Post By Gsolutions
August 15th, 2011 10:58 PM
You don't go to tank driving school to learn how to handle a car
The myth of learning from “professionals”
By Uli Gebhard, Suarez International Staff Instructor
I started taking firearms classes more than a decade ago and back then what really intrigued me and drew me into training was that the instructor was accredited by the FBI, an active SWAT officer or a member of a SOCOM group.
Sure – those guys look tough on their websites with their thigh holsters and M-4's but looking back, except for the basics of marksmanship they have little to offer for us lowly civilians.
Eight years ago I took a low light instructor course with one of these groups and while the systematics behind flashlight use and the coordination of flashlight and handgun were valuable, the tactics were geared towards the community of law-enforcement that the instructors originate from.
Most of it has very little relevance for me. If I have to use my gun in self-defense, I will not have a stack of guys behind me that will cover every angle of the room that I will be searching. Worst case, I will be alone in an unfamiliar area. Best case, I will be in my house and have my wife with her weapon watching my back. I need to learn from people who can relate to these boundary conditions and to fighting in a reactive mode.
What do I mean with this? As a civilian CCW operator, the only equipment that I have available when things go south is the gear that I carry. All I know about the situation that I am involved in is what my own senses tell me. I need to rely on what I see and hear to make my decisions. I do not have the luxury of a dispatcher or fellow officer radioing information.
I can't hunker down and wait for backup. Our hometown has an average response time of seven minutes to 911 calls. With this in mind, the training I need has to consist of instinctive, stressproof and caveman-simple responses that will work to either end the fight decisively or tactics that allow me to get me and my loved ones out of danger.
Find the instructor in this picture - (hint, he's not the guy with the 5.11 vest)
Here is another point that law-enforcement based trainers often overlook – as a civilian I will most likely start from a reactive position. Other than most officers that have a dispatcher or fellow LEO telling them that they are heading into a dangerous situation, I will most likely find out that I am in trouble when things start unraveling.
Sure – most tactical operator based training will lecture on the OODA loop and to stay vigilant in your alertness. However, very few will teach you how to go from reactive, seeing things going south and you being the target, to proactive, where you force the bad guy to react to your actions, which provides you with a critical tool to dominate the fight.
And sorry folks – just planting the feet, followed with a fast draw, double or triple tap and quick scan left and right does not cut it.
I did a little test with my eight-year old today after seeing a turn-stand-and-deliver video on youtube. At first he thought it was cool. I had him stand behind me point his finger gun at me and told him to yell "bang" when he saw me move. When I copied the movement from youtube, I was three-quarters through the turn when I heard "BANG". We did the same thing again, this time with me moving aggressively off the X. His "BANG!" came with his finger-gun stretched out at the empty space before him. My eight-year old's perspective of "cool" changed somewhat after that.
Stand-and-deliver technique is used for the lowest common denominator in the Police Academy. It is used to make sure that even a class of cadets with no gun exposure and minimum understanding of firearm safety will be able to practice safely.
Do those tactics work for the civilian who starts fighting by himself or herself from a position behind the curve? Most likely not. The OODA loop lecture and being aware of your surroundings is nice, but local LEO's taught me without knowing that this as your only tactics has severe flaws. I've had several instances where a plainclothes police officer or Sheriff's deputy was in the checkout line in front of me. His jacket was off, his gun exposed in a level 2 holster and the badge nicely visible on his belt. Low-risk neighborhoods seem to foster complacency, since these officers more often then not let me get close enough that - had I had bad intentions - their gun would have violently changed owners.
No one is immune from being temporarily distracted. Strapping your three-year old into the carseat while trying to get the overly tired older sibling to quit whining can have a slightly negative effect on the way you keep an eye on your surroundings. There are times where you will not be able to spot every potential threat that comes within your sacred 21-foot safety perimeter.
When that happens stand, draw and deliver – the standard police operator response - does not work.
Look at all the videos that tacticool schools field on youtube – you will barely ever find an instructor, let alone a student that employs aggressive movement or combatives to change the odds in his favor. You also may want to ask yourself if these schools will truly teach you the sophisticated movements that their advertisement shows executed in perfection only by their instructors.
On top of this I live in California. We are limited to 10 rounds in the mag. This means that reloads need to be stress-proof and allow reliably holding onto a partially spent magazine. Again, standard police training is dropping the mag. Of course, equipped with let's say a Glock 22, an officer carries a whopping 46 rounds on his person. A civilian in CA with the same gun and two spares has 15 less than that – if he or she carries two spares. Absent of swift and reliable backup carrying two spares would be advised.
Let's take a look at the instructors. Often times they will wear fatigues of some sort, carry their guns on a duty belt or in a thigh holster. It does not take a rocket surgeon to figure out that this is not exactly a CCW suitable attire. This kind of gear may deliver an outstanding performance during a high-risk entry with a five-man team, but it does not work for a civilian operator who needs to bring his weapon into the fight from concealment. To take this further, training with such gear on the range while using something different on the street will deliver false confidence.
To come back to the California or New York State type restrictions: Those nice AR's that most schools show as their main rifle are a ten-shot-then-toss-fixed-mag-weapons in these states. Yes, most have a bullet button or something similar – a device that makes a swift and stress-proof reload close to impossible. A rifle with this kind of limiter installed is unsuitable as a fighting rifle. Don't get me wrong, the AR15 is an outstanding weapon platform, but only if it can be run as it was intended. My rifle students stick to what they can legally use and bring Saigas, Mini-14's, M-1A's, SU-16's or even lever action rifles to class. Try finding a law-enforcement based training group that will advertise classes for these popular rifles.
Glock and Levergun - this may be all that is available to you.
Can your training school teach you using these weapons effectively?
I'm not trying to bash Police Training, but let's keep it in the proper context. Civilian CCW operators have a completely different frame of reference and hence we need training that is tailored to these needs. I recommend you look for the civilian experiences that the instructor has. Has he/she been carrying a weapon for a number of years and do they show up to class with their CCW gear? Can they teach you how to change the odds in your favor with tactics of decisive movement? Can they prep you with combatives that will buy you the time and room to access your weapon if you start from a reactive mode? In short does your instructor live what he or she is teaching you?
Or will they tell you “Well, you know, when I see things going down, I call dispatch on my cell with “Officer in distress” before I hold out my badge and draw my gun."
You need training that covers your specific situation as an armed civilian and that training needs to come from an armed-civilian's perspective.
After all, you don't go to tank driving school to learn how to handle a car....
Suarez International Staff Instructor California
September 24th, 2011 05:46 PM
Hi Uli and all -
I'm a new member, have had my HCL for ~2 1/2 years and, thankfully, haven't had any "situations" arise.
Your post is quite relevant to my recent thoughts, in that I want more training than the required intro-class required by law.
What I know about them is pretty much nothing, other than that there are many stages/phases/levels available.
As a perfect example of the civilian trainee you speak of, what are the "advanced basics" (beyond safety/familiarity-firing/proper gun-handling/etc.) I should look for as a "1st grader" in handgun SD training?
Is there an accepted training progression or is it just a pick & choose smorgasbord?
(If any one has recommendations for such "civilian-oriented" classes in the middle-TN area, I'd appreciate an email or PM.)
September 24th, 2011 07:12 PM
I pick the third guy from the right as the instructor. I say that only because he is dressed exactly as I dress when I am instructing an outdoor class.
September 25th, 2011 01:19 AM
Originally Posted by pbchunker
thank you for your kind words.
As far as training goes I would highly recommend Close Range Gunfighting. It's a 2-day course that introduces aggressive evasive movement while engaging your opponent. You will need solid basics, weapon manipulation, drawstroke, etc. I've had fairly new shooters in this course and they all did outstandingly well. The next one in Tennessee is in January with Randy Harris.
Suarez International Staff Instructor California
September 25th, 2011 01:45 AM
"You will need solid basics, weapon manipulation, drawstroke, etc."
That's what I need now!
I read in another post about Handgun1, Handgun2 - are these parts of a standard course of training I can look into, or how do I go about finding a "basic" course such as you describe?
NRA Life Member
I will never intentionally shoot your sacred cow
September 25th, 2011 04:00 AM
Any of the Suarez or Tactical Response classes will fit your needs. Good article.
When I take a break from this place I have got to get some more classes in, it has been awhile.
"A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013
September 25th, 2011 06:41 AM
Tnx for the leads tacman, but a look at both of those options and firstly, right away I see (equiptment lists) "strongside belt holster" - I carry IWB or jacket pocket (winter), so while I might learn a lot, as Uli noted - I need/want training for my situation.
Secondly, being retired on SS, even a 2 day course and 750-1000 rounds of any factory ammo is well beyond my financial reach.
Guess I need to start a new thread to explore other, "poorman's" options.
NRA Life Member
I will never intentionally shoot your sacred cow
September 25th, 2011 09:57 AM
Originally Posted by Mike1956
^^^^^^^^He was my first pick as well^^^^^^^^^^^
,Then it was the 2nd from the L.
Very thought provoking.
I also agree w/pbchunker, in that even a working class stiff, with _ kids and a wife, has oftentimes no means of attending the majority of these types of classes.
Even before this countries economy headed out to parts unkown.
"Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is doing it. Right is right, even if nobody is doing it."
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Washington didn't use his freedom of speech to defeat the British, He shot them!
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." -- Ernest Benn
October 10th, 2011 02:22 PM
Thank you Uli, I've always felt that way but you're reinforcement keeps me confident. A police officer friend of mine told me the same thing. Thanks, Bob.
October 10th, 2011 02:40 PM
Terry, thank's for you're post. Before I retired about a year ago I might have even been able to go to "tank school", but now I can't. What I constantly do is practice in my mind during daily activity what I would do "IF" this goes down. Kind of like: sitting facing the door. That's what kept many of us alive in Viet-Nam.
October 10th, 2011 05:50 PM
Thanks for your insight and excellent thoughts, Uli. Here we have instructors touting all their LEO experience, so I contrast that with 33 yrs of civilian carry and training. And I'm still learning, figuring out more and better ways. Unless cover is on the other side, I will explode off the X to the BG's strong side. If there's no cover there either, I follow the circumference of a circle with the BG at the center. It creates the fastest angular change, and it allows me to attack his flank. In CQB, you can't create distance fast enough, but making BG turn creates time for you to go on the offensive. I'm glad you teach multitasking. Stand and deliver ought to be move and deliver. The use of laser grips has helped students learn how to move and shoot simultaneously. Using powerful visualization, I ask them to imagine a powerful stabilizing gyroscope attached to the gun hand while doing move and dry fire in slow motion. Then we speed it up using the laser fixed on a target as they run around obstacles and cover. We have found one hand holds work much better for balance during movement. When they have the confidence from the laser, we turn it off and fire for effect. We also practice movement, set, two hands hold, flash sight, triples. Most of them are already pretty good at long range slow fire, but that can train one out of his natural pointing instincts. Where are your ZOMBIE targets, anyway? You're not supposed to profile.
Liberty, Property, or Death - Jonathan Gardner's powder horn inscription 1776
Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.
("Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.")
-Virgil, Aeneid, vi, 95
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