Monday, September 8, 2014

Taking Offense to Other Peoples Training

“I watched a few of your videos last night.  We need to talk.”

I’m no stranger to ambiguous text messages from friends and peers, so when that one chimed in from an old law enforcement peer, I didn’t think too much of it.  I gave him a call to see what he had to say.  Since he had been in law enforcement nearly longer than I’ve been alive and been teaching firearms probably since the 1911 design was still considered cutting edge, I expected some good advice.  It had to be about advice right?  The only other time someone throws in “we need to talk” is when a vase was broken or someone’s pregnant.

“You can’t be teaching citizens this stuff.”

I should have seen that coming.  My friend, you see, is from a simpler time when the police cars were square, mustaches were huge and SWAT was a TV show.  A sort of gilded age where black and white TVs were still a thing and Al Gore had not yet invented the internet troll by inventing the internet.  None of that is an excuse for his misguided mindset, but it does serve as a pretty good explanation. 

“What?  Common sense tactics, understanding on how to navigate the environment and how to shoot with a real threat in mind?”

We had gone down this road before with my Citizen Response to an Active Shooter course.  He didn’t like that either, those were “SWAT Tactics.” What bothered my friend wasn’t teaching someone how to navigate a door way or how to shoot from inside a vehicle or even how to clear a room this time.  No, he was hung up on me teaching low-light rifle tactics.

Using a rifle. In the dark. Seriously.

Teaching people how to shoot in the dark; a skill that’s literally a requirement for anytime the sun doesn’t have your back or someone didn’t install enough lights.  His displeasure was more an issue for the rotation of the planet and shitty architecture than it was for what I was teaching.  I humored him, because I honestly do value his opinion on some topics, but since I began teaching non-mil/LE, my respect for his opinion has been narrowly focused because of his feelings on anyone who couldn’t speak in 10 codes.

It all boiled down to a man who had been brought up to believe that firearms training, learning to shoot anything other than a circular score ring or a clay disc was the sovereign territory of cops and soldiers.  I knew I wasn’t going to get through to him, so I agreed to disagree and once again we left it at that.

Don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t a common line of thinking.  In my experience, the majority (vast, type one each) of LEOs either don’t care about “high speed” training being offered to citizens or support it.  Truth be told, I see more veterans looking down their noses at a civilian getting “high speed” training than I do cops (though still a minority).  Yeah, that seems to me to be more of a thing than that other thing.  Of course I don’t have any hard data or relevant graphs to back that up, but I hear it and read it quite a bit.
pictured: not relevant

Pictured: high speed training expert
So what do my Ye Olde School cop buddy and these guys have in common?  The misguided notion that a “civilian’s” self-defense skills have an experience and training cap that is arbitrarily established by what I guess is someone having worn camouflage or polyester pants for reals.   I don’t understand the train of thought so it’s pretty tough for me to hang out near the tracks and listen to the cackling but it appears that the general consensus among some is that having not worn a uniform or badge, you somehow aren’t allowed to shoot fast, move or wear multicam.

Obviously there is a bit of a line here; should citizens get team based training, instruction on how to breach a door or more advanced skills like Austere Application of Non-Relevant Gear in a Disruptive Environment ?  That question is the problem because it presupposes someone doesn’t need something based on present conditions and personal bias.  Don’t get me wrong, I think someone taking a high speed carbine course before they have mastered the basics of personal marksmanship and safe weapon handling have put the cart firmly in front of the Crye Precision horse; but as an evolution of training, who are any of us to say when someone’s right to learn ends?

Not this kind of line cook
Show of hands, how many think a General Physician would get peered out of a seminar on brain surgery?  Now put your hands down because I can’t see them.   How about a line cook taking French cuisine cooking classes?  I know, not quite the same thing but bear with me.  The more realistic view you take of self-defense, the more you realize that there is no basic set of skills.  Sure, we have the fundamentals but that doesn’t equate to a basic level of education that someone should not progress beyond without either having been in the military or law enforcement.   It’s almost like someone being offended at how another person spends their time and money because it’s somehow a crime against tactical humanity for a carpenter or project manager to know how to run his rifle as efficiently as possible. 

I’m sure it’s equally offensive to some if a doctor or truck driver decides to take flying lessons.   Not the same thing you say?  Why?  What exactly is the issue?  We aren’t talking about amphibious landing or helicopter borne assault classes, we are talking about someone learning to work their firearm in the most efficient way possible across a wide range of possibilities.  I know and agree, those of you who may be pounding on their keyboards, that some training borderlines on fantasy (or literally is) but is it not also useful?  Is not knowledge gained?   Could a furniture salesman’s money be better spent taking a class on the legal aspects of self-defense instead of the Weapon Platform Stability in Exigent Circumstances During Combat Rolls class?  Maybe.  Probably.  Not my call.  Not yours, either.  

See you have legal and social regulation.  The Second Amendment protects us against the first type, and common decency protects us against the second type.   Social regulation is a good thing; it keeps us from tolerating or being complicit in ridiculous behavior or hobbies that, while they may be legal, are best kept at home, on 4chan or  If we as the gun community start ostracizing people for their training choices, we essentially are trying to socially regulate them based on the idea that they don’t need or deserve some sort of “high speed” training.  Oh, what’s that?  They have a plate carrier?

......So?  Do you have a fire extinguisher? Health insurance?  Airbags?

Their money, their time, their willingness to train.  Will they ever need that training?  Hopefully not and hopefully they train more for their day-to-day life than for the zombie apocalypse.   Do they have unrealistic expectations?  That’s not really for me to say.  Even the most gear-tastic students I see regularly (I’m talking to you, Jesson) are grounded in reality and quite frankly perform on a level at or higher than some of the veterans/LEOs I see because they seek training, it didn’t just happen to them.  The same can be said of anyone who pursues education.   If someone is living in fantasy land, a quality instructor will help them off their cloud and back to reality.  If they cross the poser/Walt line, anyone and everyone who cares will pull them down of their cloud and hopefully SOFREP will write an article on them. 

Aside from that, we may be better served by paying attention to our personal training and practice needs instead of someone else’s.


  1. *golf clap* Brilliant as always bro.

  2. You've got some pretty interesting insights dude.

    " His displeasure was more an issue for the rotation of the planet and shitty architecture than it was for what I was teaching. " Gave me a good chuckle. Thanks for the read.

  3. Sounds like certain LEOs are behaving like the Chinese Gung FU community when Bruce Lee was teaching Wing Chun. Or, its probably more nefarious in the fact that they see us as aggressors and do not want the "enemy" to know their tactics. Hmmm


  4. Great article and insight Aaron

  5. Great Job at addressing the real issue.

  6. Really very nice information. Thanks for sharing such a useful and informative post.
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