Practice makes (more) perfect.
After working in a local gun shop and shooting range for just under a year, to say that I have seen some interesting things is a dramatic understatement. One of the most common mistakes I see amongst gun owners is the idea that simply taking a standard Concealed Carry Class is an adequate level of training with which to defend yourself and those you love against violent physical encounters. Rather than offer my own opinion, I contacted a subject matter expert, Jeff Bloovman, to help address this idea.
Jeff Bloovman founded Armed Dynamics in 2011 after a lifetime of traditional martial arts training, along with several years of personal apprenticeship with some of the most respected and knowledgeable defensive firearms instructors in the country. In the very same year, Bloovman was a contestant on the Discovery Channel show “One Man Army”. While he seemed to be the underdog going up against competitors with backgrounds in Marshals Service, Civilian Contracting, and Delta Force, Jeff came out on top, winning every event and the competition. Bloovman is now a co-host of Practically Tactical, a podcast and live show dedicated to showing gun owners how to become Responsibly Armed Citizens. Jeff is an avid dog person, and just as funny as he is kind. His goal is to empower individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or political ideology with the skills and tools needed to defend their lives. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to talk with Jeff about firearms training, and how you can be the best you can be.
Bloovman defines a traditional Concealed Carry Weapon class as “a course that is mandated by the State with varying levels of requirements that an instructor must present in order to satisfy that States requirements.” For example, the Ohio CCW course requires six hours of classroom education, and just 2 hours of handgun training — with very lax marksmanship requirements. Some states merely require that an instructor watches you shoot a gun, while Jeff’s home state of Pennsylvania does not require any training, a point that both Bloovman and I take issue with. In the end, Bloovman and I agreed that a CCW Permit and the process to attain one is very similar to a driver’s license, one must only sit through a class and take their test in order to be awarded their permit, never truly learning how to defend themselves. When I asked Bloovman if he believed a standard state mandated CCW class truly prepares an individual to defend themselves in any situation that may require a degree of deadly force, he replied, “Absolutely not.”
After Bloovman stated that a standard CCW class does not prepare an individual to defend themselves in any form to survive a violent physical altercation, I inquired as to what types of education he might recommend the average person pursue in order to set themselves up for success in a worst case scenario. His recommendations may surprise you.
- CPR/AED Certification — This is Jeff’s first recommendation, an “absolute necessity” in his mind, as basic first aid skills will come in handy more than a firearm ever will. These classes are offered very often for often less than $100, and the skills taught are absolutely invaluable. For more information, click here.
- A pistol manipulation class (with a reputable instructor) — This class will look different just about anywhere you go, but will cover marksmanship, malfunction clearances, and how to safely draw your weapon from its holster.
- Trauma Management — Another vitally important class, one must understand that not all fights will be one sided, and you (or those around you) will not escape them totally unscathed. Having a basic understanding of how to deal with these sorts of injuries will not only be helpful in instances of physical violence, but also in day to day life as one may find themselves to be the first responder onto a car accident or workplace accident.
- Force on Force Scenario class — This class will start to apply everything you have learned in the previous classes. Pitting student against student, this class acts as a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them. These classes force students to use judgement, and according to Bloovman is “worth its weight in gold.”
- 0-5ft Entanglement Class — Not for the faint of heart, these classes, also known as “ego bruisers,” teach students how to employ their firearm in tight spaces, while also incorporating aspects of Force on Force Scenario training. Jeff recommends those taught by Craig Douglas and his company Shivworks.
These classes need not be taken all at once, and can be spaced out as time and money dictate. Each one is invaluable and irreplaceable. If one’s goal is to truly possess the skills required to defend themselves and their loved ones, training beyond a standard CCW class in imperative. Jeff also stressed the fact that signing up for these classes can be intimidating, but has found that the people who take part in this sort of training are some of the most humble, welcoming, and encouraging people you will ever meet. For those of you local to Cincinnati, check out Premier Shooting and Training Center in West Chester for high quality instruction from 88 Tactical.
Next, I asked Jeff what tools he would recommend an individual who is serious about defending themselves carry in order to set themselves up to survive the aftermath of a violent physical encounter.
- A reliable handgun made by a quality manufacturer — “The gun fills up a very small, niche roll, but if you need it there is no replacement for it,”Jeff stated. Along with that, a sturdy belt and quality built holster are must-haves. There are many options out there, but some of my favorites are the Magpul Tejas belt, and the Phlster Classic holster.
- A flashlight — The world is dark half of the time, from finding your keys after dropping them in a poorly lit parking lot, to positively identifying a potential threat, the humble flashlight is invaluable. Check out offerings from Surefire and Streamlight.
- A Tourniquet — A tourniquet is built to stop massive hemorrhaging. If you are serious about protecting yourself and those around you, carry a tourniquet at all times. The NAR Combat Application Tourniquet and Tac Med Solutions Sof-T Wide are the two best on the market, put one in a Phlster FlatPack and you’ll forget it’s even there. And NO, your belt will not work.
- A knife — To cut things.
- Cell phone — To call for help.
- A spare magazine (extra ammunition) — Carry in a proper carrier such as the Phlster Universal Carrier, Jeff said this isn’t absolutely necessary, but he would highly recommend it.
- Pepper Spray — If we can avoid deadly force, or even just resorting to physical fighting, that is always preferred.
Bloovman’s final recommendation is for everyone, regardless of whether you’re at all interested in carrying a gun, to watch the HBO documentary “Terror at the Mall.” The documentary highlights the harrowing experiences of those who found themselves in the middle of one of the most shocking terrorist attacks in the last decade as four terrorists armed with AK-47’s stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Through security camera footage you see the terrorists advance, and how several brave men, police officers and two Responsibly Armed Citizens legally carrying concealed handguns helped save the lives of hundreds of innocent people trapped in the mall.
To summarize, simply taking and passing a standardized CCW course does not prepare you to defend yourself in any situation. As Jeff pointed out, the CCW course is merely a State standardized test, no different than getting your driver’s license. Do not lie to yourself by thinking you are prepared for anything that may come your way, but constantly seek improvement by learning from those who know more than you. Know that there is a massive difference between simply being a gun owner and being a Responsibly Armed Citizen. A Responsibly Armed Citizen not only exercises their right to keep and bear arms, but constantly seeks to improve their competency with their tools in order to better defend themselves and their loved ones. Regardless of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation or political ideology, you have a responsibility to yourself and those you love to care for them to the best of your ability. When you truly understand the stakes of the situation you are preparing yourself for, you will strive to become a Responsibly Armed Citizen.
Special thanks to Jeff Bloovman. For more information on training with Jeff, click here.
For Cincinnati based firearms training, visit Premier Shooting and Training in West Chester.
Follow Jeff and his passion for the dogs on Instagram: @jeffarmeddynamics
Click here for more information on Practically Tactical.
Follow this author on Twitter: @ThomasZimmCR