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Defense Training: Sources & Credible Information

For Safety and Defense Training, Credible Sources, Good Training is EVERYTHING!

An on-going issue, self protection practitioners face, is where to get needed and up-to-date training.  Once a person decides or realizes the need to be their own first responder in a self defense emergency, where to get help, coaching and techniques or tactics, becomes apparent. 

For basic instruction the national standard is the National Rifle Association.  The NRA offers a full program of training and is the basis for many others.  In the pistol section, one can take a Home Firearm Safety Course that is covering all the basics including action types, ammunition and safe storage.  Basic Pistol expands to how the action types work and then how to use them safely in target shooting.  Also, the First Steps Pistol course goes specifically to the handgun a person already owns and covers that action type only. 

The next step up is the Personal Protection in the Home course, which teaches what the title implies: self defense in the home.  It forms the basis for many state concealed carry programs or is the required course to take to obtain a carry permit.  After this course, the new Personal Protection Outside the Home course expands on the skills in the previous class and adds the dimension of presentation from the holster and tactics for on the street protection with a handgun.  It has been compared to courses offered by some of the established shooting schools.  Two levels are offered using a building block approach.  Basic first followed by advanced skills is the proven method of instruction.

All across the country there are local instructors or training opportunities that can be sought out.  The thing to remember is, check the source.  Recently, in my area, a couple of people lost their state certifications as firearms trainers and NRA Instructor certifications due to lack of following required procedures, reporting, false advertising and unethical actions.  One person had claimed, to me personally, to be teaching the armed flight deck officers for the FAA.  Not long after that I met the actual trainers who had never heard of him.  He has dropped out of sight and is no longer actively training.  One thing to check is if the trainer is at least an NRA certified instructor if a citizen trainer, or has documented police or military certification as an instructor.

Some instructors take their show “on the road”.  These include John Farnam with Defense Training International, Gabe Suarez’s Suarez International, Yavapi Training Academy established by Louis Awerbuck , Chuck Taylor’s Small Arms Academy and Maasod Ayoob Group (Formerly known as “Lethal Force Institute”) as well as the industry schools from Heckler and Koch (H&K) and SIG Arms Academy.  If you are not familiar with these names, I would suggest you become so.  These are the best at what they do. They are contracted to teach at local ranges and training centers all over the U.S.  The newest one I’m aware of is Rob Pincus’s ICE training.  They can come to you and you can learn from the leaders in the defensive training world.  My area has Action Target’s Law Enforcement Training Camp (LETC) each fall.  A roster of the nation’s finest experts come for four days of classes that are open to anyone who has the time and registers for the course.  Bank Miller, Dennis Tueller, Ben Kuriata, Peter Tarley and others are regular presenters at LETC.  It costs about $500, plus your ammo and travel.  It is a “Best Bet” training opportunity.

The established shooting schools had their beginning with Jeff Cooper’s Gunsite Academy or American Pistol Institute, now known as Gunsite.  It was and is the place serious students seek to go.  What I’ve noted is many of the other schools had their genesis with Gunsite.  Louis Awerbuck, Dennis Tueller, John Farnam and Chuck Taylor taught under Col. Cooper before striking out on their own.  Clint Smith also worked at Gunsite, then went on to start H&K’s traveling training courses, then established Thunder Ranch first in Texas, and now located in Oregon.  Many others are now flourishing across America.  Blackwater, Mid South, Front Sight, Firearms Academy of Seattle and more are found usually within driving distance of most parts of the country.  There are many others that are not mentioned here.  Seek them out, check their references and take the time to attend.  Go with an open mind.  There are many valuable things to be learned and added to your defense toolbox.  Fundamentals stay the same, but applications of techniques are ever evolving.  If you don’t keep up, you are left behind. 

A quick example of out-dated technique: While taking my initial NRA Pistol Instructor training in 1994, we had a class that was a cross section of skill and experience.  The trainer was a US Army Special Forces veteran and NRA Training Counselor.  Others included competition shooters, hunter education instructors and interested learners.  When we were learning the two-handed shooting positions, the Weaver stance was most preferred with the triangular Isosceles stance a close second.  While shooting, those using one or the other did very well and got rapid and accurate hits.  One person said he didn’t shoot that way as he’d been taught some thirty years earlier a “better way”.  He demonstrated a wind-milling swing of the firing hand to meet with the support hand held in front of the body and the hand held like a cup.  The butt was set in the cup of the support hand and a round fired.  The gun then twisted away in recoil and the whole process was done again. At one time this was known as the ‘cup and saucer” method and was the way the Los Angeles Sheriff Office taught their reserve deputies when this person was working there…some thirty years before. It is harder to describe than to demonstrate, but he just could not figure out why the other class members could shoot faster and more accurately.  Just because a certain way is learned does NOT mean it is the ONLY WAY.  This serves to illustrate the necessity of keeping up with new developments.  Schools, local courses, some excellent defense shows on satellite, DVDs and magazines can help you stay current.  If not, you stagnate, and then your skills slip away.  Part of taking responsibility for your own safety is keeping those skills sharp.  Consider this and apply it. 

Until the next discussion, stay safe, aware and check six often.

Steve Beckstead

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