What Can I Do?

In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas; a lot of my fellow believers are contacting me about how to be prepared for such an incident at their own place of worship. This isn’t the first shooting at a place of worship, and it won’t be the last; so, I understand the concern and the desire to be proactive. In my experience, this desire to be proactive usually subsides as the story makes its way out of the news cycle and people move on with their lives and recede back into complacency. However, I want to offer my best advice to anyone who would like to be prepared as an individual for personal defense inside of their church. Bottom line up front: you need to seek out real training and make regular practice a part of your lifestyle starting today and continuing long after this story has left the news cycle.

It is important to understand that while churches are a magnet for violent actors for a whole host of reasons, tragedies such as the one in Sutherland Springs are exceedingly rare, as are mass shootings in general. Statistically speaking, these types of events are not actually increasing in frequency on the aggregate despite what the media may imply, and the likelihood of being involved in such an incident is still very low. As such, instead of thinking specifically about how to respond to a mass shooter, you ought to first be thinking about the far more likely scenarios that you might face as an armed citizen in church or anywhere else in the public space.

I am a big advocate for using what is called the “plausibility principle” in approaching personal defense. This principle states that we should focus our limited resources on preparing for the more plausible defensive scenarios based on our lifestyle, and then only start to think about much less likely but still “possible” scenarios once we have mastered the skillset needed to deal with the former. Mass murder events fall on the very edges of what is plausible, so it would be foolish to consider attending an “active shooter response” class if you haven’t been through some basic defensive shooting classes already. Therefore, my first piece of advice is to master the basics. The basics as I define them are: ability to present the firearm from concealment and engage a threat from the most likely personal defense distance of about 10-12 feet with a multiple shot, rapid string of accurate fire, and to make precise shots at head size targets from that same distance.

Once you have mastered those basic skills, you can start working on reloads, engaging multiple threats, and dealing with more extreme distances out to 25+ yards; all of which could be necessary in responding to a spree killer or killers. Learning how to identify and utilize cover would also be beneficial, as would learning how to move through a crowd of people while armed. If your church has a security team, knowing how you fit into their response plan would also be beneficial. Church security teams ought to have a plan for how to identify and integrate with armed citizens in the congregation, and it would behoove you as an armed citizen to know what that plan is. For more on my general thoughts on church security, refer to my 2015 Personal Defense Network article on the subject.

Since Texas is a state that requires licensing to carry a concealed handgun, there is usually an uptick in people seeking out licensing classes in the aftermath of this type of tragedy. That’s great, but unfortunately most people usually stop there. Licensing classes are nothing but a state mandated way to gain access to your rights. The live fire portion of the class (and usually the legal portion for that matter) is in no way “training” and should not be considered anything more than a formality. If you’re in a position of authority at a church, you need to understand that just having more people carrying guns in your church ought not be your end goal. You want those people to be trained and proficient as well, and you just can’t get there by only meeting the state mandate. So instead of just working with a local instructor to find a free or low-cost licensing class as some are likely to consider, try to work with a trainer to get an actual training class together.

Beyond that, I would highly recommend medical training. If you don’t carry a medical kit on your person and know how to use it to stop a traumatic bleed, you need to make that a priority even before considering the armed response aspect. While you may not be in the right place at the right time to stop the threat with your firearm, you could very well be in a position to save lives with your medical kit when the smoke clears. Having the ability to apply a tourniquet and/or pressure dressing, and to pack a wound with quick clotting agents is as essential as being able to shoot fast and accurate in a mass casualty situation. Paramedics are unlikely to show up in time to save people who are bleeding out, so it’s going to be on you and the people with you to patch each other up.

You may also have people in your congregation who are not ready or willing to carry firearms for personal defense. While firearms are the most efficient tools to fight a spree killer with, they are certainly not the only option. Regardless of whether you are armed or not, “hide and hope” is not a good strategy. Guns are not magical, and evil men with guns can be defeated by good people who are willing to fight back with whatever means at their disposal. If you have even a small percentage of your congregation that is willing to fight with a spree killer, armed or not, the survival chances increase for everyone. You can do your part in changing the mentality of people and increasing their willingness to fight just in the conversations you have about these incidents. These would-be mass murderers aren’t expecting to have a fight on their hands when they walk into a church service, school or place of work. You can help to change the paradigm one conversation at a time.

I think it is unfortunate that something like the tragedy at Sutherland Springs is what it takes for some folks to consider how they can be better prepared to defend themselves; but so be it. If you are really serious though, you can’t just attend a one day seminar or read a blog post and call it good. To truly be prepared, you are going to have to make training and practice a priority. Start with the basics and then move on to some more specific considerations as mentioned above. Don’t just let the raw emotion surrounding this event and others like it subside while you do nothing. If the evil you saw manifest itself in this event disgusts you, get busy today preparing yourself to confront it. You don’t get to choose when it happens, you just get to choose how ready you are for it.

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Constitutional Carry From a Trainer’s Perspective

I have been a state certified Texas License to Carry (LTC, formerly CHL) instructor for about five years. During my time as a licensing instructor, I have made a good amount of money from teaching the licensing class. However, I am imploring the Texas legislature to kill my licensing business by eliminating the licensing requirement to carry a handgun when they reconvene at the beginning of 2017. However, this won’t kill my entire training business because Constitutional Carry is not only the right answer from the standpoint of political principle, it is also the right answer from a training perspective. I will leave the discussion of the political principles for another time, but here I want to discuss the training implications.

The state mandated curriculum that is put out by the Texas Department Of Public Safety (DPS) is nothing more than a lowest common denominator overview of state law combined with a very basic shooting proficiency standard. In order to get certified to teach curriculumthis curriculum, instructors must attend a week long instructor class in Georgetown that basically consists of 4 days of death by power point from State Troopers and State Attorneys that covers everything from disability laws and basic business regulations to a somewhat detailed overview of the relevant sections of the penal code that relate to Use of Force and other handgun laws. Instructor candidates are given a written test at the end of the classroom portion and are required to qualify with both a semi-auto and a revolver at the range on the last day of class. While the goals of the curriculum are obviously very basic, I’m not confident that the program consistently turns out instructors who can even convey those basic requirements adequately.

At no point during the instructor class is there any requirement for an instructor candidate to demonstrate teaching skills or ability to present or explain the subject matter of the licensing course. Any teacher worth his salt knows that having knowledge and being able to convey it effectively to students are two very different things. But at the end of the day, if you pay your money and are able to sit through the class and pass the test, you are able to teach classes and issue certificates, regardless of your actual ability to teach. With the standard for credentials being what it is, if you don’t show up at the class with the ability to communicate, you aren’t going to leave with it. There are some great instructors who teach the licensing class, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t because the state developed them. In fact, the state just about goes out of its way to ensure that instructors do little more than stick to a script. Based on my interactions with my peers on the licensing side, there are far more folks who shouldn’t be teaching anyone anything than there are quality instructors in this program.

All the state can really be confident that they are turning out is people who can read black letter laws off of a slide deck and run a safe range, which does not in any way constitute a quality instructor. When I took my licensing class back when I turned 21, we spent more time listening to the “instructor” rant about politics than we did discussing the complexities of use of deadly force; and my experience was not an anomaly. The licensing instructors who are doing the best job are mostly those who have taken it upon themselves to seek out continued instructor development both on the legal and shooting side, but they are few and far between. ClassroomThe NRA credentials required to sign up for the instructor class are worth about as much as the paper they are written on as well, as there is not a high standard for teaching or communication ability to receive them either. With the subject matter required for licensing being potentially life and death stuff, the standard for instructors is far too low. To raise the standard to a meaningful level would require resources, time, and expertise that the state simply doesn’t have and can’t financially afford. Developing quality instructors is neither a cheap nor fast endeavor, and it can’t be accomplished by a bureaucracy in Austin. The state would do just as well as it currently does to have the class put completely online like a defensive driving class, because that’s about as much as most students get out of it.

The problem with this reality from my perspective as a professional trainer is that when you put a state seal on an instructor and a training program, responsible but otherwise uninitiated people who are looking for quality instruction are going to be prone to assume that they have found it when they go to see their local licensing guy. After all, if you are looking for a plumber, someone who is licensed and bonded is usually going to be better than someone who is not, right? Well, we all know that this is not necessarily the case. Just as there are plenty of licensed and bonded plumbers who will screw up your bathroom, there are plenty of state certified “instructors” who are going to give you a weak understanding of state law and defensive shooting fundamentals. The difference is that with a plumber, you find out pretty quickly when your toilet still leaks that shoddy work was done. When it comes to gun licensing, you may not find out until you are sitting handcuffed in an interview room or worse, bleeding out on the pavement. There is nothing that the Better Business Bureau or the State of Texas can do to prevent the guy who gives students an improper understanding of state law, because as long as they can simply convey what the black letter law says, they have met the standard. Similarly, if your licensing instructor lets you qualify with a screwed up grip and stance as long as you are hitting inside the 8 ring enough times, he is really doing you a disservice, but has still met the state’s standard. Just about every single student I have had in the licensing class could have met the state’s minuscule training standards without paying me any money to do so. The training requirement simply formalizes and stamps “official” what already exists and does nothing to actually increase public safety.

With this reality in mind, it should be clear to rational lawmakers that we aren’t really losing anything from a training standpoint by eliminating the licensing requirement. Getting rid of that state certified label will force instructors who can’t teach well and have no business calling themselves “instructors” out of the market because they won’t be able to run certificate mills anymore. People aren’t going to be as likely to succeed at hanging a shingle with no real experience or ability when they can’t rest on their “state certification”. The people we should want carrying guns on our streets are the ones who go above and beyond the licensing requirement and seek follow-on training anyway, and that group of responsible armed citizens will be there with or without licensing. In fact, it turns out that instructors in states with no licensing requirements tend to fill their classes more easily because people aren’t fooled into thinking that they have fulfilled their responsibility simply by getting licensed by Joe Bob’s licensing shack. Someone is far more likely to come to an advanced use of force or defensive handgun training class if they don’t already have a card in their wallet that they think means they are already good to go. I can’t tell you how many times people have decided to go see some other guy for “training” simply because his class is cheaper and all they wanted was a license anyway. Those people will still be just as big of a liability whether or not they have a card in their wallet, so let’s stop pretending that we are increasing public safety by mandating lowest-common-denominator training.

I’m not worried about going out of business when the training mandate goes away, because responsible people don’t require a mandate to do the right thing. The only people who are served by keeping the licensing requirement in place are those who profit from it both at the state capitol and in certificate mills. I’m ok with both of those institutions not getting any more of mine or my potential students’ money, and you should be too. Be very wary of any “instructor” who takes the opposite position.

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Reality: Good Guys Don’t Always Win

There is a very real possibility that a lot of armed citizens take for granted: good guys can lose fights. I meet a lot of people in the gun culture who thump their chests and suggest that simply because they carry their guns, victory is inevitable if they are ever involved in a critical incident. A lot of the time, these folks will suggest that they will even instigate fights over mere property just because the state law (as they interpret it) may make some allowance for doing so. To put it frankly, there is a dangerous amount of hubris that permeates the gun culture that can put lives at risk if carried through to action.

It is possible that when you draw your gun even in a clearly justified and reasonable response to a threat, that the threat may defeat you in the fight that ensues. There are no pre-determined winners in these situations, and it could be that you find yourself on the ground bleeding out after pulling your firearm in self-defense. The likelihood of an armed citizen winning a fight increases to some degree based on the level of training the individual may have and how prepared they are for the fight. The rest of it comes down to circumstances and chance, which are totally out of our control. The unfortunate reality is that most armed citizens don’t spend near enough time on the range training and practicing with their defensive tools, which makes the probability of losing a fight that much higher. However, even if you train and practice regularly, factors outside of your control may put you at an insurmountable disadvantage that nullifies your level of preparedness.

Does this mean that you should have a defeatist attitude toward personal defense? Absolutely not. I am by no means telling you that you can’t or won’t win your fight if it ever comes. I bring up the possibility of defeat to drive home the fact that you shouldn’t develop a false sense of security just because you carry a gun. If you can avoid putting yourself in situations that may lead to armed confrontation, you should always do that. If there are things that you wouldn’t do unarmed because of the potential danger they pose, you shouldn’t do them armed either. Unfortunately, I hear far too many people express the opposite disposition. While I understand that a lot of that has to do with “sounding cool”, I’m afraid that it sometimes reflects a very reckless mindset.

I see this dangerous mindset expressed most frequently as it relates to using deadly force in defense of property. In my opinion, which is informed by reading a lot of legal scholars and case law; there is nothing you own that is worth taking a human life to defend. Deadly force should only be used in defense of life, not stuff. The fact is, if you aren’t willing to give your life in defense of your property, you shouldn’t be willing to take someone else’s either. It may be the case that when you instigate a confrontation over property, you may lose your life over your tractor/car/dog, etc. when it is all said and done. When you go into your yard and confront the guy trying to steal your riding lawn mower (an actual scenario a student brought up in class), you may find yourself bleeding to death next to that lawn mower if the fight doesn’t go your way. Don’t be that guy.

When you accept the reality that fights are not always won by the good guy, it should motivate you to avoid the fight altogether to the extent that you can. Despite how “badass” you may believe yourself to be, there are no guarantees in life, and you can’t predict how a fight will go down. Your gun doesn’t confer superpowers on you, and you are not Superman. Guns are merely tools designed to help you efficiently respond to the threat of deadly force when and to the degree it is immediately necessary to do so. Regardless of whether you decide to train and practice with your firearm, your positive mindset should never turn into an irrational hubris. Train, practice, and be vigilant; but don’t start to believe that you are invincible, or it may lead to making bad decisions that end in your ultimate demise.

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Don’t Just Get Licensed, Get TRAINED!

                The most common response I get when I talk to potential students about coming to a Defensive Focus Shooting class is: “I already have my license”. I probably heard it 20 times minimum from people who stopped by my booth at the gun show this past weekend. While I’m glad to see that more and more Texans are taking the steps necessary to exercise their right to carry a defensive handgun; I’m discouraged by how many people seem to believe that attending a licensing class adequately prepares them to efficiently use a firearm in a worst case scenario. To me, this is similar to saying “I went to freshman orientation” as a qualifier for never going to another class in college. The licensing class is essentially an orientation class for armed citizens, and is not meant to be viewed as anything more. You can’t possibly hope to learn much in college if you don’t go to your classes, and you can’t possibly hope to be prepared to use deadly force in self-defense if you stop learning after qualifying for your license. With this post, I am going to lay out some things you need to know that the licensing class simply does not cover. The gaps you will see here should demonstrate why you need to get to follow-on training such as Defensive Focus Shooting if you are really serious about being prepared to defend yourself with a firearm.

                First off, the licensing class is absolutely NOT A SHOOTING CLASS. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is adamant about this fact in the instructor certification class. The licensing class is merely designed to give students a base level understanding of state law and to confirm that they aren’t incapable of operating a firearm safely on the range. Licensing instructors are only required to give a very basic, mechanical overview of how a firearm functions, and how to safely operate the firearm on the range. The things you are expected to learn about handgun use, as mandated by the state, are even more basic than what you would learn in an NRA Basic Pistol class. The 50 rounds that you fire at 3, 7, and 15 yards are just designed to verify that you are “proficient”, which is to say that you can safely operate the gun and put holes in the target at reasonable distances. How efficiently you accomplish this task is not measured, and thus the score you get at the end is totally irrelevant to personal defense. It is quite possible to “qualify” during the shooting portion of your licensing class while using atrocious technique when viewed through the lens of personal defense. Thankfully, many instructors will go above and beyond the state mandate in this area to make sure that students leave with at least some understanding of what “right” looks like, but that certainly is not because the state requires us to do so. When I look at pictures of people shooting the proficiency portion of the state licensing class on Facebook, the grossly lacking standards of most licensing instructors when it comes to shooting fundamentals is very apparent.

                Not being a shooting class, most licensing classes are not likely to teach you any shooting techniques that are relevant to personal defense, unless you have an instructor who goes beyond the mandate, which few do. For instance, one important skill that isn’t covered is presentation of the firearm from the holster. It doesn’t really matter how well you can shoot from the ready position (whatever your instructor thinks that ought to be) if you can’t efficiently present the gun from your holster. Another thing that doesn’t get covered is what generally happens to the human body in the context of an unexpected attack. Shooting under standard conditions in a controlled “qualification” may demonstrate mechanical proficiency, but it certainly doesn’t demonstrate proficiency when your sympathetic nervous system is engaged, with all of the physiological and psychological changes that come with that. Knowledge of what is likely to happen to your body in that situation, and how to efficiently access and employ your firearm in that context is very important, but is totally neglected by the licensing class. Furthermore, with so little time spent on the range in most licensing classes, you can’t learn anything about your physical ability, or the reliability of your gun and gear. One of the great benefits of a full one or two days of class on the range is that any shortcomings in your physical ability, your chosen firearm, holster, belt, positioning of the holster and belt on your person, etc. will become very apparent and can thus be corrected with the help of an instructor. You can very easily “qualify” in the licensing class with a gun that may not actually be reliable in a fight, and you would have no idea. If you don’t learn about your limitations and that of your gear in class, you may not get another chance to do so unless and until your life is on the line. That would obviously not be the ideal time to find out that you are “jacked up”. Coming to an actual training class allows you to find and correct these issues before they can potentially cost you your life.

                We have countless examples on video of law enforcement officers and civilians who may have been “qualified”, “certified”, or “licensed” but were nonetheless forced to improvise in the moment when actually faced with the need to defend themselves. Since the advent of dash cams and surveillance videos, it has become glaringly apparent that “qualification” is not training, and does not ingrain the skills necessary to efficiently confront a threat. The things that we see people doing when they “demonstrate proficiency” or “qualify” on the range almost never looks like what they do in actual fights as captured on video. Many progressive police departments have taken this knowledge and adopted training programs that focus less on bureaucratic training standards and more on training in the context of reality. On the civilian side, there is no department that is going to mandate that you do more after licensing, nor should there be. If you intend to carry a firearm in the public space, you have a personal responsibility to do more than what the state requires to prepare yourself for the reality of a defensive shooting. Simply having the card in your wallet does not mean that you are “trained” or “prepared” in any sense of the words. It’s what you actually DO beyond getting licensed to prepare for a worst case scenario that will set you up for success or failure if you are ever forced to fight with your gun.

                I implore you not to rely on your completion of a bureaucratic licensing standard as adequate preparation for personal defense in the real world. I want you to become as dangerous to the bad guy as possible, and getting licensed is just the first step in your journey to responsible armed citizenship. There are countless resources available to you from distance learning options such as Personal Defense Network to formal training classes under the tutelage of an experienced instructor like you will get in our Defensive Focus Shooting program. Whatever you choose to do based on your budget, please don’t carry a firearm in the public space where my family is if all you have is a piece of plastic that says “licensed”. Get to a class, get to the range, train, practice, and be prepared. Not doing so makes you little more than a potential liability to yourself and the rest of us.

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My Thoughts on the PRACTICE of Open Carry

The open carry of a handgun by a license holder became legal in Texas as of January 1, 2016. In the anti-gun community, this was met with the usual anticipation of blood in the streets and vigilantism that has yet to materialize in any of the other 44 states where open carry is lawful. Despite all of the hype, the open carry of handguns really hasn’t actually changed much of anything except that law abiding gun owners are no longer guilty of a criminal offense if they choose to display their holstered firearms. In fact, I have yet to actually see anyone in public partaking in this newly legalized practice outside of the small demonstration at the state capitol staged by some open carry advocacy groups on New Year’s Day. Obviously, there is nothing to fear from open carry from a public safety standpoint, and I don’t suspect it will affect the lives of most Texans in any substantial way. With this new law in place, I have been asked by several former and perspective students what my thoughts are on the practice of open carry; and so I will detail them here. Please understand up front that I fully support your right to open carry (I am actually for Constitutional Carry); but I will continue to conceal my firearm and encourage my students to do so for the reasons detailed herein.

The first reason that I choose to conceal my firearm and encourage my students to do so is that I don’t carry my firearm for the purpose of advocacy; which is to say that I don’t carry it in order to make a political statement by showing it off. I am a very opinionated guy, and I have no problem taking a stand on my principles and speaking my mind on the issues. However, when I want to express my opinions, I do it by writing blog posts such as this, supporting candidates I believe in, voting, writing my representatives, and generally making good use of my First Amendment right to free speech. When I holster my firearm and walk out my door into the public space, I don’t do so because I am interested in “making a statement” or “starting a conversation” about gun rights. I may well do those things throughout my day, but I don’t need the sight of my firearm in its holster to be the catalyst for them. Up to this point, I’ve had no shortage of opportunities to share my pro-2A beliefs with people I meet while my firearm has remained concealed the entire time. I just don’t see the need for the sight of a holstered gun to be the catalyst for a discussion of gun rights or responsible gun ownership. Regardless, advocacy isn’t my personal motivation for carrying my firearm, and so it will stay concealed. If that is your motivation, then I guess OC is an option for you.

The second reason I choose to conceal my firearm and encourage my students to do so has to do with what my motivation for carrying a firearm actually is: personal defense.  I carry my firearm for the purpose of defending myself and/or my family in the event of a violent confrontation with the evil that exists in this world. With that being the case, I simply don’t see what I gain in the context of personal defense by displaying my holstered firearm. Some will say draw speed, but the tradeoff in split seconds is negligible at best for a trained individual. Some will say comfort, but in 2016 there are literally hundreds of holster options that will comfortably work for any lifestyle and body type that I am aware of. One school of thought (and probably the most frequent talking point of those in favor of the practice of open carry) suggests that displaying your weapon could provide an advantage in the context of “deterrence”. While it is true that the sight of a holstered firearm might deter some would-be attackers, there is no guarantee that it will in every instance. If that were the case, armed and uniformed police officers would not be attacked and killed with their own weapons, which is something that happens. Furthermore, gun grabs, though very rare (as are shootings in general), wouldn’t be a thing; but we know that they are. So, if it is your belief that open carry is an effective deterrent, then I hope you are right 100% of the time; because all it will take is that one time that you aren’t for you to have to deal with the fact that you are armed on the bad guy’s terms instead of your own. I don’t necessarily believe that open carry “makes you a target” in and of itself; but I certainly don’t think it eliminates you as one either. If you do become a target when open carrying for whatever reason, there will be no illusion on the part of the bad guy as to what your intent is and where your tools are. Also, it could necessitate a deadly force response that may not have been called for otherwise. Personally, I intend to keep my playbook full of options that merely include deadly force, and I will keep that playbook a secret as opposed to sharing it with the other team and hoping that they will forfeit out of fear of what might happen.

The final reason for why I choose to conceal my firearm and encourage my students to do so is that I just don’t want or need the attention that comes with OC, as that attention can come with unintended consequences. We are already seeing several restaurants and other private establishments across Texas modifying their gun policies to prohibit open carry. Thankfully, lawmakers had the foresight to codify a new signage requirement separate from the 30.06 statute to allow for private property owners to prohibit open carry in their establishments without prohibiting concealed carry. I don’t believe that most business owners have a strong opinion on the gun issue; but some are simply worried that the sight of firearms in their establishments could drive away other customers. While that may be misguided from our perspective, you have to understand that most business owners are going to naturally err on the side of caution when it comes to how they are perceived in the market. Starbucks didn’t take a stance on the open carry issue until they were inundated with open carry activists who forced their hand, and there is no doubt that other businesses saw that and don’t want to deal with it. If you walk into an establishment open carrying, you are forcing the owner to make a statement either in favor of or against your actions at that moment; which is simply not a situation I want to put most people in, not knowing what their irrational predisposition toward guns might be. I know that one of the stated goals of the open carry movement is to normalize the sight of firearms in public, but I don’t believe that is the real issue for most people. We in the gun community always talk about shifting the debate away from the inanimate object and focusing on the individual human. With that in mind, what we really need to do is normalize the view of the people who are carrying firearms in public, and the best way to do that is to keep them concealed and go on about our business, in my opinion.

I am fully aware that plenty of Texans will choose to open carry their handguns, despite my best efforts to dissuade them, as is their right; and as mentioned above, is a right I unequivocally support. I hope that even those who disagree with me will at least consider formal training, regardless of how they intend to carry their firearms. Participating in reality based training can go a long way to help someone understand the full context of a fight instead of just fixating on tools and how they are carried. My job as an instructor is to recommend best practices as I see them, based on my observations and empirical evidence; and that is all I am doing here. I’ll leave the politics of it alone and just simply say that whatever method of carry you choose, do so from an educated position; and make sure you have fully considered the ramifications of your decision. Unfortunately, I’m not confident that most people have thought it through very thoroughly (and that would include MOST who choose to carry concealed as well). At the end of the day, it’s about what you SHOULD do, as opposed to what you CAN do.

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Nehemiah and the Armed Believer in 2015

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Over the past few days, I have been contemplating the state of our fallen world in light of the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris. With these horrific attacks, we have once again seen what just a few dedicated extremists can accomplish when a society abandons its sovereignty and sacrifices its means to defend itself in favor of political correctness and naivety. I see people all over social media who are obviously eager to “do something”, and so I will attempt to give what I hope is a compelling Biblical perspective on the matter. How should we as Christians to respond to the atrocities that have occurred and the fact that they will continue to occur? I believe we can find a very good answer to that question in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.

When we first meet Nehemiah in chapter 1 of the book, he has just received a report on the state of his native home of Jerusalem, a place he had never seen due to the fact that he was born into Persian captivity. Here we find out a couple of things about Nehemiah right off the bat. First, he is a patriot; which we can see in that the news of Jerusalem’s state of desolation was enough to bring him to have “wept and mourned for days” (1:4). I think we as red-blooded Americans can identify with Nehemiah’s sorrow as we see what is becoming of our homeland in the age of secular-progressivism we now find ourselves living in. Though we as American Christians live free from any real persecution, we can certainly identify metaphorically with the desolation of Jerusalem as it parallels the moral decay of the United States. However, the larger point here is that it is ok to love your country as a Christian. In fact, reverence for God and Jesus Christ are the only things that supersede the reverence for the Jewish homeland detailed throughout the scriptures. God does not have a problem with Jews being proud of their national identity and their land. One’s nationality and heritage is a birthright given from God, and Patriotism is a good thing. We as American believers should love our country in the same way that Nehemiah loved his.

Second, we find out that Nehemiah is a prayer warrior who asks earnestly for God to forgive the sins of his countrymen and return them to their homeland (1:5-11). His patriotism is what moves him to sorrow for the state of his nation, but it is his faith that moves him to prayer for its restoration. We as American believers should be patriots who pray. When we look at the continued moral degradation of our society, we should pray earnestly for God’s mercy on us and our countrymen. We should acknowledge as Nehemiah does that our own households are not blameless and that God is the one who preserves nations according to his will for those who “love him and keep his commandments”(1:5).  All too often, we as Christians act like the state of this nation in 2015 is not in large part due to our own turning from God; but I’m afraid that is not actually the case. It is more the failure of God’s people than the actions of the Godless that have brought this nation into decline, just as it was for Israel. When we pray, we should acknowledge this fact and pray for our own forgiveness as much as for the society around us. However we pray, we should do far more of it than we are inclined to in our daily lives if we expect God to move in this nation.

After praying, Nehemiah is given the opportunity to return to Jerusalem with a contingent of his countrymen and begin to rebuild Jerusalem: God answers his prayers. In chapter 4, we find Nehemiah and his group of settlers beginning to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which had been destroyed when it was conquered. It should be interesting to us as Americans in 2015 that Nehemiah’s first move upon returning to Jerusalem was to rebuild a wall around the city. The concept of securing borders in 2015 draws as much ire from the Christian community as it does from the secular left. The fantasy of a world without fences on this side of heaven is not one that we find embraced in Scripture. If the Old Testament Jews had good enough sense to secure their borders from foreign invasion, it’s really baffling that it should be such a stretch for American Christians in 2015; but I digress.

The important thing I want you to notice from chapter 4 is that Nehemiah and his group of settlers faced a threat that we ought to be able to relate to in light of the geopolitical climate we now inhabit. They had to deal with a group of people who didn’t want them to be there, namely the “Arabs, Ammonites, and the Ashodites” (4:7). These folks mocked them and threatened to kill them and knock down the wall that they were so earnestly working to rebuild. It seems they were being… terrorized! So what was Nehemiah’s response? Well, just as before, he prays; but I want you to notice how he prays. He prays “Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You.” Surrounded by enemies, Nehemiah prays that God would (gasp) DESTROY THE ENEMY! Do you as a Christian pray that God would lay waste to Islamic terrorism? If not, why not? I hear a lot of outcries for compassion for these people who would seek to murder our families and destroy our way of life, but precious few calls for God to blot them from the face of the earth. Maybe I’m Old (Testament) School, but I think we need to see far more of the latter in this day and age. Maybe if we prayed for it, God might make it happen.

Also, don’t miss what else Nehemiah and his people do in the face of the terrorist threat: they armed themselves.Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built… So we carried on the work with half of them holding spear… Each took his weapon even to the water.” (4:17-23) Even as they prayed for God to destroy their enemies, they carried weapons in preparation to defend themselves. These were not soldiers, mind you, but simple families of Jews who took up arms as they labored on the wall. As a result of God’s protection and the fact that they were armed and ready to face their attackers “God frustrated” the plans of their enemies (4:15). It is obvious from the attacks in Paris that none of the victims were able to return fire on their attackers. Paris is a disarmed society that learned the hard way how badly that policy can backfire when evil men with arms arrive to do their murderous deeds. We as Americans (depending on where you live unfortunately) do not have that same problem due to the rights our forefathers (leaning on the Bible, incidentally) guaranteed for us in the Constitution. If you are worried about the possibility of a terrorist attack, or any other worst case scenario for that matter (terrorist attacks are still VERY unlikely, statistically speaking): get armed, get trained, and don’t leave home without your weapon. As Nehemiah says, don’t even “go to the water” without your firearm. That prudent advice is as good today as it was thousands of years ago.

Nehemiah lived in an age of moral depravity and terrorism, much as we do today. He responded to the struggles he faced through patriotism, prayer, and armed vigilance. We as Christians are not facing anything in the 21st century that hasn’t been faced by our forefathers all the way back to Abraham. We should all spend more time on our knees and on the range if we are really as concerned about the situation as we let off on Facebook. There is a time and a place for compassion, but war is not that time or place. Make no mistake, we are at war both physically and spiritually. Pray earnestly that God may drive our enemies before us as he did for Joshua, David, and Nehemiah; until Jesus returns. Then and only then will we find true peace on this earth.

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“Whatever Works for You” is BAD Advice

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There are far too many instructors in the defensive/tactical training industry who have no ability to backup or defend what they teach. The way you can spot these charlatans is by noticing their inability to answer “why” questions. Instead of providing real answers, you will usually find them using cop-outs that allow them to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings while giving worthless advice. If you are paying someone to train you for a potentially life-threatening situation; they should be teaching you about the best, most efficient tactics/techniques/gear that they have knowledge of. This doesn’t mean that an instructor shouldn’t adjust their curriculum or recommendations to your specific needs; just that they shouldn’t suggest that you continue doing things they know to be suboptimal or inefficient just because they may ostensibly “work for you”.

For example, I often have students that show up to my classes with guns that are not on my recommended list (which consists of Modern, Striker-Fired Semi Autos w/ no manual safeties). Most recently, I had a novice female student come to class with a SIG P938. This particular firearm is so small that it is difficult to get a solid grip on, makes reloading nearly impossible, and has a tiny,hard to operate manual safety. I know from experience that this firearm is prone to malfunctions, is extremely inefficient, and is frankly a reckless choice for personal defense. It would have been extremely irresponsible for me to let this student believe that she was “good to go” because the gun may have “worked for her”. As such, I let her run the first drill with it (which illustrated the aforementioned reasons why I don’t recommend it), and then I loaned her a more efficient firearm to complete the class with. As a result, she will likely be making a more informed gun purchase in the near future. I could have easily done what her CHL instructor from the state licensing class undoubtedly did, and just made sure that she could hit the target with it and then said something like: “it’s better than having no gun at all”. However, I like to be able to look myself in the mirror and sleep at night after I get home from teaching a class. Therefore, I took the chance that I might offend her for a brief moment and used the expertise she was paying me for to make the best recommendation I could. If an instructor can’t bring his or herself to do that, they shouldn’t be teaching people at all; and certainly not for money.

This same mindset should apply to all things being taught in class. If a given technique or piece of gear is known to be inefficient, new recommendations and changes should be made (or changes demanded if safety is an issue). Obviously, an instructor should still consider if the juice is worth the squeeze when making these recommendations and changes. There are minute tweaks that can always be made to a student’s technique or gear setup that may cost more in the way of time, effort and energy to adjust than would be gained in making the adjustment. In those circumstances, it would be a waste of time to “split hairs”, so to speak. That being said, I have found that those circumstances are very rare compared to those where a change should be recommended. A good instructor will be able to make the proper decision on whether to intervene or not. The important thing is for them to have the willingness to make the call when it needs to be made, and to be able to clearly articulate “why” when they do. The delicate balance is being able to do this in a manner that doesn’t seem condescending or belittling to the student. Different instructors have different ways for walking that balance beam, but it must be walked regardless; failure to do so is a detriment to the student and demonstrates a lack of integrity on the part of the instructor.

So, if you as a student ever run into an instructor who fails to answer the “why” questions: run, don’t walk away. If you are fine doing what “works for you”; you could have done that without paying for the class in the first place. Look for someone who knows enough about their subject matter to clearly articulate how and why you should do the things you are paying to learn. You are paying for expertise, so don’t settle for cop-outs.

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The 6 Most Annoying Gun Cliches (updated)

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Anyone who has been a part of America’s gun culture for a good amount of time has probably heard plenty of clichés at the gun store counter or the local range. With the growth of social media over the past decade, these catch phrases are being blasted out to the masses in the form of memes, status updates and the like. Some of these sayings are innocent and even endearing, but some are outright misrepresentations of the gun owning community. A lot of us, including me, have used some of these phrases before in passing without really thinking about what they mean and how they can affect the way that we are perceived. With this post I am going to detail 6 clichés that I think are overused and probably even reckless when put in proper context.

1.      “It’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”

This flippant attitude toward the use of deadly force is both ignorant and dangerous. Any armed citizen who takes their legal obligations this lightly is a liability to society as a whole, not to mention the danger that they pose to themselves if they are ever faced with a true conundrum. Having taught use of force for several years as part of my concealed handgun license classes, I don’t know how anyone with even the baseline required training can possibly miss the “last resort” part of using deadly force. The concept that potentially taking a life should be considered only in the direst of circumstances is one that any instructor worth his or her salt ought to be covering thoroughly. I believe that most instructors are diligent to point this out, but there are just some students who don’t want to hear it because of their egos. I understand that this is often said in jest, and I probably said it myself early on in my life as an armed citizen. However, in light of recent national headlines; I cannot fathom why anyone would truly believe that this is a wise maxim to live by. If you ask George Zimmerman how much “better” it was to live to be “judged by 12”; I’m not so sure he would be as bold with this chest-thumping bravado.  What’s better is to never be judged by 12 or carried by 6. This is an outcome that is achievable through education and even temperament, which should be the virtues of any armed citizen.

2.      “I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46”

Do you even train bro? I am especially passionate about this one because I have no doubt that I have uttered these words before (probably several times). As a student of history and a red-blooded American male to boot, I grew up shooting 1911’s and have always loved the .45ACP round. It is the iconic American cartridge and is as legendary as the Greatest Generation that brought it to prominence. The problem is that with modern ballistic technology being what it is, the .45ACP is simply not the best choice for a defensive shooter. All shooting is a balance of speed and precision, and you simply cannot optimize that balance as well with a .45ACP as you can with a 9mm. This debate will rage on as long as there are trained and untrained individuals on internet forums sparring for attention. Science is an amazing thing. Once I accepted that there is no discernable difference between modern bonded hollow point ammunition in 9mm, .40, and .45 when it comes to wounding capacity or penetration depth, and combined that with the fact that I can shoot much faster with 9mm: the debate was over for me. I still love my .45 and I still love the history that it represents; but historical coolness will not better prepare me to defend myself. If you just can’t get over the facts, I would challenge you to carry this cliché to its natural conclusion and start concealed carrying a .50 or you’re obviously a wimp.

3.       I’m a “sheepdog”

I am a big advocate for LTC Dave Grossman and his work. “On Killing” and “On Combat” ought to be required reading for any armed citizen. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the books, but the good far outweighs the questionable. I had the pleasure of dining with the Colonel and engaged him one on one a couple of years ago. I can tell you that there is not a more passionate, dedicated advocate for personal responsibility and the right to keep and bear arms on this planet. That being said, some of the legion of followers that he has inspired have failed to take that inspiration any further than reading the words off of the page. Think about the essence of a true sheepdog for a minute. People pay top dollar to pedigreed breeders with special licenses and certificates in order to acquire the most pure bred sheepdogs to tend their herds. Every one of these sheepdogs is going to come with certain ingrained tendencies to want to protect and herd the flock. However, if I were to spend top dollar on a sheepdog and then bring it back to Texas, domesticate it by letting it lay on my couch, and never expose it to sheep; its sheepdog tendencies would soon be overcome by lapdog reality. I have a basset hound that was undoubtedly bred for hunting rabbits, but if I were to drag him out of his dog bed and take him to the woods, he would just as likely fall off of a cliff as catch a rabbit. You see, Sheepdogs must be TRAINED in order to hone their sheepdog essence and make a good, reliable working animal. The same thing can be said about the legion of “sheepdogs” that cling to LTC Grossman’s every word. There are plenty of “fanboys” of the sheepdog mentality who have never been to a training class of any kind. They may very well have the love for their fellow man and desire to protect others ingrained in them, but without proper training, they will be unlikely to be of any use when the wolf comes. So, if you fancy yourself a “sheepdog”: go get some training. If not, you’re just carrying the label as a crutch and may not rise to the occasion if it is ever required of you.

4.       “A little lady like you needs a little gun like this.”

This ridiculously condescending and sexist advice is usually followed by the recommendation of some tiny, malfunction-prone mouse gun or most unfortunately, a snub nosed .38. I have had several different women show up to my classes with little pink something or others that the dummy at the gun store sold them out of ignorance. Usually, by the end of even the most unchallenging concealed carry qualification, they are already asking for a different recommendation. This is especially true of women who show up with little micro revolvers with heavy DA triggers. As long as there is nothing physically wrong with a given female shooter, there are several options in the Modern Striker Fired list of guns that will work perfectly well for even the tiniest of frames. So, if you are the guy telling brand new female shooters to bring Beretta Nanos to my class, please… just.. stop.. Thanks.

5.       “That door was locked for your protection, not mine.”

Ok Rambo, apparently we need to talk about what doors are for. If you believe yourself to be such a super bad-ass, then why have a door at all? Since men have been building things, doors have been shut and locked generally to keep unwanted intruders out. If you think that a bad guy coming into your home is less safe in that moment than you are: you are a fool.  A home invader clearly has the upper hand if he has defeated your first tier of home defense in a locked door. The principles of a solid home defense plan should be to evade, barricade, and respond. Evasion means to get as far away from the bad guy as you can. If you can get out of the house, do it. If not, get to a pre-designated safe room and commence with barricading yourself inside. Somewhere in conjunction with evading and barricading, you should arm yourself for the possibility of a required response. If the bad guy defeats your barricade, that’s when you should be prepared to use deadly force if necessary. A t-shirt slogan like the one above betrays an ego that will not lead to a very proactive strategy for home defense and is little more than tough guy talk. Watch a few videos of home invasions and then tell me how you feel about doors.

6.) “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

This one is a favorite retort of Wayne Lapierre and other people who aren’t good at arguing on substance. There are actually plenty of ways to stop a bad guy with a gun. Take, for instance, the guys in Europe who jumped a terrorist armed with a rifle and subdued him with nothing but their bare hands. Those guys had the will to fight and the opportunity to act, which are really the two key factors at play in any of these situations. Overcoming evil is more about mindset than it is about tools. Obviously, if confronted with a gun, the best response would be to have a gun yourself and shoot back. However, we know that even outside of a “gun-free zone”, this isn’t always possible. What we need to be preaching to people is that the best way to stop a bad guy, regardless of his armament, is to be ready to beat his ass with whatever means available. If that happens to be a gun, great; but the fight isn’t necessarily lost just because of the disproportionate armament. If we start seeing classrooms full of people all charging the shooter with any improvised weapon they can grab on short notice, we will see fewer of these cowards seeking the easy fame of mass murder. We get pretty righteously irritated when the anti-gun media fixates on the tool over the person. As such, we need to make sure we aren’t guilty of the same logical fallacy. This cliche’ needs to go away along with the people who keep using it.

Obviously, this post is filled with a high level of snark and sarcasm. For me, that is the best way to confront these ideas in the context that they are most often conveyed. Words mean things. The sayings that we use are what the general public will use to paint a picture of who we are. This is especially true of our enemies who want to take our freedoms away. Politics is a thing, and public opinion can be swayed in this age of social media with the right meme. So consider what you say to others, and especially when you are talking to new shooters. They might not understand that you are “just kidding”. This is potentially life and death stuff we are talking about. Take it seriously.

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Posted in Firearms, Personal, Training, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Thoughts on the Oregon Spree-murder: Always Fight

Once again, mass murder has occurred in the United States. This time, it took place at a small community college in Oregon. Before the bodies of the victims had even been removed from the building, the predictable political talking points on both sides were already flying. From the left, represented by the President’s speech, you have the typical illogical calls for more gun control. From the right, led by conservative pundits, you have the typical cliché’s about gun free zones and “good guys with guns”. Instead of getting lost in the political drama that always unfolds after one of these tragedies; the better approach would be to try and learn something from what transpired. By doing this, we can better prepare ourselves for the unlikely chance that we may find ourselves in the same situation. In this article, I will attempt to dissect some of the talking points and discover what the real lessons are.

The types of people who commit mass murder are by their very nature risk averse; they are cowards. This is the reason that so called “gun free zones” can be such inviting targets for these attacks. However, in talking about this fact, you have to be careful in the way that you expound on it. It isn’t necessarily the case that removing gun restrictions would significantly increase the chances that a spree murderer will be met by a “good guy with a gun”. After all, murders occur in places where guns are not restricted every day because there simply aren’t that many people (even licensed) who carry guns regularly in the public space, even when allowed to do so. What makes a “gun free zone” so inviting is all about the psychological perception of risk on the part of the violent actor, whether it actually exists or not. If criminal actors were rational, they would realize that the probability of encountering an armed citizen outside of a “gun free zone” is not significantly higher than it would be inside of one, statistically speaking. The reason that doing away with gun restrictions curbs violent crime to a degree is the same reason that most people won’t go skydiving; but will still drive their cars on the dangerous highways. People tend to perceive that the risk associated with skydiving is higher than driving even though, statistically speaking; it is the other way around. Doing away with gun restrictions has the same effect on the way most violent actors make decisions. If a would-be spree-murderer perceives that they might face armed resistance, irrational though it may be; their risk aversion will usually cause them to choose a different target. So, while I certainly agree with the conservative pundits who decry gun-free zones, it’s not because I believe that ending the restrictions would necessarily mean that spree murderers will likely be confronted by an armed citizen, though that certainly could happen. What we do know from research by John Lott is that allowing concealed carry lowers the chances that the violence will occur at all, mostly for the psychological reasons listed above.

The initial reports coming out of Oregon detailed the horrific way that the murderer systematically executed his victims, apparently having them all lie on the floor and then, one by one, stand up and announce their religion before being murdered. At the outset, it seemed as if everyone in the room had allowed this to happen as they waited for the police to hopefully rescue them; something that never happens quickly, if at all. Then this morning we learned about a guy named Chris Mintz, an Army Veteran who was shot multiple times as he charged at the shooter. Though he was unsuccessful in his attempt to end the violent attack, we can learn much from his willingness to fight and his audacity to do so. Imagine if a spree murderer, having chosen to attack what he believes to be defenseless victims, were met by a room full of people with the resolve and intestinal fortitude of Chris Mintz. Imagine if only 3 or 4 individuals in the room yesterday would have had the same resolve. Yes, the would-be heroes would be at a disadvantage, but there is really nothing magical about the attacker having a firearm. Given the right opportunity, and depending on the totality of the circumstances; even a small group of determined unarmed defenders can very easily best an armed attacker. Just look at the incident that occurred on the train in France last month where 3 unarmed guys overtook a terrorist with a rifle. The will to fight and violence of action cannot be overlooked as a powerful force, regardless of what tools one may or may not possess on either side of the fight. Think back to the couple of guys who tried to hijack planes not long after 9/11. Practically the whole cabin subdued them and beat them to a pulp. I don’t foresee that hijacking a commercial airliner will be the first choice of many terrorists going forward.

It is possible to have the same psychological effect on bad guys that loosening gun restrictions does if more people were simply willing to fight for their lives. If violent actors in our culture were made to expect resistance regardless of where they choose to attack, these spree-murders would become more of an anomaly then they already are. The lesson we should learn from this tragedy and many others like it is that we must teach people to actively resist the evil in this world instead of willfully succumbing to it. No mass murderer should be able to expect to line his victims up and systematically execute them, because no individual American should be willing to allow it to go down that way. Unfortunately, the default for most humans is compliance with evil. Most people will go out of their way to try and appease the bad man, hoping that someone is going to rescue them. Until that victim mentality is less pervasive than it is today, we can expect more fame-seeking psychopaths to find opportunities to act out their violent plans with impunity. We have to work to instill the mentality that you are never out of the fight, no matter what tools are involved. Regardless of how long it takes for the political process to unfold in the gun rights arena, we all have the right and the ability to fight back, if we can only find the resolve to do so. We should never allow ourselves to be victimized when we have the ability to resist, and we should never assume that the tools of violence are the only variable in the equation.

Gun free zones are an abomination and should be done away with; there is no doubt about that. Furthermore, no piece of legislation or speech from a President will ever nullify the wickedness of mankind. What we really need are more Americans like Chris Mintz, with a fighting spirit and resolve, which refuse to be victimized. We should be focused on making more “victim free zones”, and then we can worry about the tools we use to fight back. Would be violent-actors won’t be as likely to attack if they perceive the risk of facing resistance. Let’s work on giving them the perception that, armed or not, none of us will go down without a fight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy. We learn from their suffering with the hope that we can prevent more suffering in the future. Evil will always exist, and the best we can do is to accept that fact and be prepared to confront it.

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“Tools for the Toolbox”– Another way to look at the metaphor

One of the most overused cliché’s in the training industry is “another tool for the toolbox” when referring to a tactic or technique and its viability. Usually you hear it when an instructor is trying to explain why they teach a certain thing without being able to justify it in a meaningful way. As such, it is usually just a cop-out on important questions about the tactic or technique and really shouldn’t be accepted as a real answer in an intellectual discussion. However, I feel that the saying itself warrants some further dissection as to the relevance of the metaphor and its usage as related to training since it is something that comes up so frequently.

The reason we have tools and toolboxes is that different tasks require different tools. If you need to tighten up a hexagonal bolt, a Phillips head screwdriver isn’t going to do you any good. When we translate that to a metaphor for training, the tool is the technique and the task is the context. The tactic or technique (tool) needed is dependent on the context of use. For instance, if I am on a SEAL team, I am going to require different tactics and techniques to accomplish my mission than a civilian would for personal defense. If I am a civilian and I spend time filling up my “toolbox” with tools that only door-kickers need, I may have a sexy-looking toolbox; but it’s going to be filled with tools that I don’t need.

The more an individual shooter values training, the more likely they are to accumulate multiple tools and even amass multiple toolboxes. I can remember my grandpa having an entire workshop full of every sort of tool you can think of that he had amassed over a long life of building and/or fixing things. Some of those tools he may have only needed once or twice but yet they still remained somewhere in his storage shed. As someone who takes training seriously, you may have trained with several different trainers, with several different backgrounds, who may have taught you tactics or techniques that work for several different contexts. If that is the case and you have amassed many “tools for your toolbox”, you will have an important decision to make: what tools to put on your tool-belt.

Your tool-belt should contain tools that you are proficient with that you know you might need at a moment’s notice for the most probable task at hand. Your tool-belt goes with you in your work truck and is always on your person at the job site. Sometimes the contents may change depending on what you expect to encounter, but they should stay pretty consistent. You want those tools to be efficient, practical, and versatile based on what your daily routine consists of. You don’t want to have a tool-belt that is overly bulky, and you don’t want to have any wasted space. When you look at your training in this way, you want to make sure that even if you have 10 different classes with 10 different methodologies in your “toolbox”; that you have chosen only the tactics and techniques (tools) that are the most practical and efficient for your “tool-belt”. It would make no sense for an electrician to carry a hatchet on his tool-belt; just as it would make no sense for a civilian concealed carrier to carry 5 man room-clearing techniques on his. An electrician may know how to use that hatchet, just as you may know how to clear a room on a 5 man stack; but it isn’t something that is going to warrant carrying around or dedicating much practice time to.

Yes, it is good to take classes and to get as much knowledge as you can. There is much to be gained by training with different instructors and learning new things. In doing this, you may in fact amass a large set of “tools for your toolbox”. Just make sure you are very careful about which of those tools go on your tool-belt when you go to the range to practice and when you live your daily life. Choose only those tools that apply to your most probable context of use and leave the rest at home in the shed.

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