Archive for Uncategorized

From my Column: The Firearms Corner

Warrior! The word has caught on in everyday speech and has been applied to sports figures, articles of clothing, martial artists, military personnel, cops, and even various figures involved in peaceful activities. But, what is a warrior?

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Warrior: a man engaged or experienced in warfare; broadly: a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.

I believe that almost all cops, military personnel, and others would agree that we are definitely engaged in a struggle — both to maintain our nation and societal order and to actively suppress criminal and terrorist activities that threaten that order. Having established that, we next need to define our mission.  

For most agencies, the words “Protect and Serve” are somewhere in a well-written mission statement. They define what we do.

• To Serve: To give service to or meet the needs of others
• To Protect: To keep others from harm.

Again, definitions that broadly define what we are supposed to do. Why then, is there such a disparity of opinions with regard to mindset and what we should be doing with regard to mission, training, and everyday activities?

Belief Systems and Values
To begin, I offer the following questions for you to ponder:

• For what or whom are you willing to fight, risk your life, and, if necessary, die?
• Is it fair to ask you to do that if you’re a cop who is charged with protecting and serving your community?
• Do you consider your status as a police officer a job or a calling?
• Is this a 24/7 commitment or an 8-12 hour shift commitment?
• When you swore your oath as a law enforcement officer to uphold, defend, and protect the constitution and the laws of your state, was it conditional in your mind or was this an absolute act in terms of service?
• How do you interpret the word ‘duty’?
• Is it fair to ask you do the above if you are off duty, don’t have any family with you, and you have your tools with you?
• Is it fair to ask you to carry your tools with you off duty even if you are not being paid to do so?
• Can we define a code of ethics, values and belief systems that we should be following?

Have you ever said or done the following:

• They don’t pay me enough to do this ______!
• My number one priority is to go home every night.
• Recited the police officers creed, “never get wet, never go hungry.”
• I’m not going to train on my day off unless they pay me to do it and give me free ammo…
• Shown up second or third on a call so you didn’t have to do the report?
• Avoided or held back on a call or failed to act because it was either a nuisance to you or you were afraid?
• Beat the crap out of someone during an arrest because “they deserved it”?
• Decided that something wasn’t worth doing because no one appreciates your efforts anyway?
• Put down a fellow officer because they pay for training on their own time and their own dime?
• Put down a rookie for being “too gung ho” about doing what he perceives to be his job. (Not talking about doing bad things here, just the attitude of total commitment).

Rank these in terms of Value to you:

• Country
• Family
• Friends
• Fellow officers
• Citizens
• Yourself

There is no judgment on my part in the above questions or statements. They are designed to help you clarify who you are and where you are heading. They are based on my own observations and experiences over the last 30 years, both as an officer and as a professional trainer.

Altruistic Behavior
There is a type of behavior that is manifested among those who serve selflessly which is called “altruistic behavior.”

From Wikipedia, we have the following explanation:

Altruism is selfless concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness. Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of loyalty and duty. Altruism focuses on a motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual, a specific organization (for example, a government), or an abstract concept (for example, patriotism etc). Some individuals may feel both altruism and duty, while others may not. Pure altruism is giving without regard to reward or the benefits of recognition and need.

Pay particular attention to this behavior as it is fundamentally different from doing your duty and defines the differences in beliefs and values in individuals.

On a personal note, I believe that altruistic behavior represents the highest expression of warrior virtue. I also believe that society feels the same and that is why altruistic behavior is considered a virtue.

Enter, the Merchant
Again we refer to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “merchant” is “One whose occupation is the wholesale purchase and retail sale of goods or services for profit. This many also include barter where money is not exchanged but a profit or equal value is made in terms of value.”

As one progresses in a career, there is a tendency to get what I call “creeping cynicism.” You realize that many people don’t really appreciate what you do, they just put up with you. Many don’t like you. You may feel that you are at odds with your administration or with your fellow officers. You burn out a bit; maybe a lot. You start to lose your enthusiasm for the job. Maybe your faith in humanity or doing the right thing is being eroded.

You gradually start to slip into the “merchant mentality.” As you go about your job, you subconsciously start to weigh risk versus reward or benefits versus hazards. You may become unwilling to give more of yourself because you feel that you’ve given enough or that people are asking too much of you. You may have some resentment when the department or your trainers ask you to train without compensation to you.

A question starts to intrude on your thought processes: “What’s in it for me?”

Many times, administration tends to overpromise what the department can reasonably do and stress out officers with increasing workloads with no increase of pay or benefits.

Service is a Voluntary Commitment, Duty is Not
I will not speak for others when I define my own values and beliefs. I also do not put myself above others or consider myself morally superior when I do speak out.

I think it is helpful to clarify your values and beliefs and prioritize them. Then you can make clear choices to better negotiate the path you choose in life. You can also determine your own levels of altruism, duty etc. and if cynicism is creeping into your life and undermining your values.

For me, being a warrior is a 24/7 commitment. This is my choice and my belief. It is independent of the job or the affiliations I may have. It colors my decisions on what I do, what I wear, how, when, and with what I choose to arm myself, as well as how (and how often) I train.

I train continuously. I try to carry what I consider to be an adequate firearm and sufficient ammunition with me at all times.

Though I would like others to voluntarily join with me in this belief, I cannot hold them to this voluntary standard. Again, this is altruistic behavior vs. the obligation of doing one’s duty. If they are doing their sworn duty while in uniform, that is what they are being paid to do and I cannot ask them to do more than they are willing to give.

Therefore, I also choose not to put myself on a higher moral plane or be disparaging of them if they do not choose to follow the standards I impose on myself.

To protect and serve means to put others needs ahead of my own self. I do not expect any reward for this service. If I could find a means of being paid elsewhere, I would protect and serve without pay. My sworn duty — when I was a police officer — was to uphold the constitution and the laws of my state, county, city, etc. It was to enforce the law, preserve the public order, and protect the citizens of my community.

To me, this means at any given moment of crisis, when life and death is on the line, my country and the lives of citizens or fellow officers have more worth than my own. This “gets me through the door.” Hopefully my skills will get me back out again. A sense of obligation to duty will also get one “through the door.” A merchant mentality will hesitate, hold back, and be indecisive.

These beliefs and values are not conditional or transactional on my part; they are absolute and still are to this day. When I train law enforcement and military in my academy, it is the needs of the citizens they protect as well as well as their own that I keep in mind and is why I will never lower the bar and let someone get through who cannot perform to standard.

One may talk about “warrior values” or “warrior beliefs.” Fundamentally, a warrior serves his country or his community, not just himself. What should you expect to receive in return for your service? If you are driven by altruistic behavior, you expect nothing. The reward is from the service that you gave. If you are driven by a sense of duty, you feel obligated to do your duty. You may only feel obligated to do so while you are being paid to do so. That is most certainly a choice.

Though we do need to make a living and most officers are paid to do the job. A warrior is expected to give service, risk life and limb, and do battle for his community and peers …with not even a “thank you” in return most of the time.

For those driven by an altruistic drive, this is all part of the job. They get their reward from doing the service and don’t expect anything in return. This is directly at odds with the merchant mentality of getting more than you give or bartering for equal compensation for your acts.

For those driven by a sense of duty, it is also part of the job but you may feel that you are giving more than you are getting in return at times.

If you feel the need to be appreciated or thanked all of the time for what you do — or feel you “don’t get paid enough to do this _____” — then you are sliding into the merchant mentality
It is helpful to separate your identity and the associated values as a warrior from your job at times. You train and you risk your life when necessary because YOU CHOOSE to do it, because that is what you believe in and what you value. This is not a merchant transaction where you feel you should be compensated in equal measure to the risks involved. You may never go in a room and take on a gunman if you value your life more than you value doing your duty or protecting another person, no matter what your technical skill level may be.

I’ve seen officers who look good in training but freeze up when confronted with their own death. It is total commitment to the values of duty and service that helps move us forward when others may hesitate or fall back.

A warrior serves his country and its citizens, period. It’s not a transaction, it’s not a self-serving commitment. It’s a code of honor that you voluntarily commit to, whether from an altruistic perspective, a sense of duty, or both.

For the leaders, take care of your people, protect them from overwork, shelter them from abuse, set the standards and live by them.

For the warriors, may God bless you and protect you as you go about your duties. Thank you for your service.

For the merchants, heed what I say. I will not judge you, but the people you serve (and serve with) will.

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)

Adam Casanova getting ready to rock!

Working on "The Plan" for how to shoot this stage

Yesterday, we held  a special fund raising class to help raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk that my wife, Kathie and other lady shooters in Colorado, such as Carol Klesser, are involved in.

We would like to honor them here for their contributions that help this important research move forward.



Colorado Shooters support Avon Breast Cancer Walk!

Honor Roll                                                                           

Blair Hanson

Conrad Holland

Charlie Perez

Tom Spitzer

Todd Snyder

Brad Olson

Roger and Patti Sorge

Bruce Kuhn

Adam and James Casanova

Mark Passamaneck

John Beazley

Special Thanks to:                 Irv Stone from Bar-Sto Barrels

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (2)

A couple of years ago now, I did a seminar with my good friend, Ara Maljian, a police officer and school resource officer in Cheyenne, WY. He organized a school safety summit and Dave Grossman was the featured speaker at this event. His words were powerful and stay strong long after the event.

Here my good friend and editor from, talks about attending a seminar with Dave Grossman about school violence and what needs to be done.

Editor’s Corner
with PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie


Lt. Col. Dave Grossman to cops: “The enemy is denial”  Preventing juvenile mass murder in American schools is the job of police officers, school teachers, and concerned parents — but cops are on the front lines

Editor’s Note: Today we bring you the first in an occasional series of articles stemming from an extraordinary daylong seminar presented by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. In coming months we’ll discuss Grossman’s thoughts on the use of autogenic breathing, surviving gunshot wounds, and dealing with survivor guilt following a gun battle. We begin with violence among and against children in our schools. We would like to extend our special thanks to Gary Peterson, Mike Elerick, and the men and women of the California Peace Officers Association (Region II) for their warm invitation to this remarkable talk. On Saturday, May 8th, CPOA is holding its annual Memorial Run and Family BBQ, honoring California officers who died in the line of duty in 2009. Additional details are available here.

“How many kids have been killed by school fire in all of North America in the past 50 years? Kids killed… school fire… North America… 50 years…  How many?  Zero. That’s right.  Not one single kid has been killed by school fire anywhere in North America in the past half a century.  Now, how many kids have been killed by school violence?”

So began an extraordinary daylong seminar presented by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a Pulitzer Prize nominated author, West Point psychology professor, and without a doubt the world’s foremost expert on human aggression and violence. The event, hosted by the California Peace Officers Association, was held in the auditorium of a very large community church about 30 miles from San Francisco, and was attended by more than 250 police officers from around the region.

“In 1998, school violence claimed what at the time was an all time record number of kids’ lives. In that year there were 35 dead and a quarter of a million serious injuries due to violence in the school. How many killed by fire that year? Zero. But we hear people say, ‘That’s the year Columbine happened, that’s an anomaly.’ Well, in 2004 we had a new all time record — 48 dead in the schools from violence. How many killed by fire that year? Zero. Let’s assign some grades. Put your teacher hat on and give out some grades. What kind of grade do you give the firefighter for keeping kids safe? An ‘A,’ right? Reluctantly, reluctantly, the cops give the firefighters an ‘A,’ right? Danged firefighters, they sleep ‘till they’re hungry and eat ‘till they’re tired. What grade do we get for keeping the kids safe from violence? Come on, what’s our grade? Needs improvement, right?”

Grossman’s talk spanned myriad topics of vital importance to law enforcement, such as the use of autogenic breathing, surviving gunshot wounds, dealing with survivor guilt following a gun battle, and others. In coming months, I will present a series of articles addressing many of these subjects, but violence among and against children was how the day began, and so it is in this area I will begin my coverage.

Johnny Firefighter, A+ Student
“Why can’t we be like little Johnny Firefighter?” Grossman asked as he prowled the stage. “He’s our A+ student. Denial, denial, denial! Look up at the ceiling. See all those sprinklers up there? They’re hard to spot — they’re painted black — but they’re there. While you’re looking, look at the material the ceiling is made of. You know that that stuff was selected because it’s fire-retardant. Hooah? Now look over there above the door — you see that fire exit sign? That’s not just any fire exit sign — that’s a ‘battery-backup-when-the-world-ends-it-will-still-be-lit’ fire exit sign. Hooah?”

Walking from the stage toward a nearby fire exit and exterior wall, Grossman slammed the palm of his hand against the wall and exclaimed, “Look at these wall boards! They were chosen because they’re what?! Fireproof or fire retardant, hooah? There is not one stinking thing in this room that will burn!”

Pointing around the room as he spoke, Grossman continued, “But you’ve still got those fire sprinklers, those fire exit signs, fire hydrants outside, and fire trucks nearby! Are these fire guys crazy? Are these fire guys paranoid? NO! This fire guy is our A+ student! Because this fire guy has redundant, overlapping layers of protection, not a single kid has been killed by school fire in the last 50 years!. But you try to prepare for violence — the thing much more likely to kill our kids in schools, the thing hundreds of times more likely to kill our kids in schools — and people think you’re paranoid. They think you’re crazy. They’re in denial.”

Teaching the Teachers
The challenge for law enforcement agencies and officers, then, is to overcome not only the attacks taking place in schools, but to first overcome the denial in the minds of mayors, city councils, school administrators, and parents. Grossman said that agencies and officers, although facing an uphill slog against the denial of the general public, must diligently work toward increasing understanding among the sheep that the wolves are coming for their children. Police officers must train and drill with teachers, not only so responding officers are intimately familiar with the facilities, but so that teachers know what they can do in the event of an attack.

“Come with me to the library at Columbine High School,” Grossman said. “The teacher in the library at Columbine High School spent her professional lifetime preparing for a fire, and we can all agree if there had been a fire in that library, that teacher would have instinctively, reflexively known what to do. But the thing most likely to kill her kids — the thing hundreds of times more likely to kill her kids, the teacher didn’t have a clue what to do. She should have put those kids in the librarian’s office but she didn’t know that. So she did the worst thing possible — she tried to secure her kids in an un-securable location. She told the kids to hide in the library — a library that has plate glass windows for walls. It’s an aquarium, it’s a fish bowl. She told the kids to hide in a fishbowl. What did those killers see? They saw targets. They saw fish in a fish bowl.”

Grossman said that if the school administrators at Columbine had spent a fraction of the money they’d spent preparing for fire — if the teachers there had spent a fraction of the time they spent preparing for fire — doing lockdown drills and talking with local law enforcers about the violent dangers they face, the outcome that day may have been different.

Rhetorically he asked the assembled cops, “If somebody had spent five minutes  telling that teacher what to do, do you think lives would have been saved at Columbine?”

Arming Campus Cops is Elementary
Nearly two years ago, I wrote an article called Arming campus cops is elementary. Not surprisingly, Grossman agrees with that hypothesis.

“Never call an unarmed man ‘security’,” Grossman said. “Call him ‘run-like-hell-when-the-man-with-the-gun-shows-up’ but never call an unarmed man security. Imagine if someone said, ‘I want a trained fire professional on site. I want a fire hat, I want a fire uniform, I want a fire badge. But! No fire extinguishers in this building. No fire hoses. The hat, the badge, the uniform — that will keep us safe — but we have no need for fire extinguishers.’ Well, that would be insane. It is equally insane, delusional, legally liable, to say, ‘I want a trained security professional on site. I want a security hat, I want a security uniform, and I want a security badge, but I don’t want a gun.’ It’s not the hat, the uniform, or the badge. It’s the tools in the hands of a trained professional that keeps us safe.

“Our problem is not money,” said Grossman.  “It is denial.”

Grossman said (and most cops agree) that many of the most important things we can do to protect our kids would cost us nothing or next-to-nothing.

Grossman’s Five D’s
In the next installment of this series, I will explore what follows in much greater detail, but for now, let’s contemplate the following outline and summary of Dave Grossman’s “Five D’s.” While you do, I encourage you to add in the comments area below your suggestions to address, and expand upon, these ideas.

1. Denial — Denial is the enemy and it has no survival value, said Grossman.

2. Deter — Put police officers in schools, because with just one officer assigned to a school the probability of a mass murder in that school drops to almost zero

3. Detect — We’re talking about plain old fashioned police work here. The ultimate achievement for law enforcement is the crime that didn’t happen, so giving teachers and administrators regular access to cops is paramount.

4. Delay — Various simple mechanisms can be used by teachers and cops to put time and distance between the killers and the kids.

a. Ensure that the school/classroom have just a single point of entry. Simply locking the back door helps create a hard target.
b. Conduct your active shooter drills within (and in partnership with) the schools in your city so teachers know how to respond, and know what it looks like when you do your response.

5. Destroy — Police officers and agencies should consider the following:

a. Carry off duty. No one would tell a firefighter who has a fire extinguisher in his trunk that he’s crazy or paranoid.
b. Equip every cop in America with a patrol rifle. One chief of police, upon getting rifles for all his officers once said, “If an active killer strikes in my town, the response time will be measured in feet per second.”
c. Put smoke grenades in the trunk of every cop car in America. Any infantryman who needs to attack across open terrain or perform a rescue under fire deploys a smoke grenade. A fire extinguisher will do a decent job in some cases, but a smoke grenade is designed to perform the function.
d. Have a “go-to-war bag” filled with lots of loaded magazines and supplies for tactical combat casualty care.
e. Use helicopters. Somewhere in your county you probably have one or more of the following: medivac, media, private, national guard, coast guard rotors.
f. Employ the crew-served, continuous-feed, weapon you already have available to you (a firehouse) by integrating the fire service into your active shooter training. It is virtually impossible for a killer to put well-placed shots on target while also being blasted with water at 300 pounds per square inch.
g. Armed citizens can help.  Think United 93. Whatever your personal take on gun control, it is all but certain that a killer set on killing is more likely to attack a target where the citizens are unarmed, rather than one where they are likely to encounter an armed citizen response.

Coming Soon: External Threats
Today we must not only prepare for juvenile mass murder, something that had never happened in human history until only recently, but we also must prepare for the external threat. Islamist fanatics have slaughtered children in their own religion — they have killed wantonly, mercilessly, and without regard for repercussion or regret of any kind. What do you think they’d think of killing our kids?

“Eight years ago they came and killed 3,000 of our citizens. Do we know what they’re going to do next? No! But one thing they’ve done in every country they’ve messed with is killing kids in schools.”

The latest al Qaeda charter states that “children are noble targets” and Osama bin Laden himself has said that “Russia is a preview for what we will do to America.”

What happened in Russia that we need to be concerned with in this context? In the town of Beslan on September 1, 2004 — the very day on which children across that country merrily make their return to school after the long summer break — radical Islamist terrorists from Chechnya took more than 1,000 teachers, mothers, and children hostage. When the three-day siege was over, more than 300 hostages had been killed, more than half of whom were children.

“If I could tackle every American and make them read one book, to help them understand the terrorist’s plan, it would be Terror at Beslan  by John Giduck. Beslan was just a dress rehearsal for what they’re planning to do to the United States.”

A future feature will focus solely on the issue of the terror threats against American schools, but for the time being consider this: There are almost a half a million school busses in America — it would require every enlisted person and every officer in the entire Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps combined to put just one armed guard on every school bus in the country.

As a country and as a culture, the level of protection Americans afford our kids against violence is nothing near what we do to protect them from fire. Grossman is correct: Denial is the enemy. We must prepare for violence like the firefighter prepares for fire. And we must do that today.

Hooah Colonel!

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)

Time for a brain teaser and performance tip to get your creative minds going and help increase your performance.

From my last personal training session and part of our new training programs.

Attention with Awareness

The best performers are able to maintain their attention on one thing while maintaining a conscious/sub-conscious awareness of other processes or environmental factors. Dr. James Loehr, Canadian Sports Psychologist calls this type of awareness a “Level 1 Awareness”.

A level 1 awareness is very different from subconsciously doing something yet not remembering it later. It is one of the hallmarks of higher levels of mastery, be it shooting, driving, martial arts or whatever.

Your challenge is to pay attention to what is important (conscious focus of the mind) while also monitoring the other processes and things that are going on at the same time without trying to control them with your conscious mind.


On one training stage, I need to really “read” my sights as I am shooting but also be awareness of my body movement and trigger finger at times.

Paying attention to the sights occupies much of my conscious mind on this particular stage as they are difficult shots and have to be executed precisely. While I do this, I must also focus my awareness on correct choreography so that I complete the stage in minimum time.

I also monitor what is going on with my trigger finger in terms of placement, tension etc. and adjust as needed “on the fly”. The position of a mover or turner will also register in my awareness without distracting my attention on the sights in relation to target etc.

A higher plane of execution, awareness and understanding of processes leads to higher, more consistent performances.

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (2)

Back in the mid 1990’s, I had the opportunity to work with Dutch shooter,  Maurice Drummen, when I was in the early years of my academy. He became a top shooter as well as a good friend of mine . Later, he decided to not shoot competitively for a number of years due to increased workload etc. at his shop. Maurice is a master gunsmith whose family has been in gunsmithing since the 1800’s. He builds custom firearms for all kinds of shooters in Europe and has a thriving business selling reloading components, holsters, guns, gear etc.

In 2010, I had the opportunity to reconnect with Maurice at the SHOT Show while I was doing some work with one of our sponsors, Berry Bullets.  Maurice told me of his desire to become a Senior World Champion in Open Class at the World Championships next year after a long hiatus from shooting. He had been doing well but felt that he needed some serious training if he was going to reach his goals.

We set up a training date and Maurice came over from the Netherlands to train with me here in the Rocky Mountains. While he was here, we had to chance to renew our friendship and talk about everything under the sun that pertains even remotely to shooting.

He brought with him a custom made,  left hand eject, 1911 Open class gun;  built in a high capacity Caspian frame. He put a sideways mounted C-More scope on it to aid ejection . I had a chance to shoot it and it is a really nice gun! Good dot tracking and handling characteristics.

We spent three VERY high intensity days of training. Starting at 7 am and going some evenings until 10 pm. Then we spent two additional days training and going to 2 weekend matches to test and validate the principles, training concepts and skills learned along with the mental training program I shaped for him. We then spent a few more days together as we waited for the Volcano in Iceland to subside so flights could resume. We did additional training, including some fitness training and specialized grip exercises and dry fire program while we waited.

Maurice impressed me with his shooting abilities as well as his great personality and friendship.  I believe that Maurice definitely has what it takes to become not only the top Senior World Champion at the World Shoot next year but also one of the top Open shooters in Europe overall. He is very fast, both in shooting and in movement and is very physically fit as well as being very motivated.

After a consult with the rest of my PSA PRO SHOOTING TEAM, comprised of Kathie Ferguson-Avery, Ara Maljian and Keith Garcia, I decided to invite Maurice to become part of our PSA PRO Team. I believe that he has what it takes to not only be a top flight shooter but is also a good sportsman and representative of the values and ideals we cherish here at The Practical Shooting Academy.

I will have a bio and picture of Maurice up shortly on the website.

For now, WELCOME Maurice Drummen, our newest PSA PRO Team Member!

Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (0)