Active Self Protection’s National Conference

Shelley and I had the great honor of presenting at the Active Self Protection‘s National Conference September 25-27, 2019 located at Living Water Ranch located in Manhattan, KS. This unique event, that is also known as “Bullets and Bibles”, donates all of the proceeds to the Flint Hills Foster Teen Camps.


“In addition to the summer camp for teens, they also do Homes of Hope. When foster teens reach 18, they age out of the system. Many find themselves immediately homeless on their 18th birthday and without the life skills and support system to rise above that challenge. FHFTC proves room and board, along with support and training in basic life skills to ease the transition from foster child to adult. They stay on-site and learn about budgeting, hygiene, cooking, cleaning, job skills, etc. This is a tremendous resource for them and they get to go through this transition with caring adults and counselors to point the way.”

Now this is a cause we can all support! All of the instructors donated their time to this worthwhile program. I have found that being compassionate and generous is a boon for the giver. According to Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie of the Greater Good Magazine (Science Based Insight for a Meaningful Life at UC Berkeley),  “When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them.”


Over 100 shooters supported this event with its worthwhile cause, but there was something unique about this group. All were kind, generous, and interested in personal protection, but that is not what set them apart. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training & Consulting, put it succinctly, “Everyone there was a new shooter”, meaning none of the traveling instructors had seen them before. If you attend enough training classes you get to know the “hard core training junkies”. Tom Givens of Rangemaster believes that there are roughly 5,000 or so people that train consistently, and we all get to know each other. This was 100 new shooters under the tutelage of top instructors, for some of them, it was their first training class ever.


This is noteworthy, and exciting! John Correia, founder and owner of Active Self Protection, has an immense reach on social media, and more importantly, he is a man of faith, allowing him to draw a different community. Bringing this many new people to actively train is what we are all striving for in the firearms training community. Not only that, but the team at ASP, John Correia, Neil Weidner, Chief Marketing Officer/Instructor, Active Self Protection, and Stephannie Weidner, CEO/XO (Executive Officer) of Active Self Protection, built a sense of fellowship, and community that was both inclusive and welcoming. People interacted, and really got to know each other. I noticed a difference on the line immediately, while everyone was attentive, and open, the excitement to all the excellent information being presented was tangible. I think most instructors worked all 3 days, either teaching or assisting in classes, feeding off this infectious enthusiasm flowing through this conference.


Raising money for kids in need, teaching personal protection, and creating a new group of shooters is a success. There are so many people that contributed to this event, giving their time freely, and helping young men and woman improve their lives, let me thank each of you for your generosity. Shelley and I will look forward to attending this conference each year, and spending our time with all of you wonderful folks at this event.

“Virtue is its own reward. There’s a pleasure in doing good, which sufficiently pays itself.” ― John Vanbrugh


We hosted Dr. Sherman House of THE CIVILIAN DEFENDER

Hemorrhage Arrest Course with Dr. Sherman House of THE CIVILIAN DEFENDER
September 7, 2019

69995256_2386380154937855_6329189383639400448_nBrian: Medical training is arguably the most important training for everyone. Firearms are life saving emergency tools, for ourselves and others, but the chance of having to use a firearm is far less than having a medical emergency.

Sherman House teaches basic medical skills from his vast experience that can help you in an emergency situation. His course offers the skills of accessing and treating with a tourniquet, gauze, chest seal, and compression bandages. His open teaching style allows participants to ask questions, and receive an explanation that is easy to understand. Hands on training and scenarios give each person a chance to learn how to apply the techniques and tools for emergency first aid.

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Shelley: I have just celebrated my 32nd year in the medical field working in both the OR and non surgical private practice. As you would assume, I have a vast experience dealing with personalities and different learning approaches and I was very impressed with how Sherm was able to manage all the different levels of medical experience that his students brought to his class.

The morning was set in a “classroom” and the afternoon was “hands on”. The scenarios were fun, stressful, and really made people think about their actions AND reactions. In this 8 hour course he included visual, verbal, physical, and social learning styles which made it easy to learn and easy to retain. 

69641203_360296578259030_4558111983651520512_nThis self described style of MacGyver medicine prepares the average person to respond in a clear, and decisive manner when seconds matter! It’s a great class that could save a life and we plan to host Sherm again and again……….

Brian & Shelley




The price of preference

82704People like certain techniques, skills, and drills. Inversely they also do not like certain techniques, skills, and drills. How are these preferences started? Learning is often times uncomfortable, and failure is an important part of the process, but avoidance or neglect can become the easiest way to deal with these challenges. The more skillful we become in one area, the more likely we are to avoid areas of weakness, essentially making the gap between skills grow even larger. This cycle will continue until necessity requires us to change, and grow, often times with our ego on the line.

Recently, I competed at our local IDPA match at Ga. Firing Line with a mix of 30 competitors from novice to master level. The stage was limited (no make up shots), support hand only, one to the body, and one to the head, reload, and freestyle one to the body, and one to the head. The targets were mixed partials with one non threat, at 6 yards from the low ready.


The dread was palatable, and murmurs of discontent filled the bay. I heard every possible excuse, and watched a general lack of preparation for the stage. Many just accepted that they would struggle with this challenge. All of this would add up to a self fulfilling prophecy.

I, on the other hand, look forward to stages like this one, because I practice support hand shooting as part of my warm up, shooting 5-10 rounds on small circles. I also shoot qualifications that require dominant and support hand only shooting. I know the pace that I can shoot with one hand only, so I settled in to see the dot, and to shoot the available target area with confidence. When you practice areas of weakness they transform into areas of strength. The welcome feeling of my current level of skill manifesting itself in a timeless sensation, allowing me to just shoot the target. End result is one point down, at a pace that was neither quick nor hurried, allowing me the stage win. This an example of having range in your skill, exploring the fundamentals, and prioritizing the challenges of your skill set. Some shooters lost upwards of 20 points on a 12 round stage, because they had preferred not to shoot with their support hand in practice.

indexThe price of neglect, or avoidance is a lack of skill, which damages our self image of who we are as a shooter. Find your weakness, forget your preferences, and change your priorities in training. The rewards are competence and confidence, the bastion of a strong self image.


There is a great need in the firearms community for a less than lethal…

62518613_623181558189330_5930875808825475072_nThere is a great need in the firearms community for a less than lethal option in dealing with personal protection challenges. Knowledgeable instructors in the area of “use of force” for both less than lethal and lethal options are rare. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training & Consulting is experienced in both areas and is one of the few subject matter experts in the industry on the use of Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray). OC is an aerosol weapon that is an irritant (tearing of the eyes and takes away vision, causes pain and inflammation, burns lungs and causes shortness of breath) that causes no long term damage, allowing this unique tool to be appropriate for almost everyone. Chuck has diverse experience in law enforcement, both as an instructor and on the street, martial artist, and presenter. Shelley and I invited Chuck to come to GA to teach his OC Instructor Certification Course hosted by The Complete Combatant. We sold out both days and had 24 graduates.

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Chuck teaches a class at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference (Tac Con) called “Between a Harsh Word and a Gun”. This class perfectly underlines what most armed citizens face…what are your force options between these two extremes? OC fits this niche well, offering a less lethal weapon that allows you “to poke someone in the eye LONG DISTANCE” thus giving you a chance to break contact with a minimum of force. Few understand how to use OC, much less are qualified to teach it. Thankfully Chuck offers a course to help instructors develop the competence to teach this subject.


Chuck’s OC Instructor Certification Course is roughly 10 hours and offers an in depth  lecture on OC’s history, manufacturing, pros & cons, the different aerosol sprays, their uses, and effects. Managing unknown contacts (known as MUC from Craig Douglas of SHIVWORKS) with the use of inert trainers allows the participants to get some practice in application and see the differences between the several OC delivery systems.


Chuck is knowledgeable, articulate, and engaging in his teachings. He obviously enjoys teaching and it shows through his attention to detail, the class prep time involved and his interaction with his clients. Purely my opinion, but all firearms and martial arts instructors would benefit greatly from taking this class. Personal protection is about options, and OC is a good less than lethal tool. Anyone would benefit from learning how to use pepper spray, and would likely make a great entry level class in personal protection. I recommend you take this OC Instructor course to become a more rounded instructor.


Lessons Learned & Taught at Rangemaster’s Advanced Instructor Course

Tom Givens defined his expectation of success in this course in his opening statement as paraphrased, “ The goal of this class is to make someone else a better shooter”.

Advanced Instructor’s Course focused on the academics of training, shooting, target selection and scoring, and adult education. We all participated in different drills, test, and qualifications, but the primary object was also to instruct your partner. Diagnosing different shooting problems is challenging at this level, as most of the shooters range from competent to master level. Teamwork between the instructor and shooter is essential, therefore clear and precise communication is a necessity.


When I coach someone new, I watch what they are doing with my full concentration without a preconceived solution in mind. When I see what does not belong, or stands out, I ask a question such as “tell me about your support hand?” This allows the shooter to focus on the area of concern. Sometimes they can tell me in detail about the problem, but most of the time there is an apparent lack of understanding. Now we can communicate together, and work on a solution as a team. When the problem is solved together, we both share in the success. I find great joy in helping others, sometimes to the detriment of my own progress, but what is truly important is the clearly defined goal of success, “help others become better”.

I watched an extraordinarily good shooter overcome a continuing mental error, or self-fulfilling prophecy, after a brief talk about his skill level now, and following the process of shooting until finished. I could tell by his posture that he was fully engaged with the process, and of course this produced a perfect score. I immediately walked over to him and offered my congratulations. As we talked I reminded him that from this moment on, he is now in control of his shooting by following the process. This is the reason we teach, and I am grateful to Tom Givens for putting the focus on building good instructors.


This weekend was difficult for me personally, as I had suffered a groin pull, that left me unable to move without a cane and brace. After spending 6 months in a wheelchair after my motorcycle accident in the late 80’s, I have a real concern over being disabled. I followed my own advice, and focused on the process during class, allowing me to shoot consistently well. Ultimately, we must be a good teacher to ourselves, making corrections without emotional turmoil.

There are many great athletes that can shoot extraordinarily well, however that does not make you a teacher, instead putting the emphasis on helping shooters meet their goals of success above our own progress.

This class is called Advanced Instructor, and our emphasis must be on teaching and building better shooters. Thank you Lee Weems of First Person Safety for hosting this course. I enjoyed working with all the great shooters that are part of the Rangemaster family, and I look forward to my continued growth as an instructor.

“I am a VERY lucky girl” by Shelley Hill

I just wanted to share how lucky I am. I have had the opportunity to train with many outstanding firearms instructors. I would normally say “there are way too many people to mention” but that is not the case.

I would like to THANK a few special people who have helped me along the way. Obviously, there are many more influences and many hours of NON-fire education under my belt but today is all about the peeps on this list.

Lets start with Brian. Brian has been by my side every step of the way. This man is my best friend. My truth bringer. My adviser. My loudest cheerleader. My biggest reality check. My enormous support system. My love.


Brian and Sean introduced me to pistol and rifle classes back in 2011. Their positive instructing style and excellent coaching built the framework for me to WANT to continue down this path. Thank you Brian & Sean!

Training with Sawman was my first professional class outside of Brian and Sean. Thanks to Brian and Sean, my gear was squared away, I was a fanatic when it came to safe gun handling and if I had a malfunction I cleared it. My fundamentals were a work in progress but solid, I was managing my own ammo and making good hits. I was the only girl on the line for 2 days and I was very comfortable in my own skin. This was an amazing experience and I learned a ton! Thank you Saw!

Claude was the first coach to put me in a position where it was a “pass or fail”. He was very sneaky and a few years ago he invited me to the range to “be a student”, which in turn, would help him with a class he was putting together. Little did I know Claude had planned on running me through the NRA’s Defensive Pistol Qual from Pro-Marksman through Distinguished Expert! I PASSED and not only earned some patches but also gained confidence. Thank you Claude!

Lee. What to say about Lee? A couple of years ago I was working very hard to pass the FBI Qual and was pretty public about my experience. I had signed up for Lee’s Critical Pistol Skills and was excited to get some guidance from THAT WEEMS GUY! It was a hell of a day with shooting from near to far, fast and slow, movement and decisions. He then announces that the “end of day test” will be the FBI Qual. I just about cried NOOOOOOO! Well guess what? I PASSED! I later found out that the night before that class, Lee set all of his class notes to the side and REWROTE the entire curriculum to fit MY TRAINING NEEDS so I would pass that dreaded FBI Qual THAT DAY with him by my side. Lee now takes credit for being my best coach and teaching me everything I know! HEEEEE! Thank you Lee!


Now we come to Tom & Lynn. They have guided me and given me so many opportunities to grow. They are a huge support system that focuses on YOU being the BEST that YOU can be to protect yourself and your loved ones! I have made the Women’s shoot off at Tac Con 2 years in a row and when you see the genuine happiness that they feel for you, and your accomplishments, it will make you feel UNSTOPPABLE! Among other things….The Given’s are good for your soul. Thank you Tom & Lynn!

I had never thought this path would lead me to become an instructor but here I am. I have been helping Brian run the line, RSO and his AI for 4 years now. Carl has been my guide through all the NRA Instructors courses that I have chosen to take. I will share a little secret….I am dyslexic. I feel more comfortable shooting a qual than I do taking a written test. His knowledge of working with dyslexic clients made my experience so so so pleasant. Because of him, I feel like I might have the confidence to obtain additional Instructor Certs as well. Thank you Carl!

Tiffany & Aq opened their hearts, knowledge and range to me. They welcomed me into their class and opened my eyes to so many awesome ways to reach people. They solidified my want to help less experienced students get good solid training as their FIRST experience in a professional class. Thank you Tiff and Aq!

I want to circle back to Claude. As you read, a few years ago Claude invited me to help him on a class he was putting together. As it turned out, all those years ago he was building that class for ME TO TEACH! Brian, Claude and I have been teaching Personal Performance in March and October at our Dahlonega range for a couple of years now. This is a 3 hour class for women building accuracy skill sets and reaching personal goals. Our latest PP class was March 2019 and 2 weeks before this class Claude informed me that he built it for me, I was to take the head instructor’s role and he and Brian will assist me! EEEEKKKKK GHADS! This was an awesome experience and I am already working on my presentation for October’s PP!


Today is Wednesday, April 10th, 2019. Claude moved in with Brian and I a little over a month ago. This may be short or long term…either way, we are blessed. We laugh, we cook, we support, we do household chores, we solve the worlds problems but the best part of it all is that we are a family. The education I am receiving from Brian and Claude 24/7 has no price tag. I am a VERY lucky girl and yes, it’s OK to be jealous. HEEEE!

“The Mingle” 2019: Our Guest Speaker and Instructors (Part 4)

This is the last BLOG in my 4 Part series. I am crossing my fingers that you now know all about “The Mingle” but just in case….here is a refresher!

“The Mingle” is a weekend event held in North Metro Atlanta in May of each year. With the help of sponsors we lend a hand in helping women in the firearms industry gain knowledge through continuing education and meet MORE ladies in the biz.  What a fantastic opportunity to be able to “pick the brains” of the ones that paved the path before us and meet ladies who offer NEW ideas. The Complete Combatant offers a place for women to meet “like-minded” ladies and build relationships to support business, networking to expand contacts and to explore our own personal growth in business, tactics, self-defense, marksmanship, professions & MORE! These special ladies are all patriots that will influence, support, and fight for self-defense rights.

WOW WOW WOW! Where do I begin with telling you about our Guest Speaker on Saturday and our Guest Instructors on Sunday? I am pretty darn sure that I am waisting my time writing this BLOG because my guess is that EVERYONE reading this last BLOG knows who our guests are! I am the Indispensable Organizational Wizard so I will leave no stone unturned and no BLOG series unfinished!

47191720_1898766476837897_5110750313300623360_nOn Saturday, May 18th, 2019: Day 1 of “The Mingle” is all about “That Weems Guy“! Chief Deputy Lee Weems of First Person Safety will be presenting a “mini version” of his USE OF FORCE” seminar from 12:15pm-1:15pm.

Lee Weems is the owner and operator of First Person Safety. He has been a Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) certified peace officer since 1999 having been sworn at the local, state, and federal levels and has served as a patrolman, field training officer, detective, supervisor, and currently as Chief Deputy.  He served two terms as a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (GALEFI), and he teaches college classes in political science and criminal justice. Lee has many other notable firearms training and accomplishments so I invite you to visit his website for full details on his extensive training and instructing background.

On Sunday, May 19th, 2019: Day 2 of “The Mingle” is about about live fire training at our private range in Dahlonega! We are so very happy to have Brian Hill of The Complete Combatant, Lynn Givens of Rangemaster and Claude Werner aka The Tactical Professor each teaching 2 hour blocks on the subject of THEIR choosing.

43346163_1575317222615012_342081535531339156736_nBrian Hill is the owner and operator of The Complete Combatant and Fusion Fitness and Mixed Martial Arts. He is a Rangemaster Certified Instructor and has trained in Pistol, Rifle and Precision Rifle for many years as an instructor and a student. Brian has been invited to present a 4 hour block/live fire session of his “Practice and Refinement for the Armed Citizen” at Rangemaster’s Tac Con 2019. Brian has many other notable firearms training and accomplishments so I invite you to visit Brian’s bio for full details on his extensive training and instructing background.

10am-12pm Developing the Concealed Draw: Being able to present the pistol in personal protection is the crucial skill for the armed citizen. Developing a repeatable, efficient, and accurate draw stroke will be the focus of this block of instruction. How distance and target size change the arc of readiness during a self defense encounter. A holster will be required in class as a portion of this block will be dry practice and the rest will be drawing from the holster.

29313754_1021290938814tt1845_6584274590929780736_oUPDATE: the beautiful Lynn Givens is unable to attend due to medical restrictions from her doctor…limited travel at this time. YOU WILL BE MISSED AND WE WISH YOU GOOD HEALTH! Lynn Givens is co-owner and an Instructor of Rangemaster. Lynn started out as what we call a “motivated student.” Earlier in her life she was stalked and threatened by a mentally ill person who made a number of credible death threats against Lynn and others, including her son. She began taking self-defense shooting courses and was immediately hooked. Within seven months she became a Tennessee State Certified Instructor, going on to attend several hundred hours of training over the next few years. Lynn has many notable firearms training and accomplishments so I invite you to visit her website for full details on her extensive training and instructing background. 

12:45pm-2:45pm Triggers & Timing: The objective will be to learn how to use proper timing, as part of trigger control, in order to get good, solid hits in a timely manner. Only hits to a fairly small portion of the human torso will reliably result in rapid incapacitation. This fact, coupled with the fact that stress will increase the size of your shot group, means that we need to learn to hit a fairly small area without the luxury of extended time frames. To accomplish this, we will work on several drills designed to help you find the balance between hurrying up and getting good hits, which is mostly a matter of proper trigger manipulation. A holster will be required to secure the pistol during the class but in order to concentrate on triggers and timing, all firing will be done from The Ready.

44128991_870652916470517_7303497955u913236480_nClaude Werner aka The Tactical Professor‘s background combines extensive work in the military, self defense training, and white collar financial services communities. The eclectic experience base gives him a view of self defense equipment and techniques that is more attuned to the needs of people with median lifestyles than some segments of the industry. Claude is the Former Chief Instructor at the elite Rogers Shooting School, Certified as an IDPA Master in 4 different categories,  and obviously holds many Instructor Certifications in several different areas. Claude has many other notable firearms training and accomplishments so I invite you to visit his website for full details on his extensive training and instructing background.

3:15pm-5:15pm Close Range Precision Marksmanship: The requirement to deliver an accurate shot on a small target at conversational distance occurs regularly in Personal Protection incidents. This class will equip clients with the requisite skills and practice tasks that will allow them to feel confidence in their abilities to perform at the level required for such an incident. A holster will be required to secure the pistol during the class but the class will not require drawing from the holster.

Each year will be a tad different. We may have different speakers, different instructors, and different focuses but one thing that will ALWAYS be in common is NETWORKING and CONTINUING EDUCATION!

Any ladies in the firearms industry want to come? Follow instructions here

Brian and I are honored to have Lee, Lynn and Claude not only as guests but as dear friends. We are truly blessed.

See Part 1: The Mingle 2019, Part 2: The Nationwide Training Giveaway and Part 3: About Our Sponsors.