By: James Yeager
I frequently get calls and e-mails vaguely asking, "What will I learn in this course?" The prospective student really doesn’t know what question to ask or what the right answer should be if they hear it. I have often sent people to other training schools after realizing the student wants to learn something in which my school, Tactical Response, doesn’t specialize. I am writing this to help students make a more educated decision about which course to purchase and from which school.
Shooting and other defensive courses (knives, hand to hand, etc) can teach you in three distinct areas. They are mindset, tactics, and or skill. Many schools primarily teach skill based courses (how to shoot better) and their military and police customers love it because they don’t want to hear the other aspects because they think they have that part under control. If you are a competition shooter this is a good place for you to train because you can spend the entire time learning how to shoot better and faster. Schools that do this well are typically noted for the Spec-Ops types who frequent the establishment. You can expect to shoot in excess of one thousand rounds per day.
Tactically oriented courses typically don’t have a tremendous amount of live fire. They are more interested in teaching you proper tactics i.e. movement, use of cover, communication, team tactics, and other strategic elements of winning a lethal force encounter. You can expect to see "force on force" scenarios using Code Eagle, UTM, Simunitions, or Airsoft training weapons where you actually learn to shoot at other human beings. This is the cutting edge stuff in my opinion. It is FAR more valuable than standing exactly in front of your paper target and shooting it. However you must understand proper marksmanship before Tactics training is of much value other than scaring you into taking a Skill only based class.
Mindset covers your mental self, and more importantly your spirit as it relates to fighting. This is typically lecture that stimulates thought and motivates the student to do more than the average gun owner. Jeff Cooper pioneered this area of teaching and his information is the foundation of every schools philosophy. Typically covered are issues like alertness, aggressiveness, your coolness under pressure, ruthlessness (yes that is a positive thing when you are fighting for your life), decisiveness, etc.
A Fighting Mindset is the most difficult thing to get students to understand and implement. It takes a gifted teacher to awaken and motivate student’s drive and commitment. We have many students who can carry guns legally but don’t. Off-Duty Cops and Civilian Carry Permit holders are, as a whole, a lazy bunch of folks. They will come and shoot in the course but not carry a gun daily. When I learn the secret of how to unlock people’s minds and make them realize they might be next, I’ll be a millionaire. Find a school that cares about you personally, and whether or not you live, after you leave.
The question you need to ask yourself is "What am I trying to accomplish?" Do you want to defend yourself, family, and home? Would you just like to get a higher score at the next IDPA match? Or you may ask yourself a series of questions. But knowing what you want to be able to do, or be on the road to being able to do, is the answer to your question and should be the basis for making your decision.
The next obvious question is what does Tactical Response teach? Depending on what class you are referring all our classes emphasis a "fighting mindset" and the methods taught, even in our skills based courses like Advanced Tactical Pistol, lend themselves to being a part of your defensive toolbox. None of our courses are purely shooting; there is nothing wrong with those courses. It is just not our specialty. We teach the good guys (Police, Military, and Honest Citizens) how to kill bad guys.
There is one last thing I want any prospective students to know. If you won’t be carrying a gun for defense either as a Citizen, Police Officer, or Soldier or you won’t be using a gun in your home for protection of yourself and or your loved ones we want you to train somewhere else. We don’t need you wasting our time. We have an important mission training serious students. We don’t need you slowing us down. Go play somewhere else.
So essentially the decision is yours. Mindset? Tactics? Skill? Talk to the prospective Instructor and ask him what his courses offer and compare that with what you want to learn.