If Rob Pincus is Such a Douche, What Does That Say About Me?

Continuing my thoughts about Rob Pincus and the impolite society of gun culture from yesterday, lest I be misunderstood, let me say again that I do not think a polite society in Robert Heinlein’s sense requires everyone to agree with each other.

But it does suggest a particular approach to disagreement. Disagreeing without being disagreeable, and criticizing ideas not persons.

Some of the critical comments on the Facebook photo of Rob Pincus I mentioned yesterday were actually humorous but not personal attacks. Regarding the “balance of speed and precision” reflected in the target, one commentator wrote, “Like Fat Albert on the see-saw with Kate Moss.” Or, “Whatever shotgun they used on that target needs to be sent to Vang. Stat!” To me that’s funny. It is critiquing the target, and by implication the technique that produced it, but not the person.

Some of the critical comments seemed to reflect a knowledge of Pincus’s teaching, like, “That target alone is a dynamic critical incident.”

And some combined the humor and disagreement in the form of sarcasm, which of course on Facebook elicited a meme:

From what little I knew of Pincus’s actual shooting method, I recognized that this was slamming him for promoting “unsighted fire” or “point shooting” – “combat focus” shooting in Pincus’s parlance – as opposed to the modern technique of focusing hard on the front sight (which I observed being taught at Gunsite Academy earlier this year). Fair enough, but this doesn’t exactly explain the personal nature of many of the criticisms.

As I boarded the plane for Pincus’s Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Conference in Minnesota last month, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was getting myself into by attending a conference of instructors who work with a person so disdained by some within Gun Culture 2.0. (Many of the Facebook commentators are people I have met personally and like, or know of indirectly and respect.)

Having now completed my observation, I am asking myself a different question: If Rob Pincus is such a douche, what does that say about me? After four days with him and his team, I find I like him very much as a person AND understand the shooting method he teaches much better. (I will discuss the latter in a separate post.)

Before my observation, I knew OF Rob Pincus. Not just from Facebook. I had also seen him quite a lot on various media like “The Best Defense” TV show and the Personal Defense Network website. I have heard him on podcasts and saw him live in a seminar presentation at my first ever NRA annual meeting in Houston. And most recently I learned about his involvement in organizing the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors.

Does familiarity breed contempt?

Getting to know him better over 4 days in Minnesota, I can see why he could rub some people the wrong way. He does actively promote himself, his company, his work, and his instructors. He is very attentive to his social media presence, encouraging his instructor cadre repeatedly to post to social media and use certain hash tags. He also had a film crew at the conference to film videos to be posted to the PDN website.

But self-promotion alone cannot explain the hostility. My Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are full of gun trainers promoting themselves and their products. Tom Givens, about whom I have never heard one negative comment (other than self-deprecating ones), actively promotes his training on-line.

Perhaps it is his personal style? His presentations to the instructor cadre at the conference were a Monster Energy Drink fueled burst of words and confidence. He often used two or three words when one would do, and freely admits “I will chase a tangent all day long and I’m long winded.”

In these respects – save for the Monsters – he is very much like a professor. Which probably explains why I like him. I’m sure a lot of people think I am a pompous ass, too. I am just not famous enough for people to call me names in public.

32 comments

  1. I found myself irritated with watching him. I’ve calmed down on that a tad but his style is not that helpful to me. I learn better on the videos I watch, from others. Yes, his self promotion gets old but the man is trying to make a living. His origins are from New Jersey if I’m correct and he has the east coast mentality and a strong background from law enforcement. None of that resonates with me. I still respect him and wish him well. He’s just not been that helpful to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Professor Yamane,

    One of the major criticisms I have read of Pincus (besides carrying his spare magazines backwards and the endless self-promotion) is that he freely admits that he often goes about his life unarmed. Many find this hypocritical since he is, after all, promoting a certain “lifestyle”, for lack of a better word. In other words, why should a student take the carrying and self-defense advice of a guy who does not often practice what he preaches?

    I’m sure there are other instructors out there who do not carry 24-7 and just aren’t as honest about it. So perhaps he is just being punished for being honest. I know I’ve seen comments on my blog/blog Facebook page criticizing me for dispensing advice even though I don’t carry all the time. Being a teacher, I risk not just being fired but also revocation of my teaching certificates and jail time. Risk vs. Reward. I carry when I can (and have even done so in a few places I should not have), but work is a non-starter. Does it make the information my blog partner and I share any less relevant? Probably not, since much in the articles we write comes not solely from us, but from the many instructors with whom we’ve taken courses. Nevertheless, I can see how it would turn off some.

    I’ll look forward to more of your writings about Pincus and other topics.

    Robert

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the thoughts, Robert. I think these are fair points and you make them with civility. You disagree with the way Pincus carries his magazines. You can articulate why you think there is a better way without resorting to ad hominem attacks. You can disagree without being disagreeable.

      I do not believe endless self-promotion is a very strong critique as anyone selling gun training is a business that engages in marketing. Some do it well, and others do it poorly. Perhaps what some people dislike about Pincus is that he is a better marketer than they are?

      I have been attending writers events lately to learn how I can write a book about gun culture that people outside the sociological profession might read. One of the biggest pieces of advice given: BUILD YOUR AUTHOR “PLATFORM.” What is an author platform? “An ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.” Sort of like self-promotion. But at the end of the day, people have to buy into who you are and what you are selling in order for you to have a platform.

      The issue of when and how much to carry is interesting to me because, like you, I teach in a restrictive environment. Which is a problem because I need my job. I also live in a state which does not allow me to carry any time I have had anything to drink (0.00 BAC). Which is a problem because I love to drink. I hope I am not telling tales out of school when I say that when the CFS instructors were socializing in the evening over drinks, Pincus said he was not carrying his gun and doesn’t carry his gun when he drinks (IIRC). Given how many problems with guns come about in connection with alcohol (criminal homicides, domestic violence, suicide; remember Richard Venola?) I think this is a responsible decision. It is part of an overall risk calculation that we make all the time in how we live our lives – people skydive, they drive fast, they fly in planes and ride in boats, they eat terrible food, etc. To me it is no more stupid to accept the risk of not carrying a gun than it is to deny the risk that having a gun presents under the wrong circumstances.

      Again, people can disagree with his teaching or choices he makes in his personal life without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Spot On.
        Your Recollection is Correct. I don’t carry when I drink… when I’m on planes ( a few times a month on average)… when I’m in Europe ( a few times a year)… and in other situations where it would be illegal.
        Robert,
        I hope you’ve done the research on the reason why I recommend magazines with the bullets pointed away from centerline for people practicing for the defensive use of firearms. Out of content, it may not make much sense.
        As for the “I don’t carry 24/7” thing, you are correct, I don’t know ANY of the current top tier instructors who actually do, I’m just overtly honest about it. Obviously, any of them who fly commercially can’t really be carrying all the time…. any of them who attend SHOT show can’t be carrying legally all the time…. etc….etc.. As David pointed it, this is abut balancing risk and benefit. I’m not a Gun Carrying Hobbyist… and you’re mistake was in the idea that the “lifestyle” I recommend has anything to do with carrying a gun specifically. I recommend that people acknowledge the potential for evil and/or tragedy and be prepared to deal with it showing up in their lives. For many, much of the time, that would include carrying a gun and being prepared to use it… but, not for everyone all the time.
        -RJP

        Like

    • David,

      Most people who say I would do this…I would do that…. have clearly never been on a two way range or in combat period. I know what Rob preaches in reality because I have been there as a retired LEO. You don’t do a lot of things you think you would. His method of working with what the body does naturally is spot on. Unless you have pure ice water running through your veins you will be under stress during a dynamic critical incident.

      An offshoot to that is also Rob Leathams aiming is useless…..anyone that tells you that you have time for aiming in a gunfight of full of $&&&. If your surprised by a threat…it just happens. Now of your a SWAT Officer with a team and your doing a raid…you work under a different dynamic because your not being ambushed.

      So Rob you keep teaching…. and Ill keep keep practicing combat focused shooting.

      Like

  3. Having also been a pedantic asshat, er, university professor, during my life, I can see how that could grate people the wrong way in this biz. But we have to be careful in GC 2.0 (and 1.0) not to fall victim to the People’s Front of Judea Syndrome. There are enough people out there who have us in their crosshairs. Friendly fire not allowed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Professor Yamane I have always found your voice here to polite an informative. That was what made wish I could have audited one of your 2.0 classes in some way.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr.Pincus made an appearance here.
    One may take issue with his preference for “beer canning” his handgun mags or his niche of incorporating a flinch response into one’s draw, but he can articulate his reasons for doing so.
    I admire that he will not shy from popping up to speak directly to critics in gun forums or blogs. He is always Socratic and polite and non-confrontational when he does so.
    Keeping a close eye on his Google metrics and protecting the brand is a smart thing as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Attended a class with this “douche” in 2014. He screamed at students when they dry-fired their guns before holstering clear. Had no medical or emergency plan, just threw his very basic IFAK against the wall in the range and said there it is if you need it.

    His totally unprofessional behavior is what turned me off if him and oh yeah… How about pay for a two-day course and because he didn’t get the enrollments he wanted he cut the course to one-day and offered only credit to the simulator and some discount coupons to the facility we trained at which is now out of business.

    Regardless, I am qualified to say that he is a douchebag and yes, he uses maybe fifteen words when two will do, that is more than annoying and shows that he really has no clue, but likes to sound important with his $2 vocabulary.

    Save your money and train with a professional, not with this guy, he doesn’t even shoot in front of his students, probably too afraid to show his ass. (He did not shoot in the course I attended so I can state this as fact)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing these experiences. I wonder if feedback like yours (if you gave it to him back then) helped because during the instructor conference I attended, a great deal of attention was paid to the medical kit and what would happen in the case of a medical emergency. And an hour was also set aside for a presentation by one of the instructors who has experience in this area. I don’t know what his general practice is in terms of shooting in front of his students, but he did shoot alongside his instructors at the conference I attended. Can’t comment on the 15 words vs. 2. Will plead the fifth on that one!

      Liked by 2 people

      • David, he got my feedback and knows exactly how I and many others feel about him in this industry. Rob is no more than a charlatan that is stealing the air that professional firearms instructors breathe.

        Oh, I forgot to mention while it is true that this charlatan shoots all the time in his ridiculous videos, the problem is he never shows his target. (Hashtag Hits Count) I have one more name for him, Social Media Douchebag!

        Like

      • KMM since he already has your feedback would you care to post under your actual name so we can bring the discussion out.of the shadows into the light? You have names for him, but what is your name?

        Liked by 2 people

      • No problem, I often use my initials without giving it a second thought, I signed this at the bottom for you.

        Oh, since you have contact with this charlatan that is stealing air from the rest of us in this industry, why don’t you pass these questions to him for me?

        “Why is it that no Law Enforcement Agency will touch you and furthermore why is it that the one you supposedly used to work for won’t have you back for training?”

        “Please tell us again, why it is you walk around unarmed, yet profess in your own mind to be a #2A supporter and top-level trainer?”

        Signed,

        K. Mike Moore

        Liked by 2 people

      • If I have the opportunity, I will ask, thank you.

        You aren’t the gunsmith at Gunsite are you by chance? Name is familiar.

        And assuming you are not the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore trolling me!?!?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mike, I have no idea which class you participated I, nor do I recall you specifically, but I am pretty confident you would’ve had an even worse time if I had stretched the class to two days. It is true that I don’t do the typical “medical plan” briefing because I consider them hollow box-checking for the most part. I’ve been calling attention to a trauma kit and making sure people knew what was important in regard to safety and medical training for much longer than it has been in vogue.

      “Dry Firing” before holstering is a silly habit that has no value in defensive gun training. If you are used to training on ranges that want people to be “cold”, then that is even more indication of why you didn’t take a liking to my course. I don’t teach, train or practice that way.

      While I don’t think either one of use would benefit from you attending another class with me at this point, I would encourage you to go watch more of my videos… many of them show both me AND the target. At least you can correct that misunderstanding without much effort. Good News: many of them are online and available for free.

      You can read my comments above to (the much more civil) Robert in regard to why I don’t carry a gun 24/7. I’d be curious about your list of “professionals” that you would recommend training with who you actually think do carry 24/6/365… Maybe I can clear some of those misunderstandings up for you as well. 🙂

      -RJP

      Like

  7. Rob has done many things that go against conventional gun wisdom that are–well stupid.
    But Rob likes to be an iconoclast to call attention to himself, and with it comes a price.Ask

    Beyond that Rob has done certain things that have made him look unprofessional and–well, plain dumb.

    Asl Rob about the time he threw a student’s gun downrange?

    Ask Rob about the time in Germany when he was at dinner with a bunch of people and someone asked one of the people at the table about shooting people in the pelvis. The person asked the question was a Special Operations veteran who had a great deal of combat experience.

    But before the Spec Ops vet could answer, Rob started pontificating.

    The Spec Ops vet’s response was to say, Hey, Rob, exactly how many people have you shot in the pelvis? I have shot five or six.”

    There is a whole bunch of things you don’t know about Rob.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nick,
      There are a whole bunch of things we don’t know about you…. and David for that matter.
      1. “Threw the Gun Down Range”… that awesome bit of apocrypha was started by a fan boy of a would-be competitor. He heard the story 2nd or 3rd hand and then knowingly exaggerated it. He later admitted that he really had no idea what he was talking about and even apologized to me at one point. It’s a great red-herring attack for the uneducated haters to make though. Well Played.
      Truth: After several warnings about a bad habit, I took an unloaded pistol that was at slide lock out of a multi-class student’s holster and walked down the line with it for a couple of minutes while calling a drill. At some point, I tossed it down on the berm that was perpendicular to the line of students (which was also a downrange direction for other drills, hence part of the possible confusion). At the end of the drill, he picked it up and the course went on. Neither he, nor anyone in attendance, had any issue with it… I didn’t even remember the incident when it was mis-reported in a Discussion Forums in the late 2000’s. The real issue in that forum discussion: I had dared to challenge a collection of silly range habits like Double Taps and Bladed Stances in an article and bunch of the old guard and their fanboys had their panties in a wad.
      2. I don’t recall the dinner or the “spec ops” guy… I’ve had plenty of dinners in Germany and several of them had guys that could claim that resume line in attendance. Sounds like he might have had some trigger control issues I could’ve helped with… low shots are common under stress and sometimes that is the reason.
      As for pelvis shots: Can they work? Sure. Have they worked? Sure. Are they they best Plan A for any physiological or contextual reason? Nope. I don’t care who says they’ve done it. That grates on a lot of people… It’s called “Respectful Irreverence”, lucky for you, David has recently shared the article explaining that concept here at this blog.
      -RJP

      Like

    • Thanks very much for sharing the link. I honestly don’t spend much time in gun forums, because the ratio of content to unfocused chit-chat is generally too low, and the anonymity often makes the tone like Facebook without the civility. Reading this thread had some of the former, but I appreciated that many people posted under their real names or were otherwise identifiable. And it made me sorry that I never met Todd Green. Seems exceedingly thoughtful and level-headed.

      I have never attended an end-user class with Pincus, and obviously my very presence at an end-user class would bias what happened there, at least with respect to berating students and throwing guns. I wonder if anyone else out there has more recent examples? I.e., is this part of a teaching methodology or something that happened and doesn’t happen anymore.

      Last, this quote attributed to Pincus by Todd Green: “No you wouldn’t. People always say that but no one ever does anything.” I think this sort of impoliteness is what Heinlein says would NOT happen in an armed society. Marty Hayes said in a comment on my Facebook page that he always found Pincus was polite to him, but Pincus also knows that Hayes is always armed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think I had ever read that thread… Entertaining 10 minutes on a lazy holiday weekend. I remember that conversation with Todd, it occurred during a lovely streak dinner with solid cocktails. I think it was Memphis, but it might have been Tulsa.
        Unfortunately, his memory of the convo wasn’t so solid. The event of which he spoke (and the one I assumed was being referenced in this original comment) occurred at an outdoor Chicago PD Range, not at Valhalla. Incidentally, I was invited back to the range several times and eventually conducted an Instructor Development Course for the host (Chicago PD Firearms Training Unit)… so, I guess it couldn’t really have been all that bad, could it??
        Thanks!

        Like

  8. […] I appreciate Rob Pincus allowing me to re-post the essay here. Even before meeting him, I found his understanding of teaching as a way of cultivating humanity compelling, and there are echoes of that perspective in this essay. During my long weekend of observation of his Combat Focus Shooting Instructors Conference I found that he adheres to the principle of respectful irreverence himself, for better or worse. […]

    Like

  9. “But it does suggest a particular approach to disagreement. Disagreeing without being disagreeable, and criticizing ideas not persons.”

    ^^OMG This, so much this!!^^
    Now that I haven’t really given a ship about “Armed with Reason” for about 3 weeks, I haven’t been as active on this blog as I have been during this year. However after arguing on the tweeter, it’s so refreshing to see this. All too often in our culture, people try to dig up something dumb someone said, and say”oh look this person is delusional, therefore everything he says is delusional. As usual ____ is always making sh!t up and they don’t care about anyone but themselves!” That kind of arguing(and that’s an extremely generous assessment) has led us to the world where every. Damn. Thing. Is extremely politicized, when a good mutual understanding of issue X could probably be reached in a few minutes…

    Like

  10. Look, no need to overthink this. Rob Pincus is a major douche bag, period. Your first impressions were right – no need to go all Stockholm Syndrome over him. He’s an emotional abuser, and a bully, one 2A advocates could do without. With friends like him, he’s the best advocate for gun control I know.

    * Stockholm syndrome is an empathy response that happens to some abuse and hostage victims when they have positive feelings toward an abuser or captor.

    Like

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