Random Thoughts: A Mindful Miscellany

from Marcus Wynne

Swaggering Around, Unseemly As It May Be

with 6 comments

I remember, not long ago, doing a training demonstration for the Assistant Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, her Training Lieutenant, and the very seasoned Sergeant in charge of the MPD Tactical Team (used to be ERU when I kicked a few doors with them, don’t know what they call themselves now…). After going through a brief session (30 minutes) designed to help them recognize their own somatic markers in the presence of danger, the Sergeant made six out of six entries into a room where he was required to state, based on his monitoring of his somatic markers, where the “bad guy” inside the room was — before he entered.

He was right on six for six out of all entries.

What I remember most, with a mix of amusement and resignation, was his complete flabbergastment at his own performance. He didn’t want to believe what he’d just done, because by his (previous) belief system, what he had just done was impossible, and therefore was some kind of arcane trickery on my part.

I gave him a technical explanation, and his immediate pushback was: “Where’s the research?” My rebuttal was, “Did you just do it? Six times in a row? Do you need research to convince you that you just did what you did? And, by the way, we (me and my crew at Accentus) are DOING the latest research we just gifted you in an exercise.”

It took him awhile to sort it out, and when I saw him at a later date in his role as firearms instructor, he’d absorbed that experience, made it part of his reality map, and was passing on his own flavor to his students.

One of the reason’s I’ve always brought research up AFTER I do exercises that are designed to create immediate change in the brain is that most people who are on the cutting edge of doing, rather than blogging/YouTubing/blagging (similar to blogging, but more annoying) are immediately and justifiably skeptical about “research” unless you can show them, right there, right now, how it benefits them operationally.

Dude, I’m down with that approach.

Back in the old timey times, when 3-4 revolvers and a sawed off shotgun were the “operators” tools of choice, I immediately questioned all “research” with my default “Oh, bullshit, show me.” So I get it why some of my colleagues and clients and students don’t want to hear about research UNLESS you can demonstrate why they need to spend some of their very limited time on that.

As my good friend and colleague Ralph Mroz points out in this article (insert Mind’s Eye link) we’ve been about 20-30 years ahead of the “firearms/training industry research” pretty much forever.

So it’s very gratifying when the mainstream science community catches up with our applications. One of my many attorneys pointed out with some amusement, “Marcus, you’re in a unique position. You’ve been proving this stuff works on the street and the battlefield for 30 years…and you had to go back to the lab to prove that street results were real!”

Word, bro. Word. Good thing I’m scary patient by nature.

There’s been a slew of recent research studies that have come out recently that lend support to the controversial exercises I’ve developed, taught, and validated in very hard arenas all over the world.

Specifically we’ve developed a number of exercises designed to help operators more rapidly recognize (and act) upon their individual somatic markers (insert Wikipedia link Somatic Marker Hypothesis) in the presence of danger. Primarily this is focused on refining the sense of imminent danger from humans nearby (though we have validated it in the field at over 300 meters) and the response it elicits in humans who, these days, are more unaware than not of everything, especially subtle feelings in the body traditionally associated with emotions (hair standing up on the neck, sinking feeling in the stomach, etc. are examples).

This plays off our fundamental emphasis on the importance of preconscious processing as a foundational element in survival in the face of extreme stress and extreme danger.

In other words, we train the brain’s pattern recognition program to recognize its own signals faster and sooner so as to speed up the decision making process in fast breaking human on human conflict. To recognize danger early. To recognize the shift in another human from OBSERVATION to ATTENTION and then ATTENTION to INTENTION.

Kind of a useful skill, wouldn’t you agree?

We reliably, and repeatedly, train brains to recognize the precursors before the precursors that are normally taught as fight precursors, to recognize the subtle muscle pre-firing that occurs before conscious thought as long as 2-7 seconds before action. As one of the studies cited below indicates, they’ve demonstrated in the lab the ability to predict 14 seconds before conscious thought and action. We have some anecdotes of that time frame from the field, problem is that our guys either left the area or decisively killed their opponents before they got well into their action sequence.

So if you’re interested in the hard science behind the stuff we do, which has been for 30 years often dismissed as hoo-doo (though embraced by some of the very best in the world and utilized operationally right now in some of the hardest counter-terror environments in the world) skim through these recent science articles.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/people-can-sense-earth-magnetic-field-brain-waves-suggest

How does the ability to respond and sense magnetic fields matter to the brain of a gunfighter?

BLUF*: The human organism generates an electromagnetic field from the heart and brain (see research at HeartMath, a DOD contractor and JSOC provider). At the preconscious level all humans feel variations in that field in other humans especially under stress or intention focused at another.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-39813-y

How does the ability to decode imagery before “volitional engagement” matter to a brain of a gunfighter?

BLUF*: Human brains visualize in the visual cortex before taking action, working off pattern recognition fragments or whole patterns. This causes measurable change in the brain which in turn is reflected in EM activity which is detected by nearby human brains.

https://qz.com/1569158/neuroscientists-read-unconscious-brain-activity-to-predict-decisions/

How does the ability to read brain activity to predict decisions 11 seconds before people act matter to the brain of a gunfighter?

BLUF*: Uh, if a gunfighter can predict you 11 seconds in advance, even an ancient one eyed fat man like me could shoot you lots of times before you shoot me. Sorry — this is a more accessible and popular science explanation of the study above.

If you go back to the PDF of our peer reviewed research study published in THE JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL AND POLICE PSYCHOLOGY https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/a-major-milestone-for-accentus-ludus/ you’ll see reference to our somatic marker training. Still plenty of room to improve what we’re doing out in the field. And my brilliant research staff, when they’re not tutoring the Dalai Lama or treating PTSD with wolf therapy, will drive on with that mission.

Try it. You might save some lives, including your own.

*BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front

And while I rarely swagger around, thinking it unseemly in someone of my age, I’m going to post this video, because it captures how I’m feeling today. Thanks to my researchers, and the many hundreds of thousands of men and women out there who took this stuff on board to save their lives and many others, and thanks to God for gifting me with the ability to take this out into the world and save lives.

If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, please go here www.marcuswynne.com and sign up for my newsletter.  While it’s right now focused on selling books, I’m in the process of creating a consolidated website and newsletter that covers all this stuff.  Free, no spam.

From The One-Eyed Fat Man —

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Written by marcuswynne

March 19, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Everything Old Is New Again

with 2 comments

A friend recently sent me this video of the very talented Pat MacNamara and mentioned how the “proprioceptive” drills Pat Mac is doing here looked familiar.  I don’t take credit for his excellent drills, and I have done similar exercises when I was a firearms instructor back in the days of Barney and Fred in THE FLINTSTONES.

I remember the pushback from some students (and most instructors) back in the day who wanted to know “What’s the benefit to my shooting to balance on one foot?  How does that pertain to a gunfight?”

Okay, legit questions then, legit question now.

As PM says here in a much more entertaining fashion, the purpose of his drill, and similar drills, is to develop and to exercise the ability to shoot decisively, i.e. quickly and accurately, while moving.  His point is that flat range training, especially amongst those who don’t have access to private ranges where you can easily run drills like this, doesn’t promote the use of the pistol while moving — and that every fight, gunfight or fist fight, involves movement.

In the older video below, Super Dave Harrington demonstrates a moving while shooting exercise that many Error-Net types ridiculed — because they didn’t understand what they were seeing, and not just because they couldn’t spell proprioceptive to save their lives, guns or not.  SD is also demonstrating utilizing the pistol shooting skillset while moving.  SD, I believe, first came up with the analogy that a pistol gunfighter has to be like a football quarterback:  you have to access your weapon, get out, align it with a target that is also moving, and snap the shot at the exact second necessary for it to hit what you aim with.  All the time while ducking and bobbing and weaving to avoid getting clobbered by big sweaty dudes who crush humans for a living.

I like that analogy.

It’s like the difference between punching air, to punching a heavy bag, to punching a human who’s moving and punching you back.

So what these drills do is isolate the elements of knowing where you are in three-dimensional space (like a street) and how you are moving (direction, speed, stability), as well as training your TRANSITIONAL movements neurologically and physiologically (in your muscles, etc).

You may not be able to bust moves like PM on your indoor range, but I’m going to give you some exercises below that you CAN do on an indoor regulated range as a Joe Citizen.

But first watch two Grand Masters of the Fighting Pistol below.

Okay.  Now that you’ve seen that, here’s some ideas for drills you can do to exercise your proprioception and general kinesthetics to enhance your ability to move and fight with a pistol.  The intention here is to give you simple exercises you can do on an indoor regulated range where you may not be able to draw from the holster, and are limited to  movement within the box defined by your indoor range shooting stall.  Ideally you’d train this, and then go somewhere you could move and shoot to graph your improvement from baseline — if you can’t live fire, Blue Gun or Air Soft it and see how it works.

Start with your weapon loaded and laid on the shooting booth shelf.

From your hands in a ready position, or by your side, and standing center in the square defined by the walls of your booth

  • Step to your far right, shoulder to the booth wall, pick up your pistol, and fire one shot at a 3×5 card at 5 or 7 yds.
  • After that shot, take a long step to your left, shoulder to the booth wall, and fire one shot at the card.
  • Scan over your shoulders behind you and step back one step (remaining within the defined box of the shooter’s booth) on the left, fire one shot
  • Scan around you and step to your right to the far right of the booth and fire one shot.
  • Four shots, simple movement right, left, back and sideways, incorporating a real awareness scan,

THEN

  • Same sequence but start with your weight on your right foot when you step right, stay on one foot if you can, or use your tiptoe like PM does on your left to balance you — take your time and place your shot
  • Step to the left, weight on the left, tiptoe right to balance — place your shot
  • Scan behind and around you, step back with your left, weight on your left, place your shot
  • Scan behind and around you, step to the right, weight on your right, use your tiptoe left to balance, place your shot.
  • Four shots, exercising proprioception, balance, and maintaining your “wobble zone” in your sight picture, movement, scanning.

THEN

  • Same sequence as above, but with strong hand only.

THEN

  • Same sequence as above, with other strong hand only

RINSE AND REPEAT.

It’s harder — and more useful — than it seems, Pilgrims.

Take care, enjoy.

The One Eyed Fat Man

I’m consolidating much of my writing into a new, in-progress, website.  To keep current on my fiction, non-fiction, tactical writing, cognitive neuroscience, and strange adventures please go to www.marcuswynne.com and sign up at the bottom of the page for my newly revamped e-mail newsletter.

Written by marcuswynne

March 18, 2019 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A New Novel, And Upcoming Training Books (Update with Free Book)

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For my writing fans who just want to cut to the chase, here’s links to the new book WYLDE:  BOOKS 1-3 on Amazon and Smashwords.  By the time you read this it should be live on Amazon and Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/WYLDE-BOOKS-1-3-Marcus-Wynne-ebook/dp/B07LDZ3JWV/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1545332990&sr=8-2&keywords=wylde+books+1-3

Smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/912989

EDIT 30 JAN 2019:  SMASHWORDS  BOOK PROMOTION —

On Smashwords you can download these books as .mobi files to read with the Kindle app or on any Kindle device, as well as in PDF and all other e-book formats.  Sign up is free and they don’t spam you.

One new book:  WYLDE BOOKS 1-3 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/912989

One free book:  NO OTHER OPTION https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56252

One book on sale:  WARRIOR IN THE SHADOWS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/538353

New Book synopsis:

This compilation of the two previous WYLDE books JOHNNY WYLDE and TWO’S WYLDE with 60,000 additional words of new story brings the WYLDE story to a dramatic finale.  The two previous books have been revised, corrected and combined to flow with the new content.

WYLDE is a manic gunfighter-noir-crime story that blows up in high drama when you mix a bar bouncer with a shadowy military past, a gleefully criminal South African gun dealer, a sado-masochistic Russian couple who traffic in weapons and women, a Buddhist exotic dancer, a man-killing woman detective, assorted highly skilled dark side shooters and the sunniest down-home female assassin in the business.

Lyrical sex. Poetic violence. And poetry.
For adults only. Rated R for graphic sex, violence, language and mordant humor.

———————————-

For those who are curious about what’s up with the business, stick around.

I’ve been working on integrating the best research in sports psychology, cognitive neuroscience, stress inoculation, accelerated expertise and adult learning into military, law enforcement and private sector training since the late 1980s.  I’ve taught at hundreds of military and law enforcement academies, including the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at the Marana AZ satellite campus.  My work was adopted at the national level by the Norwegian National Police, the Swedish National Police, and the South African Police Force.  It’s also been adopted been adopted by specialty military and police units within those nations as well as the Israeli and UK training communities.  I continue to consult with a number of elite military and law enforcement units domestically and abroad.

So what?

In 2014, I started Accentus-Ludus LLC, a Department of Defense Research and Development Company focusing on integrating all the work we’ve done with innovative training design.

www.accentusludus.com.

We do good work.  Some has already been published after peer review in THE JOURNAL OF POLICE AND CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY and some of which is yet forthcoming elsewhere.  We have patents pending on specific training protocols and processes that create specific cognitive, neurological and behavioral changes that result in dramatic improvements in ability.  We’ve been invited to present at Google’s “X” facility, one of the most advanced research and development labs in the world, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research and Projects Administration) the US Department of Defense’s military Research and Development organization.  And we continue to consult with cutting edge researchers all over the world to refine what we do.

So what?

During the last five years I focused all my energy on getting the company up and running.  Now that we’ve taken it as far as we can, we’re selling the company along with some of the patents and intellectual property.  That whole burdensome process is being handled by Fredrickson & Byron www.fredlaw.com one of the largest law firms in the country, which specializes in IP sale, IPOs, financial packaging, etc. for companies like Medtronics and Cray, to use two local examples.

So what?

It means I can let someone truly competent run with that and I can get back to my *second* (after using research to save lives) true love which is writing.  The first order of business was to finish up the WYLDE series.  I just published that two days ago as a Christmas present for my very patient fans.  My roster of upcoming fiction includes a novella which wraps up the story of Dale and Charley from BROTHERS IN ARMS, and another long book like WYLDE titled THE ACHY MAN.  I’m already in discussion with major online streaming services about creating original series out of WYLDE and THE ACHY MAN.  I’ll keep you in the loop on when we move past talking and into doing.

My peers, colleagues, and students have long urged me to write a book about our training methods.  I’ve resisted for a long time because our approach is focused on fast effective immediate change to the human brain in the context of a carefully crafted training environment.  Setting down the complexity of that, especially while the process was in dynamic evolution, didn’t seem like an appropriate course of action at the time.

I’ve changed my thinking.  I think it’s time to do that.  I’ve become motivated since there’s been a concentrated effort on the behalf of unscrupulous individuals and organizations to steal some of our intellectual property, and attempts to take credit (to the point of plagiarism) for content we’ve written and research that we did.

I’m not, nor have I ever been, concerned with the “Hey look at me!  Look at what I did!”  factor. I am concerned with, and will always remain concerned with, saving as many lives as we can through our training innovations.  It’s irritating to see unscrupulous and unskilled wannabes attempting to take credit for their bastardized version of our work.  More to the point, they compromise student safety and downstream training effectiveness because they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.  The individuals who’ve actually trained directly with me have gone on to train hundreds of thousands of students:  the entire South African and Swedish National Police, much of the Norwegian National Police, and multiple elite military units all over the world.

Those vetted instructors know what they’re doing because they were trained properly and went out and applied and evolved their processes with my follow up coaching.

These unscrupulous individuals and organizations do not know what they’re doing.

So why not sue them?  I have the biggest, best and most expensive attorney roster in the upper Midwest.  Suing them would be trivial.  But I’d rather not spend the energy.  Let their own unscrupulous actions expose them.  The best revenge is living well.  In this instance, the best revenge is training others well — and let these LOSERS fall by the wayside.

So in the interest of setting the record straight, I have two training books lined up for release next year.

The first book is a compilation from my blog. Edited, curated, annotated, and cross referenced.

The second book is a detailed “working book” which is combination illustrated journal with hard science references and detailed case studies, most of which have never been publicized.

After that, it’s back to consultation, working with the new owners of Accentus for a period of time, and back to my fiction writing career.

That’s the long winded answer.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

 

Written by marcuswynne

December 20, 2018 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A Major Milestone for Accentus Ludus (edited 28 Sep 2018, to add direct link for approved PDF of the research paper)

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I’m very humbled to announce that THE JOURNAL OF POLICING AND CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGYhas completed its rigorous independent peer review of a research study measuring the efficacy of the neural-based training methods we’ve developed over the last 31 years of research and experimentation. (click here for the PDF: Approved Pre-Print Release

The paper establishes a brand new field of academic and scientific inquiry:  the fusion of accelerated expertise concurrent with stress inoculation.  It establishes us as pioneers in this new field and validates our training protocols in the laboratory.  We’ve already validated our results on the street and on the battlefield for over 31 years.

Our patented process and training protocols change the brain through the mechanism of neural plasticity to create accelerated expertise concurrent with stress inoculation.

It’s this process that enables us to take two novices with the MP-5 and train them to perform and qualify, both on paper and in sim fights against non-compliant opponents. as experts who outperformed master instructors.

In four hours.  Case study here: INSERT LINK

With an early version of that process, we worked with a group of rape survivors so traumatized that they were triggered into severe PTSD symptoms at the mere sight of a handgun. After training, women who were previously unable to look at a handgun were fighting with that same handgun against two large aggressive and highly skilled male fighters armed with real machetes and baseball bats.

The women won their fights. 100% lethal hits in dynamic full contact force on force.  They outperformed the local SWAT shooters who were, at best, around 40% hits in the exact same scenarios.

From start to finish, four hours.

Ed Lovette, who was in charge of paramilitary training for an Other Government Agency, was an expert witness to the training that day.  He turned to me and said, “Chico, you broke the code.”

We’ve since then been quietly invited to many of the most elite military and law enforcement units in the world to provide training for their instructor cadres:  CASE STUDY HERE

We’re now taking our refined process and automating it with cutting edge technology.  We’re going to do just what Neo experienced in the Matrix:

This is my amazing research team.  One of them is a tenured professor who, when she’s not tutoring the Dalai Lama and his monks in cognitive neuroscience, is busy defining the cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness and how to apply that to keeping good guys and gals alive.  The other works with wolves in a therapeutic setting to help veterans cope with PTSD, when she’s not saving lives at her clinical practice or running her roller derby team.

They are both amazing and brilliant woman who I am very honored to work with.

Dr. Aminda O’Hare, Research Director, Cognitive Neuroscience Advisor

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Dr. O’Hare is a tenured assistant professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She is the Principal Investigator of the Cognitive and Affective Psychophysiology and Experimental Science (CAPES) laboratory, which uses event-related potentials (ERP) techniques to investigate cognition and emotion interactions.  She has been awarded a Multidisciplinary Seed Funding Grant from the UMass system to study the relationships among perceived stress, biomarkers of stress and performance in college students.  She has been honored with a grant from the Mind and Life Foundation to study the effects of mindfulness practice on college relationships in first semester college students.  This grant takes her to India where she tutors the Dalai Lama and others at His Holiness’s educational institution in Dharamsala, India. Previously she completed a two year fellowship on the Cognitive Psychophysiology National Institutes of Health Training Grant at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she specialized in the neuroscience of anxiety, depression, and executive functioning.

Dr. Amanda Beer, Clinician, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Applications Advisor

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Dr. Beer is a licensed clinical psychologist (licensed in NC, WA, CA) who specializes in integrating awareness and strength-based approaches to help clients transform fear, stress and trauma.  She works with individuals and groups from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and has specific expertise collaborating with clients facing gender or racial oppression.  Her approach is collaborative in nature and grounded in feminist and Buddhist psychology frameworks.  As a scientist-practitioner, Dr. Beer is committed to utilizing evidence based and cutting-edge strategies while simultaneously honoring her clients innate power to change. Her clinical background involves specialized training in multi-cultural counseling competence, group psychotherapy and intervention, and mindfulness- based approaches to wellness.  She has engaged in intensive training on psychological trauma and healing.  Currently Dr. Beer facilitates educational and therapeutic programs that empower individuals, specifically at-risk youth, to identify with their inner wisdom and innate healing potential via connections with animals and nature in a setting working with wolves and wolf dogs in a unique educational context.

I want to thank all my friends and colleagues who have supported me in this crazy uphill struggle for 31 years.  And I want to also thank the many doubters and haters – our enemies can be great teachers. Mine certainly have been.

See you around the campus. Or out on the street.

Written by marcuswynne

August 29, 2018 at 1:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Six Years Of Random Thoughts (as of today)

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Wow.  Who’d of thunk it?  Six years.

Stand by for a brief video about the mental training open enrollment, pro and con.  Sometime this week in between other things.

cheers, m

Written by marcuswynne

May 2, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Brain Hacks For Better Shooting

with 9 comments

Below is a description of a stripped down version of one of our military programs.  It focuses on the mental attributes to support the act of shooting, not the emotional hardening and management of aggressive fighting physiology involved in gunfighting.  Obviously there’s some overlap but this is aimed at the general shooting community like competitive shooters, firearms instructors, firearms enthusiasts and not just the professional gun-fighter.

After discussion with our legal counsel, we’re going to experiment with a few open enrollment classes along this line.

We won’t be taking this on the road right away as we want to run a few to refine and test curriculum.

If interested, please leave comments or questions in the reply below or if you prefer an email to marcus@accentusludus.com

Thanks!

Cheers, m

 Brain Hacks for Better shooting

 The performance of your BRAIN drives your BODY to excellence.  This course builds the mental platform talked about, but rarely trained, in traditional shooting courses.  The methods taught are proven in both competition and in combat.  The instructor is the leading authority in applying these methods to shooting.  After professionally training federal law enforcement and military special operations worldwide for the last 20 years, he is now opening up instruction to civilian shooters.

 Course Overview

  •  You will leave with a better ability to shoot under stress and a personalized practice program to reinforce your mental skills at home.
  • This is a one-day course.  We’ll do live fire, dry fire, experiential exercises, and a minimum of lecture.
  • This is NOT another shooting skills course like you are used to – it is a mental skills course that will ENABLE you to shoot better.
  • We put the latest in cognitive neuroscience research into easy to apply practical exercises proven to dramatically improve shooting skills.

 

Subjects Covered:

  • How your brain works when you shoot.
  • Brain hacks to make your brain work better.
  • How to manage stress before, during and after shooting.
  • Every high-level shooter talks about how valuable visualization is:  have you ever been taught how to manipulate your visual processing and improve it?  We do that.
  • How to refine your physical movement using your brain.
  • How to manipulate your brain’s processing so that “you have all the time you need…fast.”
  • Putting it all together with “Deliberate Practice,” a method of self-training used by master performers in every field and profession. NOTE:  one of my colleagues, a naval special warfare instructor, pointed out that what we do is combine Deliberate Practice AND Deliberate Play (ala Cote) so for all the training-neuroscience nerds out there, that’s a better description of what we do and how we are different. (Edited 17 Apr 2018)

Sample Day:

  • Safety briefing
  • Live fire baseline drills
  • Introduction to concepts and overview of the brain
  • Visualization skills
  •  Stress management skills to mitigate stress before, during and after shooting.
  • Kinesthetic skills to improve how your body uses real time information
  • Temporal processing or how to manage how fast you perceive time
  • Deliberate Practice techniques to build a practice program that will build on your progress after this one-day training.
  • Baseline check to measure shooting progress after one day’s training.
  • Techniques for retaining and integrating your new mental skills
o Sleep cycle
o Hydration
o Refresher/checks
o Deliberate Practice

 

Taught by Marcus Wynne:  Marcus is the CEO of Accentus Ludus LLC, a DOD research company focused on enhancing mental performance.  He has been a pioneer in the field of enhancing mental performance in combative applications for 30 years.  He’s taught at national law enforcement academies in over ten countries, including the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and consults regularly with elite military counter-terror units in the US and abroad.  He served in the 82d Airborne and the United Nations Command Joint Security Force on active military duty during the 70s and 80s, and served again as a Federal Air Marshal, Air Marshal Team Leader, and Lead Firearms/Tactics Instructor during the First Gulf War in the early 90s.

 

 

Written by marcuswynne

April 16, 2018 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

In Honor Of Peter Wang

with 9 comments

If you don’t know who Peter Wang is, let me educate you. Peter Wang was a 15-year-old young MAN who died in the recent Florida school shooting. Peter Wang was a proud member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training program at his high school. He dreamed of attending West Point and serving his country in the military. As an ROTC cadet, he received firearms training and was reportedly an accomplished marksman.

He knew how to shoot a rifle and he knew what one can do.

He knew exactly what he was facing when he stood, in his grey and black uniform, in the line of fire and held open the door to his study hall. He herded dozens of his terrified classmates through to safety. He stood there protecting his classmates and saved all that he could till he was shot down.

He died where he stood.

15 years old. A young MAN. A MAN who gave his life to serve others by going in harm’s way to protect those unable to protect themselves.

A MAN. Very politically incorrect in these days of “toxic masculinity” to celebrate Old Skool virtues like courage, service to others, putting oneself at risk to protect those who cannot protect themselves, standing up in the face of evil, and holding the line despite terrible fear so that others may live.

I celebrate those values. And I honor this young MAN who delivered his young life to save others.

Today, in honor of Peter Wang, I’m going to share some insights about school and church security that WORK. How do I know they work? Among other things, I am a researcher. I went to Israel and interviewed and trained with the operators who provide training to the teachers and school security staff (remember, just about every Israeli is a veteran). I studied what others were doing in the US. I studied what worked and didn’t work at events from Colombine and Sandy Hook. I didn’t just recycle the endless Errornet commentary. I worked off actual police reports, autopsy findings, multiple perspectives of the incidents. And I ran all that through the filter of someone who has done high threat protection for over 40 years in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

Then I went and tested these concepts (as I always do and have been documenting and sharing in various forms of media from pre-web gun rags to this little blog since the 1980s) out in the real world. I was asked to consult with a religious school that in the estimate of the FBI and the Joint Terror Task Force has an extremely high threat from terror attack and organized criminal activity. I drafted a plan and launched it and have watched it evolve and survive significant risks over three years. One of the challenges in doing security is how do you document success? With good to great security, nothing bad happens to the target. But quite often there’s a lot of unseen or undiscussed action out at the perimeter.

As I always do, let me say this is not the only way. It is a way. It is a way that was rigorously researched, carefully designed, and then tested continuously. Thus far it has worked well. For OPSEC I’m not going to discuss some specifics.

START WITH THE MINDSET
• Do the school officials understand that there is a risk?
• If so, how much money are they willing to spend to mitigate that risk?
• Do they understand how to do a real threat assessment or do they know how to evaluate one done by an outsider?
• Are all the school officials on board?
• Are all the teachers and staff (including janitors and maintenance people)?
• What about the students? How far is the school administration willing to push them in terms of education and exposure to the reality of danger?

WHERE ARE THE BOUNDARIES? Before you can protect something you must define what it is you want to protect. You want to protect your kids at a school? Okay, then where are the boundaries? During school they’re in a classroom, they are moving between classrooms, or they are outside, or they are leaving or coming to the school.

• Where is the school physically located?
• Where and who are the nearest neighbors within two blocks of the school property line?
• Where is the closest fire station, hospital, police presence?
• Is there a fence around the school?
• Where are the primary entrances to the school?
• Where is the parking lot/bus debus area?
• How are the access points controlled if at all?

WHAT ARE THE EXISTING CONTROLS?
• Is there any sort of access control? Locked doors, ID requirements? What if any measures are there to control or monitor people coming and going into the school?
• What sort of alarm system or public announcement system exists?

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN? SPECIFICALLY?
• Does the school administration have a policy to address violence?
• Do any school administrators have formal training in how to address violence?
• Do any teachers or staff have any formal training (including experience as veterans etc.) in how to address violence?
• Is there a School Resource Officer? Is he/she an armed fully sworn law enforcement officer? Is there a specific spelled out policy on how to utilize a SRO along with detailed rules of engagement in specific scenarios? Does the SRO have radio communications with police dispatch?
• Is there a private security guard? Is he/she armed or unarmed? Is there a specific spelled out police on how to utilize? Are there detailed rules of engagement in an armed or unarmed violent scenario?

WHAT SPECIFIC DRILLS/SCENARIOS HAVE BEEN PREPARED FOR? ARE THEY TESTED AND IF SO, HOW?
• Are there regular fire drills? How are those conducted?
• Are there lock down procedures? How are those conducted?
• Are alternative procedures taught (if fire blocks the normal egress route, what do you do? If an active shooter starts breaking in your door when you are locked down, what do you do?)
• Are these documented? Are they evaluated by an objective observer?

This basic data set provides the baseline for evaluating the school’s current posture, which is essential to improvement. One person can gather this baseline information inside one working day. At the school I’m discussing, it took about two hours with the school executive director.

Then here’s what we did:

The mindset was right on. Everyone from the school administration to the teachers and the parents were concerned (rightly so) about security. They were very smart in that they took advantage of the Department of Homeland Security Security Grant Program which provides some very healthy sums in the forms of outright grants to improve security in schools and religious institutions. People who bleat that there isn’t money to improve security in schools haven’t looked hard enough. Is it an easy procedure? No. it takes attention to detail and diligence, but significant sums (tens of thousands of dollars and up) are available through the process.

Mindset was there. Money was there.

The next smart thing was they asked SEVERAL different people how do we best spend this grant money and the other money we’ve raised to protect our children? We’re educators, we don’t know security.

Very smart to know that you don’t know. The challenge is to find the right person to give you an appropriate answer. Plenty of security experts willing to capitalize on fear and lack of knowledge to take money out of your pockets. So what they did was ask many experts.

Here’s some of the answers:
• Build a bullet proof safe room in the auditorium and in an active shooting event, lock everybody in the auditorium.
• Arm former Navy SEALs and put one in every hallway.
• Put in an extensive camera system.
• Replace all the doors and windows with bullet proof glass.
• Ask the police department to station a police officer full time.
And so on and so forth.

There are several WTF? Answers above, which was my response when I came in at the end and asked the questions none of the others did: have you done a detailed physical security survey including access control, AND have you done a threat assessment in conjunction with the FBI and local law enforcement.

No and No, so I handled that for them.

Here’s the comprehensive solution we came up with, implemented, and test continuously:

We created a one page handout with a list of suspicious things to watch for along with the number of the school/religious institution AND the police department in a RECOMMENDED REPORT FORMAT and made sure every single neighbor for two blocks in all directions around the school got it. That pushes the perimeter back and adds to the number of eyes watching the school. It has worked EXCELLENTLY in terms of quashing some serious pre-operational elicitation and surveillance by bad actors.

We met with the Chief of Police, the County Sheriff, the FBI ASAC and representatives from the local JTTF. We established an ongoing liaison where our information on sightings/tests/suspicious events are reported directly into their system. As civilians its mostly a one way street (us to them) but it does keep the channels open.

We invited the local tactical units, EOD and bomb dog teams, and police training teams into the school and facilitated them using the school as a training resource. We’ve had SWAT teams, bomb dogs and EOD teams, and active shooter response training by the local police conducted there. This promotes familiarity with the facility and alternate breach points to make entry and places to stage from for the people most likely to respond.

We designed a comprehensive physical security upgrade. This included an extensive computerized camera system around the school and the perimeter that records 24/7 AND training for the people who watch the cameras as to WHAT to watch for. Upgraded access controls, better locks/intercoms, hardened primary access point, bullet/blast resistant enhancement to windows and doors. Budgeted for a better exterior fencing.

We identified and recruited an experienced school resource officer out of a gang populated public school. After additional training he was placed into the full time position of armed security director. He has since received extensive additional training in firearms, close protection, active shooter response (he’s an ALICE training certified instructor), unarmed combat, patrol procedures. He is the ideal mix of skilled and seasoned professional gunfighter AND a dad who’s great with kids. He is the primary training resource for the next line of protection, the school security volunteers.

The school implemented a procedure to identify, vett and train parents/grandparents/relatives of kids attending the school (or alumni) with an interest in volunteering to augment security. There are two tracks: armed and unarmed.

Unarmed: basic orientation on the dos and don’ts of security. No hands on, eyes only, radio procedures backed up with a cellphone report protocol in case the radios go down. Their job is to be eyes only, to watch and report on suspicious activity on or around the school during events or the school day. They are trained and coordinated by the school security director.

Armed: All of the above. If they wish to be armed, then they must on their own time and expense attend the necessary training to obtain a state CCW. They must qualify at the state level to do so. After that they must attend a mandatory intensive advanced pistol class conducted by the security director. Upon successful completion of that they must attend a detailed legal overview of the law and their responsibilities by a nationally recognized firearms legal expert. After that they are added to a roster that legally enables them to carry weapons on the school grounds WHEN DIRECTED by the security director. This particular group includes multiple veterans with combat experience.

The security director maintains a roster of volunteers and tasks them at random intervals to assess their continued willingness. If they are unwilling to come when needed, they are dropped off the volunteer rosters and they are no longer able to carry weapons on or around the school.

The training continues on a monthly basis and has included: ALICE active shooter response training, first aid/GSW management, bomb searches, and today there’s a class on responding to a terrorist bomb incident taught by Homeland Security – mandatory attendance for all volunteers.

Training extends to the teachers as well. All the teachers are taught (and regularly tested) about challenging anyone without ID or not known to them on the school grounds or inside the school. There is a set procedure involving challenge and notification of the school security officer/front desk. Inexpensive radios are available to all teachers in the classroom and to those monitoring outside activity that radio net is monitored by the school security director and the front office. The general awareness training includes bomb/IED awareness – unattended packages or abandoned backpacks, etc.

Ongoing initiatives include extending the opportunity to train and be armed to teachers who wish to volunteer, continuing education with volunteers and staff, continual upgrade and hardening of the physical plant and structure, and expansion of the full time security staff.

Someone, somewhere, is saying we can’t do that, we don’t have the money or whatever. I’d suggest reading this again and focusing on the smart process: figure out what you need or find someone trustworthy who can help you do that, get the money from DHS and augment it with local funds, spend it wisely, and invest a good amount in basic physical security and augment it with the force multiplier of good training and education and involve as many people in it as possible. You can’t secure a place with one armed person. You need to have EVERYONE in the facility and outside the facility feeding real time information into a diffuse security network so that the good guys with the guns can act most efficiently.

Some concluding guns and gear data for the people interested in that:

Handguns are whatever they qualify with and maintain. Ammunition is what the local PD or Feds issue. Concealment gear is up to the individual. I see primarily Glocks in various flavors and concealment by Raven, Blade Tech and several custom holsters by Dale Fricke, who is a specialist in church security.

Long guns are available. Because of the law prohibiting the carry of loaded rifles by civilian security forces, AR pistols have been utilized. The Daniel Defense MK18 (10.3 inch barrel) with a LAW folder and a SB Tactical brace topped with Troy folding irons and an Aimpoint Micro fits into a large bookbag and is good for a fast COM out to 200 yards which is the longest legitimate shot outside the school. It is legally a pistol and is so blessed by a national level firearms lawyer. There may be standard ARs with a variety of ammo and shotguns with slugs capable of stopping vehicles in some of the civilian patrol vehicles.

An intermediate option between the pistols and the long guns is the scoped/accurized “long distance pistol.” I was first introduced to the concept by Gary Wistrand, who was at the time the Deputy Director of the Secret Service, who carried an accurized Browning High Power while on Gerald Ford’s detail. He needed it for long distance shots while skiing with the then-President and was (I witnessed) capable of fast presentations and hits on steel at 100 yards with that High Power. At a measured 2 seconds. Gary was the first tactician of the now defunct (sadly) National Tactical Invitational Match to take first place on two separate occasions. We utilize a variant of the “Roland Special” concept – a G19 modified with a KKM match barrel and compensator topped with a Trijicon RMR 3.5 MOA. Good for handheld hits out to 100 yards which is the longest inside shot, and more concealable and faster into play than a bagged rifle that must be debagged, unfolded, charged and then put into action.

There are multiple trauma kits available throughout the school with a “throw bag” of throw down kits and light sticks in the main office. The concept is that a responder can grab the throw down bag and run to the worst injured and drop a basic kit off to someone with first aid training (like the teachers) to use and start immediate medic care. These are inexpensive, packed in plastic bags and include a tourniquet, a pressure bandage, duct tape, and Kerlix gauze.

In conclusion I want to say this to anyone who bleats about money or time and not having enough whatever: Shut up, step up, and make things safe instead of crying about it. Do something.

And honor the courage of a 15-year-old that stood up and did something.

God rest you and keep you, Peter Wang. You earned your seat at the Warrior’s Table. See you on the Other Side.

Written by marcuswynne

March 7, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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