Joe Weyer is an Army veteran who served in Special Operations, a 27-year veteran of the Alliance Police Department, and owner of a gun training company, Weyer Tactical.
He taught the 3-day shoothouse – or, rather, decision-making with a gun – course I attended recently at Alliance Police Training (APT) where he has been Director of Training since 1996. Although some 7,000 people will train at APT in 2018, I must confess that I had never heard his name until I was invited to this course. Which is a shame because he is one of the best instructors I have observed in the gun training industry.
Joe Weyer is also a hugger. Not like bro-hugs where the 45-degree handshake leads to a distant embrace with a single slap on the back. He is a full two-armed hugger. I learned this when I went to bro-hug him at the end of the course and got my right arm pinned between us as I went for a bro-hug and he drew me in with both arms.
Joe Weyer praises before he criticizes. Even when I did far more things in the shoothouse wrong than right, he always began with some affirming comment.
Joe Weyer is soft-spoken. Though you can tell from his frequent, boisterous laughter that he could turn the volume up to 11 if he needed to, he doesn’t use verbal intimidation to establish his credibility as an instructor.
Joe Weyer is never far from a large bag of Stoker’s Moonshine Blend Tennessee Chew, which he generously and repeatedly offered to me during the course.
Joe Weyer enjoys his work. At 11:00pm on Saturday, having already taught for 14 hours (on top of the 12 hours the previous day), completing 4 runs through the shoothouse with 6 different teams (24 runs in total), he asks the class if we want to do one more run in the shoothouse. We say yes and he replies, “This is so much fun.” We end Day 2 and leave the range at 1:00am Sunday morning.
Why does all this matter? It reflects Joe Weyer’s passion for his work and how much he cares for, one might even say loves, his students. It is impossible to come away from spending 37.5 hours over three days with him and not feel this. These traits are part of what make Joe Weyer an excellent instructor.
In terms of the shoothouse course specifically, Joe Weyer doesn’t take credit for the techniques and procedures he teaches, saying they are an aggregation of thousands of hours of teaching by people smarter than he is. But the way he teaches these techniques and procedures is, in my view as someone who has taught at top universities full time for 20 years, remarkable.
Every aspect of the course work – in class, on the range, and in the shoothouse – was cumulative and progressive. On Day 1, basic carry and ready positions we learned were incorporated into marksmanship practice on the square range, which were then incorporated into breaching and a simple room procedure. Day 2 incorporated all of the learning from Day 1 and added breaching a second door type, working L shaped corridors and rooms, and low light conditions. Day 3 incorporated all of Days 1 and 2 and added a T and cross shape.
Each shoothouse scenario built on previous skills but also added complexity. Each of our 8 runs got progressively longer and target discrimination progressively harder. This meant we were constantly being challenged such that we never fully mastered the current scenario, though we could certainly run the previous scenarios better.
In some courses you take steps to move forward from place to place but generally stay on the same level. The courses I teach in sociology are actually like this: we move from topic to topic each week, but the topics don’t get harder as we go. The shoothouse course I took, by contrast, is more like going up the steps on a stairway where you are both moving forward and upward.
And at Alliance Police Training, at least, you get to do it with a caring, encouraging, positive, trusted guide by your side. That is Joe Weyer.