After some fun competitive shooting on Saturday, Sunday brought a change of gears, and gear, when Colleen and I, along with "Checkered Flag" attended the "Street Encounter Skills" course put on by John Murphy of FPF Training. This ten hour defensive shooting course is a refresher of sorts for FPF alumni. I won't go into explicit detail on everything we did in the class, in fairness to John and future students, but I will share some general impressions of the class.
The morning is spent watching a multimedia presentation. This well-researched presentation delves into critical topics of pre-violence indicators, the impact of stress, and most importantly, principles of avoidance and deescalation. After all, a gun is really a last option tool, and no responsible person wants to get into a gun fight, with the resulting legal and physical trauma associated with such an encounter. The numerous videos of actual assaults, and accompanying analysis, serve to drive home the point of the predatory nature of the criminal element, as well as the swiftness and violent nature of many attacks.
We started the range portion of the day reviewing fundamentals of shooting from concealment, and on the move. Not all the participants had practiced with their handguns recently, much to our instructor's dismay. After John was satisfied the basic skills were in place, or sufficiently refreshed, we moved on to the real meat of the class.
All of John's classes emphasize observation and vocalization before, during, and after a violent encounter. He is quite adept at inducing stress while playing the "voice" of a possible attacker. The student is expected to respond appropriately in an attempt avoid or deescalate, before moving to the use of deadly force if appropriate. Even though the situations are simulated and adapted to fit the "square range," the stress can be quite real. Failing to perform appropriately earns some correctional "love" from John. There were 10 students in the class, and John and his assistant Ryan constantly walk the line providing individual correction, and compliment, as warranted. There was certainly no lack of individual attention. John is very observant and can find, and help fix, any deficiencies.
Throughout the day we worked repeatedly on tactics to defend ourselves from violent encounters. We worked in both large and small groups. We did some drills "on the clock" to learn how quickly we could draw from cover, or move and shoot. Shooting on the move was a major component of the course. Many times we found ourselves performing, or underperforming, in front of the entire class. If the situation called for the use of deadly force, the after action often involved a simulated conversation with "Johnny Law." Near the end of the day we were put into scenarios, in pairs or alone, and armed with blue guns, to put the topics we'd covered to use in a real-world situation. During these exercises brings home just how much your brain has to process, and how easy it is to become complacent. I won't spoil the scenarios for future students, but I will say I was happy to have detected and engaged the assailant, but admittedly only after he got a lot closer than I am comfortable with. The exercise provided a lot of food for thought.
At the end of the day, we were tired and a bit sunburned. I had also developed a renewed confidence in my defensive awareness and shooting skills, but at the same time, was reminded the importance of ongoing training and practice. We only fired around 200 rounds during the class, which is about the same as average afternoon at the range. However, the mindset focus combined with purposeful shooting drills gives maximum benefit without putting extraneous rounds down range. I found the class to be extremely beneficial and well-worth the reasonable tuition.
This was the fifth day of training we've had with John Murphy over the past few years. We've previously taken the two day "Conceal Carry for Self Defense" and "Advanced Conceal Carry Tactics" courses. We've also attended a Self Defense Legal Course and a Defensive Shotgun course hosted by FPF. All of the classes are valuable for developing a defensive mindset and the accompanying skills. Obviously we're fans of the training offered by FPF and highly recommend the classes. We also strongly believe that ongoing quality training related to civilian self defense is important, in fact required, for anyone who chooses to carry a weapon for personal protection.