The 2016 Tactical Conference in Memphis, TN
was outstanding. At times there were 5 classes
going on at the same time during the 3 days. The
three of us tried to go to different classes and
exchanged notes over dinner every night. But
still, we missed most of the available information.
There were lecture classes, shooting classes,
hands on grappling, hands on disarming and
retention, etc. It was mind boggling.
I enthusiastically recommend attending. Sign up
early, as it sold out 4 months in advance this
year and will probably sell out 6 months in
advance next year.
Words of wisdom from the Tactical Conference
are scattered below. (I would have had a lot more
if I could read my handwriting.)
In the U.S., 3.1% of us have a carry permit.
That's 12.5 million persons. Unfortunately, only
a small fraction actually carry.
***** Mindset *****
Know the status of your weapon. Know the law.
Store your weapons so unauthorized persons can't
Indicators of malicious intent:
Movement toward you
Distraction (one guy talking to you to allow another
to sneak up behind you)
Any attempt to fix you in place (movement to block
Grooming mannerisms (for instance, rubbing the chin,
touching the face, these are pre-assault cues)
[There are more, but I can't read my handwriting.]
SWAT teams rarely shoot anyone. They sit, wait, and talk.
Detectives rarely shoot anyone.
Armed robberies - 10% at home, 90% away from home.
When accosted, you will probably be accosted by
multiple assailants. Because criminals work in gangs.
So, you should carry a full size high capacity pistol.
***** Training *****
How to judge the stuff your instructor is teaching
Is it useful? (or is the probability of having to
use it in combat near zero)
Is it simple? (or is it complex and therefore
extremely difficult to turn into an automatic response)
Does it work in adverse conditions? (because any
attack will create adverse conditions; physically and
Is it proven? (have cops or soldiers used it in
real world combat?)
Stopping the bad guys is important. But, knowing
first aid to save the good guys may be more important.
When you last practiced is more important than
how much you last practiced. -- Tom Givens
In the neuroscience section, they stressed how
recency is crucially important. You remember recent
motor operations much better than ones you last
practiced long ago (even if you practiced them a lot
Always striving to do something new and different,
I did a one-on-one course with with a lady, Michelle.
She is an attorney from Denver, CO. She flew in to
Nashville, TN on Saturday, 5 March 2016 and departed on
Monday, 14 March 2016. During the week we did most of
the NRA Defensive Pistol course: ~10 hours of lectures,
~10 hours of pistol manipulations, ~2 hours of simulators
(shoot / no-shoot judgment exercises; We took a coffee
break in the middle, as her hands were getting sore.),
~16 hours of live fire exercises. We did not do the
tactical exercises (IDPA match) nor the force-on-force
exercises (Simunitions), because she had to work on a
case in Albuquerque, NM. So, I dropped her off at an
internet cafe (Flat Rock Cafe on Nolensville Pike) on
one day and an IHOP on another day, and she did her
lawyer thing by email and phone.
In the early morning of Friday, 11 March 2016, we
drove to Memphis, TN to attend the Tactical Conference.
She did the classes:
Managing the "Don't Shoot" (how to handle a compliant
Ladies Only Range Session (live fire)
Low Light Equipment
Escaping Common Restraints
Tactical Folding Knife
Defining the Threat
Common Training & Safety Errors
Lessons from Recent Trials (heavy legal stuff)
Building Highly Successful Gunfighters (live fire)
2016 Tactical Conference Schedule -
Before she left on Monday, 14 March 2016, we
attempted to do the Tactical Knife class by the Police
Officer's Safety Association, but again ran out of time.
She called me from Denver to tell me that she
enjoyed the experience, was exhausted, and that all of
her muscles were sore. So, she went to get a massage.
Why is training so important?
In the U.S., twice a week someone gets shot who didn't
need to. Everyday, a person shoots himself.
-- Claude Werner
[This may seem strange. It's a probability thing.
The probability that a given person will shot himself
is very low. But, the probability that anyone in a
population of 323 million will shoot himself is very
Learn to read the sights. That is to say, watch
the sights move through your follow through. Keep your
aiming eye open to watch the sights. If you don't see
the muzzle flash, you closed your eye. This is a
common problem. Be aware of it. Even on a bright
sunny day, you will see the orange muzzle flash if you
aiming eye is open.
Dry practice -
Only when alert and focused.
Unload in another area.
Chamber check your pistol.
Magazine check your pistol.
Practice your holster operations.
Use a dedicated target and remove it when you're done.
Make sure you have a backstop that will catch your
Don't tolerate any disturbances. Don't let anything
When you're finished with dry practice -
Do something before loading. Like saying out loud,
"I AM LOADED!" Or, leave the house.
To protect your .22 caliber pistol, use a
drywall anchor screw as a dummy round.
Dry practice to read the sights. You can't learn
to read the sights with the distraction of the recoil
and report of the pistol.
Call your shots. With practice you will know
where your shot went even if you can't see the bullet
hole on the target. This is an essential skill.
Dry practice 2 to 4 hours after exercising for
Your dry practice to live fire ratio should be
about 10 to 1.
Practice your rapid target analysis in Wal Mart.
Look at the person and size him up. If Jason Borne
can do it, you can do it. It just takes practice.
Yes, you are profiling. Yes, it is politically
incorrect. We are concerned with truth, not political
correctness. Political correctness kills.
Why is keeping your trigger finger in the
register position so important?
The industry standard for self-defense / combat
pistols is a 6 to 7 pound trigger.
The startle response of a human will generate
30 pounds of pressure in the grip of the hands.
Postural disturbances will cause the human to
Interlimb interaction (sympathetic action) will
cause the firing side hand, including the trigger finger,
to contract when the support side hand contracts.
***** Tactics *****
There was a lot of talk at the conference about
kicking down doors. I don't know if they were talking
metaphorically and actually were using a battering ram
or a Halligan, but I've never had the good fortune of
finding a cheap weak door that opened in, that I could
kick in. So, I teach my students to find another way
if the door is locked. Once, you kick it (whether it
opens or not) everyone knows you're there, and the
shooting starts. There's a low probability of breaking
through the doorway. There's a high probability of
***** Techniques *****
Based on what I learned at the Tactical
Conference, I have deleted the Harries flashlight
technique from my lesson plans for my NRA Defensive
Pistol course and replaced it with a head index
(cheek index, neck index, etc.)
technique. Because you don't want to be pointing
your pistol at what you're searching. That violates
our safety rule.
Actually, I've changed a lot of things in my
lesson plans. I was teaching a lot of obsolete
stuff. Send me an email requesting a copy of the
latest version of my lesson plan.
***** Gear *****
Our friend, Matt Sarsfield, opened his Cerakote
firearms coating business about a year ago. Contact
him at email@example.com to get a copy of his FFL.
Have your FFL transfer your firearm to him for a top
notch Cerakote job.
If you're going to keep a gun at home for
self-defense, make sure you keep a flashlight next
to it. Just as your pistol is loaded with factory
new ammo for reliability, so your flashlight should
have fresh batteries in it.
***** Instructors *****
---===***** Super Important *****===---
Teach your students what to do in the aftermath
of a shooting. You have a responsibility to teach
this. If you don't know, take a class and find out.
Captain Massad Ayoob gave a lecture in which he
compared two almost identical self-defense shootings.
In the first, the lady immediately called 911 to
report the self-defense shooting. In the second the
lady left the scene, but returned later to call 911.
In the first the lady did not speak to police.
In the second, the lady made statements that later
conflicted with her statements at the trial.
The first lady spent 54 months in jail because she
didn't have the money for the bail, but was eventually
acquitted. The second lady is serving a 50 year to
The facts of the shooting were not in question.
Only the actions after the shooting determined the
When questioned after the trail, the jury of the
second lady said they didn't believer her because of
the conflicting statements and her fleeing the scene.
The first lady didn't have any conflicting statements
because she didn't make any statements at the scene
of the shooting.
Stress will cause loss of memory and false
memories. Most police departments have a policy of
not taking the police officers statement until he's
had a good night's sleep, some won't take a statement
for 72 hours. In just about every statement taken
at the scene immediately after the shooting (that
I've read), the officer gets the number of rounds
that he fired wrong. That's the effect of stress.
---===***** Super Important *****===---
"The super motivated, fit, really switched-on people
don't need you. The 60 year-old women with tiny fingers
and small hands and arthritis and no grip strength need
you." -- Karl Rehn (paraphrased)
I used to teach at Front Sight. The students were
rich and highly motivated. For them, it was a great way
to spend a vacation. Fun and games!
Now days, I teach in small town churches and
community centers. My students would rather be somewhere
else, but they have a desperate need. They have seen
the Jihadists doing recon on their churches. They have
been mugged, or know of immediate family who have.
To them, this self-defense stuff is life and death.
Don't use terminology that confuses your students,
such as loading and unloading your magazines.
We load and unload our pistols. We charge and void our
We teach careful gun handling, as opposed to safe
gun handling. Safe implies no risk. When handling guns
there is always inherent risk.
Teaching real world defensive pistol techniques
requires a hot range. We are not teaching a sport.
A cold range teaches the wrong mindset and wrong
Safe range? No, we are running a victorious range.
We are advancing the art, saving lives, giving people
victory. -- John Farnam (paraphrased)
The student's goal should be 80% hits in the
high thorasic cavity or cranio-occular cavity.
Higher than 80% means they are going too slow.
Lower than 80% means they are going too fast.
This is the Goldilocks zone.
In practice, you have to push your envelope to
find your 80%, so that in combat you will know your
limits and behave accordingly.
"A man's got to know his limits."
-- Dirty Harry in Magnum Force
Don't allow your students to holster without
a command to do so. It's just a bad habit.
In combat, you won't know that the threat has ended.
So, you shouldn't holster. Unless you have to do
something else that requires both hands.
Never tell your students how to do things. Just
tell them what needs to be done. Stay in role.
Give a GO! command. No, ready, set, etc.
If possible, give a visual command to initiate the
exercise. Because in combat, a visual cue will
initiate your action.
No gun handling in the student's car. Either
leave the range with a loaded gun in the holster or
with an unloaded gun in a box.
Having the students keep their trigger finger in
the register position reduces the probability of a
The C finger register position is incompatible
with the SERPA holsters. Because it leads to negligent
discharges as the trigger finger continues the motion
to defeat the holster retention device and hits the
The primary cause of negligent discharges is
unnecessary gun handling. Simply say, "We're not
handling guns here."
Make sure your students wear eye protection.
An instructor told us of an officer who after the shooting
was finished removed his glasses. Another officer pulled
the bolt of his Kalashnikov rifle to eject a live round
(with sharp pointy bullet). The round flew two points
down and hit the other officer in the eye. He lost his
eye. Keep your glasses on! The glasses should be wrap
around or have side protection. [Kalashnikov rifles
are designed to throw the spent brass far away from the
shooter, so as to prevent a pile of shiny brass next
to the shooter. You will also notice that Russian made
cartridges have dull colored cases, not shiny. Because
the Russian engineers actually listen to the soldiers.]
Make sure your students wear high neck shirts.
An instructor told us of a training session at a nuclear
facility where a piece of hot brass went down the front
of an person's shirt, burned the person, and startled the
person. Resulting in the person shooting the person's
foot. The foot had to be amputated.
So, when someone says, "After the first time it
happens, she will learn, and she won't let it happen
again." WRONG! You can't let it happen the first time.
Make sure your students wear hats with long wide
brims to prevent hot brass from getting caught between
their eye and their glasses. I will spare you the
Teach your students to drop fumbled guns.
Never try to catch a fumbled gun! Murphy's law says
it will fire and hit something you don't want to.
Teach your students to finish the drill.
If something goes wrong, fix it. Reload and clear
malfunctions as necessary, and finish the drill.
***** Pedagogy *****
“Understanding and Training the Female Shooter”
Trigger control is self-control.
Touch the trigger. Take the slack out of the trigger.
Smoothly press without intentionally firing the shot
to achieve a surprise break.
Trap the trigger to the rear and hold it there as you
watch the sights move during the recoil and return to
the target. Only then, do you reset the trigger.
If you do this, you will never be going back to a
target you missed, which is a huge waste of time.
Rather, you will always be moving forward to the next
target, which is an efficient way to win.
"Who Dares, Wins"
-- motto of the Special Air Service
The Tactical Conference had a whole section on
How many repetitions does it take to ...
It depends. It's genetic. It's motivational. ...
300 to 500 repetitions to place a simple motor operation
into implicit memory (muscle memory, but muscles have
no memory, only the brain has memory).
3000 to 5000 repetitions to break a bad habit.
300 repetitions to develop the motor response.
Variable number of repetitions to maintain that motor
response. 3000 repetitions to automate the motor
response (unconsciously competent).
***** Why you need to be armed *****
124 Released Criminal Aliens Later Charged with Murder
***** Survival Tips *****
What you need to survive:
1. Physical fitness
2. First Aid skills
3. Hand to hand combat skills
4. Weapon skills
in realistic order of importance.
This Might Shock You: Downed Power Line
***** Education *****
Amateurs study what happened. Professionals
study what didn't happen.
When a top pro wins a match everyone pays attention
to his great shots. But, what allowed him to win was
all the little mistakes that he didn't make. Exactly
the same in a gun fight.
Amateurs appear to move fast. Masters appear not
to move at all.
Lesson plans may be found at
or send me an email requesting the latest version,
which is much better than the old obsolete Smashwords