I love bad guy reps. That is, I love playing the bad guy in a training scenario. Think about it. We walk around most of the time in good-guy mode. When we consciously make the effort to think like a criminal would to achieve a better understanding of how we can improve our safety, we only temporarily break from our norm. We eventually make the mental way back to good-guy mode. Recently, I had the chance to audit Fieldcraft Training’s Personal Security Course here in Aberdeen, NC. I sat in and worked a packed women's course on Saturday and a co-ed course on Sunday taking notes and auditing the class for my colleagues. Dressed up in a full Blauer suit, I had the great fortune to participate in a scenario from the bad guy’s perspective. Not only did the suit provide protection from the sims rounds, strikes, and group attacks, it gave me a chance to see the good-guy side with bad guy eyes. Here are some key takeaways from the course that you should recognize and adopt into your own lifestyle.
Situational Awareness is Key
If you see a problem coming a mile away, you can easily avoid it. People who spend time on their phones and have digital blinders on won’t recognize a threat until it is too late for them to act in deterrence. Now, the extreme version of situational awareness is something reserved for Jason Bourne films and it is not practical for the average person. To be situationally aware, you need to know what you are walking or ,in some of our scenarios, driving into. Sometimes it makes sense to just walk away instead of engaging. As the bad guy, I watched when students exercised great judgment and put up a very clear hand from a distance away to halt my progress. I also watched when some students went to guns way too soon when my actions didn’t warrant deadly force. If you think you’re just going to burn down every person in a Blauer suit, you missed the detail in the course introduction when the instructor said “simply wearing a blauer suit is not a threatening act.”
Anomalies instead of Everything
An extension of situational awareness is the concept of looking for anomalies instead of looking at everything. Rather than looking at everyone normal and taking in all the details of their actions and attire, look for the anomalies that jump out at you. Think of any object you’ve seen countless times in your lifetime. You don’t have to look at all the subtle nuances of a dozen to find the one that is off. The same is true in this Personal Security course. Students were taught to run scenarios over and over to experience them before they happen. They were allowed to catalog these bystander reps and note what the anomalies were. One particular anomaly was proximity. Be aware of those who don’t recognize your space and look for ways they are entering it discreetly.
Timing is Key
Kevin Owens describes the job of the legal firearm owner responding to a threat along a timeline. If the responsible firearms owner draws their pistol too soon, they may be arrested for brandishing and they may elevate the person on the muzzle-side to act in defense of their life. If the responsible firearms owner draws their pistol too late or not at all, they could end up the victim hospitalized, assaulted, raped, murdered, etc. There is a very small window when the aggressor poses a genuine threat you are able to clearly articulate after the fact (saying too much and not asking for medical treatment and legal counsel is also another mistake by the way). As the guy in the padded suit, I was shocked to see some students make no hidden movements to stage their hand on their pistol. Other students caught me off guard when I didn’t notice their firearm out and hidden. Others still didn’t practice drawing from concealment and cover garments affected their draw strokes. Seeing the good guy fumble or succeed and then having a group verbal replay and dissection of what happened was very useful to all sides. Being on-time and proper with your action seems difficult but as the day went on, students became more comfortable and responded quicker with the appropriate actions.
Only Dance Partner
One of the sections of the course included a weapons familiarization. Students had a chance to see different options for home defense as well as personal security. These included impact weapons, chemical less-than-lethal tools, and firearms. One tendency the instructors drive home to students is the idea of the only tool brought to the fight. When firearms run out of ammo, or when you can’t properly address a malfunction, you are left with a club. If you decide to use a rifle to clear your house instead of a pistol and your opponent grabs the rifle, that’s the tool you brought. If an altercation requires violence but not lethal force, you should absolutely have a response other than using your firearm. I watched time and time again as students either went too big too soon or decided that running away to survive another day was best. Just like there is no such thing as a single martial art or fighting discipline to handle it all, it is good to have multiple options to draw from if needed.
As a role player, I followed a script of actions and was allowed to be somewhat flexible with my words. While my intentions were choreographed, everyday there are so many who “vote” with their actions and pay the consequences. This saying “he voted” came up over and over throughout the weekend with each scenario. Just as the role player is able to vote with actions, you have an option to vote with your actions as well. If you have a firearm, choose not to carry it, and something happens, you voted. If you draw your pistol and fire a warning shot because you were ill advised to, you voted and will probably be arrested. If you pull your pistol to stop someone from stealing your car with your baby inside, you voted and your “candidate” will probably win. Actions and inactions have consequences. I saw it from my perspective and have a few bruises and welts as proof.
Bad guy reps are valuable and I’ll take them whenever I can get them. Good guy reps are also important and the Personal Security course allows you to train in a semi-realistic way with a wide margin of safety. You can have discussions with loved ones about “if this happens, we’ll do XYZ” and you can also play the “what if” game. These practices will help you better prepare yourself than the person who is just a firearms owner and not trained yet. When you’re ready, we’ll welcome you to one of our courses where you can be part of the process of learning how to become a hard target and how to avoid confrontation or address it in the most effective way.