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The 2011 Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Conference ended yesterday. An intense 4 days, averaging about 17 hours of activity each day, ended with an hour long debrief in our hotel lobby before going out for dinner and beverages one last time. The debrief brought out a lot of great points about the experiences the attendees had at the conference, but emphasized two key points that were integral to the long weekend: Foundational Principles and Evolution.
At first glance, it may seem like these two concepts might be at odds with one another… but, they have co-existed quite well together inside of our program. I think that too many people mistake simple beliefs, preferences or even techniques for Foundational Principles. This mistake leads to a resistance to changing those beliefs or evolving techniques because of a desire to maintain what are perceived as important
touchstones or facets of a program. “Reload without looking at your gun” is not a “Foundational Principle”, it is simply a technique (or part of a technique) that is based on a couple of them: Work well with what your body does naturally and achieve your goals with as little time, effort & energy as possible. By understanding the difference, we are free to evolve our advice on whether or not you look at your gun during reload sequence based on those Principles and still maintain our integrity.
The CFS Program has gone through much evolution and will continue to do so. Occasionally, people will condemn this as a failure of the program. They fail to see how constant inquiry, self-reflection and intellectual exchange with others can lead to productive improvement in something that was already “good”…but not “good enough.” Personally, when it comes to life & death skill sets, I don’t think that anyone should be happy with “good enough”. Evolve or Die… in this case, we could be speaking quite literally!
This year’s conference was held in Fernley, Nevada at the LMS Defense Combat Development Center. Located about an hour from Reno, the CDC is a complex of ranges located about 15 minutes outside the small town where LMS Defense is headquartered. Their shop includes a great classroom which we utilized 3 of the 4 days for “Year in Review” updates from the attending instructors, further instructor development and the administering of a written test as part of the certification process for a new course we are adding to I.C.E. Training Company: Introduction to Defensive Handguns. A course aimed at new gun owners or those who may be shooters, but not really understand defensive shooting or appropriate defensive firearms. This course is 4-6 hours long and includes Fundamental Defensive Shooting Skills, Home Defense Tactics and thorough coverage of different types of handguns and which are best for personal/home defense. Several of the attending instructors achieved certification as Defensive Handgun Coaches, entitling them to offer this course under their own companies with the backing of I.C.E.. While this may, on the surface, seem like a step backwards from full CFS Instructor Certification, there are some very specific topic areas that are not addressed in the CFS Program covered by IDH, so the certification is a great compliment to these already well-credentialed instructors’ resumes. Attendees also worked towards advanced certifications to teach our Advanced Pistol Handling and Combat Focus Carbine Courses.
The most unique aspect of the weekend was our Team Development exercise, the creation of a new program called “Fit Shot”, a program that combines defensive firearms practice with functional fitness on live fire ranges safely with moderate training and minimal equipment. Over the past few years, I have become more and more interested in the importance of physical fitness to personal defense and general well-being and this new program will be an important part of how we share that interest with our students. I’ll be writing more about this program soon!
We had attendees from Europe and all across the country this year. From Maryland to California and from Houston, Texas to Washington State. It is a great honor to spend 4 intense days with a group of professionals dedicated to challenging one another so that we can make ourselves and our students more capable. The attendees were dramatically diverse in too many ways to list and all had achieved many great things inside and out of the CFS Program over the past year. The team’s focus this week on Foundation Principles has helped me to understand my own program at an even deeper level and definitely made our team stronger. Look for any opportunity you can to train with a Certified Combat Focus Shooting Instructor… and, when you are thinking about your own training, be sure that you understand your own Foundational Principles and that you are always pushing yourself to Evolve.