I had the pleasure of attending a Low Light/Active Shooter response class with Combative Weapon Solutions in Cresson, Texas over the weekend. As a professional trainer, I make it a point to try and get to at least a couple of classes a year not only to develop my personal skills as a shooter but to learn teaching/coaching techniques from my peers. I heard about Combative Weapon Solutions after reading some articles by Lee Vernon on the Personal Defense Network website over the past couple of years and through mutual friends in Texas. Bottom Line Up Front: this class is a must have for anyone who owns a firearm for self-defense inside the home or carries one in the public space. The quality of instruction was top notch and the curriculum was both eye-opening and challenging for any level of shooter.
Day 1 Low Light: One of the things that all gun owners are concerned about is self-defense inside the home. I hear a lot of shooters discussing the hardware that goes into home defense but it’s a rare occasion when I hear anything about the software. It is one thing to have a weapon for defending yourself and your family inside the home but knowing how to employ it in a worst case scenario is something too many gun owners take for granted. One thing that this class stresses is having a practical plan for what to do in the event of a home invasion. Depending on the layout of your home and the size of your family, it is likely that you may find yourself needing to move through the structure in the dark after an alarm goes off or glass breaks, alerting you to a potential threat. The first instinct for any parent is going to be to move to the kids and ensure their security as quickly as possible. This may necessitate moving through areas where the threat could be present and where darkness is a huge factor that can limit your security and mobility. This class will teach you basic, practical tactics and techniques for navigating your home with a weapon and flashlight when you are forced to do so by the circumstances. After working through the tactics in the early evening, you will get several opportunities to run through scenarios that force you to move through the darkness, identify and address threats, and continually ramp up your stress level. This class is the only one I have taken that actually employs shoot/no-shoot threat recognition and 3 dimensional targets. I believe that advanced classes spend way too much time repeatedly dumping ammo into the same paper target without stressing the importance of recognizing an actual threat before employing deadly force. CWS does a great job of incorporating this principle and holding students accountable for their actions inside of each scenario. I can definitely say that I was pushed to my limits and picked up some definite areas for improvement. Most of those areas involve cognition, awareness, and problem solving as opposed to pulling the trigger as I was forced to process a ton of information before shooting, which proved to be considerably challenging. I now have more confidence in my ability to move through the darkness if I am forced to secure my family in that worst case scenario and some things I can practice on my own even with dry-fire (my wife is going to love being blinded by my surefire during said practice sessions).
Day 2 Active Shooter Response: Though still exceedingly rare, active shooter incidents where a psychopath walks into the public space intent on killing as many people as possible are definitely on the rise. A lot of CHL/CCW holders will talk about their preparedness to deal with this scenario but it typically doesn’t leave the realm of the imagination for most. The types of places that spree murderers are likely to target are about as far away from the square range as you can get. Innocent bystanders will be everywhere, crowds will be stampeding, and chaos will be the name of the game. If all you do is stand in front of paper and work on front sight focus and split times, you are kidding yourself. The active shooter scenario is pretty much the definition of off-balance. I am a big proponent of doing things that work well with what the body does naturally and working your skills in as much context as possible. This class does just that by taking the square range and getting it as close to a shoot house as the berms will allow. You will learn how to use cover, shoot from unorthodox positions, safely move through crowds with a weapon, and get the hits that you need to get when your heart rate is up, your target is obscured, and your senses are overloaded. The scenarios you get the opportunity to run at the end of the class are well worth the price of admission and more. I have not seen stress inoculation done properly since I left the military as it is usually just a cheesy “let’s scream ‘threat’ really loud at the line” type of thing. The guys at CWS do it the right way. I can definitely say that I haven’t been put to the test like I was in this class in any of the classes I have attended on the civilian side up to this point. I was pushed to my limits and then some. When you see your performance under these circumstances, I can promise that it will cause you to re-evaluate how “ready” you really are for this type of scenario.
I highly recommend that you add this class to your training to-do list. I would also like to point out that not everyone in the class was an experienced shooter. We had guys of all skill levels including complete novices. Lee and Chris slowed down and tuned up the less experienced guys when they needed to and didn’t slack on pushing the more experienced guys at the same time. While I would definitely recommend a good fundamentals class before you sign up for a more scenario-focused class, I wouldn’t shy away from attending this class if they are in your area regardless of where you are as a shooter. The guys at CWS have the perfect combination of real world experience and down to earth professionalism. They don’t condescend or try to intimidate you with war stories or bore you with internet regurgitations. They know their stuff and they impart their knowledge very effectively. Get out there and find a Combative Weapons Solutions class near you. I will definitely be training with these guys again.