Dave Spaulding – Challenging the concealed handgun license holder to win on the street

by Larry S. Moore

"Be prepared to play an active role in your rescue."

That was a key message when Dave Spaulding presented the basics of handgun combat to the group of Buckeye Firearms supporters gathered outside Xenia, Ohio at the Greene County Fish and Game Association.

Following a short introduction, Spaulding immediately launched into his presentation. His style is engaging, analytical, deliberate and challenging. He looks students directly in the eye challenging them to think about the potential of handgun combat and what it takes to win. His approach is not a one-size-fits-all to every shooter or situation. When asked the inevitable questions about what to do in this situation, he is often hesitate to answer. His reply is likely to be "situational dependent" and "you must be able to evaluate what is happening and respond appropriately in microseconds". It's not about the make, model, caliber or type of gun used but the mindset and skill of the person with the gun. He presented the critical aspects of mindset and what it takes to win on the street.

Spaulding places emphasis on mastering basic skills first and then building on those skills. It was quickly out to the ranges to put into practice the principles discussed in the classroom. We started with basic grip and gun presentation shooting groups at small dots on the targets. The distance increased but the drill remained simple. Grip, target, sight picture were constant objectives. I'm always somewhat nervous on the range. The competitive side always wants to perform well. And of course I make mistakes. Most of us do and Spaulding along with instructor Brian Buchanan will evaluate and help you correct those mistakes.

The concealed handgun license holder is often “the moderately trained person” according to Spaulding. Switching from my sport of trap shooting and my passion for deer hunting with a handgun to combat tactics for street survival employs slightly different skills. Shooting trap I can slap the trigger of my shotgun and then let my finger off the trigger. Not so in handgun shooting where trigger control and contact is a critical skill. I need this lesson and I need to practice the drills Spaulding introduced each week with my handgun. I may bust clay targets in the mid-ninety percent range with a shotgun but that will not help me to live to shoot another day in a street confrontation. Spaulding noted that the good news for the moderately trained person is the average criminal is poorly trained. Good news unless you encounter the one that happens to have the mindset and training to win. He emphasized that surviving the street encounter is not a competition. There is no fair play. Anyone that will assault, rob, maim, rape or kill is not playing by the rules.

We got coaching, guidance, reminders and encouragement from the professional and watchful eyes of Spaulding and Buchanan. We also watched each other to see the good and the bad. Reinforce what we learned through our actions and observance. He acknowledged different approaches and skills toward each drill. He clearly demonstrated the pros/cons of each. He stressing that shooters should be comfortable with different approaches as each situation will dictate different circumstances. At the end of the day we were shooting better and smoother. Spaulding is a professional instructor with a good common sense approach to the class. Of course this didn’t happen overnight. Spaulding’s approach has been developed over many years of his career in law enforcement and training. The class drew from his real life experiences in law enforcement.

Buckeye Firearms thanks Dave Spaulding for supporting us and personal concealed carry with his instruction. We also thank Greene County Fish and Game Association for the use of their outstanding facilities. The clubhouse and ranges are top quality. All the attendees came away with improved skills to enhance our ability to survive an encounter.

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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