I come from a law enforcement career, to include 14 years as a training/firearms instructor, and I spent 22 years as a competitive shooter. I consider myself privileged to have been able to attend LOTS of training and certification courses, from some excellent schools and instructors. When I started teaching in the private sector six and a half years ago, I brought that experience with me, and we did a lot of neat, tactical stuff on the range.
After such classes, I would poll the students as to their thoughts on the training, and we received lots of positive commentary. However, after the range was cleaned, targets put away, etc, I would ask myself questions: Did I do a good job for my students? Did my curriculum serve their needs? Is there something that I can do better? I ultimately decided to take a fresh look, and while I've always utilized gunfight data involving distances, number of shots fired, etc., I read the latest information put out by the Modern Warrior Project in 2019, the 132 page Black Label Report. I paired this with reading lots of individual cases of private citizens who found themselves forced to use a firearm in self defense, and I looked for two things: What REALLY happens, and are there common denominators.
I put my findings into a paper and shared it with my instructor staff, and it forms the basis of what we do, and some of the conclusions are as follows: Although I'm a firearms instructor, the truth of the matter is that the firearm itself is only part of a complete self defense plan. First, the idea of Awareness, Conflict Avoidance, and De-Escalation is key....NOT having to shoot your way out of a situation is best, where possible. However, if you are involved in a violent encounter, you or a family member (or friend) can be hurt, so having immediate access (on your person) to a gunshot trauma kit (along with training) is vital. To properly handle stress physically, we suggest getting in the gym....with a combination of cardio/resistance training as a guideline. When we look at the fact that 50% of gunfights are 0 to 5 feet - what do you think zero means? You may need hand to hand (combatives) skills to fight your way to your firearm....so seeking such training from an instructor who specializes in that is highly recommended. When it comes to your firearm, we recommend a high quality compact to full size firearm in a 'service' caliber (9mm or better), with high quality supportive gear (holster, belt, mag pouches), along with clothing that allows you to stay under the radar. We recommend very regular (at least once a week, where possible) firearms training....working from concealment in your normal everyday clothing, and we also recommend Force on Force training...the idea of learning to 'think' and make decisions while dealing with live, breathing, unpredictable human beings.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to use your firearm, we found that it's a matter of drawing it smoothly and cleanly from concealment at the RIGHT TIME, and putting fight stopping hits (with a high degree of defensive marksmanship) on the threat, to save your life. You should be able to do that under stress, on demand and at will, and under a variety of conditions. As a private citizen, that time may come in the parking lot of, or IN your local grocery store, at Walmart, at the ATM, or at the gas pump. From the things that we've studied, this reflects the reality of what you may face, and the training model we've come up with prepares you to do just that. No....it's not 'tacticool', and it won't make you a Navy Seal, but when the training is done and we ask ourselves is the training 'relevant' to what the private citizen needs, the answer is a resounding YES.