The Guardian Broadcast
"Providing Concealed Carry & Armed Self-Defense Wisdom."
A podcast by Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University.
"The Idea of a Concealed Carry Combat Training School, Part 2 of 2"
This is it - this is what some of the best training I can envision might look like. Training should be of the same top-notch quality that the tools of concealed carry should be, because the point of training is to improve the performance of the trainee.
Listen using the audio player above OR read the text transcript of this podcast below.
Note: 100% accuracy on text transcription is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the perfect concealed carry combat school. After a flight in the day before and a decent hotel room the night before, you arrive refreshed – eager – and of course a bit intimidated, uneasy, and unsure of what to expect. In other words, the perfect combination of attitudes to yield massive skill growth.
As you walk through the front door you’re greeted with the smell of fresh brewed coffee, laughter, and cheers. You see that the noise is coming from a group of people off to the side of the room standing around a projection screen, and they appear to be watching a gun fight. Laughing and cheering at a gun fight? That seems a bit much, until you realize that the person laughing the loudest is also the man in the video, and he appears to be receiving critique and feedback on his performance in what you now realize is a simulated gun fight. The instructor giving the feedback is pausing the video and pointing things out, drawing a blue gun here and there and demonstrating a couple of tactical maneuvers.
It looks interesting, but you keep walking toward the check-in counter. You’re greeted with a smile – you tell your name; you’re given a form to fill out. On the form there are about 15 scenarios listed, and at the top, you see that it says, “Select up to 5 scenarios to take part in per day – each one will consume one hour.”
The scenarios listed include, “Attempted carjacking.” “Café Active Shooter.” “Convenience Store Robbery.” “Home Invasion.” “Asocial Ambush.” “Classic Duel.” “Random.”
Under each scenario, a notice says: “The student will redo each scenario three times during the hour-long session; two instances will demand use of lethal force, one instance appearing randomly among the three will not require lethal force.”
You make your selections and you fill out the rest of the form. You’ve decided to train for 3 days, and you’re pacing yourself to 4 sessions per day, with an hour break between each one.
Next, you’re handed a pelican case and asked to put your carry gun and magazines in the case. You’re given a tag, and you see the pelican case itself locked in a locker. Then, you walk through a metal detecting station. “It’s not for security, it’s for safety,” the attended tells you. “Even though our simulation live fire pistols cannot chamber real, live ammo, we still want to make sure that not a single live round makes it past the check-in station.”
Then, the attendant says, “Okay, I see you checked in a sub-compact double-stack 9mm. Is that what you’d like to fight with today?” You answer in the affirmative, and he asks, “With or without a pinkie extension?” “With,” you say. You’re asked where you carry your pistol, and you point to beneath your plaid shirt. “3 o’clock hip”. Across the counter slides a battle-worn sub compact semi auto and a few various holsters, until you find one that is near identical to your own. Right away, you see that while the pistol looks and feels exactly like a GLOCK 26, the steel slide and barrel are painted bright blue. “I want to show you something,” says the man behind the counter, and he pulls out a black GLOCK 26 magazine loaded with live ammunition. He inserts the magazine and releases the slide. The slide travels forward about ¼ inch, then jams open. “See?” he says, showing you that the live cartridge couldn’t enter the barrel. He explains, “Beyond those doors, you won’t find a single round of live ammunition. But even if one made it past, it would be impossible to fire from any of the handguns that you’ll find in there. As long as the gun pointing at you has a blue slide, there’s absolutely no chance you’ll be shot with a real bullet.”
You strap on the unloaded Simunition handgun, and you’re asked. “How does it feel? Close to what you carry?” You reply in the affirmative, you’re asked to wait a moment, and then the concealed carry combat instructor who is personally assigned to you for the day walks up and introduces himself. You like this guy!
“Follow me,” he says. “We’re going to spend an hour or two brushing up on some handgun and combat fundamentals.”
You’re handed a pair of Oakley safety glasses that feel weightless on your face, and you enter a room about the size of a large living room. The walls are bare, and there are no markings on the floor. The floor and walls are covered in a porous, foam material, and the acoustics are refreshingly smooth.
Your instructor asks about your history with concealed carry, your background, asks if you have any combat experience, and asks you what your goals for the day are. He then looks at the scenarios you’ve chosen, talks about them with you, and suggests a couple changes. He tells you about himself, and then asks you to perform a couple dry draws of your handgun. He offers a couple pointers, but says that otherwise, your draw stroke is solid. “Now show me a few dry fires,” he says, and afterward compliments you on your trigger press.
“Now let’s check your marksmanship. First, just blow off some steam. Here’s a full magazine – I just want you to fire at that target as quickly as you can. Let’s make some noise,” he says, as he presses a button on a small remote, causing a photo-realistic target to drop from the ceiling about 5 yards away. “Fire when ready!” You’re handed a red plastic magazine, which you see is loaded with brass cased ammunition which, instead of brass bullets, appears to be loaded with clear plastic projectiles filled with red paint. You draw your pistol, insert your mag, charge your pistol, and fire your first shot. You have no idea what to expect, and find that the pistol, without wearing any ear protection, is about as loud as a live pistol sounds while wearing ear protection. A comfortable sound to the bare ear, but loud enough to cause you to respect the heck out of it. The recoil felt very similar to your own 9mm. And you see a nickel-sized red burst just off center mass of the target. Feeling more confident, you tighten your grip and unleash the entire magazine. Seeing the center mass and face of the target covered in red paint, smelling the faint lingering traces of burned propellant, suddenly you feel a lot more relaxed.
The instructor pushes another button, and a windshield-wiper type squeegee zips across the target, erasing any sign that it had been shot at. Another button pressed, and the target folds back into the ceiling, while another appears about 12 yards away. “Okay, this time, show me your accuracy. Give me three shots in the face, and three in the chest.”
For the next hour, you and this instructor work one on one with shooting tips, draw and fire tips, and he runs you through a few scenarios where you’re asked to fire at the targets as they drop from the ceiling.
Then, he walks out of the room and walks back in with a chest and groin protector, neck protector, and mask for each of you. “Okay,” he says. “This is where it gets real.”
With gear on, he says. “Okay. One of the biggest things you’re going to walk away from today with is that you’ll learn to think and act rationally whether you’ve got a gun in your face or not. So this is the part where you learn what it’s like to get shot. Stand there.”
He walks about 7 yards away, turns around, asks if you’re ready, and draws his pistol. Your heart begins beating pretty rapidly as he raises the gun and points it at your chest. His friendly face has turned to steel behind his mask, and you feel your body tense up. How bad is it going to hurt? The seconds tick by, and the instructor is dead silent pointing the pistol at you. Your mind begins racing – why’s he taking so long?? - when suddenly the instructor lets out a yell. Just as your fight or flight reaction is about to kick in, BAM, THUMP! In the exact moment the shot is fired, you feel the hard impact on your training vest, dead center. Your first impression is that the pistol shot sounds much louder when it’s pointed at you, but that the impact didn’t hurt. It was a thump, but it didn’t hurt. Then, BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! The instructor fires four more rounds, then re-holsters his handgun. You look down and see a tight group of blue ink on your body. “Students shoot red; instructors and bad guys here all fire blue,” he says. Lifting his mask, he’s the friendly instructor again. “Well, what did you think?” he asks, and the two of you discuss the body’s response to getting shot. “Now I want you to shoot me,” he says, and the drill is repeated. This time, he yells and screams at you as you’re shooting him, but he’s laughing after the drill, as he raises his mask. And once again, you realize that all remaining tension in your mind and body are gone.
For the next hour, he walks you through about two dozen short live-fire exercises. He demonstrates the 21-foot rule, where he charges you from 21 feet away as you draw and fire at him. He has you practice shooting him while he hops to the left and to the right. Then, while he runs and sprints around the room. He has you shoot at him while you yourself are moving. The two of you set up an obstacle and practice shooting from beneath, above, and around cover. All the while, he watches your form and your gun handling, and offers input. And for the last 10 minutes, the two of you practice old west style dynamic gunfights, where you draw against each other and simultaneously try to score hits while avoiding getting hit. You notice right away that while you’re not as mobile as your instructor, who is a fair bit younger than you, even the mobility that you have make it surprisingly easier to avoid getting hits.
After the hour is up, he says: “Okay, now, we part ways. You won’t see me again until the end of the day, because now you’re going to move into the scenarios. I want you to remember only one thing: no matter what happens, you finish the fight. There are no time-outs. There are no do-overs. So, you finish the fight. Even if you’re getting hit by the attacker as you fumble with your gun, that scenario doesn’t end until you’ve scored at least 3 good hits on your attackers’ center mass. One of the most important things you’re learning here is that you never give up. You fight through every scenario until the job is done. Got it?” You nod your head, and you feel a bit of the tension coming back….
Fast forward 40 minutes later, and you’re being led to what your instructor calls the “staging room”. The only thing you know, is that in a few minutes, you’re going to walk into a gas station carrying concealed, and that you’re going to go to the back, buy a bottle of water, and then proceed to the cashier where you’ll complete your transaction. They even handed you a dollar bill to stuff into your rear wallet pocket.
Your hands are shaking, and the man walking you to the staging room knows it. You wonder if he knows that your heart is racing. He says: “Remember combat breathing. Calm yourself down.” He opens the door, points to a chair, and you sit down. “I’ll be right back for you when we’re ready for you. Don’t open this door. You’ll ruin the surprise,” he says with a grin. The door closes. Your nerves are at a maximum. You begin combat breathing. One minute goes by, and the entire time you’re waiting for the door to open. It doesn’t. Two, three, five minutes go by. It now officially feels like an eternity. The good side is that your body, unable to maintain the state of extreme readiness, has stopped shaking. Your breathing is normal. Five more minutes go by. Just as you begin feeling a bit bored and frustrated, the door opens. “Are you cooled off, or do you need another five minutes?” the man asks. Realizing that the wait was intentional, you burst out into laughter.
“Okay,” he says. “Remember that you’re going to go through this scenario three times, and one of the times, maybe this one, no force will be needed. A gun isn’t the answer to every problem, right? Okay. I’m going to blindfold you and lead you to the gas station door.”
Your nerves begin keying up again, but nowhere near as bad as they were ten minutes prior. Your instructor is speaking in a casual tone, setting the stage for you. “Okay, so here you are, you’ve just pumped some gas, you paid at the pump, but then you realize that it’s going to be a long drive, and you’re kind of thirsty. So, you’re walking in and you’re going to buy a bottle of water, okay? Well, I want you to go in, be casual, be alert as you would be in reality. Head to the back, get a bottle of Dasani water, then go up and pay. Got it?” You say, “Got it.” You feel the man lift your left hand and put it on the bar of an exterior door. He begins pushing you on your back, and you feel the door opening. You’re pushed through the door, and suddenly, the man yells in your ear. “Oh my GOD! As you’re pushing the door open, you hear a gun shot and the glass shatters in your face! Oh my GOD, GO, GO, GO!” The blindfold is ripped off, and light blasts in your eyes.
BOOOOOOM! Compared to the silence of the last 15 minutes, the gun shot sounds like a canon. In a flash, you see that there are 4 people around you in the gas station. Time is both screaming and crawling by as you see three of the figures falling toward the floor, with their hands going up to cover their faces. One figure is remaining standing, and you see that a blue revolver held in his hand is coming down from recoil, in your direction. Just as you practiced with your instructor earlier, your first response is to lower, spring up, and bolt into movement as your hands automatically go for your pistol. Your pistol is out as the shooter’s second shot blasts out: BOOOM! As you race your own pistol awkwardly up with an imperfect grip, you cringe awaiting the impact, but the shooter’s shot must have missed. BAM! BAM! BAM! You realize you’re shooting back as you move. You’re only partially aware of what you’re doing – half aware of trying to point your muzzle at this figure, standing 15 feet away, half aware that you’re hoping to make it behind a big rack full of candy bars before you get shot. BAM! BAM! BAM! BOOOOM! The attacker’s gun blasts out again, but again you feel no impact. You don’t even intend to fire at the attacker the entire time, but it feels natural. BAM! BAM! BAM! Just as you reach the candy bar rack, a loud siren wails.
“SCENARIO OVER! SCENARIO OVER!” a young instructor is shouting as he walks in waving his arms. Your chest is heaving and you’re livid. The three bystanders are standing up, and your instructor is walking toward you, “Go ahead and re-holster and we’ll take our masks off and discuss.” You rip your mask off. “Well what the heck, you didn’t give me any warning, I had no idea what to-,” you begin, and you cut yourself short. “Exactly.” The instructor says, simply, in a low voice. He’s wearing a USMC sweater, and based on his haircut and no BS attitude, you wonder if he’s a combat veteran or a cop. “Well I would have done better if I’d have known what to-,” you begin again, trying to look over your shoulder at the attacker as your instructor leads you out of the realistic looking gas-station interior, which turns out to really just be another room off a hallway. Probably because of all the excitement, but you feel strange, as if you’re choked up. “Listen, listen. Calm down,” he says. “The lesson here is that when you’re carrying concealed, you need to be ready for a gun fight at all times. Every second of every day, ESPECIALLY when you’re walking into a room with zero idea of what’s going on inside or turning a blind corner. But relax, because you did well.”
You did well? You don’t understand. “I did?” “Yeah, you did well. You scored three center mass hits on this guy.” You’re astounded. “I hit him??” You don’t even remember seeing your sights. You only remember feeling confused, and scared, and angry at the same time. “Yeah, you got him. Three vital shots, which he probably wouldn’t survive. What are you, law enforcement?” You answer: “N- No, just concealed carry.” “What training have you had?” You’re still coming down from the rush, and you search for an answer. “None, not much. I went to one training course, but just do some stuff on my own at home…” “Well, keep it up, it’s working for you,” he says, and you’re instantly aware that this is probably the best compliment you’ve ever been given.
You feel your throat tighten even more, and you wipe away a couple tears as it sinks in that you didn’t completely fail, and not only that, but you may have actually done okay. You can’t explain why you’re so emotional about this – you feel elated, as if you could lift a car. Your instructor sits you back down in the staging room. “Listen, you also hit one of the bystanders.” Your heart sinks. “I did?” “Yeah,” he says. “A middle-aged guy. As he was falling to the floor, your course put him between the crook and you. You hit him in the abdomen. Chances are, he would have bled out before paramedics arrived. “I would have killed a bystander? So I failed?” you ask, your spirits finding a new low. “Hell, no.” he says. “Listen, you didn’t ask to get shot. You walked into a slaughter. You did what you had to do, and you got it done. There was also a woman in there. Two kids at home. She’s going home thanks to you.” Perhaps it shouldn’t have been consolation to you, but it was. Even with the wounded bystander, you can’t help but feel that you represented yourself very well. You and two bystanders did not get hit, and you shot the bad guy three times.
“Well, wouldn’t I get sued? If this were real life?” you ask. He said, “I don’t know about that. And that’s not up to you. Look: you’re going to have a whole lot of times here where you have the luxury of moving around bystanders. But sometimes, you just don’t have that luxury. Now you didn’t need to shoot. You could have tried backing out the door and leaving those people to fend for themselves. Or you could have tried sprinting to cover and engaging from there. You chose to engage immediately, and I personally don’t think that was a bad decision. But when you’re running and gunning, you should know that even at 12 or 15 feet, those rounds are probably travelling in a 4-foot cone. It’s food for thought, but don’t dwell on it. You did good.”
Ten minutes later, you’re once again being led, blindfolded, back to the gas station door. You’re given the same exact instructions this time, and your body begins accelerating in another adrenaline dumped fuel of energy and tension. As you’re being pushed through the door, the blindfold is ripped off, and you begin reaching for your gun as you fall into a spring-loaded stance. Your head is wild with motion as you scan for that lethal figure wearing all black, holding a revolver. Where is he? Suddenly, you’re aware that one of the bystanders, standing in line in front of the cashier, has been watching your antics and is laughing behind his mask. You see the cashier’s face behind his mask, and he’s not laughing. “I’m sorry, can I help you?”
Sheepishly, you straighten up, as you remember your task, and you begin walking to the beverage cooler at the back of the store. You take another look around you before opening the door… all is calm…. You turn back around, find the bottle of Dasani that is your target when the door bursts open. BAM! BAM! BAM! Shots are fired immediately. You whip around and see that the bystanders are scattering as a figure wearing a bright yellow basketball jersey is firing a semi-auto into the ceiling. Your pistol is already out, as you’re snaking up between candy aisles, moving toward the shooter. A bystander turns into your aisle, but screams at the sight of your gun, and turns back around and is gone around the corner. Suddenly you realize that lethal force may not even be required here, and you freeze, covering your pistol with your hand while holding it tight to your chest. You hear yelling, demands for money, and you hear thrashing and crashing. You raise your head above the aisle, just in time to see that the cashier is fighting for control of the robber’s pistol, both his gloved hands clenching the pistol tightly. You have a clear shot from about 7 paces, but you aren’t sure what to do. You’re able to think a lot more clearly than you would have guessed, and you see the exit door, a quick sprint of maybe 6 yards beyond the aisle rack you’re looking over. Do you leave? Do you help? As soon as you think of the word ‘help’, you unfreeze and you’re in action, knowing that you’re going to threaten this robbery with deadly force if he doesn’t let go of the pistol. However not even one step further, and the pistol goes off. BAM! The cashier falls to the floor out of sight, and the robber presumably stands over him. BAM! BAM! The realization that you just saw a cashier get murdered in cold blood finds you grinding to a halt and raising your pistol. Again, without any sight picture, you fire. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! Four rounds before thinking about it. For what feels like an eternity, you stand there slack jawed like an idiot, waiting for the siren to tell you that the scenario is over. The robber, who hasn’t been touched, locks onto you an raises his pistol. BAM! BAM! BAM!
By the time the second round is fired, you’re already ducking out of sight, thankfully un-hit. You realize you have a decision to make. Sprint forward and engage from 4 yards or so or reverse and try to round a different corner. The best answer is instantly crystal clear, and you cannot believe you can think so clearly. This isn’t like the ambush scenario at all – this feels entirely different. One minute, you’re buying a bottle of water, and the next, you’re crouched here with a smoking gun in your hand, staring down at the end of the aisle closest to this bad guy. You assumed your body would just carry you through it, but now you realize that there is only one way out of this gas station, and you’re going to have to experience and decide through every second of it.
All this flashes through your mind within the span of probably three seconds. You kick off and begin crouch-galloping back toward the beverages, looking over your shoulder. You reach the end, turn back toward the entrance, and peek around the corner. The robber doesn’t appear to be behind the counter anymore. Now that the clerk is already dead, you just want to get out, but do you dare move out into the open? You hear another scream from the opposite end of the store. You aren’t sure what you would do in a real gun fight, but you straighten up and look over the aisle again. Sure enough, you see the robber’s head walking down toward your end of the store, two aisles over. This time, you aim and press: BAM! The robber ducks, you hear running. You retreat around the corner for cover, and then resume aiming at where you think the robber will pop out. Within a second, there he is! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! You’re aiming and firing, as he fires twice at the place where you were standing just moments ago. You see red paint explode atop his yellow jersey, and you feel incredibly in control. You see your third impact to the chest, and then you race your sights up to the mask. BAM! BAM! The second shot scores directly over the goggles, and again the siren is going off…
Ten minutes later, after an extensive review of the gun fight including positives and negatives, you’re walking into the gas station again, this time certain that lethal force won’t be necessary. You retrieve your water bottle, and you get in line, expecting to walk out of the gas station, when a figure in a large puffy denim jacket walks in. He eyes each one of you customers in line, and then does a lap around the gas station. Your suspicion that he’s not just another customer actor is heightened when he returns to the cash register and gets in line behind you. You turn to look him in the eye through his mask, and say, “I’m sorry, I actually forgot my wallet.” Surely, you believe, the scenario overseers believe exiting the gas station at the first sign of un-easiness is the wisest thing to do – it’s at least the thing you’re going to do.
You turn to the door and take two steps when, BOOOM! You turn, and the figure has shot the cashier outright and has turned back toward you and the two remaining customers. He’s shouting frantically: “GET YOUR HANDS UP, GET TO THE BACK OF THE STORE!”
Reactively, your hands go up. This guy has a gun in your face from 5 feet away, and he’s coming closer. There’s no way you’re going to draw and shoot successfully. You wish you hadn’t raised your hands so high like a moron, you know that you should have kept them lower, but what’s done is done. “I SAID GO, GO!” says the shooter. You begin backing away with the other customers, expecting some drawn out hostage situation when suddenly he turns away and begins acting as if he’s going to climb over the counter. Slightly confused, as if you might be breaking the rules, you draw while taking two big steps forward. At the first slight twitch to indicate that he has heard you approaching, you unleash. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! You fire a long string into the person’s back and the back of his head, which you quickly realize is not protected a feel a little bad about.
The shooter actor simply falls forward and slumps over the counter, motionless. You stand there for a couple seconds, and then begin re-holstering your handgun, while you await the siren. You hope you did the right thing. They said that deadly force would only be required two of the three times, but this robber had shot the cashier, or at least shot at him, and then waved a loaded gun in your face. There’s no way the scenario designers expected you to go to the back of the store like a sheep and wait to be taken hostage or worse, is there? Unless you should have gone back there and waited….. your mind grows less certain by the second, which makes you all the more eager for the instructor to come in and explain it to you. As you re-cover your handgun, unsure of whether to feel like superman or like a rule breaker, the door bursts open again. You smile as you expect a congratulations. But it’s someone you haven’t seen yet, and he’s livid. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! You’re peppered with shots before you realize what’s happening, and you instinctively turn away and duck your head. Only then does the siren wail. The instructor walks in. “Well, did you learn your lesson?” he asks, with a grin. You nod. “I should have taken cover and awaited more threats?” “Bingo,” he says. “One of the other customers could have been a spotter, or as happened here, the robber could have had a buddy waiting outside who comes in when he hears shots. In reality, there is no official end to the gun fight. Not until the police cars show up do things begin to get stabilized, but even then you have to be on guard until you make contact with law enforcement. You’ve got to stay ready and stay in the fight.”
And, so the remainder of the day went. Highs, lows, exhilarating moments, embarrassing moments, moments of elation and extreme pride, and moments of extreme confusion. And once, a painful hit to the hand from 3 feet away that even broke the skin beneath his glove.
In between sessions, you hang out at the recapping location, sipping coffee, watching other exercises play out on the other screens, or standing by the recap center while an instructor went over another student’s performance. And a couple times, to blow off some steam, you ask to step back into the standard pistol range. “Absolutely!” the receptionist says, handing you a few magazines and a target release remote. You’re told that every gun fight is recorded, at the end of your training, you can either choose to have the recordings destroyed, or sent to you digitally or on disc. And for a little extra, an instructor will do a voice-over, offering you advice on what you did correctly in that scenario, and what could be improved.
You end up going through 3 more scenarios, each as unique and tense as the gas station one. And at the end of the day, you are whipped. You feel like you ran a marathon. Your instructor says it’s from all the adrenaline dumps throughout the day. But above all, you feel infinitely more in command of your body and weapon and your head than you ever could have thought possible. You feel that you began this day an average Joe Permit Holder, but that you’re walking away – after just one day – a grizzled veteran. You feel that more than ever before, you have a command over the visceral language of violence, and you know deep down that this newfound skill and trait makes you far, far less likely to ever need to use your gun in the first place.
You feel as if you’re a foot taller. And yet, from the various failures and botched drills throughout the day, you have a far greater awareness of your own weaknesses. You really need to lose that gut. You’ve got to begin carrying a spare magazine. Even though it would only have been life and death once throughout the day, the reserved attitude you had to take when fighting, knowing that the ammo in your gun was all you had, was a problem worth solving. And mostly, you know that practicing your draws and movement would have been a drastic improvement. You realize that learning about these weaknesses is probably as much a source of your newfound confidence as your seeing your strengths in action.
Mostly, you are proud of yourself. You aren’t just some random guy who carries a gun. Your effectiveness shocks even you. You’re doing this concealed carry thing correctly: you’ve hit the books, you’ve hit the range, and now you’re hitting the force on force arena.
You’re happy. You’re exhausted. You hit the shower, you hit the bed, and you wonder how you’ll feel at the end of day 2…
Alright, so that’s a rough vision for what I believe, after the research I’ve done, would be the ‘perfect’ concealed carry combat training school.
And obviously, with scenery so elaborate and enough extras around, these scenarios could be taken further to include a police response, to help prepare private citizens for what the initial encounter with law enforcement following the use of deadly force will be like. You really could train for anything with these tools, because the quality of training would be limited only by the imaginations of the scenario developers, and the willingness of the hired help to act and endure these scenarios.
Tactically, neither of these things would be a problem. When I build this school, in the future (if nobody beats me to it, saving me from all this work), it will be located on the southeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan – near the Gerald R Ford International airport, and tapping into the handful of major universities and colleges scattered around Michigan. Quality actors and accessibility won’t be a problem.
To the un-initiated, you may wonder: “does this type of training actually prepare your mind or body for a real gun fight? Won’t you be aware through an entire scenario that it’s really just play, and you’ll therefore take more risks than you would in real life, and rather than learning how to think and operate in a gun fight, you’re really only learning how to think and fight during this type of training?”
Well, as someone who, for several years, was certified by Simunition in setting up these types of ranges and scenarios, and as someone who has gone through a decent amount of this type of training, I can tell you that it is as real as it can possibly get without real bullets being fired. The adrenaline is real, the fear of loss and failure is real, the social pressure, the fear of getting shot, the desire to win and do well – it’s all there. And not only does this type of training teach your body how to gun fight against a real human being, but the exposure to so much stress and adrenaline even teaches your mind and body to function well within that adrenaline-fueled state. You’ll see: the first couple of times, you feel only partially in control of your faculties. But the more exposure you get, the better your body behaves. Trust me. The first time you’re pushed into a home defense scenario with no idea what to expect, and suddenly the power in the room goes dark, and you’re scrambling blindly for the flashlight that you remember your instructor saying was in an end-table drawer as you hear the sounds of ransacking downstairs, and then footsteps coming up the stairs – the reality that something really bad is about to happen will drastically outweigh the certainty that it really is ‘just training’.
You may also wonder about training scars that can be developed from this type of training. For example, “will this make me too enthusiastic to step into the line of fire, because while these can’t really kill me, bullets can?” Certainly if done improperly training scars like this could be developed but done properly, they can be avoided – and most important to remember, is the reality that ANY training scars to come out of this are drastically smaller than those developed and the deficiencies developed through regular, modern gun fighting education.
Now, when my vision for an academy like this one began materializing several years ago, I was astounded that a place like this didn’t already exist. At first, I assumed it didn’t exist for a good reason: it must not be a good idea. But the more people I pitched the idea to, it became clearer and clearer that this really is the absolute best type of handgun combat training available – and it only doesn’t exist for a few human reasons:
First, Simunition type training systems are still very new, and the industry’s private sector hasn’t really caught on yet.
Second, they’re expensive. Buying in bulk would help greatly, but these Sim rounds can cost up to $.80 per shot fired.
Third, re-creating the facilities that would make this training possible would take a lot of money.
But beyond all else, is the reality that it would be excruciatingly hard work to set up a school like this. SO much hard work. I think of the old saying that those who know don’t care, and those who care don’t know. It’s true in this case, because the type of business savvy that it would take to pull this off at break-even, much less profitably, isn’t usually found in someone who is knowledgeable in combat dynamics, or someone young enough with enough energy to see this through: raising capital to fund development, overseeing development, planning every detail, cultivating a staff, setting up the scalable spectrum that allows for sustainable growth and survivability during the 2 or 3 years that it will take to reach full capacity, creating the advertising and marketing models and channels, and generally winning over the talking heads in the industry who would are threatened by anything new, whose default response to their audiences would be skepticism and hesitation.
Hard work, but it can and must and will be done, because the “traditional” means of setting up a gun fighting class – when compared to the potential of this school – are quickly realized to barely be any training at all.
So why does everyone train like that? Because it’s easy, and it’s possible to make money doing it. If you don’t know what I mean, then consider the reality that most gun fighting instructors are – like a large portion of Americans in this country – at any time, 30 days or less from financial ruin. Their primary goal with their business is survival. A secondary goal is giving their students a real combat education experience. And while I certainly don’t blame them for that because it’s no different in any other industry, we all have to recognize that MONEY has, until now, driven the entire structure of the classes we take.
For example, why are we limited in movement in classes? Because, we have to be stacked up shoulder to shoulder with other students. Why? Because the instructor needs to make a certain amount per day, and he’s more likely to get that amount from 5 or 8 guys in a line than just one guy.
Why are we shooting real guns at stationary targets, rather than shooting Sim guns at real human targets? Because now your hard costs are through the roof if you’re hiring actors to stand there, wearing protective gear that costs hundreds of dollars per person.
Again: the need to profit has penetrated the structure of how virtually all modern gun fighting courses are set up, and the structure has a direct and irreparably limiting impact on what it’s even possible to teach and learn.
That’s why this ‘idea for a school’ needs to exist and, again, that’s why eventually I will create something like this.
Will it be expensive for the end-user, for you, the student? Well, it depends on how you gauge ‘expensive’. By my estimates, a student would need to pay about $60 per scenario. That’s $20 per each run, of which there would be three within a scenario. In other words, you’d be paying about $300 or $320 per day of training like this, plus the cost of ammo fired by the student in each scenario. The school would provide ammo for the initial orientation, but the rest would be on the student. Now, I don’t think that’s bad at all. If I could fly somewhere and experience this training for $300 or $350 per day, I would do it in a heartbeat, and I’d recommend that all those who are serious about concealed carry combat effectiveness does experience at least a day of it in their lives, which should be everyone who carries concealed.
But that’s it. That’s the vision. In time, it’ll exist. Perhaps sooner than later, if someone else has the drive to make it happen. I certainly hope they do!