Even though I had assumed I knew enough, almost everything I had...
Self defense skills are like ice cream. There are countless flavors, and it might be “hard” (e.g. fighting proficiency) or “soft” (e.g. awareness of pre-fight warning signs). But in the real world, it inevitably melts over time. This statement on the importance of continuous training was one of the introductory lessons from FPF Training’s Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics (ASAT) course. ASAT is a two-day class, but it begins with some pre-class homework in the form of a four-hour YouTube video playlist created by instructor John Murphy. If you’d like to watch some free lessons from the comfort of your couch, you can find it at bit.ly/2QJ5xMO.
Although the ASAT curriculum certainly involves shooting — each student fired about 700 rounds over the course of the weekend — it places an increased emphasis on skills that go “beyond the gun.” Realistically, you’re far more likely to use verbal de-escalation to deal with a panhandler, deploy pepper spray to fend off a belligerent drunk, or use a tourniquet to help an injured motorist than you are to draw and fire your gun. Knowing how to use lethal force is undeniably valuable, but if that’s the only option you’ve ever practiced, you’re bound to be unprepared for most of life’s conflicts. Knowing this, Murphy spent a substantial amount of time focusing on supplementary skills.
After discussing topics such as awareness, avoidance, de-selection (looking like you won’t be an easy victim), de-escalation, and evasion in the classroom, we headed outside to deal with the last step in this continuum: force. However, that doesn’t just mean lethal force. Pepper spray can be an excellent intermediate tool. Murphy handed each student inert pepper spray training canisters loaded with water, and we practiced using these on an approaching attacker while maintaining a safe distance and issuing verbal commands. After seeing how simple and effective it was during training, I’ve added a canister of POM Industries pepper spray (included in the class fee) to my EDC loadout.
Transitioning to the range, we practiced fundamentals such as basic marksmanship, drawing from concealment, and moving while firing, but then continued on to more complex drills. These involved 3D targets to gauge shot placement from various angles, and multi-headed paper targets to simulate an adversary who staggers to one side after the first hit. Murphy also brought out red and green laser pointers to quickly designate a target for lethal or less-lethal force, causing students to respond on the fly as they would in a real conflict. We even had to simulate a 911 call to inform law enforcement after an incident.
Since injuries are common in daily life and self-defense scenarios, medical skills were a constant emphasis throughout the class. We practiced correctly applying tourniquets and pressure dressings and had to carry ankle trauma kits with these items at all times. Murphy would occasionally yell “tourniquet, left leg!” or similar commands with no notice, and time students until they completed the task. This reinforced the importance of being ready and able to treat a sudden, life-threatening injury.
Above all, this ASAT class served as a stark reminder that having a gun and the skill to use it is one small part of the self-defense paradigm. Gunfights are rare, but virtually all of us will witness traumatic injuries, fistfights, and/or verbal altercations in the future. Each of these skills should be balanced accordingly. For more information on FPF Training classes throughout the United States, go to www.fpftraining.com.
Keep an eye out for a recap of another training experience in the next edition of The Final Weapon. Until then, get out there and work on sharpening your own skills — when the time comes to use them, you’ll be glad you did.