Concealed Carry Hand Guns
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
TRAIN TO STOP AN ACTIVE KILLER
Train to stop an active killer. By Kat Ainsworth
Active killer events—or active shooter incidents, as they’re referred to by the mainstream media—are not new. In fact, they’ve been going on for more decades than most people seem to realize. And although they are not new, they have been happening more frequently in schools.
Theories abound as to why this is taking place, but the cold, hard truth is societal norms now seem to encourage a twisted blend of entitlement and a narcissistic desire for notoriety. The real question is not do we have a problem; it’s how do we ensure we’re prepared to face it?
Here’s the good news: Active killer events have repeatedly proven true the axiom that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This is how to make sure you’re not only a good guy, but a well-trained, prepared good guy.
On Aug. 1, 1966, an active killer murdered his wife and mother then climbed to an observation deck at the University of Texas Austin. He then opened fire on the people below, murdering 14 people—one of whom was an unborn child—and injuring dozens of others. The event became known as the University of Texas Tower Shooting and held a place of infamy for nearly two decades.
That’s when, in 1984, the San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre took place in California. On that day 21 people were murdered and 19 were wounded by a man with a history of mental trouble. Since then, some of the more notorious active killer events have included the 1999 Columbine Shooting, and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting and Aurora, Colorado, Theater Shooting.
What stopped these killers? Good guys with guns. The 1966 murders were halted by off-duty LEO Ramiro “Ray” Martinez who arrived on campus only to discover his expectation of law enforcement presence already on the scene was completely inaccurate. Upon approaching the tower, he found only retired Air Force tail gunner Allen Crum, Department of Public Safety Agent Dub Cowan and Austin LEO Jerry Day on hand.
In the end, it took the combined efforts of law enforcement and a number of civilians armed with handguns and hunting rifles providing suppressive fire to allow Martinez and a handful of other men, including LEO Houston McCoy, to get close enough to put an end to the killing spree.
Good guys with guns may sound like a throwaway catchphrase, but it is based in reality. Remember, when your life is being threatened and seconds count, police are minutes away. This is your life. Be capable of defending it.
There are some stellar options available for active killer interdiction training. One such class is found at the Firearms Academy of Seattle in Onalaska, Washington (FAS). Marty Hayes, who founded and owns FAS, is a man whose resume includes law enforcement and a juris doctorate. You could say Marty is well-qualified for his job (the fact that he carries a Nighthawk chambered in 10mm just adds to his cachet, in my opinion).
Many, many years ago, Marty was the guy who first taught me I could finesse a handgun slide rather than trying to muscle it into submission and today he is also the guy teaching the FAS Active Shooter Interdiction class. When I took the class in 2018, it was hosted at FAS courtesy of the Polite Society Podcast and is now a regular fixture at the academy. Is FAS successful with this course offering? Well, you could say that, considering it was an FAS student who ended an active killer’s spree at a Washington State Walmart in 2018.
The FAS Active Shooter Interdiction course is designed for gun owners who already have their foundational skills down and are familiar with working from the holster. It is not for newbies; if you’re a new shooter, check out Intro to Handguns, Handgun Fundamentals and Familiarization, and Defensive Handgun, among others.
Skills honed to defend against active killers in the course include low-light/ no-light shoot house work, moving targets and scenario training, the latter of which is done using airsoft guns and multiple layers of safety. I highly recommend taking either this course or Gunsite Academy’s Active Shooter class. Both are stellar classes taught by skilled instructors.
Your training should be focused, not random, and that includes learning the skills to stop an active killer. An added bonus of an intensive-training class such as these is that it allows you to test your gear and ammunition at greater length. I’ve done Active Shooter Interdiction training using a variety of guns and a great deal of Inceptor frangible ammunition (frangibles are
“…ACTIVE KILLER EVENTS HAVE REPEATEDLY PROVEN TRUE THE AXIOM THAT THE ONLY THING THAT STOPS A BAD GUY WITH A GUN IS A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN.”
fantastic for closer-range and steelplate shooting). Whatever you use, run it hard. Find out what makes or breaks it (and you).
ON YOUR OWN
Yes, classes cost money. On top of the class fees, you can expect travel and lodging costs, ammunition and gear expenses, and time off work. It’s understandable you might be unable to carve out the time and money for a specialized class, leaving you wondering how to hone your self-defense skills to put an end to an active killer threat.
Before we get into this, be sure you understand the necessary skills for self-defense in general exceed what the average gun owner believes necessary—a couple hundred rounds fired a year does not training make, guys— and that when it comes to specialized training those skills reach even higher. This is not an exhaustive list of skills. It’s just hitting the high notes.
PERFORMANCE UNDER PRESSURE: Understanding and learning to cope with adrenaline is a big part of self-defense in general. This is an area that makes me believe those of us who hunt do have an edge because we’re familiar with the jitter-inducing, heart-pounding rush of adrenaline that accompanies the moment a big buck or a giant feral boar walks into our line of vision. Is it exactly the same thing? Of course not, but hunting does give you some much-needed experience. Going through and handling the pressure of performing in front of/ with a class and in competition are other ways to learn to deal with the pulse-pounding effects of adrenaline.
DRILL SHOOT-AND-MOVE TECHNIQUES: Yes, you must be able to shoot and move, and accurately impact moving targets. Not all ranges are equipped with moving targets and not all of them will let you work from the holster let alone work on shooting while moving. If possible, find a location where you can practice those skills. Shooting from a static position on a firing line takes a significantly different skillset than making good hits on an unpredictably moving target. Make it your mission to train with moving targets. This is not an optional skill. Moving target skills should be considered mandatory.
KNOW YOUR DRIFT AND DROP: Knowledge of drift and drop matters. Yes, really. The FAS course puts students through the paces of 50yard shots on steel—yes, with their handguns—and also shooting a variety of alternately-staggered steel plates at different distances while walking. You must know what both you and your carry gun are capable of doing. This means being familiar with where that bullet is going to impact a target depending on how far away you are. It also means you’d better know at what range your gun is effective and, hey, you also need to be able to correctly identify said range without aid of markers or a rangefinder.
You can work on that on any range. Keep in mind that seemingly minor
“IN THE END, IT TOOK THE COMBINED EFFORTS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND A NUMBER OF CIVILIANS ARMED WITH HANDGUNS AND HUNTING RIFLES PROVIDING SUPPRESSIVE FIRE TO ALLOW MARTINEZ…CLOSE ENOUGH TO PUT AN END TO THE KILLING SPREE.”
errors in accuracy at 10 yards broaden exponentially the farther you move from the target, so sharpen your skills up close before moving back. Distance matters and is one reason why I discourage people from using anything smaller than 9mm as their main carry gun.
PRACTICE WITH YOUR EDC HOLSTER:
It is also important that you’re experienced not only working from a holster, but drawing from the holster you carry your EDC in. After all, it won’t do you much good to master drawing from an OTB strong-side holster when you carry concealed AIWB. While we’re on the topic of holsters, it is worth mentioning you should be using a quality holster. Products like floppy cloth holsters and so-called holsters that are really only a plastic clip over the trigger guard are unsafe and unwise.
KNOW THE LAW: As a responsible gun
owner, you need to know the laws for wherever in the world you’re carrying that gun. Ignorance and laziness are not excuses. If you cannot swing a class like Massad Ayoob’s MAG-40, at least take the time to do in-depth research on your own time. Do not trust interweb experts and, for heaven’s sake, do not go to social media for legal advice. Go find the rules and regulations and read up on them yourself. Yes, reading is part of your training.
DEVELOP SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: One reason FAS uses scenario training during their Active Shooter Interdiction class is to get you used to being aware of your surroundings. Going into scenarios with Simunition or airsoft guns is a fantastic way to learn to think on your feet and put your skills to the test. And guess what? The point of those scenarios is not to always come out a winner, it’s to learn from your mistakes. We all make mistakes. Own up to them and learn how to do better next time.
BE FIRST-AID SAVVY: One more thing: Get a tourniquet. Get trained in first aid. Statistically you are far more likely to need good first-aid training and a tourniquet than you are to use a firearm for self-defense. You carry your gun, right? Why don’t you carry a tourniquet? Consider it part of your self-defense training and a major part of your responsibility as a gun owner. Get. A. Tourniquet.
THE FINAL WORD
There’s more, but what it really comes down to is investing in your training and gear. Get your foundation skills down before moving on to advanced work. Instead of buying another handgun you don’t need, put the money into an active killer interdiction class. Rather than mag-dumping into a paper plate just to hear the gun go bang, make every shot count. Do drills. Put effort into strengthening your weaknesses (and be honest about those weaknesses).
As the late Jeff Cooper said, “The first rule of a gunfight is having a gun.” Once you have that gun, it is your responsibility to get proper training and quality gear. Self-defense skills are perishable and must be consistently maintained as time goes by, so stick with it. Just because you took a cool defensive handgun class last year doesn’t mean you’re golden from here on out. Keep training, carry daily and stay aware. CC
“STATISTICALLY YOU ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO NEED GOOD FIRST-AID TRAINING AND A TOURNIQUET THAN YOU ARE TO USE A FIREARM FOR SELF-DEFENSE.”