It’s Cold Drill Time Again comes to YouTube

My video series – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – is now available on YouTube.

I learned the value of cold drills from Rangemaster’s Tom Givens: when the flag flies, you’ll be cold – what can you do then? Understanding one’s cold performance has merit towards knowing and application of your real-world skill.

It’s Cold Drill Time Again aims to demonstrate the value of cold drills, and provide ideas on cold drills one can do. 

Season 1 is about starting. It’s about me building the habit to shoot cold drills – and video and post them – as a regular thing. It is as much about the performance work as it is the video production: going from Instagram stories with no idea what I was doing to do, no preproduction, to IGTV with some idea of a script and a smidge of editing. It was a good place to start, and while I love Instagram, YouTube is the place to be. I am bringing Season 1 of It’s Cold Drill Time Again to YouTube.

To celebrate the YouTube debut, here are the first 5 episodes of It’s Cold Drill Time Again (which I guess I now refer to as Season 1).

I gotta start somewhere… – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E1
Three Seconds or Less – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E2
TacCon21 Tie Breaker – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E3
The Wizard and the P365 – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E4
Taking a Ruger LCP II through 5^5 – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E5

The Name

Yes, I’m a fan of the hottest band in the world, KISS!

One day at the range as I was motivating myself to shoot a cold drill I said in my head… “Welp… it’s cold drill time… again.” Instantly the song “Cold Gin” by KISS popped into my head.

It’s cold gin time again

You know it’ll always win!

Cold gin time again

You know it’s the only thing that keeps us together.

Hear in your head, Gene Simmons growling that out.

And so #ItsColdDrillTimeAgain became a thing.

#YouKnowItsTheOnlyThingThatHelpsMeShootBetter

(not really, but just roll with it for the gag)

Where’s the fucking dot?

Yesterday was a Defensive Pistol Skills 2 day at KR Training. I was assisting Karl with class. After class, a few students reshot the Three Seconds or Less test, and I joined them on the line.

I shot with the Sig P365XL Holosun from my Enigma/JMCK. I finally picked up a Sport Belt (where have you been all my life you sweet thing!). I also chose to rotate my carry ammo, so throughout the day I shot up my Gold Dot 124 grain +P.

First thing I noticed was I was going back into the holster by the time students were just breaking their first shot. Getting out of the holster quickly has merit.

Second, I way failed the test.

Where was the fucking dot?

That’s all that kept going through my head.

Where’s the fucking dot?

I tried playing with some things like slide/window indexing. But still… where’s the fucking dot?

During class, I was running the shoothouse. Afterwards I cranked off some 25+ yard rounds to the 3-D reactive targets – behold the power of the dot.

If you can fucking find it. 🤪

I’ve not been dry practicing for a couple weeks. I’ve been massively burned out due to sleep issues. If I can’t increase my reserves I have to cut expenditures. It’s why I took the last week off from the gym, and why I’m readjusting my gym work with regards to fatigue management. In fact, I’m writing this on a late Sunday afternoon, where I’ve napped most of the day and am starting to regain myself. I rewatched this from Rob Leatham:

and I’m feeling a rise within to want to get back to work.

That’s a good sign.

Oh another thing. It’s ok to suck in public. A couple students stayed after and spectated the shooting. I – the instructor – failed and sucked in front of students/clients. On the one hand, I get the ego involvement and protection. On the other, as Jake the Dog said:

Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.

Jake the Dog, from the TV show “Adventure Time”

Rangemaster Practical Tactical 2022-06

On June 1, 2022 I was a student in the Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course presented by Tom Givens, hosted by Karl Rehn at the KR Training facility. I took this class not only because I appreciate a refresh on Tom’s doctrine, but it’s also part of my journey of the red dot pistol.

I was planning to make a video to post to my YouTube Series on Exploring the Red Dot Pistol, but the day job’s been stressful and I just wanted to be a student (no pressures of producing a video). So, you get a blog post. 😄

Practical Tactical

The Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course is 8 hours of intensive training in defensive marksmanship, proper gun-handling, and personal tactics. The class started in the classroom with Tom speaking on the importance of mindset. Tom dove into the 1986 FBI Miami shootout and the lessons it holds. Home security matters were addressed (tl;dr “lock your damn doors”). Staying safe in public. Who is around me? What are they doing? Active shooter realities. This classroom portion is the money of the class (or really, any class with Tom Givens) – the mechanical skill of shooting is, relatively, easy. But to have what? 5+ decades of direct knowledge, professionalism, and experience laying it down for you? People… that’s where it’s at.

I get the feeling the design of the class is half-classroom half-range. I say “feeling” because we experienced sudden, unpredicted downpours throughout the day and were confined to the classroom for a fair portion of the day. Tom of course being a wellspring of knowledge there was no shortage of things for him to teach, and so he did. Eventually the rain stopped and we went out. It’s a pleasure watching Tom run a range – I got reminded of a few places I need to tighten up.

Range work was strong on fundamentals. Note: Tom had the following prerequisite for the class:

Registration is strictly limited to students who have had any prior Rangemaster handgun course, such as Combative Pistol, Intensive Pistol, or Instructor Development. This assures that everyone is on the same page on Safety and Basic Marksmanship procedures, so we don’t have to use time in this class to cover those topics. This assures everyone of a better learning experience in this course.

(I think a KRT DPS1 grad would be minimal for this course)

In range work, Tom went over the 4-count drawstroke, refining technique. We did a lot of drawstroke, dry work, present from low ready, DTFAH, multiple hits, Parrot Drill. Good stuff. Very fundamentals, very much ensuring people have (minimum) competency.

For me, the range work wasn’t anything I couldn’t already do… but I had the dot. More on that in a moment.

I’ve taken around 150 hours of training from Tom – I’m familiar with what he teaches. I think this “Practical/Tactical” class makes a fantastic entry into the world of “The Gospel of Givens”. It is solid and well-considerate of topics for a 1-day class offering – it is rich in appropriate and relevant skills and information. I am happy people were introduced to Quickly, Carefully, Precisely. And again, the real money is the classroom material. Folks… THIS IS THE SHIT YOU NEED. And I’ll be real for a moment: I dunno how much longer Tom’s gonna keep doing this, so get your ass into one of his classes.

If you are more on the experienced side, this is still a valuable class. You can ALWAYS stand to hear the classroom stuff again – plus the way Tom tells it, well… you can tell he’s an articulate motherfucker who knows his shit. And the range time is excellent work on fundamentals – you will learn something new, that will help you along.

People go to classes because they want fun: a class has to be fun. It is a bit of an escape for most of us (e.g. I came home refreshed, actually! a day outside away from the computer…). Practical Tactical provides fun – you’ll get “pew-pew time”. But this is one of those classes where your satisfaction comes later, after class, when you realize how richer you’ve become for the experience.

Bottom line: a solid 1-day offering beneficial to those who wish to become richer in their knowledge of defensive handgun

Red Dot

I shot my Sig P365XL, curved trigger, Wilson Combat grip module, Holosun 507K (circle-dot), PHLster Enigma & JMCK Enigma Shell (recently adjusted).

My biggest problem was eye focus: I’m heavily myelinated on front-sight focus, so I wound up doing dot-sight focus. I’m also learning how to acquire (hunt for) the dot. I’ve been mostly working on the press-out, which implies ready positions like “high-compressed ready” (which is what is done at KRT). Tom works from the low ready – I haven’t worked that with the dot. The “on press-out” techniques to help you find/acquire the dot like starting slightly muzzle-up waving/dropping the muzzle as you get to extension to allow the dot to “drop in” – you can’t do that from low ready. So how the F do you manage low ready? What’s the trick there? Seriously, I’m asking – comment below.

I just have to continue to (un)learn it. I think I need more live-fire at this point, because recoil, sun, etc. It’s just going to take work – I need to get my eyes/brain seeing what needs to be seen here. I was thankful Doug Greig was AI’ing, as he was a solid resource for dot-specific tips.

To that… remember. The old man is 70, still uses irons, and outshoots all of us. Take that to the bank.

I was better in my grip… almost too good:

Blood blister, I reckon from a bottom-corner on the mag well. I’ll be taking some sandpaper to round off edges. I like the WC module, but it’s a trade-off for the part vs. something like a Boresight module. I have an off-the-shelf BS module, but I think to work in my hands I need a custom job, which is time and money so… yeah.

After adjusting the Enigma/JMCK setup, it’s working better. I need to get a sport belt…

It was an informative time. Things I see I could stand to do:

  • Do more dry work “at speed”
    • Think about that DTFAH skill.
  • Drive the gun, especially during dry work.
    • Small gun issues…
  • Continue to work on eye focus
  • Live work – use Gabe’s 4 technical skills, perhaps.

It was good to see Tom. I’m privileged to know and learn from him.

Tom Givens & John Daub (me)

Updated: “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” – including the Minimum Competency Assessment

An update to my eBook “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” – including the Minimum Competency Assessment – is available for download!

In 2013 I published my original work on Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol. At TacCon22 I lead a discussion on the topic of Minimum Competency. There I presented my original work along with my recent thinking on the topic. I introduced a Minimum Competency Assessment as an attempt to quantify my evolving thinking. For example, while “multiple hits” remains in the definition, I now believe the draw-to-first-acceptable-hit (DTFAH) skill needs to be emphasized. In this update to DQS&T, I present the Assessment and my thinking behind every bit of it: target selection, par times, distances, equipment, biases, uncertainties, etc. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts here – I don’t have the answer, but I am exploring towards one.

This update contains over 100 pages of content and drills, adding the 3456 Drill, Snub Assessment, Hip to be Square, and The Common Tater Drill. Old favorites like the 2019 FBI Qual, Three Seconds or Less, and a plethora of Rangemaster stuff are included as well. 

Copies of the eBook are available for FREE download at the KRTraining.com website.

I hope this may be useful to you in your journey.

Be strong. 🤘

TacCon22

TacCon22 is in the books. A fine time was had.

I taught 4 blocks: 2 AIWB Skills (live fire), 1 panel with Lee Weems & Erick Gelhaus, and my presentation on Minimum Competency. I participated in 1 live fire class, and observed a few presentations. I stunk up the match. Of course, being able to hang with “the family” for a few days is what makes this awesome. So many hugs given and received – my heart is full.

I first presented at TacCon21. Tom asked me to step in for brother Spencer Keepers (Spencer had some medical issues to tend to; all good). I was quite surprised yet honored to be asked. My imposter syndrome skyrocketed to 11. I was honored to be asked back for TacCon22. 

Scott, me.
photo: Tamara Keel

AIWB Skills went over well. Saturday lunch, Scott Jedlinski asked me if I had any open slots in my Sunday class – I did, and Scott joined. Imposter syndrome 12. It was cool tho. My first time really hanging with Scott – my fellow large Asian mammal – and it was good. He gave me some excellent feedback, and taught me the meaning of “cheater”. 😉

“I once caught a fish this big…”
photo: Ed Vinyard

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol is something I’ve been researching since 2013. I presented my original work, along with my recent thinking. I also presented my “Minimum Competency Assessment” and thinking behind it. My present thinking is to write this up in long form and update my “Drills, Standards, Qualifications, & Tests” eBook. Matter of time and priorities. Stay tuned.

Lee, Erick, me
photo: my camera taken by (I can’t remember…)

The Aftermath, my panel presentation with Lee & Erick. This was… special. I spoke about my 2015 home invasion. Erick about his incident. Lee about 2 incidents his deputies were involved in. Funny thing about this is we did barely any planning/organization work prior to TacCon: each made a few slides, Lee collated, Lee projected them… and then the 3 of us stood in front of the audience figuring out how we wanted to do this presentation. 😂 I went first, then Erick, finally Lee, each giving a short account of our incident focusing heavily on issues of the aftermath. Erick turned to me and asked if he could reference one of my slides (of course!). Before today, Erick and I were strangers to each other. Our stories are different, yet our aftermaths are similar. We didn’t plan our presentation, and I think the organic nature of it all made for a special and emotional session. Erick and I (and those deputies) are in a club, for better or worse. I’m fortunate to have found a new brother. Love you, Erick.

Shot the match with my franken-P365: WC XL grip, curved trigger, P365 slide with irons. Scored paper: 245/250, tie: 35/50 4.49 sec: 252.795. Finished 76/174. On paper, dropped the first WHO shot to just outside the box; tie had 3 just outside 6 o’clock. With that gun, basically cold, after the emotional drain I just went through? If this is where my skill degrades to, I can accept that.

Took class from Wayne Dobbs (HiTS) channeling Larry Mudgett; most excellent stuff, giving me new tools to diagnose problems and help students improve. The excellent learning resources Jon & Sarah Hauptman (PHLster) are producing through their Concealment Workshop will become industry reference. I finally got to partake of John Holschen’s wisdom. I listened to Erick present research. Greg Ellifritz had an informative session on medicine under austere circumstances. Good learning being had.

And of course, seeing old friends, making so many new ones. Eating good food. Having to eat Whataburger. Many many selfies. Endless hugs. More selfies. Hot AF tents (Meadhall Range cookies!). Going to bed late and getting up early. Big thanks to the Dallas Pistol Club for the facility and contribution. Thanks to Tiffany Johnson, Martin Hoffert, Aqil Qadir, the RSOs, the crew. And of course, Tom & Lynn Givens of Rangemaster. What a special event; I am truly blessed to be a part of it. ❤️

See you at TacCon23!

Thank you, Tom.

I’m not freaking out… no…

No… not at all. Not freaking out at all. 🤪

Next week is TacCon22. I am presenting 4 blocks on 3 topics: 2 AIWB Skills live fire blocks, 1 panelist with Erick Gelhaus and Lee Weems on “The Aftermath”, 1 presenter on my pet project: “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol” including presenting new thinking on the topic. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little stressed. 😬

When Tom Givens asked me to step in for Spencer Keepers at TacCon21, of course I answered “Yes, sir!”. My imposter syndrome spiked to 11. But I presented 3 live fire blocks and I guess I didn’t totally suck because I was asked back for TacCon22. I’m almost finished with my prep (as prepped as I can be). It’s been stressful, but I know the Conference will be good.

Some people are surprised to learn I’m not an extrovert. Sure, I’m good at peopleing, but it consumes a lot of energy, and I need alone/quiet time to recharge (introvert). TacCon is a LOT of peopleing. It’s good, I have a great time, but it’s still a lot of peopleing. Then the added energy of teaching (“being on stage”), and it’s a draining time for me. Doing the math on that right now is building up some anxiety. I know it’ll all be fine and I’ll live, nevertheless I’ve had the stress-tick of bouncing my foot/leg creeping back in.

The Aftermath stresses me minorly. I’ve told this story before, so it’s a matter of ensuring I mind time constraints and ensure topic mindfulness. That’s all that gets me. Plus it’ll be nice to meet Erick.

AWIB Skills stresses me a bit more, but not tons. I developed the curriculum, but I don’t get to run it much so it’s not as “in my head” as say a KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills 1 class. I also made some iterative refinements, and I think it’ll work better this year. One lesson from last year? Print it out, put it on a clipboard – I can do it from my head, but there’s a lot of details to convey so having a reference on-demand is good.

But the presentation about Minimum Competency? That’s got me stressed. It’s not the public speaking part – I’m good at that. It’s the topic – but meta stuff about the topic. The original blog post has been around since 2013 and the reprint in our 2019 book. I reckon if I was totally off base someone might have called my ass out by now? Or maybe no one gives a shit – my brain naturally gravitates towards the latter. Thing is, I termed the session “a discussion” because I want to present but I want to then open the floor. I want to be questioned! The audience is the right one to ask this to, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little intimidated by the potential of who may be in the audience and the questions that may be asked. But that’s what I want and why I’m doing it. I want to seek truth, this is how we get there. It’s uncomfortable to go through, but ain’t gonna grow otherwise.

It’ll be a good time. I’ll be thankful for it when it’s over, but right now I’m prepping and managing my stress/anxiety about it. 😄

See you on the other side.

Quickly, Carefully, Precisely

Quickly, Carefully, Precisely.

There’s a video of Tom Givens explaining the Parrot Drill and how the 8″ circle is shot quickly, the 4″ is carefully, the 2″ precisely. His choice of words matters – not just in instruction, but actual cues to use under those conditions.

For a while now, when I administer the Texas LTC Completion and live-fire qualify people for their LTC, when we’re at 3 yards I tell them to shoot quickly. When we step back to 7 yards, I tell them to shoot carefully. When we’re back at 15 yards I tell them to shoot precisely.

I don’t have to explain some new gun-world concept; they know what I mean by those words. Just uttering those cues absolutely changes the mindset about how the students think and approach what’s before them. It’s an effective teaching tool, that leads students to improved performance (outcomes). I SEEN it!

Look up The Complete Combatant’s drill: The Trifecta.

Quickly. Carefully. Precisely.

Be strong. 🤘

Force Science Certification, February 2020

I participated in the Force Science Institute’s Force Science Certification course, February 17-21, 2020 in Austin, Texas.

From their website:

Individuals who successfully complete this program will be certified as Force Science Analysts. This designation attests that the holder has been trained to recognize and articulate important psychological, biological, and physiological factors that can influence human behavior and memory in force encounters and pursuit situations. Like persons trained in accident reconstruction, blood-spatter analysis, and other science-based disciplines, investigators certified in Force Science Analysis will be able to apply their grasp of human dynamics to interpret how and why a force confrontation evolved as it did. Students will also know how to mine the memories of those involved for relevant recollections. This information can be vital to authorities who ultimately must judge the encounter, such as administrators, internal affairs, chiefs, review board members, prosecutors, judges, and jurors.

For years, FSI courses were only available to people directly involved in law enforcement. But about 2 years ago, they opened it up to non-LEO. I’ve been wanting to take this course for a number of years, and am happy I was finally able to.

Basics

The course was held in the Doubletree Hotel conference room on the north side of Austin (hooray! I got to commute up and down I-35 for a week!). 8:30 to 5:30 for 4 days, and 8:30 to about 1:00 on the last day. There were 112 or so people in class. Overwhelmingly most were LEO, but I know at least 4 people were not: myself, my fellow KR Training instructor Tracy Thronburg, Marty Hayes (of Firearms Academy of Seattle, and Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network), and Andrew Branca (Law of Self Defense). I had no idea Marty was going to be there (Marty’s a friend), and no idea Andrew was either (first time meeting and speaking with him). From a quick scan of the room, most LEO were from Texas agencies, but there were others – I believe 1 attendee had flown in from Australia.

We were provided a large, printed/bound book, of all the lecture slides. That was a nice touch, making it easy to take notes as well as having a solid reference on your bookshelf for later. With 40 hours of drinking from the information firehose, there’s no way you can remember everything, so the bound notes book is a welcome touch for memory retention and future reference.

Each day was divided into topics. Some topics would receive a couple hours of treatment, such as how the brain works (to help us understand how memory works, how sensory perception works), how vision works. Some topics would receive multi-day coverage, such as biomechanics, although this was broken up to cover many sub-topics.

And yes, there is a (closed-book) test. We took it just before lunch on the 4th day. It covered all topics presented to that point, and yes it was a requirement for certification (all people in our class passed, but I am to understand there have been failures in prior classes).

Content

I appreciated the content provided. Yes, it was mostly provided from the perspective of law-enforcement, but that stands to reason. But as someone who trains private citizens, how applicable is this to me and my students?

Fairly well, actually.

What’s studied and presented is mostly about human beings. How we work, how we function, our capabilities, our limits. It doesn’t matter if you’re a police officer, a CEO, a farmer, a software developer – humans are human. Our senses, our brains, they only can do so much and work so fast.

You see how a lot of human performance research is based in sports performance. I think that also makes it great for helping people that might not understand (or want to understand) performance in a “use of force” context understand that this isn’t just “research to help cops find excuses to murder people”. No, this is just how people work, and this research is aimed to explain how people function in the context of use-of-force.  Certainly this information and research could be used to keep someone out of jail, or put someone in jail; it’s information, not agenda nor bias.

Some presented material was certainly specific to law enforcement, but it was still welcome to see that information and gain knowledge and insight into those aspects. Because still for my students, if they are involved in a use-of-force incident themselves, they will interact with law enforcement so having such insight is useful.

Filter

For me, I found the information going through two filters.

First, that of an instructor. As of this writing, I have about 850 hours of formal training in this realm and have been teaching at KR Training for about 11 years. A lot of this material isn’t new to me, but that’s fine. I always appreciate hearing such things again, because there’s always some new twist, some new detail, some new angle in the material and how it is presented that provides me with greater reinforcement, clarity, depth, and understanding of the topic. But for sure, a good deal of information was new.

I found myself thinking about our curriculum, what we teach, how we teach it. I think about the questions students tend to ask and the way they are typically answered. I found myself both affirming much of what we already do as sound and good approaches, but also making adjustments to word choice or emphasis. For example, it was frequently stressed the importance of “if you expect to perform at X, you need to train at X”. Let me explain.

Let’s say I wanted to become a top-class swimmer, like Olympic gold medalist. Well, if I want to do that, I don’t think power walking on a treadmill will get me there – I have to swim. Extreme example, but I hope you’re following the reasoning. But I shouldn’t just swim, like the seniors doing “adult swim” laps at the YMCA. I need to swim hard. I need to swim in races against other people (which is implicitly a timer). I need that sort of pressure, to have my training mirror the environment, situation, context, everything of that moment of actual performance (the actual swim meet and race).

So if I expect to be able to perform in a gunfight, I need to have my training mirror the environment, situation, context, everything about that situation that one can safely mirror in training. This means pressure, this means training like scenarios/Force-on-Force. This sort of training will help me be better prepared and improve my chances of performing well.

This isn’t then so much a realization that we need to change what we do – we’re already teaching and promoting this (my boss-man Karl Rehn is one of the modern pioneers of force-on-force training). This is more to those who don’t think you need such training, that do things like poo-poo shot-timers, yet still think they are adequately training people for “that moment”. There’s science that says you’re doing it wrong.

The second filter? I won’t go into too much detail, but my personal incident of January 2015 served as another filter and perspective through the whole week. This is the sort of thing that, if you’re curious for my thoughts here, we can talk in person. It’s not bad, it’s just nuanced and I don’t think I can adequately convey in a blog post.

It’s not all rosy

Overall I was pleased with the course, but there were a few things I didn’t find optimal.

First, it’s just a LOT of information in a short period of time. There’s no way to remember it all. The book is nice, but it’s just the presentation slides and room for notes. And you will take notes, but the note-taking process divides your attention and you miss things. I wish there was a better way to manage the information density.

Second, it is death by PowerPoint. But at least the speakers were all dynamic, engaging, good story-tellers. They certainly captured and held the interest of the audience. But again, I’m not sure there’d be any other practical way to do accomplish the goal of this training.

Third, sometimes I wondered if this was about educating us on the material, or defending the validity of the work FSI does. Many times when Dr. Lewinski was speaking, he kept making a big point about who they did the research with (the researches, the Universities), what scientific journal – and the prestige of that journal – in which the research was published. That the FSI work was accepted by this court and that court and all these things. He would frequently sound like he was trying to convince us his word, his work, was all valid sound defensible science. Now I get it: there are a lot of critics of Dr. Lewinski and FSI’s work, so I’m sure his actions come from somewhere. But it just came across as too much. If you have to get this defensive, is the criticism valid? I mean, you have a room full of paying customers – I don’t expect this is an audience you need to convince. So it was curious and a little distracting. I think the point could have been made in a more subtle way, or by simply not bothering… because if in fact it is invalid, proper science will bear that out.

Should You Take This?

That depends.

FSI says:

This information can be vital to authorities who ultimately must judge the encounter, such as administrators, internal affairs, chiefs, review board members, prosecutors, judges, and jurors.

So if you fall into that category, it’s likely useful to you.

But how about folks in my realm: private citizens?

If you’re “just a private citizen”, I don’t see much need to take this class. If you have the money, the time, the desire, there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking it and I won’t stop you. I just would consider it something like a “grad school level elective” – far from critical to take, and your finite time/money may be better spent elsewhere. More firearms training, first aid training, improving your physical fitness, and things like that may serve you better.

If you’re someone like me, a trainer/instructor, my answer is… maybe.

It depends on what sort of instructor/trainer you would be.

If you’re someone who is content to have their NRA Instructor credentials so you can help teach Boy Scout merit badges, the FSI training doesn’t make a lot of sense. (and note: there’s NOTHING wrong with being an instructor like that). If you just like teaching basic/introductory/familiarization courses to new shooters, you might find some utility here, but again it’s probably not worth your time/trouble/expense. If you’re purely interested in competition/sports, you would probably do well to learn about human performance dynamics, but the context the FSI course presents it in isn’t the correct context for you.

This material is useful for someone like me: someone deeply and earnestly interested in helping people learn how to manage themselves and perform at a high-level in situations of self-defense.

If I extend the above analogy, I’d consider this grad-school level course work. If you don’t have your “undergrad” credentials (e.g. NRA Instructor, higher-level instructor such as Rangemaster certified, MAG certified, CSAT, etc.), that should come first. If you don’t have a few years teaching at least some hundred students, that should come first. The presentation is certainly one expecting you to have some idea and experience in the topic realm. But I also don’t think it’s critical to one’s success to attend… it’s just like getting a Masters degree: not vital, but does take you further, deeper, into topics.

I’m certainly happy to have taken it, and know it will help me be a better teacher.

I want to thank Dr. Lewinski for the work he does, and his team of researchers and lecturers for all that they’re doing to help bring better understanding to the world about this topic. It’s good and important work.

How to improve response time

It took 20 minutes for Austin Police to respond to a deadly stabbing on January 3, 2020.

20 minutes.

Austin police said they received a call reporting a man with a large rock was verbally threatening people at Bennu Coffee on Congress around 7:50 a.m. When an officer arrived, about twenty minutes later, the suspect was being held down by customers inside.

Full story.

Last week I wrote about how taking (immediate) action saves lives. In that, I noted how the latest data I’m aware of put APD’s average response time at 8 minutes.

Average.

Which means your situation might take longer.

Like 12 minutes longer…

“According to Emergency Communications Standard Operating Procedures for Priority 2 calls, dispatchers should send the two closest available units within five minutes of the call entering the queue. This did not occur and is part of the internal review,” police said in a statement.

I’m not going to get too hard on APD, dispatch, 911, whomever. Everyone involved is human, and that means mistakes can happen. It means that sometimes things just won’t go ideally.

Twenty minutes.

Consider a recent Facebook post by the Austin Police Association wrote:

This comes at a time when the department has 180 vacancies and the city council is considering canceling a cadet class of 80 officers in June.

which is only going to serve to increase response times…

And when you consider the stabbing was only prevented from getting worse because people in the immediate vicinity took swift decisive action…

Truly, the only way you’ll see response times go down is to learn how to become a first responder.

(and ensure politicians don’t prevent or prohibit us from doing so).

Taking (immediate) action saves lives

On January 3, 2020 in Austin:

Police say the suspect assaulted a customer at a coffee shop “for no apparent reason,” then ran to a nearby restaurant where he stabbed two people, before climbing up and jumping off the roof of the building.

Full story.

I don’t want to talk about how this was seemingly random violent crime occurring at 8 AM on a Friday in a “good part” of town. I want to talk about how immediate response saves lives.

Local NBC affiliate KXAN published an article with the title: “Police say civilian intervention was ‘helpful’ in South Congress stabbing, experts encourage training“. Refreshing to see this in the mainstream media.

Austin police credit Bennu Coffee customers for trying to subdue a suspect who later was accused of stabbing two people Friday, possibly preventing more violence.

[…]

“It was extremely important that they intervened and got involved and detained the individual,” said APD Sgt. David Daniels. “We don’t recommend individuals getting involved in a situation, but they chose to do that. And, it was helpful.”

It’s understandable APD isn’t going to recommend it. What’s good to see is the acknowledgement that swift decisive intervention – BY THE PEOPLE RIGHT THERE RIGHT THEN – helped stop bad things from continuing to happen.

Experts at Texas State University tell KXAN the average response time for police is three minutes.

I don’t know where they got their average. Latest data (Oct 2019) on APD response time for a “lights & sirens” top-priority call is an average of 8 minutes – up 10% from last year. And that’s average… your call may take longer. Couple that with fewer officers, the fast-rising Austin population and traffic, you better expect your call WILL take longer.

(Updated: on 2020-01-11 we learned it took APD 20 minutes to respond to this incident).

I don’t know how you regard three minutes (or maybe 8 minutes), as a lot or a little bit of time. But consider it’s basically the length of a typical song. So pick your favorite song – actually, pick a pop song you don’t like so we don’t create negative association. Now play that song. Listen to it from beginning to end with no pausing, no stopping short. When the song starts playing, imagine someone punching you in the face… maybe punching along with the beat. And I don’t mean friendly punches, but say Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather Jr. unleashing on you. Until the song is over. When the song ends, that’s when police show up to stop the beating.

That’s a long time. How much pain do you think you’ll be in? Or maybe not pain, but in the hospital? Dead?

Let’s try the same experiment, but this time you’ve got your biggest baddest friend in the other room. As soon as the music – and the punching – starts, your friend can rush in and stop the beating. Not much time will have passed, nor many punches thrown. I don’t know how much pain you’ll be in, but I’m sure it will be far less than the first scenario.

Let’s try the same experiment again. But this time, you know how you box, or at least dodge and weave and duck and run. When the music starts, you fight back. How does that change the outcome?

The ability to respond immediately (minimization of wait time) makes a BIG difference.

ALERRT emphasizes the need for civilian response training to better respond to mass attacks, teaching tactics on how to avoid and defend yourself in such situations. Since its inception, ALERRT estimates its training has been taught to at least 400,000 civilians nationwide.

“Sometimes it’s not a decision,” ALERRT Assistant Director John Curnutt added. “The decision has been made for you, because it is happening. You are going to do something or not. You are going to own a situation, or it’s going to own you. That’s the only option you have at that point.”

We all prefer to make our own choices and dislike when choices are made for us. But well-adjusted folks know sometimes life makes choices for us – how we respond to what life throws at us is what it’s all about, and the more we can do to be prepared to handle life’s eventualities makes a big difference.

Look… I’m not saying everyone needs to buy and carry guns. If that’s not your thing, that’s fine.

What I am saying is, you’ve been on this Earth long enough to know “shit happens”. And when it does, typically the sooner it can be addressed, the better the outcome. Why do you think it’s so important to learn CPR? Why is it a good idea to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Can you look back on your life and think of a time where if you were just a little better prepared, some bad situation could have turned out better?

So if this means in 2020 you finally get certified in CPR, excellent! Or if after reading this you go change the batteries on your smoke detectors, great! And if it means you want to carry pepper spray, or become proficient with firearms, that’s fine too. The bottom line is working to make yourself a better and more capable person. So when the inevitable shit happens and you’re Johnny-on-the-spot, YOU will be able to make that positive difference instead of waiting for someone else to hopefully make the save.

Make yourself better.