Dennis Kennedy runs the Counter Terrorism Institute of America (video above). According to the company’s combat-terror.com website, David’s “served in the military as an Army Special Forces weapons NCO, Military Police SRT Instructor and Air Force Security Forces SRT Leader. As a Peace Officer, he worked in Utah and California depts. where he served in patrol, jail, vice, warrants and K9. He is a Utah POST certified Instructor as well as certified NRA Law Enforcement Patrol Rifle Instructor. He is also certified as an Instructor in Taser, OC, Defensive Tactics, Impact weapons and PPCT and Explosive Detection Dog Handler.” Awesome. Here’s my problem . . .
Live fire training is an inherently dangerous business, what with bullets whizzing about and all. The more variables you introduce into that training—additional people of various skill levels, difficulty in visual or spoken communication, rough terrain, limited visibility, physical discomfort, etc.—the more dangerous it becomes.
With that in mind, there is no ‘effing way I’d participate in the session shown above. The trainer could be the reincarnation of General George S. Patton. My classmates could be the Navy SEALS who took out Osama Bin Laden. It wouldn’t make any difference. I simply wouldn’t take that risk. I’d walk away. Fast.
But then that’s me. Plenty of new and even advanced shooters do exactly as they’re told in training situations, no questions asked, no matter what. They surrender their safety to their instructor both out of reverence and fear of looking like a pussy.
That’s understandable if you’re in the armed forces, where your life and livelihood depend on your ability to submit to authority and get along with your mates. It can be genuinely life-threatening if you’re not.
In a winter exercise like this, a fellow shooter could slip, fall and shoot you dead. You could slip, fall and shoot yourself dead. In another training class, well, anything.
There are only three possible relationships between humans: lead, follow or get out of the way. As a civilian taking firearms training never forget the last option. If you see something you consider unsafe, say something. If the trainer rips you a new you-know-what for daring to question his or her authority, walk. If they fail to correct the problem, walk.
You don’t have to sign a liability waiver to know your safety is your responsibility. Remain skeptical about any live fire exercise and remember to take that responsibility with deadly self-aware seriousness. Your life depends on it.