Instructors: The Good, Bad, and Downright Dangerous

Bob Campbell demonstrating weapon retention

Over the past few months, threads and discussion have often become a lively debate on choosing instructors and the merits of training in anti-terror tactics. This article addresses many of these discussions. Not surprisingly, an honest appraisal of the current situation finds the author coming up short in certain areas, and willing to admit it.

Woman shooting a carbine
At close range practice and the proper technique carries the contest.

As a writer, instructor, and part-time professor, when it comes to crime, ballistics, criminal psychology, and firearms instruction, I have many years of study and experience. I cannot afford a mistake. I know my limitations. As an example, a relative recently asked for my take on the psychology behind a certain form of aberrant behavior, and the likely outcome of an individual’s actions. I explained that any reply I had would be based on secondhand experience, as I had neither study nor experience to back up any statement.

My minor course of study in psychology, while earning a degree in criminal justice, and my continuing study was based on criminal psychology. My relative was surprised. Normally, ‘experts’ are ready with an opinion—whether they have experience or not. As another example, a friend recently retired from 30 years of service with the Defense Security Service (DSS).

Vivian holds a masters degree in psychology. We often discussed our common experience and agreed that people who are mentally ill today are more profoundly ill (and evil) than 30 years ago. After all, did you ever hear of the many people killing their children or leaving them to die in a hot car so long ago? No. And, as always, the government replies with ridiculous ineffective measures such as car alarms that will be coming into general use in several years.

INstrustor demonstrating how to disarm a suspect
Hands on with a student builds skills. Be certain to use fake guns!

The type of thing that makes people happy—who have never had a real problem—isn’t very effective. The criminal population deemed active has remained the same, or we would be in utter chaos. However, their modus operandi has changed. It was common in my time for burglars to pee or poop in the victim’s home during a burglary. They almost never do this anymore because while criminals range from cretins to morons, even they realize that DNA testing will get them nailed to the wall.

Another rule I was taught was that criminals are only comfortable attacking and burglarizing one social step above their own status, and the poor suffered the most from predators. This isn’t true any longer. Burglars do not case homes in the same manner either. Today, the gang includes utility workers, door-to-door salesmen, cable employees, and others to case the house. The real crew then enters your home or business with good information. Therefore, they know what they are coming for. Be careful with your associations.

This look at my outdated knowledge in criminal justice brings me to firearms instruction. Was my opinion and instruction also dated? We have many good NRA-trained instructors. To some of us, it seems a good thing to have an instructor with police or military experience. There is a finality in lethal encounters that should be imparted to the student. Those who have been in the action, or close to it, are best at communicating this knowledge to the student.

I have an answer to most questions and can make a good argument for my conclusions. The best gunfight is always the one avoided. Peace officers are close to the action; they see, and they are aware of the permanent damage to a life after such a battle. This is often true. As is often stressed, the consequence of a gunfight—for the winner—isn’t pretty.

Bob Campbell wearing a red sweatshirt shooting a pistol one handed
Choose an instructor that isn’t afraid to demonstrate the more difficult drills.

At the same time, I have to call upon personal experience and that of my colleagues. We agree, a person who knows right from wrong, and has a positive mindset, often survives a lethal encounter without lingering psychological effects. A good moral compass certainly is an advantage.

Most police veterans in my circle of friends and associates are free from mental stress as regards the necessary actions they have endured, and at least outwardly, carry their scars well. They are prepared, mentally and physically, for the worst. Most of the police veterans are in good mental shape and enjoying retirement. We must be prepared both mentally and physically for the worst case and for potentially lethal encounters.

My observations do not change the fact that gunfights are best avoided. Some fare well after the fight. The risk to the mental health of a combatant may be overstated. In fact, it may cause the shooter to hesitate at the worst possible moment.

I think inquiring about the instructor’s experience is worthwhile. I consider my own experience in critical incidents. The last fight for my life was 15 years ago. As far as investigating and interviewing the aftermath of such incidents, most are even older. The majority of the times in which I was injured—I have two knife scars, a number of scarred knuckles, and defensive wounds on both arms—are 30 years in the past.

Woman demonstrating shooting drills
Instructor Brittany Caton demonstrates firing drills.

Perhaps, I was able to learn from the incidents and did not repeat them. I knew a fraction of what I know now. However, I was in good physical condition, and a good shot who fired as many as 500 hundred rounds a month.

I also knew right from wrong, and the people I dealt with reinforced this. When they are wrong and you are right, it makes things much easier. Today, I am in the best condition of any 60-year old man in the office—or so my doctor tells me. However, I have to work much harder for the same goals, and I am not as strong as I once was. My present goals are to climb the 780 steps at Notre Dame and walk the beach at Freeport. So, is it my life experience or education that is the greatest value?

We have joked about the Pope giving advice on sex—a matter in which a celibate man has no experience. There are many competent driving instructors who have not raced nor experienced a major accident. So, why do I demand instructors to have police or military experience? Because, police and military instructors have an institutional integrity of purpose that is demanded for critical training.

I am serious concerning training. I was trained, not for personal defense, but public safety. That means I wish to limit stray bullets. Many students wish to earn their paper with the least effort possible. Too many instructors accommodate. Most students just want to counter a bad guy at close range or a bad dog. I think a higher standard is advisable.

Student on the firing line Gunsite academt
These folks are getting excellent instruction from GunSite.

If that higher standard is desirable to you, then it is important to have the best instructor. I think the best possible instructor is important even at the beginner level. I believe that an all-around shooter cannot rely upon a single teacher, but should absorb instruction from a number of schools. Many of my skills were learned from distance education reading Jeff Cooper, Bill Jordan, and others.

One instructor was particularly hard on me—difficult and profane. I learned a great deal from him, although I would never treat a student in this manner. So, my advice stands. Choose an instructor with police or military experience, one with a bit of gray hair, capable of shooting, and who has maintained his physical stamina to the best of his ability.

When to Walk Away

  • When the instructor is wearing a thin dress belt and hangs the cheapest plastic holster on it. (Saw this)
  • When the instructor brags about his choice of holster gun—a Colt .32 Auto. (Saw this and all the others.)
  • When the instructor chooses a female 50 pounds his lighter to demonstrate hands on drills and takedowns.
  • When the instructor is too obese to demonstrate drills.

Run Away

  • When any firearm used in demonstration, or tactics, is pointed at a student. Morons such as these have killed students. Sure, you can say it is dedicated to training, you are a professional, and it is loaded with blanks—you are an idiot.
  • When the class requires the students to stand at the target line while instructors fire at the targets, so you will become used to incoming fire. Unless you are wearing a badge that says Ranger, SEAL, Force Recon, or perhaps IDF, you are in the wrong place.
  • If there is alcohol on the range.

What do you look for in an instructor? What is the best tip or worst idea you heard during a firearms training course. Share your answers in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (45)

  1. Bob:

    Very well written. As a current instructor I tell students to ask a lot of question of any instructor prior to signing up for a course. It is much easier to stop prior to enrollment than walk away the day of the course. Many civilian trainees are simply too embarrassed to call out dangerous behavior and needlessly put themselves at risk by staying on the premises at such classes.

    I also encourage any former military or LE trainer to spend time researching what civilians want from their training. The former military or LE professional must often reorient their training methods for the growing number of inexperienced civilian trainees to serve them well.

  2. Not germane to the context of the original post, but could the respondents take an extra minute to actually read what they wrote? Then correct their spelling, punctuation and such? Am I perfect each and every time in my writing? No, but I at least use spell check.

    No, perfect spelling, grammar, and punctuation will not make the pertinent information in the post more relevant, but it will undoubtedly make it easier to read.

  3. “Run away”. Back in the 90’s i worked a volinteer branch of Okaloosa Co. Sheriffs dept in Florida. Part of the training to get qualified to carry a sidearm was for all the students to stand in a circle and practice their dry fire training on the student oposite of themselves! This was the same training instructor and protocoll for the full time deputies. My point is, even if your instructor has LE/Mil experience, gray hair, the right belt, holster, and pistol, etc., be critical of them and don’t compromise on Coopers well established universal firearms safety laws.Still to this day I shake my head at myself for participating in this “sanctioned” nonsense. I should have “run away”!

  4. I took my CC class, for my permit, from an old friend, high school crush from the 70s. A beautiful, personable, experienced (?) female NRA instructor. Her 3hr class taught little to nothing. She seemed to just be going through the motions to get it over with. But once she told a young lady to concentrate on her rear sight for close shots and front sight for long shots I had to cringe and walk away. After the painful class and range session my friend who attended with me said, ” You could have taught those people more in 30 minutes than she did in 3 hours.” Oh well … at least we got the paperwork done for our permits.

  5. Great article. Character. Conditioning. Confidence. Prerequisites for best practices and deciding when the hammer falls. Conversely, there is no way of deciding how much you are willing to loose until you have lost it. The ultimate catch 22. You will never know until it’s over and then it’s too late. After that, the deed has cumulative not additive value. Maybe additional reaction time in another gunfight. But, life as its own reward is not any more kind in self defense than social media. The mind tends to snapshot the event and people do not let you forget. The reasons for the event are lost in the life created as something else altogether. I have no idea what I could loose again.

  6. There are reasons any officer, after using deadly force, is required to attend counseling. As a retired state trooper, I know several top notch officers that have quit or request transfer after these incidents. Even experienced troopers were often troubled by taking a human life, even if justified.
    When the hammer falls all other options are gone. This thought alone has cost many their own lives. In my opinion practice, practice, practice is mandatory. As carry/conceal instructor many are disillusioned when I tell them, in my state deadly force is never justified to halt a property offense. If they are stealing your car battery, don’t shoot. If they are using that battery to beat your head in, shoot. I remind my students of this every class I teach. Know the law, know your ability, then decide.
    A jury has time to decide your fate. You have a split second to decide.

  7. Hmmm…. I hadn’t thought of that.

    I’ll have to start keeping a pair of flip flops in the car for those occasions when I am at a public range and want to get rid of the pompous windbag using the next firing point.

  8. One more point to add to the author’s list of “run away” indicators:
    Anyone who calls himself an “Operator”

    1. Just the vernacular of the day my friend. Long shot specialist and sniper are much overused. Its just a handle that describes training and experiences without the need of a complete explanation. Such as Force Recon Marine. I already know where his comments come from and how they are tempered without having to have a long discussion about his life.
      Anyway….have a good one.

  9. Very much agree with the intended message, however there are a couple of small items that may unintentionally confuse the issue greatly.

    The first regards “As is often stressed, the consequence of a gunfight—for the winner—isn’t pretty.” ..just from what I’ve seen over the years as a non-expert in this field I think it almost seems more appropriate to say there are no “winners” when it comes to any sort of physical confrontation (outside of intentional sporting events) — there are only those who survive.

    The second regards: “A good moral compass certainly is an advantage.” While I agree it probably helps deal with the psychological aftereffects, it’d seems more and more that’s about all it may be helpful for given that the letter of the law is all matters (assuming the letter itself doesn’t get corrupted in the aftermath) when it comes to dealing with the repercussions.

    So while I vastly appreciate the article, I tend to think that a mindset of “How much am I willing to lose by intervening vs. not intervening?” might just be an appropriate one for those learning personal defense as a civilian since it’s most likely any survivors of a gunfight will still lose something. (even in the most justified case they’re still likely to lose any personal uncertainty about whether or not they capable of killing another human being).

  10. Very agree with the intended message though there are a couple of small items that may unintentionally confuse the issue greatly.

    The first regards “As is often stressed, the consequence of a gunfight—for the winner—isn’t pretty.” ..just from what I’ve seen over the years as a non-expert in this field I think it almost seems more appropriate to say there are no “winners” when it comes to any sort of physical confrontation (outside of intentional sporting events) — there are only those who survive.

    The second regards: “A good moral compass certainly is an advantage.” While I agree it probably helps deal with the psychological aftereffects, it’d seems more and more that’s about all it may be helpful for as it seems that the letter of the law is all matters (assuming the letter itself doesn’t get corrupted in the aftermath).

    So while I vastly appreciate the article, I tend to think that a mindset of “How much am I willing to lose by intervening vs. not intervening?” might just be an appropriate one for those learning personal defense as a civilian since it’s most likely any survivors of a gunfight will still lose something. (even in the most justified case they’re still likely to lose any personal uncertainty about whether or not they capable of killing another human being).

  11. Authors article has definite merit, but looses me completely when the supporting pictures do not support his point.

    He advocates competent instructors, but has photos of an instructor that I would run away from at top speed. Brittany is pictured in flat flimsy (worst coming) open toed sandals. Such behavior is never allowed at any of the training facilities and range facilities I use. Major flaw in this article.

    Author is mostly correct, and still this article has zero credibility with me.

    1. Bric, I have to disagree kind of. In my experience, its always better to “practice” anything in the conditions you are expecting to face. You’re not always going to be in “approved” footwear, or clothing. Real world scenarios, better prepare that individual for real world experiences. Shooting on the move, with one hand, at a moving target, for example. Much more realistic than in a proper position, with a two handed grip, aiming, and at a stationary target that has no offensive capabilities. Training should run the gambit. From urban hallways, to running for cover while returning fire. You can be an excellent paper target shooter, but when things go sideways they’d be lucky to get a shot off. Which I saw all too frequently, while in the Special Forces.

    2. 70s operator, I was going to post a reply but you did a better job than I. I have seen shooters show up for class- and instructors as well, with thigh holsters (Which only make sense when the primary arm is a rifle ) a tactical vest with 6 or 8 magazines, a blast shield under the vest, and Danner Jump boots.
      As for the rest of you sorry you do not approve realism at your range and for the other Britany bashers- she wears her Glock 19 9mm every day, concealed under her daily wear—GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY HAVE YOU NEVER HEARD OF PRACTICING WITH WHAT YOU CARRY EVERY DAY! The range mindset isn’t the real thing.

  12. Well, its like this. I do appreciate that LEO’s are trained well for their jobs. However, for my money, an instructor should have a military background. Of course being an old operator, I am a bit biased. The kill or be killed mindset, and the ability to make life and death decisions under the pressure of incoming fire is invaluable.
    Students MUST know, that when you pull that weapon, the odds are very high that someone is going to die. Most civilians THINK they can make that call and live with the outcome. The fact is, some make the call and die. This is not stressed enough in any but military training. Just because you have a nice weapon, and have had “training” of some kind doesn’t prepare you for death. Which is why, in my opinion, many firearms remain holstered in life or death situations. Fear of death needs to be addressed to make training effective in high stress situations. There is NO reset button. Paintball guns are very useful for “live fire” training. They hurt. Which isn’t death, but most are still scared of pain. It shows students how their mind reacts under fire. Now, I’m not talkin full armor paintball. I’m talkin, street clothes and a protective mask. Pain is a wonderful teacher. Ask any soldier, active or veteran. Paper targets are fine and have their place,but one that shoots back totally changes the game.
    I’m not sayin everyone run out n play paintball. What I am saying is, get your basic weapon safety training with the guy with the paper targets. Find a veteran to teach you the rest. Something about being exposed to the threat of death, tempers all that training into a useful form. Ask me…I’ll tell ya.

  13. Thoughtful article. Thank you. Here in AZ, where a permit isn’t even required to ccw, the classes offered to get a ccw vary wildly, and in some cases, imho, are even more dangerous than no training at all. Avoid the fight, my first rule too. I tell folks they should be “the first to run, last to shoot.” It’s about surviving an encounter, period. Especially as others have mentioned, with consideration of some states’ laws governing protection of others. I stress more than anything else situational awareness. If folks are aware, observant, and can maintain executive functioning, they will be far ahead of others in a response. In studying terror or mass shooting incidents, in America, time and time again we see multiple casualties because people waste valuable initial seconds because their brains just don’t believe what their ears and eyes are telling them.

  14. I have received CCW training from instructors in “stand your ground” and “required to flee if possible” states, both.

    The instructor in the required to flee state spent much time on the legal, moral and financial repercussions of lethal defense. This is smart and necessary, of course, but he spent much time on it, and peppered his talk with repeated caveats throughout the course.

    I could not shake the impression that he was inherently creating people that are not prepared to carry a weapon at all. Instilling massive fear will result in doubt and delay when you can least afford it, in my opinion.

    The instructor in the stand your ground state, my current and permanent home, also went over the same legal, moral and financial consequences, but in a much less threatening way. We need to know these things, but must use that knowledge to help us, not hinder us. This instructor was a former policeman who had used his weapon more than once.

    The bottom line, I guess, is if you are not prepared and trained to use your weapon, and use it to kill someone, you should not carry one.

    In addition to attending several training courses over the years, I shoot my carry weapon at least once a week. I am comfortable with it and fairly proficient. I know what it is for, and I know the circumstances I’m prepared to draw and use it. I will not hesitate.

    That is the legacy of a good initial trainer, in my opinion.

  15. I agree with the author about this. The only thing I would add to his list, is class size. The ratio of students to teacher is important. I see this at our municipal range as an RSO, one instructor and 10 -15 students vs one and 3 or 4. The smaller class gets more one on one time. My CC and PD instructor would take no more than 3 at a time.

  16. Anyone else notice the female instructor on the range with the open flip flop type shoes? Big red flag from an instructor. Will she have the discipline to not jump around and wave her gun around when the hot brass sticks to her foot? If she makes poor footwear choices on the range how do you trust her with the more important ones? I’m sure everyone remembers the dad that killed his son by accident when he flailed around with a loaded weapon when a hot piece of brass went down his shirt.

    1. OMG Repo, you and Brad need to realize that if someone breaks into your house at 3 in the morning, are you going to take the time to put on approved footwear. Real world scenarios better prepare you for real world situations.

    2. The man that killed someone on the range was a moron.
      I have been burned by brass a hundred times or more, had it land between my eye and my shooting glasses, and suffered splahsback from steel targets. All in a days work.
      As for the instructor practicing with street clothes when I teach CWP classes we work with what the folks show up with- as long as the holster and gun are safe.
      I don’t practice with a target gun and carry a mouse gun and more etc!

    3. If you read the story about the guy he wasn’t a moron he reacted poorly to a situation he had not experiance before and he will now have to live the rest of his life after taking his sons life because of an accident. He was a life long shooter but he had a piece of brass bounce off the wall and go down his shirt. He broke the most important rules of gun saftey and didn’t mind his muzzle and had his finger on the trigger. His fault and he will have to live with it.
      I am all for training for the situations you don’t expect. I don’t expect the instructor to dress in full tactical gear but they should set an example to new shooters. My point about the shoes was more of the where they were worn than just being worn. There are alot of people who won’t have the discipline to mind their muzzle when they are getting burned. I have no idea of the person next to me at the public ranges skill or pain threshold and I would rather not bet my life on it. I don’t care if you train naked because that’s how you sleep and you want to be prepared for a nude gun fight. I just don’t think the public range with many unknown people sharing the firing line is the place for it. It’s the same reason most ranges won’t allow drawing from concealed holsters. To many people of unknown ability cause negligent discharges. I think an instructor teaching new shooters with open flip flops could set a bad example and a new shooter has enough to concentrate on and adding hot brass on their foot is not something they should have to add to the list in the beginning. That’s just my opinion and not an attack on the instructor shown. She had no other people around her so she was probably fine but the article was about bad or dangerous instuctors or methods so I thought pointing out a possible dangerous situation would be ok in the comment section. Judging by the responses I’ve seen I guess that’s not welcome here.

    4. It’s one thing when you are defending your life it doesn’t matter what you are wearing but when you are sharing a firing line with others as an instructor you want to set a good example. If a student without alot of practice under their belt sees their instructor do it they might think it’s oKay until they do the hot brass dance and shoot the person next to them. I have no idea of the skill level of the person next to me at the range but if I see open shoes or a low cut tank top I’m not hanging around to see how long they can keep their muzzle discipline up with hot brass on the skin. If someone wants to practice alone naked have fun but a semi public range is not where you want to assume how disciplined the person sharing the firing line is.

    5. Wow, 70’s Operator and Bob, no one is “Britany Bashing”! But I will say that if I showed up to her class, and she was dressed like that for WHATEVER reason, call it practicing as you will be or whatever else, I’d ask for a refund! I get it, 3 am gunfight in your living room, you’re not going to be in full shooting attire, heck, I’ll be in my boxers, so should I practice that way? Six months out of the year, I’m in shorts, flip flops, and a t shirt. You’re saying that I should practice like that? Baloney! I wouldn’t let my wife on the range dressed like that! It’s unsafe for the shooter, as well as everyone else around them! Call it what you will, but this article is so full of errors and you’re just trying to justify it! I don’t know you or Britney, but your defence of such blatant disregard for safety makes me question both your and her training. And you might check out Britney’s pictures elsewhere, where she has a “thin dress belt on, with a cheap plastic (Ludendorff) holster!” LOL, walk away now?

  17. Run away when the female instructor shows up in sandals, oh wait… Seriously? Brittany Caton is wearing sandals in a picture in this article, shooting g an auto loading pistol… SMH

    1. I am repeating myself

      Practice with daily wear and demonstrate what you will be actually wearing and using —-
      So obvious I cannot believe the comments we are getting.

  18. Let me start by saying I absolutely agree with the author’s advice on walking and running away from an instructor or school.


    The author makes a very important point when he says “I was trained, not for personal defense, but public safety.” He implicitly acknowledges that there are differences between personal defense training and military or police training, but throughout the rest of the article he explicitly ignores those differences.

    My military experience included combat (actual two-way live fire, not simply being in the same country with it), after a military career as an NCO teaching soldiers, I transitioned to a civilian career as a Training Developer with the Army. Writing the text books and lesson materials that instructors used to teach soldiers. The majority of what I taught and wrote was not about small arms, but a significant part of it was. Like the author, much of my experience is dated. On the other hand, basic principles don’t change very rapidly.

    My point here (and my quibble with the author) is that military training/experience is totally different from police training/experience (although those are converging quite a bit lately) and each of those is totally different from civilian personal defense.

    Having instructors with military and/or police experience is good (mostly because no one really has extensive experience in civilian personal defense) BUT those instructors need to be able to separate their military or police mindset from what they teach their civilian personal defense students – otherwise the best those students can expect from a civilian personal defense encounter may well be to survive the gunfight only to spend most of their remaining life in jail.

    One more Walk Away to add to the author’s list would be if an entry level civilian personal defense course includes firearms training in the first half day of the course.

    1. TomC I was going to post just the same thing, and from similar experience as yourself. But your post sums it very nicely. I especially wnat to say that the more realistic training becomes the more it allows students to discover the real problem in gunfight.

      Hence once they do basic courses like Gun sight and Front sight or such and are in profession that demands they develop more relevant and realistic skills and mental attitude. THEN this is only accomplished by more realistic training.. I have been doing this for 30 + years with no accidents or injuries. And yes we use Hollywood blank guns in the scenarios as instructors, and the students use low velocity soft rubber bullets so we know when and where we are hi and respond accurately .Anyone who has seen more than few people shot with handguns knows they seldom achieve and instant the hi.

      Having said a this I feel the article srill has great value for many people.t.

    2. Sir,
      Thanks for reading and points well taken. This is the first reply or comment I am printing out and hanging on the bulletin board. I think perhaps the respect I have for military trainers comes from the ones I have worked with and every one has been completely professional, prompt and dedicated. I think they are able to study every problem and then address it as it needs to be presented, whether in Kosovo or Atlanta. You points are well taken. As for separating the police mindset on the contrary the police KNOW that people end up in jail for their actions and also realize how dangerous the adversary really is.


      Thanks for reading and points well taken.

    3. Thanks for the response, Bob. I’m glad your experience with instructors has been so positive, but we all know that there are good and bad instructors out there (that was the main takeaway from the original article).

      As for mindset…. Yes police know that people go to jail — OTHER people.

      The vast majority of instructors with military or police experience are retired from those positions, thus their deepest underlying thoughts and assumptions were formed years ago. This is especially an issue with police experience where the former officer knows in his heart that “a good shoot is a good shoot” even when watching the nightly news tells him this is often untrue today. Older LEOs also assume that they (and therfore any “good guy”) will get the benefit of the doubt – which is still mostly true for LEOs but much less so for civilians.

      Police generally have a duty to get involved in a Defense Of Others situation, civilians do not have that legal duty and depending on where they live the rules can be VERY different even for Self Defense, and much more so for Defense Of Others. For example, a police officer will be judged on what he knew and “reasonably believed” at the time of the shooting — the same is typically true for civilians in self defense situations (although the standards often differ) — but for Defense Of Others in many states a civilian is judged not on what he reasonably believed the situation was but on what it actually was. Thus the LEO gets the benefit of the doubt but a civilian is required to always guess right. These are among the many issues that MUST be included in an entry level Personal Defense course. Personal Defense training is not just about speed and accuracy, but also judgement – all of which will be examined with 20/20 hindsight (and in many areas examined in the light least favorable to the shooter).

      At all levels, civilian Personal Defense training should include some “Don’t Shoot” targets. Similarly, there are almost no conditions where civilian Personal Defense training ought to include closing with the target.

      Some trainers recognize that civilian Personal Defense is completely separate from any other shooting discipline, others are more interested in displaying their skills or perhaps simply proud of their skills and interested in passing along those skills to their students without adequate consideration of the validity of the scenarios in which those skills are employed.

      Even among good instructors there is some tendency to teach drills without adequate emphasis on the basis of the drill or just what is being practiced. One example is the Mozambique Drill, especially when practiced repeatedly for speed, leading to a trained response where two-to-the-chest-and-one-to-the-head becomes one action. (An action which WILL be described by a prosecutor as an ‘execution style’ shooting.)

    4. Half of my course is on that shoot/don’t shoot training in live scenarios. An example the student has been educated to the law, then applies it the following scenario,

      Two instructors come out propping each other up and appearing stumbling drunk..They are dresed for the part and very good at this act. They say “Yo man we know wer’e too drunk to drive but if you will take us to O’Malleys down the street we’ll buy the drinks”

      Th studnet must remain cal, alert and non-confrontational. The instructors get more insistent and accuse the student of thinking they are too good to drink with them. They may even throw a plastic bottle at the student and they shout profanities..Also any type of ethnic or sexual remarks might occur to get the studen’t goat so to speak.

      The drunks hands are all viable and this does not constitute legal grounds to use his or her weapon. They must disengage without escalating the situation..

      Each other student watches and occasionally the drunks or whatever of many scenario types we use, the instructor may draw a waepon that demands the student shoot..

      Then the entire class discusses the legal basis of every action in the last scenario.they watched or were the subject in same. It is remarkably effective done right. Fairly often people make the right decision but still come out of the scenario shaking like a leaf.

  19. Not exactly sure how to respond to this but once again I need to question how often even the instructors have had all that much first hand combat experience. Many law enforcement folks while perhaps having a good deal of training may have had little or no actual combat experience during their entire career. I had an Uncle who was proud of the fact that in over 20 years as a cop he never once drew his firearm. The other thing is I am not sure what the difference is between self defense training and terrorist defensive training. From all the incidents we have seen over the past 10 years it would be difficult to distinguish one from the other or how it would differ in defending yourself. In most of those incidents people were totally unprepared to do much of anything because they were taken by surprise and basically unprepared. In any event the best thing to do, I believe, is to get references from an instructor before engaging them and then using some common sense and your gut to determine who you might want to train you. Also, once again, if you don’t have the will to do what needs to be done then don’t waste your money training to hard because it will be a waste of time and resources.

    1. They might, if they lack other evidence, and the burglary was at the home of an ‘important’ citizen. Otherwise, you are 100% right, most departments are not really going to devote significant assets to solving a residential burglary (or any resources beyond the uniformed officers who take the initial report). Such reports go in the If-We-Accidentally-Find-Something file cabinet. Burglars are rarely caught due to direct investigation of their crimes; they are caught due to tips from fellow criminals looking to cut a deal or as a side effect of other enforcement actions like being stopped for a traffic offense with loot in plain sight in the car.

    2. I agree most departments certainly would make that investment in solving most burglaries. However, if the bad guys they might then that is reason enough for them not to pooh on your coffee table. So…. I think he is accurate in the assumption.
      Just my 2 cents.
      In regard to the overall article, I conducted a lot of training as an LE instructor and traveled all around the country. That was many years ago. I agree with the take always of the article.
      With at said…
      The only thing you can get 2 instructors to agree on is what the 3rd one is doing wrong.

    3. Happens all the time. Even small time offenders end up in national data base. that is how small timers are snagged for rapes and murders.
      Depends on the agency and many months behind they are.


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