Tactical Defense Institute's Partner Tactics Class prompts self-reflection

I recently attended the “Partner Tactics” class at Tactical Defense Institute (TDI). I’ve taken most of their handgun classes (including this one, a few years ago) and help with the FASTER Saves Lives training at TDI, and with Chris Cerino. So I benefit from spending significant time on a range with world-class instructors. But I had not personally taken a class in a few years, and I know it’s important for everyone to continue training.

My partner for the class was a school superintendent. We met at a FASTER Saves Lives class several years ago, and his district has continued to train and authorize people to carry firearms. The relationship he has with his county sheriff is impressive, and has been beneficial to both school and law enforcement on multiple occasions.

It was an excellent class with a mix of husband and wife, law enforcement, and friends/partners. We came from multiple states with some people traveling extensive distances.

My shooting was OK. As a perfectionist, I hate every missed shot, especially “hostage” shots. Some we were only given one chance, and when I miss a "one chance" shot it bothers me. I know there are no “do overs” in life.

The scenario-based, or “force on force” training is my favorite part. This is where it all comes together, or doesn’t. I know it’s training, and the point is to make mistakes and learn from training so that we perform better when facing deadly force encounters in real life, but some lessons I know from teaching thousands of others. So it was particularly frustrating to make a mistake where I absolutely knew better.

It illustrated to me how easy it is for someone to get tunnel vision, to get distracted and not take care of the immediate before moving to the next concern. WIN – What’s Important Now is a great reminder.

In my case, I walked past a downed assailant without disarming him. I paid for that mistake by taking two rounds to my side. The physical pain hurt, but not near as bad as the emotional pain of failing in front of my classmates and instructors. I was disappointed in my performance.

In other aspects I felt very good at the time, but upon reflection realized I did a poor job utilizing my partner. I’m used to being in charge and handle things well on my own, and I have a job as a pilot where we work though everything as a team, but that did not translate into clearing buildings efficiently as a team.

When the class was done, I realized just how badly I needed to take a class as a participant. The teaching I do helps in many ways, but there is simply no substitute for training with and learning from experts. Going to the range and shooting is critical, but it’s not enough.

My partner and I agreed that we would love to take the same class again the following weekend to cement the lessons learned. That is not possible, but we will get together and go through some of the partner training after we have time to sleep on the information and “chunk” some of the lessons learned in the class.

We both have skills we will work on next time we are on the range. We both have things we need to discuss with our wives and kids, and I’m sure he has things to work on with his school staff. We both learned things that could save our life, or the life of a loved one in a violent encounter, making it a very worthwhile three days of training.

I also have a new understanding for how difficult it is for police to abandon all their training that allows them to be safe and effective officers and suddenly switch to using tactics better suited for an active killer situation. Schools, churches and businesses need to train their own people instead of hoping police can do the impossible to save them.

I headed from this class straight to my recurrent training as an airline pilot. I learned some important things there too, things that might save my life or that of my crew and passengers. But the firearms training is a lot more fun.

We are fortunate to have a wealth of great instructors in Ohio and around the country. If you have not taken any training since getting your CHL, I highly recommend you make it a priority this summer. Train like your life depends on it – because you never know which day it will.

Note: Not sure where to train? Check out our Events page for a class that suits you, or search for an instructor in your area.

Jim Irvine is Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman, recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award and CCRKBA's 2012 Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award.

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