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.

The importance of being honest with yourself (and setting ego aside)

Had a long weekend at KR Training: July 16 was a Basic Pistol 2 and Defensive Pistol 1, and July 17 was a Basic Pistol 2… yes again. Classes have been selling pretty well.

I want to depart from my usual “class AAR”. I mean, what we see out of these classes from a skills perspective tends to be the same thing every time. So if you were in one of these classes and are curious about skills, just hit the Search field and read what you find.

What I want to talk about is – self-assessment.

It is vital in life to be (brutally) honestly aware of yourself, your skills, your abilities, your level, your capabilities, your limits, your strengths, your weaknesses. It’s the only way to truly achieve your goals.

We had a couple people in the BP2 class that were scheduled to stay for the DPS1 class. As BP2 progressed, it was evident that DPS1 was not going to happen for them: just too much to handle. We gave them feedback, but they also took a step back and looked at themselves and opted to skip DPS1 and come back later. I’m not sure what they will do exactly (maybe take BP2 again, maybe take some private lessons), but I am proud of them for making an honest self-assessment and doing the right thing. They set ego aside and made an honest and wise choice. In the long run, this is going to pay dividends.

There’s another gentleman that’s been around for some time. He’s taken many classes with us, and BP2/DPS1 are “below him”. But he still takes them (again) because he knows he has things to work on, skills to learn, and that he can improve – and that these classes will help him get there. His honesty, his humility, that serves him well towards progress and improvement.

Don’t feel you need to always move on to the next class, just because you’re supposed to, or especially because you just want to. If you take a class before you’re ready, you’ll just be frustrated and won’t learn. There is nothing wrong with taking the same class again; in fact, now that you’ll know the material, you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of the class, including putting more effort into the drills and really letting the material sink in. Remember the maxim: redundancy fosters learning. Taking a class multiple times, that’s redundancy, and it will lead to (improved) learning.

After you finish a class, let things digest. Take a step back. Self-assess where you are. See where you are now relative to where you were: both where you really were and where you thought you were. Now look where you want to go. Will taking the next class be the way to get there? or could taking 1-2 steps back serve you better in the long run towards achieving your goal? It all depends upon your goals, of course. But the more honest you are in your self-assessment, the willingness to put ego aside, THAT is what will help you achieve your goals in the long run.

Train hard, train smart.

If you think education is expensive…

Seth Godin wrote about Training and the infinite return on investment

Imagine a customer service rep. Fully costed out, it might cost $5 for this person to service a single customer by phone. An untrained rep doesn’t understand the product, or how to engage, or hasn’t been brought up to speed on your systems. As a result, the value delivered in the call is precisely zero (in fact it’s negative, because you’ve disappointed your customer).

On the other hand, the trained rep easily delivers $30 of brand value to the customer, at a cost, as stated, of $5. So, instead of zero value, there’s a profit to the brand of $25. A comparative ROI of infinity.

And of course, the untrained person doesn’t fall into this trap once. Instead, it happens over and over, many times a day.

The short-sighted organization decides it’s ‘saving money’ by cutting back training. After all, the short-term thinking goes, what’s the point of training people if they’re only going to leave. (I’d point out the converse of this–what’s the danger of not training the people who stay?)

Granted, Seth speaks in the context of marketing, sales, and business – his “lane”. But really, training – education – is relevant to any and every facet of life.

The more training you have, the more education you have, the more knowledge you have, the more it pays off.

Because to Seth’s last point: you stay in your life, so what’s the danger of going through life untrained and  ignorant?

Seth concludes:

What’s not so easy is to take responsibility for our own training.

We’ve long passed the point where society and our organization are taking responsibility for what we know and how we approach problems. We need to own it for ourselves.

If I apply this to one of my “lanes” – self defense – I actually am pretty astounded at how much people don’t take on responsibility for what they know and how they approach problems, which is odd because these are the same people that espouse how they have/carry a gun because they accept responsibility for their own personal safety. Often times there’s belief they are “good enough” and will be able to handle themselves if the flag flies, yet they’re unable to quantify what “good enough” should be – but whatever it is, I’m it (apparently).

Grant Cunningham writes about “shooting well”:

Any shooting you do — whether in competition, for hunting, or in self defense — is a balance of speed (how quickly you shoot) and precision (the size of the area into which you can shoot)….

Most people evaluate their shooting skill level under only one of those two factors. Either they focus on how precisely they can shoot, or they focus on how quickly they’re shooting. Either one in isolation gives an incomplete view, and the same is true when evaluating a gun; if you shoot slowly enough, so that each shot is a completely separate event unaffected by what came before or what will come after, then most guns can be shot “well”.

In other words, just about anyone can shoot just about any handgun (or rifle) “well” for one shot. It’s when you need to fire more than one shot, or when time becomes a factor, do you discover how things like recoil, weight, hand fit, and more affect your ability to shoot well. It’s not just about tight groups!

Granted, Grant’s writing was alluding to issues of caliber and recoil, but the whole of his article touches on the fact that most people believe they can “shoot well”, yet aren’t fully considering the complete context under which they may have to shoot.

That complete context, in terms of self-defense, is likely to go beyond these issues of caliber, recoil, and marksmanship. If you are in a self-defense incident, there’s going to be chaos, adrenaline, and intense high-pressure split-second decision making. Can you “shoot well” in that context? Remember: doing “well” in that context may actually require you to not shoot at all.

Some people are proud to seek out the least amount of training possible. They want the cheapest, least-hassle solution. As few dollars spent, as few hours in the classroom or on the range. It’s as if they are proudly seeking ignorance. I grant, if you can spend $50 or $500 and get precisely the same results, I’d go for the $50 option as well. But like most things in life, you do get what you pay for – and you get more spending $500 on a weekend training with Tom Givens or Massad Ayoob.

Especially if you contrast that $500 against the potential $50,000 or $500,000 or more you could wind up spending on a lawyer. Because ignorance of the law can be mighty costly.

You may not be training to be a customer service rep answering phone calls about a product. But aren’t you trying to bring value into your own life? You’re going to be staying in your life, hopefully for a long time, so take the time to invest in yourself. Don’t expect the state or others to provide “adequate” training, because it usually is not. Take the time, the money, the responsibility to invest in yourself. The education will pay dividends.

2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

Have you registered yet for the 2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference?

It’s almost here: Saturday, January 9, 2016 at the Cabela’s in Buda, TX.

There’s a Mega door prize – a weekend getaway to a beach house in Port Aransas!

Alas, while I’ll be at the Conference, I won’t be qualified to win the door prize. Why? Because I’m one of the Conference presenters!

John Daub of Hsoi Enterprises on Preparing for the Aftermath of a Self Defense Incident. Self-defense incidents involve far more than just the moment of the incident itself; there’s an aftermath of legal, social, and emotional issues. John Daub will be discussing these issues and how to prepare yourself to handle the aftermath of a self-defense incident.

There’s a lot of other great topics being discussed, including the fresh Open Carry laws (that will have been in effect in Texas just 9 days as of the Conference) and one I’m especially interested in: Allen Codding, DVM on Pet Preparedness Strategies.

There’s a lot of great topics on the schedule at this 4th annual conference.

Hope to see you there!