One of the things that drew me into KR Training’s Defensive Pistol Skills Program was that it’s not solely focused on mechanical shooting skills. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for developing highly proficient shooting skills. It’s definitely a very important aspect of armed self defense. However, there are skills and tactics a self defender can employ to avoid a gun fight and prepare for the aftermath that follows a defensive encounter. These are the topics introduced in the Personal Tactics Skills course.
I attended this course the afternoon following the Defensive Pistol Skills 2 course. This course was conducted in the classroom for its entirety which I’m thankful for given the heat and humidity present that afternoon. The format of the course was mostly discussion led by our instructor, John Daub, over three hours.
Our discussion began with a focus on the aftermath of a defensive encounter which includes the legal proceedings that follow such an ordeal. Those legal proceedings can place a rather heavy financial burden on a defender even when it’s a simple self defense case which can be mitigated by carrying some sort of self defense insurance or membership. One interesting point I took away is that the self defense liability services vary quite a bit so it’s important to understand what is offered. Sometimes different services can be complementary to each other and combined to further mitigate the risks associated with the aftermath.
We also touched upon the concepts of ability, opportunity, and jeopardy which are the primary ingredients in legal proceedings used to justify the use of deadly force. My elementary understanding of this concept boils down to being able to articulate a satisfactory positive answer to the following questions:
- Did the aggressor possess the ability to inflict serious injury or harm to the defender?
- Was there an opportunity for the aggressor to inflict serious injury or harm to the defender?
- Was the defender in jeopardy of serious injury or harm?
Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 course was strongly recommended for a few reasons. First, Massad Ayoob is considered to be the leading expert in this area. Next, MAG-20 is a two-day immersive course that dives deep into the rules of engagement for armed citizens. Finally, Massad Ayoob is getting older and it’s difficult to say how much longer he will be teaching this material. KR Training is hosting a MAG-20 course on October 2-3, 2021. As an alternative to those who can’t attend the MAG-20 course (or a supplement for those who will or have taken the course), Massad Ayoob’s Deadly Force book was recommended as well.
Defense of third party encounters was another topic that we spent some time discussing. I found this discussion to be fascinating because there are many facets to consider. Folks with a predisposition to respond and protect tend to quickly decide they will step in. Even if that’s the case, there is a lot to consider given the risks that the individual will accept by getting involved such as risk of injury or death in addition to the legal aftermath that will undoubtedly follow. Another thing to consider is that an individual may run into a third party encounter without full context of the situation. At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision that is worth significant forethought.
Got medical skills and tools? Yet another topic that is often glossed over, but covered in this course. It’s not that it’s dismissed as irrelevant or not important. In fact, I find the opposite to be true. When mentioned, it’s criticality is rarely understated. So why did I say this topic is often glossed over? The truth is the vast majority of folks I know who carry self defense tools rarely carry first aid kits. Of those who do, the majority have never sought out any first aid training. Those who have, exhibit the same training and practice experience I have – orders of magnitude less compared with firearm training and practice. Granted my observations are anecdotal. Nevertheless, the likelihood of making use of first aid skills and tools are much higher than the likelihood of making use of defensive shooting skills. As such, it’s not a bad idea to carry some first aid tools and at least attend a Stop the Bleed course.
A fair amount of time was allocated to discussing Jeff Cooper’s color codes of mental awareness and techniques to maintain or transition from one awareness condition to another. The codes are as follows:
- White: Unaware
- Yellow: Relaxed Awareness
- Orange: Focused On Potential Problem
- Red: Imminent Danger
- Black (not originally introduced by Jeff Cooper): In the Fight
I took away a lot of value from the discussion on the color codes. However, I’m intentionally only mentioning this topic for the sake of brevity as this topic is at least an entire blog post on it’s own (if not a series of posts).
Another significant bucket of time was allocated to covering the force continuum. Again, I’m going to keep the discussion on this topic in this post brief because there is a lot to cover here. In summary, force is binary. There is a wide spectrum of force with no force on one end to deadly force on the other. How fast one goes from one of the spectrum to the other depends on the situation at hand. In many cases, a situation can be dealt with without ever having to traverse the entire spectrum. The spectrum looks a little like this:
- Verbal commands (which has a spectrum of its own from polite to stern to harsh)
- Non-lethal force (such as pepper spray)
- Lethal force
Some time was spent talking about general emergency preparedness and related equipment such as fire extinguishers, flashlights, knives, long guns, etc. Emphasis was placed on equipment maintenance and related skill development. As is the case with most things, the worst time to learn how to use things during an actual emergency.
Home defense tactics were given a broad treatment. This included discussions on:
- The use of lighting for both deterrence and positive target identification.
- Safe room designation, how to use it, and fortify it.
- Fortifying the external boundaries of the home such as entry doors and windows.
- Leveraging landscaping to deter entry and minimize places bad actors can use for concealment or cover.
- Developing and communicating a home defense plan with all members of the household in mind (which includes appropriate notification and interaction with law enforcement).
Vehicle tactics were touched upon as well. Topics of discourse included:
- Options when unexpectedly encountering a volatile crowd or angry mob.
- Dealing with road rage.
- Minimizing risk when vehicle is in a transitional space (such as a gas station or parking lot).
- Managing safety when a vehicle breaks down.
Pepper spray was a recurring topic in many discussions and was revisited in a bit more depth as the final topic in class. In addition to getting the hands on experience deploying an inert pepper spray trainer, the discussion included:
- Understanding the different types of pepper spray available.
- Awareness of the pros and cons of the different delivery mechanisms (cloud, stream, gel, or foam) available and when one might use one over another.
- Knowing what major capsaicinoid content is and how much is considered a good amount (1-2%)
- How to deal with exposure to pepper spray (run cool water)
For most folks, the optimal pepper spray choice will typically be something like POM or Sabre Red using a stream delivery system.
Overall, I would describe this course as an introductory class into tactics. There was a wide range of topics covered, each of which could benefit from their own dedicated course of study. That said, I enjoyed the class format and found it valuable because it makes the student aware of many things to consider beyond developing shooting proficiency. There are plenty of tips and tricks presented that a student can immediately start putting into practice while simultaneously starting the process to develop improved personal tactics.