About Featured Expert: Dave Timm is owner of Patrol Tactical and has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 2002. Currently, he is a night patrol supervisor. He previously worked as an investigator, field training officer, school resource officer and in community relations. He is a certified instructor and subject matter expert in multiple areas, including use of force, firearms, and photography. He has numerous training certifications in advanced firearms armoring, instruction, and firearms courses. Dave is the lead firearms and use of force instructor for his department and oversees firearms inventory. He has numerous certifications from various armorer schools including basic and advanced level courses ranging from Glock, HK, Remington Shotguns, AR15/M4, 1911, and more.
The following is a condensed version of the full audio interview, which can be found in the above link at Science of Skill’s SoundCloud station.
Coach Dan: What are the various skills and areas of knowledge that people should really take seriously if they want to carry a firearm to actually protect themselves if they ever had to?
Dave Timm: Carrying a firearm is something that I view as a large responsibility. It is something that should be taken seriously. It should be something that some dedication, not only in training time and preparation, but also just thought process and commitment should really be present if you’re going to choose to carry a firearm. Even simple things, like not drinking alcohol to excessive amounts, or making poor choices, or being in areas with bad people. It’s like the old saying goes, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes”…
All it takes is one round and literally life could change. There’s a lot to go into that. One of the things that you mentioned with skill and permit to carry, I’m all for permit to carry. I’m all for open carry if that’s the only method of choice. I’m more of a believer in concealed carry. It’s like the old poker players. They’re not going to lay down their cards on the table while they’re playing a hand. You want to have that element of surprise. Holds those cards close so that when you need to lay down those aces you can….
Legal aspects. The permit to carry course should cover the legal requirements of your area. I’m from Minnesota, so I’m familiar with Minnesota law, but wherever the listener is, they need to be familiar with not only their state laws, but also if there’s any local ordinances or regulations. Number one, you want to make sure that you’re carrying a gun legally, not only in how you’re carrying it, but in the locations. Are you able to go into a bar that serves alcohol? Are you able to go into a church or a school situation, or even a day care or child care facility?…
There’s some risk involved. You have to be aware of it. You have to start to think about, “Okay, how can I carry this safely? Am I using a good quality holster and a good, sturdy belt so that I don’t use it if I’m a little active?” Let’s say you’re out in the yard playing catch with your kids, and you dive for a ball and trip. Is that gun going to fall out? You want to make sure you’re using good, quality equipment so it stays where it’s supposed to stay, and it doesn’t shift around, and you’re able to get to it when you’re able to get to it.
CD: You’re saying if you trip or you fall, do you have the thing dangling somewhere? Do you have a holster that’s maybe too old, or belt that’s too loose? That could, again, if it jostles and it escapes you, that’s more of a liability than it is a help in those circumstances.
DT: We’re firm proponents of good quality here. You don’t have to spend a ton of money. You can even go to a big box store or a department store and find a good, sturdy belt. There are several good quality holster makers out there. Even some of the Kydex offerings nowadays are relatively secure for a concealment rig. They’re not a duty rig, by any means, but a concealment rig. They have good belt clips, or a belt loop type system, and they have some sort of retention to where the gun’s not going to pop out or slip out. You want to make sure you’re having good equipment, and you should have some practice with that…
Some of it comes down to general awareness, and the common sense that street smarts, so to speak. “Am I hanging out, again, with those areas where all of a sudden there’s people walking up behind me that I don’t know rather swiftly approaching me?” You want to be aware of some of those things. Some people are afraid to confront someone and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” Sometimes just a simple confrontation, not a negative confrontation, but just a simple, “Hey, I see you there. How are you?”
CD: Where do you learn those basics? Obviously, you might have learned them in the force. Someone tuned in today, where do you go to pick those bedrock tenets of communication plan, acknowledging someone who might be a risk, those fundamental principles you touched on? Where would you go to learn that?
DT: There’s good training available in just about every part of the country. Now, if you’re in a more rural area, it might be more of a challenge to find good training, but good training can come from a variety of sources. I know several martial arts instructors, or self defense type instructors who have a strong martial arts background as well, they are really good at this stuff because they are used to picking up on body cues from their sparring or martial arts experience, where they can start to talk about physical cues of what it looks like when someone’s about to kick or strike or hit.
As far as the non-verbal cues and the situational cues, things like that, there’s a lot of people out there who are training this seeing safety awareness training. Most of them usually have a public safety or military background because they’ve been in some of these situations where they’re used to ready-body language, they’re used to reading these non-verbal indicators. That’s a buzz word. Some of these classes are focused on personal safety, personal awareness. If someone was searching for good training in their area, I would search for personal safety training, or personal awareness training, safety awareness training, or defense awareness training.
CD: I think that to the point on your sportive notion, so long as you understand where the line of sport and life and death lies, and what else you need to train, I think so long as you’re practicing your butt off, at least getting out there once a week, you’re way ahead of the pack of most firearms folks. I would bet, Dave, that most people that own a gun haven’t trained in years.
DT: I 100% agree. To go back to your MMA reference, too. It’s funny, because what I teach, I teach use of force and hand combatants and things like that to law enforcement, taser and baton and all this other stuff that they carry. One of the things that I talk about is how to identify a fighter, because there are people that may have ill intentions that are learning these skills. I often ask some of the students, and some of them are new officers, some of them are veteran officers, but I ask them, “What type of a person would you never want to have to fight?” You get the common answers, like a body builder, or somebody whatever. Now we’re starting to see some of the MMA stuff come up a little bit.
CD: What are a couple of the other skills, maybe outside of sports? It might have to do a little bit more with the real self defense life and death stuff, that are other areas of knowledge that people who are training for self defense should bare in mind? What are some other domains of expertise, if you will?
DT: You should definitely have an understanding of the fundamentals marksmanship. That led into our topic of competition shooting because you’re getting better and more proficient with the firearms. We’ve talked about the awareness. We’ve talked about the proficiency of a firearm. Other things that I think people should look at is some first aid training, some basic first aid or treatment…
Also, look at communication. A lot of people think about, “Well, wait a minute, what do you mean?” Sometimes, just a guy who’s really good at BSing, or the gift to gab, can be very effective at defusing a self defense situation. I have no real great resource on how to become a better talker, other than to put yourself in situations where you have to speak. Maybe it’s there’s a job opportunity at your work, where they’re looking for someone to do an internal training on the new accounting software. Maybe volunteer for that, because it’ll practice those skills at learning something and then presenting it, and in turn you’ll be a little bit better of a communicator…
Think about just general self awareness as far as your location. Are you being aware of what major highway or road you’re on? Are you aware of what landmarks or cross streets are nearby, or business? To be aware of, “If I need help, can I get the help to me? How do I tell them where I’m at, and then how to I tell them what do I need?” Learn to calm yourself, take a deep breath, say, “This is what I’m reporting. This is my name. I just had to defend myself. I was in fear for my life. I’m wearing blue jeans and a red sweatshirt,” or whatever it might be. You can hopefully tell the cops, “I’m the good guy.” Granted, if the cops are coming, I recommend setting the gun down and abiding by their commands. You want to be able to communicate what’s going on, what you need, are you able to help those who need help, are you able to communicate what needs to be…What resources are going to be needed?
CD: One of our big things at Science of Skill is encouraging people to go into the real world and learn. Go into the real world and drill. Part of that is finding the right teacher, and we love getting different perspectives on that. From your opinion, if someone’s out there looking for the proper firearms instructor for self protection, what are some certifications, some signs, some qualifications, that they might want to find in an instructor to let them know, “Hey, this is a person worth taking a couple classes with and seeing if they’re a fit for me.” What would you look for?
DT: When you mention certifications, and credentials, and things, sometimes those can be misleading. Again, you can have a certification from a lot of organizations, and I hate to say it, but it’s almost a mandatory issue, where as long as you complete this course, you’re going to get this instructor certification. A case in point, when I first started, I used to be a permit to carry instructor because that’s where the market was, and now I’m more focused on skills and shooting and firearms fundamentals and things like that…
Call the person and ask some questions. Say, “Hey, what type of things do you teach in your courses,” or, “Why would this be beneficial for me?” If they can’t explain or give their basic sales pitch of what their course is, that probably gives you a little bit of an insight of what their course is or isn’t going to be. Ask them what their background is. Say, “Hey, how did you become qualified to teach some of this? What’s your background?” I’m not even saying that every instructor needs to be military, or law enforcement, or a whatever acronym military cool good guy organization, because quite frankly, I’ve learned from some really good shooters who were doctors, who were plumbers, who were whatever, but they’re really, really good competition shooters…
Sometimes, you just have to go and give it a shot. Sadly, when you’re new, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you might not realize that you’re getting bad training. That’s the dangerous thing, but sometimes we’ve all taken bad courses where we’ve looked back and, “Man, that was a really horrible course.” Sometimes it’s just not preventable. Things that you can do to try to ensure that your getting a good class is talk other people who have taken courses, talk to other people in the gun community, find good gun shops. If a gun shop recommends this brochure that they have right there on the side, there may be a deal where they get a kickback, so be cautious of that.
Image credit: thetruthaboutguns.com
Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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