Let me start here by saying that there are very few things in life that I would categorize as life-changing experiences. Certainly, when I planned to attend a handgun training course in the Nevada desert I didn’t expect to have one. I’ve owned handguns for nearly my entire adult life and shot at the expert level in every training course in the USAF which I attended. So I was pretty sure that there wasn’t much anyone could teach me.
I had heard about the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute some time ago. Front Sight purported to train its students at a level which exceeded law enforcement or military standards. While I had purchased a membership there, largely to receive the training materials for research purposes, I didn’t know if I’d ever really go to a course there. But as I got into writing Colin Pearce’s third adventure early this year, and realized that he’d have to have some pretty kick-ass handgun skills to prevail, I scheduled myself to attend the Four-Day Defensive Handgun Course at Front Sight if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity.
So last Monday, on the 18th of June, I arrived at Front Sight to begin my training and proceeded to have my life changed. Over the next several days of intensive training (9-10 hours a day folks, no kidding), I learned how to present a handgun from a holster (the technical concern is “present,” not “draw”) and engage targets with a controlled pair of shots to the thoracic cavity of an assailant at ranges of 3-15 yards in just a few seconds and, where required, to also engage with a designated head shot. I learned secrets of sight alignment and trigger control that make the difference in not only delivering rounds on target accurately, but doing so quickly AND accurately. I learned how to clear malfunctions in minimum time and how to clear doorways and houses where required.
I was struck by two things continually as I went through the course. First, I was stuck by how much I thought I knew about using a gun that was just plain wrong, and second, I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know. That’s not a typo or unintentional word repetition. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. One particular example was the exercise in which the scenario was something like this: “You’ve just seen a guy with a gun enter your house with your family inside. You’ve called the police but they won’t be on scene for several minutes and you’ve just heard shots and screams from inside the house. What do you do now?” The answer involved me entering a mock-up house, gun in hand, and engaging targets where required and avoiding shooting innocent people where required, all with only a few seconds to make the decision to shoot or not. If you think you know how to do this and you haven’t been trained, trust me, you don’t – you’ll be shot within seconds by the bad guys, or worse, you’ll shoot the wrong people on the inside.
But the staff at Front Sight didn’t stop there. They also taught how to avoid confrontations, how to stay aware of your environment and how to stop an attack from an assailant before arms may even be necessary. They spoke extensively about the moral and ethical ramifications of engaging in a gun fight and continually emphasized that the use of arms was an absolute last resort. Anyone who tells you that trained gun owners are a bunch of cowboys spoiling for a fight has never been to a course like this.
So now that the training is over, I can tell you that my life is truly changed. If I’m put into a position to defend my family, I KNOW I can do it. Quickly, decisively and accurately. And I want to get back back to Front Sight again, as soon as I can, to improve my skills or learn new skills with a different weapon.
Sure, Colin Pearce will be a bigger bad-ass now that this training has occurred. But Chris Broyhill will be a more responsible gun-owner and able-bodied defender of his family as well.
And that alone was worth the price of admission.Read More
My presentation at the Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar in April has made the news! Robert Mark, the safety editor for Aviation International News Online, one of our industry’s premier news magazines, covered the seminar and gave the paper that David Freiwald and I wrote high marks.
Read his coverage here:Read More
I have the honor of being a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, otherwise known as “The River Rats.” Originally started by veterans of the air war over North Vietnam, it has since been opened to all military aviators. It exists largely to honor those Missing in Action in the Vietnam War, but it performs many charitable functions to benefit veterans and their families. You can read about the River Rats here. The Rats have a discussion group which I subscribe to and it’s very interesting to hear these gentlemen reminisce about their experiences and exchange opinions on different topics. The conversation is often lively and every once in a while, it is truly memorable. On today’s discussion, a gentleman who a Navy veteran made some observations about the all-volunteer military force which gave me pause. I’m sharing them here because they are, in my mind, very profound and I think they need to be “out there.”
To set the stage, this gentleman was reflecting on a discussion about an impromptu “flash mob” which formed at Reagan Airport to cheer a planeload of World War II veterans who were exiting their plane enroute to a ceremony on The Mall. When a group of veterans travel together on a plane to attend an event like this, it’s called an “Honor Flight.”
Now here are the gentleman’s words:
When we intentionally make – post-Vietnam, no conscription, for reasons we all know very well – military service entirely voluntary, we obtain two long-term results:
a. A VERY professional and proficient military, far better than we have ever had in the past;
b. A citizenry that generally and deeply believes they have the RIGHT to pursue their individual goals – many selfish and avaricious – with no thought of the nation’s defense.
Technology, capital, unit/service/joint cohesion, intense training, and great people (at all levels) have allowed “a” to work reasonably well. However, “b” is creating a society in which large segments – especially among the better educated – rarely even think about the sacrifices required to sustain this nation; when they do, they fundamentally believe it is not their concern.
Consider, for a moment, the current officer and senior-NCO/Petty Officer “corps” (let us just say E-6 and above) in all the services. Without question, they are excellent; however, we far-disproportionately see the sons and daughters of the professional military, kids from areas (urban and rural) that perpetually experience difficult economic times, and those (frequently, immigrants and minorities) who are attempting to achieve a “foothold” (education, skills, minimal financial security, respect) in our society. What we do NOT regularly see are the children of middle/upper-middle class suburbia, educated at excellent high schools and colleges, and willing to make selfless scarifies for the common good, for our nation’s defense (after all, many of these youngsters already have “education, skills, minimal financial security, respect” as a near-birthright).
I do not believe that America can, over the course of several generations, prevail with a citizenry where only a distinct minority believes service is critical. The self-anointed elites:
a. Become increasingly disconnected from the majority of Americans;
b. They – and their children/grandchildren – develop attitudes of entitlement and of superiority (“let Manuel serve, I’m too valuable to do so, and – besides – it will interrupt my pursuit of wealth and privilege at Harvard”);
c. They will never understand that they are personally and individually responsible for America’s security and success.
What does all this have to do with the Honor Flight? I suggest, a LOT. Those who serve with honor – and, sometimes, with distinction – invariably understand that America requires “contributors” as well as “takers,” that by serving and sacrificing together, we develop an abiding respect for each other, and that wealth really is not crucial – the truly important things in life cannot be purchased. We need mandatory, national service now!
Tom Brokaw and Stephen Ambrose popularized the term the “Greatest Generation.” With profound respect for my parents’ cohort, I suggest that the more-appropriate way to understand this phenomenon is that virtually all who serve honorably – regardless of when they do so – become “great” through their experiences and sacrifices, but that during World War II we had an overwhelmingly large number who did so.