Stopping the Spread: Safety as a Concept

Despite the ongoing coronavirus issues we’re all facing, a few days ago I spent a long weekend training at the Alliance Police Training facility shoothouse. That obviously opens up room for a lengthy and in-depth conversation. 

I want to open this post very directly. I am working to be as educated as possible about the choices I make. I am doing my best to make choices based on what is best for my family, what is best for society and what is best for me. I’ve said it before: I don’t have all the answers. Read this next very short paragraph carefully.

When it comes to what is happening in the world right now I don’t have any answers.

Safety considerations in decision-making

I decided to write these words not to try and provide you answers, but possibly to open a discussion on how and why I am making the decisions I am. This could help some of you refine the process of making decisions for yourself. I am willing to admit that the refining of your process could be through observing my gross errors.

Training covid-19
Joe Weyer’s accuracy standard is oppressive, which is kind of refreshing. There is something humbling about thinking you are down 5 to find out it is actually much worse than that…

It is also likely that I will learn as much or more from your comments than you learn from me. The article about my 12.5” AR comes to mind … But I digress.

This whole thing is unsettling. I’m betting you feel it too. We will get through this. Together. Now, onward.

Strange Days

COVID-19. Social distancing. Kids are home from school. Parents are home from work. Many are designated “essential” and must carry on. Some need to carry on for financial reasons, but cannot due to family responsibilities, closure of workplaces, restrictions, or illness.

It is a complicated time of increased stress and pressure. It could be very easily argued that the gravity of our current decisions cannot be completely comprehended.

Training covid-19
Only time will tell if I made the right choice. In the short term, I feel very comfortable with my choice. I don’t think it would be the right choice for everyone.

At the same time, to some degree, we must carry on.

I am very lucky to be someone that is self-employed and still able to earn. I have choices and that is reassuring.

We will move past the spring of 2020. It may be a devastating time in the world or not. Regardless of the outcome, we have to move forward.

The decisions we make need to take this into consideration.

Difficult Decisions

April of 2020 is full of difficult decisions that relate to the spread of the Coronavirus and COVID-19. These decisions are made all the more difficult because we are lacking quality data on which to base these decisions. The number of people actually carrying the virus is unknown both because of the incubation period and the lack of testing.

The result is that we are forced to make the best decisions we can base upon the information that we do have.

Safety as a Concept

Training in the shoothouse despite covid-19.
Byron and Will dig the corners in room 1. The procedures that need to be followed to work the shoothouse efficiently with a partner provide an important cognitive load that clearly identifies skill and technique deficiencies.

One of the important tools I use to make decisions in all parts of my life is the process of viewing safety as a concept.

I first officially “learned” this conceptual view of safety while spending time in the big mountains of Alaska. I had been using the idea previously but it was put into words while on the glacier during a 28-day climbing expedition on Mt. Silverthrone.

The idea is simple. When you are making a decision you need to consider the seriousness of the consequences and the likelihood of those consequences happening. Then compare that risk against the benefits you will get if you move forward.

We do this all the time. When you pull up to a stop sign on a side street to the main road you make this decision without consciously thinking about it. Is there enough room for you to cross this main road or is the cross-traffic going to destroy you?

You get the idea.

Things get harder when we are in uncharted territory. Think about that same driving decision but put yourself in the shoes of a new driver… your lack of knowledge about traffic and lack of experience driving the car makes it difficult to make the decision.

In today’s circumstances, there are very few experts. We are all “new drivers” when it comes to COVID-19.

The Shoot House trip: My Choice and Why

Training covid-19
PPE is an important part of the shoothouse. We aren’t wearing helmets and plates to LARP. Instead, they provide vital protection when working with firearms in close proximity to the backstop.

As I mentioned at the outset of the article, I spent the weekend training at Alliance Police Training. The course I took was the APD Partner Shoothouse. It was my third time through this specific course taught by Joe Weyer and my 4th overall course in the Shoothouse. It is a class that needs repeating because executing the simple procedures taught in the class is actually a complex task.

I decided to go for several reasons:

  • Defensive skills, techniques, procedures, and tactics are all diminishing.
  • We are entering a time when the decision-making skills this course teaches may be more necessary than in the past.
  • Time to train with quality instructors may be limited due to future restrictions, my own health or the health of the instructor.
  • We must ensure that knowledge transfer continues through social distancing. In some cases, there can be distance learning, but in others, there needs to be physical proximity.

As I always expect from Joe, the course was excellent and has provided me with the information I need to head to the range and improve my skills and techniques. It also provided me with a much-needed refresher so that I can share knowledge with those that are important to me, including my wife. This has the benefit of helping to keep our entire family safer.

Coronavirus + Shoothouse: the Consequences

Good decisions are made from good information, in life and in the shoothouse.
Remembering to handle holdover is an important skill for self-defense. What is easy on the range becomes much more complex in the shoothouse when the brain is overloaded.

I took my temp twice a day for the 10 days leading up to class and I feel confident that I started class healthy. It doesn’t mean I will stay that way. For the next 2 weeks, I will increase the way in which I have distanced myself from others and continue to monitor my temp twice daily. If I picked up the Coronavirus in class I have no intention of spreading it to others.

That is on the negative side of things. On the positive side, I have grown and now have a deeper understanding of the world of defensive gun use. That is knowledge I will work to transmit to you and others immediately through my writing and through other avenues in the future.

I refuse to let the priority of stopping the spread of COVID-19 have the unintended consequence of stopping the spread of critical knowledge in the area of personal protection.

Final thoughts

You have to do you and I am going to have to do me. I am not suggesting that you should behave in the way I am behaving. I am suggesting that we all need to be making rational decisions based on the information that we have available to us, our specific circumstances and our personal values.

For me, that meant spending 38 hours over 3 days working hard in the shoot house. For you it may look like getting instruction in responsible gun handling, applying for your first CCW permit, hitting your local range to brush up, spending hours dry firing, going to work every day, or sitting on the couch catching up on Netflix.

Whatever you are trying to figure out, carefully reason out your course of action. Don’t act recklessly and at the same time, don’t cave into irrational fear.

I will keep you posted on how I feel about my decision as time progresses. As it stands now, I will be at Alliance in 2 weeks to assist with the next Partner Shoothouse course. It isn’t just my competence that is important.

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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