We have all heard the saying: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While attending classes that focus on handgun skills are both helpful and enjoyable, it sometimes leads to people thinking every problem can be solved with a hammer (pistol).
Two well known instructors, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training (Ohio police officer with 20 years of experience) and Dr. William Aprill (Doctor of Psychology with extensive experience in criminal & juvenile psychology) have banded together to offer a class called Unthinkable that could easily be thought of as “everything but the nail.” The class is two days of facing things that — fantasy aside — you won’t be able to solve with a pistol and a bad attitude.
The class focusses on all sorts of things we know could happen but often ignore because they don’t involve our favorite hobby. For example, Greg gives an extensive lecture on understanding and identifying improvised explosives and bombers. William offers ample experience regarding VCAs (Violent Criminal Actors) such as offenders with antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy — including ways to identify and distinguish among the three, and understanding the differences and dangers of each.
Other covered issues were the psychology of being a hostage or kidnap victim; Greg’s extensive lessons on escaping from bonds ranging from duct tape to handcuffs (some of which were much easier than most of the students expected); disarming a criminal who has you at gunpoint; self-aid in the event of a gunshot wound or similar serious injury; and William’s excellent “5 W’s of Risk.”
Both instructors also recommended extensive libraries of worthwhile books and websites for further study.
While it’s fun to pretend that your response to five AK-wielding men invading your home by surprise is to gun them down heroically, it’s worthwhile to understand what they’re thinking, how your own brain is likely to react, and what you can & should do, including how to break out of the industrial zip-ties they use to bind your wrists and ankles. One of the most interesting parts of the class (for me) was William’s extensive discussion of pre-determined “GO” signals — conditions under which you will immediately and ruthlessly respond a threat. Many people have vague ideas about when or why they would react, like “someone tries to hurt my kid.” But are you really going to draw your gun and start shooting because an older kid at the park punches your daughter in the arm? Really? If the answer is “no” it may be time to think about more specific lines in the sand. You don’t want to be making those decisions in the middle of a catastrophic event.
As serious as the class topics were, the students had fun. The class is very interactive, and students cheered each other on to succeed against new challenges.
The typical student came to Unthinkable with a similar attitude: “I’ve taken a class on how to shoot someone who is trying to rape me; I’ve taken a class on how to stab someone who is trying to rape me; now I’m taking a class on how to remain sane and escape if someone kidnaps me and probably intends to rape me.” It’s far from the typical class popular among shooters. But it’s about facing the reality of things that might happen that most shooters don’t want to think about.
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG