on “Waiting for José”, and Harel Shapira

In “Bowling Alone”, [Robert] Putnam’s diagnosis of America’s decline is rooted in the loss of civic engagement and the decline in associated life. What America has lost, Putnam argues, are institutions – ranging from churches to book clubs – in which people can come together and do things as a part of a collective, as members of a shared community; what America has lost are Americans who seek institutions; what America has lost is the spirit that is at the heart of our democracy. It is the spirit that Alexis de Tocqueville noticed in the eighteenth century and claimed as the source of America’s strength. The Minutemen agree. And the Minutemen have that spirit. What they lack is not a democratic ethos. They are what people like Putnam and de Tocqueville and our whole liberal democratic political tradition want out of citizens; engaged, active, concerned.

From “Waiting for José” by Harel Shapira.

I met Harel about a year ago. He was a student in a class I was teaching at KR Training. As far as I knew, he was just another student. Turns out that’s not quite the case. 🙂 He’s also an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin.

Harel’s sociological interest is in guns, gun culture, firearms education, the culture of armed citizens, and the people within. He wants to understand why people join social movements, and a large part of that is the “doing” of those movements – and so, he seeks to immerse himself in the movements and “doing” them as well. He’s still an observer and tries to remain as such, but yet he must also participate. It’s quite interesting.

Harel wanted to speak with me (beyond class) on some topics. In part because of my role as Assistant Lead Instructor at KR Training, and also in part because of the incident I was involved in on January 5, 2015. More recently, we’ve started talking again regarding phase 2 of his research (which I don’t believe I can disclose at this time, but it’s a logical progression of his research). I have maintained I will always speak about that incident, because in doing so others can learn and perhaps the world can become a little wiser, a little better. We’ve had a few long lunches, talking at great length about all manner of things (and I truly enjoy our talks). But that’s not why I write today.

Harel’s PhD dissertation became a book: “Waiting for José – the Minuteman’s Pursuit of America“. Harel gave me a copy. On a long flight to Seattle I was finally able to read it – and I’m so glad I did.

The book is thought-provoking. It caused me to reflect. It made me think deeper, not so much about The Minuteman movement or guns and gun culture – but about modern society, and our humanness. For this alone, I think this book well worth reading by anyone, and hopefully they too can step back from the specific subject matter and consider the grander implications of modern society in the USA as well as that strange thing we call “human nature”.

The Minutemen

Briefly, the book chronicles a lengthy period of time Harel spent with the Minutemen. These are people who volunteer to sit at the US-Mexico border, watching for “José” to cross illegally, and work to assist the Border Patrol in their capture.

In the pages of everything from local to international newspapers were photographs of camouflaged men prowling the desert, seemingly a moment away from committing violence. You have probably read these articles and seen these images. The liberal media describes the Minutemen as “sorry-ass gun freaks and sociopaths,” while the conservative media characterizes them as “extraordinary men and women… heroes”. In some accounts these people are patriots; in others, they are lunatics.

One thing is certain, these men and women, whatever their given labels suggest, have come to play an enormous role in our country’s debates about immigration. The problem is that our standard judgements, whether damning them or praising them, sidestep the complex dynamics of who these people are and what they do on the border.

Liberal media accounts suggest that when it comes to immigration, what the Minutemen and their supporters lack is sympathy. If only they understood the plight of the people coming across the border, they would change their minds. But if we are to understand the Minutemen, we need to understand how anger and sympathy can coexist.

Harel writes direct from his experience – he’s the one telling the story. He tells of his experiences: his first arrival, his getting thrown out, his return and initial gaining of trust, the times going out on patrol, sitting in the comms room, and other stories of his experiences with these men and women. He works to analyze and understand why these people do what they do, and become the people they become as a part of this movement.

For example, he tells the tale of Gordon. Gordon was a man without the same background as so many other Minutemen – no military, no law enforcement. Just someone who felt a pull to the movement, had no idea how to participate, but had a burning desire to do so. Then how seeing Gordon over the course of two years, how Gordon grew, how he changed, and how being a Minuteman defined his life and gave him solid purpose.

It becomes very easy to dismiss these people because they are different from you. It’s not a movement you’d join, and it seems a little weird, right? So that must mean these people are weird too. And so, they are dismissed as weirdos and written off.

But what Harel works to do? To find and show their humanness.

Because they are human, just like you.

They want to belong. They want to feel worthwhile. They want to contribute. They want to make a difference. They want to be meaningful.

Just like you.

Sure, the specifics will vary – and they even vary within this grouping. But what I found compelling about Harel’s research – and remember, that Harel is very much an outsider in almost every way – is his desire to understand. Sure, he can’t totally remove his own bias, his own filters, but it’s that very lens that makes the book the worthwhile read. Harel is naive, green, ignorant of this world, with his own preconceived notions. Sure it’s interesting to read the picture painted about The Minutemen, but it’s also worthwhile to watch Harel’s own evolution through this experience.

For me, it was especially interesting to watch because the Harel I met and know is not the same Harel as in the book. So for me, it was neat to see that further backstory to enable me to better understand where Harel is coming from, and where he’s trying to go to with his continued research.

It all boils down to a simple thing: to understanding. Why people are as they are. What makes us human. And you will find that they may not be like you, yet you are more like them than you could ever imagine.

Beyond José

To that, Harel’s latest research (as of this writing) has been published in the March 2018 issue of Qualitative Sociology, entitled “Learning to Need a Gun”. I was a participant in the research, I’ve read his paper, and while sometimes it was a hard read, I felt it was an accurate picture. Hard read? Because there are aspects of modern gun culture that are hard to accept, but to me that just means there’s work ahead towards improving how things are.

If you want to go forward with Harel, I suggest you go backwards a bit. Here’s an interview he did with the UT Sociology department back in 2013 that explains a lot about where he’s coming from.

And for the record, there’s a number of things Harel and I do not agree on. But I’ve found him to be fair and honest, and earnest in his research. I’ve also found that I really enjoy our lunches together. He’s engaging, thought-provoking, and open. I greatly enjoy talking with him, even if we may not agree (what a concept these days, eh?).

I know a lot of people are into the work of David Yamane and his “Gun Culture 2.0” research. Harel and David know each other, and Harel presented at Wake Forest back in 2016. If you dig what David is doing, you should also be following what Harel is doing.

And a great place to start? Reading Harel’s book, “Waiting for José“.

The importance of positive phrasing

One excellent tip he provided was to think of keeping the gun pointed AT something in a safe direction rather than trying to keep it pointed AWAY from things I didn’t want to kill or destroy. Having a more proactive mindset in this respect has helped me since.

From David Yamane, during his range trip with John Johnston.

Words matter. Phrasing matters. The right words, the right phrasing can do wonders for understanding and mindset.

Long ago I observed adults seeing children running when they shouldn’t be (e.g. on the wet floor around a swimming pool). A parent would yell “DON’T RUN!” at children, then the kids would start skipping or hopping. The parent would get mad because, in their mind, the child was disobeying as the parent intended for the child to walk. However, the child was following the given directions: they were told not to run and they did stop running. Since the child was given no direction as to what TO do, they made their own (unguided) choice that to them was acceptable but to the parent it was not. Because of the parent’s choice of phrasing, relative to the message they intended to send, well… everything broke down and communication was not successful.

It’s the same with gun rule-sets. Often rule sets tell you what not to do, like “never let the muzzle cover anything you’re not willing to destroy.” Certainly there’s truth in that statement, but what it doesn’t do is then tell you what you SHOULD do? Should you start pointing it at things you ARE willing to destroy? That could be open to some terrible interpretation, because maybe you’re willing to destroy your ex-spouse or your boss. That’s not good.

This is why I (and the rest of the instructors at KR Training) prefer rule sets like the NRA’s. Their phrasing is clear and positively stated so you can know what TO do: “ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.” That not only covers the desire to not point the gun at things you don’t want destroyed, but it also tells you where to actually point the gun muzzle.

It’s important to tell people what you want them to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean the phrasing has to be “positive”. For example, if a child is about to touch a hot stove, to say “Don’t touch the stove!” can be acceptable phrasing, because not touching the stove is precisely what you want them to do. Granted, phrasing in a more “positive” manner may be better (e.g. “Stop!” or “Put your hands behind your back!”) – the key is to clearly convey to people what you want them to do.

Proper phrasing goes a long way towards helping people learn, and establishing a stronger mindset for success.

AAR: Use of Deadly Force Instructor, February 2018

From January 31, 2018 to February 4, 2018 I participated in the Use of Deadly Force Instructor class offered by the Massad Ayoob Group in conjunction with the Firearms Academy of Seattle, hosted by KR Training. The event was held at the Giddings (TX) Downtown Restaurant, which provided a large and comfortable meeting room, as well as most excellent lunch (and coffee/drinks) catering throughout the event.

About the course, from the MAG website:

Taught personally by Massad Ayoob, this one week 40+ hour course of instruction is offered by the Massad Ayoob Group in conjunction with The Firearms Academy of Seattle, Inc. to teach and certify self-defense firearms instructors in the complicated and nuanced discipline of teaching the legalities of use of deadly force in self-defense. Teaching how to shoot is the easy part. Much tougher is teaching people when and when not to use force, including deadly force, in self defense. In addition to learning what to teach and how to present it, students will also learn how to take their expertise to court, to both serve as a material witness for their students, and perhaps an expert witness in other self-defense court cases. Course content includes:

Justifying use of deadly force in self-defense
Use of non-lethal force in self defense
Understanding the affirmative defense of self-defense
Physiological phenomenon involved in deadly force incidents
Criminal law and self-defense
Dynamics of violent encounters
Mock courtroom exercise
Issues from actual self-defense cases (case studies)
Classroom presentation

Students will be expected to prepare for this class by researching their own state’s laws on use of deadly force, along with their own state’s case law, and bring this material to class. Additionally, students should be prepared for instruction to go into the early evening if necessary on some days, in order to cover the vast array of material which needs to be covered.

Pre-requisites: Instructor credentials or membership in the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.

As you can see, it’s quite an in-depth and intensive class. Officially, the class is 40 hours of instruction, but I reckon we totaled about 50 hours due to extended discussions, Q&A, and a large number of student presentations (I believe the student headcount was 32).

Class Content

I cannot go into detail about the class content: you need to come to class yourself. But there are a few things I can say.

Class started with Massad teaching solo; Marty arrived later with Mas and Marty co-teaching the last three days.

If you have previously taking LFI-1, MAG-20 (classroom), or MAG-40, a fair portion of the material will be redundant. I have MAG-20 classroom and MAG-40 certificates, so for me there was redundant material. Sometimes it made it hard to sit through class, but I actually appreciated it. Why? Because redundancy fosters learning. Let me repeat that: redundancy fosters learning. To hear this material again was a good thing. As well, when you hear the material in MAG-20/40, you’re hearing it from the perspective – both as it’s being taught and as you are consuming the information – of the student. When you hear that material in this DFI content, it is being presented and you are consuming it as that of an instructor. The context shift makes a difference in the material, how it’s presented, and how you consume it; so it’s actually a good thing to hear the information again.

After Marty’s arrival, content of the course shifted from use of force knowledge and information to more about courtroom matters. Issues of defense, of concept articulation, of expert witnesses, and how court and trial proceedings work.

The highlight event was the moot court exercise. The intent of the exercise is to show what a trial can be like (if you’ve never had exposure to one), how proceedings work, how direct and cross happen, and then how you – as a possible material or expert witness – will operate. Due to the fact we only had one day for the exercise, the ground was laid by watching an interesting movie that left a lot of questions. We treated this as evidence, because in a real trial all of that information could come out but it would take 2 weeks to do so; since we didn’t have 2 weeks, this was a fair device for the exercise.

We had only one actual lawyer in class, so he played the judge. Marty prosecuted, Mas defended. Particular students were tapped to play certain characters. Other students directly participated as expert witnesses, generally playing themselves. For example, Marty used me as an expert witness, and I played myself as an expert on martial arts, firearms, and weapon disarms. (Aside: during cross, Mas posed a hypothetical to me – which was a little personal and stunned me that he would “go there”, but was brilliant in delivery, execution, and context; it made his point so well, and it demonstrated Mas’ keen senses and abilities. Bravo, sir!). The remaining students were on the jury, and after much deliberation? We resulted in a hung jury (we were told in past classes that juries have found both guilty and not guilty – so it’s far from a canned experience!).

Every student in class was required to give a 5-10 minute presentation on a topic, which was assigned by Marty prior to class. This allowed each student to demonstrate presentation ability (it’s an Instructor class, after all), but it also provided each of us with 30-some solid articles and references directly relevant to use of force, expert witness knowledge, court proceedings, case law, and other topics to really expand the information provided by this class. I believe Karl will be posting student presentations (of those who wish to do so) over at the KR Training blog in the coming weeks.

If you’ve been to one of Mas’ classes before, you know a portion of the material is provided by watching videos – which provides consistent, documented, and easily reproducible content. But then there was a great deal of live lecture, presentation, Q&A, and discussion as well; this is why class would run later.

My Take-Home

I thought the class was fantastic.

There’s a huge amount of information provided on the issues of deadly force, and how I, as an instructor, not only have to work to convey such matters to my students, but then how as an instructor I may be called to be a material witness or could offer my services as an expert witness. I know of no other program that provides this vital information.

While the lecture was good, the moot court exercise was great. Asking some other students, and they too felt the moot court was the best and most valuable portion of the class.

I think it’s important to consider the prospective students of this class: people who instruct in the use of deadly force. You don’t need to be a prior MAG graduate. In fact, I got the impression a fair number of students were folks who just taught things like their state CCW course or maybe the NRA basic courses as a side-gig. Consequently, they may never have had the exposure to the courtroom, to trials, to other things Mas teaches. This class is a great resource for breaking that ground and being able to do so through the eyes of instruction.

While for sure the class was biased towards firearms (tho there’s no shooting in the class: it’s 100% classroom), this is the sort of class that ANYONE teaching “self-defense” should take. Do you teach women’s self-defense courses? even those that are just about awareness, palm strikes to the chin, and knee to the groin — there’s still use of force matters to be aware of. Pepper spray classes? Traditional martial arts? If you are in the business of teaching self-defense, under whatever mantle, you need this knowledge. As I think about it, it generally seems that only firearms folk cover such legal matters, but it really needs to be anyone teaching self-defense.

Any criticisms of the event? I think the only thing that actually bothered me during class was at times Q&A could go off the rails. Some questions felt like personal questions that should have been asked during break vs. taking up class (and everyone’s) time. And sometimes it just ran long. On the one hand, it’s understandable because the topic is interesting, engaging, broad, and deep – so it’s very easy to “get into it”. On the other, when you’ve been sitting in a chair for days, drinking from the firehose, sometimes you just need the firehose to be shut off for a little bit and get to break sooner rather than later. Again, I don’t necessarily fault folks here (I’m guilty of time management issues myself), but if I had to mention anything that I didn’t like, it was that. But it’s a minor thing.

One other thing I liked about the event? The non-classroom stuff. I made a few new friends, got to meet Dr. H. Anthony Semone, PhD (Google him), and spend some informal time with Marty Hayes. If you know some of my past, I am thankful for some things Marty has done. We’ve spoken here and there (including recording an episode of the Polite Society Podcast mere days before this event), so it was great to finally meet him in person, have supper a few times, and sip some bourbon together. Oh, and I got to introduce him to Buc-ee’s. We’ve got a small world, and our industry here is even smaller – events like this, to meet and work with like-minded folks, are precious.

Mas and Marty don’t teach this class that often. So when it becomes available, make the effort to take it. It’s some of the most important training you can receive.

The Civilian Defender

Dr. Sherman House recently rebranded as Civilian Defender. (yes I’m a little late on this… been busy).

I’m very happy to see him embracing this mode, because it’s a great mindset and we need more people not just like Sherm, but doing what Sherm does. Promoting this mentality, this approach, it’s great stuff. If you haven’t read his essay on Becoming the Civilian Defender, you should. It’s a comprehensive look at a topic, and even if you don’t agree – well, that’s a great opportunity to continue the discussion! Because I guess the bottom line is simple: most people enter this “world” because guns, but alas most people never go beyond that thinking.

I think about some Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics points out. He’ll ask his class how many people had been in a gunfight or seen a gunshot wound in the past year – typically no hands go up. Then he asks how many people had seen a car accident – and hands always go up. Medical skills are useful to everyone, and you’re far more likely to need medical skills in your lifetime than a gun.

And that’s a facet in the comprehensiveness of Civilian Defender.

Check it out. Again, even if you don’t agree, hopefully some thoughts are provoked and you can be spurred into action, into self-improvement in some manner.

We’re approaching that time for New Years Resolutions – so, how are you going to improve yourself in 2018?

(And as an aside, I’m with Sherm about the M&P family. Currently enjoying my M&P9 M2.0 Compact… which I’ll write more about eventually).

As instructors, we have a grave responsibility

I used to ride a motorcycle.

If I’m honest with myself – and I haven’t admitted this publicly until now – part of the reason I gave it up was I wasn’t a good enough rider. I wasn’t capable enough to handle the realities of riding a motorcycle, especially in town. While the fault is ultimately my own, speaking as a long-time teacher – and one that currently teaches people in dangerous activities – I can recognize and lay some fault at the hands of my riding instructors.

On the roads in Austin, there are just too many people engaging in distracted driving – like with their eyes on their mobile phone instead of the road. I had far too many close-calls with people simply not paying attention to their driving (almost rear-ended by a dump truck was particularly harrowing). That’s scary enough when you have a protective steel cage around you (like in a car), but it’s far worse when you’re naked and vulnerable on a bike. I just got tired of dealing with the constant fear and realities of too many close-calls.

Part of the fault was my own, because I didn’t have the skills and abilities I should have to successfully/defensively ride a motorcycle in town. I was too excited to get out on the open road on my awesome motorcycle, be a part of that lifestyle, and all the cool things that came with it. I was not prepared for the realities that came as well.

Let’s look back on my motorcycle rider safety course.

I did OK in the class. But the final test? I passed it on a technicality. The riding portion involved navigating a skills course. You lost points for mistakes, bigger mistakes losing more points. For example, if you laid the bike down – foot pegs touch pavement – you basically failed. I don’t recall the specifics of my run and points, but I was executing a tight S-turn, didn’t do it right, and started to go down. Since the bike was a Kawasaki Eliminator 125 (weighs 300 lb.) and I’m decently healthy and strong, I was able to easily save myself: I put my foot down and was able to keep the pegs from touching pavement.

I looked right at the instructor running the course. She said I was good and let me continue.

She shouldn’t have.

For all intents and purposes, I laid the bike down. I failed the skill. But because I’m strong and the bike weighs nothing, I was able to prevent the loss of points. Correct to the letter of the test, but NOT to the intent.

But I didn’t care. I passed! I could get my motorcycle license, get my motor runnin’, head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes my way!

The instructors said nothing to me. Beyond that look of “you’re fine, continue along”, then the handshake on the way out the door, nothing.

At the time, I didn’t know any better. I leaned on and expected if the instructors thought I was OK, then I was OK.

That was my naive mistake.

Because as I got out on the road, while I had no problem with most things, I just didn’t have the level of skill necessary for emergency action. I didn’t have the ability to do things like make tight turns, nor the confidence in knowing I could do such things if suddenly called upon. I look back and wish I had failed the test – or been failed – so I would have put more work into those skills, or at least not been let out on the road due to a technicality.

As I look back on my experience, I now think to myself that I don’t recall the instructors from the class actually caring whether we learned or not. Maybe they did, but I don’t recall any impression they truly cared. That they understood the gravity of what they were doing, and how what they were teaching may be that vital bit that could affect the rest of someone’s life. They seemed to just want to run the class, sign the certificates, and get paid.

Or maybe they did care, but after hundreds of classes they were jaded and/or complacent. Or maybe they thought failing people wasn’t good for business. I really don’t know why they did what they did. All I can do is learn from this and strive to do better in my own realm.

I know ultimately the responsiblity and fault is my own. But when you’re a n00b; when you don’t know what you don’t know; when you have to rely and trust the guidance of someone claiming to be your teacher – you hope they have your best interests at heart and will do right by you!

I’ve been a professional firearms instructor for 9 years. At KR Training we have classes that end in a test and require a passing grade in order to proceed to the next class. Sometimes the students squeak by, technically passing the test. But I and the entire KR Training cadre take the time to be straight with the student about their skills and abilities. We point out where they need work. We strive to put their skills and testing into perspective – even if it’s not fun to hear. Yes we want people to succeed, but helping a student feel good and get a gold star when their skills really aren’t where they need to be? That’s doing a grave disservice to the student. This is a time for honest assessment. We want true success, real success – even if today it means failure.

As instructors – especially instructors of skill that affect life and death – we all must remember the gravity of what we are teaching. Even if a student technically passes the test, we must speak with them honestly and work with them earnestly to help them have a true assessment of their skills, even if it injures the ego. Because if we do not give our students correct assessment of their skills and abilities, that could lead to them getting hurt or killed.

As instructors we have a deep responsibility, and we need to always remember that responsibility and live up to it.

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Addressing Assumptions

I’d like to revisit my Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol series. And just like my “Revisited Again” was inspired by Claude Werner, so too is this revisiting – Addressing Assumptions. As well, it comes from some recent work we’ve been doing at KR Training with curriculum revision.

The original article series was primarily focused around gun and shooting portion of the equation. That was a reasonable focus, but if you look a little deeper into the conclusion you can see there are precursors/prerequisites that are assumed or taken for granted.

This would be things like basic gun manipulations: how to load a gun, how to unload a gun, how to load and unload a magazine (and that it’s a “magazine”, not a “clip”), basic range etiquette, how to practice effectively, how to seek out good training and instruction.

One thing I admire about Claude is how he often focuses and finds ways to work with people in less than ideal circumstances. For example, many gun ranges do not allow people to draw from a holster, or it may be impossible to use a shot timer due to noise levels. Claude often works and formulates curriculum and drills to work within these constraints.

In a recent discussion on minimum competency, Claude structured a drill with a loose structure like:

  • Load 7 rounds into the magazine
  • Load the gun
  • Shoot 6
  • Unload the gun

While at first glance it seems odd to enumerate the steps of loading the magazine, loading the gun, and unloading the gun – and some may desire to gloss over those steps – they’re actually quite an important part of the drill. They are giving the student practice at loading and unloading, they give the instructor a chance to observe the student performing these operations to ensure they are doing it correctly and safely.

When discussing a topic like “minimum competency”, it’s important we mind our assumptions so we do not overlook the complete set of skills necessary for competency.

KR Training 2017-04-22 – BP2/DPS1 Quick Hits

Saturday April 22, 2017 was another fantastic day at KR Training. On tap: Basic Pistol 2 (our Defensive Pistol Skills Essentials) and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. These are two of the core – and arguably most important – classes we teach. It’s here that students go from casual plinking at the range to starting to acquire the skills and understand the realities involved in using a handgun for self-defense.

We had a good turnout, with over a dozen students in the morning, and over half staying for the afternoon class. For those all-day students it’s a long day, but one packed with learning and growth.

A bit of an interesting day too, as the weather took a “pleasant” turn. Instead of the warm weather we’ve been having, a cold front blew through just as class was starting. Sure 60º–ish all day isn’t that cold, but the wind was strong and bitterly cold; not all students were prepared for it. I can’t totally blame folks, but now instead of my usual “wear sunscreen” I’m going to have to start suggesting to people to ensure to always bring clothing/gear to mind the weather – even if it doesn’t make logical sense, because days like today apparently do happen. 😉

As well, I was the Lead Instructor for this day. Karl was off at the annual A Girl and A Gun Conference, so I held down the fort. I had capable assistants in Larry, Brett, and Justin. We had a mix of students: young and old, male and female – we ran the gamut. Again, I always like to point out demographics because there are people who think they know who and what gun owners are, but really have no clue.

John Daub, instructing students on the range during KR Training’s Basic Pistol 2 class.

As for some quick take-homes:

  • Trigger press. Remember? Prreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss. Apply smooth pressure. Yes the pressure will and must increase, but keep it smooth (not sudden).
  • Grip should be strong (“Homer choking Bart”), and consistent. When you are holding the gun in the ready position, be gripping HARD – don’t tighten up when you get the gun out and in response to pressing the trigger.
  • Going fast is important, but not at the expense of accuracy. At this stage I’d rather you work on good mechanics, establishing good technique, and working to get acceptable hits. Speed will come.

One other thing.

For some, it can be a hard day. Not even so much on the skills and direct learning aspects, but what you go through, what you put yourself through. There can be a lot of emotions, a lot of discomfort. These two classes are filled with novel experiences, and sometimes uncomfortable experiences.

But guess what?

You made it through.

You are more aware.

You are stronger.

You are more capable.

And that smile on your face tells me, it was a good day.

Thank you for coming out and training with us. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in us, to help you learn and grow in such an important aspect of your life.

Practice well. Train hard. We’ll see you out on the range.

Beyond the 1% – ProArms Podcast

My bossman, Karl Rehn of KR Training, was interviewed for Episode 98 of the ProArms Podcast.

It was about his presentation, “Beyond the One Percent” (8 part series starts here).

Give it a listen!

 

KR Training 2017-02-04 – Lone Star Medics Dynamic First Aid Quick hits

Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics returned to KR Training on February 4, 2017 to put on his Dynamic First Aid course. I like to describe Dynamic First Aid as “First Aid 102”. That is, First Aid 101 is things like dealing with cuts and Band-Aids and such first-aid fundamentals. Dynamic First Aid continues from there talking about dealing with severe bleeding (tourniquets, pressure dressings), shock, burns, splinting, scene safety, and the like. It’s a great course and I think one everyone should take.

Yes, everyone.

In one of my first interactions with Caleb years ago he made a great point. He asked the class how many people had seen a gunshot in the past year? No hands go up. Then he asked how many people had seen a car wreck in the past year? Hands go up. Don’t you think that’s a situation that may warrant first aid skills?

And think about simple things like cuts, or nosebleeds – solving those are first aid skills! The preservation of life isn’t just about “self-defense”; first aid is very much a part of that, and essential skills for all people to possess. Because we ALL encounter such issues at some point in our lives.

Something else to think about? There are people that believe when things go pear-shaped they will rise to the occasion. That may happen, but in a first aid situation? Explain to me how you will rise up and suddenly have the knowledge of how to stop severe bleeding? or administer CPR? You won’t. These skills and knowledge will not just come to you: you must have taking the time to acquire them beforehand.

I made it one of my 2017 training priorities to get more non-gun skills, like medical training. But this class became a little different for me: I wanted my family to take it. And yes, Wife, Oldest, Daughter, and Youngest all attended and participated in the class. Yes, Dynamic First Aid is suitable for children, but within reason. For example, part of first aid has realities of body parts; so if there are issues with words like “penis” and “vagina”, they may not be ready for the class. That’s something I admire and respect about Caleb: he called me before class and wanted to check on all of this. His sensitivity towards his students is part of what makes him a great teacher.

Class

Class ran well. A good and motivated group of students. Caleb balances the class well. There’s a time for lecture, a time for demonstration, and then a time to have everyone practice and try it for themselves.

What’s especially good? The class culminates in some scenario training. This is invaluable training, because it not only forces you to put your knowledge to work, but it adds some pressure and realism to make you have to think.

I also find scenario work to be a good source of inoculation, so when problems happen you don’t freak out but instead can handle the situation with some degree of aplomb. For example, in one scenario Wife was a resucer and Youngest was a victim. When Wife saw Youngest, she was truly shocked and broken up at the sight, but went to work because that’s what Momma has to do. Afterwards, Wife told me how it was hard for her to see it, but I told her it was good because now if something does happen to Youngest, instead of emotions taking control of her, she can know that she’s seen it before, that she’s got the skills to address the problem, and she can get to work.

That’s why such training is so important, and I’m so thankful that Caleb puts a high value on scenario training in his classes.

Get out and do it

Get the knowledge, get the skills. You don’t know when you may need first aid, but I feel safe in saying that you will at some point in your life – you just don’t get to choose when, so it’s important to have that knowledge beforehand.

My family is one of the most precious things to me. I’m willing to put their well-being in Caleb’s knowledgable and proficient hands. If you get a chance to train with him, you should.

Thank you for teaching me and my family, Caleb. Drink water.

Pressure

A few days ago I taught a private lesson to some new(ish) shooters.

I ran the students through the KR Training Basic Pistol 2 curriculum. At the end, the students shot a version of the Texas Handgun License test. I say a version because we have them shoot on a better (tougher) target. But one thing we don’t change? The use of time limits.

One thing we do at the end of all KR Training classes is go around the room and ask the students for something they learned. One of the students told me how the use of the timer added some pressure and that really changed things for them. This student has prior knowledge and understanding in the realities of self-defense – that it’s not an open-ended situation, that it’s quick, and time is a significant factor. This was the first time they ever shot against a timer, and it really added stress and pressure.

It was hard, it was stressful, but they appreciated it. They walked away with a deeper understanding of realities, and themselves.

But you know… some people still want to say that using timers is a bad thing. They’re welcome to their opinion. I’m glad my students want to improve.