Friday, February 12, 2016

What the hell?! My thoughts on current combative firearms training





What is to follow will fire up a large number of people! So be it. I’ve been doing this a LONG time…longer than most and I know what I am talking about…and I am flabbergasted by what I see…

I have not paid much attention, in the past, to what is happening in the training industry...I probably should have. I spent the vast majority of my time training law enforcement officers and did not really take notice of what the legally armed citizen was doing. When I decided to start my own training company, I started to focus on what the armed citizen needed, but I was wrong. I should not have looked at what they WANTED. I didn’t take notice…I do now...

Before 9-11, there were just a few training institutions and about 10-12 traveling instructors...I got to them all and had a good handle on what was being taught. Then our country was attacked, two wars began and a large number of folks came out of the military and changed the training industry, I believe forever. Focus shifted from the concealed handgun to the M-4 carbine and if you were not former Special Ops you didn't know shit. If you weren't former Special Ops and wanted to instruct, no problem! You just act like you were/are.

Defending the home or what to do in a parking lot attack moved to battlefield tactics. Never mind much of the battlefield stuff was/is inappropriate for law enforcement or the legally armed citizen...it was/is really cool to do! Gear became the primary concern and many felt as long as they looked good, it did not matter if they could shoot good. Many potential students are real gullible, was the thought. They were right…just watch You Tube. What garners the attention of the current shooting community is truly amazing! I recently noted Col. Jeff Cooper’s video on The Combat Mindset had around 27,000 views. However, a young girl in short shorts shooting a rifle had over 3 million! What the hell??

"Tacti-cool" went from a derogatory term to main stream commentary, "operator" was applied to everyone who trained with a gun and someone decided it was a good idea to place students down range and shoot past them to get them "used to in bound gunfire"…it enhanced their “battlefield experience”. The term CQB was applied to everything from room clearing to hand to hand combat to the type of gloves you were wearing.

A trend began to start shooting people to the ground with full magazines of ammo instead of shooting for a visual response and then evaluating. Force was no longer judicious, it was terminal! While effective is it wise? Consider the video of the officer shooting the teenage suspect to the ground in Chicago and the subsequent public response. I don’t know if the officer was taught to do this, but is it good idea? Maybe on the battlefield but on the streets of America? A thought only…


Instructors must now wear 5.11 (Arcteryk, Kuhl or whatever is currently in, I can’t keep up), beards and talk with a certain lingo. If they do not, they are considered "out of touch". I had lunch with a friend recently who is a current member of a Tier One SMU who told me much of what is currently popular in the tactical training realm is not current...the wars have made them reevaluate and create new tactics and techniques and that much of it is not appropriate for anything but the battlefield. Is it important for information on tactics and techniques to be current? Is it important that it should be “judicious”? Is it important that as long as you get to wear cool gear everything is ok? If an instructor talks and dresses a certain way, does that make them qualified to teach? Is it important that we might be spending time and money on skills sets that will not really help us with the threats we are likely to face? Do students know what they need versus what hey want? It’s their money, right??


Today's younger shooters are some rude folks. All you have to do is read the stuff they post on line. Social Media has made instant fame possible and folks who are now driving the training industry have done nothing more than “type a good game” on line, recycling information they read elsewhere. Few have experienced the lessons they preach which offers a unique perspective when teaching the skills… they just put a video up and their expertise is established. Don’t forget the short shorts or maybe a bikini…those really help viewership!

Have you taken the time to look into the backgrounds of some of the "movers and shakers" that "rock" (not my term) the training industry? Do you care? Are you a grown up acting like a teenager as you "fanboy" a particular instructor? I’m too old for hero worship…most are but some still do it. This is so bizarre to me…its like being in Junior High all over again…

I never paid attention to what many of the instructors claim, but some of my friends who are now retired from the military and intelligence communities do as it matters to them when someone says they are something they are not! They have the contacts to look into the claims these instructors make about their backgrounds and I admit to being greatly saddened as it hurts an industry I dearly love. Interestingly, the people who are the rudest, boisterous and in your face are the one's with the least background. They are like bullies, the more obnoxious they act, the more people stay clear of them and let them have their way. Expect an "offensive" by these retired professionals sometime in the future as they are getting disgusted.


I remember when instructors would get together at the large training conferences (ASLET, ILEETA or IALEFI) and exchange ideas. I learned a considerable amount sitting in the hallway of a hotel with a group of like mined people. As a matter of fact, we used to joke about “most of the learning occurred in the hallway”. We would review recent incidents, talk about what we had learned in the past year (or whatever) and talked about where we might have it wrong and what we needed to change. I can’t remember a discussion on how to make something look cool or what type of clothing we wore when teaching.

Now it seems instructors are at war with each other. What the hell?? "I'm right, they're wrong, my ideas are best and theirs suck" even though...if you look closely...the ideas and concepts are not that dissimilar. Its about money and ego...if not, instructors would not be fighting amongst themselves so much while building armies of followers to "defend their honor" on the internet. They would be exchanging ideas outside of their instructional cliques.

The number of people who call themselves “instructors” is now HUGE. It is amazing how it has gown in just a decade. From the local folks who are doing CCW certification to the top tier tactical/SWAT/Spec Ops instructors…I have never seen so many people vying for your money in the almost 40 years I have been doing this. What is the quality of their training? Do students know enough to know when they are being fleeced? I have seen some really strange stuff being taught. Students come to me in classes and show me what they have been taught elsewhere and I am speechless…that used to be hard to do to me, but not any longer. I see no reason to teach a barrel roll or back flip with a gun in your hand…

What about some of the on line debates? Do we really care if one person prefers a red dot while the other likes iron sights? Why do people or groups try so hard to prove that others are “wrong”? Appendix carry, SERPA holsters, Kydex versus leather, irons versus optics…is it critical we try and impose our thoughts and desires about such things on others? Ego abounds. Do you think that maybe…just maybe…what might work for you will not work for someone else? Should it be about SOLUTIONS for the students or imposing our instructional will and satisfying our ego?

I admit to being a bit mystified about instructor conduct…when did it become important for an instructor to be a cultural icon? When did an instructor have to be this perfect human being? Does an instructor really look that bad if they have an ND or miss a shot? Is their wardrobe really that important? Is it ok to wear a pair of blue jeans and running shoes when teaching a class? Shouldn’t it be more about dressing comfortably for the weather conditions at hand? Shoot good, feel good or look good but not all three? What the hell??


I admit I am in the fall of my life and the winter of my teaching career, but I still care about the quality of instructors and the well being of the training industry. It’s just too damn important to let it fall into chaos! While certain individuals seek fame and wealth, the people who will be hurt are the good guys and gals who need solid information, tactics and techniques to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones. These people look to their instructors for guidance and solutions, not finger pointing and hate speech…certainly not fashion advice.

Of course, I’m probably wrong here, as many student level shooters seem to relish it when noteworthy people get into arguments on line. They line up behind their favorite and launch attacks back and forth. At least the instructors stand up as themselves and offer their arguments. The student level offers hate-filled garbage hiding behind a pseudonym.  In my generation, we called this type of person a “pussy”.

Again, it reminds me of junior high where someone talking behind someone’s back did so out of jealousy. It’s the same here…the internet commandos want to raise their status and profile…you know, be “famous”… but do not want to spend years on the street/battlefield, spending time training and teaching while spending money doing so. They want it NOW! Just like a five year old. They want instant Internet fame and guess what? They get it!

If I fold up Handgun Combatives tomorrow few will notice (well, those that have enrolled in a class this year might get a little bent!) as there are legions of people out there waiting to step in and fill the void. That’s ok as long as what students are getting is what they TRULY need to WIN! Not just look cool on the range or get to pretend they are a commando for a few days. Is that is training to you? Is the course you are taking hour after hour of drills that entertain or are skills being built? Many do not know what the difference is…

Interesting side note: When I post a blog such as this one, I actually HURT my training business as students who want be pretend to be something they are look elsewhere! I don’t care…the truth hurts and I will not pretend to be something I am not in order to make $$. I must look myself in he mirror every day…

Some will like what I have said, some will MF me as they are more interested in what they want reality to be, not what it is and what I have written here interferes with their view of combat (reality)…or they are just playing their role of instructional fan boy. Good boy, good boy…come here and let me scratch you behind the ear! Good boy…

That’s ok...it is their right...a right I spent my adult life defending, but do me a favor…take a close look at the haters and fan kiddies and see why they disparage what is said here. Do they have a “dog in the hunt”? Hopefully you will take the time to give critical thought about what you are spending your time and money doing to defend your life! It’s a real ‘what the hell” moment. Combative firearms training is a lifestyle commitment to personal security…its not the same as playing golf or idolizing a movie star…





46 comments:

  1. Well said. Thank you. I hope you come to San Diego, CA to teach. All the best.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes sir . . . agreed across the board . . .

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dave, I agree with you 100%. I have taken courses through IALEFI and had the privilege of being one of your students. I have taken more of what you said back to my agency because anyone can understand and do it. KISS

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good rant, and I agree 100%. and I don't like 5:11s either! I wear jeans, tee shirts, and comfortable shoes. I hate Kydex and try not to look like something that I'm not. And hopefully I can see through all of the bullshit command's selling their
    in style training.........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing smells as good as leather, does it?

      Delete
    2. 5.11 and the like equal, to me, "shoot me first"... and I wouldn't have time to get dressed when I hear the front door being forced at three a.m. either.

      Delete
  5. Dave spot on as usual. They get their minions by the old adage. take a dollar from 1 million people or a million dollars from one. I like you get what you pay for.

    ReplyDelete

  6. To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar.

    This is what come to my mind when you refer to the commando wanna be instructor's of which you speak. I am old and don't have time or patience to spend with the rude and unlearned. I don't care about looking cool, or the latest gadgets, I care about experience gained that brought you out the other side of hell and you are still standing and the bad guy is not. I want to learn from the few that can show where they have been by their actions. I want to live and protect my family when trouble comes. That is the only criteria that matters, do they teach skills that keep you alive or how to look spiffy in that cute little shooters vest with the attached latest gadgets.

    ReplyDelete
  7. NOTE: I have received several PM's asking who I am talking about in this blog. IT IS NOT DIRECTED AT ANY PARTICULAR PERSON!! It is about an attitude...a culture, maybe...that not permeates the combative firearms training community. Even though I have been doing this a long time, I am a bit of an outsider in regards to the overs and shakers of the training community. Truth is, I do not know most of them, have never met them! Thus, I cannot speak about individuals. This is just my observation of what is happening as viewed from the sidelines...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Truth be told, Dave, I'm even older than you, and what you are observing is true in many fields, not just firearms instruction. People are ruder, more self absorbed, more demanding of instant gratification, less capable of critical thought, and therefore more easily conned. You can take satisfaction from the fact that integrity may not be fashionable, but it is very much appreciated by those who care.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well put Dave. Much respect to you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well said Sir. Here! Here! Even many law enforcement techniques are not germane to civilian shooters. And all that "kit" and plate carrier are going to be in a closet when the stuff hits the fan.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Concur, strongly. Well stated Dave.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Another Great Article that nails it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Spot on Dave. Was beginning to think I was the only one who was sick of the fakers and scammers!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Damn you Dave for saying before I did and..... So well! Cerino

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Excellant rant Dave. I always enjoy reading your stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As a younger instructor, I can say that only the older and experienced generation of gunfighters and instructors are cooperative and eager to pass on insider knowledge. The new guys use gimmicks, hair gel, and expensive gear to form cults of clueless followers. I've trained with some of those high level "gear queers" with questionable experience and was able to see first hand the aura of greatness they work so hard to portray, and the subsequent low level stale training they provide to students. On the other hand, this is a great article that portrays a more honest and well-intentioned time in the training industry that I hope to experience one day myself.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's reminiscent of martial arts dojos where you have a personality cult around the founder/instructor. At least those now have MMA as a proving ground for anyone who wants an actual test against other approaches.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent point! You forgot one thing though.... these type of instructors not only wear "Contractor Casual" outfits but wear a paracord bracelet too...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes the ever present paracord bracelet with firestarter and compass.

      Delete
    2. Oh yes the ever present paracord bracelet with firestarter and compass.

      Delete
  21. Keep doing what you know to be right and let the chips fall where they may. BTW, thanks for designing that nice little OWB holster for FIST...you obviously know what you are doing!

    ReplyDelete
  22. thanks for the post. People who are really concerned about their safety may take help from the MA Gun License so as to make you feel more safer and confident as you will be able to use this safety device in case of any emergency and safeguard everyone you need.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Some very good points. Many years ago my Grandfather was a politician who ranked fairly high in his party. He would invite members of both parties to sit down at Sunday dinner to discuss the issues. They usually started off with their common ground and then discussed how to correct a problem. I don't see that anymore. The attitude is, "If you disagree with me I'm going to mock and belittle you until you shut up."

    Some of the information I've seen getting passed off by "experts" is just plain dangerous. One woman I know told me that an LEO told her if she hears someone rattling her door knob she should shoot her shotgun through the door and then drag the body inside her condo.

    Thanks for your comments. I don't know how to fix this problem, but the trend is pretty scary.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great read Dave! The one item i would like to get is - who DO we go to? I am in Virginia and am trying to find solid instructors/courses. I read quite a bit but want some practical/live training so I am more aware and proficient. Any advice on finding SOLID instructors would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Well said Dave, but please don't pick on 511 Pants, I got my first pair at the FBI Academy, in the 80s, love them, love all those pockets. At one time it was an off duty thing, now every clothing Company puts them out! The loops take 1"1/2" belts.

    Last time I saw you, you were trying to cut a finger off or some such in Dayton. Good luck in your Training Business.

    ReplyDelete
  26. great post Mr spaulding. I first noticed this trend during my time in act 120 police academy. Many of the cadets were watching those "interweb commando" vids and trying to recycle it to look "super special" and damn did they become a nasty bunch of schoolgirls if you didn't stroke their egos. It was really conduct unbecoming, however, what angers me is that they prey on the completely new and ignorant to our field/passion. I fear this will be infecting our upcoming generation of law enforcement. Please keep the good work. You sparked an internet reply from me, my 7th in my middle aged life, please accept in lieu of a handshake. Louis-PA

    ReplyDelete
  27. Great post! I just completed my NRA Pistol Shooting Instructor class. For the shooting portion, the instructor recommended (in his email reply) bringing in a small caliber pistol for the qualification. I brought my Ruger .22L target pistol and passed with ease. I'd been practicing for a couple of weeks, so I was ready. The rest of the class brought in their "defensive weapons" (.38's, .45's, etc) are were lucky to hit the target AT ALL at 15 yards! I took my first 16 shots, and the instructor gave me the "thumbs up", and I was done. Since no one else could hit anything, the rest of the class ended up buying boxes for ammo FOR ME, as they passed around my target pistol in order to qualify! I couldn't help but think, "Hey, you knew what you were expected to do when you walked in the door! You had the targets and you knew the distance well ahead of time! What have you been doing for the past month?!" Bottom line is... When someone who knows what they are doing shares that information with you, it would be in your best interest to READ IT, and FOLLOW IT!" I walked in there as a "TOTAL NOOB", who had never messed with guns until earlier this year when I took an Oklahoma SDA Class, but I made an entire class of (younger, but still) experienced "GUN GUYS" look like fools. I just discovered Dave Spaulding, and I'm looking forward to reading EVERYTHING I can find from him. He's definitely, "Been there, Done that"! Thanks again Dave!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait, what?

      What size was the target? 15 yards isn't that far, and if you can't hit that with any of those calibers you mentioned, you probably shouldn't be a pistol instructor.

      Delete
  28. yep,I wish I could find a place to get training here but I don't wanna learn tacticool,Call of Duty 3 wanna be gamer nerd shooting. I wanna perfect my,"Crap,a drug addict is trying to rob me or this gas station!" defense response while i am wearing my short sleeve T-Shirt and regular K-mart bought cargo work pants.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Spot on Sir. Many years ago I took a class that was required for me to be a Licensed Security Officer in the State of Missouri, and to carry a firearm.

    That class was "Use of Force, the Law, Lawsuits and You" Given by St. Louis County Police Sergeant Jim Boehner.

    He expounded, forcefully at times that each and every discharge of a firearm was a potential lawsuit or a potential prison sentence. Even not firing, just drawing your weapon was a possible lawsuit or jail term.

    Brandishing a firearm was punishable by up to a year in jail.

    What I have seen on various YouTube videos is a LOT of brandishing, and a lot of shooting, but very little actual OBSERVANCE.

    It's all about getting the quick draw and double or triple tapping your target. Not about identifying your target or your environment.

    I can truthfully say that in over 10 years as a Housing Authority S.O. I only had to draw my weapon 3 times, and I NEVER had to discharge my firearm in the line of duty, EXCEPT at the range, and the one time I had to put down a dog that had been run over by the Metrolink train.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Your blog is very useful, I am truly to this blog which is specially design about the handgun, I really appreciate your blog.

    shooting skills

    ReplyDelete