Random Thoughts: A Mindful Miscellany

from Marcus Wynne

Posts Tagged ‘Preparedness

Random Thoughts On Civilian Training Considerations (14 Jan edit)

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There are many more qualified voices (than me) out in the wilderness of the Error-Net on what constitutes “good” (whatever that means, specifically) training for the civilian gun-toter (and even more for police specific training).

Some especially good ones are:

• Greg Ellifritz, Active Response Training: http://www.activeresponsetraining.net
• Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor: https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com
• Ralph Mroz, The Street Standards: https://thestreetstandards.wordpress.com
* Massad Ayoob, Massad Ayoob On Guns: http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/

There are thousands of blogs and forums where the tacti-cool Error-Net Community can weigh in and pundit-ize from their keyboards (not withstanding that there are some EXTRAORDINARY voices out there; they just tend to get drowned out in the background noise, which is why I no longer participate in forums and the vast majority of blogs etc. except as a mostly passive consumer of good information).

One topic that’s getting a lot of digital ink is how, dadgummit, should us civilians be prepared to fight terrorists in the streets of our home cities?

It’s an interesting question for a bemused observer on the sidelines, which is me most days. I had an interesting series of dialogues in recent weeks with several of my mentors and some other colleagues. One of them, my long time friend and mentor Ed Lovette, now (unfortunately) retired from active training, said this: “You know, there’s really nobody that’s out there that is doing a good job of preparing the average civilian (responsible) gun owner for dealing with the significantly higher threat of aggravated assault, armed robbery, mass attacks (whether criminal or terror motivated) and terrorism that we’re seeing now.”

I think there are, but at least from my view on the sidelines I see the endless Balkanization of “firearms” or “tactical lifestyle” or whatever: over here you can learn the latest and the greatest in pistol manipulation from open carry on the range; over here you can run deep concealment pistol; over here you can learn how to fight in the hole of 0-3 yards; over here you can learn to deploy your knife to defend your gun or sneak up on an ISIS operator and score a knife kill, blah blah blah.

Not much in the ways of an integrated carefully thought out and designed program.

Since that’s kinda sorta what we do at Accentus-Ludus, I thought I’d share some random thoughts here.

One of my dear friends and long term students Guro Diana Rathbone came to me and asked for my help in designing a “training walkabout” for her; i.e. an extended professional reboot/upgrade to take her world class martial arts skills and accomplishments and use those as a platform to launch her into the world of defensive firearms with a focus on female civilians. So here’s a break down of what we sketched out and what she’s already done and is doing.

I based this loosely on the post-Basic and In-Service training a federal agency involved in counter-terror did. After Basic Firearms and Specialized In-Service Firearms qualification, there were three “outside” schools that were considered to be finishing courses to prep operators (or whatever we were called in those days, agents/officers/ninjas, I’m old, I forget….):

Cooper-era Gunsite pistol curriculum – to refine and install the basic manipulation skills.
Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute curriculum – to get the legal piece down, so we knew when we were justified in shooting the bad people;
Bill Rogers’s Shooting School -to get manipulation, accuracy, speed, and decision making honed in the crucible of the man vs. machine set up that remains one of the best tests of combat marksmanship ability.

That’s not a bad sequence of classes, albeit expensive (but not if your Agency is paying, LOL) and follows a pretty good conceptual base: basic manipulation and known distance marksmanship and holster skills, followed by intensive legal grounding in when to shoot, followed by intensive testing at fusing those concepts together.

But things change, sometimes for the better (says an old curmudgeon) and we’ve learned an awful lot about how the brain works, how the legal landscape has evolved (especially for civilians) and especially the threat matrix for shooters. I’m going to confine my comments to the armed civilian context here, as there are better qualified folks to comment on the high end tactical piece, though I do occasionally get to consult with those type of folks, at least according to the e-mail I get here at the Old Fogey’s House.

Here’s the conceptual sequence I set up for Guro Diana Rathborne for her transition into the world of defensive firearms:

Situational Awareness, Environmental Manipulation, Pre-Violence Indicators. (The Fight Before The Fight).
• Some Old Guy In Minneapolis (perception enhancement, cognitive-neurological training to enhance situational awareness and accelerate learning of motor skills, other stuff)
• Matt Graham, Graham Combat, ARAINDROP (Environmental Manipulation/Situational Awareness)
• Greg Ellifritz and William April, UNTHINKABLE (violence pre-cursors, psychology of violent offenders)

Firearms Training Specific to the Needs of the Female Shooter:
• Louann Hamblin, LOUKA Tactical

Specific training focus on enhancing manipulation/shooting skill:
• Claude Werner (3 days private training previously, 1 1/2 days recently)
• Dave Harrington (3 days private training in pistol, 3 days on carbine)
• Rogers Shooting School, Intermediate/Advanced Pistol w/Carbine add-on

Mental Aspects and Seeking Wisdom from the Sage Elders
• Ed Lovette
• Bob Taubert

Other Training Aspects and Visit With Highly Advanced Young Guns
• A former student visiting as a guest instructor for the FBI HRT (Special Operations Command Combatives Program)

Combatives and Different Martial Arts (she set up most of this herself as she’s an in-demand instructor for advanced and beginning martial artists, a regular law enforcement trainer and presenter at IALEETA, etc. etc.
• Nick Hughes, French Foreign Legion Combatives
* Pat Tray, USA Combatives, renowned SEAL operator and instructor
• Various martial arts schools

Some training she’s scheduling right now:

• Massad Ayoob’s latest evolution of his legal material.
• Washington State Police Training
• Various classes at the Sig Sauer and Smith & Wesson Academy
• Visits with Burt Duvernay, Ralph Mroz, Karl Sokol and a few who shall remain nameless.

That’s a pretty good curriculum to accomplish in a few months, and a significant expense in time and money. But if you figure that you’re looking to get a graduate level education in a new field in a compressed time frame, may as well as go the distance, and the total expense is significantly less than a 2-4 year degree in something else and a hell of a lot more practical.

So what’s the flow, or the big pieces that add up to at least one definition of a good education in gun-fighting?

Soft skills. The stuff that’s not sexy (or maybe it is, if you’re a neuroscience geek like me) like learning pre-violence indicators and predator behavior, tweaking your own cognition and neurology so you learn faster, retain more of what you learn, and can apply what you learn under life and death stress; manipulating your environment (including those around you) so as to enable you to move safely through chaotic situations/circumstances and events; what to do if you’re captured or a victim (including some escapeology); stress management pre-fight in-fight and post-fight, mindfulness/meditation/visualization technique to support all of the above. Generating and maintaining an attitude of humility and gratitude and service to others.

Unarmed skills. Diana’s way ahead of most, having 30 years of full time martial arts training and instructorship, and having a wall full of hard-earned certificates from every major component of the Inosanto JKD Universe and others. Basic skills to consider – me, I’m a big fan of basic military combatives like the evolution of the WW2 stuff made famous by Fairbairn and Sykes. Simple, robust, easy to retain, serves in 80-90% of the circumstances you’ll run into. Boxing is great, but any vigorous martial art is better than nothing. SPEND TIME EXPLORING HOW TO INTEGRATE THOSE SKILLS INTO ARMED SKILLS. For that I highly recommend the Filipino systems as the concept of fluidity and flow translate well to armed combat with knives as well as guns, in my experience.

Intermediate armed skills: Contact type weapons including pepper spray, knives, sticks, and improvised weapons, including environmental evaluation and use (walls, door handles, doors, bar rails, chairs, etc.)

Firearms skills: Basic safety and manipulation of handguns. Progress rapidly from that into a solid defensive oriented handgun course that addresses concealment and realistic application of the handgun. Right now it appears that the best there is in terms of track record is Mr. Tom Givens at RangeMaster, though there are a great many people out there providing quality instruction. An advanced handgun course (from guys like Paul Howe, Dave Harrington, Claude Werner, Bill Rogers, etc.)

A necessary skill set is the application of the extreme close range gunfight which includes grappling, striking and clearing a fouled weapon. Craig Douglas at ShivWorks pretty much set the bar (I found over 200 e-mails from him dating back to the early 90s when we were kicking around his concepts while recently archiving research material!) though Greg Ellifritz does an excellent job with that as well.

The legal piece gets way overlooked. Training with Massad Ayoob is a must while he’s still around. There is no one better. Period. There are good books, and a good lawyer is a must.

Scenario training: a must have. You must test your skills force on force under the supervision of a SKILLED instructor who knows how to set up scenarios and run them properly. The gold standard is the legendary Lou Chiodo of Gunfighters LTD http://www.gunfightersltd.com out in CA, whose focus on force on force firearms training revolutionized forward leaning law enforcement. Gabe Suarez also teaches and presents a significant amount of material on force on force training.

That’s a hell of a lot, isn’t it? And way out of most everybody’s investment range in both money and time unless you are a full time training professional (who can write the entire investment off).

If you’d like to contact Guro Di or follow her journey on Facebook, here’s her contact info:

Diana is on Facebook and LinkedIn
Her direct contact info: diana.rathborne@gmail.com

So how does Joe Six-Pack and Sally Suburban, new to the world of defensive firearms, approach their training in a time and cost efficient fashion? I assume that they are serious in approaching this and are self-motivated….

Here’s some ideas:

• Read through the four blogs I listed above. Read a LOT. There’s a huge amount of material archived there. Identify the themes and names those four mention as quality trainers.

• Look those people (quality trainers) up on YouTube or online and JUST READ. Generate a list of questions, but JUST READ. Don’t get sucked into the black hole that is Error-Net Gun-Dumb.

• Post your questions at one of the four blogs above. There are other good ones, but those four are extremely high value and very conscientious about answering questions.

• Read some good books. DEFENSIVE LIVING by Ed Lovette and Dave Spaulding, THE TRUTH ABOUT SELF PROTECTION by Massad Ayoob are two very excellent overviews on the whole spectrum of personal protection. Read Gavin De Becker’s THE GIFT OF FEAR and Joe Navarro’s WHAT EVERY BODY IS SAYING to get a good jump-start on soft skills. If you find that interesting, read UNMASKING THE FACE by Paul Ekman. Those five books will put you way ahead of most “gun people.”

• Consider taking a good quality self-defense program if you don’t have any martial arts background. Good quality is short, simple technique that you can validate on a padded opponent immediately. Check out martial arts schools.

• Based on “high quality” information, make a decision about what kind of firearm you’re looking for BEFORE you go to the gun store. Armed with information, go in and get your hands on one.

• If you are required to take mandatory training before you can purchase (like CCW etc.), take the cheapest/fastest/closest training – and compare what you’ve learned from your previous research with what you may be shown/exposed to in such a class. It may be wise to just keep your mouth shut and your head down and get your ticket punched. Don’t expect much.

• Once you have purchased your weapon, then look around for a local basic class. The NRA Instructor referral board is a good start. Asking around, and relying on your perception of “quality” training as formed from your due diligence on the internet with reliable sources, pick a basic class and take it. This class should cover gun safety, basic legal familiarization, holster skills, weapons manipulation, basic marksmanship in a range context.

• If you can’t afford a more advanced class after a basic introduction class, consider pooling together with like-minded potential students and hosting a class. Many top tier instructors will travel to you if you can get 6-8 students together to spread out costs. There are also some good schools regionally.

• Build a training/practice plan and a training budget. Claude Werner’s Pistol Practice Program is as good as it gets, a very reasonable investment in a DVD with a plan, targets, and MP3 timed coaching tracks. $40. Make a training budget. You need ammo and range time (and you should budget for accessories like holsters, belts, eye and ear protection etc.) A bare minimum would be one box of ammo once a month, coupled with a daily dry fire routine. A better would be twice a month, 50 rounds each time for a total of 100 rounds, coupled with a daily dry fire session of no more than 10-15 minutes. A serious high-end commitment would be once a week for 150 rounds, with a 15-30 minute daily dry fire routine that encompassed tactical movement, etc., and a once a year 3-5 day training class.

• Work on stress management, visualization and mental rehearsal. It’s cheap. Work on integrating your unarmed skills with your armed skills and test it in scenarios, classes, whatever. You can find a few other like-minded people and have a training group that is fun and beneficial. Those other people could also pool resources to bring in “name” instructors if you want to up your game without traveling.

So there’s some ideas. As always, these are my opinions based on my experience and training and my professional work as a designer of training programs. Don’t take anything I say (or anybody else) on face value till you have measured it against your own experience and needs.

EDIT FROM E-MAIL: Hey all, don’t be bashful about posting comments. It’s a way to share your insights with the significant audience out there. I do moderate comments to keep off the idiots and the Achy Man Haters https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/repost-achy-man-on-corruption-reply-to-the-haters-and-chapter-two-of-threes-wylde/, LOL, but reasonable posts and disagreement welcome.

From Evan Hill of Hill People Gear: He points out a glaring hole in the plan, i.e. TCCC or tactical medical care. Yes, treating gunshot wounds, your own and others, should be part of a comprehensive education, and first aid including trauma management should be part of any adult’s skill set. Thanks Evan!

Written by marcuswynne

January 13, 2016 at 1:01 am

Random Interesting Things…

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Here’s an Old Guy showing the Young Guns how it’s done:

My friends all know my love of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction; this gem by the astonishing duo of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is one of the *funniest* takes on the Apocalypse I’ve ever read:


This graphic is a pretty cool overview of what’s minimally necessary in an emergency kit or “Bug Out Bag”:


I’m working on two books and a variety of articles (one will be forthcoming in John Robb and Shlok Vaidya’s http://www.resilientcommunities.com) as well as some blog posts. Think the next thing will be a gear round up. Or something else completely Random.

Stay tuned for another chapter of THREE’S WYLDE, available only via Smashwords for the time being. Thanks to my beta readers for your comments and notes; I guess I could turn down the f-bomb usage, however, that is *exactly* how people in those circumstances talk…as one of my teachers at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop opined…”Marcus has a grasp on the most pungent aspects of the colloquial…”

That’s fancy talk for “I swears a lot sometimes, jist like real pipples.”


The Cognitive Neuroscience folks at DARPA are undergoing some changes to reflect the massive influx of attention and funding that last month’s announcement of the BRAIN initiative generated https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRAIN_Initiative — I’m looking forward to my next visit out there:

Written by marcuswynne

May 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm

REPOST: Random Thoughts On What To Do If…

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[I originally wrote this in response to the Boston Marathon bombing.  In light of recent chatter and the anniversary of 9/11, I thought I’d post it again.  May you find it useful.]

Whenever there’s a major terrorist event, a number of mainstream television and radio news producers roll through their computer indexes and contact me for commentary. I’ve been doing this since 9/11 for outlets like Fox, NBC, ABC, Oprah, Good Morning America and hundreds of smaller affiliate stations.

Since the bombings in Boston on Monday, we’ve seen ricin attacks on the President and the Senate, an infrastructure attack on the power, internet and telephone grid in the Silicon Valley, an explosion of suspicious origin in Waco on or about the anniversary of the Waco Siege and the Oklahoma City bombing, and, today, a running firefight in Boston with what’s being reported as a Chechan terrorist.

I’m reminded of the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

A question that comes up, often, either during or after one of these news engagements is “What can I do to protect myself or my family?” The person most often asking that is a non-professional in the world of violence; i.e. somebody just like us, a regular citizen who isn’t a cop, a firefighter, a soldier, or a first responder.

Quite often the responses I read or hear elsewhere from various authorities go like this: Avoid crowds, stay away from big public events, etc. etc.. I’ve said this myself.

And I think it’s also important to remember that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, to get us to stay home and watch events on TV, to live in fear and demand that the government do *whatever* to make this stop.

Doing that helps the terrorists win.

Let’s not do that. Let’s get on with our lives and refuse to be cowed, refuse to allow others to rob us of joy and the simple pleasures of going about our lives.

So here’s some easy to implement recommendations that apply whether you are a professional in the world of violence, or a citizen going about his or her life. My focus here is more on the latter than the former, though professionals may find something of use here as well.


    Have a plan.

When you go out with your friends or family consider these points:

*Do I know that if my phone service suddenly goes flat that I may be able to get text messages through to others even if my voice calls don’t go through?
*Do I have wi-fi on my phone that I can connect with if the cellular phone lines go down?
*Could I contact people through my Facebook, Twitter or other social media?
*Do I have flagged on my phone the URL for Red Cross People Locator or Google People Finder (these are web-based services that allow people to go on and post that they are okay, and for other people looking for missing people to post information; these go live immediately after a major incident)
Red Cross Safe and Well: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
Google Person Finder: http://google.org/personfinder/global/home.html
*If we become separated and our phones don’t work, do we have a rally point? “If something happens and/or we lose cell phone contact, I’ll meet you back at the car immediately, or I’ll meet you at the Red Cross Station, or we’ll meet at the front of the Target, etc.”
*Do you have any training and/or experience in first aid?
*Do you carry any items with you that could be of use in an incident? Flashlight, first aid gear, bandanas, scarves, extra medication for you or yours, etc.?

    Pay attention. Situational awareness.

Without going into the detail I teach in training aspects of situational awareness, here’s some brief points — your neurology is hard-wired to recognize certain kinds of threats. Most often people have some deep intuitive “knowing” before something or someone goes bad. Not always, and a public bombing is certainly one of those kind of incidents.

The main cue your neurology looks for is: What is out of place? What is out of place is what kills you. That’s hard-wired in the brain.

So when you’re out enjoying yourself, pay attention to any little intuitive nudges that come into your consciousness. These three questions below help keep you on task if you choose to train this skillet:

*Who is out of place? In other words, who sets off your inner warnings? Not paying attention to what everyone else is, inappropriately dressed, strange behavior, carrying a bag that suddenly is set down and he walks away from…
*What is out of place? A bag set out on the sidewalk away from the trash? A vehicle abandoned at a certain time or place? One or more people suddenly moving quickly away from your area?
*Where can I go if there’s trouble? The main rule is: Create Distance. Move away from that person/object/situation that troubles you, and look around for cover or a place to go.


*If you are not immediately injured by a bomb or shooting incident, get down and cover your loved ones. If you are within 2-3 steps of cover (around a corner, or a heavy planter, or behind a car, take those steps and then get down.
*Wait behind cover or in a down position for at least a minute (it will seem longer). Why? There may be secondary explosions; more than one blast or else explosives set to kill first responders or people fleeing along the most likely avenues of escape.
*While you are waiting, assess yourself for injuries (sometimes you won’t notice if you’re injured if you’re riding on adrenaline) top to bottom; then check out those you are with.
*Once you’ve assessed yourself determine whether you need self care or need to administer first aid to someone with you; also look for an escape route, preferably one where everyone else is NOT going — in a panic situation people tend to flee along the easiest routes. Look for alternatives if you can.
*First aid for injuries: immediate life threatening injuries are lack of breathing, massive bleeding, traumatic amputations, etc. A basic First Aid course goes a long way in giving you a useful, easy to retain under stress skill set for surveying and handling initial injuries and determining what you can and can’t do, and when to call for help. Do what you can with what you know and what you’ve got with you or you can improvise. A lot of lives and limbs were saved on Monday by trained people improvising tourniquets and using clothing and such for dressings. A small kit (see below) doesn’t take up much room and will save your life or those with you.


*Your first responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones. Take care of yourself and your loved ones first.
*Once that’s done, then take a moment to assess your situation:
Can you help? Do you have skills, equipment, experience that will help the situation, or will you just get in the way?
Should you help? Do you have others to care for? Are you injured or emotionally distraught by what just happened? Can you do something of use?
*Think it through before you jump in. Sometimes the best thing you can be is a good witness.
*Clear the area asap.
*Contact your loved ones utilizing your communications plan listed above.
*When you’re in a safe place, take stock if you have anything the authorities might benefit from: video footage, still photos, or eyewitness accounts, all of which benefited the Boston investigation.
*Give yourself time to recover. For those unused to that level of violence, and even those who are, there is a delay in reaction — you may feel edgy, jittery, jump when you hear loud noises, etc. If you feel the need, contact a counselor earlier than later. And of course, if injured in any way, get a medical check up.


All of us carry items with us every day in our pockets, our briefcases and laptop bags, our purses. Adding just a few small items and having them with you whenever you go out can mean the difference between life and death if caught in a public incident. Here’s some suggestions:

*Bottle of water (to drink, to rinse out eyes or wounds)
*Bandana, handkerchief, scarf (improvised smoke mask if dampened with water, improvised bandage or tourniquet)
*Flashlight (if you’re caught out after dark or else indoors somewhere and the power goes down)
*Sturdy walking shoes (if you’re wearing dress shoes to work, consider if you’d be able to walk home or any significant distance in the shoes you’re wearing…)
*Cutting implement (pocket knife or pocket folding multi-tool, very small and handy)
*Fully charged cell phone (consider one of the small battery back ups, too)
*Small pack of moist wipes (substitute toilet paper and general clean up)
*Hank of cord or paracord
*Small mylar space blanket

With the exception of the shoes, all of that will fit into a Ziploc bag.

Given the nature of the injuries that you might see, I’ll recommend some first aid items/kits. However, the first and best investment is to take a first aid class. It’s a really necessary basic life skill, and offered through your local Red Cross for a low or nominal fee, and quite often for free with various sponsors. Take the Basic class, along with CPR/AED. If you are serious about dealing with major trauma, consider taking advanced classes, which will require a greater investment of time and money.

There’s two categories of first aid gear: “Boo-Boo” and “Blow-Out”

“Boo-Boo” Gear: Gear to fix boo-boos. Band-aids, chapstick, moleskin, tweezers, small packs of antibiotic, Benadryl, asprin/ibuprofen, antidiarrhoeals, safety pins, duct tape, any medications you or yours require daily.

“Blow-Out” Gear: Major trauma kit, i.e. severe bleeding, loss of limb, etc. IF you have training, you can do a lot for yourself or another person with a tourniquet, a multi-purpose dressing like the Israeli or the Olaes, a nasopharyngeal airway, a chest seal (or plastic wrap and duct tape), and EMT shears.

Recommended vendors:

Boo-Boo Gear: Dave Cruz at http://www.promedkits.com “Pocket Medic Kit” Not listed on the website, you have to call for them. Also a great source for other kits.

Blow Out Gear: Dave Cruz at http://www.promedkits.com. His “Blow Out Kit” was the first widely available commercial kit back in the 90s that addressed major trauma, and it’s inexpensive at $19.99. Add a tourniquet and you’re equipped like the big boys.

Dark Angel: Kerry Davis — his Pocket DARK is a high-end pocket sized package that is easy to tote around and most useful for intelligent but untrained/lesser trained individuals. His DARK kit is designed for professional level use.

ITS Tactical: http://www.itstactical.com/medcom/medical/developing-a-blow-out-kit/ A good starting point for an overview of what should be in your “Blow Out Kit” if it makes sense for you to carry one. Also provide a number of high end quality medical kits.

Chinook Medical: They offer a number of kits, below here is a list I made from their site for a blow out kit option for $25:


This gives me a Olaes Modular Bandage, a SWAT-T tourniquet, a N-P airway and EMT shears for $25 or so, before shipping. For the price of a pizza, a good investment. Make two or three cheap kits and pack them in Ziplocs, then drop them in your backpack or your purse or your laptop case.

And now get out there and find something to enjoy. Don’t let them win.

Written by marcuswynne

April 19, 2013 at 6:23 pm

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