Courage

Definition of courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

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The Complete Combatant attracts a wide range of people, of all ages, shapes, sizes and gender. Often, The Complete Combatant is the first time for many to attend a professional training class. They are a bit apprehensive because they have no idea what to expect when they show up for class and sometimes they have never used the equipment they plan to train with, much less carried it on daily basis.

The world of the “self protector” is a foreign place to them but they summon the fortitude and determination to challenge themselves to learn. The courage it takes to decide “I will learn something new” is marvelous and fascinating to me. To immerse yourself in class, trying to absorb the torrent of information, and then perform it under the watchful eyes of the coaches and their peer’s takes courage.

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In a short amount of time, I watch the bewildered expressions change to dawning knowledge when using the practical application of their new skills. Failure becomes victory and doubt becomes excitement while performing multiple tasks that no longer seem out of reach.

Watching this transformation is one of the great pleasures of teaching. Fear is a part of life, but learning to preserve under difficult circumstances is courage.  I want to thank everyone that courageously comes to training classes and learns the skills of the self protection. We can learn anything if we just take the first step, and then another…..

 

Putting it on the line….

To compete or demonstrate has a level of risk inherent to it. When challenged, you could perform perfectly or fail to demonstrate the skill necessary.

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Why would any instructor or shooter take such a chance?

I recently attended the 20th anniversary Tactical Conference (Tac Con) hosted by Tom and Lynn Givens of Rangemaster. This is a smorgasbord of talented instructors from across the country where attendees can take 2-4 hours blocks of instruction in pistol, rifle, shotgun, legal, medical, combatives, and much more.

I was able to train with, or work the line with, many of the top instructors like Claude Werner, John Farnam, Ernest Langdon, and Gabe White. They all had many commonalities in their teachings, and they all demonstrated drills and skills they taught.

Many of the trainers also competed in the Polite Society tactical match where they competed with all who chose to put themselves on the line. Out of 160 men there were 38 shooters, including yours truly, that shot a perfect score of 200 on the timed paper match course. One of the most impressive “putting it on the line” moments to me was when the Tactical Professor, Claude Werner shot the course with a revolver, easily beating many of the semi-auto shooters on the reload portion.

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In the semi-finals Tom Givens had us shoot the 5 Yard Round-up Drill. Mass Ayoob shot a perfect 100 and Gabe White shot a 99. I was able to shoot a 98 which was tied for 3rd top score on this particular drill. I invite you to check out this excellent article that Karl Rehn wrote about the 5 Yard Round-up Drill.

The top 16 men and the top 8 women continued on to the “man vs man shoot-off” (separate matches) where two contenders competed against each other striving for accuracy, ability to follow directions and speed using two mannequin type reactive targets and a popper. I was very happy to move on to the final match and so did my wife Shelley.  This was her first match and I am so proud of her. I do not personally know all of the shooters, but most were top level instructors. Competing against each other, pushing to be the best, and learning from our mistakes is what makes competition worthwhile. It was inspiring to watch and compete with all of these teachers that put it on the line.

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Leading by example, and facing challenges, is the path of the warrior. Conducting yourself with courtesy and composure under pressure while demonstrating the mastery of the fundamentals of shooting is something we can all strive for in our training.

Compete, demonstrate, and test your skills. Some may believe that there is much to lose, but there is far more to gain by putting it on the line…..

 

Standards…YES YOU CAN! Personal Performance class with Claude Werner

Standards and tests are a part of everyday life. There are performance standards in school, driving, work, fitness and many other aspects of life. These tests measure skill, knowledge and ability. The benefits are numerous, and more importantly, they develop confidence when tested. Shooting should be no different.

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I had the honor of teaching a class with the Tactical Professor, Claude Werner. He is a master of his craft. It is a privilege to watch him teach and simplify the lesson to its core fundamentals and essentials. We have titled it Personal Performance and it focuses on the NRA’s Defensive Pistol Qualification’s first levels named Pro-Marksman, Marksman and Marksman 1st class. This class is for ladies only.

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Each shooter earns a rocker with each successful course of fire. We did some basic coaching on the fundamentals at the beginning of class, which was some of the first professional instruction that some of the shooters have received. Then immediately to the course of fire, and having to execute the fundamentals on each course. Check the targets, and shoot it again. Fatigue, stress, and pressure all play a role in each shooter’s ability to perform the task. Having a goal to reach really helps each shooter focus on the task at hand. In a matter of 3 hours, I watched these ladies learn the fundamentals, cheer for each other, and celebrate the small victories of improved performance. Never underestimate the power of having a written standard and a system that recognizes performance.

I am often mystified by shooters that argue against performance standards. How do you know if your training works if you have nothing to measure? The most important benefit is the confidence built by ever increasing difficulty in the standards. If you carry a gun, understanding what you are truly capable of doing under pressure, leads to making better decisions and understanding your true capabilities.

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It was a great pleasure to watch these ladies improve and build their confidence. I always enjoy working with Claude and I am looking forward to the next Personal Performance on October 7th, 2018. Several ladies have continued to practice and have earned another rocker. This is the nature of teaching, to clarify the basics, and to help others learn how to improve through proper practice.

“Stress” by Shelley Hill

Hi all. This is Shelley Hill, Brian’s wife and I wanted to share a little story about my 2 encounters with BIG TIME STRESS in this past week.

We all have it. We carry it with us at all times. There are many different levels of stress but I am going to touch on the 2 most common…UNWANTED stress and WANTED stress.

Earlier this week I experienced a rumbling tummy, clammy hands, tunnel vision and an increased heart rate due to UNWANTED stress. I brought stress on myself by not following my heart and my normally positive attitude. I regretted doing this and fortunately, was able to fix it immediately. Once I went back to what was comfortable for me, I no longer experienced the negative impact it was making on my mind and my body. WINNING!

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At Tac Con 2018 I experienced the same rumbling tummy, clammy hands, tunnel vision and increased heart rate due to WANTED stress. I competed in the ladies division for the first time and it was a BLAST! Friday was my first “paper qualifier”. This was a HUGE deal because this was to eliminate all BUT the top 8 scores. This was in no way the “end game” but it was the perfect way to select the top 8 female shooters for the official “shoot off” on Sunday….which WAS the “END GAME”!

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Guess what? I made the top 8 female shooters and once again I felt that ole so familiar rumbling tummy, clammy hands, tunnel vision and increased heart rate because I was about to shoot again on Sunday! EKKKKKK!

We 8 ladies arrived on time and were invited onto the range to get some instruction from Rangemaster’s Tom Givens. This was a very important part to me because sometime stress can make me miss important details. I should not have worried because Tom knows EXACTLY what he is doing and walked all 8 of us through the course. He explained everything TWICE….he confirmed our goal, he pointed out the “target area” on each body and even showed us how the targets fell by pushing it over with his hand in the “sweet spot”, he showed us the 2 different areas/locations that we will be shooting from and WHY we will change locations, he explained the “phone drop” prior to “go time” and he went over all the important details that our brains needed to set us all up for success.

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When it came time for me to shoot I was excited and looking forward to seeing how I will handle the stress of competition. I did very well and shot to the level of my practice and training. I am so very honored to be a part of Tac Con’s 20th Anniversary “shoot off” and equally honored to experience my first competition stress with 7 incredible shooters like Lynn Givens, Gail Pepin, Melody Lauer, Elizabeth Saunders, Sara Ryan, Susan Anderson and Kelly Brown right there beside me!

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The moral of my tale? If there is any way to control the UNWANTED stress then DO IT and then LET IT GO! When the WANTED stress hits, which may hit just as hard, then ride the wave and embrace it baby because you never know what is waiting for you on the other end! WINNING!

 

Adversity

Difficulty and misfortune are a part of life, and how we react to them shows the nature of our character. I have found that positive changes are the most difficult to get started, and negative are the easiest to start, but the hardest to stop. Training is always plagued with adversity, finding the time and the money, traveling, submitting to the discipline of learning, and lately Mother Nature. With all the reasons to miss training, the weather is the one we have the least control over in outdoor classes.

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The last 3 pistol classes I have taught, it has rained, all day long. One of the classes was 33 degrees and raining. That’s a good reason to stay inside, or to drop out of class. Now here is the surprising part, not one person missed class. In fact, one of our shooters heading to our annual Alumni Appreciation Day at our range in Dahlonega totaled his car on the way to class. Someone T-boned him, and while the car did not fare well, thankfully he was not injured. When the Sheriffs department finished the paper work, he told the deputy he was going to walk the 2 miles to class, and the deputy kindly gave him a ride to the range. My wife Shelley made sure he was ok and hydrated. He had also left his lunch in the wrecked car, so everyone pitched in to make sure he had food to eat. In the AAD class shoot off, everyone competes, including our coaches, and top shooter will win a beautiful knife from our friends at knifekits.com. Two of the coaches had the top score by 1%, but decided to give the knife to top student, which just happened to be our car wreck shooter. These wonderful people had turned a bad day, into a special day for him, with selflessness and kindness.

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Nothing will stop these fine men and women from training, and taking care of each other. Regular Janes and Joes, citizens, and no amount of adversity will stop them being self reliant and compassionate. The rain became the adversary, helping all of us to move beyond our discomfort, and forge our discipline. No one complained, and more importantly the shared adversity bonds a group of complete strangers together in to a community.

The next time difficulty or misfortune plagues you, remember to simply keep going, be courageous in the small things, take care of each other, and we will all benefit and grow together.

Opportunity Knocks

Most of us are comfortable among our own group or tribe. I have spent my life surrounded by warriors. I feel at home in this environment. I understand the rules that govern the gym, ring, or range, and more importantly I understand the people that inhabit these environments. I dress appropriately, I speak the language, and I have the necessary skills and tools. The need to train and improve ourselves is constant, and so is the sharing of common goals. Coaching this “familiar” group is easier for me, like preaching to the choir. But what happens when your entire class of clients come from a totally different profession and lifestyle? What if a gun is not an option because of attire or international travel?

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In a recent class, I taught a group of executives that travel internationally and work in a corporate environment, limiting their defensive options. Claude Werner recently wrote an article titled “Dear Instructors get a real job”.  I found great value in this article and I think it pertains to this blog. Please read it!

What a thought provoking challenge of trying to wear my every day carry (when prohibited) in a retail job without getting fired. As usual, the universe provided the needed opportunity, a chance to work with a group of executives facing the same challenges.

The class was 4 parts, Proactive Mindset, self defense law, dry fire and live fire, and Close Quarter Decisions. Proactive Mindset and Close Quarter Decisions became the focal point of the training, since a firearm was not always an option for this class of CEOs.

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You win 100% of the fights you avoid, especially if you cannot carry a firearm. Our skills, tactics, strategies, have to overlap, and cannot be dependent on one tool. Self protection is always more than whatever weapons/tools you carry. Developing concentric rings of warning and protection is the goal. Examining our lifestyle for weaknesses and openings, and developing a plan. Our mission is always to stay out of danger, and sometimes we can select the proper tools for the environment, and sometimes we have to access whatever is available from our surroundings.

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Difficult situations provide opportunities for growth. Legal restrictions, age, injury, and misfortune may happen to all of us, diminishing or restricting our capabilities. How we adapt to the situation give us the greatest chance for success.

Everyone found great value in the training, and more importantly they have asked us to run a private class for their significant others. This will be a great chance to introduce a new group of clients to the world of self protection.

We are all ambassadors, and we must seize every opportunity to open the doors to self reliance that is both flexible and adaptive.

Couples Communication

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The weekend before Valentine’s Day, The Complete Combatant hosts a class for couples that focus on teamwork and communication. I often joke with my wife that we are fire team Hill, but there really is some truth to this statement. If you are attacked, the chances that your loved one will be with you and in danger also, are a real concerns for many of us.

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A common statement from spouses that are not as committed to the self defense lifestyle is “My significant other carriers so I don’t have to be prepared, they will protect me.” I know all of us want to be protectors, but what if your protector is injured, unconscious, or worse? There are many responsibilities in a violent encounter, moving to safety, first aid, getting help, and watching for other potential threats. They all have one thing in common, the need to communicate with each other in manner which is both efficient and effective. Couples face a greater challenge because their communication is intimate, convening not only information, but also emotion. As I like to say, words have meanings, but not always the same meaning to everyone.

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High stress situations require streamline communication, which is simple and direct. During a movement exercise we were doing in class, one partner told the other to go to the door, well I have 6 doors in my gym, so they headed toward different doors. Right and left, front and back, are relative to the direction you are facing, so non-specific words can work poorly in team communication. Everyone in class quickly learned to use hand signals, words that they could understood clearly, and to ask for clarification if they did not understand what the other person was saying. Verbal skills, movement, defensive skills and weapon use need to be practice together. One of drills requires taking down a bad guy together, using high and low, or arms and legs, as areas of responsibilities they quickly began to dominate their opponent, disarm them, and pin them. One person would tell someone to call 911 or get help and the other would give clear commands to the bad guy. The act of taking charge, giving directions, breaks the freeze in individuals and groups.

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Developing a plan in advance and learning how to communicate simply and effectively will benefit all of us in any situation. Get training in all areas of self defense, and be prepared to work together to survive any encounter.