Freedom seeds

Sometimes I jokingly refer to shooting bullets as planting freedom seeds, but how do we plant the seeds of freedom? Maybe it can be through offering beginner level shooters THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON….THEIR FIRST.

I designed The Complete Combatant’s live fire classes to “build upon” each other starting with Pistol Essentials and then moving onto Beyond Pistol Essentials for the intermediate to advanced level shooters.

47296390_396609047748072_7530956468971896832_nDecades of professional teaching can make it is easy to lose the connection to how a beginner thinks and feels and teaching our newest class called Entry Level Pistol Essentials was a unique change of pace. Taking a group of inexperienced shooters through terminology, safety, medical, and fundamentals for their first time was a gratifying, and enlightening experience.

47325043_1977957022291959_4376841076447641600_nIt is quite easy to forget how nervous you feel as a beginner before you shoot, the mystifying terminology that is the language of firearms, and the demanding nature of marksmanship. Shelley and I watched these new shooters courageously tackle each lesson, one step at a time, celebrating their successes.

47326447_1988462081454692_7305599874253193216_nWe taught the lesson I wish I had received when I started shooting, that the fundamentals are the path to shooting well, moreover, you can understand them, and in addition you can correct your technique as you practice. Self empowerment through learning should be the focus of every teacher, furthermore that we are a team solely focused on your progress.

47352524_517032162144245_643249448395839898876_nWe must encourage the new shooter to grow our ranks, in both the shooting sports and personal protection, planting new seeds of freedom for the second amendment. Make your new year’s resolution to take someone shooting for the first time and make it the lesson we all wish we had when we started shooting.




Modern Samurai Project AAR

Modern Samurai Project AAR

November 10-11, 2018

South River Gun Club: Georgia46011101_10215521591966078_3173339326838734848_n

I made two goals this year. To work on my speed, and to explore the red dot. When I found out Scott Jedlinski was coming to Atlanta, I knew it was a perfect time to take his course. This class focuses on learning to use carry optics, additionally, how a shooter can improve their fundamentals using a competitive methodology and metrics.

The curriculum focuses on shooters that have achieved basic proficiency with firearms and wish to improve to the next level of skill whether defensive or competitive. What truly makes this class stand out is not just the technical skills, but Jedi’s coaching. Every shooter gets coaching and individual attention. All the drills are broken down into micro drills, in addition each student is checked for proper performance. Honest corrections are offered, and so is praise when earned. There is no doubt Jedi wants you to improve. His endless enthusiasm for progress is infectious. I watched 13 shooters improve in a quantifiable manner. Everyone’s limitations were stretched, creating an environment of dynamic growth. Explain, demonstrate, drill, correct or affirm, then test the skill with each evolution building upon the previous exercise. Jedi enjoys teaching and connecting with his clients, which creates a teamwork environment. Many times when a shooter overcame a limitation, the class would spontaneously applaud and offer encouragement.


I have personally had quite a few coaches in my life, and I classify the good ones in these three categories:

  1. Technical/analytical – this type has the ability to observe and break down the execution of skills, developing a comprehensive approach to performance.
  2. Empathic/intuitive – this style seems to be able to see through your eyes, understanding the performance and offering a sound logical and/or emotional framework for improvement.
  3. Leader/motivator – this style makes you want to perform with a desire to not let the coach and/or the team down.

All three are important, serving the client well at different points of training, but the one to look for is the coach that has all three traits. Jedi displayed all three of these traits while teaching, which profoundly influences the clients’ ability to learn. One of the shooters in class wants to earn a turbo pin (Gabe White’s performance goals). Jedi took him aside during a break to work with him one on one, so he can achieve his goal. That is a deep level of commitment to the client, unfortunately somewhat rare in classes. Another contributing factor is Jedi is a martial artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In my opinion, I think the martial arts coach faces a different set of challenges in the force on force environment, and it may lead to a better connection to their athletes and helping them achieve success.

If you’re interested in red dots and/or competition, I highly recommend this class. As a coach, I need to know how to use a red dot and how to solve problems for my clients. My goal was achieved, in addition, I definitely made progress as a shooter and a coach.


Great fellow shooters, excellent coaching, and discernible progress is what you get with this class. Thank you to our host Jason Fobart, who did a great job organizing this event. Check this class out, and get ready to improve!

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Marcus Aurelius

Hidden benefits

Competition is a divisive topic in the shooting world. While certainly not for everyone, there are some hidden benefits that are not often discussed.


As a coach in multiple martial disciplines, I have observed the following benefits:

  • The skills necessary to compete must be evaluated. Draw, transitions, accuracy, speed, shot calling, and movement will need to be identified as a strength or weakness.
  • Measurement of the skills is necessary for improvement. How long does it take to perform a skill? Can I hit the target at a difficult distance? Can I shoot from different positions? Can I call my shot?
  • Planning and scheduling for practice becomes a priority. Focusing on up coming competition encourages daily practice.
  • Visualization programs the mind to perform competently and efficiently. Creating a mental vision of the necessary skills and strategies the required for the match.
  • Competition is a measurement of your actual skill. You will perform at the level of skill you have earned in practice.
  • Letting go of things you cannot control. The only control you have is over yourself, therefore let go of trying,and just perform. Everything else is out of your control.
  • Self reflection and the scores give you a baseline of successes , lessons learned, and a plan of action to improve weak areas.
  • A true comparison of skill against other competitors. If your training program is working you will see improvement relative to your level of commitment.
  • Emotional fortitude is essential. Developing perseverance and detachment in the face of performance pressure is the greatest gift of competition. A feeling of empowerment and self-control that are accessible in your daily life, enabling you to meet adversity with self-reliance.

preparation-is-the-keyThe competition is not as important as the preparation. Competitors measure and train, cyclically, preparing for the best performance and mastery of their skill. Changing your thinking process, planning and designing an effective training program, with a confident evaluation of the actual skill level is the benefit of competing. The defensive shooter would be well served by adopting a similar training process, even if they do not compete. Training is its own reward!

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Marcus Aurelius


In a nut shell…REFER & ATTEND Tiffany Johnson’s NRA Women on Target clinic!

Hi all. I just wanted to share a few things about my weekend spent with Tiffany Johnson of Front Sight Press, Aqil Qadir and their NRA Women on Target clinic.

On Friday, October 12th I drove about 3 hours to Murfreesboro, TN, which is just outside of Nashville, and joined Tiffany and Aqil for an awesome steak dinner and even better conversation.

On Saturday morning I attended their NRA Women on Target clinic held at Aqil’s facility called Citizens Safety Academy. This was a great place, easy to find, plenty of parking and you can tell they take extra time to set up the classroom specific to the course being taught that day. Tiffany lined up extraordinary assistant instructors (AIs) Aqil Qadir, Marvin Smartt and Sherman House to assist her for the day. This was a SOLD OUT class with a total of 10 ladies. If my memory serves me right, I believe there were 6-7 ladies in this class that had never fired a shot….ZERO firearm knowledge. It was a mixture of all ages and levels but everyone had one thing in common…..TO LEARN!


I will skip a “step by step” play of the day so I have plenty of time to hit the highlights. I feel these photos speak for themselves of Tiffany’s attention to detail, stellar presentation and successful day!

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Tiffany left NOTHING out of her classroom presentation. The PowerPoint was a mixture of stunning images, movement and information. It was modern, easy to follow and she was outstanding on her delivery and answering questions. She went over everything that was required of her by the NRA and MORE! Remember that this was a FIRST experience with firearms for over half the class and many were apprehensive and even a bit scared. Tiffany was able to put their minds at ease through the depth of her knowledge and her own confidence, mixed with a bit of humor. This is a sign of an outstanding teacher.


The drive to the range was beautiful and upon arrival you could tell their attention to detail was not overlooked in the firearm’s portion either. They had a table for each student and the AIs worked like well oiled machines putting up targets, they went over the medial plan, safety rules and expectations were re-visited. Once again, the experience of this team was impressive to say the least.


We started our range experience with dry practicing the fundamentals (including loading mags, seating, chambering, etc) and some “one on one” time with an instructor. This not only helped the ladies with grip, trigger, sights and follow through BUT it helped them understand range verbiage, safety expectations and to trust what they are learning. All the while the coaches were watching and making mental notes on all the important details including how to help each student best. We shot everything from 3 yards, everyone followed directions and everyone learned much.

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Tiffany concluded the day with some awesome closing statements, thanking her AIs and students for spending their day in the beautiful TN mountains and solid recommendations to continue training/practicing.  They handed out Certificates of Completion and awarded 2 students the honors of the Top Shot Award and the Conqueror Award, which brought many smiles and hugs from classmates.

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It was a fantastic day and I cannot recommend this team of coaches enough. Oh, one more thing to add before I publish this, I paid for this class. Tiffany had no idea that I was going to participate until the registration came through. I went because I wanted to. I wrote this because I wanted to. It was an outstanding clinic and more people need to know about it. Enough said except…in a nut shell…REFER & ATTEND Tiffany Johnson’s NRA Women on Target class!

Shelley Hill



Here’s your chance…

So here is something different. I was asked to host a live fire class at our Dahlonega range in North Georgia for 12 guys. You would assume, as I did, that it would be a basic shooting class like our Pistol Essentials class. Surprisingly no, it was not for that reason AT ALL!

42961487_2366085996740285_2053463669974499328_n                                                                                   ^ Groom ^

It was for a bachelor party. The goal was bonding, memories, and to offer a unique and memorable “pre-wedding” experience. The Groom is alumni and is from GA but most others in attendance were from the Northeast, New Jersey, and Maryland. With a couple of exceptions , they did not own a firearm, nor did they have any experience with shooting. Daunting to say the least, but also a great opportunity to introduce shooting and safe gun handling to a new audience so here was my chance to make a good “first time shooting” impression!

As always, we started the day making sure waivers and registration forms were completed, moved onto the safety briefing, and then the medical plan which definitely had their undivided attention. You could see that this caused a bit of concern for the first timers with an “Oh crap, what the hell have a got myself into” facial expression.

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Being immersed in the gun culture, I realize that most of what we teach can be intimidating to the new client. Loading a magazine, or manipulating a slide is a challenging experience for the uninitiated. I started everything in this class from a table start and skipped any holster work completely. We did a great deal of dry practice, forming a base knowledge of how to manipulate the firearm. The fundamentals of grip, trigger, sights, and follow through were the focus of the day. Using the teaching methodology of “explain, demonstrate, practice, and test“, you could easily see that their progress was steady and verifiable. Three hours later everyone was shooting with an acceptable level of competence. They shot a short match on the timer, testing their progress, and I was very pleased to pass out “The Complete Combat Ant” patches to the top three shooters of the day.

As an instructor, you get the privilege of seeing a client’s confidence rise and smiles on faces with a job well done but rarely do you get see so much excitement and enjoyment from an ENTIRE GROUP of shooters, however this was a new and unique experience for most of them. This class had started with a great deal of apprehension, however we finished with new-found confidence. Several clients said that they enjoyed the experience so much that they are going to go to the range when they returned home. Hopefully this changed their perspective, viewing shooting in a more positive light.

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We must use the approach of “winning hearts and minds” allowing others to experience the world of shooting. Never forget we are the emissaries of the shooting world, we must conduct ourselves as such. Never miss an opportunity to work with new shooters as this may be their only chance at a good “first time shooting” experience!


“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.