This one is a BIG Ego Injury Report….
Pictures in the age of social media rarely tell the full truth anymore. With all the filters and photoshop ready and waiting in apps at your fingertips it is actually easier to make yourself look better than post reality. I am guilty of this and so is most everyone if we are all honest with ourselves. Even if we post a not flattering photo it is done with intention and usually a lengthy comment; again guilty. it is not just the Instagram husbands waiting on the sides taking a million pictures, the men are doing this too; selling their product as well, whether it is body builders, models, or general bad a$$ery.
They have to. That’s pretty much the name of the game. I find no fault in that, just pointing out that these pictures below show bright colors in a tactical world. I looked cool, calm, and collected. I looked like I knew what I was doing and had it all under control and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The magic was in the photographer Sam. By the way, thanks Sam because those were great photos, and anyone is a liar if they say they don’t want awesome photos of themselves. I was an absolute hot mess during the snapping of those pictures and pretty much had a break down directly afterwards so there’s that. Cool pics though.
I learned several things during this weekend but the one that stands out most is very similar to the myth of easy Sunday training because it is only four hours long. It is never easy on Sunday. This is along those lines, if you are trying out anyone else’s new course, start at the beginning. I am extremely grateful I was allowed to sit in on Gunfighter 1, because I can’t imagine the deficit had I just showed up the next day for class two. To be fair the drills for class one were several I had done before, but I was in a class the next day with pretty much people who live at their local range. To say my marksmanship was subpar would be a slight understatement. I could hit the target, but being outside of that eight-inch circle was not good enough for this course and I was severely lacking.
It is hard because I did not kick off my firearms journey the way most people do. I began with pistol fighting and then worked on what I was aiming at, literally and figuratively. Most start with years on the range standing with their feet shoulder width apart leaning forward and blasting a paper target. I shot for good enough for a CCW, learned to draw at home with reps, jumped into close quarters shooting, and haven’t looked back. Till this class.
It was a blessing then that Raul Martinez, his two sidekicks Danny and David, took pity and worked with me. And by work, I mean they would not take anything less than performing every aspect of my aim correctly and that was daunting. They also talked trash better than me. I thought I was fairly decent at this; I was verbally rolled up into the fetal position. Raul is creative, David has a stare that makes you want to shut up, and Danny makes you feel better just enough to tell you to get you’re a$$ back in and moving. It was motivating?
Raul Martinez is an instructor that was recommended by a well-respected friend. I was given four names and am now halfway through the list. Raul teaches courses with Fieldcraft Survival and if you haven’t checked out their website or Instagram page definitely look them up. They have a very broad spectrum of useful and lifesaving tips/seminars for everyone. It is super impressive and helpful. Raul also owns Rogue Methods and runs his Close Contact Gunfighter course that usually follows when he teaches Gunfighter 1 for Fieldcraft Survival. Still with me?
I wanted to make sure I got the most out of the weekend, so I asked if it was okay to just take the Gunfighter 2 and Close Contact Gunfighter courses and sit in/write notes on Gunfighter 1. I am still torn between wishing I had taken the first one because it looked like a ton of fun, however I was able to write down a massive amount of information to pore over later so it is a toss-up. Gunfighter 1 was not a combat course at all, it focused on marksmanship, fundamentals, clearing, and unloading. There was no fighting just aiming drills and then some pressure testing. I was asked several times the first day if I worked for Fieldcraft Survival; I assume because I had a notebook and wasn’t participating. I found that pretty humorous because even looking at the students for class 1, I knew I was likely in over my head. But hell that hasn’t stopped me before. They definitely got their answer in the big negative the next day.
David Acosta was the assistant teacher in training and led most of Gunfighter 1. He was great and I found his explanations very concise, informative, and straight to the point. He had a clear way of breaking things down and getting you to understand why you should try ideas their way. They weren’t forcing you; the impression was that they wanted to give you tools to come up with what will eventually work for you, your hands, and make you better. I was especially thankful for his clarification of how you stand when shooting. Their approach was similar to what I had started out with, more on the lines of a fighting stance. He spoke of the ego in the gun community and asked those there to open their minds and liken their stance to standing behind a car getting ready to push it. He stressed the importance of feet stability, mobility, and durability. Because this isn’t the wild west and nobody is walking paces in a dusty street to turn around and shoot, you are more likely to be moving aggressively with your pistol, adrenaline coursing through you, and that requires different thought processes.
That evening, Close Contact Gunfighter was more familiar and also a much smaller class. I was the only woman and there was maybe eight of us total. I started out quickly recognizing that just hitting the paper wasn’t going to cut it; this made me super glad I had sat in on the class before. They told me they would catch me up the next day ish and we went into cicada metropolitan (otherwise known as a field with like a million of those damn bugs) and used sim pistols to shoot each other. It was a fabulous time.
It really was. I was a sweaty mess and Raul spent a good amount of time going over hand fighting and retention of your gun. It was practical, useful, sometimes painful, and hard. Most of the drills were solely on retaining your firearm and when you are easily the smallest person there by several pounds and inches in height it can be super frustrating; you almost always end up on the ground grappling. I am incredibly hard on myself at these things. As a person that thrives on an “atta girl,” in a tactical world where you are the only one wearing the rainbows on the color wheel, one is probably not going to come your way. I warned right off the bat that I was a crier, and I did not disappoint. However, the first tears of the night ended up having nothing to do with guns and everything to do with an adoption story of a person there. If you know our background that totally gets me in the feels.
I dropped a few exasperation waterworks, but nothing I couldn’t suck back in and move quickly from. I spent a couple moments irritated with myself and my failures, especially when I was shot with my own gun. Good times. This was a quick fun course that was a pretty epic beatdown. I told my husband later that though it sucks sometimes putting myself in these types of drills, it almost feels imperative to continue them especially when I am running them with strangers. They are always larger than me, I don’t know their movement, and that is as close to a real attack as I am going to get to test out what I know. If you have been following anything that I have been writing for the last year or watching any of the drilling videos posted you know that the whole “I would just shoot him” philosophy is just not going to hack it. You won’t. You will probably not be able to draw your gun in the first place, when you try it will be too late, and you will be on the ground. So yes, these are imperative.
Let me break this down, I have a second-degree black belt in karate, where I was also a teacher for a couple of years, I have taken over 150 hours of gun and knife training outside of the three days a week I train Muay Thai/boxing, and Jiu jitsu all in the last year, and these are still what my fights look like. Ugly, not smooth, barely technical. I throw myself in these adrenaline-fueled situations and honestly after looking at these videos wonder if I am getting worse…… I truly mean no disrespect and hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this thought process that you will magically be able to pull and efficiently use your gun/knife, that you haven’t trained with under pressure, is going to fail. You must train with it and train managing your surroundings.
So, Gunfighter 2. I took literally no notes during this class. It was fast paced, I had almost too much to process and learn, and I was literally the only one there wearing a concealed pistol. Everyone else was at their side and if that wasn’t enough, I was also the only one there with six round magazines. But hell, honestly I am never going to be carrying anything outside of that IRL, so I am okay with the deficit, I just spent a majority of time making sure I wasn’t holding anybody up by popping bullets in my mags every chance we were not shooting. I would load up my pockets with a handful of rounds and keep them full. For six hours, it seemed, I was never not doing something with my hands. There were around 20 of us and I was easily the shortest by half a foot and the only female again. That’s a lot of only’s…. truly just not wanting to be the person that would hold up the rest of the students was basically my only thought outside of how much I was trying to smash into my brain.
All three teachers were hands on with everybody. They were an incredible wealth of knowledge, and the course was well worth the cash, even with my range meltdown. It was hot, my hands were sweaty, and when I am running movement drills the only thing I am thinking of is making sure I am being safe. I managed to screw that up too, heck I am not sure I even hit the targets at all, I do know I didn’t hit any bystanders or barrels so… success. Ish.
The second to last drill was a daisy chain. It required two shots from concealment on either side of height varying barrels. There were four of them, so I was already behind knowing I was going to have to do a few mag changes in there. Counting is really not my forte in life at all. Never be my partner for working out if you want me to watch your reps, I will fail you. I tried counting how many rounds I would need for this drill to get a minor heads up, but that quickly went out the window and I flat out could not figure out how I ended up using four whole magazines on this daisy chain run through. I got flustered, I was mad at myself, I lost it when I was near the last barrel with gravel being kicked at me, I had no rounds left, and my gun empty. I was being yelled at (no more than any other person, this was a pressure drill after all), I stood up, flagged Raul, melted down some more because I couldn’t believe I had done that, went over to my range bag, chest heaving, definitely not asthma, tears aplenty, and just faced the dirt wall and cried.
This is where Danny came in with the tough love and gave just enough calmness right before a, get back in there, there is no excuses. He didn’t let me wallow and I appreciate that. I want to lead by example with my kids and I always stress the point of keep moving forward. In the words of Raul Martinez, “Own up to your sh*t and do better.”
So I loaded up, cleaned off my glasses and got back in line for the last drill of the day. Oh, and if you thought Raul was going to go easy because I cried, think again. I was the only one that had to hit that damn steel target twice from like a million yards away (reality it was like 40 ft), everyone else had three tries and got to go on through to the barrels. Nope, I had to hit it twice no matter what and I went through two mags (that range shooting stance might have been helpful here) mentally freaking out because I knew I wouldn’t have enough yet again to make it through the drill. Raul filled one up for me while I finally hit that second shot and I was off running and screwing up again. But hey, the pictures looked good.
I met a lot of neat people, a lot of severely talented people, several law enforcement officers on their own dime just wanting to be better at their jobs, military, and range instructors. It was a heavy weekend and honestly, I think I had less emotional ups and downs dating as a teenager, but it was worth it.
I have had people ask me about the comparison of these classes to Craig Douglas’s ECQC. There isn’t one. Take both. Both are phenomenal instructors and have very different, but important things to offer. The drills were different, the environment and feel of the class was different, hell even the types of students seemed a bit different. Take both.
When first starting his classes Raul said, “It’s not big boy rules, it's grown-up rules.” And that’s a fact. I was hard on myself and hate to fail, and I argued internally with yours truly the whole time and then I went home to my babies. After the flight, and the welcome kisses, and the kiddos in bed, I listened to a pod cast with Mickey Shuch where he stated, “Do not seek to win an argument, seek to learn.” I assume that means even in your own head, so I debriefed my brain and went to sleep.
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Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal