In a couple of classes this past year the subject of tourniquets has been brought up. I have tried once or twice the joke of not needing one and how I would just tear my petticoat and grab a stick. It apparently isn’t a very funny one though because I never got a laugh out of it and that segues me into a lesson on tourniquets from this past weekend. A lesson I was not prepared for, nor even had an inkling I would learn.
Tac med is on my list of courses to take, but I have had others I wanted to do first. I mean I got the gist of a tourniquet, how it works, maybe had a friend show me how to set up my four or five I have laying around in random places in our car or home. I have argued the merits and non-merits of cheap ones….. I am also fairly certain I could stitch someone up safely if I had to with a piece of dried squirrel gut and some moonshine, cue comedian Brian Regan’s child medic skit, “Get some leaves!!” Please note I am totally kidding, sort of.
I signed up for Five-O Tactical’s Survival Shooting Course two days before it was scheduled, again not knowing what it entailed. I saw the event on Facebook and really enjoyed my last class with them (https://www.healthy-buffalo.com/blogarticles/five-o-froggingfive-o-contact-eir#/), this was going to be live fire, so I jumped on it and made the drive again.
Funny side note, last year I wrote in an EIR about an ECQC course I took and for three days I accidentally stole this poor guy’s chair, actually slept in it too. I thought it was just a random one and even went so far as to remove his keys at one time because my brain was just too tired to comprehend that he was trying to subtly keep me out of it. He was so kind, when at the end of the course, I realized and was appalled that I had taken his seat for the entire weekend. I brought my own this time. Learned my lesson. And then managed to steal someone else’s chair AND accidentally drink their water for about 30 minutes before I realized they weren’t mine. I am just going to help myself to people’s coolers from now on too…..
So tourniquets suck. Like, you know you did it right when it hurts really, really bad. I don’t mind pain, I mean if you know me, I am going to whine continuously about it, but I will do what needs to be done. So when I got the lesson I didn’t know I was getting in cutting off blood supply for the better good of myself, you know, like living, I was a little surprised.
I saw some old friends from the last class, met some new ones, looking at you Officer John, and had a flat-out blast. Literally and figuratively. Five-O it seems has a bit of a cult following. Most are from Tulsa that attend, and they all keep coming back for more, I can see why. Chuck Smith, the owner, has a way of chilling people out when needed and amping it up appropriately to get his point across. This course was as diverse in students as the last one I attended, if not more, and I really want to reiterate how much I love what he has going on. He is not shooting for (pun intended) the tactical crowd; he is aiming for (pun definitely intended) civilians in all walks of life just wanting to be safer.
This course had some of the most fun drills I have done. I was teased halfway through the day for calling them “super-fun drills” but you know what, if you aren’t enjoying it, why are you there? Seriously if you are not taking a pistol course because you find it fun, you are probably just a serial killer trying to hone your skills. It is fun, its why you pay some cash and blow a Saturday doing, “super-fun drills” outside of the safety part.
That being said, I spent most of the time with my super-fun drills trying to get Officer John to smile and he probably spent most of his time trying not to roll his eyes. He was an assistant instructor that was assigned to my end of the line and if you know anything about me and my driving record you will know that I am speaking 100 percent factually when I say Officer John is the epitome of every policeman that has pulled me over for speeding. So when I wasn’t trying to get him to crack a smile I was freaking out over the added stress that if I screwed up said drill he was going to hand me a subliminal expensive ticket. It probably didn’t help that I joked and called him Deputy Dawg….. Lack of humor jokes aside, he is a Law Enforcement Officer using his Saturday off, working with civilians to make them safer. That says loads to his character, and I have mad respect for that.
The drills were based on the survival aspect of an active gunman, hence the name Survival Shooter. What happens when you are down? If you get shot? Injured? How do you deal with it? Which is also the main cause for the rough tourniquet lesson and the random drill he would shout out throughout the day of, “Tourniquet! Right leg!!” Drop everything and take care of it before you theoretically bleed out in 30 seconds.
Because of this aspect we did a ton of one-handed drills, and they were, you guessed it, super-fun. I loved it; malfunction, loading, unloading, all with one hand because the other one is blue from the tourniquet I put on and then Chuck decided it wasn’t good enough so cranked it up a notch, and by cranked I mean he took plyers to the windlass and proceeded to pull the strap through my arm. #iamdramaticiknow
I am going to say one more thing about the tourniquet and then move on with life (I am aware I have used the word eight times in this article), it is really freaking hard to walk with that sucker correctly tightened on your thigh. Which is the main point Chuck was getting at. It is going to be hard, you could be hurt, you could be tired, you could feel hopeless, and you could honestly be laying there thinking you are dying and it’s too late. Don’t give up. Keep fighting. Survive.
So now for the Ego Injury Report of this course. Man, my aim is subpar at best. Shooting is not my forte. To be fair I haven’t given the time to shoot targets like I have martial arts. I don’t have the excuses either because I have been given instruction from some rather stellar people in this field and I just need to put in the work. #2022goals. I am apparently anticipating the recoil when I squeeze the trigger, this is probably why my Red Dot Sight was off…. #everythingisausererror
I had just finished one drill feeling pretty good about myself for getting the tourniquet on (sorry had to bring it up again) when Chuck came over with a look that made me ask, “What did I screw up?” to which he replied, “Nothing, I just want you to hit the target.” #goals
Nobody likes being the person that holds up the class and having only been to one other of Chucks courses I felt my nervousness ramp up a notch when he stopped me in the middle of running a concealment drill to focus on my crap aim. Later I would realize he did this with several people so I wasn’t being singled out, but at the time I could feel the anxiety rising, not out of fear or nerves, but failure. Failure to live up to the standard I set for myself which is usually hit 75% of the paper and at the very least run it right.
When I am trying to hit a target in front of the whole class my brain runs a bevy of thoughts in less than a thousandth of a second: Did I put a round in the chamber? Did I break the instructors’ rules by drawing before he said threat? Am I showing a toe to the bad guy? An arm? My freaking head? Am I gripping with the bottom part of my hand? Am I gripping too tight? Will the gun jump out of my hand because I am not gripping tight enough? Oh, crap I am supposed to be thinking that the target guy is firing at me…. Sh*t have I even fired a round yet? Kneeling or standing? Left foot back, or right? Squared up? Front sights on? Well crap if they are on it didn’t matter because I anticipated the recoil (insert pause in whole drill here where I am supposed to be learning what Chuck is saying about that last statement and yet my brain keeps going so nothing is absorbing…) Breathe. Don’t breathe too loudly the bad guy could hear you. Don’t smash up next to cover. Don’t freak out because you didn’t hear the ping, I mean you probably figurately shot his finger off. Should I just push this barrel up on the bad guy while in concealment? Then maybe I could hit him at five feet. See? Planning offensively…. Better put the gun away first if that’s my plan, don’t want to flag a hypothetical bystander. Everyone is looking at me and it’s not because of the Barbie shirt. Wait, have I fired a shot yet? Crap, I am not even behind the damn concealment.
This. All of it. While I am also trying to work out what I am doing wrong with my aim……
I say all of this because it plays into a very impactful, second to last maneuver for me. Chuck meant to ramp up the intensity by mentally putting my mindset into dealing with a threat at the front of the car while my kid was hypothetically in the back. He asked what my youngest child’s name was and then said I needed to put myself fully in the headspace that my sweet Rose was in the car seat behind the passenger side. I needed to fully take care of the gunman in front and safely assess the situation.
My brain shut down. In the best way possible. They weren’t getting my kid and I just moved. I wasn’t stressed because there just wasn’t any other option. I didn’t care what the others thought of me in this drill because I was going to chew the face off of any person who represented danger if I hadn’t shot them first. It was truly that simple in my head. I always knew self-defense wise I would mama-bear up. That honestly wasn’t the issue, but I don’t know if I have mentally put myself there when it comes to firearms and that was an interesting place to be. It was ironic because it was meant to initiate a stressor, but it actually calmed me down and put my brain where it needed to be. Going to try that next time with those damn daisy chain drills….
Once again I was impressed with how Chuck ran his class. There was never a drill that did not have a real-life scenario it was pulled from, and he is probably one of the best out there in explaining the whys surrounding it. He manages to take an intense class and teach it to the most mixed group I have seen. He worked with those that had injuries, those that maybe would have felt too old, not fit enough, or maybe not have enough knowledge. He worked and was successful with them all. He understands that this niche of preparedness should be available to not just LEO and those with tactical jobs, but to anyone who wants to carry.
In a twist of irony I had a woman in my last self-defense course I taught that was discussing her struggle with her ability to get to a standing position from being on her back. We worked through a couple of options, however the thing that is important to remember here is that you are going to have to do what you have to do to survive. It may hurt, it may push you beyond what you thought you were physically and mentally capable of, but a threat is not age or ability specific, it just is. You WILL have to get up, you WILL have to stop the blood flow, you WILL have to fight back, you WILL have to protect those babies, you just WILL.
My friend Shawna, who I met at the Contact course a month ago, was in this class as well. She started training three years ago when she attended Chuck’s Women’s Safety Seminar, and now has wracked upwards of 200 hours of training with him. She is 51 and spent the afternoon working and maneuvering through a thumb injury that is probably never going to be fixed. She is crushing it, all because she took that first step towards her safety in 2019. Its impressive.
There was also a man there that was 79 years old running through every drill, keeping up, showing the world there is no excuse to walk through life unable to train.
That’s why I appreciate Five-O Tactical. Chuck is working the firearms side for those that need it most and is someone I could recommend anyone can take a course from no matter what part of your life journey you are on. So gonna work on my aim because a good takeaway I gleaned from him this weekend is, “If you are unhappy with your skill, improve your skill.” It doesn’t get much more direct than that.
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