Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics with John Murphy

My wife Sandy and I (as noted in a previous post) were John Murphy’s guests at FPF Training’s Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics Course in Culpeper, Virginia recently.

I first met Murphy when I observed Tom Givens’s Rangemaster Instructor Development and Certification Course at the FPF Training range in 2017. He has been on my list of people to observe teach since then. Thanks to his generosity, I was able to put down my pen/notepad and pick up my gun and actually take the course. Although there are good reasons for me to observe and not participate in training classes, this was a welcome change – especially because of the topics covered in this particular course.

With John Murphy of FPF Training, Culpeper, VA, May 2017. Photo by Lynn Givens

As I noted in discussing the 2018 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, the frontiers of defensive gun culture are expanding beyond weapon selection, manipulation, and basic marksmanship (though these remain essential).

Many of the special characteristics of Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics (CCASAT) reflect this expanded reality:

1. Integration of hard and soft skills: The key hard skill of deploying and shooting concealed handguns at a variety of distances and under a variety of circumstances are definitely covered at length in the course, at an “advanced” level.

But the course also gives a basic introduction to soft skills like what Murphy calls “street encounter skills.” (This part of the class is adapted heavily from and with credit to Craig Douglas’s “managing unknown contacts,” though Murphy also credits early learning he did under John Farnam who then called it “talking to Goofy.”)

Another key set of soft skills exercised in the class is threat recognition, target discrimination, and shoot/no-shoot decision making. (More on this in a future post.) There were many occasions in the course where we were tasked with defending ourselves in ways other than drawing and shooting our guns.

Using pepper spray trainers at FPF Training course, June 2019. Photo by David Yamane

2. Tools and skills along the force continuum: There is alot of effort made in civilian gun training to distinguish the role of private citizens from that of police officers. And appropriately so. But one concept I hear invoked in discussions of police use of force that I hear less often in discussions of non-sworn civilians is the “force continuum.” And that is too bad. Because not thinking about all of our force options along a continuum can lead us to fall back on a single option: the gun. And bad things can happen when we see every problem as a gun problem, as when we try to “hammer screws,” to quote Murphy.

To be sure, there are those pushing the frontiers of defensive gun culture beyond the gun to develop tools and skills “between a harsh word and a mag dump,” as Murphy quotes trainer Chuck Haggard of Agile/Training & Consulting as saying. Craig Douglas, for example, in his Extreme Close Quarters Combat course teaches the eye jab. Pepper spray, what Douglas calls “an eye jab in a can,” is another option. Murphy incorporates pepper spray into CCASAT, and hosts other trainers like Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training who teach skills along the force continuum from ground fighting and to basic knife skills.

John Murphy demonstrates how to use a tourniquet, June 2019. Photo by David Yamane

3. Emergency treatment of injuries: Some people call this “tactical treatment of combat casualties” and other such descriptions, but that is a bit much for me. What is not excessive, however, is the importance of being able to deal with gunshot wounds and other injuries in the field. And yet I have never taken or observed a shooting or concealed carry course in which this topic is covered.

Murphy’s “stop the bleed” segment of CCASAT isn’t going to make anyone an EMT or combat medic, but learning how to correctly use a tourniquet and pressure dressing makes me feel better equipped to handle some medical emergencies I could encounter in my everyday life (and not necessarily in connection with a gunfight or shooting).

**Bottom Line: Gun writer Tamara Keel characterized CCASAT as one course she would recommend for someone who wasn’t going to take another course. I agree with that assessment, but I would also say that the brief introduction to many crucial skills and tactics can help you see where your training needs to go.

I came away from the class realizing I should take a dedicated medical class, a pepper spray class, a knife class, and an empty hand skills class to round out my training. I was also shown deficiencies in my basic marksmanship and advanced shooting with the Glock 43 I used in the class.

I know and can do more than when I started the class, and I also know more about what I don’t know and can’t do. I can’t ask for more than that.




  1. John’s training is top rate. I took his Street Encounter Skills class a couple years ago, I think that curriculum is now wrapped into this class. I found that class to be ideal for a person who was willing to take just one class beyond a basic defensive pistol class and I highly recommended it as such. I agree with you, however, that John’s material works perfectly to open students up to where else their training should go. John Murphy does good work.

    Liked by 2 people

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