Gunsite Academy May 24, 2011
Dear Mr. Mills,
I offer the below reflective thinking for whatever purpose you may choose. As a previous business owner, I was always hungry for such feedback but rarely received it. As you may discover, I have attended several Gunsite classes, and with all previous ones, have had the attitude that I wanted to have a very high learning rate rather than to show how smart or skillful I might be. This trip through the 250 course had the purpose of polishing what I was supposed to already know from previous courses. Specifically, I wanted to emerge with knowledge holes plugged, be smoother, faster and more accurate. As with most things in life, it didn’t completely work out that way. I emerged only slightly smoother, faster and more accurate in my shooting. I did have a few holes plugged. The holes plugged in order learned were: double feed clearance, don’t be so aggressive in the simulator that I allow a “fair fight” type exposure, and when there is a door that must be opened at the end of a hallway, backing up initially is by far the best move. Minor details relative to the big picture. It almost goes without discussion that the Coaching and Rangemaster work was superb as usual! So what or where were the most important gains?
It seems to be true in life that you cannot hear something until you are ready to hear it. This means that you can hear a lecture or advice multiple times, you understand the words and sentences, but it goes in one ear and out the other. It has been quite a while in coming, but this time, I could actually hear Mike Moore’s lecture on “mindset”. I have known for some time that “Defensive Pistol” was a PC term and that the courses there at Gunsite are about winning a gunfight….. going from a peaceful and law-abiding citizen to something quite different. Until this trip, I had never actually been completely in “Condition Red”, contemplating a life and death encounter. Here is how it unfolded for me, and I am here to tell you that my performance (limited to seconds I think) was worth the pile of money and time I have spent at Gunsite.
It was a nice sunny Saturday morning when I left Chino Valley headed for North Central Texas. I drove for about 4 hours and was ready for gas and a sandwich so about noon, I pulled into a Love’s gas station, truck stop and Subway shop. I gassed, ordered my sub and was waiting at the register to pay. Normal condition yellow. In stomps a big black guy, about 250 lbs. ponytail, very agitated, his woman also agitated trailing along behind. He went around the line of customers and barged in on my left side at about 3 feet and his woman was on my right at about 3 ft. Due to the arrangement of the merchandise, I had only a foot or two available behind me. I was uncomfortable and in “Orange” but stayed quietly waiting for the checkout to happen. About this time another trucker, about 350 lbs, VERY irritated came stomping into the store yelling directly at the black guy “Why the fuck did you park in the middle of the exit so that nobody can get out? Get your black ass out here and move!” He was at about 6 yards. I realized that I was truly at “Condition Red”. I now could tell that the black guy was armed but concealed, couldn’t tell specifically with what. Here was where my training paid off. I did NOT get an adrenalin rush nor did my breathing change. I decided that if the weapons came out (putting me directly in the crossfire) and there was still no escape route, it would be the black guy first, his woman second if she also pulled a weapon and maybe the other trucker if there was still a fight. Then I stood calmly like a tourist in “White” and waited for the checkout (unfolding at a glacial pace), thus preserving surprise and allowing events to unfold in a more favorable manner. Fortunately, the testosterone was flowing at such a level for both of the truckers that they went outside to settle things “up close and personal” leaving me with an easy exit and a hot sandwich. So, what was so valuable and directly from Gunsite training? A calm state of mind, an active analysis of the situation, construction of a plan, and most important of all, the quiet confidence that if things went to hell, I was going to survive while others would not. Another lesson was that this “Condition Red” stuff can come from absolutely nowhere in a totally unexpected manner!
Best Regards and a very heartfelt “Thank You” to all those who have had the patience to instruct me there at Gunsite!