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

Just Because

Because you wish to carry a concealed firearm for defense some will call you a bad person. Not true. You have the right to self defense. You are your own protector and first responder. You can not rely on others to do it for you. That is why it is termed Self Defense.

Because you are willing to defend yourself and others some will call you a bad person. Not true. You stand above those who say this. You have made up your mind that you will not be a victim and you will not stand by and allow bad people to prey on the weak or innocent. You are strong and will not bend to the evil in the world as those who criticize would.

Because you are willing to meet violence with violence some will call you a bad person. Not true. You understand that at some point violence must be met with violence. You understand that there will be a time when talk will not end a crisis and that violence must take over. Though you are smart enough to and will do what you can to avoid violence if you can. You know there are no real winners in a fight only survivors.

Because you own a gun for defense you will be called paranoid and scared. Not true. You have made the decision to defends your home, property, loved ones and those others in your care. You have this right. You are preparing for when the time comes that you may have to fight for what is yours and the ones you love.

Because of these choices you have made you will be labeled as sick, mean, a killer, an angry person, part of the problem and not in the right. There will be many things said but you will still stand by your choice to live, survive and continue to love those close to you and care about the innocent and to take a stand. You are still above this and a good person. You are not a sheep. You do not stick your head in the sand. You see the world for what it is. You are righteous and proud. You are the one in the shadows that evil men fear. You are the sheep dog. You are the protector.

Because of all of these things and the choice to carry a gun, to have a gun for the purpose of defense and to stand where and when others will not. You now must do the right thing by yourself, those you love and the public you will walk among. You must do all you can to become efficient, become precise when called for, become effective and stead fast under great diversity, pressure, and stress. You must now train beyond the basics. You must train and develop skills and a mental strength and a mindset far beyond the simple. You have made the choice and now you must step up and do what is right and become more than just another person with a gun. To many people are going to rely on you when that terrifying moment comes and lives are suddenly on the line.

You must make the time to push beyond your comfort zone and prepare for the challenges you have accepted. You must be prepared for that moment we all train for but pray will never come. Will you complete what you have started. If not turn back now. Put the gun away and set aside your will to fight. It is far better to stop now than to become a burden on the others who are meeting the idea of defense with full commitment.

Where are you? Can I count on you to stand and fight with me if the time comes? Can others count on you to stand beside them and support them in a fight? Do you have the skills and the mindset? Are you really meeting the challenge?

Concepts Taught

I and many others in the defensive training industry have been saying for a long time that training must evolve and continue to move forward in training and learning. This doesn’t mean we forget the past. Very important concepts, ideas and techniques for self defense have been forged over time. Some over time to be proven wrong or misguided. Others proven out in real life. With more study and understanding comes changes in the training industry that are proving themselves out in the real world today. There are great lessons to be learned from the teachings of the past. Not all should be disregarded. As time is progressing, especially over the last six years that I have operated T-M Firearms Training, we have seen a change in the minds and methodologies of the teachers. When I started T-M Firearms Training I decided then and there to give my students more. More than just standardized teachings and repetition on the range and repetition in the techniques of empty hands. I put the physical methods and techniques together with the concepts of personal defense. Concepts, the reasons why we do what we do and not just to do it because someone who was better trained than you told you to. We need to have the driving concepts that increase your survival rate in a life threatening situation. These are concepts that will help you develop a defensive mindset. The “Why?” to go with the “DO!” I learned from a very, very wise man that I spent many years and hours every week during those years training and learning concepts and that those concepts can be as important or more important than the physical forms. Concepts are where the mind grows and the mindset is forged.

I have always believed there should be more to a defensive shooting class or a empty hands personal defense class than just 500-700 rounds a day of rounds sent down range onto paper and 20 or 30 repetitions of those drills. Or even the hundreds of repetitions a student will get in a class for empty hands. I have trained in classes as a student where we fired hundreds and even thousands of round in repetitious ritual with little on concept or why we did it. For many years I was like most people who had gotten a false sense of security from my physical ability and proficiency in hitting a piece of paper. I was missing the, “Why”. It was easy, once the skills were developed, to be successful in classes like this. Between military, competition, and law enforcement and formal tactical training I got really good at the doing. When I started learning why my success in training and even the real world really started to improve in leaps and bounds. The things I did now were making more sense and I was becoming more efficient and effective. Adding the concepts gave me greater control of myself and those I was training with or dealing with in a real Use of Force incident.

I teach the skill, have you practice it, combine it with other essential skills that tie to the skill, tell you why, and then apply it in all in a scenario and reinforce it all at the end of the day. The techniques are for the student to practice and maintain on their own after leaving the class. Learning the concepts behind the techniques motivates the student to train more with a greater understanding of not just “DO” but also the reasons for “Doing” it in a particular way for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The methodology brings the mind to work out responses to stimulosus and not just reactions to actions. Building a defensive mindset is a essential part of personal safety.

Forget your preconceptions and leave them at the door. New concepts and ideas are on the agenda with the shooting and doing. See you in class! Be safe!


Chambered Round in a Defensive Handgun

Chamber that round!

It is always a point of discussion and can sometimes become a very heated discussion. The question;

Do you chamber a round in your defensive firearm? Well, do you?

People will give all kinds of reasons for not chambering a round in not only their carry gun but any defensive firearm. I have heard many of them over the years. Many of the reasons are nothing more than excuses for personal failures to be safe and follow safety protocols for concealed carry.

“I just don’t feel safe carrying a gun with a round in the chamber.” Why? “Because I don’t want it to go off accidently.” or “Just because I don’t.” With no defined reason. This is not a good reason for not chambering a round in the gun you are going to rely on in a split instant to defend yourself or an innocent. If this is your concern you are doing something wrong. Plain and simple. A gun will not fire by itself. Ever seen the pictures and videos with the guy yelling at the gun trying to get it to fire. Won’t happen. No Bang! There has to be something, some object in the trigger well that interacts with the trigger to make a gun discharge. If a gun is carried in a well maintained holster, a pocket by itself, a purse by itself, in a car console by itself, in a glove box by itself, or on the night stand by itself it will not fire. The problem comes when there is something else present that can interact with the trigger to cause discharge of the gun. If the gun is in a pocket with keys, lipstick, ink pens, pencils, coins, a pocket knife, a package of gum, torn or ragged cloth, or loose ammunition it possible one of these items can get inside the trigger well and interact with the trigger and cause an unintended discharge. The unintended discharge is not caused because there was a round in the chamber. It’s because you can’t follow basic safety protocol when carrying a gun. It’s because you are not safe. If you can’t keep items out of the pocket or holster with the gun you might not want to carry at all.

“I don’t want someone to pick up the gun and press the trigger and shoot the gun accidently.” Again a bogus reason for not chambering a round even more so than all others. A gun, especially a defensive firearm, should not be laying around where just anyone can pick it up and press the trigger. A gun should never be accessible to unauthorized people. If you are leaving guns lay around and openly accessible to anyone who enters the area you are a fool and probably shouldn’t have a gun to begin with. When carrying a gun no one should be able to just walk up and take it out of your holster. Any attempt by anyone to do so should trigger one hell of a fight response. You should not be leaving your loaded defensive handgun lay on the coffee table so that one stupid drunk friend can come visit and pick it up and shoot at your TV or worse. If you have persons in your home a gun should be on your person or stored wear only authorized people can get to it. It may be necessary to store the gun in a vault and unloaded to avoid mishaps by unauthorized persons.

“I don’t need to keep it loaded when I carry. I’ll have plenty of time to operate the action and load my gun.” Really? Over the years I have looked at a lot of studies on this. I have studied tons of videos. I can tell you without a doubt you will not have time to operate the action to chamber a round in a spontaneous ambush situation. The highest percentage of gun fights happen at the distance of 0-5 feet. 95% of all gun fights happen within ten feet. You are most likely to be ambushed and the attacker will already be with reach. At this distance any attempt to operate the action will give the attacker ample time to get hold of the gun before you can complete the operation. Or he will use his before you can get yours in the fight. If the attacker is armed with an edged weapon you may and will most likely be cut to shreds before you can complete the operation. Most people who carry a defensive handgun are not trained in weapons retention which means you stand a risk of losing the gun if you can not immediately shoot your attacker. Most importantly it typically takes two hands to operate the action of the semi-automatic handgun in order to chamber a round. I can tell you your support hand will not be available to you to operate the action of your handgun. Your support hand, the one you would like to use to grasp the slide, will be busy. It will be busy deflecting an attack. It may be busy redirecting an attack. It may be busy grabbing and controlling an attack. It may be busy striking or pushing the attacker away to gain distance. It may be busy guiding or directing someone you wish to protect. You may be using it to dampen the impact with the ground as you are knocked down by the attacker. No. No. No. You will not have time or be able to operate the action to chamber a round when you are under attack. If you are going to carry a gun unloaded. You are putting yourself even further behind in the fight. No place to be when your life or the life of another is at risk.

If you are carrying a handgun for defensive purposes it should be loaded and ready to use at a split seconds notice. By that I mean; around in the chamber and a fully loaded magazine locked into the magazine well. Quit making excuses and be fully prepared or leave the gun in the gun safe at home.

Chamber That Round! Make Ready! Respond!

BANNED!! Holsters and Carry Positions


Serpa Serpa Holster

If you have been watching and listening around the training industry you will have noticed there have been some holster bans and on body carry positions bans. Some of the upper level instructors (the famous guys) have banned certain holsters and on body carry methods in their classes. Now I understand if there have been unintended discharges due to, what they considered, the holster or method of carry and one is concerned about liabilities. None of us want a injury in our classes! There were two such bans that stood out to me. One was the Serpa Holster. The other ban was the appendix carry position. Both have been brought to light by unintended discharges during training classes. It’s not because of bad equipment or bad carry positions. It’s more of an issue on the training side. Instead of addressing these problems the upper level instructors opted to ban the holster and the carry position. Guys you are wrong! Instead of banning the thing of concern why are you not addressing the training issues? Making your students aware of what they are doing wrong an helping them to fix it. Maybe it’s a matter of the level of training provided and hey just don’t have the time. I can’t say for sure but I have heard no defining reason other than, “No! Not in my classes!”. This is disconcerting. I have been addressing the issues in my classes and making a point to hit the training failures and lack of knowledge from the students stand point and the failure to follow safety rules. I can find any number of reasons to ban any number of things from classes. Holsters, mag pouches, techniques, ammunition, guns, reloaded ammunition, and the list goes on. At some point though we have to address the problems and quit ignoring them. I see poor gun handling and unsafe acts routinely in classes and on the range. Making students aware they are committing safety violations is the only way to make them safer. Safer for everyone and better in crisis. That’s why they come to us. To learn!

The CQC Serpa Holster was one of the first. It is my understanding that students had had unintended discharges when using the Serpa Holster. When the unintended discharges appeared on the scene when using these holsters the first reaction was to ban the holster unless it was part of duty equipment and you were well practiced with it. It’s not bad equipment! It is poor training and a lack of knowledge with the equipment on the operator’s part. Students would by the holster and show up to class with it never having really used it or training with it. Failure on the students part right out of the gate. “RULES; 1. Keep your trigger finger straight and somewhere other than the trigger until ready to shoot. 2. Know your equipment and how it works.” When using the Serpa holster you must use the straight finger along the holster when drawing from the holster in order to release the retention on the holster. The finger is flat when releasing the retention. You wouldn’t think this to be a problem since the trigger finger should be straight to begin with regardless of the holster type. Here is what was happening as I understand it; Students had not practiced and understood the proper technique in operating the retention release on the Serpa. They would get the command to fire and fail to release the retention while attempting to draw from the holster. A couple of yanks on the gun in attempt to draw then suddenly they remember the retention on the holster. Now, instead of using the straight finger and flat along the holster they would use the finger tip, the bent finger applying pressure. When the gun clears the holster with the finger bent and applying pressure the finger goes directly to the trigger. Every Time! Thus causing the unintended discharge. I demonstrate this failure in my classes and emphasize that the user must be using the proper technique. When drawing from any holster the trigger finger must be straight and remain straight until you are ready to shoot. Not a holster problem but a user problem.

The more recent ban was on the appendix carry position. Un-intended discharges were occurring during training by those working from the appendix carry position. The problem here was not on the draw but upon re-holster. Too many students, and I run into it a lot, have the tenancy to return to the holster as fast as they come out of the holster. We should be reluctant to re-holster the weapon in training just as we would or should be in real life. Two things can be the cause of un-intended discharge when re-holstering. Both are on the operator. One is the trigger finger on the trigger during the re-holster process which is causing the un-intended discharge. Easy fix, “Keep your finger straight and somewhere other than the trigger.” The other is the cover garment getting caught on the trigger during the re-holster and causing the un-intended discharge when the cover garment pulls tight applying pressure to the trigger. This is another operator error due to not clearing the garment during re-holster. Another easy fix, “Slow down when going back to the holster and ensure all materials are cleared. “Quick out of the holster and slow to go back.” In defensive shooting it’s not all about speed. Take your time and be deliberate on the draw and engagement. Take even more time when returning to the holster. It’s not a race to get back into the holster. You may need to re-engage due to the bad guy’s ability to recover from injury. If the attacker is not incapacitated or on the run and out of the area you and other are still at risk of retaliation from the attacker. It’s not a bad position on the body to carry a gun. Actually there are a lot of advantages to appendix carry and some disadvantages. You must practice from this position just as any other. I have seen unintended discharges on the re-holster when the gun was in the “on the hip” carry as well.


As instructors we need to be addressing the problems, issues, safety concerns and fixing them. It’s easy to ignore the problem and ban the item of concern from the class. It’s more time consuming to address concerns but that’s what we are here for. Students should be given the knowledge, skills, and the ability to perform tasks safely, efficiently, and effectively. Every thing to do with firearms is inherently dangerous. Safety rules are in place for a reason. Safety protocols in the training environment are in place for a reason.

As private citizens, students, or professionals it’s on all of us to be safe on the range and off. Failure to follow the safety rules and safety protocols can get you removed from the training range. Worse yet it can cause serious injury or even worse a death. Folks please seek out training. And for Gods Sake! Follow the safety rules! Look at your equipment and follow the manufacture’s direction on it’s proper use. If you can’t figure it out get with someone whit the experience and knowledge to help you. Benefits of what we do in training must outweigh the risks and many risks just can not be outweighed!

“Been around guns all my life.”


How many times have you heard a person say,

“I have been around guns all my life. I was raised with them. I know about them.” I hear it on a regular basis as a trainer.

I hear it all the time. When I hear this said to me when we are discussing classes or setting up classes, I often cringe and wonder just how much the person really knows. My biggest concern is safety. Just how safe are these people when the handle a firearm? As a hunter, competitive shooter, a recreational shooter, and a professional trainer I can tell you I have had a lot of close calls over the years when encountering the poorly trained person who has “Been around guns all their lives.” More than once I have looked into a muzzle of a loaded gun on a range because a person displayed horrible muzzle control. On several other occasions looking into the muzzle of a loaded gun when a member of a hunting group failed to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Also have had a few rounds hit the trees in front of me because a hunter in the hunting party got wrapped up in shooting the deer and not keeping aware of where the other members of the party are. When a shotgun slug hits the tree next to you, within a foot of your chest, it quickly influences you to take cover in a hurry, make yourself a small target and hope this fool stops shooting soon. I can’t count the number of times poor muzzle discipline or other safety rule infractions had to be corrected when a student failed to follow the rules because past experience was getting in the way of safety. Someone in their lives just taught them wrong. Yes, I cringe when I hear someone say, “I have been around guns all my life.” Most often it is not realized by that individual that there is a safety problem and there is a rule being overlooked by the person handling the gun. This could be because the are stupid or incompetent. It likely just means they are very lax or have not been properly trained in safe gun handling. The part that concerns me most is that these people think they are and can be good instructors to new shooters. They, to many times, pass along their bad habits and failures to those they are attempting to instruct. I saw a resent statement made by a well known instructor that really hits the mark here and one that I tend to agree with. The only problem is I can’t remember exactly who said it.

“Your boyfriend, brother, Uncle, Dad, husband, girlfriend, sister, significant other or friend are not good instructors and are not the people you should be going to for good firearms training. Seek out professional trainers with a good reputation.”

To give you a great example and this actually happened; One bright sunny mid-morning my son and I were on the range. We were engaged in a simple group shooting practice session working on our marksmanship. A car pulled up to the shooting bay so we stopped for a moment to allow those in the vehicle to get out and set up without being subjected to the loud noise of gunfire. Out of the car came two middle aged men and what appeared to be two college aged girls. The group got their hearing and eye protection on and my son and I continued with our practice. One of the fellows was setting up a gun so I decided to keep a closer eye on him while my son shot. Once they had gear on the table the older of the two gentlemen stepped out with one of the girls. They stepped down range without warning. My son had finished shooting so we stopped to watch. This guy with the gun in hand said’ This is how you hold it.” The girl clearly very nervous and obviously had never handled a handgun before then took the gun and her finger went right into the trigger well before even getting the gun in a good grip. The man then stepped just behind her and told her to point at the target and pull the trigger. Naturally she did not hit the target and suffered an injury to her hand from placing her thumb behind the slide. She was hurt and now really scared and nearly dropped the gun as she handed it back to her would be instructor. He tried to coax her into shooting again but she would have no part of it. While this was happening down range I was also watching the other guy as he loaded magazines and talked to the other girl. Then I saw it. With the gun pointed at me and my son he inserted a loaded magazine and hit the slide lock chambering a round. Then he turned the gun to point down range with people down range and began to instruct the girl standing next to him in the same manner as the first. I quickly sent my son to stand behind my truck as soon as I saw the gun pointed at us. Primarily at my son. Once my son was safe I stepped over to confront these two buffoons who clearly had no business instructing anyone in gun handling.

First the man who had pointed the gun at me and more so my son. I started off by informing him that I did not appreciate having a loaded gun pointed at myself and worse yet my son and he should be more aware of safety and where he is pointing a loaded gun.. He turned to talk to me, loaded gun in hand, again pointed at me. I stepped away from the muzzle pointed at me and told him to put the gun on the table carefully and pointed down range. He did and then began to inform me the gun was not loaded. Then he other two came back from down range and the first man asked what was going on. I told him his buddy had pointed a loaded gun at me and my son and at him while he was down range. Now the guy with the loaded gun commences to tell me the gun was not loaded. Me,”Really!! Loaded or not it should not have been pointed in an unsafe direction!” At this time I had all present stand behind him and told him to pick up the gun and keep it pointed down range. He picked the gun up placing his finger on the trigger as he did so. I instructed him to remove his finger from the trigger. He did. Then I directed him through clearing the gun to prove the gun was in fact loaded and making it safe. First remove the magazine. A full magazine now falls into his hand. Put the loaded magazine on the table. Now, open the action to show clear. As the action opens a live round extracts and ejects from the gun and landed on the ground in front of him. He casually says, ” Hmmm. I guess it was loaded after all.” My first thought was to hit this guy in the teeth. Better judgement got the best of me and I didn’t even though this guy earned it. Then he and the other fellow stepped away to talk. The older of the two turns and says, “You know you are a real asshole.” Here was my response, ” You are a real pair of f******g idiots. The two of you have no business even handling a gun let alone trying to teach someone, especially someone new to shooting, how to shoot and handle a gun. You are unsafe and clearly uneducated in proper handling of a firearm. I would suggest the two of you incompetent fools go find a good instructor and take a class or two. Until then do all a favor and stay the F**k away from guns and shooting ranges and more importantly instructing.” Yes, I was angry and disgusted to say the least. People had been needlessly put at risk. I then turned to the two young ladies and gave them my card and told them, “If you ladies would really like to learn proper and safe gun handling and have a good experience doing it give me a call. After today I will give you instruction at absolutely no charge and I will supply the guns and ammunition.” Within minutes the group packed up and left the range. I guess I hurt their feelings. That’s better than some unintended discharge killing or critically wounding someone present.

Needless to say I never heard from the two ladies. Also, I never saw those two gentlemen on the range again. Hopefully they took my advise and got some training and today are safer in their gun handling. Hopefully these two idiots are leaving the instruction to someone that knows what they are doing.

In the end being around guns all your life doesn’t mean you now what you are doing or that you can handle them safely. Getting some formal training won’t hurt and if it makes you better it’s a good thing. Right? Please leave the instructing to the professionals. Be safe out there folks. See you on the range.

It’s an Evolving World

Today self-defense and defensive shooting training is becoming more essential to the private citizen than ever. In many areas of the country we are seeing a reluctance from our law enforcement to enter high crime areas. Our law enforcement officers are now second guessing their response and sometimes hesitant to get involved in a incident. This is in part due to incidents in Ferguson, Mo., New York City, and recently Baltimore. Officers are being scrutinized at every turn and every action they take in a critical incident. This was already the case but they are now under a microscope even more critical of actions. They have become concerned about being disciplined or even worse losing their job for actions taken under stress that have in many cases been found to be justified in their use of force. The more resent pool party incident in Texas appears to be yet another such case. Here the officer resigned before a full investigation was conducted and all the information could have been looked at. Yet another quick judgement by the Press, protestors, and the department administration. Now the crime rate has risen drastically in these areas and across the country. In many parts of the country law enforcement response can take quite some time to get you if you are in danger and this is due to under staffing for whatever the reason. At any rate an already present problem became a bigger issue. It is more and more likely that law enforcement will get to you in your hour of need to late to save you. They will however be in time to clean up the remains and start conducting an incident investigation.

Sheriff David C. Clarke Jr of Milwaukee put it like this;

“You could beg for mercy from a criminal, hide under the bed, or you could fight back. But are you prepared?” he asks. “Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself and your family.”

Perhaps we should be paying more attention to men like Sheriff Clarke. With the growing lack of respect and defiance of law enforcement and authority they represent across the country do you think those bad actors and the criminal elements will be likely to respect the private citizen? I don’t think so. If anything the criminal elements are getting bolder. On Friday June 12 there was a shooting at Coral Ridge Mall in Iowa City, Iowa. The mall is a weapons free zone. Wow! That’s something new right! The gunman was a disgruntled former security guard who had been fired that day. The victim a young woman is dead as a result. We have had shootings in smaller towns in the area. Here in Iowa we have just had information put out that Keokuk, Burlington, Muscatine, Fort Madison, and Davenport have entered into the top ten most dangerous cities in Iowa. Three of these towns are relatively small. This puts Southeast Iowa on a Hotspot that has continued to get worse over the last five or ten years. Criminal shootings, home invasions, burglaries, armed robberies have been increasing. While violent crimes overall are down in the country according to FBI studies and other crime reports it seems to have spread out, out of the big city and is more prevalent in rural parts of the country and small towns. This puts more stress on our already taxed local law enforcement agencies. All the more reason to get yourself and loved ones self defense training and defensive shooting training. The question comes back to the forefront, “Are you prepared?”

Where does this take us? “What will it take to motivate you to look closer at your ability to defend yourself and your family or your business patrons or guests in your home?” Will violence have to visit you or someone you know before you get out and seek out training and take training seriously? The odds are it will be to late then and 911 won’t be a quick enough response when violence seeks you out. Because the bad people of this world choose their victims. The victim has no say as to when, where, and how they will be attacked. If you don’t have the defensive skills. Say you don’t have the knowledge. Are you prepared for a violent attack? Will you be relying on luck to save you? Or relying on help from law enforcement (911) that has a high likelihood of being to late. Relying on luck reminds me of a movie quote from the movie “13th Warrior”.

“Luck will often save a man if his courage will hold.”

This statement was made by an experience trained warrior in the movies about concerns over the villagers ability to fight and defend the village. The next step after this was to start training the villagers to give them the skills to fight and build defenses. Yes, luck can be part of the equation but even this warrior is not willing to rely on luck a lone. In the real world we see something similar in the conflicts of the world. Experienced well trained warriors training villagers and militia to defend against seasoned attacking warriors. As a private citizen who carries a gun or has a defensive firearm in the home you are obligated to train with that firearm. “You are the first line of defense for society against the predators of the worlds innocent!” Yes, I have said that many times. I believe in it. I also believe your skill level and ability will serve you better than luck or the hope that someone will respond to your life threatening emergency in time. Statistics also make that clear. I for one won’t rely only on luck, especially in today’s climate among much of our law enforcement community. Your training must go beyond just thinking your way through the steps and fundamentals. Your defensive firearms use must get to a point at which you don’t have to think about the steps of the draw, sight alignment, grip, trigger press or any of the other fundamentals. These things should become second nature. You should be capable of doing them intuitively without thought. Your mind will need to be processing information and stimuli to respond to the situation. A response developed through experience when available and formal training under a watchful eye of an instructor is your best bet for preparation. You have to be efficient. Now that’s a word of low usage in the training world. Rob Pincus defines efficiency as;

“Achieving a goal with as little time, effort, and energy as possible.”

This is very true. Also the training you receive should support this concept. Developing skills and techniques that breath efficiency. The training you receive is only part of the equation. Once you have attended formal training and acquired the skills you then have practice to hone and polish and maintain those skills you have learned. Making the skills intuitive. Just developing skills does not make them intuitive. Continued practice and training will get you to the goals you set for yourself in achieving a level of efficiency.

While this message reaches many it will only reach a few who will take heed to the need for training. There are many that just can’t be reached. Which is sad. Today there are more people in the country who own defensive firearms than any other time in our nations history. This has had a direct affect on crime regardless of what the anti-gunners say. So why are you not training beyond the basics? I hope that some of those who read this who had not paid much attention in the past begin to. I realize no matter how much information the training industry or I put out about it there will still be those who just won’t get it. But, there will be some who have not considered it in the past that may start now. That’s why I continue to try. For that handful. Besides making us better prepared for a life threatening incident training makes us safer to the public and our families when we carry a gun in public or have one for defense in our homes. Others will only get motivated to train when they see the news of a mass killing or some other horrific incident that gets them thinking on a personal basis. Training after violence has come knocking or after someone you know has been affected by it is training to late. The sad part is this often happens immediately after highly reported incident we see a bump in interest. It however is short lived. Sandy Hook school and the Aurora, Co. movie theater were good examples. The interest in training was abound. Not so much today. As a matter of fact then it was back down in only a few months after each of those events. By the time summer hit it was seemingly forgotten.

Are you efficient in your gun handling? Will you be effective under stress? As an Instructor I ask myself regularly, “How can I reach and motivate people to train?” I am still asking myself that question. Can I motivate you and is it possible? I won’t stop trying! Many of my students return for more. Get your head out of the sand. Training today has evolved from training 20 years ago. Training in tomorrow’s world will evolve and advance as we learn and study more about the use of force and self defense and combat and even the applications of competition to real world. New training techniques and effective drills will be born and will make us more efficient. It’s up to you to keep up and move forward.

Accuracy! Accuracy! Accuracy!

Shouldn’t we be very accuracy oriented in our defensive training? Accuracy is extremely important to us in a critical life threatening situation. It is one of the determining factors in a gun fight. Accuracy is a determining factor when facing a charging attacker armed with an edged weapon. Have you ever shot at a moving target with a handgun? Have you ever shot at a charging target with a handgun? Our ability to effectively hit a threat in the most affective areas of the body that produce the highest rate if incapacitation is important to our survival and stopping the bad guy. No matter how fast you press that trigger if you are not placing hits on the bad guy your rounds are not affective. You can never miss fast enough to stop the bad guy! Psychological stops of the bad guy are not reliable enough when it’s life and death.

Quote,” Speed is fine but accuracy is final.” I have heard this many times over the years from several sources. The quote holds quite true in the world of defensive firearms. It also applies strongly to law enforcement.

Here is a post I copied that was put out by Larry Vickers, Ex-Delta Force and Elite Trainer. Also someone I have trained with many times and recommend him to anyone wanting training. LAV is among the best.

I get asked on a regular basis what acceptable accuracy is in a handgun or carbine. My experience has taught me the answer to this is simple; whatever accuracy is required to engage a threat target with a headshot at your effective range. However before we go any farther always remember the Vickers Rule of Gunfight Accuracy; under conditions of stress the best a shooter can hope to achieve is 50% of the inherent accuracy of the weapon/ammo he is shooting at that time.

What this means is your weapon-ammo needs to shoot a group ( 5 shots min – 10 is better) of 2.5 inches or less at your effective range. This equates to a 5 inch group under stress ( at best) which is a head shot. What is effective range ? For the average shooter its 15 yds with a pistol and 50 yds with a carbine ( AR style). A skilled shooter is typically 25yds with a pistol and 100 yds with a carbine. I’ve been shooting and teaching for awhile now and this Approach has stood the test of time. Hope this helps.

If you have taken one of our classes at T-M Firearms Training you have heard something quite similar. For acceptable accuracy I want accuracy that places multiple rounds, as fast as we can and stay in the 8-10 inch circle of high center chest and single shots within the ocular cavity of the head regardless of distance. If you are shooting fast and are outside of those parameters slow down and get the hits. Speed and accuracy will increase in time if you continue to push your personal limits and do your part. In time your group size should decrease and your speed will increase. We all have the hidden ability to hit quickly with great accuracy within us. It takes training and practice to bring it to the surface. I believe that in practice you should be able to dump a full magazine into the high center chest region as fast as you can (that’s as fast as physically possible for you) and still maintain a 2.5 inch group at 5yards (15ft) which is just outside the distance where most gunfights occur. Your effective range is affected by your personal skill level and ability to get the desired accuracy at distance. Effective range in time may only be limited by the weapons and caliber of choice. While this 2.5 inch group at 5 yards (15ft) is beyond what I feel is acceptable it is certainly achievable.

When looking at the studies of Law Enforcement involved gun fights we see this play out in real life. The more experienced and better trained officers deliver better hit factors than the less experienced and officers with less training. The most highly skilled and well trained officer will and can exceed a 50% hit rate and greatly extend their effective range with both handgun and carbine under stress. With proper training and practice effective ranges can be doubled for both handgun and carbine. Add high quality ammunition and the same results can be achieved with the shotgun. This also applies to the private citizen who carries a defensive weapon. While we can not give everyone real world experiences, only limited number of people have them, we can make up for some of this through realistic contextual training.

In some resent studies, done by the Force Science Institute, the FBI, and others, it has been found that some law enforcement departments across the country and Private Citizens have made substantial gains in increasing the hit rate when shooting under stress of a life threatening incident. In these resent studies hit rates have gone from low percentages down in the teens to as high a the nineties. The results are not across the board though. This is a direct result of frequent formal training and experience. The training is beyond the standardized qualification course for Law Enforcement Officers and beyond basic Carry Classes for the private citizens. In the training area, which we have more control than that of the experience area, the training is scenario based, force on force and as realistic as possible. The more training you receive the better prepared you are and the more efficient and effective you will be under stress. For law enforcement training must go beyond the standardized qualification course of fire. These standardized qualification courses create training scars that often resurface during a gun fight. The worst possible time! For you LEO’s out there this means you might have to reach into your own pocket and budget for training depending on the departments outlook on training. For the private citizen it means you are going to have to set aside budget and seek out training beyond basic concealed carry classes which are often woefully inadequate just as the standardized law enforcement qualification courses.

Our level of experience and training has a lot to do with how we perform under stress. We, just like professional athletes, professional employees, and competitors, must train regularly and often to be at the top of our game. The difference here can be life or death. Training and experience will determine our effectiveness and performance under stress in a life threatening situation. Training is essential to accuracy under stress!

Situational Response Theories

nov 8  2010 Class BTJ 023

What is a Situational Response Theory (SRT)? Do you have one that you follow? Have you ever even heard the term Situational Response Theory? Situational Response Theories are concepts that give us guidance and a set of guidelines for dealing with critical incidents or avoiding them to begin with. For the average person situational response starts at the response to the attack itself. They skip the essential starting point of awareness, your ability to be alert and observant, which is where all self_defense begins. It is possible that the fight or attack can be stopped before it gets to the point of physical harm for either the intended victim or the bad guy. The only fight we win is the one that didn’t happen. When we train we are often so focused on the physical confrontation we often skip the elements that occur prior to the attack. After all we are here to learn how to defend ourselves or others. Aren’t We? Whether it is some system in the Martial Arts or Defensive Shooting or edged weapons and tactics we want to get into the nuts and bolts of defense on the physical plain and dealing with the imminent threat. Because of this many SRT’s start too far into the situational response. Here are some SRT’s that start more appropriately. At awareness!

Because just about everyone is familiar with the Color Codes I won’t spend a lot of time on them. Developed for the US Marines in WWII and later modified by Jeff Cooper. The Color Codes are probably the most taught.

White; Unaware, unprepared, and oblivious to surroundings

Yellow; Relaxed alert and aware of surroundings

Orange; Specific alert, something or someone has your attention

Red; Fight, defend, or run

Black; Complete catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance. You shut down and fail to perform.

The OODA Loop concept was the brain child of USAF Lt. Col. John Boyd during the Korean War. Today the OODA Loop concept has been applied to business practices, military strategies, and self_defense. I’ve also heard it called the Boyd Cycle. It has been taught widely for law Enforcement and self defense. For the purpose here it will be applied to self_defense. Using the OODA Loop in this context makes it a SRT. What does OODA loop stand for?

Observe; Awareness, looking at the possible threat.

Orient; turning toward the possible threat. Here I like to say to align your center to the attacker. This is where I am strongest. In other teachings they tell you to blade out and take a stance.

Decide; make a decision how to deal with what you are seeing and whether or not you must or need to act. Asking questions like; “Is it a viable threat?”

Act; Can be a number of things; Walk away and avoid the threat. Run. Talk the threat down. Engage and stop the threat by going as far as necessary up to and including Deadly Force.

Both sides have their own loops. The bad guy has one and the defender has one. The one who completes the loop first will most likely be the winner. However, the loop can be interrupted causing a reset of the loop. The concept is; At some point in your response to the threat do something that interrupts the bad guys loop and cause a reset. You stay in your loop giving you a momentary advantage. It is momentary because, depending on the bad guy’s experience and ability to reset the loop. It may only take a split second for the reset of the loop or cycle to occur. This break in the bad guys loop may give you just enough time to complete your loop and stop the treat. How do we force the bad guy out of his loop? Start with Observation. Just by being aware and your observations you can force the bad guy out of his loop. Once the bad guy sees you have picked up on his intentions he may decide you weren’t a good victim and move on.

Lateral Movement is a good way to break the loop. By training to move laterally on the draw of your weapon, during malfunctions and stoppages, and during reloads, we train to break the bad guy’s loop. Besides getting out of the way of the attack and not being a stationary target, “Getting off line”. As the bad guy tracks your movement, as in pointing a weapon, he has momentum that carries the weapon past the point where you stopped or changed direction. The bad guy swings his weapon past, stops, changes his direction of travel, and attempts to reacquire the target. The bad guy’s reset process gives you time to complete your loop and take control of the fight or stop the threat.

In close quarters you may break the bad guys loop by gouging the eyes, blocking a strike, a grab and control, even if only momentary, of the striking hand (gun hand, knife hand, or fist), or you may pull the attacker in closer to decrease his distance to you. Or it may just be a sharp shove or push to gain a working distance from the attacker. It may be a throw or takedown to control. Remember if you are in full control of the attacker Deadly Force may no longer be an option.

The next SRT (situational response theory) is one I share with my students in defensive firearms classes. The context for this SRT is for the critical incident involving the Use of Force and self defense and defense of others. Again it starts at awareness and follows through the aftermath. Included are basic definitions of the concept.

Situational Response Theory for CCW

1. Awareness; Eyes open, Head up, Listening to sounds that are present. You must limit distractions (cell phone, I _pod headphones). Pay attention to the environment you find yourself in. Avoid places of potential ambush. Typically people watching is important part of awareness.

2. Recognize; Prioritize activity in, near, and around your area.

A. Observe; Watch the possible threat.

B. Orient; Turn toward what caught your attention.

3. Decide; How much interaction is required by you.

4. Actively Respond; Use the defensive technique that fits the situation. A. Avoid; Walk away, Run Away B. Talk; Let the attacker know you don’t want a problem. Attempt de-escalation techniques. C. Empty Hand Techniques; If you can’t get to your weapon or lethal threat is not present.

D. Use of Deadly Force; Last resort! Only use enough force to stop the threat.

5.Secure the area

A. Visual Check; Look around. Make sure the threat has stopped, is controlled, or

left the area.

B. Call 911; Give vital information only.


2. Location of incident.

3. Use of force to stop a threat. (Use of a firearm? Use of a knife? Use of other? Fear for your life or the life of another.

4. You are armed and have a permit. 5.Give vital descriptive information about the bad guy. C. Secure your weapon; When the threat has ended, holster your weapon. Weapons make people nervous and not everyone will know what occurred even within the critical area of the incident.

D. Wait for Law Enforcement; When law enforcement arrives they will be responding to a critical incident and will want to secure the area first and foremost. Be prepared to be detained and placed in restraints. Cooperate and give minimal information.

E. Call Your Lawyer; In the event of the use of force, deadly or not you’re going to need a lawyer to handle the legal and civil fallout from your actions of defending yourself or others.

The last SRT I want to discuss is from the defensive martial arts system of Bushi Tai Jutsu. Bushi Tai Jutsu was developed by Larry Farrell an 8th Dan and a holder of multiple black belts in multiple systems. It is possibly the most extensive SRT conceptually anyone will see. The basic outline is just that basic but fundamental. The underlying concepts get very detailed as it is studied. BTJ’s SRT addresses many issues of situational awareness and response that many miss or don’t even think about. The BTJ SRT is applicable to most any defensive situation, whether it involves de_escalation techniques, avoidance, empty hands techniques, or various defensive weapons including firearms. The concepts here deal with the critical incident on psychological and physiological levels not necessarily separated and often occurring simultaneously.

Situational Response Theory

A. Recognize types of activities by priority in, near, and around you area.

B. Determine the amount of interaction needed by you.

C. Respond to pressure, intent, and energy extended toward you in one of the following ways;

1. Avoid

2. Walk away

3. Talk away

4. Disarm (of mechanics)

5. Take away (purpose)

6. Block

7. Strike

8. Kick

9. Punch

D. Attack Back using combinations of (C) in one, two, or three dimensions; intermixing ranges for the purpose of defense and protection by adding the following;

1. Take away method of operation

2. Take away his guns

3. Take away the fight (control the fight)

4. Take away his sight (finger jab eyes, strike to nose)

5. Take away breath (strike ribs, solar plexus, or throat)

6. Take away the stance

7. Go phoric (remove intent)

Never fight the attacker’s where, when, or how. You take total control of the fight. The attacker no longer decides.

E. Secure Situation by going as far as necessary to ensure the attacker cannot retaliate. Always secure stance.

Considering every critical incident in itself is a living thing that takes on a life of it’s own. No two are the same and dynamics within it can change in an instant. In an instant you will be required to make life changing decisions. Those decisions are made in a split second. A SRT can aid you in a effective and efficient response. The SRT’s mentioned here are in basic form and are in no way complete thoughts or fully detailed concepts. Utilizing a Situational Response Theory (SRT) as part of our training program can help you better prepare for a critical defensive situation. You can use them as guidelines as you mentally prepare during scenario training. Run a critical situation through your head and apply the SRT as necessary and imagine how the steps apply. Consider the Situational Response Theory as part of your psychological training to help develop your defensive mind_set. Controlling yourself and psychological preparation are just as important as controlling the bad guy and physical training and control.