“YOU CAN” by Shelley Hill

So, the last couple days I have been thinking about the “self-defense” path that I have been on because I feel like September is kind-of like a “standards & qualifications anniversary” to me.

I met Brian when I was 14 and he was 17. He was already very deep into Martial Arts and honestly, I don’t remember a time when there was not some sort of weapon/tool on him to use to defend himself or others. When I look back on our first meeting, I really never had a chance…he was going to be my hero and my life.

Time passes. Other loves come and go. My most awesome and beautiful daughter is born. Choices made…good and bad (I will need 400 pages to explain these! LOL). At the age of 29, Brian and I are committed to each other and my ride really begins! Yep, that photo below is of us at ages 29 and 31….we were just babies!


Martial Arts, firearms training and many different forms of continuing education is a way of life for Brian. He is a very disciplined man with goals. My brain is wired in a similar fashion so it was very easy to adopt this lifestyle.  

I received my Concealed Carry Permit in 2011. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a never-ending journey.  

Brian worked with me for a couple of years and I took my first professional firearms class in 2013.

Boy oh boy was I hooked! I could not get enough of the pistol or the carbine. I admit that my SIGM400 did everything in it’s power to keep me from cheating on it with my Shield. It was a serious battle for a while…..4 points of contact verses 2…..big beautiful Red Dot with scope verses focusing on the front sight only…..accurate at 300 yards verses 5 (me at that time)…..28 rounds in my AR mag verses 7 (at that time) in my Shield…. my heart races as I type this! Bahahahhaah! The M&Ps (Shield, Sub and Full) ultimately won my heart but I do still love some good carbine action every now and then.

In September of 2017 I really started taking things a bit more seriously. I found a love for “standards & qualifications”. These were always there but my “intent” changed as I got older. I really enjoy being accurate. I really enjoy going fast. EEK GADS…..I NOW NEED TO BE ACCURATE AND FAST! BRIAN, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME? Bahahhaha!


I look back on all the different types of training that I have gone through since 2013 with thought-provoking mindset classes, laws, medical, firearms, combatives, non-lethal options, and I even I competed for the first time at Rangemaster’s Tac Con 2018 and I was very pleased with the results. I help Brian run the line during live fire classes (I guess we can call it an apprenticeship of sorts), I assist in The Complete Combatant and I became a Certified NRA Pistol Instructor in August yet I feel like I am just touching the surface of what is out there.

I get to dry practice several times a week, I get to practice at the range once a week, and I get training as often as my schedule will allow.

I have a private basic Shotgun class with Claude Werner and a NRA RSO certification course with Carl Hirt coming up in the Month of October. I have not caught a true “competition” bug but ya never know……

If you want to see who I have had the honor of training with, then jump on my “Bio” page. If you want to know who we recommend training with, then check out our “Recommendations” page. If you want to train with us, then check out our 2018 and our 2019 schedule pages.

Guys, I just wanted you to know that YOU CAN learn new tricks. YOU CAN layer your self-defense options. YOU CAN be a leader and a follower. YOU CAN be a coach and a student. YOU CAN YOU CAN YOU CAN!



I didn’t know diddly-squat

The shotgun is a weak spot in my training. Fortunately, Lee Weems of First Person Safety offered the perfect opportunity for me to train in Defensive Shotgun (close to my home) by hosting Tom Givens of Rangemaster at his range in Athens, Ga. Opportunity and preparation equals my lucky day.

The morning started in a classroom setting with a historical background and development of the shotgun, which was fascinating. Tom is a masterful expert of all the details. The dawning realization that most of what I thought I knew about the shotgun was incorrect, a myth, or just plain wrong. Tom covered safety, nomenclature, accessories, ammunition, shooting techniques, maintenance, and patterning. I could not type fast enough. I was really wishing I had a DVD of this class ( #7).


Off to the range. I was shooting my Beretta 1301 Tactical outfitted with a new Magpul stock, thanks to Adam Roth and Aridus Industries, which allows for the adjustment of the length of pull and riser height. I have Sig Romeo 5 Red Dot sights which is an affordable entry-level optic. I was happy to get a spot in Tom’s class because I did not want to miss a chance to check the red dot’s durability and function in this punishing environment. To complete my upgrades, I also added a Nordic components MXT extension kit and Aridus Industries quick detach carrier, adding a total of 12 rounds onboard.

The shotgun is a fight stopper with the correct ammo, but it has a unique manual of arms that requires practice. Thus the primary focus was on mounting, operating, and reloading. We shot roughly 300 rounds of Birdshot and Buckshot, along with dry fire practice to develop the fundamentals. Shooting a couple hundred rounds had a less than desirable effect on my shotgun. Despite using red loctite on my stock, rail, and barrel clamp, all of them came loose. The stock started wobbling, the optic rail was flopping, and the barrel clamp was sliding, which made for an interesting shooting experience. Giving Beretta credit where credit is due, the gun still continued to function. Every break, I ran to the truck, tried to tighten everything up, and hustled back to the line. This definitely added extra pressure to the experience. I had to remove my optic to tighten the rail, which changed my zero to the left. After 1 shot, I made a quick adjustment, 10 clicks to the right, fixing that problem. The shotgun patterned well with Federal FliteControl 00 buck. At 25 feet, all 8 pellets stayed in the FBI Q target. We had a “man on man” competition on steel, fire 2 , reload 1, further demonstrating the need to aim. The pressure of competition and small poppers induced quite a few misses.


Takeaways from this class:

  1. Train with someone both knowledgeable and competent, always.
  2. Remove unnecessary equipment per Tom Givens’s recommendations, or in my case it will just fall off.
  3. The optic worked, but the rail failed. The red dot is definitely an advantage for quick target acquisition, however, I cannot attest to its durability yet.
  4. Loctite everything, and bring the right tools.
  5. The shotgun is now the home defense gun.
  6. Pattern your ammo.
  7. Tom had a DVD, which I immediately bought, so now I can practice.

I want to add one more thing. My wife Shelley has zero experience with a shotgun. After Tom’s class we discussed its value and how I would like to introduce the shotgun as the main home defense gun. This means we BOTH must train and practice. She is excited to start her “shotgun journey”.

I highly recommend this class. Tom Givens changed my mind about the role and use of the shotgun.