I spent some time a couple of weeks ago with Jim Neff of Generations Firearm Training doing some night shoot practice and working on my colder-weather draw. This wasn’t a formal class per se, but just a few of his more advanced students hanging out and swapping ideas back and forth and working out new ideas for drills and practice routines.
A couple of his students have been trained in what’s loosely called “executive protection”, and they showed us a few simple drills for keeping someone safe as you engaged a threat with your handgun…
… and that’s when it hit me. The skillset I’m looking for as an armed civilian with a family isn’t the skills of a SWAT cop (which seem limited to shooting dogs and busting down the door of the wrong house…) or the skills of a beat cop or an Elite Tier One Tactical Operator, it’s the skills of a bodyguard.
My goals are not to execute a perfect breach-bang-clear or CQB drill as second nature: I want my family to survive the worse day of our lives, and that’s exactly what a bodyguard does.
Now I’m not going to bulk up, shave my head, get a pair of Ray-Bans and wear a bluetooth headset wherever I go, and I’m not going to watch “In The LIne Of Fire” over and over to pick up tips on how to protect my principal (even though it’s one of my favorite movies) and I’m definitely not going to give my family code names like Rawhide or Timberwolf, but I am going to filter what I’m learning through the lens of someone who wants to keep someone safe. It’s not that much different than why I’m studying karate: I know I’m not going to become a cage fighter in my middle age, but if someone throws a punch at me, I want some options available to me that involve more than cowering in fear.
This where the integration of situational awareness/empty hand/armed response comes in, maybe something like the DSG’s Box Drill with airsoft and live participants. Is there a threat? Where is it? Does it represent a danger to myself or my loved ones? Is the correct response to the threat retreat, de-escalation, an empty-hand response or deadly force? Can I safely execute the response?
That sort of scalable response is just not taught to civilians as an integrated package with practice drills and tests to make what you learn stick into your muscle memory and become second nature (kata, if you will). I can practice karate and I can practice shooting and I can practice situational awareness, but I’m not yet seeing a way to bring all the elements together in a way that is repeatable, testable and practical.