Photo courtesy of Dave Spaulding, Handgun Combatives
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“Charisma is not fact, scientific sounding, nonsensical jargon is not fact, having a great time on the range is not fact, feeling cool and looking good is not fact. The fact is if you get it wrong you could die…

“Your instructor has told you that actual conflict experience is not necessary? Gee…I wonder why? What I can say is their opinion does not trump my personal experience…” – Dave Spaulding in Your Opinion Does Not Trump My Personal Experience

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  1. Holdshen’s comment on the article was right on, IMHO. People don’t always know just why they “won” a lethal force encounter. Their actions may or may not have been what tipped the balance in their favor.

    It is hard, then, for their students who, presumably have even less experience than the instructor(s), to apply critical thinking to the taught techniques.

    I took Ayoob’s MAG40 class last month. While he has debriefed many cops who were in gunfights, he told us that he has never been in one. Still, it was a good course.

    Personally, I’d prefer to avoid a fight than get in one. Just sayin’.

    (I like the CAT, in training anyway. So far, I haven’t had to use it for realz.)

    • “I’d prefer to avoid a fight than get in one.” Good point; and, I think, the most important point for PotG to emphasize.

      Ultimately, we PotG target the preservation of the RKBA. No doubt about it; that’s the goal. Nevertheless, the path of least resistance is not NECESSARILY a frontal assault. Perhaps, it’s indirect.

      We who are already gun owners and especially carriers spend too much time ruminating over having just the right kit and tactics for a gun-fight. We ought to spend more time on two topics: avoiding finding ourselves behind the eight-ball in stupid places with stupid people who play stupid games; and, getting educated on the fine points of the law of using lethal force in self-defense.

      More importantly, I think, is the PR aspect. We would like to recruit more gun owners and especially carriers from the ranks of non-gun owners. I think that is EXTREMELY important. The 2A will not be safe until there is a strong majority of voters who will insist upon it being respected. Nevertheless, our lead invitation should not be: ‘Get a gun!’ NRA’s course: Refuse to be a Victim is the kind of place to START.

      The idea should be for non-gun-owners to become awakened to the fact that nearly ALL of them are vulnerable to the largest 1% of males who – even unarmed – CAN overcome them and inflict lethal violence. There is NOTHING that can change this simple biological fact. The most important thing for everyone is to avoid putting ourselves in vulnerable positions. Inside the home with unlocked or weak doors. Outside the home in dark or lightly trafficked places.

      Non-gun-owners should first and foremost begin to recognize PotG as desirous of advising them how to keep safer (NOT ‘Get a gun!’). Informing them that there is no such thing as being completely safe; they will always be more-or-less vulnerable. First, do things to become LESS vulnerable. Next, learn about measures that MAY help if – despite great caution – they are confronted by an attacker. What are the options, beginning with those that they will be most amenable to adopting

      A non-gun-owner who decides – for example – to carry pepper-spray will begin to “get it”. She will start down the path toward understanding why she is just a little bit safer “free riding” on the fact that others in her society are armed.

      There is a gradual progression to a gentle awakening:
      – when seconds count, dial-a-prayer is only minutes away
      – lock your door
      – reinforce your door jamb
      – carry pepper-spray
      – keep a shotgun in your bedroom
      – . . .
      Not a lot of people survive their first epiphany.

      • Agree.

        This also backs my reasoning behind national carry, not just national concealed carry either but a national acceptance of your states current laws.
        If I can carry all over PA, there is absolutely no reason I cannot do so in any other state. My life should not be up for argument. The reasons for carry go up exponentially once one leaves their home comfort area, the farther away you get from areas you know and people you can trust the more risk is presented.

        Yes, there are fantastic people all over the planet, but I don’t know which ones are which yet.

        National carry, National pride, National acceptance!

        Closing thought.
        When I drive my truck to another state, nobody stops me and asks me why I “need” a truck in their state.
        Instead, its, “oh, you have a license to drive a vehicle you own, carry on then……”

        I believe our founding fathers agreed with this, my stuff is mine, not yours to worry about.

  2. “Your instructor has told you that actual conflict experience is not necessary? Gee…I wonder why? What I can say is their opinion does not trump my personal experience…”

    Which “experience” would that be? The article was 75% discussion of tourniquets, then it somehow tried to apply experience with proper tourniquet technique (a conversation I remember way back to gaining by BSA First Aid merit badge) to “experience” needed to successfully do something unrelated. Bad analogy.

    If, if, the author of the linked article was trying to claim that intensive shooting experience is essential to survival, he is giving opinion, not fact (as the writer claims).

    Since we have no data regarding the level of shooting instruction acquired by all those tens of thousands of DGUs, we cannot make much of the data as regards the utility of formal training. Maybe every self-defender had years of Air Marshal type training; maybe they had none. Point is we do not know, and it is opinion, not fact, that “experience” with tourniquets is an exact surrogate for DGUs.

  3. Ignoring the TQ issue here: The author has a point… to a point.

    I agree that the “why” of tradition is a valid concept. Why are we doing this in this way? “Well we just are” or “That’s how it’s always been done” are not comforting answers when we’re talking life and death.

    However, I also have to point out that sometimes instructors don’t know “why” they just know that something works and works well and so they teach it. It is sorting out this shit that gets devilish. Some things just work and no one really bothers to figure out exactly why. No one bothers specifically BECAUSE whatever it is works so well that no one really cares why.

    Certain sweeps and trips work this way. Few see them coming, even trained combatants. Why? Who cares as long as the guy hits the ground right? I mean, the technique is SO basic that literally everyone with more than six months training knows it but its effective at Worlds (high level competition). WTF? But hey, roll with what works, right?

  4. It’s still just different opinions. Having a gun and being willing to use it “trumps” everything…

  5. So, someone who trains, let’s say, BJJ their entire life, earns the N’th degree black belt (I don’t know the rules or what in regards to the 5W’s), and could seemingly beat the ever living $#|+ out of you, is not someone I should learn from because they’ve never used it FOR REELZ to arm bar and dislocate a shoulder?

    I know this is about a goddamn TQ, but at some point, especially with how people get about being internet professionals, he should’ve given the guy a thumbs up for taking the time to acquire, learn how to use, and carry the damn thing. Spaulding makes reference to the 9vs45, both kill people when you shoot them in the face. One is not better than another. Application and skills will mean more in the end.

    Overall, his experience means dick when a CAT7 saves your life, or a RATS does. It’s a sample size of one, and it’s anecdotal at best.

    • It’s also worth noting that the only people who have extensive firearms combat experience are military, and much of their experience is not applicable to civilian defense. For example, how many combat hours have they clocked using a handgun opposed to a rifle or shotgun? Do they shoot for center mass, or do they prefer headshots to avoid armor and suicide vests?

  6. I’ve been in real gun fights. I’ve also put on lots of tourniquets on patients who were bleeding to death.
    In my actual experience, simple tasks, like basic communication, holding objects, moving zippers, putting on a tourniquet, or loading a gun, become oddly difficult when someone is trying to kill you.
    Also in my experience, training replaces fear and hesitation.

    • Even whe someone is not trying kill you these tasks can be difficult, stressors induce all kinds of speed bumps. Repetition and sound reality based, you nailed it.

    • Serious question jwt:

      Yet it seems that a certain subset of people just “get it”. I’m reminded of the guy who improvised a TQ at the Pulse nightclub shooting. He had no training but he knew how a TQ worked and just made one on the spot.

      How common do you think that is and where would speculate such an untrained and on-the-fly ability comes from?

      • I remember the guy at the Pulse nightclub. He was deservedly lauded for putting on a tourniquet and saving at least one life. I looked him up. His name is Joshua McGill, and it turns out that he had actually had quite a bit of training, and was a current nursing student. (Also note, just for training reference, that it took not one, but two improvised tourniquets to stop the bleeding. This is also what I’ve experienced.)
        You brining him up reminds me of the older gentleman that became famous in the last couple of years for defending himself and his wife in a drug store by a group of armed assailants. Everyone in the gun community pointed out how the gun made all the difference. No one followed up, but the local reporters did. The guy was a retired Marine infantry NCO. He had quite a bit of training.
        Same thing for the exCon who saved the trooper’s life. Again, it turns out that, after he got out of prison, he taken advantage of quite a few tactical courses, and shooting was his hobby.
        My point is, many of the folks we think are just out of the blue cool headed and effective are likely that way because they’ve had the right mindset, the right tools, and the right training.

        But there most certainly are people in the world like you are talking about. I sure as hell ain’t one of them, but I’ve met a few. I’ve found them to be exceedingly rare. Far fewer than 1 in a 100. I’ve met them from the country, and from the city.
        (And now, story time with uncle Jon) One of the coolest headed people I’ve ever met in my life was the Apache driver that saved my life in Afghanistan. Her name is Alicia. It was her first mission ever, she’d never seen a lick of combat. Young, and with zero experience. The firefight that saved my team, and destroyed her bird, was actually when she was flying her bird to her duty station, not even on a mission. Still, with rounds coming through her aircraft, and solo, she was cool as a cucumber.
        Where they come from, I have no idea. As far as I can tell, they don’t either.

        • JWT, she might have been so new she didn’t realize the shit that she was in! On of my first missions in VN, with an instructor in the right seat, the SHTF and I was busily putting in airstrikes on people while they were shooting at us, I rolled in to put down a smoke rocket with tracers flying past the windows, took careful aim and fired a lovely shot just as the instructor jerked the airplane away from me while calling me many impolite names and telling me to stop trying to get him killed! I was just acting like I was on a training mission in a safe area – like a fool, IOW. I realized he was right, and later learned that he had earned (but not yet been awarded) an Air Force Cross for a mission which was absolutely insane stupid, but saved a lot of Army lives. What I had been doing was trying to kill some folks, but the only friendly lives at stake were his and mine.

        • That’s awesome.

          I remember her coming so close to the ground that her tail rotor cut through some trees. There are no tall trees in Zabul province.
          The talibs were shooting at her with AKs, RPKs, and PKMs, not even 100 yards away from her. I remember yelling into the radio “Your’e Taking Fire!”
          Only to have her yell back “I KNOW!”

    • Stress Inoculation. Everything is harder under stress. The greater the stress, the greater the difficulty. Training by rote and repetition can help, some, but stress inoculation is the real ‘solution’, to the extent there is a solution to the degradation of skills under stress.

      Survive several gunfights and they start to get easier, but it’s expensive getting such experience, in so many ways.

      There is another option, one can cultivate a death wish, to the point that there is little stress to lethal threats, since death isn’t necessarily undesirable, but that’s generally either the end result of too much stress exposure, the recourse of an unsound mind, or the result of a lifetime of embracing a philosophy that embraces death as, if not desirable, at least inevitable and not to be feared.

      Ultimately, nearly everyone goes to the fight incompletely prepared. Training, equipment and experience are all compromises. That however does not suggest that it’s not worthwhile to attempt to optimize each, to whatever degree seems desirable given the circumstances.

      These discussions always seem to me to devolve into perfect being the enemy of good.

      Inexperienced people sometimes don’t get it, and unserious people don’t suddenly become serious when TSHTF.

      I think JWT has it right here though; you can’t have it “too” good when it counts, and what seem like minor quibbles or inane, pedantic arguments about technique, training or gear are neither inane nor pedantic when the most basic skills are a monumental challenge and even the simplest tasks begin to seem Herculean, and the consequence of failure or delay is death, for you or yours.

  7. Everything that comes out of “name brand” instructors’ mouth is marketing. It is being said for no reason other than to signal to potential paying students why they are worth more money or attention than another instructor. This article is the same.

    That said, some of them do have valuable experience and can offer some significant skill improvements for the money they are demanding.

    Yet, I have encountered many LEOs and Military vets, some taking money as “instructors” that have survived numerous gunfights, but cannot shoot and have shit tactics, nor are they able to actually transfer any skills (good, bad, or otherwise) to a student.

    Having been through extensive high level government tactics and firearms training myself, and having managed to avoid having to shoot people on several occasions, I find it ridiculous that “I’ve shot people and you haven’t, so I’m right and you’re wrong” is an argument that is given any press by industry media. More so in the era of “we must make empirical decisions and not base our gear, training, or tactics on popular trends alone” that someone can get away with dismissing all other data based on that same “well, I’ve shot people, so…” argument.

    Bottom line: Instructors need to quit virtue signaling to potential paying customers. Just shut up, and teach. The idiots that make up the customer base of the “tactical training” industry only pay to play dress up, and be able to tell people how great “their” instructor is, anyway, not for real skills.

    • Generally, if you’re trying to get people in the door, to teach them, you have to market yourself, maybe even advertise. Ya know, maybe then people can come pay you to learn things. The problem isnt dumb people, it’s the lack of “buyer beware” training that you used to get as a kid. Dumb people have always been here, always will.

      To say that everyone looking for tac training is just looking to play dress up is a MIGHTY big statement. There actually are people who want to have skills, maybe a different way to look at things. I guess I’d be one of those people you speak of.

      Every 3000 miles, I also play dress up as a mechanic, and change my own oil. Never mind I sought the knowledge from an actual mechanic, learning to do brakes, hoses, belts, and other maintenance so I can be better and have better. (I even asked what tools were better than others, since, he might know more than I do about it)

      • I agree with you for the most part but I can’t stand those instructors who act like their one technique will work 100% of the time. Like saying using a weaponlight as a last resort as a “stand off device” isn’t a viable option since X technique will always suffice. People propagate that then find out the hard way since the attacker(s) has input. For example, one method of shooting from retention will generally work until you’re in a situation where it doesn’t.

    • Agreed. There are some good folks out there training and teaching, but the last few years it seems like everyone and their uncle are starting up training schools. With that many there are bound to be some that are all hype. I made it a point when I was teaching a handgun carry class to stress the legal aspects of self defense and to avoid gunfights by being aware of surroundings, avoiding potential threats, etc, etc. I felt that was more important to spend time on rather than me extolling my awesomeness as a super bad ass (I’m not). Good training is a worthwhile endeavor.

    • I strongly agree that in SD situations (among others) effective training, proper equipment and mindset can allow you the ability to not shoot people who otherwise may have been shot. This alone is good enough reason to train and choose gear wisely.

      • “… proper equipment and mindset can allow you the ability to not shoot people who otherwise may have been shot. ”

        Do we have any formal analysis of the number of defensive shootings (not just DGUs) where an un-highly trained gun user shot innocent people while defending themselves? This is where the “problem” exists; no correlation or definitive relation between training of non-combat/police in firearms use for self-defense, and the number of innocent victims generated during an actual defensive shooting. All of which renders all the discussion of the need for formal, or intensive “training” for the purpose of self-defense mere opinion/speculation/projection.

        The false premise in the article is that because one actually needs to know how to properly use a tourniquet, then one must also be properly trained in firearms in order to prevail in a defensive shooting situation. Apples-Oranges.

        Firearms training is not necessarily a bad thing, neither does training seem to have any provable connection to successful self-defense shootings. It is all just caliber wars in another cloak. Successful use of a tourniquet is another matter altogether.

  8. I carry a 3 foot long Burmese Python in my pants. My opinion is, when need be wrap it around the extremity bang the Python on the head a couple times and it will do the squeezing

    • You are wrong and your opinion sucks carry a king snake. Less weight per foot translates to more wraps per pound. Its alo froven they exert more pressure in their squeeze than pythons. Also they are domestic so buy American

      • With a King snake, results are better if you rub some mouse smell around the neck you want squeezed…

  9. People who “know” things so they can feel better about themselves aren’t much help in wrangling the really real world. They aren’t much interested in argument or evidence, either. “What you claim doesn’t work.” has less than no impact on them. Correctness and its tools are irrelevant.

    Feeling, observation, hunch, notion, speculation, hypothesis, story, theory, natural law, revealed truth, mathematical certainty. How sure are you? How widely does it apply? How do you determine what’s correct Scales of ‘knowing” and it depends on what’s this ‘knowing” for?

    Plenty of people are very sure because it makes them feel good: what they’re sure of and the being sure. “Sure” doesn’t even mean “based on something” or “predictive.’ It means it feels good to believe. They’ll look for places to apply their certainty, because they always want another hit: Smug Certitude — the one thing more addictive than crack. The anti-people design their messages and practices to attract the addictable, and feed the addiction — just a theory…

    For this purpose, “knowing” isn’t for wrangling the world — the hit is being more right and righteous than that (perhaps, “deplorable”) other guy. It work. Facebook made Lizard-Man-Zuck a kajillionaire handing out these frissions.

    If you get your “hit” from something working out as you understand — say showing your hand gun warning of some whack-job stalking you, though the CDC won’t count that as a DGU, and probably wouldn’t report it anyway — a “better” way of knowing tracks the world better. You are competent; a good human. You get your hit from that.

    Erode competence as a source of those “good human” payoffs, and everybody’s left with feeling comfortably smug as the only kind of human-kibble they can get. Train them up that the treats come through the optic system, unprocessed, and 10 seconds is too long. Anything that takes engaggement, slower thought, or savoring is left behind. Molasses is really, really yummy, but you have to stick with it for a minute. (Shiro-san’s albacore nigiri: you order and wait; then it arrives; sit and look for a moment; appreciate what’s there; settle yourself to meet what’s coming; lift one piece; then the consuming, consuming; bask in the afterglow for a moment; then the second piece while the echoes of the first still linger; sit still for a minute after. The anti-pringle experience.)

    We all learned in high school science class: first you draw the curve, then you plot the data. That’s how you get your “one of us” validation. Your “experiment”, “proved” the right thing. Good citizen.

    Any resemblance of this approach to the anti-people political movements is purely a coincidence. That’s the party line, anyway. Say that and they’ll scratch you behind the ear.

  10. Training makes you trained, it doesn’t make you good. Captain Herbert Sobel was suburbly trained and would been a failure in actual combat Self Defense happens in the 6″ between your ears.

      • ‘Band of Brothers’ did a huge disservice to that guy. The Toccoa men readily admit that Easy Company wouldn’t have been near as good and prepared without him driving them in training.

        Among many other things the military relies on a ‘cult of personality’. Patton, Ike, Churchill( who was probably the least capable of all the big ww2 leaders, with the exception of the axis leadership) all had loads of personality.

        Courtney Hodges had none. Yet his army took more territory and more axis prisoners than Patton’s 3rd army. How many of you have heard of hodges?

        Sobel had no personality. It doesn’t follow that Sobel was superbly trained. But he was a superb trainer.

        • Sobel had the same training as every other Paratrooper. And I agree he was a supurb trainer. He would be better served by being left behind at Benning as Cadre. Then he could have been my dad’s CO. They were both Chicagoans. My dad was a prewar regular and a plank holder in the 505th. The Army saw fit to leave him behind to train others.

      • That Herbert Sobel who was relieved of command of his company for incompetence.

        FYI. You got a Bronze Star for surving. My Uncle Phil hot one and never acknowledged it since he didn’t do anything special beyond a couple of purple hearts and a CIB

        • “FYI You got a Bronze Star for surving”
          Is that what the narrative on the commendation said, or are you just talking out of your ass?

        • What was I wrong about?
          I’ll ask again, what did Sobel’s narrative say, or are you just denigrating a dead man who served our country purely to be an ass.
          Who’s credentials are you doubting?

        • What we have here is a failure to man up

          It is a manner of record that he was relieved of command for incompetence. You can have Medal of Honor level courage and be unfit for command. Nothing I said denigrated his personal dedication and courage.

        • I never said he wasn’t relieved of command. For some reason, although you have never served, you chose to insult a man who you have never met, who fought for our country. Why you would continue to insist on denigrating a dead man who earned the combat infantry badge and a bronze star is beyond me.
          You failed to answer my simple question a couple of times now, so I will have to assume that you in fact just pulled your opinions out of your ass. I see that you also failed to answer my question of what exactly you think I was wrong about. Then again, maybe you finally learned to keep your mouth shut when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • People serve in different ways Sparky. I had a 30 year career in the Intelligence Community and only 1/3 as a bureaucrat. And no, I wasn’t Bond because that guy doesn’t exist. However, what we learn in the way of personal protection is far more useful here in the normal world then anything you learned in the military.

  11. this would have been a great title for the recent story about the man who survived the bear attack. A lot of armchair quarterbacks telling him how he could have done it better, but at the end of the day he was the one who managed deal with a FTF while being chomped on by a bear…and lived to tell the story. Opinions are like poop chutes, everyone has one.

  12. After due consideration if “experience” is the sole criterion for competency then the only people who meet it are combat infantrymen. An unlucky LEO might make it to two gunfights in a career and there way to tell if success or failure is skill or just luck. However, military rules of engagement are so alien to the civilian experience that combat experience might be worse than no experience. The benefit of military training is mind set not gun skills. Back to the 6″ between the ears.

      • That relates to what I said how?

        Intelligence operations also have rules of engagement to. Ask Mike Furlong what happens when cross the boundry between Title 10 and Title 50.

        • “.. military rules of engagement are so alien to the civilian experience”…
          That’s just another asinine statement from someone who clearly has no idea what they’re talking about. Military Rules of Engagement vary wildly. Sometimes they mirror the civilian experience. Sometimes they do not.

        • I know f-ing more about ROE then some low level squady like you. My job was so far above your pay grade that you couldn’t see it with the Hubble. I worked with guys like Mike Nagata, Tom Mathews and Mike Vickers. Know who they are sparky?

        • vickers was an obama appointee. You were fetching coffee for the guys trying to destroy our country.
          That ‘low level squady’ crack speaks volumes about you. None good.

        • Actually, I met Vickers went he was DASD for special ops and low intensity conflict during the Balkans. We were using one of his contractors, the aforementioned, and highly disreputable Mike Furlong. And Mike Vickers was the guy who was brokering arms for the Mujahedeen in the 1980s. And yeah he was my boss when I retired. Vickers was an actual SOF guy as oppose to Taylor.

        • Just remember this td. Alvin York was a ‘low level squady’. As were the guys that carried that flag up Suribachi. You smeared a lot of real heroes with that crack.

        • Defending your hero are you? But you forgot context. Rules of engagement are set at my level not the Alvin York level. That’s what our resident E was speaking to. And this all started with my stating the obvious fact that Sobel was relieved of command for cause and Taylor taking exception, Well Mike Vickers served every Adminstration from at least Carter through Obama. He contributed more to the defense of this country than most Americans. So in attempting to uphold Taylor’s feigned indignation you did more to denigrate Mike’s service than I did Sobel.

          And get a clue, I can see how someone would not know who Tom Mathews or Mike Vickers was but anybody who is anybody at any rank who doesn’t know Mike Nagata is then that person has had nothing to do with special operations forces. I am sure Taylor has googled it by now but if he wants to reclama he can tell where might Nagata was from 2002-2005. It’s not in his Wikipedia entry.

        • You’re clueless enough to have been in intel. I said nothing to defend JWT. He’s capable of that on his own.

          Your arrogant and clueless handling of a simple statement that basically insulted everybody that has served their country below the rank of general speaks for itself.

          You’re that guy in the pentagon that basically fetched coffee and served as a door stop and now you want to hint at your great field experience in the shadow world. And in so doing you got roped into an argument with a ‘low level squady’ and showed an amazing lack of class by insulting all the brave men that have fought for our country that didn’t wear high rank.

          But you keep digging. The rest of us are ‘truly impressed’ with your name dropping and obvious talents for intel work. LMFAO.

        • God almighty Gecko45 got a name change.

          I’ve also come to see that anyone who uses the term “special ops” is typically full of shit.

          What do I know though I’m just a low level squady.

  13. Personal ‘experience’ sounds an awful lot like ‘personal anecdote’ which is worth only slightly more than an uninformed opinion, and decidedly less than an opinion backed by evidence beyond personal experience.

  14. While there’s no substitute for experience, getting that experience can have a tremendous price. I’m thankful I don’t have to get that sort of experience regularly but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be as ready as possible just in case I need to pop my cherry.

  15. Every situation is different, and every person has their own way of dealing with it. Having said that, I’ve had a lot of first aid training and experience, particularly in the Army where I dealt with everything from gunshot wounds to serious burns, but the best advanced trauma response training was from one of the medics while doing Personal Security detail work in Iraq. He taught us from the perspective of a well trained field medic and someone with a great deal of experience. He firmly felt that there training was important, but all the training in the world wasn’t a substitute for practical and successful experience.

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