National Match Mod” pistol 75-point course of fire twice for a score. This course of fire used a standard IPSC target using the following scoring method, minus 1pt for C zone hits, minus 2pts for D zone hits and -5 for misses. Make note of that because the next few drills had the same scoring method.

I found the National Match Mod to be an extremely challenging course of fire especially since it was shot at 50 and 25 yards. My 53-year old eyes are not as sharp as they used to be and so my first run was not very good, I only managed a 64. Then I spied what Pat had done to his target, and now I know why he always keeps a sharpie in his pocket. Pat had outlined the A zone of his target, in doing so it made a huge difference for me, I scored a 71 on the second go around. Little things like that give yourself an advantage and if it is within the rules, why not use it?

Our next course of fire was a version of his “Running and Gunning” drill. This was also timed and scored on an IPSC target as well. A good way to understand “Running and Gunning” is to watch the man himself explain and demonstrate it in the link I have provided here. Running and Gunning

We then shot “The Hellion” this one requires you to be a thinker and not just a shooter. I haven’t seen it on any of his videos, and because it is something that is difficult to explain in the written word, I’ll just do a video of it in a couple weeks and post it to my page and edit this blog posting with a link.

Lastly, we shot the four-position rifle timed course of fire at the same IPSC target used for the National Match Mod, Running and Gunning and the Hellion. We also used the same scoring system, total time plus penalties.

The reason we shot the same target was simple, first so we didn’t waste our resources and second to record empirical data, remember that from my comments on TD1? The photo below is of Pat’s target and scores after shooting these four courses of fire twice.

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TD2 also had the two remaining blocks of instruction in the Sentinel course, “Your Home/Your Fortress” and “Fighting.” These were very good presentations with a lot of discussion on defending your home and a lot of interaction in the fighting presentation with Pat showing us some basic boxing moves and then pairing us up with partners and us working on skills together. I found all four blocks of instruction worthwhile and very informative on subjects that we all need to know in being that agent in charge of our own protection detail.

We ended the day with Pat setting up some steel targets and shooting some drills that he is famous for on YouTube, like the Grinder, Steven Gilcreast’s “Blaze X” and also Grid of Fire, and a new drill he set up during lunch called “The Scanner.” This Scanner drill has a lot going on as you can see from the photo below. I can’t give the entire drill away, that would ruin the surprise when you run it the first time, but needless to say, I am going to steal this one. Of course, I will give the appropriate reference as to where I got it.

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We also had one steel target set up to time our presentation to first shot from standing and facing the target, then after turning 180° in both directions and lastly, while making a lateral move to the left.

We finished TD2 the same as TD1, with an overview of what we accomplished and a short question and answer session.

For this course, I used my every day carry gun and equipment and ran all drills from concealment. My Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry ran flawlessly with Federal American Eagle 115gr TSJ Syntech ammunition. I also used my Henry’s Holsters AIWB set up with a Sig Sauer brand magazine pouch.

In summary, the Sentinel course helped me to identify some areas in which my skills need some improvement and that’s what it’s all about. Seriously, having those performance-based training objectives helps me to be introspective and realistic about my own skills, it also allows me to set goals in order to make improvements in those skills.

Sentinel was my last course of the year, and honestly, I wish it had been my first. Pat McNamara is an excellent trainer and he constantly offered tips to all of us so we could improve our performance. I tend to gravitate toward trainers like Pat, and this is a course that I recommend without reservation.

You can find the TMAC’s Inc training schedule by clicking on the link below and if you are in Florida, consider joining us for the T.A.P.S. Pistol/Carbine Combo course on March 3rd and 4th at Firearms Training Club of America in Lakeland.

https://squareup.com/store/tmacs-inc

 

Until next time…

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

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Course Review: Defense Training International Advanced Defensive Handgun & Instructor Courses; November 17th – 19th, 2017 – New Plymouth, Ohio

“The time to prepare for your next shooting is now.” – John Farnam

Recently I attended the Defense Training International (John & Vicki Farnam) Advanced Defensive Handgun and the DTI Instructor Course in New Plymouth, Ohio.

Many of you probably know that John Farnam and Ken Hackathorn were two of the very first Instructors to take their Program of Instruction (POI) on the road and train Law Enforcement Officers, Active Duty Servicemembers and Responsibly Armed Citizens back in the 1970’s and if you didn’t, you do now. John and his wife Vicki, who have been training together as husband and wife for the past thirty-one (31) years are “Industry Giants” and if you have not trained with them yet, you really need to make that happen.

In case you didn’t know, John is also a long time advisory board member of Marty and Gila Hayes’ Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network along with other industry giants like Massad Ayoob, Jim Fleming, Tom Givens, Emanuel Kapelsohn, and Dennis Tueller. (In full disclosure I am a member of the network as well)

Let’s get to the course information. Friday morning, bright and early my friend Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC and I met the Farnam’s for breakfast and then we took the thirty-minute drive to the range so we could get started promptly at 9:00am. The weekend schedule was as follows, DTI Advanced Defensive Handgun Course on Friday and the DTI Instructor Course on Saturday and Sunday.

We started all three days in the classroom and on Friday John began discussing the art and science of defensive shooting and his “Four D’s of Fighting.”

  1. Divide his focus.
  2. Disrupt his plan.
  3. Disable his body.
  4. Destroy his will to fight.

During the classroom lecture, John talked a lot about the immediate aftermath of a self-defense shooting. His background as a law enforcement officer and a top industry trainer for somewhere north of forty (40) years gives him the credibility of a subject matter expert in this area. Folks, we’re talking about how to handle the 9-1-1 call, and how to answer questions from responding officers at the scene without talking yourself into a pair of handcuffs. (Never once was the words, “I was in fear for my life” spoken, I say this just to prove how infantile that expression has become)

While inside the classroom we also worked on some handgun retention and disarming techniques. John believes that it is more likely that you might have to disarm someone rather than shoot them, especially when you are within arms reach of your assailant. This is an area of Defensive Tactics that I wish more responsibly armed citizens would spend some time in training and not in the Dojo. In the law enforcement community, there are plenty of hours spent training these skills.

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(Photo: John demonstrating handgun disarms with Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC)

Once on the range, we were introduced to the Ravelin Group RotatorÂŽ Rotary Action Targets. These targets are absolutely diabolical, and shooting at them around simulated friendlies and or cover is not easy at all especially from distance. John and Vicki’s POI is all about moving off the line of force so you won’t be standing with your feet in cement while you present your handgun, and they get you moving after each four-round burst. Move and re-engage the threat/target from your new position and move while reloading as well. There is absolutely no need to stay stationary in a gunfight, that is unless you want to get shot.

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(Photo: Ravelin Group RotatorÂŽ Rotary Action Target)

The Ravelin Group RotatorÂŽ Rotary Action Targets have 8″ square paddles on them and in order to get them to rotate you must get your hits precisely in the right place and at precisely the right time so you can keep the inertia going. This can be both mentally and physically challenging as you’ve got to make every shot count, a missed shot breaks the inertia you’ve built up and next thing you know you have missed several times in a row because you get frustrated. All of us pitched our share shots during the course, it’s how we followed up those misses that counts.

During our range exercises, John emphasized his checklist that includes scanning and movement, reloading, creating distance from the threat, finding cover, checking yourself for injuries, accounting for everyone who might be hurt and finally calling 9-1-1. We practiced these things on the range after each drill and John would ask us key questions to prepare our “tape loop” for the immediate aftermath when law enforcement arrives on the scene.

It is worthwhile to note that John and Vicki run a hot range and will not allow a student or instructor candidate to ever holster an empty gun. An empty gun in a holster is useless and furthermore, it is dangerous because it adds to the administrative handling of the gun and most “accidents” happen during the administrative handling of guns. (Holstering) John’s range instructions are purposely vague, you have to be a thinker in his course and apply the instructions given into a plan to solve the problem.

The Farnam’s are also big on demonstrations as well. They believe as I do, a firearms instructor/teacher must be able to step up cold on demand and demonstrate drills to standard for their students. One has to be able to explain, demonstrate, and coach their students through drills, they must also give the “why” in training, most instructors can’t because they only regurgitate what they heard some instructor say or worse, what they read on the internet. If you heard it from John, he probably coined the phrase or developed the POI being taught.

During the Instructor course, John quoted these words many times as a way to emphasize the need to teach to the adult learning theorem, “What I hear, I forget; What I see, I remember; What I do, I understand.” He also made us keenly aware that feelings may be hurt during the course, it’s normal and part of the learning process. (My friend Steve mentioned that many sacred cows were slaughtered over the weekend)

On TD2 of the Instructor course, we got an excellent presentation from Vicki on teaching women. Her POI is based on her book, “Teaching Women to Shoot.” John and Vicki’s books can be purchased through the DTI Bookshelf at http://defense-training.com/

Additionally, the DTI Instructor course comes with a comprehensive Instructor Manual; however, you can find the POI well outlined in John’s book, “The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning.” I would highly suggest that you buy this book (And read it) before attending any DTI Handgun course, especially the Advanced Defensive Handgun course or the DTI Instructor course, you will thank me for that advice and you will be well prepared if you act on it.

Make sure that you prepare for some presentations as well, you will need to give them in front of your classmates cold on demand and with no preparation time. John and Vicki put pressure on their Instructors to perform. Thus you are assigned a subject and you must give a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the students and of course be prepared for Mabel to show up. (That’s Vicki’s alter ego)

AAA DTI Presentation

(Photo: My closing presentation last Sunday during the DTI Instructors Course)

In summary, I mentioned earlier that these two courses pushed me both mentally and physically and the qualification is not particularly easy. I was able to pass in seven (7) shots and some thirteen (13) seconds and change after a little warm-up and time to work out some frustration. My friend Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC stepped up and passed in six shots, cold on demand. That is pretty darn good shooting on those targets. The classroom presentations including developing a plan to deal with the immediate aftermath and the handgun retention/disarming techniques are a key piece of John’s POI and I am glad he had time to fit them into our course.

I strongly recommend that you attend a DTI course when John and Vicki are in your area, and if you are shooting 9mm, make sure to bring 147gr FMJ or some +P, they spin those diabolical Ravelin Group RotatorsÂŽ quite well.

You can find the Defense Training International course schedule located in the hyperlink below.

http://defense-training.com/schedule/

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(Photo: DTI Staff Instructors and Students – Advanced Defensive Handgun Course/DTI Instructor Course; November 17th – 19th, 2017)

 

Until next time…

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

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles; October 23rd, 2017, Epping, New Hampshire.

After spending a couple absolutely beautiful fall days in Green Bay, Wisconsin teaching my Handgun Essentials course, it was back to SIG SAUER Academy for my third trip this year. (I previously attended the Master Pistol Instructor course in June and the P320 and M400/M-16/M4/AR-15 Rifle armorer’s course along with the Low-Light Pistol Instructor course in August)

Upon my arrival at Manchester airport, I was immediately embraced by all the fall colors that New Hampshire has to offer, and for someone who has not seen a change of seasons in seventeen years, this was certainly a welcome sight.

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(Some of the fall colors found on property at SIG SAUER Academy)

Our training day started promptly at 0830hrs in classroom #6 with ten students with various backgrounds in firearms training. Both of our Instructors, Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro were excellent and spent a lot of time coaching us all throughout the day and as with all SIG SAUER Academy courses, the lead instructor explained and demonstrated all the drills before having students run them dry-fire and live-fire.

Once we got our “chow plan” figured out and completed all of the Academy paperwork, we got into introductions and then on to the range. Before we started any range exercises our Primary Instructor Dylan Kenneson outlined our Emergency Procedures, this was also reiterated after lunch.

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(Our Course Emergency Plan)

Once on the range, our first exercise was a modified version of David Blinder’s Dot Torture drill that was made famous by the late Todd Louis Green of Pistol-Training.

After being dot tortured (Pardon the pun) we got into some dry-fire exercises from seated positions on the range. We practiced all of the exercises dry-fire with a strict emphasis on safety and then moved on to live-fire once both Dylan and Chris were confident that we had the proper technique down.

Once we got in the first vehicle it was all about getting solid hits on the SSA-BM1 “Brett Target” named after Brett Martin, a former SIG SAUER Academy employee. Each student got the opportunity to be in the driver and passenger seat, engaging targets from two different distances. You couldn’t just point and shoot in this drill, you needed to take well-aimed precise shots especially from the passenger side of the truck as the target was about fifteen yards away.

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(SIG SAUER Academy Instructors Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro watching closely over our live-fire exercises. Coolest license plate ever … “-SIG-” New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die”)

After a short break, a vehicle was delivered on a flatbed truck with major front-end damage, yet it had all its glass still intact to give us the chance to see how certain projectiles fared through windshields and of course side the window glass. In the course description, we were asked to bring some duty/carry ammunition and this proved educational as to what projectiles do when traveling through windshields.

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(On this target you may be able to see some of the markings as to what brand and the specific load that was used. We shot from the driver’s seat and the target was placed at a distance of five (5) yards away with the majority of shots taken with the muzzle positioned back from the glass. Our point of aim was to be the square box underneath the eight-inch center chest area circle. Look closely at the hole at the very top of the target, that shot was taken with the muzzle directly on the windshield using the Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P load. The high deflection was due to the design of that particular projectile with its “Flex-Tip” design. The second shot with that load from back about six inches away from the windshield hit the target just to the right of the zipper, in the neck/collar-bone area)

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Important Note: When presented with a threat like this, your best option might be to mash the accelerator and run them over. If they have a weapon such as a handgun you would more than likely be justified in doing so as long as you can articulate and authenticate the presence of a threat of death or great bodily harm.

The course also included a block of instruction on escaping a vehicle in an emergency using many different tools to help with extraction. This block of instruction also included some innovative solutions to gaining access to a vehicle from outside as well. Personally, I carry a Benchmade Houdini Pro in the console of my vehicle and I also purchased a ResqMe in the SIG SAUER Academy Proshop to carry on my keyring as a backup. (See photo below)

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(In the photo above Victor from Sierra Element is engaging a threat through the rear window with Instructor Chris “Cav” Cavallaro coaching during the SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles course October 23rd, 2017 in Epping, New Hampshire)

After lunch, it was on to some debussing drills and using cover to engage threats outside the vehicle. Our scenarios led by both Instructors and were all done with the utmost concern for the safety of the students and of course to ensure that learning was taking place while offering feedback on our techniques and more importantly keeping us focused on our performance.

(Just a couple guys out for a drive on a nice fall day in New Hampshire and then we start taking gunfire)

Teachable Moment: Getting out of the driver’s side seat and over the console of this Jeep Grand Cherokee proved difficult for a big dude like me. In this scenario, I was to engage our threats and provide cover for Victor to exit the vehicle. Once he was in position, he did the same for me as I exited the vehicle. This drill was very educational in the fact that if you’ve got to de-buss you need to do it quickly from any position inside the vehicle even if it is climbing out over the console. I also found that my Comp-Tac holster needs a little tightening down on the retention screws so it will hold my SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry a little more securely.

Lastly, several of us were given the opportunity to shoot through the Saturn in specific locations with several different calibers from .22LR to .45ACP in pistols and then a variety of long guns including a suppressed SIG SAUER MCX, M400 (AR-15), a Century Arms AK-47, a 7.62×51 sniper rifle, a 12 gauge Mossberg pump gun loaded with birdshot, buckshot, and rifled slugs. Then lastly, there was the behemoth below that Cav is point shooting without a scope, the .338 Lapua.

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In summary, the Bullets and Vehicles course does an excellent job in establishing some foundational skills for fighting in and around vehicles. Once again, SIG SAUER Academy does not disappoint and their Instructor Cadre, both Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro proved themselves as two of the top trainers in this industry with their excellent instruction and positive coaching every step of the way. I also owe a big thank you as well to SIG SAUER Academy Training Coordinator Kathleen Randolph for getting me a seat in the course when it was already sold out. I wish that my schedule would have allowed me to stay for a few more courses before returning home to teach this past weekend.

Another benefit this trip gave me was the ability to reconnect with my friend Victor from Sierra Element. We took a little side trip to Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine and had a couple good dinners together at places like The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub. I can see Victor and I attending many more courses together in the future, he is a high-quality individual whom I will not hesitate to recommend as a trainer. If you live in Southern California, you can find a list of his courses by clicking here.

Lastly, this will probably come as no surprise; however, I am already looking forward to returning in 2018 in order to work some more on my skills and learn a lot more things that I can bring back to my students.

SIG SAUER Academy is a world-class training facility with world-class people that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?

 

Until next time …

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

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