Why don’t you charge more?

I posted a depressed comment on Facebook yesterday:
“I need to start charging over a hundred dollars for a half-day seminar. Apparently.
This explains why I’m poor!”

A couple of my friends replied:
Why don’t you charge more?
Do you think aren’t worth more? Or do prefer to be the better value?

My reply:

Truth? I think that my combination of training, experience, and practice in armed and unarmed self-defense plus the fact that I’ve actually been researching this topic (instead of depending on anecdotal evidence) means that my training is worth quite a lot (especially in self-defense classes)—and not only more than I’ve been charging, but much more than a lot of the crap that is taught around here by people who are teaching based on their background and experience, which doesn’t actually match the topics that they are teaching.*

…but if I charged that, it would price my courses out of the range of many people, some of whom REALLY NEED to learn some things. But…many people don’t really understand what they need, and instead spend things on what they want. (I’m all for fun adventure-camp weekends, too.) But people often will not spend much on what they need, though they’ll dump tons of money into what they want.

I want people to get trained. And I want them to get trained in things that they need. So unfortunately for my business, I don’t use Magpul-style marketing, don’t play to the adventure crowd, say flat-out that I’m not teaching military or law enforcement tactics because they aren’t applicable, and don’t make up some sooper-sekret black ops past (or LEO past, or make up stories about my time in corrections when during this one escape attempt I…) which means that I don’t pull the people that others do.

BUT, it also means that after a class, I can sit back and think to myself that what I taught actually will do what I say it will, and it is relevant to what I say it is, and the students in my classes will have better chances at defending themselves afterward because of what they learned.

It DOES get amazingly @*#$&%^$ing irritating to see lots of people extolling the virtues of “Class X” in which they learned “really cool stuff!” (based on incorrect information poorly applied, with a misunderstanding of percentages and absolutes, using situations and experiences that don’t apply and techniques that are detrimental to good practice) …where they paid three times my class fee for something where the ONLY plus for the class really is the fact that they got more trigger time and had fun shooting.

Rant, rant, complain, complain.

If I didn’t care about whether or not my students really learned to defend themselves better, I’d change my marketing, up my prices, and pull in a different class of students and teach them crap that made them think they were amazing, so they’d tell everyone how much they learned and how much fun it was.

But—-I can’t do it.

Here’s a thing: I’ve got a seminar coming up in February, which is all about the fact that you probably won’t be alone when you have to defend yourself, called Partner Defense. You probably won’t be a lone gunman, you probably will care about the person you are with, it will probably be someone you spend a lot of time with—and you probably have not ever actually discussed and practiced with them anything useful regarding self-defense. (And contrary to popular belief, being individually any good does NOT mean that you will work well together.) The seminar is only $60 per pair of people, an evening seminar, guns needed but no live fire (practice and scenarios all in the classroom with guns with barrel blockers and such)—this really IS something that is important if you actually have a spouse, significant other, or child that you spend time with in public.

Anyone want to guess how many people have signed up?”


Apparently it was my day to rant.

I’ve made the study of self-defense (unarmed or armed, reading the actual research, delving into social versus asocial violence and process versus procedural predators, finding the best techniques and practice for perception, awareness, and avoidance, etc) for the last 25 years (more, actually).  This is something that has been important to me for a long time.  I’ve spent a lot of time finding out what is REALLY HAPPENING in terms of citizen self-defense situations.

So it sets me off when someone makes up random nonsense based on things they read about but didn’t understand, added to it their unrelated experiences, and then passes it off as “advanced technique.”

Most people don’t know what they need.  And they tend to only pay for what they want.  Which often doesn’t give them ANYTHING that they need. (Other than trigger time.)

I strongly suggest, for people interested in learning self-defense, that you actually attempt to learn what you NEED before giving yourself an weekend adventure taking a class on what you merely want.

No, you don’t need to take those classes from me.  (Sure, that would be great, but it isn’t necessary.)  But you SHOULD take classes that actually teach you what will actually work in the self-defense situations that apply to your life.



*If you don’t believe me about curriculum, teaching, experience-as-related-to-topic, and technique, you don’t have to take my word for it.  Take a look at what national-level trainers like Tom Givens, Claude Werner, Chuck Haggard, and others are teaching. Compare that to the marketing you read, and what you are going to be taught in your “advanced self-defense course.”  DON’T take my word for it–research best practices and what is actually known about citizen self-defense requirements.  Look at what the people who look at research say about what you need to learn.

“Do you know who I am?”

When someone in public uses the phrase “Do you know who I am?” that immediately tells you something about them.  And it isn’t positive.

For the record:  I don’t know Larry Vickers personally.  I’ve never met the man, so my view of him is solely from his videos, articles, and commentary he writes on the Internet.  In other words, my understanding of him is based strictly on the way he chooses to project himself to others.  If you spend time with someone in person, you can learn a lot about them that they perhaps try to hide.  If you only know about someone based on their online presence, it means that you know them based on how they WANT to look–because they write the articles, the comments, and edit the video to make themselves look a certain way.c72479c29836bc54476c52989b0e6fa2-500x375x1

Apparently, Larry Vickers wants to look like a arrogant douchebag who thinks that his pronouncements about guns and gear should be taken as from “on high” based on his experiences from 20 years ago.  (Noting that he retired from the military 13 years ago.)

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not saying that is how the man IS.  I don’t know how he IS, because I’ve never met him.  I am saying, however, that if you don’t worship at the altar of “The LAV” and you look at how he acts on the Internet, it isn’t a pretty picture.

Now:  I know the man can shoot.  And he was legitimately involved with a number of verified shoot-the-bad-guy-in-the-face situations, plus did a large amount of SOF training.  He was instrumental in certain aspects of weapons design, has his name applied to a number of very useful weapon modification parts that are available, and is a verified subject matter expert in several firearms and weapons systems.

This article is in no way meant to ignore or devalue his accomplishments, which are significant.  (As he will tell you.  Repeatedly.)  It is solely about the way he chooses to present himself in online matters.

Between the derogatory “printer repairmen” description, the “stay in your lane/I’ve got your number” brilliance with DocGKR, the “I’m actually responsible for the Gadget” nonsense, and the latest “Ruger, do you know who I am?” stupidity, (just to pick a few memorable moments out of many from the last several years of LAV pronouncements) it seems that LAV has taken a couple of common Internet maxims to heart:

  1. Controversy gets attention–and there is no such thing as negative attention on the Internet.
  2. If you have gotten enough fanatics to support you, no matter what you say or do they will support you, and the concept of the echo chamber can be used to drown out dissenting views.
  3. If you block anyone who attempts to use reason, facts, or logic while disagreeing with you,  the only people saying anything against you tend to be screaming incoherently, which makes you look good even if what you say makes no sense.

The problem with this, of course, is that it means that people who don’t know Vickers then assume that taking a class with him will be useless, because why would you take a class from an overweight has-been who will bloviate about himself ad nauseam while occasionally teaching 20-year-old tactics?

Which is too bad, because I’ve heard plenty of people say that his classes help with accurate shooting, have solid tactics (some things don’t change, and the fact that he was a face-shooter 20 years ago doesn’t mean that what he knows isn’t relevant), and he himself can be quite personable and interesting.

You surely wouldn’t get that from his Internet presence, though.  (Cue the fanatics supporting him who will use such terms and phrases as “printer repairmen,” “alpha,” “type A personality,” “Tier 1,” and other such phrases to excuse poor behavior.)

Contrast that with Bill Rogers, Ken Hackathorn, and Pat Rogers, to name a few—none of whom have shy, retiring personalities, all of which are perfectly fine with telling you exactly what they think, and being quite blunt about it.   And yet—-I don’t believe I’ve ever heard them ever ask someone “Do you know who I am?”

I know, I know.  I should stay in my lane.  And I should watch out, because he’s got my number.



Why are you so mean?

Periodically, someone asks me why I’m so direct with my replies regarding civil rights such as self-defense.  They get angry because I say what I mean, without cushioning it for their feelings.  I’m not impolite, I just (quite some time ago) lost patience with caring about certain people’s feelings if I tell the truth, back it with facts, and state my conclusions from it, and they get all angry because their defense is purely emotional, with no rational basis.

“Why are you so mean?” I hear.

Well, it gets old being demonized by groups of people who preach caring and love and “no violence” and tolerance while simultaneously saying:

Bill justin laura mermer merner michael Willie-Warren-WalkerNow, some people will say “Well, there are fringe crazies on all sides, you should just ignore them!”  I’d like to—but these aren’t the fringe crazies.  They may be crazy—but they aren’t fringe.  For example, here’s a post from the anti-self-defense, anti-civil rights individual that Obama specifically invited to attend his speech in Omaha:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 1.44.18 PM“Fringe crazies” aren’t normally treated as honored guests.  So apparently this particular individual, with type of social behavior, is considered someone that people should listen to—so don’t ask me why I’m so mean.

I’m not the one saying “Fuck you” nor am I the one advocating killing people who don’t agree with my beliefs.

The next time you want to have a conversation (an actual conversation or discussion) about self-defense rights, start by being polite, and we’ll talk.

2016 Resolution II: Take a Good Class

Just like the previous post about 2016 Resolutions, this one is again based on some things Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media said in his excellent post  5 Gun Nuts New Year’s Resolutions.  It is good stuff, so you should go there and read it.

Here’s my second 2016 Resolution: Take at least one class from a reputable instructor.

I’ve actually done this pretty much every year for the past….many…years.  I don’t know everything about shooting, and there are so many different ASPECTS of shooting (shooting skills, competition skills, self-defense scenario training, force-on-force, close-quarters, partner work, etc) that there is ALWAYS more to learn.  So every year I try to take at least one class (if not two) from someone I consider to be an authority in that particular area.  I’ve taken shooting skills courses from Manny Bragg, ECQC from Craig Douglas, competition skills from Ben Stoeger and Matt Mink, instructor development from Tom Givens, shooting and defensive skills from Bill Rogers, etc….and I plan on learning more about things I consider important.

I’m an instructor.  If I’m going to be a good one, that means I need to make sure that 1) I keep up on the current best practices for teaching, 2) keep up on the current best-known techniques and tactics (and have someone critique my skills so I can get better), 3) try to learn more ways and methods to reach students and help them understand, and 4) bear in mind that I don’t already know everything, and there are aspects or areas of shooting that I simply don’t know well.  Every instructor should ALSO be an eternal student.  If they aren’t, then….they aren’t keeping up, are they?

If you want to be a better shooter and better at defending yourself legally, then taking a solid class from a reputable instructor each year is a good resolution to make.

This year—-I’m not sure what I’m doing!  On my list of “possibles”:

  • Unthinkable, with William April
  • Advanced Instructor Development course, with Tom Givens  (this is in Austin, TX, though…I’d have to fly there)
  • Armed Movement in Structures, with Craig Douglas
  • Class with Mike Pannone?
  • Class with Frank Proctor?
  • …anyone have any other suggestions?

I normally try to switch topics each year–one year I work on my shooting skills (or skills I already have, and either want critiqued, or taken to a higher level), and the next I work on either skillsets I don’t have, or classes that help me be a better instructor either as instructor development directly, or as an example of someone else teaching a class on a topic that I also teach.  But this year—I’m open to just about anything.  Need at least one!  Gotta learn something!

What should I take?  Limiting criteria:  a) prefer travel time of 8 hours or less from Omaha, NE, and b) I can’t take more than 2 weekdays off unless it magically hits a break during my school schedule.

Anyone have any thoughts?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  My current slight preference is for a class in an area in which I haven’t taken a class recently, so strict shooting skills and competition skills are probably lowest on the wish list.

What do you think?

2016 Resolution I: Practicing Drill Zero

Caleb over at Gun Nuts Media has an excellent post up about 5 Gun Nuts New Year’s Resolutions.  It is good stuff, so you should go there and read it.

One of the resolutions he suggests for us gun nuts is “practice at least once a week.”  He makes the cogent point that while many competition shooters will laugh at this because they practice a lot more than merely once a week, most people don’t.  I’m actually surprised when I hear an average gun owner say that they practice more than once a month—actually practice, not merely go plinking for fun. Most people simply don’t practice at all, though they might call going to the range a couple times a year to plink at tin cans and clays on the berm “practicing.” (Fun, yes; practice, no.)

Here’s something that can help you actually practice:  Drill Zero

Drill Zero is a dryfire drill based on the Wall Drill, transition practice, an understanding of eye focus, and some thinking I have done regarding the most fundamental skills we need to succeed at any type of shooting.  I wanted to create a drill that would make a significant difference to shooting quickly and accurately, but was simple, straightforward, took little time, and required almost nothing in the way of equipment or space.

…because that way you can do it every dayThere is no excuse to not perform Drill Zero once a day.  Sure, on some days you can do a solid dryfire session, or get some good live fire practice in at the range.  But EVERY day, no matter how busy your life, no matter where you are—if you have a gun and a wall, you can run through Drill Zero and practice the most important fundamentals of shooting in a way that will make you better.

If you do Drill Zero every day, then each month you’ll have performed 900 perfect trigger pulls, with fast transitions, training your eyes to lock onto the front sight with perfect sight alignment at speed.  In a year, you’ll have practiced this TEN THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TIMES.  If you don’t think that’ll make a difference to your shooting, then there isn’t much I can say.

Here’s a 2016 Dryfire Report.  Download it, print it, then put it up somewhere next to where you’ll practice.  Every day, color in the box for that day, showing that you at least practiced Drill Zero.  My personal goal for 2016 is that every single day I will practice physical pistol skills in some fashion, and I’m going to mark in black days I do Drill Zero, blue the days I do longer dryfire sessions, red the days I live fire practice, and green the days I test myself either in competitions or in training classes.  At the end of the year, I’ll post a picture of my report, and we can discuss how it went.

How about you?  You in?  How much better do you want to get at the physical skills of shooting in 2016?  Drill Zero takes less than 5 minutes, and you don’t have to put on any gear at all.  Don’t tell me that you can’t find the time!

How much better do you want to get?  Get yourself a copy of the dryfire report, and start practicing!


(A followup post was later written giving some variations on Drill Zero.)

Is 2016 the year you get better?

I didn’t get enough better in 2015.

I did some good stuff.  (Among other things, Tom Givens’s Instructor Development Course was excellent.)  I shot some good things here and there (won a couple of state-level IDPA matches, placed here and there in USPSA matches).  And I got in some good practice and read and mulled over some good research regarding self-defense.

But my physical skills didn’t get enough better in 2015 because I didn’t practice the physical skills enough.  Mental work—actually, I did some really good mental work through the year.  Organized some thoughts on awareness and monitoring (those aren’t the same thing), read some research on predator behavior (both known-person and unknown-person), did some good internal work on reaction choices and consequences, came up with some good teachable moments regarding self-defense.  Oh, and got my 5th degree black belt rank in Hapkido.

But my physical skills didn’t improve as much as I wanted for the year.  Because I didn’t practice like I should have.

Did you?