Shoot House Courses: why take them?

I don’t need much of an excuse to go shooting. I enjoy it. When I have the opportunity to take a course from a top instructor it makes it even easier to get motivated. When that course and that instructor are going to be teaching in the shoot house it becomes an absolute no brainer.

I don’t know if my reasons for taking a shoot house course are valid reasons for you, but they justify it for me. I’m finding that the justification keeps getting stronger.

I’m not a prison kinda guy.

I should have titled this post, “I don’t want to go to prison.”

Alliance PD Shoot House
Does this look like a guy that is built for prison? I don’t think so either. So it is my responsibility to be smart even when defending myself. [Editor’s note: and that is a bitchin‘ hat.]
Really, I don’t.

I’m not built for prison life. I’m a law abiding citizen and I don’t ever expect to intentionally commit a crime that would land me behind bars. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

The problem isn’t clear to most law abiding gun carrying folks like me. It should be.

If you are willing to defend yourself from a violent attack you open up the possibility of making a costly mistake. This  point is demonstrated by the number of people that make serious errors with guns and then pay for those mistakes with their freedom. Or their financial security. How about their career. Or their mental wellbeing. Or… The list goes on.

I don’t want to go to prison. More importantly, I don’t want to make an error with my firearm that negatively impacts another innocent person.

I firmly believe that a shoot house course will help me to avoid making a critical mistake in a real life use of force scenario.

Thinking before shooting.

That is what brings me to yet another shoot house course in Alliance, Ohio. Thinking with a gun in your hand is hard to emulate in a traditional range setting. It is my fourth experience in the shoot house and my second three day shoot house course with Joe Weyer of Alliance Police Training.

Joe teaches a fantastic course and I learn every time I come. I’m grateful for his dedication and for all the companies that help to support Alliance Police Training and bring courses like this to average folks who want to grow and learn. I have mentioned many of those companies here in this post. They supply funds to run the facility and the costly safety gear for those that don’t have it. GunMag Warehouse is an ardent supporter of Joe’s mission at Alliance.

The gear.

I don’t have illusions of clearing buildings and rescuing hostages, but I don all the gear in the house any way. For safety. 

Shoot House Safety Gear
Many people see the safety gear involved in shoot house courses and think it is a costume and that the shoot house is a game. When run properly the house is where many lessons live.

A plate carrier from Velocity Systems with rifle rated plates from SHOT STOP and of course a ballistic helmet from Team Wendy. [Note: find links to people, places, and things below.]

I wasn’t surprised that many of the students were running mags purchased from GunMagWarehouse. GMW supports the range and provides discounts to Alliance PD students. I ran a combination of mags from Magpul and some fresh new mags from Lancer. 

It looks like a costume. I’m not on a SWAT team and I’m not in the military, but the gear protects us in the shoot house so we can learn the lessons that the shoot house is there to teach.

Another editor’s note: some call it “tactical LARPing.” We call it bullet-hole prevention.

LARPing comes in many forms.
Wearing armor is important if you’re doing risky things. Plus it makes you look kewl.

Joe and his instructional team beat us relentlessly with those lessons. It’s particularly frustrating because they give us all the tools to be successful. They provide plenty of warnings. Yet we still make mistakes.

I just completed a run in the shoot house. I was told that there would be no shoot targets. We were given the description of what some of the no shoot targets looked like.

I shot them anyway.

And I’m not alone. Virtually everyone in the class made the same mistakes.

You see, the shooting part isn’t all that complex. It doesn’t take long to develop the skill to hit your target.

But learning how to figure out when you should shoot or more importantly when you SHOULDN’T shoot That is a whole different ball of wax.

One of the unique places you can work these kinds of skills is in a shoot house.

It’s complicated.

Dealing with all of the data that is coming at you in the shoot house makes interrogating your target difficult. Remember, this is practice. No one’s life is on the line. The stress of the shoot house provides just enough brain fodder to foul us up.  I think it is imperative to experience this kind of situation. In practice. I need to learn to deal with the stress and the input. Probably should make certain that I gather the information that is necessary to make good decisions. I should be forcing myself to apply this information to the actions I take. If I can learn this in the shoot house it will make it that much easier to make the right decision in real life.

Learning that lesson here in class is embarrassing. I have been through the lesson before. 

I want that embarrassing lesson here so that I can avoid it in the real world where it would be significantly more costly.

Learning costs.

Learning has a price. In the shoot house learning costs time, money, some sweat and probably a ding or two to the ego. I feel like it is worth it. Especially when you put in the work to really learn the lessons.

As Weyer would say, “A lesson observed is not necessarily a lesson learned.”

Alliance PD Shoot house
The shoot house is a school house if you are open to the learning. The lessons can apply to the armed citizen like me or law enforcement like my partner for the course.

He is right. You have to put the energy in to actually learning instead of just recognizing that there is a lesson there.

I am willing to pay the price with my ego. I shot the no shoot targets on a bright sunny day. They were pieces of paper that were in no way going to hurt me. Think about how the stress of a real life violent encounter might mess with my mind. These really are lessons worth learning.

Paying the price.

The next run will start soon and will continue well into the night. In the dark. When the majority of violence takes place. It’s hard enough to sort it out in the day. It will be harder even at night.

Hopefully the Cloud Defensive OWL on the end of my rifle will light it all up and help me figure out what the hell is going on.

Alliance PD Shoot House
Working in low light helps to solidify your skills and provides the chance to validate quality gear.

How are you learning to gather the information you need to make quality decisions even when you are facing significant stress?

Me and my friends, we do it in the shoot house.

Alliance PD Shoot House
Working together as a team in the shoot house can be a challenge. At the same time it can help you to sharpen your communication skills.

Maybe that would work for you?

Now excuse me while I load my Gen 3 Magpul mags for run 4.

Alliance PD Shoot House
Learning to think with a gun in your hand at night can apply to concealed carry as the majority of violence happens in low light.
Paul Carlson, owner of Safety Solutions Academy, is a Professional Defensive Shooting Instructor.  He has spent the past decade and a half studying how humans can perform more efficiently in violent confrontations and honing his skills as an instructor both in the classroom and on the range. Through Safety Solutions Academy, Paul teaches a variety of Critical Defensive Skills courses in more than a dozen states annually.  Courses range from Concealed Carry Classes to Advanced Critical Defensive Handgun Courses and include instruction for the defensive use of handguns, rifles and shotguns.  Safety Solutions Academy regularly hosts other industry leading experts as guest instructors to make sure that SSA's students have the opportunity for quality instruction across a broad range of Critical Defensive disciplines.

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