Constitutional Carry and Training Obligations

Do training obligations still exist with legal Constitutional Carry and Permit less Carry?

The number of states that are moving to Constitutional Carry is growing relatively quickly across the country. I believe at the time of this writing we are at 20 states with Constitutional Carry and a few more well on their way to passing. Be careful though before you go out and get strapped and carry. Some states have some restrictions. Know the law in your state. Even with the restrictions Constitutional Carry is a good thing for the 2nd Amendment and preservation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Here I am a firm believer in the idea that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms shall not be infringed. There are many laws on the books that still infringe on the 2nd Amendment.

The 2nd Amendment

Iowa recently passed Constitutional Carry and became the 19th state to support it. In Iowa it means there is no longer a requirement to obtain a permit to purchase or a Permit to Carry Weapons. As of July 01, 2021 a Iowa resident may carry openly or concealed in the state of Iowa without a permit. That is of course if you can legally possess and buy a firearms. Yep, those laws still apply and the NICS Background check is still required to purchase. No training required for Constitutional Carry as an Iowan in Iowa. Be aware this is the second BIG CHANGE in Iowa Carry, Use of Force, and Permit laws in three years.

Well, what happened to the Permit to Carry Weapons you ask?
The Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons in the state of Iowa is still available. Training and proof of having completed training is still a requirement when applying for a Iowa Permit to Carry. An Iowan will still need a Iowa Permit to Carry when traveling to and through other states. Constitutional Carry will not see reciprocity rules state to state. Our best advise. Get your Permit to Carry and cover your bases. It really doesn’t cost that much and still there are benefits in having one. No delays when making gun purchases, state to state travel while going armed. And, it brings a little respect to you in the fact that you went out and put in the work and made the effort to get your permit the right way.

So, now let’s have it. WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE RECKLESS UNTRAINED PEOPLE CARRYING GUNS TUCKED IN THEIR PANTS? Believe me I get it. I have been around a lot of ranges and gun shops and witnessed first hand the bad, unsafe gun handling. As a trainer, range safety officer, and teacher in the industry I have seen the folks talk about how they have been around guns all their lives and still have no idea. Some people we can not reach. As a teacher I have to face that and accept it. I do my best to encourage gun owners at all levels to seek out training and not just e-learning but actual in person classes. Find out what you do not know! What do you have to loose? Talking crap gains you nothing.
Still, I am of the mind that the government should not mandate firearms training in order for a person to be able to carry or own a gun and be allowed to have the ability to defend oneself or another. I do believe that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and understand that going armed has great responsibility and they will seek out some form of training. A gun owner should be willing and able to accept and attend, at minimum, some basic firearms training. Silly me. I still have faith in my fellow gun owners. Every person, regardless of background, who goes armed and lives the concealed carry lifestyle is obligated by the nature of his/her daily concealed carry activities to get basic concealed carry training and proceed to the most advanced training they can afford and find.

Get the training anyway.
You buy a fire extinguisher in preparation for a fire that may never occur. You buy a gun in preparation for a defensive situation you hope never occurs.
You must have knowledge of what to do with and how to operate the fire extinguisher in order to be effective with it. You make plans for what to do in the event of a fire. Some form of training is involved.
In today’s world we plan and train for the Mass Killer Event and what to do when such an event occurs. We plan and train for the possibility of the terrorist threats. Businesses and schools have all kinds of protocols and procedures in place to deal with all kinds of incidents. They provide training to employees and students to save lives. Law Enforcement ad Military train extensively and have procedures and policies in place to give guidance during critical incidents. In many of these cases the training is part of being a employee or a student or a member of service and the employer is required by law to provide said training.
What about the private conceal carry citizen or private gun/home owner? Yes, you will have to pay for, supply, and find time for the beneficial training you are obligated to seek out to be a responsible Every Day Carrier of Defensive Weapons. We expect our law enforcement to be well trained. Why not ourselves? Is being trained not now our responsibility and obligation when we choose to go armed among the sheep who choose not to and those who can not or choose not to defend themselves. Should we not be holding ourselves to the standards of training and skill levels we hold our Law Enforcement to? As concealed carriers and gun owners we take on the responsibility of being our own first responders, responsibility for our actions, and responsibility to be as highly trained or even better trained than those who reply to the call to become Military and Law Enforcement and stand on the front line.

Over eight million new gun owners have joined the ranks in the last year and a half. New or old makes no difference. Are you being stand up and getting the training and experience not only you deserve but also that which your fellow citizens deserve? Constitutional Carry in your state or not you are expected to be see you on the range and in classes training and putting in the work for yourself and others.

A FINAL NOTE; In today’s world of unrest, de-funding police, and declining numbers of first responders, and longer response times.
“The time to learn new shit, life saving shit, is not when you are in the middle of the shit! Know your equipment and how to operate it and yourself under stress before the need is upon you! Risk is high and your abilities and knowledge will determine how you come out on the other side. There is a bigger picture you will be part of.”

Be safe, Be trained, Be prepared.

Security, Safety, Training and Guns

I am a firm believer in a person’s right to self defense and the coming to the aid and defense of the innocent. The Second Amendment gives us the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Without getting deep into the weeds, I also believe there are gun laws on the books that are a clear infringement of the 2nd.

Becoming trained is not a requirement by the Constitution or in all states or cases. Owning a home defense gun does not require training by law. Concealed Carry or Open Carry does in some cases, depending on states, require comprehensive training and in some cases only requires minimal training. It just depends on where you live. I do not support firearms or concealed carry training being required by law. It should be the responsibility of the gun owner or the armed citizen. In any cases anyone who intends to go armed or has a gun for home defense should be demonstrating a willingness to seek out training. Owning a gun has some responsibilities. Owning a gun for home defense, concealed every day carry, or carrying a gun in support of a security team and providing security for others has even greater responsibilities.

Personal defense, home defense, concealed carry or even supporting security at a church or business requires more it than just having a firearm. From time to time we see incidents where the victim had a defensive firearm but never got the opportunity to use it for defense in a critical incident due to a lack of training and situational awareness. This is a failure. A failure on the part of the armed citizen to get properly trained and prepared for the moment they may need to use deadly force in the defense of self or others. It is also a failure on the part of the security group organizer to require training before a person be allowed to join the team and continued training after the team is assembled. It is not enough just to have a gun! Some training can be done in Distance Learning and other requires In Person Training. There is a much bigger picture here than just having a gun.

There is more to it than carrying or having access to a gun for defense, LIKE;

Justifiable Use of Deadly Force
Situational knowledge of when should force be use vs. when can it be used
Situational Awareness
Mental Preparedness and Mental Conditioning
Post-Shooting Responsibilities
Environmental Control
Becoming a Trained Observer
Becoming trained in Threat Assessment
And More

Besides the training areas listed above you have to be good at gun handling and be a good shot. You are going to be required to hit a threat that will likely be moving as you are likely to be moving. A person who is going armed needs to be capable of hitting with both precision and a general defensive accuracy while under stress. You need to have a good understanding of what you are personally capable of. Accurate shooting while using the sights, unsighted shooting, low light shooting and unorthodox shooting positions. Physical skills and muscle memories are formed in training and routine practice. Repetition is key in maintaining and forming muscle memories. This is where in person training stands out above distance training.

As a private citizen take into consideration that Law Enforcement, Corrections, and some security businesses require an employee attend a academy of some sort. Some are quite long and the training curriculum contains many areas we have discussed. Those employees are also required to attend annual training to maintain that knowledge and update. Range Qualifications are part of that academy and annual training. A private citizen has no requirement to train beyond Concealed Carry Permit training by law. It is your choice. It is your responsibility to seek out and attend training.

To sum this all up;
IT IS NOT ENOUGH JUST TO HAVE A GUN! THE TIME TO LEARN IS NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION! If you are taking on the responsibility for the security of others or even yourself, you have a responsibility to train. You have to be good. You have to be a good shot under stress and in unorthodox shooting situations, You have to be good at situational awareness, You have to have a good understanding of Use of Force Laws. You have to be good at situational awareness and threat assessment. You have to commit to being better than the bad guy. You have to commit before you take on the responsibilities that are required morally and intellectually.

Be Safe, Be Trained, and Be Prepared

Tueller Drill is NOT a Rule

I recently was involved in a group discussion about 21 feet and a knife wielding attacker. In the discussion the participants were working to figure out when it is appropriate to fire on a knife wielding attacker. When should you shoot? vs When can you shoot? I noticed some misconceptions and that there are many with bad information about the Tueller Drill and what it represents. Always keep in mind that shooting should be a extreme last resort. Shooting is an action that should not be taken lightly and if you have the opportunity to avoid it, avoid shooting if at all possible.

First look at the Tueller Drill. Emphasis on drill. Used routinely today in defensive training.

In 1983 Sergeant Tueller, of the Salt Lake City, Utah Police Department conducted an experiment to determine what a good reactionary gap would be for an officer facing a knife wielding attacker. Through his experiment he found 21 feet to be a good reactionary gap. In the experiment he found that it takes a person, on average, 1.5 seconds to cover 21 feet. It takes the an officer, on average, 1.5 seconds to clear the holster and fire two shots on target. Notice here that these participants in the experiment are not static. In considering that, we can determine the attacker can reach and can stab the officer before or as the officer fires. This indicates a virtual tie. The experiment made it clear that at the distance of 21 feet an officer should have his/her weapon out of the holster and at the ready while giving commands to the possible attacker. The officer should also be prepared to move laterally, off of the line of attack, in response as the attacker moves forward.

The Tueller Drill is NOT a 21 foot rule that justifies a person in firing on a possible attacker. The Tueller Drill is a drill used in defensive training to teach reactionary gap when facing a possible attacker who is wielding a knife, stick, or a improvised weapon that present a danger of serious injury.

If a possible attacker is twenty one feet away from a defender and is not moving forward he/she is not an imminent threat to the defender. Even if a possible attacker has a knife in hand and is verbalizing the threats to do you serious bodily harm he is not an imminent threat due to distance. The possibilities of a knife wielder doing you serious bodily harm at a distance of 21 feet are very low. At 21 feet the knife can not touch you and you are not within the reach of the possible attacker. So, at the distance of 21 feet you are not in imminent danger and should not shoot the knife wielder just because the knife is present and verbal threats have been made.

A defender with a gun has a dilemma. If he shoots too early, he risks being accused of murder. If he waits until the attacker is definitely within striking range so there is no question about motives he risks injury and even death. The Tueller experiments quantified a “danger zone” where an attacker presented a threat and preparations should be made by the defender to respond.


What should a defender be doing at 21 feet?

When facing a possible attacker wielding a knife (or even a stick) you should have your gun out of the holster and at the compressed ready. Prepared to use the gun if necessary and circumstance change forcing the use of deadly force. This is the time for giving commands to the individual to get away and leave the area. This is also the time for you to attempt to make more distance and leave if possible. Avoid shooting if at all possible and get yourself out of the situation without having to use deadly force. With your gun at the ready and preparations made, at the instant the possible attacker begins aggressive forward movement to follow through with the attack you will be more justified to shoot than you would if the possible attacker is stationary and not moving forward to close distance on you. With your gun at the compressed ready you reduce the time it will take to respond to the attack than the time it would take to present from a concealed holster. Even if you are not required to shoot the bad guy, make the call. Call law enforcement and report the incident. Be a good witness and have a good description and a direction of travel. Let law enforcement do their job and track the individual down for prosecution.


Malfunction/Stoppage Drills on Day 1

Malfunction/Stoppage Drills on Day 1?

It has been a discussion lately on the internet about malfunction/stoppage drills on day 1 of class. It has been mentioned that it is not something that should be taught on day 1. I disagree. There are many reason to teach malfunction/stoppage clearing in the first day of training. It is not uncommon for students to see a malfunction/stoppage in the early stages of training. They often are not sure how clear it or have no idea of what to do when the stoppage occurs. Often displayed in a confounded look at the gun as if a stoppage is not possible. Many of the classes available are one day classes. It is not preparing the student if you do not cover malfunction/stoppage. I believe it is a must to cover and conduct malfunction/stoppage drills fairly early in the class. I’ll give a few reasons.

Shooter induced failures

Operator Error is to blame. Shooter induced failures happen far more frequently than one might think. While more common with some guns than others all are prone to shooter induced malfunction/stoppages. Here you can see stoppages caused through; Bad shooting position. Lack of a solid shooting platform for the gun to set in to operate efficiently. If you have a good platform for the gun to set in you can reduce and even end stoppages with guns that are sensitive to limp wrist, bent elbows, poor grip and other bad fundamentals. Lets face it. Many shooters need help with the fundamentals not only to make the gun operate and use the energy of the firing cartridge effectively. Good fundamentals also helps in shooting accurately. Another one is operating the slide. Part of good gun handling. Covering the ejection port and riding the slide is asking for trouble. Easily remedied by learning to efficiently operate the action and using proper hand placement when doing it.


Several things come into play here.

Gun type or action

Most commonly in contention here is the 1911 or gun with manual safeties. Shooters and students new to defensive shooting often fail to operate the manual safety effectively. They fail to remove the safety when engaging targets when training in defensive use of the handgun. Many people go to the range, step to the firing line, load the gun and make it ready at the firing line but never operate the safety during a string of fire. In actual training they fail to operate the safety. Forget to remove it when presenting and addressing the target. This give the sense of a dead trigger from not loading the chamber and placing the hammer in the cocked position depending on action. Knowing you gun and how to operate it efficiently is helpful here.

Gun Quality and Reliability

Some guns are just not known for reliability. They are finicky when it comes to ammunition. They are plagued by bad magazines. They are often poor quality. These can be low cost guns, moderately priced guns and even those high cost guns. Some are hit and miss. One may run good and the next one may be a problem gun. The best way to avoid these issues is to seek out and save your coins to buy a gun known for reliability.


In some case it is the owner’s neglect that is the problem. Failure to properly lubricate and clean a gun can induce malfunctions. I heard Ken Hackathorn say it, “If you treat your gun like you treat your lawnmower. Buy a Glock.”

Yes Sir! Malfunction/Stoppage drills are day one material and should have a mention in every class. “Tap and Rack” will clear the majority of malfunctions. “Tap Rack, Rip and Clear, Reload” will fix many of the more complex malfunctions/stoppages. If it is really jammed up, “Tap Rack, Slide lock, identify, clear, cycle, reload.” Not only should you learn to do it but you should know it to a point that you don’t have to look at it to clear it unless it just will not clear and return to operation with “Tap Rack” or “Tap Rack, Rip, Clear, Reload”. Learn to do it in the dark. You may well have to.

There is something to be said for the reliability of the Glock, Smith&Wesson M&P, and the Springfield XD. There are a few others in there. Buy the most dependable and reliable gun you can afford. Your life could certainly depend on it. It’s your defensive handgun not your target shooting, fun range day gun. You want it to go bang in that critical moment of need. Test it in a class.   TAP and RACK!

Unorthodox Shooting Positions

Unorthodox Shooting Positions

Do we need to train and then practice routinely shooting from positions other than the standing position? YES!

If you spend any time watching gun fight videos you will encounter large number of videos that show the defender in an odd position while shooting at the bad guy. Why is that? Some of these folks have been injured in the gun fight. Limiting or taking away the ability to stand and fight. In other cases the defender is behind cover/concealment and fighting back. Yet very often the defenders find themselves shooting from the ground. There is a good chance you will be knocked to the ground by the bad guy. Forcing a person to shoot from their belly, back, or seated in some fashion. They can also be seen shooting while in transition from one position to another. Likely while getting back to and fighting to their feet. Also look for the defender to be in a extended lean often off balance while attempting to shoot from behind cover. Unorthodox positional shooting is very plausible when it comes to defensive shooting. Yes, unorthodox shooting positions are a big part of defensive shooting and you need to be training in them.

If you spend all of your time on the range standing (often stationary) you are not training for a real defensive shooting event. Almost all of the students I have pass through classes at T-M Firearms Training have not trained in unorthodox shooting positions nor even attempted them until they are covered in class. With all of the imperial evidence that unorthodox shooting position are common in a defensive shooting event it is clear you and I should be training in these positions. The unorthodox shooting positions should be trained and practice routinely in order to be prepared and have the ability to get accurate shots on the threat. Not an easy task in training and even harder under stress. Since it is so hard to find a place to shoot that will allow you to train and practice you will have to search for one. In the initial phases of learning unorthodox shooting positions one should seek out a training school or group that teaches such positions. A warning here; Do Not attempt to learn unorthodox shooting positions on your own with live fire. Get with an instructor who can teach it and make sure you are safe when starting to learn. Muzzle awareness and other safety concerns are of high priority when learning these positions and an instructor will be able to oversee your training for safety. After learning the skills find a place you can practice them. If you can’t find that place you can practice with training devices that do not require live ammunition. Use snap caps, laser indicating training devices. One that stands out here is the SIRT Pistol and ARBolt.

Want another reason for training in unorthodox shooting position? Close Quarters Contact. There is great probability that if you and your attacker are in contact you will end up on the ground and grappling. Even if you are not training in Force on Force CQC learning to present and shoot your gun from odd positions gives you some skill sets to use in that instance.

If you are defending you are going to be fighting. The best way to increase the chances that you are going to WIN is by training and learning to be better than that evil screw ball who is trying his or her best to do you or another harm.

Training and Tools

A person should be training and preparing if they are going armed to defend themselves or others. In order to win a fight that you didn’t ask for you must be good at fighting. We get good at fighting the experience and training. Most people are not experienced fighters. Most have never even been hit in the nose. Even more have never faced a weapon or a person meaning to do them serious bodily harm. Yet, They will lay claims to be and play at being a “Bad Ass”. Few who make those claims have ever really trained in preparation for the violence that will be part of that fight. Bad Ass are training and readying for the fight. Being a good fighter is not something you will do naturally. Fighting is trained and learned. If you believe you may be called upon for a life or death fight you have to train for it. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the statistics from the studies that show the more you train the higher your probability of survival. Study after study shows that Law Enforcement Officers involved in deadly fights that have trained beyond standard departmental training were more likely to survive and win the fight. The accuracy and fighting skills made those trained officers were more effective.

I don’t care if you only carry a .22, or if you carry a .38spl, or if you carry a .45acp 1911, or if you carry a 9mm Glock 19, or if you carry some sort of edged weapon you have to train with it to be good at fighting with it. This shall mean starting at the basics and then moving on to more and more advanced and technical training. Learn to fight with you weapon of choice. Learn to fight with your hands and body. Your hands and body may be your only weapon available to you when the fight starts. You will have to use tools in order to get to the fighting tool you have chosen.

I have heard it said, “I am going to knock my attacker out in a fight”. This seldom happens. You are most likely going to throw a few punches and then end up at grappling in close quarters contact fighting. Can you grapple? Can you deploy a weapon while grappling?

Train with your weapon until you can use it in training to a point that you do not have to think about the steps of it’s use. Responses and use of the weapon are now and must be automatic and flow as the response is needed. If you are thinking about the steps and how it should flow in the depths of the fight you can not win. If you are thinking about the steps when the “Crap is in the fan, Fear is in you, Adrenaline is pumping into your body, you will not be performing the life saving survival fighting skills required to win. If you are thinking about the steps you are not thinking about the fight, how to respond to your attacker’s movement and method of attack, and what you need to do to survive the fight and beyond.

If you are really interested in survival and willing to fight with everything you have to survive learn to fight with what is at hand if you are caught without your fighting tool of choice. Look at the things around you and ask yourself, “How can I use it in a fight?”

In order to win a fight and survive you must be able to think and not just about the fight but everything going on around you. See all that is going on around you, be fighting and still be using your cognitive thinking skills. Fighting isn’t just about deploying a blade or shooting a gun. It is much more. There is a bigger picture that you are now part of in the dynamics of a fight. You must be able to fight off fear and panic and the affects of adrenaline and immense stress of the fight.

It is never to late to learn. It is never to late to improve. Preparation must be done before you find yourself in the fight. Training builds skills, builds confidence, increases survival, and done in context will build efficiency and bring about effectiveness in a fight. Learning never really ends.

Get Up and Do It!

With all of today’s technology there is a lot of training available. Training that wasn’t available not that long ago and certainly not this accessible. It wasn’t that long ago if you wanted to train you had to go get into a class. Just look at the Defensive and Firearms Training Industry. Tons of books out there to read. Video upon video each packed full of training information. Books and videos produced by some of the best in the industry and some of the most knowledgeable teachers in history in the firearms training industry. Beware, not all are created equally! The things we have learned and the advances we have made are amazing. But, Is technology getting in the way? I believe it is. At least for the average person training. More so with the number of people looking for the shortcut to training and the ease of getting a certificate with no time spent doing. Today in many states you can get qualified to acquire a permit to carry online. You can view instructional videos and take online courses. Credentials of training are not that difficult to get. E-Learning became a boom.

I don’t so much have problem with online training and training videos. They are a good thing within their limitations. Technology can supplement our training. The technology can give us a direction to move forward. It should not be our only form of training. Watching videos and online training does not give us a complete training regiment. Video and online training can train the mind with knowledge and provide needed information.

There is another piece that is far too often overlooked. I have heard it several times in classes. “I watch lots of videos, have read lots of books and taken the online course. I even have certificates that say I am trained and know how to handle myself and a gun.” I hear this and some are very knowledgeable. What are they missing? They are missing the physical ability to handle a gun in the defensive context and are still practicing target shooting skill set rather than defensive shooting skill set. Physical skills are developed in muscle memory through actual physical training and repetition of the techniques and proper motion. If you are not getting up and teaching the body the techniques and practicing them over and over to form the muscle memories your training is failed. When we rely only on or to highly on the technology the physical skills can be slow and cumbersome. Each step must be thought through and a signal sent to the body to move and do what should be by now natural and flowing. For Example; You should not have to think about each step of the draw and presentation to the threat. No amount of video or online training can take the place of getting out and physically doing it. I have had students come to me to learn gun handling and hands on training after taking the online course. Some have realized through a personal experience that the online training did not prepare them and they needed more.

Put some stock in some formal hands on training and training under the watchful eye of an instructor. Attend classes and advance your training. Take what you learn and practice it. Establish good technique and form the muscle memories. After attending a class take what you have been taught and practice it routinely. Push and train to the point that the movements and techniques flow more naturally. Movement and skills become efficient and effective and will be performed even under stress. Shooting and fighting physical skills are perishable. They will fade in time if not practiced. Muscle memories must be maintained through routine practice and drilling.

It takes 250 repetitions to form a muscle memory. It requires a 1000 repetitions to bring those muscle memories to a point of response. Meaning the response is automatic and you are not thinking about the steps required. Response is always faster than reaction.


Serpa Holster Haters

And They’re Back!

They are always in search of new reasons to hate on the Serpa. What’s next?

 I remember when this holster was the greatest thing since sliced bread and very prominent instructors were using and selling the Serpa as top gear.

This time the Serpa Holster haters have found a new reason to add for hating this holster. I posted on the holster in the past. One of the example videos they provide shows the operator drawing the handgun and claims the finger went to trigger because it was too close to it. Not True! The draw was clean, and the holster was operated correctly. With a flat long trigger finger. The trigger finger lands on the frame when drawing the gun, just as it should. The shooter begins to orient to the target and the finger starts to the trigger well. Again, not the holster but maybe a training issue. Or is it appropriate in the context at the time?

Then they follow up with a video of the holster getting jammed up by debris which stops the operator from drawing. This occurs in training where there is a lot of dirt, sand and small rocks. Is it possible that this could happen? It is however unlikely in everyday use and operation. It is also unlikely in training. If you are rolling around in lots of loose debris on the range or wherever it could happen. Rare event! I have to wonder how many guns were having issues because of dirt and debris in this setting.

Another issue they give is that the holster can break and come free during force-on-force gun grab training. Well depending on the age of the gear it can fail. As plastics age they become more brittle. If someone is fighting and realistically working to get your gun a holster of any kind of holster can break and tear away. I have personally torn away other types of holsters and broken some in Force-on-Force training.

I had a personal experience with the Serpa holster, but it did not sway me from its use. I was training with Rob Pincus at the US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, OK. We were drilling for one hand reloads and malfunctions. I put the handgun in the holster in reverse position in order to support the gun and make it accessible to insert a loaded magazine. During the process of the drill the front sight caught the tension lever in the lock mechanism flipping it into an upward position. This lever is normally pointing down and comes in contact with the frame of the gun for tension. It shut everything down when I placed the gun in the holster in the right way. I removed the holster and gun from my person, and we inspected it. We found the tension lever was inverted and under higher pressure from contact with the trigger guard in the holster. This would not allow the release button to be operated. All we had to do was Push the gun down into the holster, press the retention release button with the long finger, and then lift the gun out of the holster. All it did was a greater retention level of the holster. This did not make it a bad holster.

Thousands upon thousands of Serpa holsters are used by civilians, Law Enforcement and military. Issues are rare for the number of these holsters in use. When they do occur it most often comes to a training issue. It is not a bad or dangerous holster if used correctly. Yes, there can be failures just as is the case with any mechanical devise. These holsters and others use mechanics to retain. Levers and catches and buttons. All can fail under the right conditions. Know your equipment and how it works and train with it! Training!

The Four F’s of Situational Response

Fight or Flight or Flee or Freeze Response

For decades it has been taught in Law Enforcement training, Military training and even in the civilian defensive training classes. The theory that our response to a critical incident where there is a perception and fear of serious injury is going to be fight or flight. A basic reaction among animals, including humans, to preserve life and prevent injury. The theory was first described by Walter Cannon back in 1932. Needless to say the theory has been around for a while. The Autonomic, Sympathetic, and Parasympathetic nervous systems all have a part in the theory of how we will react. Fight! Or Flight! There are a lot of factors that play part here though. Let us take a closer look at Fight, Flight, Flee and Freeze


The response where we make preparations and begin to fight and defend ourselves. This is where we fight back in defense of ourselves or others. Now take a fighting stance. For most people the stance is weak side forward, hands up with closed fists. This similar to a boxing stance. For some with martial arts training and experience it can be more of a neutral stance. In the more neutral stance we are somewhat squared up to the threat, hands up with arms out to just past 90 degrees and the hands open and splayed. The decision has been made the best response in this situation is to put up a fight.


The response of taking flight to get away from the perceived threat. Flight is not fleeing. Flight is getting away and evading from the threat while maintaining visual contact and awareness of the threat. In flight we create distance while still being cognitive of and giving regard to the threat. Moving quickly to cover, changing of angles as we create distance, getting out of striking distance, getting of the line of attack. Flight may be very short or long in action.


Flee is the response of simply turning tail and running away with no regard or awareness of the threat other than it is now behind us. Fear has taken over and we run away as quickly as we can in the hopes of being able to outrun the threat. There is no looking for cover or barriers to place between us and the threat. Running until we can run no more or we think we have gone far enough to have gotten away.


The worst response we can have. To freeze up and loose all fine and gross motor skill, Cognitive thinking skills are gone. The is no thought to defense or preservation. Frozen in time and space. The voice is gone. It is a dangerous none reactive response. Death or serious injury is almost guaranteed if we do nothing.

What affects the freeze response to a perceived serious threat? Take a serious look at it from the standpoint of defense.

Start with heart rate. For a long time there has been a chart that documents what we will do based on heart rate, heart rate alone. The problem is heart rate alone will not cause the freeze response. It was a big thing in the law enforcement community for a long time. The chart went away for a while and came back and went away and came back. The chart depicted that at 175 bpm you would freeze. Optimal heart rate for most people is between 125-145 bpm. But it has been documented in studies that for some the optimal heart rate is closer to 175bpm. So heart rate alone will not cause you to freeze. The heart rate is just one part.

What about the chemicals that will dump into the body. Adrenaline and Endorphin. They can enhance performance or they can destroy performance. They can affect heart rate.

What about food intake and fluids? They affect energy and blood flow. Dehydration affects the blood.

Breath? Without oxygen flow into the lungs and into the blood the brain functions slow. Muscles stop working. The body and mind will shut down without oxygen. Eye sight is affected and one of the first to go.

Fear? A reaction to a stimuli. Fear is a response to a real or perceived imminent threat.

Anxiety? An emotion. A feeling of fear, uneasiness, and worry, usually unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is subjectively menacing.

Stimuli we are presented with. The level of the threat.

So, many things affect us!

Something else affects all of the responses. It helps our performance when under threat. Helps us to avoid possible fatal responses. Keeps our mind working under high stress and serves us in a life threatening situation. It is where we get our responses and build the rolodex file of appropriate response in our mind. It helps us to overcome the affects of fear, anxiety, chemical dump, stress and helps us to keep breathing in crisis. These things are Experience and Training.

Experience, This is your personal experience in dealing with stressful life threatening situations. Your experience dealing with physical confrontations, verbal confrontations, knife fights, gun fights, combat situations. The problem with experience. Not everyone has had or ever will have the experiences of dealing with such things to put in that so vital rolodex. Not everyone has been hit in the nose and knows what it feels like.

How do you make up for the lack of experience? Through the next step and next best thing.

Training, The one thing we can do to give us the skills we may need, help us prepare our mind, get stress inoculation through scenario training, and prepare our bodies through both physical and force on force training.

Training Pays Dividends

This is why T-M Firearms Training exists. At almost seven years since T-M Firearms Training was established and I took on becoming a professional defensive shooting instructor it has happened. Thousands of students and hundreds of classes. A former student came to me and thanked me for the training I provided on the highest level. The training had saved his loved one’s life. Here is the incident as he told me;

The house was closed up and secure when he stepped into the shower. All doors were closed and locked. When he came out of his shower and exited the bathroom he noticed one of the doors to his home was now hanging open. Open into the garage. Someone had entered his garage and then had entered his home. Whoever it was had made no announcement to their presence. Our homeowner slipped into the room where he kept his home defense handgun. Acquired his handgun. He listened for the sound of movement in the house but heard nothing. Now, questioning as to whether he had closed the door and second guessing the securing of the house before he entered the shower he made the decision to search the home for an intruder. He weighed it out. He knew that noone was supposed to be in his house aside from himself. He heard nothing to confirm anyone was even there. He knew that a search of the house was not necessarily the best action to take. He had trained for this and even ran practice drills in his home. With all of this weighed out he decided. He decided to search the house and see. After all, he was unlikely to come across anyone as he could have forgotten to close the door. So he began clearing room after room as he had been taught and trained and practiced. Then he was left with the last part of the house. The basement. The trickiest part of the house to clear because of the setup. So he approached gun at the compressed ready finger somewhere other than the trigger. Coming back to the training he had received at T-M Firearms Training. As he began clearing the first corner into the basement it happened. Suddenly standing directly in front of him, close, A man! His gun was at the ready. At first he was shocked and a split second later the decision process began. Shoot don’t shoot? Then he suddenly realized the man in front of him was his beloved nephew. The kid he loved dearly. He did not shoot. The life of his nephew had been saved.

Now after he told me about this incident he thank me. He again thanked me for the training that had saved his nephew’s life. The student told me that before training with T-M Firearms Training had he encountered this incident he most likely would have shot his nephew. Before training with us he would have positioned his finger on or very near the trigger. We taught him to keep his finger somewhere other than the trigger. He felt that without the training that under the stress of the situation he would have pressed the trigger instantly upon seeing a body in front of him. Our training taught him to process information and to identify before shooting. As we teach and he stated it took a millisecond to identify the person standing in front of him as his nephew and not a threat. Our student was able to see the big picture, maintain cognitive thinking skills and acted responsibly. Thank God he did not shoot and was able to use the training. I know had he shot it would have destroyed him.

There was another time. This student, through our training, avoided a critical incident all together and avoided what he believed would have been a Deadly Force incident. He utilized the situational response and awareness concepts we teach to avoid a critical situation all together. He didn’t give a lot of detail on the incident but did confirm that without training with us he would have walked right into a incident.


It has always been our hope at T-M Firearms Training that none of our students would ever be forced to utilize the training and experiences we provide them in a deadly force incident. We pray that noone is ever put in that position to test the training. These incidents however are a testament to the effectiveness of training we offer. These are cases that gives us some confirmation that the concepts and skills we teach are life saving. And, They have come to pass in less than seven years of providing training to the public. We provide teachings of concepts and skills that will have positive change for your mindset. The concepts and skills will become part of your daily interactions with the rest of the world. It will save lives! The teachings of T-M Firearms Training are worth the time, effort, energy and finances for everyone out there and they pay off with dividends of lives saved.181