Prior to attending the shoothouse course at Alliance Police Training organized by Paul Carlson of Safety Solutions Academy and taught by Joe Weyer and Cory Hupp, such a course would have been low on my training priority list. Like many, I associated such courses with military and law enforcement rather than private citizens. Private citizens who ended up in such courses were probably trying to dress up and play G.I. Joe as some sort of edu-train-ment or tactical fantasy camp.
After 37.5 hours over the 3 days of the course, my thoughts have changed considerably, as I noted in previous posts. Here I want to share some final thoughts emerging from the course.
Joe Weyer recognizes that many people don’t think they are “ready” for shoothouse course until they are very advanced shooters, but he contends that the sooner you include decision-making into your training, the better. For the private citizen this means thinking about a shoothouse course as a “decision-making with a gun” course rather than a “team close quarters battle with rifles” course.
As an observer of the course reminded us, “If you are armed in society, you are in the world’s biggest shoothouse.” The 360-degree world we live in is a decision-making world.
Furthermore, in Weyer’s estimation, the firearms part of the gunfight is only 10% of the equation; 90% is decision-making. As the old saw goes, if you only have a hammer (gun), everything looks like a nail (someone who needs shooting). In our case, the hammer is the least important tool we have.
Thus, Weyer suggests a training cycle that looks like this:
- Square range pistol/carbine training
- Decision-making course – shoothouse, vehicle CQB
- Force-on-force training
Each step in this cycle validates the previous step. The decision-making course validates the square range training, and force-on-force training validates the decision-making course. “This is the only way you know you are a competent armed citizen,” Weyer insists.
The stakes in being competent here could not be higher. Weyer reminds us that the military has an acceptable amount of innocent causalities (collateral damage). As armed citizens, we do not. Our acceptable innocent casualty number is 0 in every engagement. We have to be exactly right every time and are held accountable to this standard. As Weyer puts it, “There are no misses, only unintentional hits.”
Every bullet fired hits something and so we need to be impeccably responsible. In conducting his safety brief, Weyer cites fellow trainer Will Petty of Centrifuge Training who frames safety in terms of the big picture: What is your legacy? If you negligently shoot someone, what is your legacy?
Having the fundamental tools of marksmanship play a role in this as well. You need to be able to hit what you want to hit, and the less thinking you have to put into marksmanship while under stress, the more brain processing power you can allocate to decision-making.
When we were on the square range practicing our shooting at the start of class, Weyer came over to me and said softly, “You’re a pretty good shooter.” Thank you, I replied. He continued, “Do you want to be a better shooter?” Of course, I said. And he proceeded to show me a fundamental problem with my grip.
So for Joe Weyer and his shoothouse class at Alliance Police Training, it was all about marksmanship, decision-making, purpose, and legacy. “Can there be anything worse,” he asked us, “than seeing the light of life leave a loved one’s face but for the lack of your ability to help?”
In the end, for most armed citizens, that ability to help themselves and their loved ones is what it is all about.
Pat Rogers (quoted by Joe Weyer): “Just because you shot doesn’t mean you hit; just because you hit doesn’t mean you hurt; just because you hurt, doesn’t mean you killed.”
Joe Weyer: “Your partner may have given you a shit sandwich, but you have to take a bite. You just hope you get more bread than shit.”